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Look Who's in Toronto

Boise Weekly heads to the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival


My Canadian Christmas is only a few days away. No, not that holiday in December when we suffer eggnog-soaked relatives. I'm talking about Thursday, Sept. 8, which is opening day of the Toronto International Film Festival. Much like the same thrill I once experienced as a child at the sight of mysterious, glamorously wrapped presents, during the next 10 days, I'll walk into Toronto theaters with youthful anticipation. I may get a hint or two about the source material or director, but for the most part, I never know what I'm going to get. Forrest Gump was right. Sometimes life is like a box of chocolates.

The glory of TIFF is its celebration of film without false excess. Gone is the ridiculously over-the-top privilege of Cannes or the head-scratching pretension of Sundance. In Toronto, it's all about the audience. Step into any queue waiting for a film and you instantly feel at home. The conversations are familiar because you're surrounded by folks who simply love to go the movies. Correction. They love to go to good movies.

The biggest stars flock to Toronto. You may recognize some of the names planning to attend this year's event: George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Hugh Jackman, Brad Pitt, Nicole Kidman and a few dozen others. You would be amazed how many fans are blase about the red carpet, patiently staying in line to grab a good seat for themselves.

Here are a few of the films on my to-do list this year:

360--From director Fernando Meirelles (City of God).

Butter--Call me crazy, but any movie about the cutthroat world of professional butter carving has my full attention.

Coriolanus--Ralph Fiennes directs and stars in the Shakespeare classic.

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A Dangerous Method--Director David Cronenberg considers Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud.

The Descendants--The always-entertaining writer/director Alexander Payne (About Schmidt, Sideways) has George Clooney in his camera lens.

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Hysteria--A Victorian-era romantic comedy about the invention of ... you won't believe this ... the vibrator.

The Lady--I'm most excited about this film, which is based on a true story. It stars Michelle Yeoh as Burmese activist and political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi.

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Martha Marcy May Marlene--This portrait of a young woman who extricates herself from a cult stars Elizabeth Olsen (sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley).

Page Eight--David Hare (The Hours, The Reader) directs Bill Nighy in a contemporary spy drama.

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Rampart--The highly unpredictable Woody Harrelson plays a rogue Los Angeles cop.

During the 2010 festival, I gave BW readers an early heads-up on a few movies that enjoyed a fair amount of success, including Black Swan, The King's Speech and 127 Hours. Stay linked to and blog posts tagged TIFF and, once again, I'll give you some advance notice on which films might see some Oscar gold in 2012.