Richard: Mark, looking around at the press today in the lobby of the Inter Continental, the host hotel for the media, put me in the mind of an episode of The Walking Dead. Everyone is beat and there are still a few days to go, movies to see and celebrities to be coddled and interviewed. The end, howeVER, is in sight and to me right now it looks like a big glowing orb. A delicious orb of made of cookie dough and beer. How’s it going for you?
Mark: Day 8 of the hostage crisis and no signs of release, Richard. Haven’t eaten a proper meal since TIFF started. Very little sleep. No contact with my family. They’ve turned me into a broken man and I’m ready to talk, to name names and talk about where the gems are. And there have been some real gems in the festival so far. Any faves, my friend?
RC: Reese Witherspoon had a couple of movies at the festival. The Good Lie is a Blind Side-esque story of a social worker who helps three Sudanese Lost Boys find work in America and reunite with their sister. It got a standing ovation at the gala BEFORE the stars came out. Pretty rare for a credit roll to bring people to their feet. She’s also in Wild, the story of a troubled woman who hikes 1100 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. Filled with happiness, pain, sorrow and more melancholy than a Patsy Cline ballad, it feels like a life on parade. Like puzzle pieces the snippets piece together to eventually form a whole. And it’s funny too. I’m still laughing about the “lady hobo” scene.
MB: I found Beyond the Lights to be a terrible movie-fraudulent and packaged, with bad concert footage in place of plot and character development. It’s the story of a Beyonce-type diva who finds her true self, but I’ve never seen the journey to authenticity portrayed with such little authenticity. Yet in this bad movie-and I mean Showgirls bad-movie, there are the two leads transcending the material at each moment. Gugu Mbatha-Raw fills the screen with her electric presence, and Nate Parker as her Bodyguard redux cop boyfriend delivers an impressively restrained performance.
RC: I’d put Jack O’Connell in the stars to watch category. Every year there is someone to look out for. A few years ago Michael Fassbinder became a big star after his portrayal of hunger striker Bobby Sands helped make Hunger one of the big hits of the festival. In 71 O’Connell plays a rookie British soldier lost in an IRA controlled part of Belfast at the height of “The Troubles.” It’s a break out, and is a nice sedt up to his next movie, the Angelina Jolie directed war-drama Unbroken based on the life of WWII POW and Olympic distance runner Louis Zamperini. I also think Bang Bang Baby’s Jane Levy could break big after TIFF this year.
MB: I’d put Julia Sarah Stone in that category too. The lead in Wet Bum, she brings a wide-eyed innocence and slow burn to the coming of age picture. The movie meant something extra to me because I, too, came from a family that owned nursing homes. The movie is slight, though, and not a lot happens in it, which is why it’s so important we identify with the young girl. Unfortunate title, though, and I think you may get websites you’re not looking for when you google it.