Toronto film festival 2015: 15 key films to watch out for

11 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Jake Gyllenhaal to bring the house down in Demolition.

With Telluride out of the way and Venice winding down, all eyes are firmly set on Canada with the 40th Toronto film festival set to unveil a wide range of major awards contenders. 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.The opening night premieres of “Demolition” by Quebecois filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallee (“Dallas Buyers Club”) and Moore’s “Where to Invade Next” made an unlikely pair to kick off Toronto’s fall-movie launching pad on Thursday. “Demolition” won’t hit theaters until April, and “Where to Invade Next” is being shopped for buyers.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).Not sure if that should be one word, hyphenated or two but it means that Jake Gyllenhaal powers through another movie that is entirely unlike his last one.

Ridley Scott’s big budget return to space will hopefully be a far more interesting excursion than Alien prequel Prometheus, a sequel to which he is currently prepping. 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. A juicy premise (astronaut stranded on Mars) and arguably the year’s most impressive cast (Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels) suggests it might. After forever being the plentifully nominated bridesmaid, Julianne Moore is hoping for her second best-actress Oscar in a row with another Toronto premiere for an awards-friendly role.

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. While it had been expected to be an investigation of the American military industrial complex, Moore does the invading in the film himself, traveling to other countries (mostly in Europe) to find “America’s soul.” Moore’s premise is that decades of patriotic chest-thumping and constant war have prevented the United States from taking care of its own democracy. 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. The Jakequake line came from Cameron Bailey, festival artistic director, in introducing director Jean-Marc Vallee whose “Demolition” opened the 40th celebration. “We’re happy to be launching the latest in a string of terrific performances by Jake Gyllenhaal. 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.

In Slovenia, he finds free university; in Finland, he marvels at its top education system; in Italy, he sees eight weeks of annual vacation and strong unions. Bryan Cranston aims to finally shake off the meth-cooking shadow of Walter White with a lead in Austin Powers director Jay Roach’s McCarthyism-era biopic. It is a lot harder to create than to destroy and I do feel like we live in a world where it is easier to destroy than to create, but it is really, really hard to pull apart a house yourself.” Other films expected to make a splash at the festival include Ridley Scott’s The Martian, starring Matt Damon, a Hank Williams biopic starring Tom Hiddleston and Black Mass, which stars Johnny Depp as crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger.

After the film’s north-of-the-border debut was met with an enthusiastic standing ovation, Moore provided Slovenia college applications and distributed German-made pencils to the audience. 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. Hashtag that,” Bailey said. “Demolition” screened at 6:30 p.m. (which turned into a 7:15 start) at the Princess of Wales Theatre and then had a red-carpet gala at Roy Thomson Hall nearby. “He shows such passion as a director and shows such skill in drawing indelible performances from his actors and he’s Canadian,” Bailey said of Vallee who is from Montreal.

Vallee spoke and introduced his key cast – including a bearded Gyllenhaal in a dark suit and wine-colored tie standing next to Naomi Watts in a flesh-tone ruffled confection of a dress, veteran actor Chris Cooper, actress Heather Lind in a floor-length red gown, and 14-year-old Judah Lewis who plays Watts’ young son and made the trip to Toronto with his parents from LA. (Volunteers were stationed in the aisle, including one with a flower in her hair blocking my view, before the start of the film. The director said he was urged back into moviemaking after the Occupy Wall Street movement and the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri: “I thought it was important to re-enlist,” he said. 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.

One of the festival’s biggest British hopes sees Tom Hiddleston take centre-stage in an adaptation of JG Ballard’s dystopian thriller about an isolated tower block that offers luxury at a price. He compared the male dominance of American government to the minority-controlled system of apartheid. “Demolition,” the festival’s official opener, premiered earlier in the evening. Everything she does seems so easy and natural and so beautiful.” Gyllenhaal, whose “Southpaw” is still in theaters as “Everest” awaits around the corner, was introduced by Vallee this way: “There’s nothing he hasn’t done, he hasn’t tried. While her role as a bored housewife in the romantic drama Carol has pretty much ensured her an Oscar nomination next year, Cate Blanchett is hoping to double her chances with a supporting turn in this journalism drama. But the movie is comic, and gleefully follows its protagonist’s unhinging as he refuses to mourn. “This is probably the most rock ‘n’ roll film I’ve ever made,” said Vallee, a TIFF regular whose last film, “Wild” with Reese Witherspoon, also premiered at Toronto. “I think we’re going to set the tone for the festival with the noise we’re going to make tonight.” “Demolition,” though, yielded a mixed reaction from critics, albeit with fairly universal praise for Gyllenhaal’s dedicated performance.

You’ll see him act, of course,” but also dance, take a sledgehammer to his old life literally and figuratively and learn what it means to be numb and to thaw and feel again. Other snapshots from the festival: Started my day with “Jafar Panahi’s Taxi,” featuring Iranian filmmaker Panahi driving a cab and turning his car into a mobile film studio where passengers argue about crime and punishment, wail with grief, deliver a last testament, peddle bootleg DVDs and debate what makes for sordid realism which will result in a movie being banned. “45 Years” showcases wonderful performances by Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay as a couple about to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary with a party; his bypass surgery had postponed a 40th bash. Roland Emmerich might be an unlikely figure to helm a 60s-set drama about the Stonewall riots in New York, but this has been a passion project for the director usually associated with disaster epics. But a ghostly figure from the past and revelations about her may taint everything and certainly leave the husband and wife numb and raw in different ways.

While there’s already been controversy over the white, cisgender cast, this could still prove to be a much-needed take on an under-reported period in gay history. 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. As soon as that let out, I sprinted down the steps and out to the sidewalk where scores of people lined up for “Sicario,” being shown in an IMAX theater at the commercial Scotiabank Theatre. “We are in a delay situation,” a theater employee ominously announced over the street traffic, eight minutes before the 3 p.m. movie was to start.

By 3:25 p.m., every seat was filled for the thriller starring Emily Blunt as an idealistic FBI agent who finds herself part of a mysterious government task force determined to smoke out or smoke a Mexican drug kingpin. 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. Hoping for more luck is director Matthew Cullen, best known for Katy Perry’s California Gurls video, who is bringing this noir thriller to life with a cast that includes Amber Heard, Billy Bob Thornton and Johnny Depp.

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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