My TIFF review round-up (so far)

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I am back from the Toronto International Film Festival, and I’ll continue to be posting articles, reviews, links, and more in the days, weeks, and months to come. But here is a quick round-up of my published TIFF work so far:

I have some more work coming, and I posted plenty on Twitter and Facebook over the course of the weekend.

Photo from “Sarah Prefers to Run” courtesy of TIFF

Wednesday Round-Up: TIFF talk heats up with only 8 days to go

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With the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival just eight days away, you can expect TIFF talk here and elsewhere to go into overdrive. Maximum overdrive, even. Almost every day from now until the end of the festival, I’ll be posting something TIFF-related — although not tomorrow; note I said ALMOST.

The majority of my coverage will be for Indiewire’s The Playlist, for The Film Stage, and for the November issue of Buffalo Spree, but I will certainly post here, and I will also be posting lots on FilmSwoon’s Twitter and Facebook pages, so please hit those up while I’m at the festival (September 6-9).

One TIFF entry I am hoping to see — honestly, it’s all up in the air at this point — is “Dallas Buyers Club,” a.k.a., The Film That Matthew McConaughey Lost All That Weight For. It is a fantastic concept for a movie, and represents another unique choice for its star. The Playlist posted some new pictures for the film — its release date was just moved up to early November, a very confident move — and an official synopsis:

“In 1986, the AIDS crisis was still a misunderstood horror, withering then taking its victims, alarming the public and confounding the doctors who sought a cure. In Texas, Ron Woodruff stood beyond the fear of AIDS. He was clueless. So when this boozing, foul-mouthed, womanizing heterosexual contracted HIV, his response was instinctive: Bullshit.

“‘Dallas Buyers Club’ draws on his true story. When Woodruff (Matthew McConaughey) is told that he has only thirty days to live, he pleads with a doctor (Jennifer Garner) for what was then an experimental drug, AZT. But he refuses to submit to a clinical trial, so he steals the drug — taking his first dose with a beer chaser and a snort of cocaine. When the AZT dosage makes him sick, he seeks out alternative medicine. Never one to heed rules, Woodruff smuggles unapproved treatments over the border from Mexico. Along the way, he strikes up an unlikely alliance with Rayon, a sleek but troubled drag queen, played with stunning conviction by Jared Leto. The pair teams up to sell treatments to the growing numbers of HIV and AIDS patients unwilling to wait for the medical establishment to save them. It’s a classic story of American enterprise.”

The Playlist and The Film Stage are two of my favorite sources for news and info as TIFF draws closer, and I don’t just say that because I’m a contributor for both.

The rest of this week’s round-up:

Photo: “Dallas Buyers Club”

Missing in Action at TIFF 2013 (So Far)

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The Toronto International Film Festival has jusssst about finished announcing its 2013 crop, and there are some killer selections. Some are playing other festivals first (including Alfonso Cuaron’s long-awaited “Gravity”), some already did (“The Past,” “Blue is the Warmest Colour”), but a number of the selections are making their international debut, including Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave.”

Still, each year there are movies that were rumored to play TIFF, and never do. Here are a few that I’m still hoping make the cut.

“The Immigrant”: James Gray’s film stars Marion Cottilard, the actress I consider to be my favorite, as well as Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner. I was a huge fan of Gray’s last film, the Phoenix-starring “Two Lovers,” and while “The Immigrant” drew a mixed response from Cannes, its story of new arrivals to America in the 1920s could not intrigue me more.

“Inside Llewyn Davis”: This is a biggie. The Coen Bros.’ folk-music odyssey also played Cannes, where it earned typically ecstatic reviews. It does not open until December, and that seems a ludicrously time to wait for the film, which stars Oscar Isaac and Carey Mulligan.

“All is Lost”: I just watched Robert Redford’s last film, “The Company You Keep,” and while it was a pretty standard affair, the TIFF 2012 entry was a reminder of how strong an actor he can be. This mostly dialogue-free tale of one man caught in a storm at sea looks mesmerizing. It is J.C. Chandor’s follow-up to his very strong debut, “Margin Call.”

“Nebraska”: I love the state of Nebraska, especially the Cornhuskers, and I’ve liked just about every Alexander Payne picture, but I haven’t been too charged up for this one yet. Still, it’s Alexander Payne, it stars the great Bruce Dern, and the black-and-white looks lovely.

“The Zero Theorem”: Christoph Waltz stars in the return of Terry Gilliam, another future-set bit of Gilliam-ana (I’m coining that). “Zero” is already booked for the Veince Film Festival.

“Oldboy”: Spike Lee’s remake recently shifted release dates from October to November, and while that is often a signal of bad things to come, it may prove wise, since October is a busy month for an action-y film. Anyone interested in cinema is dying to see this Josh Brolin-starrer. I wonder if he eats squid.

“Palo Alto”: There are a number of reasons to be intrigued by this adaptation of James Franco’s story collection. But tops, for me, is its director: Gia Coppola, the granddaughter of Francis Ford Coppola. She is the daughter of Coppola’s late son Gian-Carlo, and if her aunt Sofia has proven anything, its that the female Coppola’s are a force to be reckoned with.

There are others that perhaps were not ready, and instead are playing later fests — Spike Jonze’s “Her,” Tom Hanks in “Captain Phillips” — or perhaps skipping the festival circuit entirely. I would not rule out some biggies like Scorsese’s “Wolf of Wall Street” or George Clooney’s “Monuments Men”

And note that TIFF still has its “Masters” program to unveil. Last year at this time, I was hugely disappointed that Haneke’s “Amour” was not playing the festival … and then there it was, on the “Masters” list. The full schedule arrives on Tuesday (August 20), so I would expect it then.

All of the films mentioned above would have made nice TIFF selections; I’m especially surprised not to see “The Immigrant,” “Llewyn Davis,” and “Nebraska” on the list. But with so many great films over the festival’s 11 days, who can be disappointed?

Robert Redford stars in J.C. Chandor’s “All is Lost”; photo credit: Daniel Daz