Ask The Dust (D: Robert Towne, 117 min)
The new romantic drama Ask The Dust is set in Los Angeles during the Great Depression. If anyone can capture that period in words, it's Robert Towne , who wrote the L.A.-set screenplay for a little pic called Chinatown.
Towne adapted John Fante 's acclaimed novel about recent immigrants looking for upward mobility. Salma Hayek plays a Mexican waitress, Colin Farrell an Italian-American writer. Let's see if there are sparks. Towne, of course, is better known as a writer than a director. His last film was 1998's Without Limits; the film before that was 1988's Tequila Sunrise. He came to town a month ago and screened a few minutes of his new film, which didn't generate a ton of positive buzz.
Still, how bad can it be? Look for notable scene-stealers Eileen Atkins and Donald Sutherland in smaller roles.
She's The Man (D: Andy Fickman, 105 min)
If Jane Austen's Emma can translate to the screen as Clueless, and (more relevant to our discussion here) Shakespeare's The Taming Of The Shrew can get adapted to become the charming 10 Things I Hate About You, then maybe She's The Man has potential. It's a contemporary high school version of the Bard's cheeky comedy of eros and errors, Twelfth Night. Teen star Amanda Bynes (What A Girl Wants) plays the juicy role of Viola, who disguises herself as her brother and then finds herself falling for a totally hot guy named Duke ( Channing Tatum ). The screenwriters include the pair who penned 10 Things -- a promising sign. Both open Friday (March 17). Screened after press time - see reviews March 17 at www.nowtoronto.com/film.