7 Movies We Are Dying to See at the 2015 Toronto Film Festival

28 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘The Martian’ to premiere at the Toronto Film Festival.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The blockbuster summer movie season is still going strong, but the Toronto International Film Festival provided a peek Tuesday at some of the movies and performances that could help set the tone for the upcoming awards season. More than a decade has passed since the controversial gun control documentary “Bowling for Columbine” was released and Moore says we’ve yet to make any strides toward ending violence in schools. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)Evan Agostini FLINT, MI — Details on Michael Moore’s upcoming film, “Where To Invade Next,” are still scant, but the Flint-area filmmaker gave a couple clues to Periscope users in a short chat on Tuesday, July 28.

After weeks of intense blogosphere speculation about the fall festival season and palate-whetting gala announcements from the New York Film Festival, the Toronto Film Festival kicked things into high gear this morning when it announced more than 40 titles that will comprise the festival’s Gala and Special Presentations categories come September. One of the fall’s most hyped films, Ridley Scott’s space epic “The Martian,” starring Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain, will have its world premiere at the festival in advance of its Oct. 2 release. Other movies on the lineup with a local connection include “Spotlight,” the film about the Globe Spotlight Team’s investigation of the Catholic Church; “Black Mass,” which stars Johnny Depp as Whitey Bulger; “Freeheld,” which was produced by Cynthia Wade of Western Massachusetts; Jay Roach’s “Trumbo,” which features Bryan Cranston and Newton’s Louis C.K.; and Jean-Marc Vallée’s drama “Demolition,” which features Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, and Kingston’s Chris Cooper. “Spotlight” and “Black Mass” will have their world premieres at the Venice Film Festival earlier that month. It’s a typically starry list, full of A-list names in front of and behind the camera, some very obvious Oscar bait, and a few Toronto stalwarts to satisfy the requisite quota of local Canadian talent, including Atom Egoyan, who makes a bid for a comeback (after the career-pummeling one-two of “Devil’s Knot” and “The Captive”) with “Remember,” starring Christopher Plummer as a Holocaust survivor trying to track down the former Nazi guard responsible for murdering his family.

Other premieres in the biopic heavy schedule include “The Program,” Stephen Frears’ film on Lance Armstrong starring Ben Foster as the disgraced athlete; Jay Roach’s “Trumbo,” with Bryan Cranston as the blacklisted screenwriter; and Peter Sollett’s fact-based, marriage rights drama “Freeheld,” with last year’s best actress winner Julianne Moore and Ellen Page. “Demolition,” from “Dallas Buyers Club” director Jean-Marc Vallée, is not set for release until April and will not be among award contenders later this year. Toronto can boast several, including Ridley Scott’s The Martian, Peter Sollett’s Freeheld, Stephen Frears’ Lance Armstrong movie, Roland Emmerich’s Stonewall, and Jay Roach’s Trumbo. It stars Damon as an astronaut left to fend for himself on the red planet after being separated from his crew in their attempt to flee Mars amidst a storm. The description on the festival’s web site reads, “Academy Award-winning director Michael Moore returns with what may be his most provocative and hilarious film yet: Moore tells the Pentagon to “stand down” — he will do the invading from now on.” Moore used his Twitter account to announce a live video on Periscope, an app that hosts live video feeds from around the world. The NYFF also has Robert Zemeckis’s 3D drama The Walk and Don Cheadle’s directorial debut, Miles Ahead, on its slate – both considered awards season heavy-hitters.

He took questions from Twitter and Periscope users during the six-minute video. “The issue of the United States at infinite war is something that has concerned me for quite some time, and provides the necessary satire for this film. And before Toronto even kicks off, the Venice and Telluride film festivals will take place, debuting films we’re sure to hear more about in the coming months. You’ll see that when you see the movie,” Moore said, when asked if there was a specific trigger that inspired the film. “I don’t think there’s any one trigger. We can also safely assume that a quartet of new films listed as “Canadian premieres” will screen first in some combination of Venice and super-secretive Telluride. Although Toronto’s schedule announcement is just the first of many, its early slate still presents a nice primer for the films which will excite audiences and critics over the months to come.

Hearts are broken and family bonds shattered when the Beeba Boys (known as the “nice boys”) do anything “to be seen and to be feared” — in a white world. . The ensemble will tell the story of Whitey Bulger’s long, violent reign in Boston, which was perpetuated by a bizarre relationship between the FBI and Italian mob. They include co-directors Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson’s stop-motion animated feature “Anomalisa” (described, in typically Kaufman-esque fashion, as a film about “a man crippled by the mundanity of his life”); Cary Fukunaga’s child-soldier drama “Beasts of No Nation”; “Frank” director Lenny Abrahamson’s “Room” (adapted from Emma Donoghue’s acclaimed 2011 novel); and Tom McCarthy’s “Spotlight,” which features Michael Keaton’s first post-“Birdman” screen appearance as Boston Globe reporter Walter Robinson, who headed the paper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the 2003 Catholic Church sex abuse scandal.

So far Venice has revealed its opening night film, the Jake Gyllenhaal-led survival drama Everest, and an out-of-competition screening for Scott Cooper’s Johnny Depp vehicle Black Mass, while Telluride won’t announce its lineup until shortly before the annual event launches on 4 September. Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight, making its international premiere, also examines the seedier side of Boston’s history, telling the true story of a team of Boston Globe reporters who uncovered years of abuse in the Catholic Church. However, a close look at the initial Tiff slate offers a clear indication of where many of this year’s potential Oscar players are choosing to premiere – and it’s not Toronto. Where’s the next enemy, so we can keep this whole military industrial complex alive, and keep the companies that make a lot of money from this in business?

Tom Hooper struck it huge by debuting The King’s Speech in Toronto in 2010, going on to win the best director and picture Oscars months after taking home the festival’s audience award. That’s all for the best, since, at the end of the day, most of these movies need all the help they can get to attract attention amidst the billion-dollar big-studio franchise pictures. As for The Danish Girl, his timely period drama about the first known trans person, Focus Features – the company distributing the film – has by all accounts made the surprising decision to debut the film in Venice (it’s listed as making a North American premiere in Toronto).

Davis’ letters catch the attention of customer service rep Karen (Naomi Watts) and, amidst emotional and financial burdens of her own, the two strangers form an unlikely connection. Indeed, for all the ink that’s been spilled about 2015’s record-breaking box office figures — with “Star Wars: Episode VII” still to come — it’s been anything but a banner year in the indie sector, with buzzy festival titles like “Love & Mercy,” “Dope” and “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” all performing well below expectations. Emmerich’s Stonewall, meanwhile, offers a fictional account of a young homeless man in 1969 Greenwich Village who becomes a regular at the Stonewall Inn and witnesses the discrimination, and subsequent riots, that kickstart the contemporary gay rights movement. JUSTIN CHANG: I’m glad Toronto decided not to hold a grudge against Telluride this year, not least because all this tussling over titles and bragging rights ultimately amounts to the sort of passive-aggressive pissing contest that winds up distracting from the films themselves. Other films that have chosen to show in Telluride (with a possible first stop in Venice) include Cary Fukunaga’s Netflix drama Beasts of No Nation; the Brie Larson-starring Room, based on Emma Donoghue’s bestseller; Tom McCarthy’s ensemble drama Spotlight, starring Michael Keaton and Rachel McAdams; Legend, in which Tom Hardy plays the Kray twins, who ruled London’s gangland during the 1950s and 1960s; and Remember, which, ironically, is directed by one of Canada’s most famous auteurs, Atom Egoyan.

Moore said he works to make his films have both, and that he likes to use humor as a medium to provide social commentary. “I make movies, and the first thing I tell the crew on day one, is that we’re not making a documentary, we’re making a movie. After many years working as a dressmaker in exclusive Parisian fashion houses, Tilly Dunnage, a beautiful and talented misfit, returns home to the tiny middle-of-nowhere town of Dungatar to right the wrongs of the past. Based on Uzodinma Iweala’s novel of the same name, the film stars Idris Elba as Commandant, an African warlord, who takes one of his illicitly acquired child soldiers, Agu — played by newcomer Abraham Attah — under his wing. As we know, Scott, no film has ever been particularly well served by that sorry excuse for a movie palace called the Roy Thomson Hall, which seems founded on the curious architectural notion that the smaller and more faraway-looking the screen, the better. (Me, I’ll take a seat at the Bell Lightbox or the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema any day.) Still, as this morning’s announcement makes clear, Toronto hasn’t abandoned its policy of strict transparency where a film’s premiere status is concerned — and in this, it does still deal a bit of a blow to Telluride, which has always insisted on keeping its lineup a secret until Labor Day weekend.

The festival will also screen Charlie Kauffman’s latest, Anomalisa, which was co-directed with Duke Johnson and stars Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan and David Thewlis. London-based military intelligence officer Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) is remotely commanding a top secret drone operation to capture a group of dangerous terrorists at their safe-house in Nairobi, Kenya. The mission suddenly escalates from a capture to a kill operation, when Powell realizes that the terrorists are about to embark on a deadly suicide mission. Enlisted by a government task force official played by Josh Brolin, and accompanied by an enigmatic guide played by Benicio Del Toro, Kate’s mission forces her to question the war against drugs she’s dedicated herself to fighting.

The director is known for premiering his work at either Venice (The Queen, Philomena, Dirty Pretty Things) or Telluride (Tamara Drewe), so his film’s inclusion comes as a small surprise. American drone pilot Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) is poised to destroy the safe-house when a nine-year-old-girl enters the kill zone just outside the walls of the house.

With its exclusive-yet-inclusive atmosphere, its rarefied feel and its unbeatably gorgeous scenery, Telluride is a festival that commands an unusually high degree of filmmaker loyalty. (Those who go usually wind up going back.) But Toronto has its favorites, too, as I’m reminded by the world-premiere announcement of Terence Davies’ “Sunset Song” — which is, by my count, the great British auteur’s sixth feature to play Toronto (after “Distant Voices, Still Lives,” “The Long Day Closes,” “The House of Mirth,” “Of Time and the City” and “The Deep Blue Sea”). With unforeseen collateral damage now entering the equation, the impossible decision of when to strike gets passed up the kill chain of politicians and lawyers as the seconds tick down. And then, of course, there are some filmmakers who move around a bit, like the very busy Jean-Marc Vallee, whose “Dallas Buyers Club” made a terrific splash in Toronto two years ago, and who last year took “Wild” to both Telluride and Toronto. Mad Max will roar back out of the apocalypse while Mad Men rides off into the sunset, rock’s Antichrist Superstar and hip-hop’s Yeezus will rise again. Don’t get too excited about the absence of pictures such as Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies, Ron Howard’s In the Heart of the Sea or David Gordon Green’s Our Brand is Crisis.

I know it’s where you’ll be paying most of your attention, Scott, in your new capacity as an acquisitions and development with the feature films division of Amazon Studios — and needless to say, we will all be anticipating your first slate of pickups with bated breath. The drama, about a recent widowed man struggling to cope with his wife’s death, was seemingly primed for a 2015 awards run, before distributor Fox Searchlight recently announced an April 2016 release. With the caveat that all dates are subject to change, here are the music, movies and TV you need to know about all year long. “Most second albums suck,” Dan Harmon says, lounging in a back room of Starburns Industries, a Burbank studio, across the table from Justin Roiland. Given that it’s now debuting at Toronto, more than seven months before its slated theatrical rollout, an Oscar campaign seems unlikely – unless it plays like gangbusters in Toronto and is given an awards-qualifying release into select cinemas, months before opening.

Based on the Oscar-winning documentary and adapted by the writer of Philadelphia, Freeheld is the true love story of Laurel Hester and Stacie Andree and their fight for justice. The mismatched pair — Roiland is clean-cut, fair-skinned and upbeat; Harmon’s unkempt, grizzled, and cynical — are in the midst of creating not a second album here, but a second season. But it’s among those couple of hundred other movies in the Toronto lineup that critics and buyers alike hope to find that unheralded diamond in the rough by a promising new director who might go on to become the next Egoyan or Abrahamson or Fukunaga. The show is Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty, an animated sci-fi sitcom that’s very loosely based on Back to the Future and just may be the best-written comedy on television.

Amazon and Netflix are two of the companies heretofore associated with small-screen entertainment who are making a high-profile bid to enter the movie business. Each 22-minute story arc is plotted using the principles of Joseph Campbell’s mythological hero’s journey, but shot through with world-weary humor like a George Carlin comedy special in triple time. Netflix paid a whopping $12 million for Fukunaga’s film earlier this year, and Fukunaga himself is one of a new breed of directors who seem equally at ease working in feature films and long-form television (like “True Detective”).

Hard-nosed detective Dane Wells and activist Steven Goldstein come together in Laurel and Stacie’s defense, rallying police officers and ordinary citizens to support their struggle for equality. Finally, writer/director Rebecca Miller’s first film since 2009’s The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, Maggie’s Plan, wasn’t expected to make it on to this autumn’s circuit because it finished principal photography just a few months ago. It’s a smart move, given that today’s audiences scarcely seem to care what format something was originally conceived for as long as it’s an example of good storytelling.

Still, there will always be directors whose work demands to be seen on the largest possible screens, and one of them is Ridley Scott, a classical master of the medium who is still, at age 77, making big-canvas entertainments at an astonishingly prolific rate. The show combines the meta-TV writing of Harmon, best-known as the creative force behind the erstwhile NBC sitcom Community, and the puerile imagination of Roiland, best known as the screeching voice of Lemongrab on Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time.

He’ll be present in Toronto this year with “The Martian,” an all-star space drama adapted from Andy Weir’s self-published 2011 novel about an American astronaut (played in the movie by Matt Damon) stranded on Mars. Scott had only just started shooting “The Martian” on locations in Hungary and Morocco, when I interviewed him in London last November (for a Variety cover story about his quite beautiful and underrated “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” a movie I know you, Justin, also admire greatly), and now 10 months later it’s ready to go, with a terrific teaser trailer that burned up the internet when it debuted earlier this summer.

Three men, three worlds, three conflicts — all stand at the intersection of modern warfare, a murky world of fluid morality in which all is not as it seems. We were so close to something amazing and we never really got there from a structural standpoint.” “It went off the deep end conceptually and got really over-complicated,” Harmon agrees. “We’re pretty convinced that the first episode might be the worst for that reason.” If the first episode of Season Two is the worst, then the pair has nothing to worry about. “A Rickle in Time” begins with Rick freezing time for six months so that he, Morty, and Morty’s sister can clean up the house after a wild party that ended Season One. This is depicted by dividing the viewer’s television screen into as many as 24 tiny frames, each with a slightly different version of the protagonists working to repair the widening rift. As their relationship blossoms, Jean-René heads to Paris to spend more time with Violette but finds himself up against her possessive teenage son Lolo who is determined to sabotage their relationship by any means necessary.

Its origins lie in a monthly short-film festival called Channel 101 that Harmon co-founded. “I had a history of occasionally going into Channel 101 with something that I made with the intention of just eliciting shock and screams, and this was certainly one of those times,” Roiland recalls of the original short, The Real Animated Adventures of Doc and Mharti, in 2006. “I’d just gotten off a job [at Spike TV] that was creatively horrible. So I had this pure ‘I don’t give a fuck’ energy, which is sometimes the best energy because you have nothing at stake.” Roiland continues: “There’s a part in [the short] where Mharti is disappearing and Doc says, ‘You have to jerk me off to stop it,’ and this huge, beautifully drawn erect penis appears. It’s a welcome reminder that Toronto is a place of not just discovery but also rediscovery, and that of all the things one can say or appreciate about a movie, “which festival had it first” is surely the least significant. He’d had moderate success working on two Dan Harmon creations: The Sarah Silverman Program and a very-short-lived VH1 sketch show called Acceptable TV. But other than those, for a good 10 years, Roiland pitched network executives non-stop, selling, by his own count, three shows to Fox and three to Cartoon Network that never got picked up. “Observing Justin having project after project killed was really painful,” Harmon recalls. “He literally said to me, ‘I don’t know how much more of this I can take.'” So when Adult Swim asked Harmon to put together an animated pilot, he decided to work on making Roiland’s humor palatable to a broader audience. “The challenge was: How do you make my mom understand how funny it is to see somebody vomiting diarrhea,” Harmon explain, then adds, glancing at his partner, “Not to pigeonhole Justin’s sensibility.” Harmon’s solution was to contain that energy in the character of Rick, and place him in an otherwise stereotypically dysfunctional television family.

Based on a best-selling novel, and helmed by master director Ridley Scott, The Martian features a star-studded cast that includes Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Donald Glover. Although this formula has worked far beyond its creator’s expectations, Roiland still has a way to go before reaching his personal benchmarks for success. Remember is the contemporary story of Zev, who discovers that the Nazi guard who murdered his family some 70 years ago is living in America under an assumed identity. As Danny and his friends experience discrimination, endure atrocities and are repeatedly harassed by the police, the entire community of young gays, lesbians and drag queens who populate Stonewall erupts in a storm of anger.

In 1970s South Boston, FBI Agent John Connolly persuades Irish-American gangster Jimmy Bulger to act as an informant for the FBI in order to eliminate their common enemy: the Italian mob. Starring Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Rory Cochrane, Jesse Plemons, Kevin Bacon, Dakota Johnson, Julianne Nicholson, Corey Stoll and Peter Sarsgaard.

Set on opposite sides of the Atlantic, this drama tells the profoundly moving story of Eilis Lacey, a young Irish immigrant navigating her way through 1950s Brooklyn. Set against the stunningly brutal landscape, Moises and Sam engage in a lethal match of wits, each desperate to survive and escape the desert that threatens to consume them.

When Shanghai-based businessman Jérome Varenne learns that his childhood home in the village of Ambray is at the centre of a local conflict, he heads there to straighten things out and finds himself at the centre of familial and romantic complications. But when both siblings find themselves stalled in life, they return home for the first time in a decade where they become entangled in a dark mystery surrounding their parents’ disappearance. Based on true events that set off a media frenzy all over the world, Guilty follows the 2008 Noida Double Murder Case of an investigation into the deaths of 14-year-old Aarushi Talwar and 45-year-old Hemraj Banjade, a domestic employed by Aarushi’s family, in Noida, India. The controversial case lives on in the mind of the public, despite a guilty verdict that sentenced the parents of the murdered girl to life in prison.

Adapted from the acclaimed novel by Amy Koppelman, I Smile Back explores the life of Laney (Sarah Silverman), a devoted wife and mother who seems to have it all — a perfect husband, pristine house and shiny SUV. Filmed on the street and in the house where Bennett and Miss Shepherd lived all those years, acclaimed director Nicholas Hytner reunites with iconic writer Alan Bennett (The Madness of King George, The History Boys) to bring this rare and touching portrait to the screen. A successful music producer (Rhys Ifans) quits the industry and exiles himself in upstate New York, but the solitude he seeks is shattered when both his estranged son (Jack Kilmer) and the pop-star (Juno Temple) he’s created come looking for answers. With the three men under the same roof, Gene tries desperately to connect with his two sons, but they struggle to reconcile their feelings about the woman they remember so differently. Maggie’s plan to have a baby on her own is derailed when she falls in love with John, a married man, destroying his volatile marriage to the brilliant Georgette.

But one daughter and three years later, Maggie is out of love and in a quandary: what do you do when you suspect your man and his ex-wife are actually perfect for each other? The new film from master filmmaker Jia Zhang-ke (A Touch of Sin) jumps from the recent past to the speculative near-future as it examines how China’s economic boom has affected the bonds of family, tradition, and love. Saul Ausländer is a Hungarian member of the Sonderkommando, the group of Jewish prisoners isolated from the camp and forced to assist the Nazis in the machinery of large-scale extermination. As the Sonderkommando plans a rebellion, Saul decides to carry out an impossible task: save the child’s body from the flames, find a rabbi to recite the mourner’s Kaddish and offer the boy a proper burial. Terence Davies’ epic of hope, tragedy and love at the dawning of the Great War follows a young woman’s tale of endurance against the hardships of rural Scottish life.

The successful career of 1940s screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) comes to a crushing end when he and other Hollywood figures are blacklisted for their political beliefs. Discretely shot in several countries and under the radar of the global media, Moore has made a searing cinematic work that is both up-to-the-minute and timeless.

From Italy’s Oscar-winning foreign language film writer and director Paolo Sorrentino, Youth asks if our most important and life-changing experiences can come at any time — even late — in life.

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