Toronto International Film Festival: Fewer political movies, more literary adaptations
A new version of a Henry James novel and a Shakespeare adaptation by Joss Whedon were standouts.
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In some ways the most charming surprise was the update of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, by none other than Joss Whedon, who filmed it in black and white over 12 days last year in his Spanish-style Los Angeles mansion while he was editing “The Avengers.”Skip to next paragraph
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Using a cast drawn largely from his TV career (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Firefly”) Whedon won’t be giving the Royal Shakespeare Company any sleepless nights, but he’s true to the Bard’s language and sense of fun. Asked by an audience member after the screening if he had contemplated doing any other Shakespeare plays, he replied that he’s also a huge fan of “Twelfth Night,” “but that requires three houses.”
One of the most popular festival films was David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook, costarring Bradley Cooper as a bipolar rampager and Jennifer Lawrence as a young widow and fellow sufferer. Sort of a “David and Lisa” for the 21st century, the lining here may be a bit too silver, but Lawrence continues to showcase her shape-shifting versatility. There were bits and pieces I liked from other films. The great French director Laurent Cantet’s first American feature, Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang, adapted from a Joyce Carol Oates novel, is sharply observed; and unlike the 1996 version of this same material, starring Angelina Jolie, it’s set in the right era – the 1950s. The Sessions, starring Helen Hunt and John Hawkes, is an understated drama about a sex therapist who administers to a man in an iron lung longing to lose his virginity. Hunt spends a lot of time in the film unclothed. Asked about that at a press conference, she deadpanned, “I might take my clothes off right here. In fact, it’s entirely possible.” (She didn’t).
And what of Malick’s new film, To the Wonder? Let’s just say that it plays like the B-side of “The Tree of Life,” a movie I wasn’t crazy about either. But at least this one doesn’t have dinosaurs. It also currently doesn’t have a distributor. It does have Ben Affleck in a near-mute role.
And, no, I didn’t boo.