Key Screenings. And away we go! The Toronto International Film Festival got underway on Thursday, as official opener Creation landed with a painful thud. Reaction was more positive for Lars von Trier's Antichrist (except for the guy who vomited on fellow attendees during the screening) and Pedro Almodovar's Broken Embraces, according to Eugene Hernandez at indieWIRE, who also noted that Paul Bettany, Jennifer Connelly, Willem Dafoe, and Penelope Cruz (plus the lovely Amanda Seyfried, above) appeared in support of their wide-ranging films, not to mention scantily-clad men and women at different functions.
The first full day of screenings found Anne Thompson gushing over the Coen Brothers' A Serious Man ("Utterly assured, personal, serious, sad and very funny"). George Clooney (staring, above) and Jeff Bridges received ovations for The Men Who Stare at Goats, tweeted a Twitter user; however, Karina Longworth recoiled: "Its vacuity actually seems offensive" compared to Lu Chuan's City of Life and Death, dealing with the tragedy in Nanking, China in 1937.
Our Coverage. As our writers on the ground scramble to hit all the choicest press and public screenings, and somehow find time to write in between dashing from one theater to the next, reviews have begun to filter in. Written by Diablo Cody and starring Megan Fox, Jennifer's Body "substitutes hipster credibility for emotional currency," says Todd Gilchrist. Directed by Jason Reitman and starring George Clooney, Up in the Air is "brisk, funny, and not enslaved to genre conventions," declares Eugene Novikov. And Erik Davis presented a TIFF Exclusive: the poster for indie flick Kirot, with Olga Kurylenko as a gun-toting mother / assassin.
News about a deal and more highlights from the Information Superhighway -- after the jump!
One Deal. Strand Releasing picked up US rights to Lou Ye's drama Spring Fever, according to indieWIRE. The film, which premiered at Cannes, investigates a love triangle between a woman, her husband, and her husband's male lover. Expect Spring Fever in theaters -- surprise! -- next spring.
Much Blog and Twitter Talk. My friends at Twitch have been covering the heck out of the festival already -- go right here for multiple reviews, trailers, and news bits. In his review of The Good Heart, the latest from Iceland's Dagur Kari (Noi the Albino, Dark Horse), Todd Brown writes: "Filled with the sort of quiet quirks and oddities that bring these people to aching, vibrant life, The Good Heart is easily the most confident and self assured work of Kari's career. It is beautifully shot and flawlessly performed by the stellar cast, a film that packs a considerable emotional punch." Brian Cox and Paul Dano star.
What's Toronto really like? "The first year I was here, I was one of four members of the American press," Roger Ebert remembers. "These days, with half the audience members filing daily blogs and twittering immediately after a film is over, it's simply all part of the festival process."
"I plan and organize and copy and paste like an obsessive accountant before I come here each year," Jeffrey Wells says, "and then it all goes to hell in a kind of tornado-like gale before the second day is through."
Via Twitter over a two-hour period, I've read positive comments for a Swedish flick called The Ape, heard brilliance and Steven Soderbergh's The Informant! mentioned in the same sentence (I concur), and glimpsed more good snippets about Ong Bak 2, Cracks, and Dogtooth. And as I write this past 10:00 p.m. CST, many people are eager to see the Midnight Madness screening of vampire pic Daybreakers (from the people who brought you Undead), killing time by tweeting ... like our good buddy James Rocchi, who described the line as "giant, nearly Soviet."