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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

July 24, 2012 at 10:17 AM

First announcements from Toronto International Film Festival

The Toronto International Film Festival, which always starts the Thursday after Labor Day (Sept. 6 this year), signals the end of summer silliness and the beginning of awards-worthy cinema. In recent years “The Artist,” “The King’s Speech,” and “Slumdog Millionaire” made stops in Toronto, long before Oscar called; it’s also long been a place to get an early peek at lesser-known movies that make you wish the lights would never go back on. I’m all set to attend this year — my 10th year covering the festival! — and this morning, TIFF announced many (though not all; they tend to draw out their scheduling announcements through August) of the films in this year’s lineup. Here are a few trends:
Actors-turned directors
Toronto will showcase the most recent directorial efforts of Ben Affleck (“Argo,” a thriller set in 1979 Tehran), Robert Redford (“The Company You Keep,” about a civil rights lawyer exposed as a ’70s fugitive), Billy Bob Thornton (the comedy “Jayne Mansfield’s Car”), and Dustin Hoffman (“Quartet,” a drama about four retired opera singers).
Classic literature
Joe Wright’s lavish-looking “Anna Karenina,” adapted by Tom Stoppard and starring Keira Knightley, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Jude Law, will have its international premiere at TIFF. Mike Newell’s “Great Expectations,” which features the uncannily perfect-sounding casting of Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham, will make its world premiere, and Joss Whedon tries his hand at Shakespeare with a contemporary version of “Much Ado About Nothing.”
Directors to watch
Terrence Malick’s newest, “To the Wonder” (starring Affleck, Olga Kurylenko and Rachel McAdams), will have its North American premiere at TIFF. David O. Russell returns with “The Silver Linings Playbook”; Neil Jordan brings the vampire-ish thriller “Byzantium”; Tom Twyker teams with Andy and Lana Wachowski for “Cloud Atlas,” starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Hugh Grant; Francois Ozon returns with “In the House,” starring Kristin Scott Thomas; and Mira Nair will present “The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” based on the bestselling novel.
Actors to watch
Cannes was buzzing over Marion Cotillard in Jacques Audiard’s thriller “Rust and Bone”; now it makes its North American premiere; likewise John Hawkes and Helen Hunt in “The Sessions,” the talk of Sundance. Annette Bening turns up in two films: Sally Potter’s “Ginger and Rosa” and Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman’s “Imogene”. Bill Murray plays FDR and Laura Linney his confidante in “Hyde Park on Hudson.” Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in the opening-night film, Rian Johnson’s time-travel thriller “Looper.” Janet McTeer plays the title role in “Hannah Arendt”; Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays a musician in “A Late Quartet.” Hugh Laurie stars in “Mr. Pip,” and Ryan Goslin plays a bank robber in “The Place Beyond the Pines.”
True stories
Among the documentaries announced: “Love, Marilyn” (a portrait of Marilyn Monroe, half a century after her death); “Free Angela and All Political Prisoners” (about ’60s activist Angela Davis); and “Venus and Serena,” about the tennis-playing Williams sisters. Not exactly a documentary, but definitely intriguing, is “A Liar’s Autobiography – The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman,” an animated version of the life of the late Python comedian, starring many of his former Python-mates.
This is all just the first announcement, mind you; more to come. So far I’d say TIFF is shaping up nicely.

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