Tuesday, October 9, 2012


To The Wonder
 By James Colt Harrison

The annual Toronto International Film Festival is always ahead of the crowd when it selects excellent films to be shown either this year or next, depending on subsequent distribution. Here are just a dozen of the top films enjoyed at the 2012 festival in Canada.

Ben Affleck, one of my favorite actors and directors, stars in director Terrence Malick’s latest film To The Wonder after his Brad Pitt hit  The Tree of Life. Malick’s films are few and far between, but he crafts each one as a work of art. Spain’s Javier Bardem joins Affleck along with Rachel McAdams and Olga Kurylenko.

Ginger & Rosa

Film director Sally Potter put herself on the movie map with Orlando several years ago. She doesn’t make many films, but when she does, they are always attention-getters. Potter tries her hand at a coming-of-age story in Ginger & Rosa, about two teen-age girls in London during the Cuban missile crisis and how it affects their lives. Cute little Elle Fanning, Christina Hendricks and Alice Englert star.

Arthur Newman
Oscar® winner Colin Firth leaves the Royal Family behind and plays a regular guy in Arthur Newman. He tackles a dark comedy instead of a historical piece and joins the lovely Emily Blunt. They play two people who are both desperate to remake themselves. They fall in love over the course of their trials, and move into an abandoned house. Dante Ariola is a first-time director.

Tommy Lee Jones, fresh off his triumphant hit “Hope Springs” with Meryl Streep at $54 million in the first month, is more gruff in Emperor. He plays America’s World War II hero, General Douglas MacArthur. It’s set in Japan right after the war. Although sometimes war pictures are a tough sell around the world, Jones and Matthew Fox, with the help of Japanese star Eriko Hatsune, should draw the crowds.

Dazzling redheaded star Julianne Moore pairs up with Steve Coogan in What Maisie Knew. It’s apparently a retelling and updating of a Henry James 1897 novel.  Now Moore plays a sexy rock n’ roll temptress. It couldn’t be more updated than that! Both Scott McGhee and David Seigel directed.

Oscar®-winning actress Annette Bening and graduate of San Diego’s Old Globe Theater, has returned to the screen in Imogene. This joyful picture is really a vehicle for Kristen Wiig, the go-to girl for contemporary comedy films. Although she plays a character who stages a suicide to get her boyfriend (Matt Dillon) back, it is hilarious because her actions backfire and she ends up living with her mother (Benning). Directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini.

Little Saoirse Ronan is all grown up now and gets together with Gemma Arterton and handsome Johnny Lee Miller in Byzantium. In an alternate look at horror, this is a mother-daughter vampire picture. It certainly sounds intriguing. Directed by the talented Neil Jordan.

The Iceman lets excellent actor Michael Shannon chew the scenery. Usually he dominates the screen and you can’t look at anyone else. He plays real-life Mafia hitman Richard Kuklinski. He was a nasty man who allegedly bumped off many people. Winona Ryder and Chris Evans are assets to the cast.

Much Ado About Nothing is directed by Joss Whedon in rare black and white. He used his own home as the set where he often hosts Shakespearean readings. This films stars Nathan Filian, Clark Gregg, and Amy Acker, who do their best to make this curiosity palatable. Only you can tell if the film is successful at entertaining. It just might be the right thing for film fans.

Two handsome heart-throbs of the moment star in this Derek Cianfrance-directed film The Place Beyond the Pines. Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper will thrill the ladies with their male beauty. The studio is being coy about letting us know much about the plot, but  there has been a lot of good buzz about the film. Rose Byrne joins the boys in the film.

Oscar® winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow returns to the screen after a long absence in director Stuart Blumberg’s gripping drama Thanks For Sharing. Set in New York and using many on-site locations, the film follows three friends who are each trying to recover from sex addiction in his own way. Joining Paltrow and Mark Ruffalo and Tim Robbins.

Indian director Mira Nair has fashioned an interesting new film blending east and west. The Reluctant Fundamentalist follows a young Pakistani man in the aftermath of 9/11. American star Kate Hudson joins Keifer Sutherland and Liev Schreiber as they become involved in Pakistani star Riz Ahmed’s adventures.

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