Much Ado About Nothing
Directed by Joss Whedon
As much as I enjoy films and though I am a Torontonian, I rarely attend the Toronto International Film Festival. I went once about ten years ago and watched a movie called Chinese Coffee starring Al Pacino and Jerry Orbach. I can't remember much about the film, which probably means I was "meh" about it, and I wasn't into seeing the stars.
This year, however, my in-laws got me tickets to see one of the most anticipated geek fests out there: Joss "Avengers" Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing. (Thank you, John & Rita!)
I was thrilled to be attending the world premiere of this movie. Not only was the director present (SQUEE!) but so was the entire cast, including Alexis Denisof, Amy Acker, Clark Gregg, Fran Kranz, Nathan Fillion, Sean Maher, Tom Lenk and a bunch of other Whedon alum. (SQUEEEEEEEEEE!!!!)
I am totally biased when I say I loved this film. For one, I love pretty much everything Whedon does, I love the actors he chooses, and I love Shakespeare. So really, this was a no contest SUPERAWESOMESACKOFWIN for me.
It's a beautifully done in black-and-white movie, filmed over 12 days in Joss Whedon's gorgeous home. Shakespeare's play is quite light and quirky, but Joss does his thing and digs up the darkness beneath the subtext while ensuring a healthy dose of laughs. He called it "romance noir," which was quite apt for the small but bursting-with-life production.
My husband and I were ecstatic about this show, and so was the rest of the audience. I heard one woman in the restroom say she only came because her daughter wanted to see it--she'd never heard of Joss Whedon and didn't enjoy Shakespeare, but she said, "I LOVED this film!"
High praise, indeed.
Silver Linings Playbook
Directed by David O. Russell
The second film we saw, again thanks to the in-laws, was Silver Linings Playbook, starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert DeNiro. The film, based on a book by Matthew Quick, is about bi-polar man (Cooper) who has just been released from a mental health institution. He moves back in with his quirky parents while he tries to put his life back in order and win back his ex-wife. An off-kilter neighbor, played by Lawrence, agrees to help him if he'll enter a dance competition with her. It's a movie with deeply flawed characters and lots of dark humor. Lawrence and Cooper get to stretch their acting muscles in these roles, and they play off each other quite well.
Overall, I enjoyed the film. Cooper does a bang-up job being obsessive and broken, while Lawrence plays prickly and vulnerable without being sappy. There are some hard-to-watch moments, especially if you've ever had to deal with mental illness, but the story is heartwarming and triumphant.
And yes, the stars and the director were there. Was I impressed? Not as much, considering the act it had to follow. Still, this was definitely a TIFF to remember.