This year the Toronto International Film Festival has cut back on its big splashy Hollywood fare and increased the number of screens for smaller independents from 29 to 36.
This is not to say the festival will be any less red-carpet worthy with over 50 of the world’s biggest celebrities from Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, Zac Efron, Matt Damon, Anne Hathaway, Keria Knightley to the Coen Brothers, Spike Lee, Charlie Kaufman, John Malkovich and everyone in between expected to attend for their respective film premieres.
I find an unusually good selection at this year’s Midnight Madness – from the Being John Malkovich-esque JCVD wherein the muscles from Brussels plays himself, dealing with being a has-been only to turn into a post-modern action flick, to the similarly half-documentary/half-tribute Not Quite Hollywood that celebrates or marvels at some of the pulp cinema that led to Tarantino’s Kill Bill and Grindhouse. Other films I chose either because they geographically interesting or because their directors have consistently delivered at Toronto and also bring something new to the table (Mike Leigh, Michael Winterbottom, Denys Arcand, Deepa Mehta, Bruce MacDonald).
Here is my long short list which I will narrow down further as actual screening times and discussion unfurls:
[Film Title – Director – Country – Series/Genre – Notes]
Burn After Reading – Coen Brothers
Eden Log – France – Sci Fi – Midnight Madness
Detroit Metal City – Toshio Lee – Japan – Midnight Madness
The Dungeon Masters – USA Comedy/Sci Fi
Food, Inc. – USA doc
Garden/Ing – Japan
Genova – Michael Winterbottom – UK
Ghost Town – Ricky Gervais new comedy
The Good, The Bad, The Weird – South Korea
Happy-Go-Lucky – Mike Leigh – UK
Heaven on Earth – Deepa Mehta – India
Horn of Plenty – Spain/Cuba
Hunger – Steve McQueen – UK
In the Shadow of The Naga – Thailand
JCVD – Mabrouk El Mechri – France – Midnight Madness (Jean Claude Van Damme plays himself)
Me and Orson Welles – Richard Linklater – UK
Not Quite Hollywood – Mark Hartley – USA/Australia – Midnight Madness
Picasso and Braque go to the movies – Arne Glimcher – USA
Plastic City – Yu Lik Wai – Brazil/China
Plus Tard tu Comprendras – Amos Gitaï – France
Pontypool – Bruce MacDonald
The Road – based on the brilliant Cormac McCarthy novel starring Charlize Theron
Rain – Maria Govan – Bahamas (coming of age)
The Real Shaolin – USA/China (sports Doc)
RocknRolla – Guy Ritchie – UK
The Sky Crawlers – Animation – Japan
Slumdog Millionaire – Danny Boyle – UK
Synecdoche, New York – Charlie Kaufman – USA
Tears for Sale – Uros Stojanovic – Serbia/Croatia
Treeless Mountain – US/Korea
Tokyo Sonata – Kyoshi Kurosawa – Japan/The Netherlands/Hong Kong, China
Tulpan – Sergey Dvortsevoy – Germany/Switzerland/Kazakhstan/Russia/Poland
Two-Legged Horse – Samira Makhmalbaf – Iran (doc – abuse/poverty)
Yes Madam, Sir – Megan Doneman – India/Australia
Youssou Ndour: I Bring What I Love – Chai Vasarhelyi – USA
The film schedule will be posted at the TIFF website on Tuesday August 26th, 2008.
Single tickets go on sale September 3rd.
Having had more time to explore the cornucopia of films (did I really just say that –>shoots the typist) I wanted to list some of films I a most interested in. This, of course, will likely change as buzz and exposure affect the climate – in a flash a certain film can become a lightning hot must-see (wtf is wrong with me and the cliches today?) whereas a ‘big-player” may suddenly be reduced to tepid interest. Hey, the point of all this is that no one has really seen any of it except maybe Piers Handling and the film selection committee.
At any rate:
Nina Davenport’s “Operation Filmmaker” looks to be that little gem of a film that covers seemingly innocuous material but ultimately speaks on a much larger level to great effect. The very way it came together as a film defies typical imagination. Sure bet for me.
Young People Fucking – I read it, because I auditioned for it, and then I fought my ass off to do it. The script was tight, and so current. The dialogue was wicked and merciless. The only other time I felt this excited about a script truly grasping the teenage zeitgeist was when I read for Brick. I wonder if the film will let the screenplay down the way Brick did. Gotta find out for myself. Two tickets please. I know Sarah Polley was attached when I read for it. Seems that changed.
The Joy Division twins. Well, I thought 24-Hour Party People pretty much covered it – in fact I loved that it touched on Ian Curtis so laterally – but I guess now we can learn the rest with not-one-but-two (here we go again with the cliches) Joy Div pics. The “non-fiction” pic is eponymous. The other is “Control” – a biopic. Peter Howell of the Toronto Star says the latter is flawlessly portrayed by the lead actor. I’m gonna go find out.
Peter Bogdanovich introduces
Bucking Broadway John Ford
I mean. Come on, does it get any better than this? A print of a John Ford film from his first year of directing that was thought lost until now and presented and contextualized by Bogdanovich. Sold.