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Toronto Film Festival: Talent, comedy, crotchety directors

Our critic dives into the pool of 312 movies and finds what's fresh.

‘CHE’: Benicio del Toro, in Madrid to promo film, plays Che Guevara in biopic.

Juan Medina

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The Toronto International Film Festival is no country for old men or lazy critics. With 312 movies screening from 64 countries in 10 days, your faithful bleary-eyed cinéaste will end up seeing about a tenth of that total.

The festival is both a one-stop shop for Hollywood's fall lineup and a panorama of movies from far-flung destinations. It's a matchless way to see terrific films that, alas and ever increasingly, may never break out of the festival circuit. It's also a market reminding you yet again that the movie business is a business.

The yin butts up often against the yang in Toronto. For example, Steven Soderbergh's two-part, four-hour-plus biopic "Che," starring Benicio del Toro, received the red carpet treatment. (The carpet seemed especially red to me.) This event was somehow tied in with the "creation" of an "ecofriendly night-life destination."

Another example: Walking out of a movie about slum conditions in Brazil, Bruno Barretto's "Last Stop 174," one is greeted with the news that Paris Hilton has ordered the festival to press screen only once the documentary about her, "Paris, Not France." (Usually movies are previewed two or three times.) Apparently she feels there is not enough buzz about her – despite a recent poll showing that, in "certain demographics," more people identify the name "Paris" with the woman than with the city.


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