There are more than a few love stories being told in Barry Jenkins’ exquisite new movie, “If Beale Street Could Talk,” which had its world premiere Sunday night at the Toronto International Film Festival. First and foremost, there is the romance of 19-year-old Clementine “Tish” Rivers (KiKi Layne) and 22-year-old Alonzo “Fonny” Hunt (Stephan James), who grew up together in Harlem and have recently become engaged, sometime during the early 1970s.
There is also the steadfast loyalty that binds family members together, even under the direst circumstances. Tish is loved most ferociously and unconditionally by her mother, Sharon (a magnificent Regina King), who intervenes forcefully on Fonny’s behalf when he is falsely accused of rape and thrown in jail, just a few months before Tish realizes she is pregnant with his child.
But “If Beale Street Could Talk” might just as well be described as a love letter to the color spectrum — to the ravishing visual possibilities of gold autumn leaves and dusky-blue New York streets. It’s about Jenkins’ love for his myriad influences, among them writer and civil rights activist James Baldwin, who wrote the 1974 novel on which the picture is based, and filmmakers such as Douglas Sirk, Hou Hsiao-hsien and Wong Kar-wai.
Director Steve McQueen ("Shame," "12 Years a Slave") and co-writer Gillian Flynn ("Gone Girl") on why they transplanted the setting of "Widows" to modern-day Chicago, and how they bonded over a shared love of movies.
When London-born filmmaker Steve McQueen (“Shame,” “12 Years a Slave”) and Missouri native Gillian Flynn (“Gone Girl,” “Sharp Objects”) first met to work on crime thriller “Widows,” about four women who attempt to pull off a heist planned by their late husbands, they connected over a shared love of movies.
The co-screenwriters met in New York, bouncing ideas off each other for how to update crime novelist Lynda La Plante’s 1983 British miniseries of the same name.
“I thought there was so much to be done [with the source material] – plus I just wanted to work with him,” Flynn said of McQueen at the Los Angeles Times studio at the Toronto International Film Festival, where the highly anticipated Nov. 16 release had a world premiere.
Colin Farrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Daniel Kaluuya and Kelly Marie Tran are just a select few of the big names who have dropped by the L.A. Times’ photo and video studio at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.
In addition to studio portraits, The Times is taking advantage of the A-list access to request that the talent sign special instant-print photos.
So what does 11-year-old Jacob Tremblay’s penmanship look like? How does Natalie Portman shorten her last name? And what special additions did Brian Tyree Henry and Dev Patel make to their autographs?
Writer-director Barry Jenkins had never participated in a prayer circle before a movie. At the world premiere of “If Beale Street Could Talk,” his much-anticipated follow-up to the Oscar-winning “Moonlight,” he took part in two — one ahead of the Sunday screening at Toronto’s Princess of Wales Theatre and another before the Q&A after the film.
Both were convened by actor Colman Domingo, and both ended with the words of James Baldwin, author of the novel on which “Beale Street” is based: “Love brought you here.”
Speaking at a celebratory party following the Q&A, Jenkins remembered the emotional night two years ago when “Moonlight” screened at the festival. Nobody had seen it, and tears flowed freely.
In director Karyn Kusama’s “Destroyer” — a restless, brutal piece of hard-boiled neo-noir that blazes across a Los Angeles only real Angelenos might recognize — an LAPD detective haunts the city in search of answers, maybe even something resembling peace, long buried far beneath the surface.
But the path to justice is dark and twisty, traversing the underbelly of modern-day L.A. to the desert, where once, years ago, an undercover job gone wrong changed everything. In Kusama’s “Destroyer,” the City of Angels is littered with physical carnage, spiritual decay, corruption, violence and neglect, and the only way forward is a reckoning with the past.
At the heart of it all, in a transformative performance already garnering Oscar buzz, is Nicole Kidman as the dogged and dangerous Det. Erin Bell. It’s not just a rare story centered on a female lead in the crime genre — think Al Pacino in “Heat” or Denzel Washington in “Training Day” — but it’s also the kind of character rarely written for women, period.
"Widows" stars Liam Neeson, Daniel Kaluuya and Brian Tyree Henry discuss taking on Steve McQueen's timely heist thriller.
Ahead of the Saturday night premiere of “Widows” at the Toronto International Film Festival, the men of the cast stopped by the Los Angeles Times studio to discuss their turns in Steve McQueen’s heist thriller, a film Daniel Kaluuya calls “an incredible snapshot of modern society.”
“With this narrative and this plot, you’re able to see every part of Chicago and how Chicago speaks to all Western cities and what moves people and what certain people are allowed to rise and certain people aren’t and why that is,” said the actor known for his Oscar-nominated turn in “Get Out.” “It raises more questions, which I always find really rewarding.”
The film is about a group of women who come together after their husbands die. Faced with paying off their debt, the widows band together to complete a $5-million job their husbands left behind. Viola Davis leads the cast along with Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Erivo. The men of the cast include Kaluuya, “Atlanta” Emmy nominee Brian Tyree Henry, Robert Duvall, Colin Farrell and Liam Neeson.
"The Predator" stars Olivia Munn, Trevante Rhodes and Augusto Aguilera address the controversial casting of a registered sex offender in the movie.
Actress Olivia Munn says she's experiencing blowback for speaking out during the promotional tour of her film "The Predator."
"It’s a very frustrating feeling to be treated like you’re the one who went to jail for a crime against a child when all I did was the right thing," Munn said in a speech at the Creative Coalition dinner in Toronto on Saturday night.
Munn said the feelings began Thursday, when The Times published a report that “The Predator” director Shane Black had cast his longtime friend — a man he was aware was a registered sex offender — in a small role. The actor, Steven Wilder Striegel, was in one scene opposite Munn. Fox cut that scene last month after Munn discovered Striegel’s background and alerted the studio.
The British director Steve McQueen is both a master formalist and a gifted connoisseur of human suffering. Whatever you may think of his films “Hunger” (2008), “Shame” (2011) and “12 Years a Slave” (2013) individually, it’s hard not to appreciate them collectively as a trilogy on the body and soul in states of extremis, on the ways a human being can be abused, imprisoned and driven beyond the point of despair.
If McQueen’s compassion has often felt checked by a degree of sadism, it may stem from the severity of his visual style, a diamond-hard aesthetic of precisely framed compositions that has the curious effect of both exalting and mocking his characters’ suffering. There’s great beauty in his filmmaking, but the director makes sure that his audiences and his characters pay a steep price for every last drop of it.
The importance of paying one’s debts, even the ones you didn’t ask for, is the driving force behind McQueen’s gripping, corrosive and superbly acted new heist movie, “Widows,” which had its world premiere Saturday night at the Toronto International Film Festival. After the sobering dramatic rigors of his Oscar-winning “12 Years a Slave,” McQueen’s first out-and-out thriller — you could even call it his first out-and-out entertainment — feels like a departure in many respects, though it might be better understood as a progression.
Claire Denis is a filmmaker’s filmmaker. Though the French writer-director has never had a commercial breakthrough in the U.S., she has been a steady presence in international cinema circles from her debut feature “Chocolat” in 1988 through such titles as 1999’s “Beau Travail,” 2010’s “White Material,” and “Let the Sunshine In,” which debuted in 2017 and was released in the U.S. this year.
In part, she is so well-regarded because she remains so unpredictable. There is no signature style to her work and it remains surprising with each and every film.
Her latest, “High Life,” which has its world premiere on Sunday night as part of the Toronto International Film Festival, is arriving with a higher than usual level of expectations. Long in the works, the film is a lo-fi sci-fi story that finds Denis working for the first time in the English language. She also has as a star Robert Pattinson, who continues his post-“Twilight” run of working with truly singular filmmakers.
Being a filmmaker isn’t something that was on A.V. Rockwell’s radar as a kid. But as a student at NYU while studying abroad in Paris, she took a European cinema class that exposed her “to a whole new world of what moviemaking could be.”
“I’d just sit in my room and watch all these movies and discover work from [Italian writer-director Federico] Fellini and [French-Swiss director Jean-Luc] Godard and all these incredible filmmakers,” she said. “That really expanded for me what storytelling could be.”
Years later, the Queens, N.Y.-born writer-director is at the Toronto International Film Festival with her short film “Feathers.”