TORONTO - It's always news when an acclaimed actor decides to direct their first feature, but it's hard to believe it took Dustin Hoffman 45 years to step behind the camera. The two-time Oscar winner has gone in an unexpectedly sweet direction for his first directing gig with the slight romantic comedy "Quartet” that debuted Sunday night at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival.
TORONTO – To say the Toronto International Film Festival's 2012 slate has been dominated by literary adaptations is something of an understatement. On Saturday alone, “Cloud Atlas,” “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” and “Much Ado About Nothing” (granted, a stage adaptation) all had their world or North American premieres at the fest. Oh, and add one more prominent title to that list, David O. Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook.”
TORONTO – In 2010, Derek Cianfrance seduced the independent film community with his stellar debut, “Blue Valentine.” The heartbreaking drama contrasted the beginning and end of a young couple’s marriage through Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams’ stellar performances. It became a staple on year-end critic's top 10 lists and landed Williams her second Oscar nomination. One of the reasons the picture resonated with so many moviegoers and critics was Cianfrance’s remarkable skill at creating honest and intimate moments with his actors. Unfortunately, It’s with sincere regret that I report Cianfrance’s latest endeavor, “The Place Beyond the Pines,” doesn’t measure up to the cinematic standards he set for himself just two years ago.
TORONTO – Y’know, it hasn’t been the best month or two for Kristen Stewart.
In theory, Stewart should be on top of the world. The 22-year-old just starred in her first legitimate blockbuster outside of the “Twilight Saga”, June’s “Snow White and the Huntsman.” And in May, she found herself walking the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival where Walter Salles’ prestige player “On the Road” debuted. Unfortunately, well, that thing with her “Snow White” director happened.
TORONTO – Don’t let anyone ever say Joe Wright is easy on himself. Ever since his acclaimed directorial debut “Pride & Prejudice” he has pushed cinematic boundaries while working within the confines of traditional narrative media. “Anna Karenina,” which screens at the Toronto International Film Festival tomorrow and just opened in the U.K., finds Wright walking Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel along a fine line of period and postmodernist cinema. It’s a very dangerous game to play artistically and narratively, but, for the most part, it works.
It will painful for the organizers to hear this, but it was hard to find anyone who thought this was a strong year for the Telluride Film Festival. The 39th edition featured tributes to Marion Cotillard and Mads Mikkelsen, but only one or two films that had the attendees raving. Longtime festival goers didn't seem to mind that much, however, as they see the annual Labor Day event as a time to catch up with old cinephile friends from around the country.
TELLURIDE – There is a moment in the new Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig collaboration “Frances Ha” where you begin to think, “Oh, no. This seems way too much like Lena Dunham’s ‘Girls.’” And during the picture’s opening act, the tone and hipster Brooklyn setting makes that a very valid concern. Thankfully, and somewhat remarkably, “Ha” transforms into something all its own.
TELLURIDE – Over a small number of films, Elle Fanning has displayed a transcendent range that many would argue has surpassed the talents of her better-known sister Dakota. In Sally Potter's "Ginger and Rosa," a new drama that premiered Friday at the 39th Telluride Film Festival, the 14-year-old actress once again impresses. This time she makes a mature leap by enveloping herself in a character thee years her senior. Unfortunately, the rest of the Potter's endeavor is a ponderous mess that negates the best aspects of Fanning's performance.
TELLURIDE – The Iran Hostage Crisis is one of the more defining moments in American history, but it has never received its due course on the big screen. That changes somewhat in Ben Affleck’s engaging and entertaining new thriller “Argo” which sneaked at the 39th Telluride Film Festival Friday.
Summit Entertainment has a tough sell on their hands this Fall. No, it's not convincing fans to see the final installment of "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn" (hardly). Instead, they have the long awaited adaptation of Stephen Chbosky's "The Perks of Being A Wallflower" to market to the masses. If you were to watch the "Perks" trailer you might assume the picture is just for young adults or teenagers. Shoot, check out any stills from the movie and it looks like yet another "teen movie." To assume so would be a huge mistake.