There were a fair number of “oohs” and “aahs” at the Toronto opening-night premiere of David Mackenzie’s “Outlaw King” on Thursday — not for the movie, which hadn’t started yet, but for the bright and shiny new Netflix logo that preceded it. Rather than the familiar white screen and jarring musical thunderclap — you know, the one that immediately puts you in a living-room state of mind — the movie kicked off with a more artful, discreet treatment, simply positioning the red letter “N” against a black screen.
It’s a sign that the streaming giant, a formidable presence here at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, might be trying to distinguish its workaday product from its prestige fare. It’s also an acknowledgment, deliberate or not, that “Outlaw King” belongs on the big screen and nowhere else. An unofficial sequel to “Braveheart,” the film stars an excellent Chris Pine as Robert the Bruce, the Scottish warrior-king who effectively took over for William Wallace in casting off the shackles of English rule.
It’s been a while since a picture actually spurred me to think “They don’t make ’em like this anymore,” which I mean less as an index of quality than a simple acknowledgment of “Outlaw King’s” size and scale, the lavish on-screen evidence that no expense was spared. Gorgeously filmed on location in Scotland with an enormous ensemble — the standouts include Stephen Dillane as the viciously calculating King Edward I, Billy Howle as his feckless but monstrous son and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as one of Bruce’s most loyal allies — the movie is a juicy slab of cinematic red meat, a symphony of mud, blood and viscera set to a soundtrack of thundering hoofbeats and howls of vengeance.
Several films that first made a splash at the Cannes Film Festival in May are looking to do the same at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival. Before the festival kicks off Thursday, here’s a look back at Los Angeles Times film critic Justin Chang’s early takes on those repeat performers.
“3 Faces”: “‘3 Faces’ may be modest and low-key on the surface, but its surprises are worth preserving, its insights casually profound.”
With the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival set to kick off Thursday, it’s time to take a look back at the big stories and films to come out of last year’s edition. In this wrap piece, film critic Justin Chang reflects on “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” “The Shape of Water” and many more.
Two days before the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival got under way, the news broke that Colin Trevorrow would no longer be directing "Star Wars: Episode IX," marking the latest high-profile split between Lucasfilm and a filmmaker hired to steer one of its most closely guarded properties. One week later, it was announced that Trevorrow would be replaced by J.J. Abrams, a known franchise quantity who successfully steered 2015's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."
As my colleagues Josh Rottenberg and Daniel Miller noted in a report last week, these twin industry bombshells are the latest signs of a Hollywood business model that, in pursuit of brand consistency and franchise longevity, increasingly devalues the role and creative vision of the director.
Several films that first made a splash at this year’s Sundance Film Festival in January are looking to do the same at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival. Before the festival kicks off Thursday, a look back at Justin Chang’s early takes on those repeat performers.
“Colette”: Keira Knightley does “her strongest work in quite some time.”
“Monsters and Men”: “Directed with impressive restraint and assurance by the first-time filmmaker Reinaldo Marcus Green.”