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Controversy flourishes at Toronto film fest

Michael Moore's latest, along with a spotlight on films from Tel Aviv, brings out the protesters, while others swoon over Clooney.

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In the obsessive-director category, few can top Terry Gilliam, whom I spoke with about "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus," a messy, intermittently brilliant fantasia starring Heath Ledger, who died halfway through filming. (His remaining scenes were filled in by Jude Law, Johnny Depp, and Colin Farrell.) "There is a lot of talk about mortality in the film," he says, "and it was all scripted before Heath died."

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Toronto is top-heavy with Hollywood movies and red-carpet galas for its first third – The Coen Brothers' soon-to-be released "A Serious Man" was a particular highlight – but it's also a place where you can see films like Bong Joon-ho's "Mother," a psychological thriller from Korea starring its most famous actress, the great Kim Hye-ja, or Ermek Tursunov's "Kelin," a Kazakh epic set high in the mountains, which proves that heavy parkas are no impediment to achieving connubial bliss. The documentary "Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould," directed by Michele Hozer and Peter Raymont, is a complicated and revelatory portrait of the late, great Toronto-based pianist. Considering how reclusive Gould was, it's remarkable how much footage of him exists, including home movies here of him cavorting in the Bahamas with island girls. Who knew?

Michael Haneke's "The White Ribbon," set in a northern German village on the eve of World War I, is a bit like an M. Night Shyamalan film with a PhD. Lars Von Trier's "Antichrist," starring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg and vast quantities of fake (at least I hope it's fake) blood, is like a slasher movie with a PhD. No, make that an MA.

As the festival winds down and my eyes grow blearier, I could use a pick-me-up. Why should only movie stars get all the pampering? It's been reported that a local dermatologist and her crack team of technicians have been spotted at the Four Seasons bearing oxygen machines to administer in-room facials to celebrities. I'm looking into changing hotels.

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