THE BLOG
11/21/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Toronto Film Festival Wrap-up

The Toronto Film Festival ended over the weekend. My first experience there after a decade of covering Cannes was very pleasant: it's a press friendly event and the stress level is much lower than the Wimbledon of film fests. I saw some Oscar hopefuls that actually delivered, some 24 films in all, as well as reading several books, interviewing Vera Farmiga for an all too brief 14 minutes, visiting with family and friends (thanks for the guest room, Chris and Noriko and Momo!), doing two podcasts (including my first solo one), publishing an interview with musician Matthew Sweet and appearing on CP24's LeDrew Live to talk about the festival.

The winners were announced, including audience favorite Precious, which I saw at Cannes. With Oprah and Tyler Perry supporting it and general success at festivals from Sundance to Cannes, it's definitely getting every opportunity to be the indie breakout of the year.

My films in order of preference (all ratings out of four stars):

UP IN THE AIR *** 1/2 (definite Oscar hopeul)
A SERIOUS MAN *** 1/2 (should get the Woody Allen slot come Oscar time)
DOGTOOTH *** (genuinely odd absurdist film; can't wait to see again)
A BRAND NEW LIFE *** (a real find -- Korean drama about little girl in orphanage)
SOUL KITCHEN *** (lighter fare from Fatih Akin)
WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY *** (interesting documentary about resurgence of Disney animation)
NORTHLESS *** (another find, this one about illegal immigrant trapped in Tijuana)
A SIMPLE MAN *** (Tom Ford debuts as director; Nicholas Hoult given matinee idol gloss)
I AM LOVE ** 1/2 (Tilda Swinton in lush Italian melodrama)
HUGH HEFNER: PLAYBOY ACTIVIST AND REBEL ** 1/2 (Hef with minimal naughty bits)
CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY ** 1/2 (Michael Moore in another conversation starter)
HUACHO ** 1/2 (typical fest fare -- made with care but no commercial prospects)
MAX MANUS ** 1/2 -- Norwegian WWII resistance hero biopic
LIFE DURING WARTIME ** 1/2 (Solondz revisits Happiness with unhappy result)
THE PRIVATE LIVES OF PIPPA LEE ** 1/2 (director Rebecca Miller continues to develop)
SOLOMON KANE ** 1/2 (refreshingly serious sword and sorcery romp)
COLE ** (standard indie fare showcases strong lead Richard de Klerk)
THE TROTSKY ** (teen comedy that never transcends its very high concept)
LEBANON ** (Israeli tank crew story no gripper a la Das Boot)
VALHALLA RISING ** (arty Viking movie? Why not?)
YOUTH IN REVOLT * 1/2 (yet another quirky comedy with hyper literate hero Michael Cera)
PHANTOM PAIN * 1/2 (cyclist loses leg but doesn't gain any interest to viewer)
BITCH SLAP * (great title, loads of attitude, little else)
DORIAN GRAY * (makes debauchery seem dull)

OVERHEAD IN TORONTO #1

The man in the row in front of me at one screening was being greeted by practically everyone who walked down the aisle. But one woman stood out. They whispered their thoughts about some movie (I couldn't hear which one) and then she said, "I wished it were more explicit, more gratutious!" and then she laughed and added, "More tits, please!"

BOOKS I READ IN TORONTO

THE VAMPIRE DIARIES: AWAKENING BY L.J. SMITH * out of ****
UP IN THE AIR BY WALTER KIRN ** 1/2 out of ****
A SINGLE MAN BY CHARLES ISHERWOOD *** out of ****
THE DEEP BLUE GOODBY BY JOHN D. MACDONALD *** 1/2 out of ****

OVERHEARD IN TORONTO #2

Guy and gal walking down the street laughing.

Guy: I just want clarification that you lied to Lindsay Lohan!
Girl: Lindsay Lohan lies to herself every single day!

MY COMPLETE COVERAGE:

Toronto Day 1
Toronto Day 2
Toronto Day 3
Toronto Day 4
Toronto Day 5
Toronto Day 6
Toronto Day 7 & 8

Thanks for reading. Visit Michael Giltz at his website and his daily blog. Download his podcast of celebrity interviews at Popsurfing and enjoy the weekly pop culture podcast he co-hosts at Showbiz Sandbox. Both available for free on iTunes. Link to him on Netflix and gain access to thousands of ratings and reviews.