By Bryce J. Renninger | Indiewire September 17, 2009 at 7:32AM
From the many films at the Toronto International Film Festival, some have more buzz and eyeballs purely because of who is involved with them. This cinemadaily focuses on three buzzed-about films from this year's festival. Former Gucci fashion designer, Tom Ford, was at the festival with his first film "A Single Man." French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet ("Delicatessen," "Amélie," "A Very Long Engagement") is back with his new film "Micmacs." Diablo Cody's second feature script, after her Oscar award-winning debut "Juno," "Jennifer's Body" was also screened at the festival. Let's take a look at the critical response to these films:
Tom Ford's "A Single Man" was the big winner in the sales race at this year's TIFF. The film was bought for seven figures by The Weinstein Company, a deal that got Ford and the producers back all of the money they invested into the picture. "A Single Man" is an adaptation of the Christopher Isherwood novel about a college professor (Colin Firth) who loses his longtime boyfriend (Matthew Goode). Firth's character is consoled by his friend (Julianne Moore) and stalked by a student (Nicholas Hoult).
Wendy Ide at The Times in the UK praises the film elegantly, "It’s no surprise that the feature film directing debut of fashion designer Tom Ford is a thing of heart-stopping beauty. He celebrates the male form with a sensual reverence. He uses colour with the visual articulacy of Wong Kar Wai and frames his shots with elegance and wit. It looks like a Wallpaper magazine photo shoot styled by Douglas Sirk. But what is a little more unexpected, certainly for those who were suspicious of Ford’s background in the ephemeral world of fashion, is that this is no frothy, throwaway piece of pretty silliness. Rather it’s a work of emotional honesty and authenticity which announces the arrival of a serious filmmaking talent. There will be critics who will be unable to get past the director’s background, but rest assured: Tom Ford is the real deal. " Screen's Lee Marshall gives the film great credit for its emotional versatility, "The film resonates above all because of the way it turns a single man’s single day into a spiritual journey from despair to transfiguration."
Karina Longworth, in indieWIRE, in a positive review, discusses the film's appeal to a larger audience. "'A Single Man'’s more limiting virtue than its sexual politics would seem to be its obstinate artiness; viewers who are totally cool with the gay themes still may be turned off by an 105 minute hybrid of moving painting and perfume commercial." In Contention's Guy Lodge agrees with Longworth, "I don’t want to oversell the film, whose talkiness and modesty of scale will probably keep it at the bijou end of the arthouse, but it’s a distinctive, deeply felt debut from someone with a clear, confident feel for the medium." Ford talks about the film as a labor of love in an interview with indieWIRE's Peter Knegt.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet's "Micmacs" got its premiere at TIFF; the responses to this film were a bit more mixed, but mostly positive. The pic got picked up by Sony Pictures Classics before the fest. "Micmacs" features a motley crew of circus-grade misfits and follows them as they take on the weapons industry. The Hollywood Reporter's Kirk Honeycutt calls the film "another beguiling if draining fantasia from Jean-Pierre Jeuet that harkens back to silent movies." Karina Longworth, on indieWIRE, sets the stage for the film's audience response, "Anyone who has been so touched by a Jeunet film in the past will probably find it impossible to resist 'Micmacs,' in which Jeunet applies his patented magical realism to a soft satire on weapons proliferation and contemporary cultural warfare. For Jeunet’s haters, this film will be torture." Todd Brown, on Twitch, disagrees, sayiing he likes Jeunet but, "Too bad everyone somehow forgot that a compelling story is required if anyone is going to care and that a compelling story requires compelling characters." The film is called Jeunet's most acccessible by Variety's Rob Nelson, who also says that the film "welds Jeunet's hyperactive imagination to the simpler structures of silent comedy and '40s-era studio capers."
Much less glowing are the reviews for "Jennifer's Body." Diablo Cody's second feature screenplay is directed by Karyn Kusama. In "Jennifer's Body," a demonic cheerleader (Megan Fox) begins killing her male classmates, and her friend Needy (Amanda Seyfried) attempts to stop her. Joe Neumaier, in the New York Daily News, lambasts Cody's script, saying "words and story are still the lifeblood of a movie, and 'Jennifer's Body' is filled like a Twinkie with half-fleshed-out ideas (demonic bands, undead superpowers, a weirdo waterfall)." The Chicago Sun-Times' Roger Ebert is much kinder to Cody, "This isn't your assembly-line teen horror thriller. The portraits of Jennifer and Needy are a little too knowing, the dialogue is a little too off-center, the developments are a little too quirky. After you've seen enough teen thrillers, you begin to appreciate these distinctions. Let's put it this way: I'd rather see 'Jennifer's Body' again than 'Twilight.'" For the Austin Chronicle's Marjorie Baumgarten, the film's bright spot is Megan Fox, "The scares are unconvincing and the overall teen scene too rote to sway us into believing that this Body is new and improved. The addition of The Transformers’ vampy Fox as this film’s demonically possessed Jennifer is a stroke of … um… casting catnip, and the actress here demonstrates that she can deliver lines of dialogue as well as run sexily from robotic machinery." Nick Pinkerton starts his Village Voice review by describing the film as "[a] premeditated cult classic—they're kind of like "pre-worn" designer jeans." He explains, "Jennifer's Body seems designed more to be quoted than watched."