TIFF 2013: Naked Men and Wonderful Dames – Report by Julide Tanriverdi

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Nuts, protein bars, gummi bears and coffee. Lots of coffee. These are the things that the survival kit of a festival visitor in Toronto might contain. I know mine does. There is so little time and so much to watch! Therefore snacking in the dark — preferably on something that doesn’t make noice while you’re chewing it, or smell weird — is the way to sustain yourself.

In the few days since my arrival, I’ve watched 23 movies. Among them were impressive performances, mesmerizing directing and also a few WTF’s.

As usual TIFF – as the Toronto International Film Festival is called – has a massive variety of films that cater to lots of different cineastes’ palettes.

The opening film, The Fifth Estate was a hot ticket since its star is none other than man du jour Benedict Cumberbatch. He plays WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and recent political events (for instance Bradley Manning’s sentencing) made the topic very current. Of course Sherlock fans were there just to watch Cumberbatch who not only delivers a visually a stunning resemblance to Assange but also nails the Australian accent and the strange lisp. The WikiLeaks founder might actually think he’s looking into a mirror if he ever watches this movie (very unlikely since Assange dismissed this project as a “propaganda attack” and “anti-wikiLeaks”. Sadly, he is somewhat right).

You know how sometimes a movie trailer shows the best parts of the film, and then in the theater the full product just doesn’t deliver? That’s not the case with Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity. With stunning visuals and wonderful performances by Sandra Bullock and George Clooney the viewer is taken into space like no other movie has done before. Godspeed Alfonso Cuaron!

If someone knows the work by British director Steve McQueen it does not come as much of a surprise that 12 Years A Slave is fantastic (McQueen’s previous films are Hunger and Shame). At the premiere the audience was mesmerized by the exquisite and artistic directing and the great cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Poulson, Lupita Nyong’O and Benedict Cumberbatch make it the must-see movie for Fall. (Right now, it is my favorite film at the festival, but hey, the week is not over yet).

Those who like watching hot guys butt-naked butt (Can I hear someone screaming “Me, me, me!?!”) will be happy with Rush, the Formula 1 movie by Ron Howard. Chris Hemsworth shows his impeccable body twice. And the movie also delivers an interesting bromance between British racer James Hunt (Hemsworth) and Austrian Nikki Lauda (played by Spanish-German actor Daniel Brühl) who were massive rivals at the height of their career. Brühl does not have sex scenes but delivers a memorable performance that will hopefully catapult his international career to greater visibility.

Of course there are also those who love a good head scratcher. Enemy, in which Jake Gyllenhaal plays two roles might fit the bill. (Jesse Eisenberg also plays two roles in The Double, but it is a less cryptic movie).

The weirdest movie one I’ve watched to date is Under The Skin by Jonathan Glazer. The movie about an alien who takes the shape of a sexy woman (Scarlett Johansson) to dissolve men in Glasgow in some kind of liquid (don’t ask) also barely delivers dialog. At least men will enjoy the full frontal nudity that Scarlett delivers. Or by the question what does it all mean?

Craving an Oscar-worthy performance? I can name two: Meryl Streep gives it all in August: Osage County as does Dame Judi Dench in Philomena. The grand dames of movies just do it again and again…

The festival still runs through September 15th.

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