Fri, Sep 14, 2007 - Page 17 News List

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Ryan Gosling found love in a peculiar place.

PHOT: AP

A quirky teen-pregnancy yarn and a love story involving a life-sized sex doll have won over critics at the Toronto International Film Festival.

While films about the war in Iraq and global terrorism have drawn a generally positive response, lighter fare such as Juno and Lars and the Real Girl have also emerged from the pack.

Lars, which stars Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling, has been lauded for a clever script that turns an uncomfortable subject into a love story.

Juno, directed by Jason Reitman, is about a 16-year-old pregnant teen who decides to put her baby up for private adoption.

"They are both comedies, and they are both very, very broad, and yet very very sweet," said David Poland of moviecitynews.com.

These smaller films have triumphed in the face of larger hype for Iraq-themed films such as Brian De Palma's Redacted and Paul Haggis's In the Valley of Elah, as well as Gavin Hood's Rendition.

The thematic bent recalls the flood of films beginning in the late 1970s criticizing the Vietnam War, such as The Deer Hunter and Coming Home.

But with the war in Iraq still going on, some say audiences may not be ready to step back and look objectively at its consequences.

"It may be that they all cannibalize each other. It may be too much too soon, way too much," said Pete Hammond, film critic for Maxim Magazine.

Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg came close to the Russian Mafia, which he depicts in his latest movie Eastern Promises.

The crime thriller also premiered at the Toronto Film Festival this week.

During the making of the film, Russian journalist Alex Litvinenko was poisoned.

A building near Cronenberg and actor Viggo Mortensen's residence at the time was swarmed by British forensic police, who found traces of polonium-210, the substance that killed Litvinenko.

"Rather than scaring us, it energized us," Cronenberg told broadcaster CTV.

In the somber film, Cronenberg aims his camera at the gritty streets of the city, home to new immigrants, crime clans and lost souls.

He "shows you a London that you don't see in movies, even crime movies," commented Mortensen.

The film also stars Naomi Watts.

Mortensen also starred in Cronenberg's A History of Violence, but is best known for his role as Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

"I certainly tried to make the movie as depressing as possible," Cronenberg told reporters at the festival. "I thought it was too hopeful sometimes."

He defended a controversial and violent bath scene, telling CTV: "My understanding of violence is that it's totally physical."

"It's all about the human body - the destruction of the human body. So, given those two things, this was a necessary scene and necessary to be shown in the way that I do," Cronenberg said.

Glamorous Bollywood goddess Kareena Kapoor will clean off the makeup and adopt a natural look in her new love story, When We Met a filmmaker said Monday.

Director Imtiaz Ali said Kapoor's clean look is part of her girl-next-door image in his movie, which also stars Indian actor Shahid Kapur.

Bollywood actresses are rarely seen without makeup on screen, and are often criticized for wearing heavy greasepaint even when portraying poor villagers, farmers, lawyers or police officers.

But Ali said Kapoor's new movie is going for a more realistic feel.

The film takes place on a train and follows Kapoor and Kapur through a series of adventures after they are left stranded in a remote railway station without luggage or money.

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