Day One of the Toronto Film Festival for me actually started on the eve of TIFF 2013 – or #TIFF13, if you’re following along on Twitter. On Wednesday night, I arrived at the ‘hotel’ where fellow film buddy Alicia Malone and I were meant to be staying for the next 9 days. As the cab pulled up to said ‘hotel’, with its high, gray walls and fenced perimeter, it felt more like I was about to check into an episode of Orange is The New Black, rather than a place to rest one’s festival-weary head. And the dodgy neighbourhood didn’t make me feel any better about walking home late at night, or going for early-morning runs. That’s what you get for not checking TripAdvisor to read of the horror stories in advance. Luckily, there’s always Air BnB.
Having left the hotel-that-looks-like-a-prison, I, aptly, went to a screening of the movie Prisoners. The film is a thriller unlike any I’ve seen in a really long time: tight and tense, I held my breathe for most of the 2 and a half hours of it. Hugh Jackman proves yet again, he still has more to give, after his Oscar-nominated turn in Les Miserables, and Jake Gyllenhaal is just splendid as the cop who cares, with a twitch and tattoos to boot. Before seeing the film, I was worried the trailer gave most of the story away, but boy, was I wrong! Edge-of-the-seat, essential viewing.
From prisoners of the emotional kind to those trapped by the metre of poetry. Kill Your Darlings is one of two chances for festival-goers to see Daniel Radcliffe extend himself beyond his Harry Potter character, after last year’s The Woman in Black. In this one, he plays Allen Ginsberg, pre-heyday of the Beat poets era, under the spell of Lucien Carr, (played by Dane DeHaan). I joked that I thought I saw a lightning bolt across his head, with the way his hair gathers against his forehead, but he really is good at making you forget he was, for a long time, the boy wizard. Daniel’s also starring in Horns here at the fest, which I am hoping to try catch too.
Caught a late-night screening of the opening film, Fifth Estate, in which Benedict Cumberbatch astutely channels WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
I also managed to catch Of Good Report, the movie that made headlines in South Africa for being banned ahead of its opening night at the Durban International Film Festival earlier this year. The film has some really good elements – the music, for one, really heightens the dark, creepy nature of this story about a teacher who becomes involved with an underage student. Shot in black and white, it conveys what should be a very black and white moral issue, but one that isn’t.