V'S VERY OWN MOVIE BUFF, THE MULTI-TALENT GREG KRELENSTEIN GIVES US A RUNDOWN OF THE HITS AND MISSES FROM TORONTO'S 2013 INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
2013’s Toronto Film Festival had no shortage of the big holiday Oscar bait (Labor Day, Gravity, August: Osage County, Twelve Years A Slave) but I’m saving those for Christmas Break! Here’s a wrap-up from the best of the rest…
Hilarious and heartbreaking, Jean-Marc Vallee's Dallas Buyers Club is based on the true story of Ron Woodroof, a heterosexual, white trailer-park Texan who is diagnosed with HIV in 1985. Confronting his own mortality, the character (played bravely by Matthew McConaughey) also fights his prejudices to team up with a Mark Bolan-worshipping, drag-queen superstar played by Jared Leto. Together, the unlikely pair form a club to sell FDA-unapproved drugs brought illegally into the country from Woodroof's travels to the far corners of the world. Jennifer Garner rounds out the cast as the conflicted doctor fighting medical bureaucracy. McConaughey proves the second act of his career (Magic Mike, Mud) isn't a fluke, but it's Leto's performance that gives the film its soul. Dallas Buyers Club succeeds at not shoving a message down your throat, but its restraint holds it back from greatness. Focus Features will release the film this November.
Recalling the spirit of Irvine Welsh, Dom Hemingway is a bold and madcap black comedy that rests on the invigorating performance of its namesake, played by Jude Law. After 12 years in jail, Dom, a petty criminal, has missed not only the death of his cancer stricken ex-wife but also the childhood of his only daughter (played by Game of Thrones' Emilia Clarke). Dom is now out of time and old—never better revealed than when he asks his local pub to crank up a Britpop anthem by Primal Scream. Before putting what is left of his family back together, Hemingway first seeks out revenge and compensation from the Russian gangster (Demian Bichir) who was connected to his incarceration. In his French countryside estate, the games begin and the devilish fun kicks into high gear. While violent and vulgar at times, the film has as big of a heart as anything I screened at the festival. Fox Searchlight will release the movie next Spring.
The Oscar-nominated actress Jessica Chastain has performed incredible feats in her meteoric rise to superstardom (a CIA-operative who hunts down Al Qaeda's Osama Bin Laden in last year's Zero Dark Thirty is but one example), yet never have we seen her like this. Here she is, roaming the streets of downtown Manhattan, sporting an asymmetrical haircut, ordering tequila shots and letting loose on the dance floor of a club in the Meatpacking District! The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is a lengthy but worthy exploration of a relationship, told in two parts: "Him" & "Her." The "him" is played by British actor James McAvoy, who delivers an equally refreshing performance as the wounded lover trying to keep his Lower East Side bar afloat. After a seven year relationship, Chastain's Eleanor (her) decides to start from scratch, recovering from a personal tragedy. Her story is revealed in the second part, which also features the actresses Isabelle Hupert and Viola Davis in strong supporting roles. Recommended to anyone who has ever gone through heartbreak (read: anyone with a pulse). Writer-director Ned Benson constructs a solid framework to examine the memories of faded conversations that won't shake away easily.
COURTESY OF TORONto FILM FESTIVAL