TORONTO — Overheard at the Toronto International Film Festival:
Q: “Was it good?”
A: “No, but it was fun.”
That seemed to be the consensus about “Score: A Hockey Musical” on Thursday, and early birds agreed fun and a rousing party are what you want as an links of london Necklace opening-night appetizer. Soon, though, you crave first crack at possible Oscar favorites and the little gems that shine among the 300-odd films.
An early audience pleaser is “The King’s Speech,” and some observers are saying this could be Colin Firth’s year during award season, but the race is a marathon that’s far too early to call.
In the film by Tom Hooper (“The Damned United” and HBO’s John Adams series), Mr. Firth plays future King George VI who suffers from a stammer which turns public speaking into torment and embarrassment. When his brother chooses divorcee Wallis Simpson over the throne, the reluctant monarch must find his voice, his confidence and his spine in staring down Hitler.
Geoffrey Rush is Lionel Logue, the unconventional and real-life Aussie who becomes speech therapist, amateur analyst and ultimately friend to the king. The cast also includes Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Elizabeth, mother to young princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, Guy Pearce as the besotted King Edward VIII who abdicates, Michael Gambon as King George V, Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill and Derek Jacobi as the archbishop of Canterbury.
At a press conference, Mr. Firth was asked about boarding the awards train once more, a year after he was nominated for a “A Single Man.” And, as it turns out, a day after turning 50.
Dressed in a smart charcoal gray suit jacket, slacks and checked shirt, Mr. Firth said he learned last year that awards season is “such a bumpy ride.”
The surprises along the way can be “disappointing, some of them are enticing, some of them are extremely flattering, some of them are absolutely blindly terrifying, and so there is no one attitude to have.
“You certainly wouldn’t wish it away. Whatever is happening is almost certain to be helping the film you made. And quite frankly, you know, if people are throwing baubles at you, it makes up for years of rotten tomatoes.”
It was a very good thing that no one had tomatoes, rotten or otherwise, in hand on Saturday when scheduling went awry for a 2:45 p.m. showing of “127 Hours,” the story of Aron Ralston and the climbing accident that almost killed him. He sacrificed his lower right arm to save his life, and his story is told in the movie starring James Franco.
Problems with a subtitled film at one site and a faulty projector at another led to the 2:45 p.m. show (for which people lined up at 1:30 p.m.) starting at 4 p.m..
By the time “127 Hours” was over, however, having to wait inside for an extra hour or two or more didn’t seem so monumental compared to what Mr. Ralston faced. Guess it’s all about perspective.
At a Sunday morning press conference, Mr. Ralston sat on the far end and made no effort to hide his truncated right arm, visible given his short-sleeve shirt. His life has changed drastically and he was eloquent and moving as he talked about it.
The Carnegie Mellon University graduate is now a husband and father. While trapped, he had a vision of a child, and it changed everything.
“I was already at the point five days into it where I had carved my epitaph into the wall of the canyon and I had made my will and testament on this videotape,” as dramatized in the movie. “I was standing in my grave and so I knew and I was at peace with the idea I was going to die, and then I see this vision of this little boy and it shifted, it changed to that I had hope I would get out because this is my future son. … It got me through that last night but as I’ve realized in the years following, I didn’t see what the mom looked like.”
He met his future wife, Jessica, about three years ago and they married a little more than a year ago. Then came their son, Leo,” the courageous little lion who helped very, very truly save my life in the canyon from his future existence. He drew me through that very last, most terrible night.”
His answer put anything from the keyboards of screenwriters to shame.
Overcoming adversity is a theme in a number of festival movies, including “Made in Dagenham.” It tells the story of 187 women who worked for Ford Motor Co. in Dagenham, England, sewing car seat upholstery. After being classified as “unskilled” labor, a ruse to further justify their already unequal pay with the men in the factory, they went on strike in 1968.
Director Nigel Cole introduced it before its premiere at the Elgin Theatre. “We make a lot of films about the working class in Britain,” he said, but they’re often laments, complaints or bleak.
“Made in Dagenham” is not a history lesson “but a celebration, a victory parade if you like for 187 women who one day decided they were going to stand up and say they were as mad as hell and they weren’t going to take it anymore.” Their strike eventually led to links of london bracelet the introduction of an equal pay act.
Across town earlier on Saturday, the future Spider-Man was promoting “Never Let Me Go” — and doing so in a thoughtful, passionate way — but most journalists kept returning to the webbed one.
By the time Andrew Garfield got to the last roundtable of writers, he was greeted by a silver lunch tray deposited at his chair. He juggled a salad topped by grilled chicken with questions about taking over the fabled franchise he has loved since age 4 and appearing in “Never Let Me Go” and “The Social Network.”
The lean, youthful actor went mostly unnoticed later, when he walked through a hotel lobby wearing shorts with horizontal bands of colors, looking like a college student about to go work out or have a pint.
Then again, there are so many more recognizable faces — Robert De Niro, Megan Fox, David Schwimmer, Jon Hamm, Will Ferrell, Christopher Plummer, Woody Allen — here for the 35th Toronto International Film Festival that it’s easy to miss a star on the ascent.
Carey Mulligan says she rode a gondola during the Telluride Film Festival and was unrecognized by other passengers talking about her movie. And yes, they liked it.
Ms. Mulligan, Mr. Garfield and Keira Knightley star in “Never Let Me Go,” an adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s best-seller about the fleeting and unusual lives of students at an isolated English boarding school.
Ms. Mulligan, star of “An Education,” read the novel a half-dozen times before getting the gig as a student turned “carer” named Kathy H. Afterward.
“My mum was a big Ishiguro fan, so I read it pretty much as soon as it came out because she said I should read it, and I loved it,” said Mulligan, fashion-forward this day in a short-sleeve navy top and matching slacks with a perfectly proportioned statement necklace and streaked short blond hair.
The character is 31 at the end, which would have made Mulligan young for the role. “Then they brought the ages down and made it so we could play them from 18 to 28,” with three young performers playing the leads as children.
“Never Let Me Go” won’t open till mid-October but that’s not the case with movies such as “The Town” or “I’m Still Here” both arriving in theaters Friday and part of the festival. One is by Ben Affleck, the other by brother Casey Affleck.
The Oscar-winning Affleck fielded questions about the cast sitting to his left and right — Chris Cooper, Blake Lively, Rebecca Hall and Mr. Hamm — and if he had ever considered casting wife Jennifer Garner as his love interest.
“My wife is a great actress and I would be profoundly lucky to work with her. Something tells me that people don’t want to see real-life couples together,” he said, as laughter rippled through the room. Might he be referencing the long-ago bomb “Gigli”?
That was another lifetime ago, and Mr.Affleck is now a respected director with what likely will be a commercial and critical hit on his hands. “The Town” is set in the bank and armored car robbery capital of the country, the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston.
“If I could pick a woman to work with, it would be my wife, she’s magnificent,” he said, and someday he may direct her. Garner, however, wasn’t the only family member on reporters’ minds at the press conference.
Ben was asked about brother Casey Affleck’s “I’m Still Here,” starring Joaquin Phoenix in his tumultuous transition from actor to rapper. Is it all a hoax or a heaven-sent subject for Casey?
“What I can say is I think it’s a really interesting film with a lot to say about something that’s happening right now. … My brother’s a very gifted guy, he’s not just a gifted actor, he’s an extremely gifted director, piercingly smart guy. He and I are about to start links of london Earrings riting a movie together, I’m told.”
And that, he joked, will add to the gray in his hair that’s on display in “The Town.”