The 2014 Toronto International Film Festival kicks off today with Robert Downey Jr., a street gang-hip hop-musical epic and “Festival Street.”
TIFF begins, as all film festivals should, with a two-and-a-half hour courtroom drama starring Iron Man, from the director of “Wedding Crashers.” OK, that does not sound promising, but David Dobkin’s “The Judge” actually appears promising. With Robert Downey Jr. back in non-blockbuster mode — it’s been awhile — and Robert Duvall in support, the Warner Bros. drama is an interesting, if obnoxiously safe, opening night pick.
“The Judge” won’t have to work too hard in order to top the last chunk of TIFF opening-night selections. Last year, for example, started with the well-intentioned, tone-deaf Wikileaks drama “The Fifth Estate,” a film so ham-fistedly directed by Bill Condon that even fine work from Benedict Cumberbatch could not salvage it. And 2010 infamously opened with “Score: A Hockey Musical,” and that title says all you need to know.
Day one often is an oddity, with the festival not in full swing until the first Friday. So along with some big-ticket picks like Al Pacino in “The Humbling” there also is the “Yakuza-street gang-hip hop-musical epic” “Tokyo Tribe.”
And star-watchers may find Friday more enticing, too, with celebs like Jake Gyllenhaal (“Nightcrawler”), Bill Murray (“St. Vincent”) and Kristen Wiig (“Welcome to Me”) expected to be on hand.
But even so, there is nothing like being in town for the kickoff to the festival, and it’s also the first opportunity to see TIFF’s new “Festival Street,” a cavalcade of live music, food trucks and games on King Street West. It runs from Sept. 4 to 7, and may just keep me away from awful street-vendor hot dogs. For a few hours, at least.
TIFF runs through Sept. 14, and I’ll be there for the first several days. Keep up with posts at Buffalo.com and follow my updates on Twitter at Twitter.com/FilmSwoon.