As much as Kristen Stewart‘s castmates in On the Road must love her for drawing so much attention to their sexy road trip movie with all of her Twilight cheating scandal bullshit, you can bet that everyone else at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is feeling pretty resentful right about now. On the Road premieres today, and judging from all the online hype you’d think it was the only film in the whole festival! When instead there are actually about 372 offerings from 72 countries, and a whole lot of other familiar faces and hotly-anticipated stories.
So, here are just a few of the movies that are getting buzz in Canada not because their lead actress may or may not have slept with her director, but based on their acting merit and daring stories.
Silver Linings Playbook: We’re excited for the slate of films starring Jennifer Lawrence between now and when Catching Fire comes out in late 2013. And while we’re not surprised she chose to star in a horror film in House at the End of the Street, it’s Silver Linings Playbook that we’re really curious about. Though Bradley Cooper is the star of the film, a former teacher recently sprung from a mental institution, Jen looks delightfully batty as his much younger but equally screwed-up love interest.
Argo: So I had no idea what Argo was until I started writing this post, and it’s already subverted and then exceeded my expectations. I mean, I knew it’s gonna be good with Ben Affleck directing, but I wasn’t expecting the abrupt mood shift halfway through the trailer. Set during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, the movie stars Affleck as a CIA agent who poses as a Hollywood bigwig, in order to fool the Iranian government into thinking that the six U.S. foreign service members who evaded the hostage-taking are actually members of an American film crew scouting locations for a fantasy film called Argo. The cast is excellent, including Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, and Chris Messina… and while this is no Ocean’s 11, there might even be some humor? And yes, this is based on a true story. OK, I’m sold.
Anna Karenina: We noted in the first trailer that director Joe Wright (Atonement) seemed to be setting a lot of the action in a theater. The TIFF guide confirms that yes, we’ll watch Keira Knightley‘s doomed love triangle with Jude Law and Aaron Johnson will unfold on a stage where we can see the sets shifting as some sort of metaphor for claustrophobia and artifice. Hey, as long as it looks pretty.
Passion: We have high hopes for this lesbian erotic psychodrama starring Rachel McAdams as some high-powered businesswoman and the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Noomi Rapace as her employee/confidante/lover/possible betrayer. You know, a lot of these TIFF films are ones that don’t reveal the whole plot up front, and for that I personally am grateful.
The Paperboy: Yep, the movie where Nicole Kidman is a crazy, horny woman in love with a guy on death row but also ends up peeing on Zac Efron. Or as TIFF describes it, “a deliciously trashy piece of Southern-fried Gothic.”
Much Ado About Nothing: Sadly, there’s no trailer yet for Joss Whedon‘s take on Shakespeare’s snarky lovers, but everything we hear about it just makes us grin stupidly. Like how Whedonverse favorites Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker are playing the leads, with Nathan Fillion doing his adorable bumbling-idiot bit. And how the actors shot this top-secret over twelve days at Whedon’s home. Plus, it’s in black-and-white, which is super classy.
Imogene: Another year, another Kristen Wiig role where she’s a sad thirtysomething woman who’s hit rock bottom, except here she’s a playwright who fakes her death to get the attention of her ex-boyfriend. Instead, she winds up stuck in the custody of her mom (Annette Bening) and her shady boyfriend (Matt Dillon). On the bright side, however, she starts romancing the much younger Darren Criss, similarly unmotivated but working as a singer in a Backstreet Boys cover band. No trailer yet, sadly.
Cloud Atlas: I’m truly surprised that so many mainstream blogs are reporting on a movie whose title sounds like the name of a video game and whose premise makes your head spin. (After all, it’s from the Wachowskis, who brought us the transmedia world of The Matrix.) Then again, with such a stellar cast and arresting visuals, it’s not surprising that people are intrigued.
We don’t really know what to expect! The official synopsis describes the film as “an epic story of humankind in which the actions and consequences of our lives impact one another throughout the past, present and future as one soul is shaped from a murderer into a savior and a single act of kindness ripples out for centuries to inspire a revolution.” Judging from the newly-released trailer above, Tom Hanks and Halle Berry are lovers who keep meeting in different realities, from wars in the past to strange landscapes in a sci-fi future. Then there’s Hugh Grant, Jim Sturgess, Susan Sarandon, and others as supporting characters.
Smashed: This drama has already pulled up comparisons to Half Nelson for its unflinching look at alcoholism. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a first-grade teacher attempting a twelve-step program — at the suggestion of her school’s vice principal, played by Nick Offerman – but struggling not to relapse as her husband still enjoys getting trashed. Did we mention that Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul plays her husband, a character who doubtless comes off as both engaging and frustrating? I keep hearing how dark but great this film is.
Thanks For Sharing: Even though South Park may have provided us with the definitively funny take on sex addiction, we’re intrigued by this dramedy starring Mark Ruffalo as another twelve-stepper trying to hide his sordid addiction from his new girlfriend (Gwyneth Paltrow). Though I’m a little bummed that Gwyneth herself doesn’t play a sex addict, as I had originally thought.
So, all we can say in response to tonight’s premiere is… Kristen Stewart, eat your heart out.