By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist September 19, 2011 at 2:40AM
Magnolia Takes On 'The Hunter' With Willem Dafoe
The TIFF Bell Lightbox will be a bit quieter today as the Toronto International Film Festival shut the lights last night on the event which saw the Canadian city swamped with movies, press and stars from around the world in what is the big kick off to the fall awards season. And as everyone packed their bags and headed to Pearson airport to head home, it seems deals were still being struck in the final few days of the fest.
First up, Music Box Films has landed Terence Davies' masterful and gorgeous "The Deep Blue Sea." Starring Rachel Weisz in a powerhouse performance -- one of the best of her career -- the film is based on the play by Terrence Ratigan and follows Hester Collyer (Weisz) who engages in a torrid affair with WWII pilot Freddie Page (Tom Hiddleston) in 1950s London. Beautifully shot by cinematographer Florian Hoffmeister, Davies' film may not be for everyone -- it moves at its own pace and has a deliberately, heavily stylized look -- but for those willing to engage the film on its terms will be richly rewarded with a deeply moving drama about the intensity and destructive nature of unguarded desire and passion. After seeing it at TIFF we said it was, "Deeply romantic with a rich and rare comprehension of the volatile and consuming nature of love and aching void that can be left in its wake." No word yet on a release date, but we presume it will at least get some kind of Oscar qualifying run for Weisz; "The Deep Blue Sea" opens in the U.K. on November 25th.
Meanwhile, a movie starring an ensemble featuring Kristen Wiig, Jon Hamm, Maya Rudolph, Chris O’Dowd, Megan Fox and Adam Scott seems like a no brainer to acquire and while at least a week ago it was being (prematurely) reported that Lionsgate had snapped up "Friends With Kids," it's now official. The film, written, directed and starring Jennifer Westfeldt follows a couple of best friends who find themselves falling behind after their pals move on with their lives and have children. We caught the movie at TIFF, and while it boasts a great premise and while it flirts with being something unconventional and refreshing, the film disappointingly turns into your standard rom-com in the third reel. Still, the cast are solid all around to make it a worthwhile watch.
Finally, the Aussie flick "The Hunter," directed by Daniel Nettheim, written by Alice Addison and based on the novel by author/filmmaker Julia Leigh ("Sleeping Beauty") has found a home with Magnolia. The story follows Martin (Willem Dafoe), a mercenary sent from Europe by an anonymous biotech company to the wilderness on a dramatic hunt for the last Tasmanian tiger. To be honest, we didn't hear much about this one at TIFF, but the Magnolia pickup suggests it could be some decent genre fare. Sam Neill and Frances O’Connor co-star in the movie that will get a theatrical and VOD release in 2012.