Well, I’m back; why is it still summer here? But TIFF goes on, and I squeezed in one last film yesterday before heading to the airport: “The Imitation Game,” a sure-to-be-Oscar-friendly historical drama on a fascinating topic. Benedict Cumberbatch, that master of playing prickly geniuses, here takes on the real-life role of Alan Turing, a brilliant Brit credited with cracking the German’s Enigma code during World War II (and, thus, significantly shortening the war). Directed by Morten Tyldum (who previously made the good but VERY different blood-drenched Norwegian thriller “Headhunters”), “The Imitation Game” is elegant but not stuffy; intricate (the plot unfolds during several time periods) without being unnecessarily tangled; and, as we gradually learn more about Turing, ultimately moving and infuriating. Cumberbatch will break your heart, and the film’s poignant last glimpses of him were an appropriate final look at TIFF 2014. Watch for this one to come out sometime during the holiday season in Seattle; it’s worth the wait.
And now, of course, is the time when I ponder all the films I didn’t get to in Toronto — with just five days, and no clones, the list of what I wanted to see but didn’t is way longer than the ones I actually saw. Some of them I’ll see in town soon enough, as they’re opening this fall: Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything” (this received, I heard, thunderous approval at screenings even by the generous TIFF standards), Gina Prince-Bythewood’s “Beyond the Lights” (her first since “The Secret Life of Bees” six years ago), Bill Murray in “St. Vincent,” Jake Gyllenhaal in “Nightcrawler” (a favorite among those I stood in line with at TIFF), Reese Witherspoon in “Wild,” Frederick Wiseman’s “National Gallery.” Then there are the wild cards, which I hope might make their way here some day: Julie Taymor’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”; Pascale Ferran’s whimsical “Bird People”; Liv Ullman’s “Miss Julie” with Jessica Chastain and Colin Farrell,” Alan Rickman’s “A Little Chaos” . . . well, ehough is as good as a feast, isn’t it? There’s always next year.
Benedict Cumberbatch cracks the code, along with Keira Knightley, Matthew Beard, Matthew Goode, and Allen “Branson” Leech. (Photo courtesy of TIFF.)