‘The Imitation Game’ Wins Top Toronto Prize

Toronto Imitation Game

The Toronto International Film Festival is unique in a few respects, but one of the most interesting thing about the fest in relation to other film festivals is that the top prize is decided by audiences. The People’s Choice Award may sound like an also-ran TV awards show, but in reality it’s a big deal. You’ve heard of some of the previous winners: 12 Years a Slave, Silver Linings Playbook, The King’s Speech, and Slumdog Millionaire. This year, the prize winner at TIFF was The Imitation Game, in which Benedict Cumberbatch plays pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing. Read More »

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Phoenix trailer

Christian Petzold, director of Barbara, had a new film premiere in Toronto this week, and the people who love Phoenix really love it. Called a Hitchcockian thriller set in post-WWII Berlin, the film features Nina Hoss as a concentration camp survivor who goes to great lengths to find her husband, from whom she was separated before her internment. But he could have a darker role in her wartime experience than she originally believed. Check out the Phoenix trailer below. Read More »

Tusk early buzz
Kevin Smith‘s latest film Tusk premiered Saturday night at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival as part of the festival’s Midnight Madness selection. The first reactions have been flooding twitter, and it seems like everyone agrees: the movie is fucked up. Is that a good thing? The film reportedly received a standing ovation, and most of the reactions seem to be positive. Hit the jump to read the Tusk early buzz and see the first tweet reactions to Kevin Smith’s new horror indie.

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Men, Women & Children trailer
Jason Reitman‘s latest film Men, Women & Children has screened at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, and we have compiled the tweets coming out of the first Press & Industry screening. Its a mix of mostly positive (18 people) but also negative (10 people), with some critics like Owen Gleiberman and Ed Douglas touting it as a complex return to form while others like Jeff Wells calling it “soulless” and Ben Lyons leaving the screening tweeting that the film made him “very, very angry…”. The public premiere happens at the Ryerson theatre tonight, and I expect we’ll see a more positive response from the non critic/industry audience.

Many didn’t respond to Reitman’s last film Labor Day, which I enjoyed – connecting with the coming of age stuff, which was filmed near my hometown and set in the period of my upbringing. But unlike Jason’s previous films, Labor Day didn’t have a lot to say about us. I’m excited for Men, Women & Children because it looks like its more in line with what I connected to in his previous films. You can read all of the compiled tweets and reviews after the jump.

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Cub trailer

The Midnight Madness program at the Toronto Film Festival is one of the most reliable lineups of provocative genre movies each year — programmer Colin Geddes does a great job of choosing films that are memorable and full of new talent. Here’s the Cub trailer, which will be your first look at one of this year’s Midnight Madness titles.

Jonas Govaerts makes his debut as a director with the film, which tells the story of “a troupe of young Cub Scouts who find themselves stalked by a psychopathic huntsman who has riddled the forest with ingenious and deadly traps.” There’s some weird stuff and much bloody violence in this trailer. Oh, and the film boasts a score by Steve Moore, from the band Zombi, who also did music for Adam Wingard’s The Guest. You won’t hear the score here, but check out the trailer below. Read More »

foxcatcher-trailer-2

It’s that time of the year, when the Toronto Film Festival begins to announce its giant movie line-up. In so doing, the film calendar formally begins the transition from summer to fall, as the more serious films of the festival circuit approach their debuts.

Foxcatcher (above; trailer here) will show up, as will the Reese Witherspoon film Wild (trailer), the strange-looking Jake Gyllenhaal crime film Nightcrawler (teaser), and Jon Stewart’s first film as a director, Rosewater. There will also be another notable directorial debut as the first film from Chris Evans, Before We Go, will play.

Below you’ll find a list of the Galas (big premieres of generally mainstream films, such as The Judge and The Equalizer) and the Special Presentations, which are often high-profile indies that have distribution already set. Some of these have already premiered at other festivals, while others make their world premiere at TIFF. There are 13 Galas and 46 Special Presentations announced so far, with 37 world premieres. Other directors represented include Jason ReitmanNoah Baumbach, Susanne Bier, François Ozon, Hal Hartley, Mike BinderLone Scherfig, and Chris Rock.

While the festival’s opening night film has not yet been revealed, the closing presentation will be Alan Rickman’s A Little Chaos, starring Kate Winslet, Matthias Schoenaerts, Stanley Tucci, and  Rickman. TIFF runs September 4-14. The full lineup as announced so far is below.

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12-years-a-slave-TIFF-review

Based on the true story of Solomon Northup, a free northern man who was kidnapped and sold into bondage in the 1840s, 12 Years a Slave doesn’t shy away from the horrific aspects of a slave trade that existed for hundred of years, sweeping up more than 12 million souls. Familial separation, abuse, torture, the idea that the slaves were no better than beasts; it’s all laid bare for the audience to witness.

Though not a “light” film by any measure, this is a well-executed drama dealing with a horrific historical occurrence. Director Steve Mcqueen has proven that he’s a burgeoning young auteur, a vibrant force that should deliver us a slew of great films in the decades to come. Just as with his previous film, Shame, this is a gutting experience, and McQueen, as channeled through the extremely capable cast of Chewitel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Paul Dano, and Brad Pitt, crafts a two-hour story that can’t help but leave you drained as the credits come up. Read More »

TIFF Review: ‘Gravity’ Soars Above the Rest

GRAVITY

Director Alfonso Cuarón is finally back, and he’s showing us truly amazing things.

Gravity is a technical marvel, an optical treat of the highest order. However, it can also lay claim to being one hell of a narrative, combining genius-level visuals with a taut script; the end result coming together as something really special. On the face of it, it’s the story of two NASA astronauts on a mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope, and the obstacles they’ll have to overcome to survive in space. Really, Gravity is the age-old set-up in which humankind attempts to operate in an environment designed to kill. Indeed, though a far different film than Children of Men, both thematically and in terms of scope, Cuarón has created another film with weight, resonance, and a strong sense of style.

George Clooney and Sandra Bullock easily carry this briskly paced film, Bullock in particular (as Mission Specialist Ryan Stone). She turns in a remarkable performance, more textured and compelling than anything we’ve seen from her prior, including The Blind Side. Making the hostile setting of space the focal point of a film certainly comes with a huge element of risk, but I’m pleased to say everyone involved pulled it off. They’ve made a 90-minute cinematic gift for us.

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