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.”
"If Beale Street Could Talk" director Barry Jenkins and stars Stephan James and Kiki Layne stopped by the Los Angeles Times' Toronto International Film Festival studio to discuss their adaptation of James Baldwin's novel.
Ask anyone familiar with the late James Baldwin about his work and the words “unapologetically black” will come to mind. When Barry Jenkins, director of the Oscar-winning “Moonlight,” decided to adapt the famed writer’s novel “If Beale Street Could Talk,” he knew he had to bring it. And by “it,” I mean the blackness.
Ahead of the film’s world premiere Sunday at the Toronto International Film Festival, Jenkins, along with stars Kiki Layne and Stephan James, stopped by the Los Angeles Times film and video studio to discuss the blackest aspect of the picture.
“There is a scene in this movie where you have these two families and they kick the men out and it’s just six black women, sitting in a living room, just reading each other,” said Jenkins, smiling. “… It is black as hell.”
New “Halloween” helmer David Gordon Green got a helpful piece of advice from horror maestro John Carpenter: “Keep it simple, and make it relentless.”
Green revealed that tidbit to a packed midnight audience Saturday at the Toronto International Film Festival’s world premiere of “Halloween” — where excited fans dressed in Michael Myers costumes and gave the Oct. 19 release a standing ovation before the screening even began.
Simple and relentless the 2018 “Halloween” is, anchored by a tough-as-nails return by the erstwhile Laurie Strode herself: Jamie Lee Curtis. Set 40 years after Carpenter's 1978 original film with the same title, "Halloween" 2018 finds Strode back in Haddonfield, Ill., facing off once again against iconic killer Michael Myers.
If 20th Century Fox isn’t entirely sure at this very moment how to play the Oscar campaign for Steve McQueen’s heist thriller “Widows,” it’s because there has never been a heist thriller like “Widows.”
And that’s precisely why it should be in the thick of the conversation this awards season.
“Widows,” which had its world premiere Saturday night at the Toronto International Film Festival, is ostensibly about a group of women, led by Viola Davis, carrying out a robbery that their husbands planned but never completed. (The film’s title betrays the reason why.)
Geena Davis and director Tom Donahue discuss women in Hollywood and the documentary "This Changes Everything" at the LA Times studio at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.
Geena Davis got into the black SUV that was waiting for her, clutching a couple of folded pages of notes. She’d jotted down a few ideas for her speech in black cursive.
“I can talk and do this at the same time,” she said, taking a pen out of her red Gucci bag to mark her pages with.
The actress, 62, was headed to the Share Her Journey rally here on Saturday morning, where hundreds had gathered to advocate for equality in the film industry. Davis was scheduled to speak first in a lineup that included director Amma Asante, actress Mia Kirshner and USC researcher Stacy L. Smith.
"The Predator" stars Olivia Munn, Trevante Rhodes and Augusto Aguilera address the controversial casting of a registered sex offender in the movie.
Saturday at the Toronto International Film Festival, stars of “The Predator” addressed director Shane Black’s decision to cast registered sex offender Steven Wilder Striegel in the film and praised Olivia Munn for speaking out about the move, which prompted a last-minute recut made public in a report by the Los Angeles Times.
“I wasn’t disappointed in Shane,” said Trevante Rhodes during a group interview with Munn and Augusto Aguilera at The Times’ TIFF studio. “I was disappointed in the situation, and I’m happy that Liv spoke up.”
“I thought about the possibility of this continuing to happen, and where it happens — and also to Liv, for speaking up on such a subject, because it takes a lot of courage to be able to say that,” Aguilera added.
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.