Toronto Film Festival offers preview of what’s to come

Toronto Film Festival offers preview of what’s to come

While another mediocre week at the cinema played out, the Toronto Independent Film Festival premiered the upcoming films that will debut in theaters this fall. Perhaps one of the most important film festivals in terms of which movies will get noticed, Toronto is where the big players come together to put together new movies deals and decide which undistributed ones will get a slot in theaters in order to compete for awards at the end of the year.

This year’s festival was noted for the lack of material. There were fewer movies to see and some, like “Freelance,” the true-life story about a same-sex couple (played by Ellen Page and Julianne Moore) fighting for partner benefits, was not quite panned but failed to live up to expectations.

If you’ve been wondering how Bryan Cranston has been spending his time since “Breaking Bad” finished up, he’s been busy filming “Trumbo,” playing the titular real-life Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo who was blacklisted during the Communist witch-hunt of the McCarthy era. The buzz for Cranston is good enough to at least get him a nomination. The film will be out later this year.

The best biopic coming out of Toronto is “I Saw the Light” with Brit actor Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams. Hiddleston bears a remarkable resemblance to the whip-thin country singer; hopefully he captures his singing style, too. Due out in November, he’s receiving great reviews for the role, and so is Elizabeth Olson as Audrey Mae, Williams’ first wife.

It must have been a little strange for former CBS broadcaster Dan Rather to watch Robert Redford play him onscreen in “Truth,” especially since it details the scandal that led to his unceremonious departure from the network. Cate Blanchett also stars as Mary Mapes, Rather’s producer who worked with him closely on the story involving George W. Bush’s spotty Air National Guard service that Rather reported on during the presidential election in 2008. When the story was discredited, Rather and Mapes left CBS under a cloud. Now “Truth” will be told.

The other big story coming out of Toronto is soul singer Aretha Franklin’s successful attempt to stop the premiere of “Amazing Grace,” a Sydney Pollack documentary that is still trying to get into theaters following Pollack’s death in 2008. The doc contains footage of a 1972 gospel concert that Franklin claims she never gave permission to use. She has successfully stopped the film from being shown at major film festivals in Chicago, Telluride and now Toronto, leading some to wonder if she has some other motive for holding up the film.

Meanwhile, the weak box office this past weekend was led by “The Perfect Guy” starring Sanaa Lathan and Michael Ealy. The story plays out like a role switch-up of the old Michael Douglas/Glenn Close drama “Fatal Attraction,” with Ealy playing Carter, an obsessive ex-boyfriend with an anger management problem. His obsession tips over into stalking after he’s dumped in favor of the first boyfriend, Dave, played by Morris Chestnut.

Ealy, recently seen as a serial killer in the Fox TV show “The Following,” must like the twisted roles. He does have that nice exterior with a menacing undercurrent down pat. Leah’s (Lathan) chance meeting with Carter, following her breakup with Dave, leads to a brief passionate romance, but once she witnesses his violent outbursts, she reconsiders her relationship with Dave, and then the trouble begins.

This is a strong lineup of talent, none of them strangers to feature films or television, so it’s hard to understand how this wound up as a feature film when it plays out like a movie for Lifetime. Still Ealy is great at bringing the crazy. Close has nothing on him as a, spurned, mentally deranged ex-lover. (Rated R for the sex scenes and violence.)

The 67th Emmy Awards honoring the best in television will air this Sunday, Sept. 20, at 7 p.m. on Fox. Andy Samburg of former SNL fame will host this year since his show “Brooklyn 9-1-1” airs on the network. The Creative Emmys were handed out last weekend with “Game of Thrones” cleaning up in the technical categories. The big reason to watch this year will be to see if Jon Hamm will finally win in his last chance at taking home the prize for “Mad Men’s” Don Draper. I hope so. No one makes smoking cigarettes and drinking bourbon on the rocks sexier than Hamm.