"The Current War," a drama about the race between Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) to determine what electrical system would power the United States, had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Saturday night.
Perhaps the most useful and instructive function of film festivals, especially in light of the “Star Wars” affair, is that they offer an arena where filmmakers are allowed to fail — and, just as importantly, where filmmakers who have failed before are given a second, third or fourth chance.
One of the most thunderously applauded entries in Toronto this year was itself a fascinating film about failure: “The Disaster Artist,” which revisits the making of that 2003 bad-movie classic, “The Room,” is a triumph for its prolific director and star, James Franco, best known of late for clogging the festival circuit with wan adaptations of “In Dubious Battle” and “The Sound and the Fury.” Who knew that Faulkner would prove a less fruitful source of inspiration than Tommy Wiseau?
Not every director operating outside his or her usual parameters did grade-A work. I wasn’t taken with “Downsizing,” an incredible-shrinking-man comedy that allows the writer-director Alexander Payne to look down on his characters in a more literal sense than usual. “The Third Murder,” a rare foray into police-procedural territory from the great Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda, struck me as an equally rare disappointment, measured and meditative to a fault.
Inside the L.A. Times' photo suite, we asked filmmakers and celebrities at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival to play a little word-association game, and the results were delightful.
The rapid-fire responses from George Clooney, Ellen Page and Tommy Wiseau were hilarious. See the true faces of anxiety when the phrase "awards season" was thrown out, find out what Julianne Moore binge-watches from the tub and don't miss Rachel Weisz's tanning advice for the president.
Director Susanna White and stars Jessica Chastain, Michael Greyeyes and Sam Rockwell discuss their film "Woman Walks Ahead," about the bond between painter Catherine Weldon and Hunkpapa Lakota leader Sitting Bull, at the L.A. Times studio at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Jessica Chastain stars in the historical drama "Woman Walks Ahead" as Catherine Weldon, an artist who left Brooklyn behind and journeyed to the Dakotas to paint a portrait of Sitting Bull (played by Michael Greyeyes) — only to become involved in the Lakota people's fight for their land.
Weldon is one of two fiery feminist lead roles Chastain brought to this year's festival, also starring in Aaron Sorkin's biopic "Molly's Game" as underground poker madam Molly Bloom. She underscored her commitment to social activism and a push for inclusion and representation in Hollywood, onscreen and off.
"I think we’re living in a time where everyone is so desperate to be heard, to be seen, to be understood," offered Chastain. "But we don’t understand that actually in order to be heard, you have to listen…. So for me, it’s important to make sure I’m doing whatever I can to listen to those who are telling me stories of what their experiences are, how they’re different from my experiences, how I can grow and evolve as a human being.
The issue of climate change figures prominently in Alexander Payne’s wry science-fiction comedy “Downsizing,” though only at the end of a long and convoluted story that seems to be making itself up as it goes along. For a while, that’s not such a bad thing.
The movie has an enjoyable opening hour in which it lays out the basics of its rigorous, ludicrous premise: In a not-so-distant future, an unprepossessing nice guy named Paul Safranek (Matt Damon) opts to shrink himself to just a few inches tall, availing himself of a dynamic new procedure devised by Norwegian scientists that promises stability and even prosperity in an unforgiving economy.
If Paul is shrinking himself, it’s nice for a while to see Payne stretching himself. He’s still working in the barbed humanist vein of films like “Sideways,” “The Descendants” and “Nebraska,” but this time with an out-there twist that raises far broader implications beyond Paul’s quality of life. “Downsizing” begins as a high-concept farce, morphs into a satire of class, consumerism and globalization, and ends with a sincere lament for Third World suffering and the sustainability of the planet.
Dan Gilroy earned an Oscar nomination for writing his directorial debut "Nightcrawler," and he dropped by the L.A. Times studio at the Toronto International Film Festival to discuss his second directorial effort, "Roman J. Israel, Esq.," starring Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell and Carmen Ejogo.
Among the final films announced for this year's Toronto International Film Festival lineup was the world premiere of "Roman J. Israel, Esq."
Written and directed by Dan Gilroy, the film stars Denzel Washington as a political activist who has spent years working in the backroom of a small law firm. In a fast-moving series of events, his finds his beliefs, ideals and personal commitment tested as never before.
Gilroy came into the L.A. Times photo studio the morning after the film's premiere screening. He spoke about writing the title role with Washington in mind and what it was like directing the two-time Oscar winner.
Director Dee Rees stopped by the L.A. Times studio at the Toronto International Film Festival and discussed her period saga "Mudbound."
Ever since "Mudbound," directed by Dee Rees, first premiered at Sundance in January it has been one of the most talked-about films of the year.
Now the film is looking to take the fall season by storm as well, screening at the Toronto International Film Festival on the way to its release in November.
The film is a vibrant, complex study of race and class set in the 1940s Deep South. Rees and her cast, with Garrett Hedlund, Mary J. Blige, Rob Morgan, Jason Clarke, Carey Mulligan and Jason Mitchell, all stopped by the Los Angeles Times photo studio in Toronto.
“Kings” takes place against the ambitious backdrop of the 1992 Los Angeles riots and opens with a dramatization of the 1991 shooting of Latasha Harlins, the 15-year-old African American girl killed by a Korean convenience store owner that set the city on edge.
In a warm, graceful performance, Halle Berry plays Millie, a single woman raising foster children, tending to them all as if they were her own. There are squabbles over noise and nuisances with her neighbor Obie (Daniel Craig), a British writer who is one of the rare white faces in their South Central neighborhood.
As events seem to inevitability hurtle toward violence, the riots erupt in a surreal haze. Millie and Obie go out into the chaos in hopes of bringing the children safely back home.
"The Shape of Water's" Guillermo del Toro and Michael Shannon on taking a big risk by flipping the hero on the monster movie and asking, "What if the creature got the girl?"
Monster movie maker Guillermo del Toro has been cheering on his favorite creatures since he was a little boy.
“When I was about 6 I watched ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon,'" the director said. "I saw Julie Adams and the Gill-man swimming underneath her. At that age all I thought is, 'I hope they end up together'... they didn’t."
Determined to reset the scales in favor of the freaks, Del Toro made "The Shape of Water." Set during the Cold War, the love story actively roots for the star-crossed lovers separated by species, water and the American government.
"Disobedience" cast members Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams and Alessandro Nivola and director Sebastian Lelio discuss the existential themes explored in the film and share their experiences learning about Orthodox Jewish communities.
The film also features Rachel McAdams and Alessandro Nivola as Esti and Dovid, Ronit's childhood friends whom she discovers are married upon her return. During the course of the movie, it is revealed that Ronit and Esti share a passionate, unresolved romantic past.
But "Disobedience" is about more than these characters' romantic relationships.
Actor Sam Rockwell and writer-director Martin McDonagh sat down with the L.A. Times to discuss "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" at the Toronto International Film Festival. The quirky drama, which takes a look at contemporary life in America through the lens of a grieving mother (Frances McDormand) and her frustrations with local law enforcement, won a screenplay prize at the Venice Film Festival.
Writer-director Martin McDonagh's newest film, "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," won best screenplay at the Venice Film Festival before arriving this week to play at the Toronto International Film Festival as well.
In the film, Frances McDormand plays a small-town woman who becomes frustrated when no one is brought to justice after the rape and murder of her daughter. So she sets up three billboards outside of town criticizing the local sheriff.
McDonagh and Sam Rockwell, who plays a police officer, sat down to talk about the film at the Los Angeles Times studio at TIFF.