Venice is winding down - Joe Dante’s The Hole and Tom Ford’s A Single Man being two of the highlights left as we move into the weekend - but Toronto airport is buzzing with international arrivals and the city is getting ready to roll with its 100-odd world premieres over the next week.
Opening tonight with Jon Amiel’s Creation, Toronto welcomes the world’s industry, in particular that endangered species “the buyer” - quite a rare sight on Venice’s Lido (we include, of course, buyers who have bought and are now in Toronto to see what the finished product looks like).
Get ready, get set…
Alongside Creation, Jennifer’s Body is the first day’s - Thursday, September 10 - other world premiere, starring Megan Fox and featuring Diablo Cody’s first produced screenplay since Juno. Both are currently under embargo - critical updates later.
Have we got a best picture?
The mood going into Toronto is buoyant. It’s generally agreed that Venice thus far - with the odd mis-step - has showcased world cinema at a high (all the more remarkable after an excellent Cannes). Has there been a Best Picture yet? Perhaps not. There was certainly a greatly-loved crowdpleaser, though, in George Clooney and Grant Heslov’s The Men Who Stare At Goats, with knockout performances from Ewan McGregor, Clooney, Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey.
At Venice, word was strong and a US deal is expected on Competition title Life During Wartime, a follow-up of sorts to Happiness (the same characters, different actors, ten years later) from Todd Solondz.
Other favourites were Lourdes, an unexpectedly restrained and delicate take on the French religious shrine from Austria’s Jessica Hausner; and Capitalism: A Love Story, Michael Moore’s latest sharp dart into the bosom of America’s capitalist elite.Samuel Moaz’s claustrophobic Lebanon, set entirely inside a beseiged tank on the first day of the Lebanon War in 1982, has drawn raves and comparisons - if not superlatives - to Waltz With Bashir.
Although more commercially-challenging prospects, Claire Denis’s White Material, with Isabelle Huppert as a desperate white plantation owner in Africa, was typically engrossing and challenging, and John Hillcoat’s wrenching The Road, his adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s bleak post-apocalyptic vision, was unforgettable.
Werner Herzog has won an indulgent reception for Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans – a loopy, often funny reinterpretation of Abel Ferrara’s original – but his other Venice Competition title, My Son, My Son, WhatHave Ye Done, premiered to a less enthusiastic response.
And there was excitement about some films outside the main selection as well – the documentary Silvio Berlusconi would happily bury, Videocracy, drew warm applause, while I Am Love (Io Sono L’Amore), a collaboration between Luca Guadagnino and Tilda Swinton (after The Protagonists), was unexpectedly engrossing and impeccably stylish.There has been critical acceptance, if not raves, for other Competition titles such as Baaria, Prince of Tears, Accident and Patrice Chereau’s dissonant Persecution, although Monday’s Sri Lankan title Between Two Worlds may mark a change in the tide of opinion.
Some 26 titles are coming in to Toronto from Venice, many of them on the warm air of positiveotices and sales deals are expected on some of the titles so far screened.