Hollywood has lost a second iconic voice in less than 24 hours. Lauren Bacall, star of screen, stage and television, passed away at the age of 89 Tuesday.
The Toronto International Film Festival announced more selections Tuesday for the upcoming 2014 edition of the annual awards season kick-off. The majority of the festival's program was announced last month, but this group includes intriguing world premieres from notable directors such as Todd McCarthy ("The Cobbler") and Gina Prince-Bythewood ("Beyond the Lights").
Sony Pictures has jerked David Ayer's World War II drama "Fury," starring Brad Pitt, from an original Nov. 14 release date to Oct. 17. That's a date currently occupied by the limited bow of Alejandro González Iñárritu's "Birdman," which shares a producer with "Fury" in John Lesher, but it puts the film right in the mid-month corridor that has worked out for awards season players like "Argo," "Gravity" and "12 Years a Slave" in recent years.
To a generation, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg will forever be linked. The trio of comedy talents hosted the groundbreaking "Comic Relief" specials from 1986 to 2006. Over those two decades all three stars had major ups, major downs and ended up hosting the Academy Awards (OK, technically Williams hosted the Oscar show four days before the first "Relief," but it had been announced). And when one hosted you could almost guarantee one of the remaining two would appear as a presenter on the show with a wave or a kiss back to his or her good friend.
She's a two-time Academy Award nominee who has delivered impressive performances in films such as "The Tree of Life," "The Help," "Take Shelter," "The Debt," "Zero Dark Thirty," "Mama" and the upcoming "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby." She's been called the next Cate Blanchett or Meryl Streep (take your pick). Yes, Jessica Chastain is well on her way to earning the title of America's finest actress, and it turns out we may have Robin Williams to thank for her.
I had to stop and think about it. When was the first time I encountered Robin Williams? I'm pretty sure it was reruns of "Mork & Mindy" at a young age, if not the boisterous Oscar-nominated performance he gave in Barry Levinson's "Good Morning, Vietnam." By then he had already dazzled countless audiences in "The World According to Garp." Whatever it was, like so many, it was the start of, as his widow noted in a release, "countless moments of joy and laughter" he would deliver for the next three decades of my life. And now, he's gone.
One of the films we've been expecting to land on the annually secretive Telluride line-up this year is Werner Herzog's "Queen of the Desert" with Nicole Kidman. A period piece chronicle of the life of traveler, writer, archaeologist, explorer and political attaché Gertrude Bell, the film sounds like it could be a meaty opportunity for Kidman, and if a studio were to bite at these late stages and prime a strategy, it might even be a potential awards player. Alas, the film won't be ready for the early festival circuit, at the very least, and that includes Telluride.
One of the better movies I missed at this year's Cannes Film Festival turned out to be Matthew Warchus' crowd pleaser "Pride." The British film made its debut in Director's Fortnight and, unfortunately, as less hectic as Cannes is compared to its prestige festival cousins it rarely allows you to catch up with everything on the schedule. From a distance the film seemed like "The Full Monty," "Waking Ned Devine" or "Calendar Girls" with a slight Working Title spin. Basically, a movie I could catch down the road. Plus, it was screening at the end of the festival when there were a number of other priorities. Excuses, excuses, excuses. Needless to say, I'm kicking myself for not seeing it at Cannes because it's a good one.
Despite his work being sometimes tepidly received at all corners of the globe, James Franco, the filmmaker, has been a major force on the world festival stage. He'll be showing up at Venice once again this year with his William Faulkner adaptation "The Sound and the Fury," but while he's there he'll be picking up some hardware.
I sort of feel like if you can check your brain for "Guardians of the Galaxy," you can check your brain for "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." These things are both basically children's movies. Yeah, Marvel's big end-of-summer king got a lot of great reviews, but it also instantly shot to the top of the most-overrated-film-of-the-year-by-a-staggering-margin list. And I liked it just fine! We're just in this weird space of polar reactions. The media either has to love something or hate it. I feel like these two movies are a perfect illustration of the inherent hypocrisy in that, but that's just my opinion.