There are many ways of threading one's way through a film festival with 366 films, of which 288 are features. Sometimes I envy my friends who are monomaniacs, partisans of Asian or experimental films, or those whose jobs and deadlines dictate which films they have to see. I am greedy and want to see more than I possibly can.
I am attracted to the latest film from a director whose entire oeuvre I am familiar with, as well as the first film from an unknown talent. I can be equally thrilled by a big-budget Hollywood movie stuffed with stars and a film shot on video for pocket change. Plus I also want the unique experience: Jason Reitman's table read, or Godfrey Reggio's new film, "Visitors," with its Philip Glass score played live by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
This year TIFF's advertising is based on "what's your Festival personality?": The Arbiter of Taste, The Adventurer, The Record-Breaker, The Stargazer, The First-Timer, #The#Hashtag#Addict -- and there are more. I see myself in more than a few of their descriptions: Le Cinephile, The Adventurer, The Globetrotter. (I used to try to be the Record-Breaker, until I discovered that skipping the Midnight Madness screening every night -- the best audiences in Toronto, a guaranteed good time -- noticeably improved my chances of staying awake through the next day's lineup.)
You could put together an interesting program of literary films -- not just movies based on novels, but movies about writers, such as the Beat generation "Kill Your Darlings," in which Daniel Radcliffe incarnates Allen Ginsberg, Ben Foster William Burroughs, and Jack Huston Jack Kerouac, in the story of the 1944 murder of David Kammerer (Michael C.Hall) by Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan); "The Invisible Woman," about Charles Dickens' (Ralph Fiennes) love affair with a much younger actress (Felicity Jones); "The Right Kind of Wrong," about a writer whose ex-wife writes about him on a blog called Why You Suck; "The Great Beauty," by Paolo Sorrentino, about a failed novelist and journalist; "Lucky Them," with Toni Collette as a veteran rock journalist. And there's more.
I can't resist "Violette," about Violette Leduc, a protege of such famed French intellectuals as Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and Jean Genet. Leduc is incarnated in a noisy, desperate, busy, and compellingly self-destructive performance by Emmanuelle Devos, and her encourager, idol, and unfulfilled love object, de Beauvoir, is played by Sandrine Kibirlain, as a paragon of reasonableness, calm, and workaholism. "Violette" never breaks down into the "and then I wrote…" trope of writer biographies; in literary fashion, it's arranged in chapters that explore a relationship, a place, or the inspiration for one of her books. The film has the satisfying effect of making me want to read Violette's books (as well as perhaps someday getting around to de Beauvoir's four volumes of autobiography and "The Mandarins," her novel about her love affair with Nelson Algren. As soon as they invent those extra hours in the day I need). And "Violette" also satisfies my Francophilic and entirely superficial love of Parisian street scenes, restaurants, and period clothes and decor.