Midway into the the 35th edition of the Toronto International Festival (TIFF), some films are emerging as early contenders for best of the fest (“The King’s Speech,” “Dirty Girl”) while others have landed in Canada with barely a whisper (Clint Eastwood’s “Hereafter”). indieWIRE’s Eugene Hernandez, Anne Thompson and Eric Kohn and The Village Voice’s Karina Longworth talked TIFF buzz at the Hot Topics session, part of Live at the Lounge with indieWIRE.
None too surprisingly, the film hot on the tip of everyone’s tongue was Tom Hooper’s “The King’s Speech,” which played to great acclaim at Telluride before landing here in Toronto. “It’s a big soft lob down the middle for Academy voters and cinephiles,” said Thompson. “It’s a typical Weinstein Company costume period drama. But it is so well acted, so well executed that I think it’s going to work for everybody I think.”
Thompson also had favorable things to say of Richard J. Lewis’ “Barney’s Version,” a Canadian entry based on the beloved novel by Mordecai Richler, that many feel should have served as the opening night film over “Score: A Hockey Musical.” Thompson said she sees the Sony Pictures Classics release doing great business in Canada. She is however wary of how it will play to international audiences. But, Thompson singled out the performances by Dustin Hoffman and Paul Giamatti as hilarious, and cited them as reason enough to see the film.
Of the large acquisitions made over the early course of the festival, IFC’s buy of James Gunn’s “Super” has been generating a lot of press. According to Thompson, the film is considered a winner at TIFF, solely based in terms of the sale. Reactions to the actual film however, which screened as part of the Midnight Madness lineup, are mixed she said.
“It’s a wildly violent movie with Rainn Wilson as a wannabe superhero who hits people with a wrench,” said Kohn of the film. “It wasn’t the sort of thing that would gather buzz at Telluride. The success it’s had it here is a very unique Toronto experience. I am kind of surprised that it’s gained the momentum that it has. Most of the people that are arguing in its favor are doing so because it’s very subversive. It will be a fun experience to see how IFC tries to get it out there.”
Another large early buy Thompson mentioned, was for Abe Sylvia’s “Dirty Girl,” which was snapped up by The Weinstein Company during its world premiere last night.
Mike Mills’ “Beginners,” starring Christopher Plummer as a man who comes out of the closet late in his life, meanwhile left a big impression with both Kohn and Longworth.
“I hope something happens with that film. It’s doing a lot of the same things that many big American indies do, like the Fox Searchlight movies, but does it so much more intelligently, with a real feel for the way people actually are, versus the way sort of twee cute people can be in movies,” Longworth noted of the film.
Kohn added, “I think it plays to the crowd in a way that most of the heavier movies here don’t because they have too much on their mind. This is a very restrained film, and it’s a hard sell in that regard.”
The two critics weren’t so fond of Errol Morris’ anticipated documentary “Tabloid.” “To me it feels like he’s trying to back up after going so grim with ‘Standard Operating Procedure’,” said Kohn of the film, which chronicles the life of Joyce, a former beauty pageant queen whose quest for true love led her across the globe and onto the tabloids. “I just think the film has a problem in terms of its stakes, which are kind of non-existent,” said Longworth. “It amounts to a lot of talking heads, and it’s also kind of Morris off camera sort of giggling about his subjects and how wacky their lives are.”
As for Clint Eastwood’s “Hereafter” which had its world premiere last night, everyone commented on the muted industry response to the film. Kohn for one said he hasn’t yet seen it for that very reason.
Below is a video of the event:
[Video produced by Margot Keith]