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Hugh Jackman Unleashed

The Aussie delivers one of the best performances of his career in the riveting thriller ‘Prisoners.’ He sat down with Marlow Stern to discuss the film, the dangers of parenting, post-9/11 torture, and the disaster that was ‘Movie 43.’

When Prisoners, a studio thriller starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, was announced as one of the hotly anticipated “sneak previews” at the Telluride Film Festival, critics were nonplussed. On paper, the film looks like your standard thriller, with some ludicrous character names to boot—Jackman, a blue-collar dad, is named Keller Dover, while Gyllenhaal plays the hotheaded Detective Loki.

Boy, were we wrong.


Hugh Jackman playing Keller Dover in “Prisoners.” (Wilson Webb/Alcon Entertainment)

Directed by Denis Villeneuve, whose 2010 drama Incendies was nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar, Prisoners is not only one of fall’s biggest surprises at the cinema, but also one of the best thrillers in years.


Eli Roth's 10 Favorite Movie Kills


Denise Truscello/Getty

The horror filmmaker (‘Hostel') is known for his bloody onscreen deaths. In honor of his latest film, ‘The Green Inferno,’ which made its premiere at TIFF, the director reveals his favorite movie kills. (WARNING: Extremely violent and NSFW.)

It’s hard to pick your favorite movie kills because there are so many. The only downside to horror is: the more you see them, the less effective they are. Part of what makes horror powerful is its potency, and its power to scare, and once you know what’s behind the door, it’s not scary anymore. So, I always judge a horror movie based on how horrified or scared I was the very first time I saw it, because the haunted house is never as scary the second time. However, over the years, there are certain kills that, no matter how many times I watch them, it gets me every time, and then part of the fun is showing them to your friends and seeing them get got.

These are my favorite gory moments.

WARNING: Extremely violent and NSFW. Proceed at your own risk.

Zombi 2 (1979)


The Tao of Keanu

Keanu Reeves sat down with Marlow Stern at TIFF to discuss his directorial debut, where he’d go if he could time travel, the homoeroticism in 'Point Break,' and much, much more.

Everyone has his or her own read on Keanu Reeves. Is he a curious scholar, as this Details profile of him suggests, or spaced-out, like his early, highly convincing onscreen persona? Is he an underrated actor—which I, for one, believe he is—or a one-trick pony?


'Man of Tai Chi' marks Keanu Reeves directorial debut. (Getty)

Wherever you fall on the Keanu spectrum, one thing is certain: he’s fascinating.

He’s also a helluva nice guy. As soon as the 49-year-old actor-director moseys into an empty conference room at Toronto’s InterContinental hotel, the first words out of his mouth are:


Burt's Sting

Burt Shavitz, the eccentric co-founder of the personal-care-products company Burt’s Bees, is given the documentary treatment in ‘Burt’s Buzz.’ Director Jody Shapiro and Shavitz sat down with Marlow Stern at TIFF to discuss Burt’s journey, and how he was screwed out of the company fortune.

You’ve seen Burt Shavitz before. The bounteous beard, the tilted cap, the soulful eyes. Products bearing his iconic image have graced the lips, hair, and faces of millions of men and women across the world. But the septuagenarian co-founder of Burt’s Bees, the ecofriendly personal care products company, isn’t too keen on seeing you.



“A good day is when no one shows up and you don’t have to go anywhere,” he says.

Burt is a paragon of rusticism. He spends his days shacked up in a 400-square-foot converted turkey coop in the backwoods of Maine. He doesn’t own a television and, ever since his water heater broke years ago, heats water on a wood stove. Now, the accidental entrepreneur is getting the documentary treatment in Jody Shapiro’s film Burt’s Buzz, which made its world premiere at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. The film traces Burt’s journey from wayward hippie-news photographer in the ’60s to co-founder of a multimillion dollar company, and his current gig as brand ambassador for the company he was forced out of.


Harvey Weinstein Dishes

Legendary movie mogul Harvey Weinstein sat down for a lively, career-spanning discussion at the Toronto Film Festival hosted by Credit Suisse and The Daily Beast. From the tumultuous history of 'Gangs of New York' to Meryl Streep’s unique preparation methods for 'August: Osage County,' here are the best bits.

A modish mélange of A-list stars, film executives, and journalists gathered at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto on Tuesday night to honor the man, the myth, the legend: Harvey Weinstein. Nicknamed “The Punisher” by none other than Meryl Streep, the bullish movie mogul’s name has become synonymous with Oscar—he has racked up 321 nominations and 78 wins, including two out of the last three Academy Award winners for Best Picture.

“He’s well on his way to becoming the Harvey Weinstein of his generation,” said Tina Brown, editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast, which hosted the event along with Credit Suisse.

The evening drew the likes of actors Adrien Brody, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Brühl as well as industry professionals such as IMDB founder Col Needham. After an ornate arrangement of salmon tartare perched atop a bed of spicy guacamole came the main event.

Weinstein, former head of Miramax and now The Weinstein Co., carried a whopping seven films into this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, including Stephen Frears’s Philomena, the Nelson Mandela biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, the ensemble dramedy August: Osage County, starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, and more. And Weinstein is no stranger to TIFF, having used it as an awards launching pad for several of his Oscar-winning hits, including The King’s Speech.


Tavi Goes Hollywood

Tavi Gevinson

Fox Searchlight; Larry Busacca/Getty

Teen style icon Tavi Gevinson, who founded Rookie Magazine at 15, sat down with Marlow Stern at TIFF to discuss her acting debut in the comedy ‘Enough Said,’ opposite Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the late James Gandolfini.

Tavi Gevinson is a trailblazer. At just 11 years of age, she started a fashion blog, Style Rookie, which racked up a million hits a month. By 13, she was rocking a plethora of outlandish outfits while seated front row at New York Fashion Week, and at 15, she founded Rookie Magazine, a site geared toward teenage girls.

And now the 17-year-old—whom none other than Lady Gaga once dubbed “the future of journalism”—has become the first fashion blogger to parlay her notoriety into an acting career.

Enough Said, written and directed by Nicole Holofcener (Friends With Money), stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini as Eva and Albert, two sad-sack, divorced single parents who meet one night at a party, and soon fall for one another. But their budding romance is threatened when one of Eva’s massage clients turned pals, who is constantly badmouthing her ex-husband, turns out to be Albert’s former spouse. Gevinson plays Chloe, the best friend of Eva’s daughter, Ellen, who constantly hangs around her house soliciting motherly advice.

I’m surprised you’re here at TIFF, and not at New York Fashion Week.


Jared Leto’s Trans Turn


Anne Marie Fox/Focus Features, Getty

Jared Leto gives an awardworthy turn as an AIDS-stricken transsexual drug addict who helps Matthew McConaughey peddle HIV meds in ‘Dallas Buyers Club.’ He sits down with Marlow Stern at TIFF to discuss the gender-bending role, his own struggle with drugs, and ‘My So-Called Life.’

There’s been plenty of awards chatter for Matthew McConaughey’s riveting portrayal of Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club. Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée and loosely based on a true story, Woodroof is a sexual tyrannosaurus who is diagnosed with HIV in 1986 and given just 30 days to live. With his treatment options limited by FDA regulations, he begins smuggling nontoxic, non-FDA-approved antiviral medications from foreign countries into the U.S. to distribute to AIDS patients—much to the chagrin of his doctor, played by Jennifer Garner. Soon, he establishes the Dallas Buyers Club, charging “subscribers” $400 per month for meds. And McConaughey continues his midcareer “McConaissance” by dropping 38 pounds for the role, which he knocks out of the trailer park.

But it’s Jared Leto, as Woodroof’s right-hand lady, Rayon, who steals the show. Rayon is an HIV-positive transsexual drug addict who helps Woodruff get his business up and running, peddling antiviral HIV meds in the local gay clubs. Soon a strong bond forms between the homophobic Woodroof and his dress-wearing gal pal, who is the heart and soul of the film.

It’s Leto’s first film since 2007, when he gained 60 pounds to portray John Lennon’s demented assassin, Mark David Chapman, in the poorly received Chapter 27. In the interim, he’s been rocking out with his band Thirty Seconds to Mars, which released their fourth studio album, Love Lust Faith + Dreams, earlier this year, and he just took home an MTV VMA for Best Rock Video.

So, Rayon ...

‘August’ Wows

Julia Is Back

After a string of disappointments, Julia Roberts delivers one of the best performances of her career in the ensemble comedy-drama ‘August: Osage County,’ which made its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Monday night.

There was a time, in the late ’90s, when Julia Roberts was considered the biggest film actress in the world. She was America’s Sweetheart, and when she unleashed that 1,000-watt smile, she could lift the spirits of even the most hardened cynics.


Claire Folger/The Weinstein Companya

From 1997 to 2000, six movies in a row starring Roberts grossed more than $100 million at the box office, culminating in Erin Brockovich—a drama about a single mother of three who tussles with a dirty energy corporation. Roberts was paid $20 million for the film, which went on to gross an inexplicable $256 million worldwide and bag her the Best Actress Oscar.

Legend has it that when George Clooney and Brad Pitt found out she’d be joining the gang for Ocean’s Eleven, they sent her a card that read, “We heard you get 20 per film.” Enclosed was a $20 bill—a dig at her lofty salary. Cheeky bastards.


James Franco Gets Nasty


TIFF, Getty

James Franco’s latest directorial effort is ‘Child of God,’ a film adapted from a novel by Cormac McCarthy about a necrophiliac killer on the loose in a Southern town. He sat down with Marlow Stern to discuss the strange film, his Comedy Central roast, and why people think he’s gay.

There’s a scene in Dick Tracy, the excessively stylized—and deliciously entertaining—Warren Beatty gangster flick that sums up some people’s feelings about James Franco. Big Boy Caprice, the diminutive baddie played with insane gusto by Al Pacino, is fed up with Tracy and his gang of square-jawed, trench-coated detectives, who’ve busted up every gambling and booze racket he’s got. He’s mad as hell, and he’s not going to take it anymore.

Everywhere I go, it’s, “TRACY, TRACY, TRACY!”

And for consumers of culture, there's no escaping Franco. This year alone has brought us his mesmerizing performance in Spring Breakers as Alien, a Florida-based pseudo gangster with cornrows, a gnarly grill, and a heart of gold, which has sparked one of the more inventive Oscar campaigns in recent memory; a multimedia performance of Bird Shit at MoMA’s PS1 in Queens, New York, overseen by Franco; a starring role in one of the funniest comedy blockbusters of the summer, This Is the End, as an exaggerated version of himself; his adaptation of William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, which debuted at Cannes to critical acclaim; Comedy Central's recent Roast of James Franco, which attracted millions of viewers; and now, the multifaceted artist is at the Toronto International Film Festival to unveil his latest directorial effort, an adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel Child of God.

Directed by Franco, the film stars Scott Haze as Lester Ballard, a backwoods man who, after he’s dispossessed of his family land, starts to fall deeper and deeper into madness, eventually resorting to necrophilia ... and murder.


Gandolfini's Swan Song

Julia Louis-Dreyfus sat down with Marlow Stern at TIFF to discuss her turn as a massage therapist who falls for a sweet single father, played by James Gandolfini, in ‘Enough Said,’ opening Sept. 18, and her favorite memories on set with the late actor in his final leading role.

Enough Said, a charming romantic comedy from filmmaker Nicole Holofcener, is a big screen monument to two small screen icons.


Lacey Terell

The first, of course, is James Gandolfini. It’s impossible to view the film without mourning the late Sopranos star, who passed away recently from a heart attack at the age of 51. He plays Albert, the divorced father of an insufferable fashionista who’s about to ship off to college. Albert is a sweet man with no friends, choosing to divide his time between his job as a librarian of sorts, converting old TV programs to digital, and worrying about his teenage daughter. And we’ve never seen Gandolfini play a role like this before: a tender, lovable man with a set of bizarre quirks, from separating the onions in a bowl of guacamole to collecting bottles of mouthwash, and a dry sense of humor. The performance is a testament to the onscreen tough guy’s versatility as an actor, and hints at the diverse array of performances we’re all missing out on.

“He plays this thoughtful, kind, self-effacing gentle giant, Albert, and I have to say that that’s really who he was,” says Julia Louis-Dreyfus. “Obviously he’s playing a character, but you really are seeing something true to the real Jim Gandolfini onscreen.” She pauses, choking up a bit. “He was that guy.”


Susan Sarandon Dishes at TIFF


Susan Sarandon stars as a delusional stage mom in ‘The Last of Robin Hood.’ She spoke with Marlow Stern at TIFF about the role, and politics.

A chat with Susan Sarandon is never boring. Unlike your run-of-the-mill, delicately handled movie star, replete with slightly modified stock answers and feigned enthusiasm, Sarandon checks her pretense at the door. It’s this straight shooter mentality that’s brought her success on the silver screen, portraying femmes fortes in films like Thelma & Louise, The Client, and Dead Man Walking, taking home the Best Actress Oscar for the latter. It’s also made the actress the target of right wing vitriol for her outspoken liberalism.

In The Last of Robin Hood, which made its world premiere at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, she plays Florence Aadland, stage mom to 15-year-old aspiring actress Beverly (Dakota Fanning). When the teen catches the eye of legendary playboy Errol Flynn (Kevin Kline)—who, at 48, is in the twilight of his career—the two soon fall for one another and Florence, ever the irresponsible parent, turns a blind eye to the affair for the sake of her daughter’s burgeoning career. Directed by Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer, the film is based on Flynn’s last days.

Sarandon sat down with The Daily Beast at TIFF to discuss age differences in relationships, her support of Bill de Blasio for mayor of New York, and the A-list director who propositioned her for sex at a Texas motel.

As the mother of a talented young actress [Eva Amurri], what attracted you to this bizarre “stage mom” character?


AP; Getty

The documentary ‘Mission Congo,’ which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, alleges that televangelist Pat Robertson’s charity in Zaire to help refugees that fled from post-genocide Rwanda, Operation Blessing, really served as an elaborate front for his diamond mining operation. Marlow Stern reports.

Pat Robertson has said some awful things in the past. He claimed “the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays,” should take part of the blame for 9/11, that Hurricane Katrina was due to America’s pro-choice policies, and that the 2010 Haiti earthquake was because Haiti’s founders had sworn “a pact to the Devil.” But if the allegations in Lara Zizic and David Turner’s documentary Mission Congo—which premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival—are true (and there is a mountain of evidence presented that back up the filmmaker’s claims), then Robertson is much, much worse than even his fiercest detractors imagined.

In the wake of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 800,000 people, one million Rwandans fled to Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). Many of the refugees were stashed in camps with little to no shelter, running water, or medical supplies. One of these refugee camps was in Goma.

So Robertson, sensing an opportunity, took up the cause. He began pleading on his TV program The 700 Club, broadcast by the Robertson-founded Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), for viewers to pledge at least $25/month to Robertson’s non-profit organization, Operation Blessing International (OBI), to help.

“We’re going to ship enough medicine to take care of a quarter of a million refuges,” said Robertson at the time.


Tom Hiddleston's Bloodthirsty Role

After starring as the villain of ‘Thor’ and ‘The Avengers,’ Tom Hiddleston opted to play a sexy rocker-vampire opposite Tilda Swinton in Jim Jarmusch’s vampire love story, ‘Only Lovers Left Alive.’ He sat down with Marlow Stern at TIFF to discuss the movie, his advice for new ‘Avengers’ villain James Spader, and road to stardom.

Tom Hiddleston is nothing if not versatile. He’s tackled Shakespeare, appearing as Cassio in an acclaimed stage version of Othello opposite Chiwetel Ejiofor; portrayed writer F. Scott Fitzgerald in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris; took the role of a kind soldier in Steven Spielberg’s War Horse; and, last but not least, inhabited the villainous Loki in Thor and its upcoming sequel, Thor: The Dark World, as well as The Avengers, winning Best Villain at the MTV Movie Awards for the latter.


Courtesy TIFF; AP

The 32-year-old Brit’s latest role sees him switch gears once more, portraying a tormented, oft-shirtless rocker-vampire in Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive. Adam (Hiddleston) is a suicidal vampire living in Detroit, which is now a desolate wasteland, where he produces moody music for his own consumption. His centuries-old lover, Eve (Tilda Swinton), lives out in Tangiers, and has a more positive outlook on the undead life. When Eve pays Adam a visit, his melancholy dissipates.

Hiddleston, a genial fellow, looks mighty dapper in a bespoke three-piece suit. He sat down with The Daily Beast at TIFF to discuss his myriad projects.


‘The Fifth Estate’ Premieres


Benedict Cumberbatch (left) portrays Julian Assange and Daniel Bruhl portrays Daniel Domscheit-Berg in ‘The Fifth Estate.’ (Frank Connor/DreamWorks II )

In ‘The Fifth Estate,’ Benedict Cumberbatch makes for a very convincing Julian Assange, but this biopic of the mysterious WikiLeaks founder fails to shed any light on the man responsible for the biggest leak of classified intelligence documents in U.S. history. Marlow Stern reports from the film’s premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The 38th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival—or TIFF—kicked off Thursday evening with a touching tribute to the late film critic Roger Ebert, followed by the world premiere of The Fifth Estate, a film dramatizing the rise of WikiLeaks, the rogue publishing organization responsible for unveiling the “Iraq War Logs,” “Afghan War Diary,” and U.S. State Department diplomatic cables, along with many other classified documents.

Estate is directed by Bill Condon, who’s best known among mainstream moviegoers for helming the last two Twilight films and, among more discerning cineastes, for his noteworthy biopics Gods and Monsters and Kinsey. It is adapted from Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s book Inside WikiLeaks: My Time With Julian Assange at the World’s Most Famous Website.

The story begins at a hacker conference in 2007. WikiLeaks, a little-known organization founded by Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch), has gained a degree of notoriety within the hacking community for publishing information about the corrupt practices of Kenyan leader Daniel arap Moi. One of the site’s admirers is Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Bruhl), a German tech wiz whom Assange immediately trusts, even confiding in him about his mother’s abusive boyfriend who was a member of the Aussie cult “The Family,” and used to abuse young Julian and force feed him psychiatric drugs. “Why do you think my hair’s white?” he says.

Before long, Domscheit-Berg is serving as Assange’s—and WikiLeaks’s—right-hand man. “You can change the world with a great idea, but you need people to put themselves on the line,” exclaims Assange. The duo, who do almost all the work themselves, enjoy a string of early successes, including the publication of documents alleging illegal activities at the Cayman Islands branch of the Swiss bank Julius Baer, the membership list of the far-right British National Party, and more. Oddly, WikiLeaks’s first major coup, the Kaupthing Bank documents leak—which preceded the Icelandic financial crisis—is glossed over. The site really starts to gain steam in April 2010, when it released gunsight footage showing civilians and two Reuters journalists being shot by an Apache helicopter in Baghdad in what Assange dubbed the “Collateral Murder” video. As WikiLeaks gains more traction, its snowy-haired, urbane leader becomes more and more shaken and withdrawn, and eventually things come to a head in the buildup to the release of the “Afghan War Diary,” a collection of over 76,900 classified documents about the war in Afghanistan, which was released in coordination with The New York Times, Der Spiegel, and The Guardian. Assange wanted the documents to be published sans redactions, while Domscheit-Berg thought otherwise.


Toronto’s Buzziest Films

Toronto Film Festival 2013

Toronto's Can't-Miss Thriller

Oscar buzz alert! 'Gravity,' a space movie directed by Alfonso Cuarón and starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, has already won rave reviews. Watch the trailer.


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