If a movie is going to Telluride it’s presumed to have a certain award-season schwing, and if not that at least a sense of strong character — a certain accomplished, sift-through quality that will be fodder for intense, late-night conversations with Larry Gross at the Sheridan bar. And if a film bypasses Telluride for Toronto it means…well, first and foremost that’s not necessarily a “problem.” A Toronto opening is fine. But to some of us it hints or indicates that the producers and/or distributors are perhaps a tad more interested in hoopla and fanfare and perhaps a bit less interested in being closely examined and burrowed into, and in that pre-Toronto conversation possibly affecting the Toronto reception.
Sandra Bullock as ‘Calamity’ Jane Bodine, a political consultant hired by an unpopular Bolivian president (Joaquim de Almeida’s Pedro Gallo) to help him win an election.
There’s nothing “wrong” with Toronto or anyone deciding to open there first. A Toronto debut can be the start of something very big. Silver Linings Playbook bypassed Telluride and look what happened there. Toronto can mean anything. You can find God in Toronto just as readily as you might find Him/Her in the Colorado mountains. I don’t know anything. I’m just typing away.
But in my mind there’s a certain modified droop effect, a certain “oh, really?” quality when a film bypasses Telluride. It means the producers are a tad more interested in the roar of the crowd than in the more particular, pond-ripple enthusiasms of an elite but impassioned fraternity.
I therefore suspect that it probably “means something” that two Sony Pictures Classics films — Marc Abraham‘s I Saw The Light, the Hank Williams biopic costarring Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen, and James Vanderbilt‘s Truth, the truth-based politics and journalism drama with Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford — were announced this morning as Toronto Film Festival selections. Our Brand Is Crisis, a dryly comedic, upmarket Warner Bros. release from director David Gordon Green and producers George Clooney and Grant Heslov and starring Sandra Bullock, Scoot McNairy and Billy Bob Thornton, was also announced as a Toronto debut, and that probably means…let’s not go there. I know nothing.
But I know what I suspect. The sails, it seems, have been slightly trimmed…nothing you can point to but just a bit. A feeling. That’s all I want to say.
Also announced this morning was the Toronto debut of Catherine Hardwicke’s Miss You Already, an England-based relationship dramedy starring Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette. Dominic Cooper, Paddy Considine, Frances de la Tour and Jacqueline Bisset costar. Wiki boilerplate: “A relationship between two childhood friends Jess and Milly gets worse when one gets pregnant and the other develops cancer.” Collette isn’t the pregnant one, right?
Nobody wants to hear or know about Mr. Right, an “action comedy romance” from director Paco Cabezas and screenwriter Max Landis. The TIFF closing night attraction is about a relationship between an assassin (the sometimes great Sam Rockwell) and a woman who falls in love with him (Anna Kendrick). Natalie Portman‘s A Tale of Love and Darkness, which kind of flatlined when it played three months ago in Cannes, will be screened at a TIFF charity event the night before the festival starts.
Hong Kong Trilogy: Preschooled Preoccupied Preposterous, a doc from acclaimed cinematographer Christopher Doyle, will be Toronto-screened, as will London Road, the Tom Hardy-starring adaptation of the National Theatre’s acclaimed musical about the Suffolk Strangler murders.