TIFF 2015: Five films you should see (and five we want to see)

10 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

TIFF 2015: 10 unforgettable moments from the past 40 years.

The odd thing about being a hometown critic at the Toronto International Film Festival is that, by the time the festival starts, it’s almost over. But Toronto has already has its share of wacky escapades over the years. 1977 – Henry Winkler (The Fonz) becomes one of the first bona fide stars to attend what was then known as Toronto’s Festival of Festivals. Add in the ones that played at Cannes, and I’ve “started” TIFF having seen more than 30 of its offerings; still barely more than a tenth of the 289 features, but better than going in cold. In an attempt to avoid the grisly derby hinted at by its name, studio Fox Searchlight has decided to open “Demolition” in April, well outside the cutthroat and crowded fall, in a move that highlights just how intense the season has become. Ayyyy! 1980 – Jean-Luc Godard is famous for not attending festivals – he’s a frequent no-show at Cannes – but he comes to Toronto when programmer Peter Harcourt organizes a retrospective in honour of the French New Wave director. 1983 – Glenn Close snaps at a volunteer who says she has a man’s name: “Don’t you know who I am?

Son of Saul, the only selection so far to get a four-star rating from the Star’s film critics, will have its Canadian premiere tonight at Ryerson University at 6 p.m. The four-month moviegoing period that officially begins Thursday–it will also bring the screening of Michael Moore’s mysterious “Where to Invade Next”–brings a smile to the face of cinephiles. What kind of festival is this?” Ironically, Close comes back in 2011 for the Canadian premiere of Albert Nobbs, in which she plays a woman masquerading as a man in 19th-century Ireland. I first became aware of Romanian filmmaker Corneliu Porumboiu when I saw his 2009 feature Police, Adjective, the climax of which involves a renegade cop who gets into a fight with his superior, resulting in one of them pulling out – a dictionary!

Also tonight, the creator of Mad Men and writer and producer of The Sopranos, Matthew Weiner, will be the first guest at TIFF’s In Conversation With… series. And this year, there is a gush of such material: At least 70 films from major companies will compete for screens and attention between now and Christmas, an average of nearly five new entries each weekend. “I don’t know the last time it was this crowded,” said Rena Ronson, an agent and specialty-film expert at the United Talent Agency. “There’s maybe one week on the calendar where a distributor can still sneak in a movie.” Established specialty divisions are in full effect — Sony Pictures Classics will bring out the Dan Rather tale “Truth” and the Hank Williams biopic “I Saw the Light”; Fox Searchlight will release the Saoirse Ronan immigrant story “Brooklyn” and the Malala Yousafzai doc “He Called Me Malala”; Focus has transgender film “The Danish Girl”; and the Weinstein Co. is rolling out the lesbian drama “Carol” and Quentin Tarantino’s western “The Hateful Eight.” Upstart distributors are also ramping up — A24 with the Brie Larson character thriller “Room,” Broad Green with the Sarah Silverman drama “I Smile Back,” Open Road with the Michael Keaton newspaper/Catholic Church tale “Spotlight” and Bleecker Street with the Bryan Cranston screenwriter tale “Trumbo.” And after a period in which many of them sat out the award season game — particularly in wake of the financial crisis of 2008 — big Hollywood studios are now throwing themselves headlong into it.

Porumboiu’s latest is a subtle, simmering comedy about two men who go looking for pre-Communist-era treasure buried in the backyard of a country house. Universal has the true-crime story “Legend” and the Apple tale “Steve Jobs”; Sony is coming out with the Philippe Petit story “The Walk”; Fox has the revenge western “The Revenant” and the space procedural “The Martian”; and Warner Bros. is releasing the Whitey Bulger film “Black Mass” and the South American political drama “Our Brand Is Crisis,” to name just a few examples.

The comically deep hole in the ground combined with the sound of a metal detector wailing like a drunken donkey can be read as an allegory for the director’s homeland, or just enjoyed for the absurdist comedy it is. And that’s to say nothing of less award-minded but still mind-share-gobbling event pictures such as “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2,” the latest James Bond “Spectre” and of course the holiday juggernaut “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” If the glut of films is something even paid pundits can find hard to keep track of, it can be downright overwhelming for moviegoers, who must decide where to allocate their dollars and free time. The story opens in Sri Lanka, with a Tamil ex-soldier banding together with a woman he’s never met and a motherless child to pass themselves off as a family. Last year, even the (slightly) smaller field claimed casualties, as well-reviewed films such as “Foxcatcher” and “A Most Violent Year” were crowded out by competition at the box office.

Making their way to the outskirts of Paris, Dheepan gets a job as caretaker of a crime-ridden housing complex, pulled between leaving his old life behind and using his special skills in this new place. Even “Birdman,” which garnered the best picture Oscar and other top prizes, took in a solid but not spectacular $42 million, the second-lowest number among best picture winners dating back to the 1970s.

TTC CEO Andy Byford and TTC head of corporate communications Brad Ross – in TIFF-inspired tuxedos and sunglasses – explained the temporary change in this video yesterday. Still, studios remain seduced by the prospect of a fall release, either because filmmakers and actors clamor back-channel for the chance to be in an awards race (something that’s much harder to pull off with a spring or summer release) or because the studios believe their horses are just a little stronger and faster than the rest of the field.

It’s not his best received film, but Eastern Promises will win the People’s Choice Award in 2007. 2004 – Don Cheadle gets a standing ovation from an audience after a screening of People’s Choice winner Hotel Rwanda, about hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina, who saved hundreds of Tutsis during his country’s 1994 genocide. They’re buoyed in that thought by the not insignificant number of movies in recent years that have ridden Oscar buzz to big dollars — “American Sniper,” “Gravity” and “Silver Linings Playbook” among them.

Michael Keaton’s character heads a quartet of Boston Globe journalists – a true Fantastic Four – as they delve into child abuse allegations in the Catholic Church. Star power is typically key to this effort — the Ridley Scott-directed “Martian,” for example, is a showcase for Matt Damon, who must employ some MacGuyver-like skills to stay alive after being stranded on Mars.

Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and Brian d’Arcy James head a cast that includes Stanley Tucci as an overworked lawyer; Billy Crudup as a slippery one; and Liev Shreiber as the Globe’s new editor, Marty Baron. But it’s all to no avail; the screening has to be rescheduled. 2011 – Madonna arrives with her new film W.E. already suffering from bad reviews in Venice, then allegedly tells her people to make festival volunteers avert their gaze as she passes. Other movies will attempt similar feats of buzz in Toronto’s frenzied first weekend: “Legend” (Tom Hardy, in two roles), “Black Mass” (Johnny Depp as Bulger), “Truth” (Robert Redford as Rather) and “Trumbo” (Cranston as the blacklisted screenwriter). “It is a bit of a double-edged sword coming out a time like this,” said “Black Mass” director Scott Cooper. “‘Crazy Heart’ was seen by a lot more people than saw my last film, ‘Out of the ‘Furnace,’ which I think was steamrolled by some of the movies behind it,” he said, alluding to his other work. “But I think this is a really good time to bring out this movie.” A few new films, however, are taking more unconventional approaches and opting out of the logjam. SPC has decided that “Miles Ahead,” Don Cheadle’s directorial look at Miles Davis, will not open until the first half of next year, despite the movie closing the prestigious New York Film Festival — the same slot “Birdman” occupied last year. One of a number of strong Canadian entries at this year’s festival – others include Closet Monster by Stephen Dunn; Les êtres chers (Our Loved Ones) by Anne Émond; and Brian Johnson’s documentary Al Purdy Was Here – Sleeping Giant is set near the titular cliff formation outside Thunder Bay, Ont.

Fingers are pointed but no one can see them, because they’re facing the other way. 2014 – Bill Murray gets soaked but takes it in stride as he greets fans during a downpour outside the Princess of Wales theatre, where his film St. The Drake Hotel is also hosting a house party to kickoff the festival, featuring musical acts Kill Them With Colour, Humans, Great Good Fine OK, and others. Writer/director Andrew Cividino creates a timeless (and deceptively simple) story about three boys, and a summer spent goofing around and growing up on the shores of Lake Superior. But Searchlight believes it can maximize commercial prospects for the film–which offers a kind of black comedy as a tragic event forces Gyllenhaal’s character to make some radical changes–by bringing the movie out in April, even if it means losing a little momentum in the interim.

Then again, the thousands of people who will greet it at upscale, paparazzi-filled screenings in Toronto make it hard for some involved to resist the siren call of awards season. “Fox Searchlight is very clever and knows how to market movies like this,” Vallée said. They play Kate and Geoff Mercer, a week away from celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary when he receives a bizarre bombshell: “They found Katia.” Seems that, more than 50 years ago, Geoff was hiking through the Swiss Alps with a girlfriend when she slipped and fell into a glacial crevasse. But before you start planning for tonight, here’s a quick recap of yesterday’s events, from Natalie Portman on the red carpet at TIFF’s Soirée to the Canadian Filmmakers’ Party and more. Andy Weir’s page-turner about an astronaut marooned on Mars seemed to be crying out to be made into a major motion picture, and it doesn’t get more major than this.

Writers/directors Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden, along with star Ryan Gosling gave us the excellent 2006 drama Half Nelson, so sign me up for the duo’s latest collaboration. This time it’s another Canadian named Ryan, as Ryan Reynolds plays Curtis, an inveterate gambler who takes down-on-his-luck Gerry (Ben Mendelsohn) under his wing for what both hope will be a rags-to-riches story. Here it is, set in Quebec and starring James Franco as a blocked writer dealing with the aftermath of having hit and killed a young boy while driving in a blizzard. Featuring Rachel McAdams, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Marie-Josée Croze, it’s that rare 3D film without superheroes or aliens; merely ordinary heroes and alienation.

I’m a sucker for Second World War dramas, and the more unusual the better – my favourites include Norway’s Max Manus with Aksel Hennie; Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises; and Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. I saw Denis Villeneuve’s newest at Cannes, but it will take a second viewing to fully appreciate the stunning cinematography by Roger Deakins (a familiar of the Coen brothers) and the plight of Kate Macer (Emily Blunt), an FBI agent recruited into the U.S. war on drugs, and surrounded by enemies and enigmas as she participates in a cross-border raid into Mexican cartel territory.

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