TORONTO 2010: THE END OF THE REVELRY



FROM THE CANADIAN PRESS

Now that I’m not so heavily into the review thing any more…

I’ve seen EASY A.

I thought it was hysterical and I laughed all the way through it. That is extraordinarily rare. It’s incredibly charming and intelligent.

Portions of it are actually an homage to those 80s teen movies like SIXTEEN CANDLES, FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF, SAY ANYTHING and PRETTY IN PINK. If you like those and would appreciate a postmodern take on the material, then this is your flick.

PATRICIA CLARKSON and STANLEY TUCCI portray our hero’s parents. They’re as awesome as you would imagine.

There are very fine comedic performances from AMANDA BYNES, MALCOLM McDOWELL and PENN BADGLEY.

But the wild card is the protagonist Olive, played superbly by EMMA STONE. She’s saucy, sexy as hell and possesses wicked charisma. If there is any justice in this world, she will be an enduring star.

This is easily one of my favourite films of the year. If you think it might be in your wheelhouse, you definitely need to find it and check it out.

THE TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL ended on the weekend after unspooling more than 300 films during an 11 day cinematic marathon.

The Canadian Press writers who covered the fest pick some memorable moments.

BEST FILMS

ANOTHER YEAR: After examining the lives of singletons in the rollicking HAPPY GO LUCKY, British movie master Mike Leigh ruminates on aging in this graceful and absorbing portrait of two contented married people in London and their very unhappy friends. (December release)

EASY A: The witty and wondrous EMMA STONE makes it look effortless in this endlessly appealing teen comedy. She oozes charm as a smart but anonymous high schooler who temporarily enjoys the infamy that comes with a false rumour about her promiscuity.

With meta references to THE SCARLET LETTER and a variety of beloved JOHN HUGHES teen comedies, the film is so fast and clever viewers might miss subtler questions about religion and the oft hypocritical sexual politics that weigh heavily on today’s teens. (Opened in theatres FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 10)

THE KING’S SPEECH: COLIN FIRTH is exquisite as a stammering George VI while GEOFFREY RUSH shines as his confident speech therapist. Director Tom Hooper deftly handles the rich history of the royals, offering a heartwarming and relatable story of a king who battled a crippling speech impediment to lead the nation into war. (November release)

BLUE VALENTINE: Writer/director Derek Cianfrance spent about a decade working on the film and the result is a raw, organic portrait of a disintegrating marriage that’ll have you hugging your loved ones at the end.

MICHELLE WILLIAMS gets remarkably intimate to portray a young wife in good times and in bad. (December release)

BLACK SWAN: Director DARREN ARONOFSKY said that he tries to “make films that are just going to be very, very different experiences” and he certainly succeeds with this motion picture.

BLACK SWAN is a ballet themed psychodrama starring NATALIE PORTMAN. On the heels of THE WRESTLER, a comparatively straightforward film that got OSCAR noms for MICKEY ROURKE and MARISA TOMEI, Mr. Aronofsky returns to his more experimental filmmaking roots with this trippy look backstage. (December release)

DAYDREAM NATION: It’s a marvel that this fully realized tale of angst in a rainswept Lynchian small town is a debut feature for Canadian writer/director Mike Goldbach. Kat Dennings is note perfect as a headstrong teen while the film’s unique atmosphere will linger in viewers’ minds for days, calling to mind cult favourite DONNIE DARKO. And for music enthusiasts drawn in by the title: the soundtrack is every bit as excellent as you might think.

THE HIGH COST OF LIVING: With her feature length debut, Toronto raised director Deborah Chow offers up a terrifically original story that lingers long after the credits roll.

SCRUBS actor ZACH BRAFF and ISABELLE BLAIS star as two strangers whose lives tragically collide. They spend much of the film walking the wintry streets of Montreal’s Mile End and Plateau neighbourhoods, stopping in at some of Ms. Chow’s real life haunts along the way. (Release date TBA)

RABBIT HOLE: This heavy drama has OSCAR written all over it, thanks in large part to powerhouse leads NICOLE KIDMAN and AARON ECKHART as anguished marrieds reeling from the death of their four year old son. Textured performances from DIANNE WIEST and Canada’s SANDRA OH add sorrow tinged comic relief to this moving adaptation of the PULITZER PRIZE winning play by David Lindsay Abaire. (Release date TBA)

BEST PERFORMANCES

JAVIER BARDEM: As the woe begotten tragic hero in BIUTIFUL, JAVIER is dark, deep and dazzling. JAVIER plays a cancer stricken petty criminal who spends his final days trying to right his many wrongs and put to rest the ghosts that haunt him.

COLIN FIRTH: COLIN astounds as George VI in THE KING’S SPEECH, nailing his heartbreaking stammer and giving him an endearing and edgy persona that allows viewers to sympathize with his struggles. He’s completely mesmerizing during his scenes with GEOFFREY RUSH, who plays his speech therapist and viewers will be in stitches during one particularly masterful cursing scene.

LIANA LIBERATO: This newcomer is a standout as a 14 year old volleyball player who falls victim to an internet predator in David Schwimmer’s dark drama TRUST. LIANA more than holds her own alongside acting heavyweights CLIVE OWEN and CATHERINE KEENER, perfectly capturing the overwhelming enormity of teenage infatuation.

CAREY MULLIGAN: This Brit beauty graduates from breakout ingenue to full fledged movie star with her soulful performance in NEVER LET ME GO. No matter that her character actually has relatively few lines aside from narration — CAREY’S graceful poise and expressive gaze speak volumes in this long awaited adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s acclaimed novel about love, betrayal, sacrifice and mortality.

NATALIE PORTMAN: As a ballerina pushed to insanity by the physical and mental pressures that come with competing in an elite world, NATALIE conveys a remarkable mix of steel and fragility that should make her a lock for an OSCAR nomination.

TEEN DREAM

While the annual movie marathon always features its share of weighty dramas, TIFF was also rocking a lighter younger vibe this year. There was the moody teacher/student tale DAYDREAM NATION, the whip smart popcorn pleaser EASY A and the ethereal teen friendship drama MODRA.

THE GREAT DIVIDE

Several films at this year’s festival seemed to split audiences right down the middle. On the streets of Toronto, critics could be heard clashing over TRUST, GOOD NEIGHBOURS, BLACK SWAN and THE DEBT.

BRIT BRIGADE

This year’s fest featured a barrage of engaging stars from the UK. ANTHONY HOPKINS entertained with a spirited WOODY ALLEN impression, while SALLY HAWKINS, ROSAMUND PIKE, JIM BROADBENT, MINNIE DRIVER and MIKE LEIGH were chatty and enormously accommodating.

MOST PERSONABLE STARS

GOOD NEIGHBOURS star JAY BARUCHEL was happy to ruminate on his fast food infatuation. Brit acting legend JIM BROADBENT willingly stooped over to help a photographer set up his backdrop. A kind KEANU REEVES insisted an interview go over the allotted time.

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