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Buzzed about TIFF screenings

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TORONTO -- More than 280 movies will unspool at the 11-day Toronto International Film Festival, which kicked off Thursday. Here are 12 titles already generating buzz:

Anna Karenina -- Keira Knightley reunites for a third time with director Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride and Prejudice) in this big-screen adaptation of Tolstoy's classic novel. Expect lavish costumes, gorgeous sets and melodrama galore.

Bad 25 -- With Michael Jackson's landmark followup to Thriller hitting the quarter-century mark, director Spike Lee embarks on a behind-the-scenes look at the creatively fertile and personally turbulent period that ushered in the King of Pop's transformation from teen pin-up to troubled icon. It features interviews from the likes of Kanye West, Cee Lo Green and Mariah Carey.

Cloud Atlas -- The David Mitchell novel on which this film is based is a sprawling work that jumps across time, borders and genres, and was thought to be pretty much impossible to reproduce onscreen. It took three directors and a sprawling A-list cast including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Susan Sarandon.

The Company You Keep -- The Sundance Kid will hit TIFF to talk up this hotly anticipated political thriller about a Weather Underground activist on the run from a journalist. Robert Redford directs and heads up a near-blinding cast of blue-chip stars that includes Shia LaBeouf, Julie Christie, Stanley Tucci, Nick Nolte, Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendrick, Terrence Howard and Susan Sarandon.

Looper -- It gets automatic buzz as the opening film of this year's fest but unlike some previous kick-off selections -- which shall remain nameless -- this movie has "big hit" written all over it. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt, it's a twisty time-travel thriller that has blockbuster potential. It opens in theatres Sept. 28.

The Master -- Consider this weighty period drama a full-on Oscar offensive: big screen powerhouse Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a spiritual guru who develops a cult-like organization not unlike Scientology, while Joaquin Phoenix is a troubled Second World War vet who falls under his tutelage.

Midnight's Children -- Canada's Oscar-nominated director Deepa Mehta and Booker Prize-winning author Salman Rushdie make up the dream team behind this big-screen adaptation of Rushdie's sweeping, magical, comic-epic novel about India's early days of independence. The ingredients are there for an over-the-top spectacle.

Much Ado About Nothing -- Few filmmakers have had a better year than Joss Whedon, the one-time Buffy scribe who directed the blockbuster smash The Avengers and co-wrote the acclaimed cult hit The Cabin in the Woods. So this modern-day version of the beloved William Shakespeare play -- shot entirely at Whedon's house in California over the course of a mere 12 days -- certainly shouldn't lack for attention.

On The Road -- Walter Salles' adaptation of the seminal Jack Kerouac book is buzzy not so much for the film itself as it is for its scandal-plagued star, Kristen Stewart. The Twilight phenomenon hits the red carpet just weeks after being embroiled in a salacious tangle that supposedly busted up her fairy tale romance with hunk Robert Pattinson. Already, journalists have been sternly warned to steer clear of personal questions.

The Place Beyond the Pines -- Judging by their past collaborations, the team behind this crime drama could very well wow once again. Star Ryan Gosling has worked with most of these producers several times now, on lauded titles including Half Nelson, which earned him an Oscar nomination, and Blue Valentine, which was also helmed by director/co-writer Derek Cianfrance.

Seven Psychopaths -- Speaking of promising film-team reunions, this canine-crime comedy sees writer-director Martin McDonagh pairing up again with Irish star Colin Farrell after the Oscar-nominated In Bruges. Farrell plays a screenwriter who gets ensnared in organized crime when his friends kidnap a gangster's adorable Shih Tzu

West of Memphis -- It's the kind of tragic truth-is-stranger-than-fiction tale that leaves you heartbroken. Celebs including Johnny Depp, Peter Jackson, Eddie Vedder and Natalie Maines appear in this documentary about the so-called West Memphis Three, a trio of teens who were convicted of murdering three young boys in Arkansas in 1994. It presents a convincing case that the teens -- who were freed last year after serving 18 years in jail -- were likely innocent and made scapegoats by a small-town police force and ambitious, ego-driven prosecutors.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 7, 2012 D5

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