Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Moore kick off Toronto Film Festival

11 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Gyllenhaal in ‘Demolition’ mode as Toronto film fest opens.

Hollywood actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts proved that the Toronto International Film Festival can still draw big stars as it kicked off its 40th anniversary celebrations.TORONTO, Canada (AFP) – Jake Gyllenhaal takes a bulldozer to his own life as a man unhinged by grief in “Demolition,” which opened North America’s largest film festival in Toronto on Thursday.When Fox Searchlight announced the company’s fall 2015 release slate in July, it included a bump to April 2016 for Jean-Marc Vallée’s “Demolition.” Many assumed it was a sign of weakness where awards potential was concerned (failing, of course, to note the reigning best picture king’s success with March release “The Grand Budapest Hotel” last year).

The festival, which is often regarded as a crucial stop on the path to the Academy Awards, opened with the gala premiere of Demolition, a film about a successful investment banker who demolishes a house after his wife dies in a car crash. Pressed by his father-in-law to pull it together, Mitchell instead launches into an obsessive campaign against a vending machine company, penning letters of complaint that take on an increasingly confessional tone. Naomi plays the woman he makes an unlikely connection with. “A lot of times I have had to go on long journeys to find a character and this time the director forced me into his space and it was an uncomfortable place to be. “The movie says grief can be anything, really.

It’s unique to grab that slot and then beg off for the next year on release, but the Canadian Vallée really wanted to play to his people north of the border, as he has with “C.R.A.Z.Y.,” “The Young Victoria,” “Dallas Buyers Club” and “Wild.” After the film premiered Thursday night, you could already tell it had landed a sour note with a number of critics who tossed out a quick Twitter thought before ducking into Michael Moore’s latest. Portman attended the pre-opening night party and stunned in an embellished, floral dress before participating in an intimate conversation about her life and career. “I do feel that there’s a lot of conversation right now about female directors and why there aren’t more of them,” she told the Toronto Star. “I think the conversation is pushing studios to hire more women and also for women to start getting more inspiration and support.” For more of PEOPLE’s coverage of the 2015 Toronto Film Festival – including the hottest premieres, the biggest stars and the buzziest films – check out people.com/tiff.

We have a conventional idea of what grief is supposed to be and particularly movies give us that idea; they teach us how to supposedly love or supposedly hate or fight, and this movie is so beautiful because it doesn’t say grief is supposed to be anything, it is whatever you make of it and as long as you move through it, you’re doing all right.” The actor said: “When I was tearing up that house it was incredibly cathartic, you feel like a kid. Gyllenhaal himself has also become a fixture in Toronto, appearing in last year’s well-received “Nightcrawler,” as well as “Prisoners,” “Rendition” and previously in Ang Lee’s acclaimed “Brokeback Mountain.” “Jake is fully engaged in this performance,” said Bailey. “And Jean-Marc was able to build a world around this character where you feel you’re with that person.” On the red carpet at the film’s gala premiere, Gyllenhaal said he appreciated the film’s take on grieving, which he said was “very different from the way that movies tend to tell you that you’re supposed to (grieve).” “He’s right on and gives you what the script is asking on the first take,” he told AFP. “And then the second take he’ll go somewhere else, and then the third take he’ll go somewhere else. I wasn’t shocked, really. “Demolition” is a delicate film — some might slam it with a pejorative “precious” — and an easy one to be cynical about at that. In past years, Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave,” “The King’s Speech,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” “American Beauty” and “Chariots of Fire” won the festival’s audience prize for best picture before going on to win Best Picture Oscars.

Not to mention: “Youth,” “Brooklyn,” “Far From the Madding Crowd,” “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” — Searchlight has plenty to work with this year, having also bumped Luca Guadagnino’s “A Bigger Splash” to clear up some space. This year’s lineup includes films on transgender people, quirky family dynamics, drone strikes, military coups and rigged elections, organized crime, and the music of Janis Joplin, Keith Richards, Yo-Yo Ma and other luminaries.

Julianne Moore, “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner, Salma Hayek, and comedian Sarah Silverman, meanwhile, will chat with audiences about their film careers. Jonas Cuaron (“Gravity”) is back with a story about migrants seeking a better life in America being stalked in the desert by a deranged vigilante, in “Desierto.” Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad” fame returns in “Trumbo,” starring alongside Helen Mirren and John Goodman in the movie about the screenwriter and Hollywood blacklist victim Dalton Trumbo. I feel like you could have written a version of this piece last year (and I probably did), but ever since the disappointing 2010 video game adaptation “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,” and particularly since an agency switch in 2012, the 34-year-old star has been on a quest to push himself, explore new territory with bold filmmakers (Duncan Jones, David Ayer, Denis Villeneueve, Dan Gilroy) and just keep growing. And next he’s working with Tom Ford (“Nocturnal Animals”), another compelling artist who will no doubt add a whole other shade to the actor’s palette. I haven’t met a single person in the industry who understands how Gyllenhaal missed a lead actor nomination for “Nightcrawler.” He bobbed and weaved against critical blows aimed at this summer’s “Southpaw,” emerging unscathed.

When the role comes, he’s going to seize it and be smart about it and the timing will be right, because he just seems to be doing it for all the right reasons lately.

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