The West

Psychopathic tendencies
Colin Farrell, left, Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell in Seven Psychopaths. Picture: Supplied.

In the past, winners of the Toronto International Film Festival's audience award have been indicators of future Oscar nominations, with Chariots of Fire, American Beauty, Slumdog Millionaire and The King's Speech going on to win the golden statuette for Best Picture.

Now this year's TIFF winner The Silver Linings Playbook from director David O. Russell (The Fighter) has every chance of doing likewise, particularly if the film's US distributor, Harvey Weinstein, has anything to do with it.

All augurs well too for his other TIFF Oscar hopeful, PT. Anderson's The Master, which set art-house box office records in its limited US release at the weekend.

Second prize in the TIFF awards went to Ben Affleck's Argo, long considered a prime Oscar contender for best picture, while the Australian film Storm Surfers 3-D came second in the documentary category, after Bartholomew Cubbins' Artifact took out the major prize.

Telling harsh truths about the modern music business, Artifact gives intimate access to singer/actor Jared Leto and his band Thirty Seconds to Mars as they battle their label in a brutal lawsuit and record their album This Is War.

There was such a barrage of quality films at TIFF this year that it had been difficult to work out what might tickle Toronto audiences' fancies, given how Nadine Labacki's Where Do We Go Now? came out of nowhere to win last year.

While the jury's still out on the box office prospects of The Silver Linings Playbook, a hilarious tale about a former psych patient (Bradley Cooper) trying to rebuild his life after a bitter divorce, one thing's sure - a film called Seven Psychopaths is going to be huge.

According to both the Guardian and Variety, Martin McDonagh's follow-up to In Bruges was the most crowd-pleasing film at the festival and, indeed, possibly the best. The film took out the People's Choice prize in TIFF's Midnight Madness section and is bound to do extremely well with young male audiences.

The re-teaming of In Bruges star Colin Farrell with McDonagh was always going to be a treat.

To his credit, with his second feature the Irish/British playwright known for his crisp, funny and frequently poignant dialogue has taken a completely different route.

He has amassed a large cast, set his story in Hollywood and thrown in hilarious cinematic references, most prominently from Pulp Fiction, with Christopher Walken as the film's prime scene-stealer.

And while there's quite a bit of bloodletting in this brightly lit, colourful yarn (ostensibly about Farrell's screenwriter with writer's block whose best friend Sam Rockwell has taken possession of LA gangster Woody Harrelson's beloved shih tzu dog) there's not one moment when you feel like doing anything other than laugh.

Cartoon-like in its tone and look, the film premiered to a raucous midnight crowd. Harrelson's Charlie Costello is naturally one of the film's seven psychopaths.

Abbie Cornish unfortunately isn't treated too well by Farrell, her onscreen boyfriend, and in our interview McDonagh explained how some of Aussie actress' scenes were left on the cutting-room floor, but that he plans to work with her again.

Like Cornish, Jackie Weaver is doing extremely well overseas, and makes her mark, yet again, as Cooper's mother in Silver Linings.

Meanwhile, Wayne Blair's The Sapphires, one of a few films to receive a standing ovation, continues its march on the road to international success as it played to packed houses at the festival.

Now the so-called "Weinstein Co.'s period musical drama" is set to open The San Diego Film Festival on September 26.

WA-made movie Satellite Boy is a little too quiet in tone to have created much of a festival buzz. However, its story of a cute young Kimberly rascal, Cameron Wallaby, learning the traditional ways of his grandfather, the magnificent David Gulpilil, left a lump in my throat, particularly when Wallaby and his best friend (Wyndham native Joseph Pedley) get lost in the fiery red Bungle Bungles, which have been beautifully captured by Geoffrey Simpson's widescreen cinematography.

The West Australian

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