I also highly recommend The Constant Gardener, which is based on the literary thriller by John LeCarre. A superb cast, headed by Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz, stars in this intelligent and gripping mystery thriller about diplomats at work in Africa, corporate corruption, shattered love, and political conflict. Fernardo Meirelles brilliantly directs with a great sense of style and a real understanding of his material. This is one of the best movies of the year.
Jodie Foster stars in Flightplan, a taut suspense picture about a woman whose daughter mysteriously disappears ON a transatlantic jetliner. Was the kid ever really on the plane? Foster is always fun to watch when shes in her manic mode. The movie keeps you on edge and the confined quarters create a nice claustrophobic atmosphere.
Tim Burtons Corpse Bride is another quirky animated treat in the tradition of his The Nightmare Before Christmas. This time around, were in Europe in the 19th-century and the story is about a groom (Victor) boning up on his wedding vows in the woods when he places a ring on what he thinks is a stick. The stick turns out to be a skeletal finger belonging to the Corpse Bride who is adamant that Victor and she are really married. The weirdness marches on and the movies a delight. Victors real future bride is named Victoria (no, Im not making that up) and needless to shes not a happy camper. Johnny Depp provides the voice for Victor, Emily Watson is Victoria, Helena Bonham Carter does the Corpse Bride, and also adding their vocal services are Richard E. Grant, Albert Finney, Christopher Lee, Tracy Ullman, and Michael Gough, among many others, including composter Danny Elfman who also wrote the sprightly musical score. Burtons off-kilter sense of the ridiculous get high marks here.
Just Like Heaven is a screwball romantic comedy missing what all really good screwball romantic comedies need a touch of cynicism. This is a movie that relishes its sweetness. Reese Witherspoon plays a very young, workaholic doctor who isnt very happy. When an accident dispatches her into the spirit world, she haunts her old apartment, which is now rented by widowed architect Mark Ruffalo. Is she a ghost? A weirdo? Not really gone? Not really there? Who else can see her? Did the director Mark Waters really think Jon Heders line readings werent sleeping pills? Heder, famous from Napoleon Dynamite, plays a guy who runs an occult bookshop. He says his lines in a disastrous monotone. Screwball comedies are supposed to be fast-paced, but every time Heder opens his mouth, he slows down the films pacing. Of course, Witherspoon and Ruffalo fight with each other about the apartment remember; shes a spirit but this only means they might be in love. Gee. No? Really?
The 40 Year Old Virgin is a one-note comedy about, well about a guy whos forty and has never had sex. There are a few jokes that work here and there, but the movie never really rolls on into coherency. Steve Carell has couple of funny bits, but I should have been laughing more, and I wasnt. The films plodding direction doesnt help matters. By Michael Calleri ALT Movie Editor
The Toronto International Film Festival brings in thousands of press, industry people, and movie stars, and manages to hold the film worlds attention for 10 days. But that doesnt mean regular folks around the country and here in Buffalo - dont have their own openings. If Hollywood is nothing, its always hungry for the next big hit.
Of course, it is fun seeing Liza Minnelli or Shirley MacLaine, both of whom were at the festival, but a movie critics job is never confined to one concept. It may not always have been time well-spent, but I did see some current and up-coming films before and after Toronto.