It was a year when more movies opened than during any other year in memory. A year when the big Hollywood studios cast their lot with franchises, formulas, sequels, and movies marketed for narrow demographic groups--focusing so much on "product" instead of original work that they seemed likely to be shut out of the Oscars, as they were essentially shut out of the Golden Globes. A year when independent and foreign films showed extraordinary vitality. A wonderful year, that is, for moviegoers who chose carefully, and a mediocre year for those took their chances at the multiplex.
TORONTO--One of the best films at this year's Toronto Film Festival is "too slow," another is a "chick flick," a third is "too weird," and a fourth is "too talky." People told me these things as they were leaving the theater.
TELLURIDE, Colo.--At last here is real humor, welling up from the heart and from human nature, instead of the crude physical comedy of Hollywood's summer specials. In Ismail Merchant's "The Mystic Masseur" and Nicole Holofcener's "Lovely and Amazing," the Telluride Film Festival warmed the souls of its audiences and sent them blinking and smiling back into the mountain sunshine.
PARK CITY, Utah -- "Girlfight," Karyn Kusama's story of a tough Brooklyn girl who wants to be a boxer, and "You Can Count on Me," Kenneth Lonergan's story of an orphaned brother and sister who uneasily get to know each other as adults, shared the grand jury prize for best dramatic film here Saturday at the Sundance Film Festival. In addition, Lonergan won the Waldo Salt screenwriting award, and Kusama was picked as best director.
The Chicago International Film Festival has not always been distinguished by its choice of opening-night films. Some never subsequently opened commercially, and at least one sent Junior Leaguers fleeing from the theater. But Mark Herman's "Little Voice," which opens this year's festival tonight, is a splendid choice - a film that may pick up an Oscar nomination or two.
TORONTO -- Reeling after a week of too many films built on too much mindless brutality, I found "Little Voice" and "Mixing Nia" to be soothing reassurances that there were still filmmakers with heart and humor. The general view at this year's Toronto Film Festival is that a lot of ambitious new flickers are engaged in a game of one-upmanship in violence and may have outstripped even the audience appetite for mayhem.