Los Angeles Times critic Justin Chang on the double-Rachel feature (Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz) "Disobedience" and how TIFF 2017 has been a showcase of acting talent for the actress leads.
Sebastián Lelio’s somber and passionate new drama, “Disobedience,” begins with the death of a celebrated Orthodox rabbi in North London — a loss that brings his only child, Ronit (Rachel Weisz), back home from New York to settle her father’s estate.
Received with frosty politeness by the community she fled years ago for a life of secular freedom, Ronit gradually rekindles her friendship with Esti (Rachel McAdams), whom she is surprised to learn is now the wife of Dovid (Alessandro Nivola), a spiritual disciple of Ronit’s father.
As will soon come to light, in a series of erotic encounters that are at once tasteful and unusually candid for a prestige drama, Ronit and Esti carry a torch for one another that years apart has failed to extinguish. That more or less explains why Ronit left, but the film, adapted from Naomi Alderman’s 2006 novel, is equally curious about why Esti stayed.
Guillermo Del Toro's beauty-and-the-beast love story "The Shape of Water" had its Toronto premiere Monday at the city's historic Elgin Theater -- the same venue featured in a couple key scenes in the film.
Here are five takeaways from the evening:
Toronto's top prize -- the People's Choice Award -- isn't given by a jury but by audience members dropping their tickets in boxes held by volunteers at the exits. I've never seen the bins as stuffed as they were Monday night. Of course, Del Toro's strong presence in the city -- he has lived here off and on for the last few years -- might have a little something to do with that. "I identify with Canada," Del Toro said, introducing the movie. "I identify with Canadian bacon."
"The Shape of Water" -- a lush romantic fantasy about the relationship between a mute cleaning woman (Sally Hawkins) and creature straight out of a B-movie -- won the Golden Lion for best film at the Venice Film Festival. Its Toronto reception proved equally rapturous. Ticket holders began lining up hours before the movie's late-evening screening time.
When asked about the film's modern-day resonance, Del Toro pointed to its Cold War setting and elaborated: "When people say 'Let's make America great again,' they're dreaming of that era. Everything was great if you were white Anglo Saxon and Protestant. If you were anything else, you were [screwed]. So it's a false memory of that time."
Del Toro trumpeted the film's Canadian credentials, noting that nearly every production head hailed from the country. "We're not just here for the rebate," he said. He added "Shape" was a $60-million movie made for $19.5 million. "It's as close to an indie movie as you could get with a Mexican in the middle," Del Toro said.
The festival's ultimate souvenir, a signed "Shape of Water" poster, went to two lucky audience members sitting in the exact seats in the Elgin where major moments in the movie occurred.
Cult filmmaker Tommy Wiseau ("The Room") critiques what actor-director James Franco got right -- and wrong -- in "The Disaster Artist," based on Wiseau's own legendary experience making the best-worst movie of all time. The pair stopped by the L.A. Times studio at the Toronto International Film Festival, along with Franco's brother Dave, who plays Wiseau's real life friend and "Room" co-star Greg Sestero.
When James Franco set out to make "The Disaster Artist" -- the behind the scenes story of the making of cult classic "The Room" -- he knew he'd have a tough critic in "The Room" director Tommy Wiseau.
When the pair stopped by the L.A. Times studio at the Toronto International Film Festival, Wiseau revealed what he really thinks about the movie and about Franco's performance as Tommy Wiseau.
He also revealed the unexpected role Nicolas Cage played in making the project happen.
Quoting Truman Capote, "Style helps you get upstairs and down," fashion icon and former "Vogue" editor André Leon Talley discusses his documentary "The Gospel According to André." Joined by director Kate Novack and producer Andrew Rossi, the trio dive into the early days of Talley growing up in Durham, N.C.
It's not everyday that one — especially as young, black and fabulous as myself — is able to look in the proverbial mirror and see what life could look like if racism, femme-phobia and other ills of the world fail to win. But that's exactly what took place Saturday as I interviewed fashion icon André Leon Talley (and director Kate Novack and producer Andrew Rossi) a day after his film, "The Gospel According to André," premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.
I first encountered Talley through the modeling competition reality show "America's Next Top Model." As a judge for four seasons, he commanded attention. With a deep yet feminine tremble in his voice paired with a towering 6-foot-6 frame cloaked in the finest custom capes and caftans, he was undeniable. But while Talley was, and is, legendary in his own right for breaking glass ceilings during his multi-decade stint at Vogue magazine, I was swept up in his presentation of self. The bombast, the grandeur, the unbridled audacity had my inner gender-bender clamoring for liberation from the traditional conceptions of black masculinity I grew up with.
So, as he masterfully took over our festival photo studio, draped in a golden yellow caftan, I was in awe. My hands moist with excitement, I teetered on my 3-inch heels trying to grab a quick Snapchat video to document the moment. And then it hit me: This, at 67 years old, is what possibility looks like.
Tennis coach Nick Bollettieri is profiled in director Jason Kohn's documentary "Love Means Zero," premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival. Both men sat down with the Los Angeles Times to talk about the state of tennis and Bollettieri's former protege Andre Agassi.
There are three tennis movies screening at this year's Toronto International Film Festival, an almost Federer-like show of strength given the usual bagel. Premiering Sunday was Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’ “Battle of the Sexes,” the tale of the run-up to King’s titular 1973 match with Bobby Riggs, starring Emma Stone as the feminist and LGBTQ trailblazer and Steve Carell as the has-been showman.
Opening the festival just a few days earlier was Janus Metz’s brooding Scandinavian production “Borg/McEnroe,” chronicling the personalities and events around the famous 1980 Wimbledon final. (Shia LaBeouf stars as the hotheaded American and Sverrir Gudnason plays the cool-as-Stockholm legend.)
And also debuting over the weekend weekend was Jason Kohn’s psychology-rich Showtime documentary “Love Means Zero,” about the influential and controversial coach Nick Bollettieri, who fractiously mentored Andre Agassi and scores of other champions.
Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson's first movie as a director, the whimsical fantasy "Unicorn Store," world premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival. She sat down with co-star Mamoudou Athie to speak with the L.A. Times about making the transition from actress to director, what it was like to direct herself, and why she thinks it's good if the film challenges men to "meet [her] in [her] space."
At a time when her acting career had reached a new height, Oscar winner Brie Larson could have simply enjoyed her newly minted status of movie star rather than taking on the added responsibilities of directing, in particular to make a movie as boldly earnest and willfully eccentric as “Unicorn Store.”
“I’m really not good at being comfy,” Larson said. “I really want to keep being in this state of being a little bit off-balance and a little bit scared and ready to be surprised.
“There’s this kid in me that doesn’t have a voice, there’s this innocence inside of me, and this dreamer and this hope and this optimism that reside inside of me that was dying,” she said. “Kind of everything I was doing was about digging into the darkness and revealing the darker parts of our world. Which we need to see. But I also think, at least for myself, that I need to remember the other side of it too and that they work together. And to not feel repulsed by innocence or by happiness.”
Building on the raves it earned in its premiere at the Venice Film Festival, "The Shape of Water" — a fable of improbable love in the face of fear and intolerance — drew cheers at its first North American screening at the Telluride Film Festival. It went on to win the Venice fest's top prize, becoming the first English-language film to do so since Sofia Coppola's "Somewhere" in 2010, and plays the Toronto International Film Festival tonight, before opening Dec. 8 in the thick of awards season.
The morning after the Telluride bow, The Times sat down with Del Toro to talk about what inspired his surreal adult fairy tale and why its fantastical, period-set, beauty-and-the-beast story is all too relevant in today’s real world.
Your friend and fellow director Alejandro Iñárritu has said that he thinks “The Shape of Water” is your most personal movie. Do you agree?
While taking photos of the movie and television industryites coming in and out of the Los Angeles Times' photo studio at the Toronto International Film Festival, Times photographer Jay L. Clendenin is able to capture Polaroid-style instant prints, giving the subjects a different visual feel.
George Clooney and Julianne Moore talk about the importance of art and politics during their visit to the L.A. Times studio at the Toronto International Film Festival. Clooney directed Moore, Matt Damon and Oscar Isaac in the comedy "Suburbicon," which is screening at the festival. Between its comic bits about crimes gone wrong, the film takes a critical look at white privilege in 1950s America.
George Clooney's friendship with former President Obama and high-profile fundraising for Hillary Clinton have made him one of the most visible targets for those on the right who feel liberal Hollywood celebrities should stay out of politics. And of course there are the rumors that Clooney is interested in running for office himself.
Clooney has repeatedly said he's not looking for a career change, but at the Toronto International Film Festival, where his new film "Suburbicon" is screening, he made it clear that he won't stop speaking out about the political issues he cares about.
"Just because I have a SAG card doesn't mean I have to keep quiet about the things I believe in," Clooney said at the L.A. Times Studio in Toronto, and then added, "or a DGA card."
Denzel Washington's latest movie, "Roman J. Israel, Esq." had its world premiere Sunday at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Here are five takeaways:
Dan Gilroy wrote and directed the movie, his first film since "Nightcrawler." It follows Washington's title character, an attorney grappling with the loss of long-held ideals.
It's not as accomplished as "Nightcrawler." Tackling the idea of the burden and blessings that come with following a moral compass, the movie loses its focus midway through and becomes bogged down in plot.
That's unfortunate because Washington delivers a pretty interesting performance for the first half of the film, playing a plainspoken, direct-to-a-fault idealist. (At a post-screening Q&A with Gilroy, Washington said Roman probably has Asperger's syndrome.) Washington also rocks a wine-colored suit that would have made Prince smile.
Gilroy continues to display an affinity for capturing lesser-seen parts of Los Angeles, here making good use of the Bunker Hill neighborhood near downtown. Roman also takes Carmen Ejogo's grass-roots activist to dinner at Cicada, where they have a lovely meal except, as Roman notes, "the portions were small." (Can we get an amen?)
We never find out what the "J" stands for.
"Roman J. Israel, Esq." opens in select theaters on Nov. 3 and expands throughout the month.