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Movies: The 34th Toronto International Film Festival Kicks Off

With the 34th annual Toronto International Film Festival opening today, early reports from Canadian sources say “Up in the Air,” the George Clooney starrer about the ultimate frequent flyer, is already generating big time buzz.

“It’s easily the most likely film to attract standing-room-only crowds at both its (opening weekend) public and press screenings,” one wag told me.

It certainly makes sense, especially with the first two films (“Thank You for Smoking” and “Juno”) from director Jason Reitman (yes, from that Canadian clan of Reitmans) becoming TIFF smashes in recent years.

Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany star in "Creation."

Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany star in “Creation.”

Clooney, also showing off a military satire called “The Men Who Stare at Goats,” will join upwards of 500 celebrities up north, including Chris Rock (“Good Hair”), Michael Caine (“Harry Brown”), Nicolas Cage (“Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans”), Penelope Cruz (Pedro Almodovar’s “Broken Embraces”), Ellen Page (“Whip It”), Megan Fox (“Jennifer’s Body”), Matt Damon (“The Informant!”), Julianne Moore (Atom Egoyan’s “Chloe”), and husband/wife Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly (opening night’s “Creation”).

The roller babes of "Whip It."

The roller babes of “Whip It.”

Producer Oprah Winfrey, whose “Precious, Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire“ comes as devastatingly powerful as advertised by way of its Sundance awards, is an expected guest. So are many of the film’s stars, most notably Mariah Carey, barely recognizable as a social worker helping the title character (played remarkably by newcomer Garbourey Sidibe) escape the nasty clutches of her big and abusive mom. Interestingly, Mo’Nique, a sure-fire Oscar nominee for her hateful performance in the latter role, will not attend.

Garbourey Sidibe stars in "Precious, Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire."

Garbourey Sidibe stars in “Precious, Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire.”

Check back here for more in a few days, but if you might be reading this from Toronto – or are on your way – seek out a terrifically moving little Australian film called “Blessed,” featuring Frances O’Connor, Miranda Otto, and Deborra-Lee Furness (aka Mrs. Hugh Jackman). You can thank me later with a Canadian brewski, eh?

A scene from the Australian film "Blessed."

A scene from the Australian film “Blessed.”


Photos courtesy the Toronto Film Festival.

[John M. Urbancich is a Cleveland-based reporter who has reviewed movies and written film features and celebrity profiles at Cleveland’s Sun Newspapers for 25 years. As a longtime member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, his work has also been appearing on the Sun News website for more than a decade.]

About Jenny Peters (168 Articles)
Jet Set Jen is the brainchild of Jenny Peters, a longtime freelance journalist whose career has spanned everything considered "Lifestyle" reporting, from movies and celebrities to fashion and fast cars, with plenty of food, wine and travel thrown in too. She currently contributes regularly to USA Today's,, New York Magazine, Coast Magazine, Bask Magazine and numerous other newspapers, magazines and websites worldwide. She is a founding and voting member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (, which annually honors the year's top films with the Critics' Choice Awards. Jenny and her crack cadre of reporters at Jet Set Jen offer up opinions, suggestions and insider scoops on the best that the world has to offer, to keep you on the cutting edge of that ever elusive pursuit of life, liberty, happiness – and fun, fun, fun.

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