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Toronto Wrap

To sum up:
Borat killed. Nothing else came close.

Catch a Fire, Venus, Last King of Scotland, Little Children, Babel, Volver, and The Lives Of Others continued on track for Oscars. Pan's Labyrinth was another fave here, and could be a Mexican entry.

Marc Forster's Stranger than Fiction could get into the race if the critics like it enough---I heard some mixed response. It's fabulously written and acted and very funny and even suspenseful. Will Ferrell is well cast as the schlumpy dull accountant who falls for earthy baker Maggie Gyllenhaal, who along with Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman could win a supporting nom.

It's hard to say what will happen with For Your Consideration, Infamous, Breaking and Entering, Bobby; all were met with mixed responses. For Your Consideration seemed to me like another trip to a tired old well; Infamous is stuck with being the second film about Truman Capote but should be seen; Breaking and Entering is Anthony Minghella all over: it's well made and smart and the actors are good but it leaves you outside somehow, looking in. I'm wondering why I have such ambivalent feelings about Jude Law. Due to a deadline, I missed my Bobby screening last night.

Among the new films, The Fountain, All the King's Men and A Good Year all disappointed. All the King's Men I have yet to see, but the press and industry people wondered what movie Steve Zaillian really wanted to make. If it had been good it would have come out last year, basically.

The Fountain is a noble failure from a talented director. Darren Aronofsky conceived it on a grand studio scale but trimmed it back after Brad Pitt left the project. The movie still could have gotten smaller. The contemporary story about Hugh Jackman fighting against losing his wife (Rachel Weisz) to cancer works, and so does the story within the story, written by her and read by him, about a conquistador searching for the fountain of youth for his queen. But the third future story...Aronofsky explained it to me, but man, it's out there. Basically Jackman is a yogi in a bubble in a nebula.

A Good Year is a male fantasy in which Russell Crowe tries to be charming and somehow fails; it feels like a movie made by a bunch of men getting drunk every night on location in Provence. While it was made on a $30 million budget, which is low for a Ridley Scott/Crowe movie, it's still one of those studio movies that bears no resemblence to reality: it looks good and should function as an escapist romance--but doesn't.

Among the movies for sale, I adored Sarah Polley's restrained handling of romance among the aged in Away from Her, starring the incandescent Julie Christie.

Top commercial director Tarsem’s self-financed $14-million war-time fable  The Fall was influenced by The Princess Bride, but was more visually arresting than narratively coherent. Filmed on location in Morocco, India and Spain, the film drew interest from the usual gaggle of distributors--Focus, Searchlight, Goldwyn. But it took Harvey Weinstein just ten minutes to walk out.

It took me ten minutes to walk out of Renaissance, a stylized high contrast black and white rotoscoped sci-fi policier influenced by Sin City but irritating to watch. You couldn't see the characters' faces, which made the bad voice acting harder to take. It made Richard Linklater look like a genius.

I stayed through to the end of Jennifer Lopez's El Cantante, a straightforward sincere and cliched musical biopic which should play well to the Latin audience. A deal was supposed to close last night. See above for info about the Picturehouse acquisition.

Netflix debuted its first Toronto movie, Jeffrey Garland’s This Filthy World, starring the hilariously dirty John Waters, one of several Netflix-commissioned stand-up flicks. Waters also took the Al Green stage with Shortbus writer-director John Cameron Mitchell for a hilarious dialogue about outlaw cinema. (More on this later.)

Filmmaker Fernando Meirelles came to Toronto to display footage from his recently completed Brazilian production, Paolo Morelli’s City of Men, a follow-up to the City of God film and TV show. Meirelles said that he has abandoned his sprawling Intolerance opus in favor of a chance to direct a Brazilian/Canadian production of Jose Saramago’s novel “Blindness” for release in 2008.

The greatest frustration for me here is that given the demands of my job, there's never enough time to see some of the more interesting and obscure movies.  I heard great things about the Cannes hit Red Road, Picturehouse's Brit comedy Starter for Ten, Paul Verhoeven's WW II drama Black Book, Tony Kaye's abortion documentary Lake of Fire, the doc The U.S. vs. John Lennon, the Death of a President, the fairy tale Penelope, the new Alain Resnais and Patrice Leconte films...still plenty of catch-up to do.

THR's full Toronto wrap.


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  • Risky Biz blog takes a deep, daily look at the film industry's ups, downs and deals from around the world and the heart of Hollywood. It is edited by media and entertainment journalist Steven Zeitchik, with contributions from The Hollywood Reporter's worldwide team of film editors and reporters. Zeitchik is a Los Angeles-based writer for THR and also has written for The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

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