underpins eclectic array of Toronto film festival
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[September 15, 2014]
By Solarina Ho
TORONTO (Reuters) - From
dramas about mentors and their apprentices, to
imaginative musicals, biopics, and documentaries, music
underpinned an eclectic swathe of movies appearing at
this year's Toronto International Film Festival.
These ranged from high profile galas like Francois Girard's 'Boychoir'
and the Canadian premiere of Sundance favorite 'Whiplash' to
Ethan Hawke's intimate and well received study of a former
Girard, who also made 'Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould'
and 'The Red Violin', said he does not want to be pigeonholed as
a director of music-related projects, but that once again a
story centered around this theme spoke to him.
"Music is important to all film makers. It's a very important
part of the film vocabulary and we all cherish the tool," Girard
told Reuters. "I trust music more than the words when it comes
to depicting emotions."
Girard's 'Boychoir' and director Damien Chazelle's
semi-autobiographical 'Whiplash' both portray students striving
for greatness under genius teachers - one simply demanding and
one monstrously abusive.
In 'Whiplash', which premiered earlier this year at the Sundance
Film Festival, Chazelle uses drumming as a visual and
tension-building tool to drive the film to its energetic climax.
In 'Boychoir' the focus is on voice, and the efforts of a
traditionalist choirmaster played by Dustin Hoffman to bring
harmony to the life of an angry, orphaned 11-year-old attending
an exclusive boarding school.
The heartbreak of broken dreams form the basis of two musicals
which had their world premieres at 11-day festival, which ends
on Sunday: Richard LaGravenese's 'The Last Five Years' and
Jeffrey St. Jules' debut feature, 'Bang Bang Baby'.
'The Last Five Years' is a sung-through musical chronicling the
failed relationship between a struggling actress and her
successful author husband, while 'Bang Bang Baby' is a surreal
take on the aspirations of a small town girl in the 1960s.
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LaGravenese told audience members at a screening of the film - based
on Jason Robert Brown's off-Broadway production - that having the
cast sing live was a crucial component.
"It's the only way you can do it, because it's so emotional, it's so
intimate," he said.
Other music-related projects making their world debuts in Toronto
included 'Love and Mercy' - a biography of Beach Boy Brian Wilson
covering his creative peak in the 1960s and painful recovery from
mental illness and addiction - and 'Roger Waters: The Wall.' The
latter documents the monumental and pyrotechnic three-year concert
series launched by the Pink Floyd co-founder.
By contrast, in Hawke's documentary 'Seymour: An Introduction', the
titular pianist, Seymour Bernstein, shares valuable life lessons on
the role of music.
"We all know passion, joy, sadness, longing. We all know those
emotional conditions. Music encapsulates all of human emotion, in a
way, more succinctly even than words do," Bernstein told Reuters.
"It affords the performer a means of communicating in a way that you
can't communicate in any other form."
(Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson)
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