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Toronto Film Festival 2012: First Selections A-Z

Toronto Film Festival 2012: First Selections A-Z

New images from some this year's most anticipated films

The Toronto International Film Festival announced the first 62 selections for the 2012 edition of the annual awards season kick-off Tuesday and critics are already salivating over the line up.  With new films from Terrence Malick ("To The Wonder"), Neil Jordan ("Byzantium"), Noah Baumbach ("Frances Ha"), Ben Affleck ("Argo"), the Wachowskis ("Cloud Atlas"), Joss Whedon ("Much Ado About Nothing"), Joe Wright ("Anna Karenina"), David O. Russell ("Silver Lining Playbook"), Mike Newell ("Great Expectations"), Andrew Adamson ("Mr. Pip"), Derek Cianfrance ("The Place Beyond the Pines"), Dustin Hoffman ("Quartet") and Rian Johnson ("Looper") this edition of the festival already appears to be substantially improved over last year's snorefest.  Of course, everyone needs to actually see the films in question, but in the meantime we have weeks to speculate (or pray).

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<p>It's also probably safe to assume the Best Visual&nbsp;Effects category has a serious contender.</p>

It's also probably safe to assume the Best Visual Effects category has a serious contender.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

The trailer for Ang Lee's 'Life of Pi' sure is pretty

If nothing else, the film will join a healthy cinematography field this year

Back during CinemaCon I was a little harsh on gun-jumpers quick to shout "OSCAR!" in response to footage shown from Ang Lee's "Life of Pi." Then when I caught the out-of-context flying fish scene in front of "Prometheus," I was just left a bit cold, if curious.

Well, while I won't outright offer a mea culpa (tossing that word around after 10 minutes is just too steep), I will say I understand why that footage must have been so captivating. Because the just-released trailer is full of scope, wonder, imagination and sheer cinematic passion. It signals what will at the very least be a singular vision, and knowing that vision is coming from Ang Lee has me very, very excited.

Based on the fantasy novel by Yann Martel, the film tells the spiritual story of an Indian boy (Pi) who survives 227 days after a shipwreck while stranded on a boat in the Pacific with a Bengal tiger.

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<p>&quot;Revolution&quot; hits NBC's TCA press tour stage</p>

"Revolution" hits NBC's TCA press tour stage

Credit: NBC

Press Tour 2012: 'Revolution' producers talk questions, answers and allegory

A physicist has approved of the solution to the NBC drama's riddles
BEVERLY HILLS - The routine has been the same for several years now: The producers of a highly ambitious mythology-based TV series sit down at the Television Critics Association press tour and swear that their shows won't frustrate viewers like so many before.
The producers of "FastForward" swore they wouldn't be "Lost." The producers of "The Event" swore they wouldn't be "FlashForward." The producers of "Terra Nova" promised they wouldn't be "The Event." Etc. Etc. 
With that in mind, I'm pleased to report that the producers of NBC's "Revolution" not only swear that they know the answers to all of the show's questions, but they also swear that they're prepared to answer those questions.
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<p>Bilbo Baggins seems to be sneaking up on a full-blown trilogy with reports that New Line, Warner Bros, and Peter Jackson are discussing ways to build a third 'Hobbit' film</p>

Bilbo Baggins seems to be sneaking up on a full-blown trilogy with reports that New Line, Warner Bros, and Peter Jackson are discussing ways to build a third 'Hobbit' film

Credit: Warner Bros/New Line

More reports emerge of potential plans for a third 'Hobbit' film from Peter Jackson

Details start to come together for how they'll build a third film

Peter Jackson may have seemed slightly reluctant to return to Middle-Earth before he began production on "The Hobbit," but now that he's actually in the process, it looks like he's having a harder time letting go.

When our own Katie Hasty talked to Jackson during Comic-Con, I didn't really take the idea of a third "Hobbit" film seriously, even when he discussed how it might work and how he was starting to think about it.  Richard Armitage also broached the subject with us, but It seemed like one of those idle thoughts that wouldn't really pan out into something real.  Now it appears that talks are becoming more serious about the possibility of expanding this into a trilogy, and that's sure to spark debate, with both pro and con making equal sense to me.

On the one hand, "The Hobbit" has always struck me as a totally different beast than "Lord Of The Rings."  Yes, they take place in the same world, and yes, they share characters and there is some narrative connection between them, but they seem to work in entirely different ways.  "Lord Of The Rings" always struck me as the biggest of big meals, an amazing trip through one of the pivotal moments in an imagined history.  "The Hobbit" struck me more as an adventure story, contained and personal, and while the stakes obviously matter to everyone in the story, Bilbo included, they are not apocalyptic, with the entire fate of Middle-Earth at risk.

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<p>Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris share a laugh during the press day for 'Ruby Sparks'</p>

Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris share a laugh during the press day for 'Ruby Sparks'

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton discuss bringing 'Ruby Sparks' to life

Plus we ask about the decision on how to explain the film's magic

I never spoke to directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris when they were making the rounds to support their first film, "Little Miss Sunshine."  I was aware of them from their music video work, and I enjoyed "Sunshine," but at that point, our paths just never ended up crossing.

This time, I made sure to set time aside so we could discuss their new film, "Ruby Sparks," which opens tomorrow in limited release.  I wanted to talk to them about the way pressure to match their first film's remarkable success played into the length of time it took them to decide on a follow-up.  I wanted to talk to them about working with Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan, and how they defined the different relationships they had with Kazan as a writer and as an actor.  And I absolutely wanted to talk to them about one of the key choices made in the film, one that may throw some viewers.

It's also always interesting to see what the dynamic is, even in conversation, between co-directors.  It's still not a common relationship, and Dayton and Faris are very unusual anyway, since most of the co-directors working are brothers or long-time writing partners.  In conversation, there's such a connected back and forth between them that I have to assume that bleeds into their professional dynamic as well.

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"The New Normal"

"The New Normal"

Credit: NBC

Press Tour 2012: 'New Normal' creator Ryan Murphy doesn't mind controversy

The 'Glee' mastermind thinks Million Moms protesters can be won over

When Andrew Rannells, star of the new NBC show "The New Normal" joked to a journalist at press tour, "Who are you going to offend this time?" he could have posed the question to show creator Ryan Murphy. The show about a gay couple hiring a surrogate to bear them a child has become the focus of a ban by One Million Moms. "I obviously have been through this before," sighed Murphy, who also created "Glee" and "American Horror Story." 

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<p>Alicia Keys</p>

Alicia Keys

Credit: RCA

Watch: Alicia Keys' lyric video for 'New Day'

Someone's going to have clean all that up...

Nothing says “New Day” like tagging and spray paint. For Alicia Keys, it actually is true.

The lyric video for her new single, “New Day,” features taggers spraying the song’s lyrics throughout various New York City walls. Lyrics also appear on the spray cans themselves. It’s a clever concept and the urban motif works well since Keys is so associated with New York and given the tune’s militant, rat-a-tap beat that is the farthest thing from bucolic.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>98 Degrees</p>

98 Degrees

98 Degrees hits the 'Today' stage for first TV performance in 10 years

Which other boy bands are we missing?

This is clearly the season of the boy band. Following Kevin Richardson’s decision to make Backstreet Boys whole again by rejoining the band, now we get official word that the 98 Degrees reunion is on.

As you know, it had been rumored to be on and then off again a few times already and seemed to somewhat pivot around when Nick Lachey’s baby with wife Vanessa Minnillo Lachey, was due. However, all that seems to be worked out. The group’s official coming out party will be Aug. 17, when the quartet makes its first television appearance in a decade on The Today Show’s summer concert series.

The next day, as members Nick and Drew Lachey had previously announced, the group will perform at the MixTape Festival in Hershey, Pa, alongside Kelly Clarkson, The Fray, LL Cool J, and other boy bands The Wanted and NKOTBSB (the collective composed of New Kids on The Block and Backstreet Boys).  Little baby Lachey, who is due in late summer/early fall, better not make an early appearance!

The group, whose biggest hits were “Because Of You,” “I Do” and “The Hardest Thing,”  is also in the studio working on a new album, its first since  2000. Although contemporaries of BSB, 98 Degrees never quite reached the same level of fervor, despite scoring two multi-platinum albums.

While NKOTBSB have done well on tour, including selling out Boston’s Fenway Park last summer (mainly due to the NKOTB’s hometown ties) and receiving favorable reviews, radio has not shown the same nostalgic devotion for these acts as have their fans. Any new music has arrived with little fanfare, despite the acts’ trademark harmonies remaining in tact. While fans, who now probably have daughters who are loving One Direction and The Wanted just as their moms loves BSB or NKOTB did, are happy to relive their youth by going to the concert, they don't particularly care about new music.

By the way, if you’re Team BSB instead of Team 98 Degrees, BSB will be on “Good Morning America” on Aug. 31.

Any boy band you'd like to see reunite? 

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<p>Every opportunity I have to run this Darkness promotional photo, I&nbsp;will</p>

Every opportunity I have to run this Darkness promotional photo, I will

Credit: Wind-Up

Listen: The Darkness drop Radiohead cover on heels of 'Hot' single

'Everybody Have a Good Time': a bear in a bikini, hot girls in glasses, a Tommy gun

Finally. Cock-rockers The Darkness have released the studio version of their Radiohead cover "Street Spirit (Fade Out)." The prophecies have been fulfilled, the earth can now enter a period of raining frogs, the seven horsemen and all the trimmings of the 2012 apocalypse.

There are natural limitations to hair metal revisited, but the English band delivers in stripes on this track, particularly since "The Bends" original last for about 4:15 and this one clocks in (in my mind) at about 35 seconds, more or less. Tenacious D may have cornered the market on tongue-cheeking '80s hard-rock, but the Darkness are straight-up making out with it.

Listen to Darkness' version of "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" here.

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<p>From &quot;Give It Away&quot;</p>

From "Give It Away"

Watch: Andrew Bird's 'Give It Away' is a bummer birthday party

Piñata man is in the wrong line of work

Andrew Bird's music video for "Give It Away" features a Piñata Man who "plays" children's birthday parties. Piñata Man is obviously in the wrong line of work.

I'm sure this is a metaphor for something. Something. Also, it wasn't just your mom who was nuts growing up.

"Give It Away" is off of "Break It Yourself," a title which seems to have some bearings on piñatas everywhere. The album was released earlier this year.

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<p>Christopher Nolan on the set of &quot;The&nbsp;Dark&nbsp;Knight&quot;</p>

Christopher Nolan on the set of "The Dark Knight"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

The Lists: Top 10 things Christopher Nolan got right with his Batman trilogy

How the franchise nailed the mythos

"The Dark Knight Rises" is here and lists are wildly en vogue this week. Lots of picking it apart here, sticking up for it there, etc. It's turned out to be an unexpectedly divisive film, and after a second look yesterday, I certainly still have my issues. But I should be clear: I'm really appreciative of what Christopher Nolan has given us.

People will twist themselves into pretzels to discuss the zeitgeist elements of the new film and drawing over-inflated political parallels, etc., but I think most Batman fans -- even those like me who were disappointed by "The Dark Knight Rises" -- can agree on one thing. We're glad there is a series of films built around this character that we can be proud of.

So while we will surely be talking about the new film for a number of months to come -- perhaps into the awards season, perhaps not -- I personally feel like I've had my say. And I'd rather leave it on a positive note.

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<p>Because when I think of film festivals, the first thing that comes to mind is Bruce Willis and machine guns.</p>

Because when I think of film festivals, the first thing that comes to mind is Bruce Willis and machine guns.

Credit: Sony Pictures

Malick and the Wachowskis and 'Looper'? Oh, my, the Toronto 2012 Fest looks great

How many great films can one festival fit into ten days of programming?

I am almost embarrassed about how excited I am for this year's Toronto International Film Festival.

Then again, when you look at the list of movies playing this year, announced this morning by the fest, it is overstuffed with potentially excellent films, and the one problem I have right now is figuring out how I'm going to see everything I want to see.  Sometimes, festivals can kick the crap out of you no matter how well you plan, and I've certainly had festivals where I felt like the schedule beat me.  I think I had a pretty great Toronto last year, and I think it may be one of the best examples of what I want to do at a festival, and part of that is just because I've gotten comfortable in the city finally and I feel at ease when I'm there and working. In addition, the people who actually put on the festival have always made me feel, as both journalist and audience member, like I was welcome, like they can't wait to share the films they've programmed.

This year, it looks like they have every reason to be proud of the festival they're putting together, with a huge buffet of films that represent a pretty spectacular who's who in filmmaking around the world right now.

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