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Daily TIFF Riff: Toronto swoons over Alexander Skarsgard

09/12/2011 08:28 EDT | Updated 11/12/2011 05:12 EST

As the eager hordes of fans camped out in front of the Ritz-Carlton remind us, TIFF is as much about the day-glo splendour of celebrity as it is about the art of filmmaking. In the past few days, Messrs. Clooney, Pitt and Gosling have all enjoyed the keening affections of Toronto fans. Last night, it was Alexander Skarsgard’s turn.

Holt Renfrew hosted a party for Melancholia, the trippy, end-of-days drama from Danish provocateur Lars von Trier, and it was clear the most prestigious guest was not Kirsten Dunst, but her handsome Melancholia co-star. Skarsgard, best known as a brooding bloodsucker (aren’t they all?) on the HBO vampire series True Blood¸ actually got his first break in Hollywood as a vacuous model (aren’t they all?) in Zoolander (2001) opposite Ben Stiller.

It seems everyone at the Holt’s party was elbowing, skulking or simply craning for a closer look at the lanky fella — knowing, perhaps, that the star power at TIFF tends to drop precipitously after the first weekend.

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The splashiest gala today is for W.E., the contentious new directorial effort from Madonna. From Swept Away to Die Another Day¸Madge’s dalliances with Hollywood have for the most part been misguided. If nothing else, you have to respect her determination. W.E. chronicles the scandalous romance between Edward VIII and American divorcée Wallis Simpson, and stars a bevy of young acting talent including James D’Arcy, Abbie Cornish and Andrea Riseborough.

Meanwhile, much buzz has attached itself to The Lady¸Luc Besson’s biography of Burmese human-rights hero Aung San Suu Kyi, who spent much of the last two decades under house arrest. Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) is earning great praise for her portrayal of Suu Kyi.

While they’ve already had their premieres, it’s worth putting in a plug for two dramas playing again tonight: Rampart and Martha Marcy May Marlene. Based on a story by crime novelist James Ellroy, the former is generating Oscar talk for star Woody Harrelson, who plays an L.A. cop with a Bad Lieutenant complex.

Martha Marcy May Marlene, on the other hand, features a standout turn from Elizabeth Olson (sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley) as a young woman adjusting to life after escaping a religious cult.

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