– In the ongoing saga of who will replace Angelina Jolie in the lead role in Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity–she twice rejected the starring role–Natalie Portman has been offered the role, thanks to rave reviews on her Black Swan performance. With or without Black Swan‘s vote of confidence, Portman is a strong (but young) choice. The age range of the character in Gravity is apparently flexible. Should Portman accept the role, this will be a chance for her to stand out (although Robert Downey Jr. carries some of the load), a la Tom Hanks in Cast Away or James Franco in 127 Hours. Risky Business lists Portman’s growing collection of possible projects, including a Terrence Malick film with Brad Pitt, a Tom Stoppard piece written specifically for her, not to mention Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Tom Tykwer’s star-packed (Hanks, James McAvoy, Halle Berry, Ian McKellan) Cloud Atlas (both slated for 2011). All along, the actress has made diverse choices, ranging from Heat (1995), which RottenTomatoes rates highest of all her films, when she was 14 (the unheard of Free Zone  is the lowest) to Star Wars (1999, 2002, 2005) and Garden State (2004).
– Contemplating several long scenes in Galt Niederhoffer’s The Romantics (opening Friday), Salon’s Matt Zoller Seitz questions our definition of ‘adult’ films. He finds sex and violence are not the root of the definition, but rather subjects and situations that the childish (in age or behavior) can’t (or don’t want to) understand. As for The Romantics, he believes: “Between the comparatively laid-back directorial style, which lets the situations breathe and the actors act, [it] has a more grownup feel than you’d ordinarily expect from a wedding comedy.” He mentions Michael Douglas’ Solitary Man (which Seitz calls a movie about “the past casting up to you” – in this case “in the twilight or a womanizing alpha male”), as well as George Clooney’s The American, which despite having lots of sex and violence (“minuscule parts of the movie”) is really a slow movie about a man contemplating his life and his soul; it’s “adult not by virtue of what it shows but because of how it tells its story and what it chooses to focus on.” Seitz waxes nostalgic for a time when there was room in the movie market for this breed of adult films:
“They were part of the national moviegoing conversation not because they were out-of-the-mainstream oddities but because they were accessible films with serious intentions, examining the consequences of actions, the fungibilty of moral codes, the weight of the past and other subjects that children and the simple-minded would find boring. If you want to see these kinds of stories today, you have to rent old movies on DVD, or subscribe to cable.”
– With Telluride and Venice 2010 soon to be history, The Playlist lists the 17 Most Anticipated Films screening at Toronto September 9-19. Among them: Rabbit Hole (Dir. John Cameron Mitchell, with Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart), The Conspirator (Dir. Robert Redford, with Robin Wright, James McAvoy, Kevin Kline, Tom Wilkinson, Danny Huston and Evan Rachel Wood), The Town (Dir. Ben Affleck, with Rebecca Hall, Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, etc), Hereafter (Dir. Clint Eastwood, with Matt Damon, Bryce Dallas Howard) and The High Cost of Living (Dir. Deborah Chow, with Zach Braff).