Toronto 2011 Journal, Part 8: Taking Out the Trash

Tim Grierson
The Projector
Image icon
Image icon

TORONTO -- Perhaps you're under the impression that all movies that play at film festivals are good. This is not true. Some are excruciatingly awful, making you wonder how they could have ever been selected in the first place. Of course, no two people will have the exact same answer to what terrible movies are playing at this year's Toronto Film Festival. Some might pick "Butter," the Jennifer Garner comedy. Others might go with Roland Emmerich's Shakespeare-conspiracy thriller "Anonymous" or Madonna's "W.E." Heck, a lot of folks walked out of my screening of Andrea Arnold's "Wuthering Heights." But for me, it's easy: The worst thing I've seen at this year's fest is "Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding."

Directed by Bruce Beresford ("Driving Miss Daisy"), "Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding" finds an uptight, politically conservative New York lawyer (Catherine Keener) driving out to Woodstock with her two kids after her husband wants a divorce. Specifically, she's going to see her mother (Jane Fonda), a diehard hippie and peacenik who's never seen eye-to-eye with her daughter. What follows is one of the lamest culture-clash comedies in recent years, filled with lots of silly, shallow love stories and awkward coming-of-age adventures. I steadfastly refuse to leave a screening early, but, lordy, it was tempting in this case.

So, yes, even good festivals have bad movies. And there's a chance I could see a couple more bad films today.

The first is "Twixt," the new film from Francis Ford Coppola that's billed as a Gothic horror thingy starring Val Kilmer. The advance buzz has not been good, but I'm fascinated to see if it's misunderstood or really and truly a train wreck.

After that, I could find myself at "Trespass," the Joel Schumacher-directed thriller starring Nicole Kidman and Nicolas Cage that's essentially being dumped. Could it really be that bad? I'm about to find out.

But I'm not just going to take in some possible dreck today. I'll also see "Guilty," a French drama that's been very much loved by critics thus far. Based on a true story of a couple arrested 10 years ago on untrue charges of pedophilia, director Vincent Garenq's film is said to be brutally unflinching. That may sound intimidating, but, honestly, a bad movie like "Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding" is brutally unflinching in its own way.