Toronto International Film Festival 

Flying out for films

You know that feeling you get just about a week before vacation, when your brain has basically already checked its baggage and made its way to security? That's me this week as I get ready to head to the Toronto International Film Festival.

Now, I won't create an international incident by attempting anything illegal on behalf of Boise Weekly, but I do plan on bringing you as close to TIFF as allowed. I'll cajole, sweet talk and pretty much use all tactics possible to slip into as many world premieres as can fit into a day. But squeezing in more than 300 films in only a week-and-a-half might prove a bit challenging. So the first task was to check out the schedule at

It's a pretty healthy list: big-cast blockbusters, musicals, animation, superheroes, bio-pics and an Oscar contender--or two or three. Here is a list of a few out-of-the-ordinary films that caught my attention:

Black Swan--Natalie Portman is a prima ballerina who just might be a sadistic killer.

Conviction--Oscar two-timer Hilary Swank portrays Betty Anne Waters in an almost-unbelievable true story.

The Conspirator--Robert Redford (someone who knows a thing or two about film festivals) tells the story of Mary Surratt, the lone female charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

Never Let Me Go--Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley star in the movie adaptation of what Time Magazine called "an improbable masterpiece."

Waiting for Superman--Director Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth) breaks down our public school system and then shows us how we can rebuild our kids' dreams. I'd bet my last nickel on this one.

Jack Goes Boating--Philip Seymour Hoffman will unveil his latest project as both director and star. It's based on a wonderful off-Broadway play. If this one is even close to the trailer, it's going to be a gem.

Also screening at TIFF are movies with Clint Eastwood, Nicole Kidman, Robert DeNiro, Helen Mirren, Matt Damon, Will Ferrell and even Bruce Springsteen, who stars in a new documentary.

But the three movies I'm most intrigued by are even more unconventional and definite must-sees. Colin Firth will fly in to premiere The King's Speech, the true story of King George VI's stuttering problem. The always heartbreaking Michelle Williams stars in Meek's Cutoff, a tale of pioneers making their way across the Cascade Mountains who get lost on the Oregon Trail. And, are you ready for this one? Passion Play stars Mickey Rourke as Nate, a troubled trumpet player (is there any other kind?) who meets Lily (Megan Fox), a caged circus freak with wings (is there any other kind?). The cast also includes Bill Murray as a ruthless gangster. Wonderful or terrible, it's probably going to be an instant cult classic.

TIFF is known for showcasing dozens of short films and documentaries. It also features a special exhibition, "The Essentials," which will screen what TIFF calls the 100 greatest films of all time: Battle of Algiers, Bladerunner, The Godfather, La Dolce Vita, Lawrence of Arabia, Singing in the Rain, The Searchers and 93 more.

I'm going through my Toronto checklist now:

Comfortable shoes? Check.

Passport? Check.

In love with movies? Check.

I'll be blogging regularly at starting Saturday, Sept. 11, and throughout the run of the festival.

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