Inescapable is one of only two Canadian films to get the gala treatment this year (the other is Deepa Mehta’s adaptation of Midnight’s Children). The film, which was shot in Toronto, has already been pegged as a Syrian-flavoured Taken: Alexander Siddig plays a mild-mannered father forced to return to Damascus after a 30-year absence when his vacationing daughter goes missing. He enlists the help of a former flame (Marisa Tomei), encounters a bothersome bureaucrat (Joshua Jackson) and is remarkably quick in his Liam Neeson-esque transformation—asses are kicked, names are taken. The film is Toronto-based writer-director Ruba Nadda’s first thriller, and we’re hoping her taste for politically charged drama (her film Cairo Time won Best Canadian Feature at TIFF 2009) will add dimension to the action.
All stories by Caroline Leung
A handsome young actor’s attempt to stray from his prescribed little box is normally an occasion for great eye-rolling, but this is the Almighty Goz we are talking about. Ryan Gosling is set to direct an original screenplay of his own devising featuring Drive co-star (and Mad Men goddess) Christina Hendricks. The film, How to Catch a Monster, is apparently a modernized fairy tale about a single mother (presumably Hendricks) who discovers a sinister underwater town. So confident are the financiers of the film that they’re already making international sales available at this year’s TIFF—without a single scene shot (principal photography begins next year). Whether it turns out to be a fascinating look at the world beneath the water or merely a glorious train wreck, we’re crossing our fingers that Gosling also makes an appearance onscreen. [Indiewire]
Julianne Moore has a penchant for playing complicated, restless wives: take The Hours, The Kids Are All Right and Atom Egoyan’s Toronto-set Chloe (The Rivoli never seemed sexier). She returns to TIFF this year in a similar role for What Maisie Knew, a New York-based modernization of the Henry James novel that tells the story of a divorce between an aging, type-A rock ’n’ roll icon (Moore) and an amiable but clueless art dealer played by Steve Coogan, who’ll also be here (as will Sheriff Eric Northman, a.k.a. Alexander Skarsgård).
Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper first worked together in last year’s thriller Limitless. This year they return in David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook. Cooper, playing a cuckolded substitute teacher recently released from a mental institution, returns home to his father (De Niro), a football fanatic weary of his son’s emotional antics. Jennifer Lawrence plays the lovely but strange girl-next-door—i.e., Cooper’s love interest. The I Heart Huckabee’s director’s finely tuned eye for dramatic comedy could be the perfect fit for all three actors: for Cooper, who may just prove his acting chops; for De Niro, whose comic ability deserves far more than Meet the Parents/Fockers; and for Lawrence, who could use a little quirk to match her smoulder.
Greta Gerwig has been deemed “Mumblecore’s Meryl Streep,” though a recent appearance in Woody Allen’s To Rome with Love may signify a turn to more mainstream fare. At this year’s festival, she stars in boyfriend Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha, the story of a friendship between a pair of 20-something women. If Allen and Lena Dunham had a cinematic baby, we suspect it would look something like this.
This year, James Franco appears on TIFF screens as a gangster who rescues (or ruins?) the spring break of four female students, including Disney favourites Selena Gomez (who’s also coming to Toronto) and Vanessa Hudgens, in Spring Breakers. Questionable as this cinematic dalliance may be, Franco is, of course, a gentleman in real life: he was spotted last year charmingly buying a self-portrait from a giddy fangirl after coming to town to unveil an art installation with Gus Van Sant at the TIFF Bell Lightbox Atrium.
A promising, Oscar-nominated start to Kate Hudson’s career gave way to a series of rom-com cash cows, each more forgettable than the last—Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers called her most recent release, A Little Bit of Heaven, a “droolingly stupid weepie.” Hudson will be at TIFF to screen The Reluctant Fundamentalist, a film about a young Pakistani man torn between the American Dream and his homeland in post-9/11 America, which, thankfully, sounds neither like a weepie nor droolingly stupid. But we make no promises.
Rarely would you find Johnny Depp lumped into a category with Kyle Humphrey and Graydon Sheppard, the Toronto duo behind Shit Girls Say, but at this year’s TIFF all three will appear as guest speakers in the same Mavericks talk series. Depp is here in support of the West Memphis Three doc West of Memphis (he’s been a vocal supporter, and has even optioned the wrongly accused Damien Echols’s death row memoir). We’re just hoping for some sort of Shit Depp Says mashup to emerge by the end of September.
Robert Redford has been many things: a heartbreaker in The Way We Were, a truth seeker in All the President’s Men, a con man in The Sting. In The Company You Keep, which brings him to this year’s TIFF, Redford directs and stars as a former activist who plays hide-and-seek with a journalist (Shia LaBeouf). No, we can’t believe he’s already 76, either.
Toronto Underground Cinema to close next month; Metro Theatre to diversify into non-porn programming
The Toronto Underground Cinema announced it’ll shut its doors next month. Despite garnering impeccable indie cred and hosting guests like Adam West and festivals like Images, competition from nearby cinematic giants, the need for expensive upgrades and claims on the space from “another group” brought the theatre down, according to co-owner Alex Woodside, who spoke to the Toronto Star. But it seems the cinema gods are not totally cruel: the Metro Theatre, Koreatown’s sleazy stalwart of a porn theatre, is getting a full cleanup and will begin showing more sophisticated programming in the evening, courtesy of the Studio Film Group, the people behind Gerrard East’s Projection Booth cinema. (The daytime repertoire will remain adults-only.) [Toronto Star]
Atom Egoyan has an eye for gorgeously rendered depravity and kink, so we can’t help our befuddlement at his latest casting choice: fellow Canadian Ryan Reynolds, who seems about as vanilla as they come in Hollywood. Egoyan’s newest project, Queen of the Night, will feature Reynolds as a father who’s determined to find his daughter after realizing her abduction eight years ago may not have ended as tragically as he thought. Given Egoyan’s penchant for fanciful visuals and Reynolds’ action-ready torso, this just might be the happy marriage between avant garde and blockbuster we’ve been looking for. [Vulture]