Ava DuVernay's "Selma" is going to come around at a particularly noteworthy time. Yes, it's been 50 years since the Selma-to-Montgomery marches and yes, it's been 49 years since the passing of the voter rights act. But as we look around today, it's perfectly clear: the more things change, the more they stay the same.
All eyes are on the fall festivals now as Venice and Telluride are set to gear up next week with Toronto shortly after. And just on the horizon: New York. The Film Society at Lincoln Center pretty much won the day this season by landing the big premieres of David Fincher's "Gone Girl" and Paul Thomas Anderon's "Inherent Vice," while the choice of "Birdman" for closing night — despite the fact that it will have already played Venice and likely Telluride prior — felt like a natural progression. NYFF Director and Selection Committee Chair Kent Jones recently spilled a bit on the Fincher and the Anderson, two films hotly anticipated this season.
Every new piece of footage or marketing for "Nightcrawler" has me champing at the bit at this point. First Open Road Films offered up a brief viral tease of the film, which stars Jake Gyllenhaal as an ethically unbound freelance crime journalist in Los Angeles, ahead of its announcement as a Toronto Film Festival world premiere. Then came the first teaser trailer, which proved to me that cinematographer Robert Elswit was bringing the goods here. And that pulp-inspired poster was awesome. Now, a full trailer, laying out all the ethical implications at the heart of the film.
As previously reported by my HitFix colleagues, 2014’s fall festivals represent something of a battle royale for various heavyweight Oscar hopefuls. The oldest fest in the big four, venerable Venice, is up against younger North American counterparts Toronto, Telluride and New York in the perennial fight to deliver a truly memorable Competition. Which films will be left standing once the critics have had their way with them? Contenders hoping to emerge victorious from La Biennale’s royal rumble include Alejandro González Iñárritu’s opening nighter "Birdman" starring Michael Keaton, David Gordon Green’s Al Pacino vehicle "Manglehorn" and Andrew Garfield vs Michael Shannon in Ramin Bahrani’s real estate showdown "99 Homes."
In a show of apparent elation that the festival could track down Bill Murray and slate his new film, "St. Vincent," as a showcase presentation, the Toronto Film Festival has gone all out and set aside an entire day of programming centered on the actor. Friday, Sept. 5 has officially been declared "Bill Murray Day."
I find myself wondering about James Marsh's "The Theory of Everything." I'm excited for the film on one hand, as a handling of the life of Stephen Hawking is long past due (and James Marsh is an interesting choice to bring it forth). But the geek in me wants the focus (no pun intended) on his contributions to physics and cosmology. The marketing from Focus Features, however, is making it very clear that this is a love story first and foremost. The trailer set that construct up a few weeks ago and today it's made all the more obvious as Hawking's theorems and whatnot literally play in the background of a romantic encounter with his wife Jane on the film's official poster.
There was buzz late last month that both the Toronto International Film Festival and The Weinstein Company wanted to bring "St. Vincent," which stars Bill Murray, to the 2014 edition of the annual awards season kickoff. The problem was, reportedly, that no one could find him. Murray supposedly doesn't have a cell phone (or perhaps even E-mail?), but even though he continues to crash one party after another it looks like somebody tracked him down as TIFF announced today that "St. Vincent" is now a late addition to the festival.
The last time Paramount Pictures tried a Jason Reitman film on the awards season, it was last year's "Labor Day." I thought it was an impressive bit of stretching from the director and was happy to see a certain sect of critics find value in it. Alas, that was a minority view, as most took aim on the film and fired either at Telluride or Toronto and a misguided December release date finished it off after that. But everyone is back up to the plate this year with the Chad Kultgen adaptation "Men, Women & Children," and the first teaser trailer for the film has arrived to set the tone.
It's been an interesting run of films for director Clint Eastwood in the 10 years since his "Million Dollar Baby" crashed the 2004 Oscar party and ran away with the gold. I say "interesting" because, at least in awards season terms, it's been a run particularly notable for lots of revving but nothing that ever materialized as a significant player.
One of the few remaining mysteries of the season has been where Jason Reitman's "Men, Women & Children" would settle on the calendar. Would Paramount opt for a very late bow like last year's "Labor Day" after the director's traditional Toronto Film Festival premiere slot, or try for earlier in the fall? Turns out it's going to be the latter.