| TORONTO, Sept 4
TORONTO, Sept 4 Actors Robert Downey Jr. and
Robert Duvall brought their father-and-son dysfunction drama
"The Judge" to Toronto on Thursday to open the city's film
festival, an early arbiter in the movie industry's awards
Toronto's opening gala gives a note of Hollywood glamour to
a festival known for its sprawling program - 285 films screened
multiple times over 11 days - and the participation of ordinary
people, who ultimately decide the top prize.
On the red carpet before "The Judge" premiere in downtown
Toronto, Downey Jr., best known for his superhero role in the
"Iron Man" movies, said the kick-off slot was an honor.
"I like the idea too, like if you have the first dance at a
wedding, you really want to whip it up, you want to get the
floor hot and sticky and I'm hoping that 'The Judge' will do
that," Downey Jr. said.
In "The Judge," a Warner Bros. film directed by David
Dobkin, Downey Jr. is hot-shot Chicago lawyer Hank Palmer who
returns to his small Indiana hometown to face estranged father
Joseph, played by Duvall, who is a revered judge charged in a
Hank and Joseph not only have to heal wounds, they have to
come to terms with Joseph's need for his son, both for his legal
defense and his failing health.
"These movies don't really get made any more," said Dobkin.
"I grew up loving 'Kramer vs. Kramer' and 'Terms of Endearment'
and 'The Verdict'."
Variety chief film critic Justin Chang said Downey Jr. and
Duvall have "ferocious onscreen chemistry."
"Refreshing as it is to see Downey step out of the Iron Man
suit for a spell," Chang wrote, "the jury's still out on whether
an impressive talent roster can draw enough grown-up eyeballs to
this overlong, resolutely old-fashioned male weepie."
But Duvall said inaugurating the festival was a good sign
for the film that opens in North America on Oct. 10.
"I think it shows that people are thinking about it in very
serious terms and I guess liking it," said the 83-year-old
actor, famous for his roles in "The Godfather" and "Tender
Mercies," for which he won his only Oscar.
The Canadian city will be awash in celebrities, premieres
and parties over the weekend, when media attention is at its
But several of the most anticipated films, like "Wild"
starring Reese Witherspoon and "The Imitation Game" with
Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead role, will not show until early
next week because they screened first at the smaller Telluride
Film Festival last month.
The Toronto International Film Festival, now in its 39th
year, has anointed several films that have gone on to win the
best picture Oscar, including last year's winner, "12 Years a
The second day of the festival on Friday is "Bill Murray
Day," to honor the comic Chicago actor with screenings of his
famous movies "Groundhog Day" and "Ghostbusters" among others
and the world premiere of his new film "St. Vincent."
(Additional reporting by Robert Mezan from Reuters TV; Editing
by Nick Macfie)