I just wrapped a conversation with Looper director Rian Johnson. I’m waiting to speak with the film’s stars – Joseph Gordon Levitt and Emily Blunt. (Look for all three on the site, shortly). In the meantime, I’m jumping online to fill you in on last night’s Kristen Stewart sighting, the devastating Michael Haneke film (the one with all the awards buzz), and Sarah Polley’s peel-back-the-onion documentary, Stories We Tell.

You can see why film lovers from far and wide make sure they are at the Toronto International Film Festival year after year.

No matter what you are looking for, the fest likely has it programmed, from genre-testing Midnight Madness screenings to challenging Documentaries and star-studded Gala’s with Oscar hopes. I landed in TIFF on Wednesday night, made sure I had a good dinner – because you never know when you are going to eat once the festival is in full swing – and hit the ground running Thursday morning with an 8:45 a.m. screening of Rust & Bone.

So far, the best thing I’ve seen at the fest is Amour, Haneke’s intimate study of a loving couple’s last few months together after the wife learns she’s dying. The performances are spectacular, and the film doesn’t rush through the process, giving us ample time to settle into the couple’s routine (so that we’ll notice how much they will miss it once it is gone). The final scenes of Amour are devastating yet strangely uplifting. It’s a very tough sit, and might not be for everyone, but so far, it’s the best thing I’ve managed to see up here.

The worst thing was Motorway, Pou-Soi Cheang’s police thriller that wasn’t exactly thrilling. Shawn Yue stars as the rookie member of a high-speed police force, learning the ropes from his mentor (played by legendary Anthony Wong) before the elder statesman retires. How a film can sell itself as a vehicle (pun intended) for high-speed pursuit, yet conjure some of the least interesting car chases seen on screen, is beyond me. Motorway doesn’t miss a single cliché on its way to a predictable finish. It is the first disappointment of this year’s TIFF.

Quick reactions to Rust & Bone reveal a conflicted drama torn in several different directions that ultimately becomes a tender drama about damaged souls helping each other heal. The digital effects used on Marion Cotillard steal the show. (You’ll know what that means once you’ve seen it.) And Sarah Polley rebounds after the disappointing Take This Waltz with Stories We Tell, an inquisitive, soul-searching yet Canadian (read: detached) documentary about infidelity in her parents’ marriage. Waltz makes a lot more sense now. It isn’t better. But it makes more sense.

There likely will be more, though I’m hoping for the best. After these Looper interviews, Friday promises screenings of Ben Affleck’s Argo, Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina and Frances Ha, the latest from writer-director Noah Baumbach.

Again, this is why we come to TIFF each year. I hope you are enjoying our ongoing coverage.

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