It doesn’t exactly “hurt” to be chosen as an opening-night film at a major festival, but it doesn’t necessarily help either. Opening-night films aren’t exclusively chosen for their broad-based appeal or crowd-pleasing congeniality or…whatever, a certain lack of intrigue or flintiness. But they often are selected for these reasons. (Consider Wes Anderson’s comment about Moonrise Kingdom being selected as the opening-night attraction at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.) I only know that when I read about a film opening a festival, I say to myself, “Okay, got it, right…it’s one of those.” This is the context behind the Toronto Film Festival choosing David Dobkin’s The Judge as its opening-night (i.e., Thursday, 9.4) attraction. No harm or foul, but…well, I’ve said it. Tart dialogue, father-son antagonism, charges filed, stakes rise, buried feelings surface, etc. Right out of the hack-formula handbook. Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong, Dax Shepard and Billy Bob Thornton.
It’s also a little funny that Toronto announced The Judge yesterday as one of many films chosen among the first batch, and then the following day it goes, “Oh, by the way, we’re selecting The Judge as the opener.”