Before being swept away in the galas and high-profile premieres, the opening day of the Toronto International Film Festival offers something of a last-gasp chance to play catch-up with movies I missed at past festivals.
The trio of films I saw all deserve to be in the awards season conversation in one way or another.
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.
Now that the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival is officially underway, the Los Angeles Times’ photo studio at the festival is also open for business. Among the first to arrive? Dev Patel ahead of the premiere of his latest film, “Hotel Mumbai,” and “Red Sparrow” actor Matthias Schoenaerts for “Kursk,” both pictured below.
Be sure to follow L.A. Times Entertainment on Instagram and Twitter to see the behind-the-scenes action from the studio and check back throughout the festival for more exclusive photos. In the meantime, take a look back at all our celebrity portraits and Instant prints from last year.
Not everyone was up to the challenge of bringing director Tim Sutton’s brutal bare-knuckle brawl drama “Donnybrook” to the screen.
Like the everyman warriors of the near-mythic cage fight at its center, the film pulls no punches as it surveys a country locked in dog-eat-dog conflict, afflicted by vicious cycles of violence — physical, emotional, spiritual — and traumas that have never healed.
“I had one actor say after a few meetings that he wasn’t sure he wanted to do something that was so dark, and I was like, ‘Well — that’s the movie,’” said Sutton, whose bold fourth feature stars Jamie Bell, Frank Grillo, James Badge Dale and Margaret Qualley in a startling and riveting turn.
“The Predator” director Shane Black skipped the red carpet and a post-screening Q&A for his new film Thursday at the Toronto International Film Festival just hours after it was reported that he had cast a registered sex offender in the upcoming remake.
On Thursday, The Times reported that 20th Century Fox had recently deleted a scene from “Predator” that featured Steven Wilder Striegel, Black's friend of 14 years who had pleaded guilty in 2010 to trying to lure a 14-year-old girl into an online sexual relationship. Striegel’s scene was cut when his past conviction was brought to the studio’s attention by star Olivia Munn.
Black had defended casting Striegel in an initial statement to The Times, saying, “I personally chose to help a friend.” However, he later issued an apology, just hours ahead of the film’s premiere: "I believe strongly in giving people second chances," he said, "but sometimes you discover that chance is not as warranted as you may have hoped."
USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative released a followup to its June study analyzing diversity in film criticism on Friday. Titled “Critic’s Choice 2,” the study establishes that the previously-reported gender and racial/ethnic inequality of the field is a long-standing industry issue and reveals how this inequality varies by publication type.
Evaluating reviews of the 300 top-grossing films from 2015 to 2017 on aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, it notes that only 21.3 percent of the total 59,751 reviews were written by female critics, with men writing the remaining 78.7 percent. Non-white critics wrote 16.8 percent of these reviews.
White male critics wrote almost 66 percent of the reviews, white women almost 18 percent and men of color a little over 13 percent. Women of color only wrote 3.7 percent of reviews.
A last-minute cancellation by Drake had Toronto International Film Festival fans in their feelings Thursday, sending disappointed attendees running through the 6ix with their woes — and holding pricey opening night tickets to the premiere he was slated to attend.
Last month the festival sent Drizzy fans into a tizzy on social media by announcing that the Toronto rapper would be in attendance to give a special introduction at the Sept. 6 Canadian premiere of indie drama “Monsters and Men,” preceding the 2018 edition’s opening night festivities.
According to TIFF organizers, a statement from Drake’s team said the sudden change of plans was due to "scheduling commitments on his current tour":