Let it be noted that the key line in the swooning pop-rock melodrama “A Star Is Born” isn’t spoken, or sung, by either Lady Gaga or Bradley Cooper. It’s delivered by a hardened music-industry veteran played by a soulful Sam Elliott (is there any other kind?), who points out that all music is essentially a series of variations and interpretations on the 12 notes of a scale.
“It’s the same story told over and over,” he says. “All the artist can offer the world is how he sees those 12 notes.” He could, of course, be describing the movie he’s in, and perhaps offering a preemptive defense for those inclined to knock remakes on principle.
“A Star Is Born,” which marks Cooper’s directorial debut, is the latest gloss on a timeless Hollywood tragedy first told in the 1937 film starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March, and then rekindled, gloriously, in 1954, with Judy Garland and James Mason. A 1976 version starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson relocated the love story of a rising actress and a fading, hard-drinking movie star to the music biz, which is where Cooper’s version picks up.
This is the first time that Netflix, which will release “Roma” in December, has won the top prize at a major European film festival. (Netflix acquired Berlin fest winner “On Body and Soul” months after it won the prize.) And it comes just months after the streaming service was shut out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival due to its controversial day-and-date theatrical and streaming release strategy.
“Roma,” which will screen at the Toronto International Film Festival beginning Monday and serve as the centerpiece gala of the upcoming New York Film Festival, is already considered a top contender for Academy Award consideration.
Wherever Steve Bannon appears, controversy follows. The former advisor to President Trump, who was also involved in his election campaign, has most recently been in the headlines for being booked and then disinvited to speak at the upcoming New Yorker Festival. Errol Morris’ documentary on Bannon, “American Dharma,” recently had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival and will have its North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday.
Morris is no stranger to controversial subjects. He won an Oscar for his 2003 film “The Fog of War,” about the Vietnam-era Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. Among his subsequent projects was 2013’s “The Unknown Known,” about Donald H. Rumsfeld, two-time secretary of Defense who served during the launch of the Iraq war. Morris’ 1999 film “Mr. Death” was about execution technician and Holocaust denier Fred A. Leuchter Jr.
After the credits finished rolling for “Beautiful Boy,” a moving portrait of familial love in the face of addiction, the Toronto International Film Festival audience at the Elgin Theater predictably went nuts when Timothée Chalamet came on stage. Steve Carell, who plays Chalamet’s father in the film, received warm applause too.
But the biggest ovation came when the real-life subjects of the movie, David and Nic Sheff, arrived. “Beautiful Boy” is their story, based on their own bestselling memoirs, and Chalamet still seemed skittish in their presence.
“We had dinner last night and it was, like, all of us, and I’m a firm believer that the art takes place in the head of the audience member and yet there was a tremendous anxiety in what Nic and David were going to think about this,” Chalamet said during a Q&A following the film. “I hope you guys aren’t lying when you say you like it.”
"The Hate U Give" director George Tillman Jr. and star Amandla Stenberg discuss what separates their film from others inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement that are hitting theaters this year.
Filming a movie about the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality can be daunting. But for the cast and crew of “The Hate U Give,” which had its world premiere Friday night at the Toronto International Film Festival, they took the opportunity to pay respects to those who’ve lost their lives.
“The whole process of filming felt like a grieving process, a space and time to honor the lives of those who’ve been killed by police, to think about the significance of their lives...” said Amandla Stenberg, who leads the film as Starr, a high schooler who witnesses her best friend being shot and killed by a white officer.
Directed by George Tillman Jr., “The Hate U Give,” also stars Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, Algee Smith, Common, Issa Rae and KJ Apa. It will hit theaters Oct. 19.
“The Predator” is unmistakably a Shane Black movie, right from the opening scene of its camouflaged sniper hero (Boyd Holbrook) wisecracking amid the nighttime flora. Lensed in meaty hues, he takes down a target with a casual head shot before an alien ship crashes into Earth to inaugurate the action-packed proceedings.
Predators? It’s got plenty, including impressive new variations on the extraterrestrial big-game hunter, major twists on the “Predator” mythology and a new squad of misfit warrior heroes (and heroine) who keep the film moving at a clip as they fight, survive and protect their way to the end.
Eager festival fans amped for the Midnight Madness section opener packed Toronto’s Ryerson Theatre and cheered as Black introduced the movie Thursday, when they were the first to see the 20th Century Fox sequel ahead of its Sept. 14 wide release.
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.