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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

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

September 7, 2014 at 3:57 PM

At TIFF: The Amanda Knox story inspires a movie

TORONTO — So, it turns out that phone booth with the red carpet (in the picture I blogged about yesterday) is actually a photo booth, which seems appropriate. A lovely sunny Sunday in Toronto today, and a big day for doing interviews: This morning I talked to Dennis Lehane (the novelist and screenwriter of “The Drop”) about the experience of turning his short story “Animal Rescue” into a screenplay and then a novel, and to Keira Knightley this afternoon, about the making of “Laggies” in Seattle. (For those who like to know such things, she was wearing a white dress with a sparkly red mosaic at the bodice, with red shoes, and looked very pretty. I don’t remember what Dennis had on, but I’m sure it was appropriate.) And it meant a lot of time spent waiting in hotel conference rooms, at one of which everyone had to whisper because somebody (a journalist? a publicist? a random passer-by?) had fallen asleep on one of the cushy chairs. It looked tempting.

In between: a screening of Michael Winterbottom’s “The Face of an Angel,” a drama based on the Amanda Knox story. (Sorry, Seattle; the names were changed, as well as the locales. The Amanda character, who’s here called Jessica Fuller, is said to be from Baltimore. Baltimore?) But the film isn’t really about the crime, or who did it; it’s about a young filmmaker (Daniel Bruhl) making an arty movie about it — he’s inspired by Dante’s “Inferno” — and about the elusive nature of truth. “You can’t tell the truth unless you make it a fiction,” says Simone (Kate Beckinsale, as perhaps the world’s most glamorous investigative journalist), who’s written a book about the case. Winterbottom, whose smart and versatile work includes “24 Hour Party People,” “Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story,” “In This World” and the recent “Trip to Italy,” makes “The Face of an Angel” less a crime drama than a loosely structured meditation of a filmmaker  — and a eulogy for murder victim Meredith Kercher, to whom the film is dedicated, and on whose screen counterpart’s smiling, lovely face the film ends.

“The Face of an Angel” doesn’t currently have North American distribution; we’ll see if that changes during the fest. For what it’s worth, there were few walkouts during the screening; it’s definitely mesmerizing. “Madame Bovary” looks like to be picked up this week, but the biggest distribution story — still developing — is the bidding war currently going on over Chris Rock’s “Top Five,” which is said to be already at $10+ — very big money for a Toronto film. “Top Five,” about a standup comedian turned movie star, is already an audience favorite; like way too many interesting-sounding movies here, I haven’t seen it yet myself.

And the movie-star action continues. I strolled out of the Trump International Hotel today (very fancy; it’s where Keira Knightley’s interviews took place) and found a crowd, mostly but not exclusively young women, waiting for autographs and pictures. Several of them happily told me that they’d already met Anna Kendrick, Eddie Redmayne, and . . . oh, look, there’s Douglas Booth! (I had to look him up myself, but this crowd seemed to know him; he’s a handsome young Brit here with “The Riot Club” and best known for “Romeo and Juliet” and “Noah.” He posed for selfies quite charmingly.) I suspect they’re all still standing there.

Leaving town tomorrow, but first will squeeze in two of the biggest-buzz films of the festival: “Foxcatcher,” Bennett Miller’s follow-up to “Moneyball” and “Capote,” and “The Imitation Game,” with Benedict Cumberbatch as a famed World War II codebreaker. More later!

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Cara Delavingne (playing a fictional muse-like character) and Daniel Bruhl in “The Face of An Angel.” (Photo courtesy of TIFF.

 

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