Gordon-Levitt doesn't quite look like Gordon-Levitt in Looper. He's got a prosthetic proboscis going, the reason for which becomes clear when Bruce Willis pops up: Gordon-Levitt and Willis are the same guy, separated by decades, and Johnson's makeup team has tweaked Gordon-Levitt's beak to make it look more like the Die Hard dude's. Both Gordon-Levitt, who starred in Johnson's 2005 sleeper, Brick, and Willis, who didn't, were at the giant Roy Thomson Hall for the gala screening. Emily Blunt, who has a pivotal role in this dystopian shoot-'em-up (hordes of homeless), tagged along, glamorously.
Screened for the media Thursday night: Seven Psychopaths, a bloody, boozy, over-the-top joke from Martin McDonagh, in which his In Bruges star Colin Farrell plays an alcohol-addled Hollywood screenwriter caught up in a dog-napping scam gone wrong. Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken out-ham each other, epically, as partners in the canine abduction con, and Woody Harrelson is the tattooed bad guy who's a mite perturbed that his shih tzu is missing.
And Marion Cotillard, the Oscar-winner of La vie en rose, is here with Rust & Bone, from A Prophet director Jacques Audiard. It's tough stuff, a love story about a Marineland killer-whale trainer (Cotillard) and a just-about-homeless guy (Matthias Schoenaerts) who first meet at a club where he's landed a job as a bouncer. After a grim accident, they reconnect. Another best-actress Academy Award nom?
Teen sex in Belgrade, in Toronto via Philly
It's called Clip, it's about a band of Belgrade teens immersed in a world of sex and drugs, it's been banned in Russia for its raw depiction of freewheeling underage carnality, and it'll be coming to theaters (and home entertainment screens) next year via Philadelphia's Artsploitation Films, the company founded by TLA Entertainment's Ray Murray.
I won't see Maja Milos' debut feature until Sunday morning (nothing like drug-addled adolescents capturing their sex acts on smartphones to start a Sunday morning off quietly and calmly . . . Oy!), but this certainly looks to be controversial, which is always a selling point. Milos cast 14-year-old Isidora Simijonovic as her reckless, promiscuous, 16-year-old main character, Jasna. Clip's sexplicitness caused a stir at the Rotterdam Film Festival early this year, and should likewise engender strong reaction from the Toronto Film Fest crew.
Sarah Polley's triumph, in her own hometown
I've yet seen only a handful of films since landing Thursday for the festival, but if there's a better one than Sarah Polley's deft and daring Stories We Tell here this year - well, I'll be shocked. This documentary "interrogation" (as Polley calls it) offers an intimate meditation on family, and family origins, on memory and truth, on the illusion of filmmaking, on love, fidelity . . . lots of Big Stuff.
It centers on Polley's mother, Diane, a vibrant, larger-than-life figure who died when Polley was only 11. Polley's droll, chain-smoking actor/writer dad, Michael, looms prominently, too (he's the film's principal narrator), along with various siblings, friends, and a significant other.
The Toronto-based Polley, who's been spotted around town with her new baby in tow, made her feature debut in 2006 with the sad and beautiful Julie Christie Oscar-nominated Away From Her and has the restless Michelle Williams romance Take This Waltz in theaters and on pay-per-view right now. Stories We Tell came into Toronto from Telluride and Venice lacking a U.S. distribution deal.
It's hard to imagine the festival ending a week and a few days from now without this amazingly wise and resonant film - personal, but universal - having a passionate advocate ready to release it stateside and campaign vigorously for awards recognition.
Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or email@example.com. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at www.philly.com/onmovies.