Okay — I blew my Toronto Film Festival experience by not seeing Borat. If there’s a consensus among the various columnists, it’s that more people connected in a dynamic, jolting, oh-my-gosh way with Sacha Baron Cohen‘s deranged put-on comedy (20th Century Fox, 11.3) than with any other Toronto Film Festival attraction. Fine… whatever. It guess it’s something to look forward to seeing when I get back to L.A.
Toronto is the festival that presides over the death and downgrading of imperfect films. All The King’s Men died here. Bobby was all but pummelled to death. Stranger than Fiction pretty much died. For Your Consideration, Infamous and The Fountain (a film I really and truly liked) all died here. Breaking and Entering found respect and muted enthusiasm, but that’s all.
Babel and Volver solidifed their already commanding positions. Venus did fairly well, but Peter O’Toole did better. Catch a Fire tried for traction and found some, but I’m not sure if it was enough. Little Children did moderately well, although it became clear that some had recoiled due to the second-act “ick” factor. And Guillermo del Toro‘s Pan’s Labyrinth gained.
My biggest Toronto favorite (apart from the films I loved but had already seen in Cannes) was Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck‘s The Lives of Others. And I’m hugely pissed that I couldn’t manage to see Paul Verhoeven‘s Black Book his return to Dutch filmmaking by way of a World War II melodrama, as well as Patrice Leconte‘s My Best Friend, which Variety‘s Robert Koehler brought to my attention two or three days ago. I nodded and said thanks and wrote a note to myself…and didn’t see it.
The Last King of Scotland didn’t ignite, but Forrest Whittaker‘s performance as Idi Amin did…sort of. Penelope Cruz has played the role of her life in Volver, and to my mind she became an all-but-certain Best Actress nominee out of her TIFF exposure. Kate Winslet caught a Best Actress wave with her Little Children performance, and costars Patrick Wilson and Jackie Earl Haley popped through in more general terms.
I’l try and add to this piece later on, as well as get into the mezzo-mezzo’s that I didn’t feel very much about one way or the other.