TIFF day 2

One of the joys of being in Toronto is bumping into people you really admire so much. Seeing Chiwetel Ejiofor sneaking into a quick afternoon screening and of course bumping into Harvey Weinstein, hiding his nerves, right before the first press screening of “August:Osage County”. The critics were in town too, I caught a glimpse of the New York Post’s Lou Lumenick quite a few times, Newsweek’s David Ansen lining up for the new Miyazaki and caught up with Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly on what’s been the best of the fest so far – we both agreed “12 Years A Slave” and “Gravity” by a landslide.

 “Gravity” is eye popping stuff. Alfonso Cuarron has made a movie that is unlike any we’ve ever seen before. It’s almost as groundbreaking as “Avatar” minus the flaws Cameron’s film had. A master is at work here and Cuarron has surely directed Sandra Bullock to her second Oscar Nomination – if not, her second win.

 Meryl Streep will be giving Bullock a run for her money with her juicy role in “August: Osage County”. Streep is a ticking time bomb as the dysfunctional mom that heads a large family gathering. Americana caricature after caricature comes with director John Wells’ film, one that is very imperfect and left the press at my screening with a very mixed reaction. Streep is the lone shining light in this otherwise forgettable movie.

 In my earlier article I talked about how good Chiwetel Ejiofor was in “12 Years A Slave”, competition has come in the form of Matthew Mcconaughey as Ron Woodruff. Sasha has already chimed in with this film but I will add to her praise and say that this is the Matthew Mcconaughey show. The 43 year old actor has been on a role lately (“Killer Joe”, “The Lincoln Lawyer”, “Bernie”, “Magic Mike”) but nothing tops what he’s done here with “The Dallas Buyer’s Club”. Looking gaunt and sickly, Mcconaughey wowed audiences here.

 Doppelganger films have been big at TIFF so far. Director Denis Villeneuve -on a roll already with “Prisoners”- brought us two Jake Gyllenhaal’s with “Enemy”. Gyllenhall plays a Toronto professor that finds out he has an exact look alike living in the same city. It’a film very much inspired by Cronenberg but that also lets Villeneuve bring his own voice to the picture. This is sexy, smart, mysterious filmmaking at its best. The other doppelganger film had Jesse Eisenberg going insane with the appearance of his doppelganger. Directed by Richard Ayaode (Submarine) “The Double” is a dark comedy that fizzled out at its end but has shades of Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil” throughout its running time.

A much anticipated film here was Kelly Reichardt’s “Night Moves”, a film about eco-terrorism that strips down the genre conventions and ends up giving us the bare bones of its topic. Contrary to many here I wasn’t a big fan of Reichardt’s past films (“Wendy And Lucy”, “Meek’s Cutoff”) but this one works because it moves. There are tense, gripping moments in “Night Moves” and its performances -notably those of Jesse Eisenberg and Peter Sarsgaard) move the film along admirably.