Critics and buyers are happier as Toronto premieres start to ease up.


Emerging markets

With most of the big titles finished their press screenings at least in Toronto, notices have been warming up and some favourites are emerging…

To wit-

- Scott Hicks’ Australia-set The Boys Are Back, with Clive Owen as the widowed father of two young sons, has been drawing raves as a smart, good-looking crowdpleaser which could span the generations and gender divide when it comes to attracting audiences. Repped by HanWay, this “offers a sensitive, expertly crafted exploration of the bond between a father and his sons – it has the same understanding of male emotions as a Nick Hornby bestseller,” says ScreenDaily’s Allan Hunter.

- Leaves Of Grass, a dark, dark comedy with Ed Norton playing twins, directed, written and co-starring Tim Blake Nelson, has started awards talk rolling with its meaty central performance – or performances.

- Mother and Child, with Rodrigo Garcia drawing typically strong performances from Annette Bening and Naomi Watts in a three-parter set in Los Angeles – there’s awards talk surrounding Bening as well. “Mostly avoiding melodramatic contrivances, Mother And Child touches on themes of family, motherhood and destiny, looking fairly effortless in the process,” says ScreenDaily’s Tim Grierson.

- And the critics at least are also liking The Waiting City, just the latest in what is proving to be a series of superior films to emerge from Australia this year. Directed by Claire McCarthy, it is a “tender look at loss and self-knowledge,” according to ScreenDaily’s David D’Arcy and centres around strained couple - played by Radha Mitchell and Joel Edgerton – who arrive in Kolkata for the final stages in the drawn-out process of adopting a child.

- Also from Australia, Bruce Beresford’s China-set Mao’s Last Dancer has also been well-received, even though it leans towards the female demographic, it features some stunning and muscular dance sequences in an amazing story of luck and determination.

- And unexpectedly, The Joneses, from debut director Derrick Borte, tickled the imagination with David Duchovny and Demi Moore heading up a seemingly perfect family moving into the most desirable house in the burbs – but there’s a secret agenda at play.

-Less tenderly received have been Glorious 39, directed by Stephen Poliakoff, and starring Romola Garai in a tense, pre-war England, which has been deemed gorgeous to look at, but carrying a sense of déjà vu in terms of plotting. David Tennant co-stars alongside Bill Nighy and Julie Christie.

-Chloe, by Atom Egoyan, reworks Anne Fontaine’s 2003 film Nathalie and is about a woman (Julianne Moore), who hires a prostitute (Amanda Seyfried) to determine whether her husband (Liam Neeson) is being unfaithful. “Long-term Egoyan admirers will detect echoes of Exotica and The Adjuster in this tale of twisted desire and the manipulation of trust, but are bound to feel disappointed when it descends into all too predictable Fatal Attraction territory,” says ScreenDaily’s Allan Hunter.

- And Youth In Revolt, from The Weinstein Company, shows Michael Cena in a role you’ve seen before, the critics concurred, in the latest in what is becoming a long line of loser comedies from the young actor.

Still to go: Micmacs, the latest from Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and the long-awaited Ondine, directed by Neil Jordan.