Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My (Very Much Truncated) TIFF Preview

Regular readers will know that every year, I usually take a week off and enjoy the Toronto Film Festival - taking in about 30 movies in that time, and loving every minute of it. But, as I mentioned last month, my wife just had a baby, and as such, a weeklong festival trip simply is not possible this year. Instead, I'm only going for 2 days, and a total of 6 movies, unless I pick up some tickets for those days before then. I do have a five hour break between movies on one of those days, and currently the plan is to use that time to see Nicholas Winding Refn's Drive (which is playing at the festival the first weekend - this one coming up and opens the following weekend) and perhaps Rod Lurie's Straw Dogs as well. We'll just have to see.

So, there were dozens of movies that I wanted to see this year, that I simply did not even have a chance at. Films like A Dangerous Method (Cronenberg), Melancholia (von Trier), The Artist (Hazanavicius), Moneyball (Bennett Miller), Corilanus (Fiennes), Restless (Van Sant), Le Havre (Kaurismaki), Albert Nobbs (Garcia), The Ides of March (Clooney), Into the Abyss (Herzog), I Wish (Kore-eda), The Kid with a Bike (Dardenne), Killer Joe (Friedkin), The Lady (Besson), Like Crazy (Doremus), The Moth Diaries (Harron), Michael (Schleinzer), Outside Satan (Dumont), The Oranges (Farino), Rampart (Moverman), The Skin I Live In (Almodovar), Sarah Palin - You Betcha (Broomfield), Take this Waltz (Polley), Twixt (Coppola), We Need to Talk About Kevin (Ramsay), Wuthering Heights (Arnold) and Your Sister's Sister (Shelton) are just some of the films that in years past I may have tried to get tickets to, but this time, I'm simply going to have to wait.

But all things considered, I couldn't be much happier about the 6 films I am seeing. All of them were on my pre-festival watch list, and I am happy that by the time I got to buy tickets they were still available. So look for my thoughts on the following six films following the festival.

Take Shelter (Jeff Nichols) - Critics who saw Jeff Nichols debut film, Shotgun Stories, absolutely loved it. Unfortunately, almost no one saw it. That should change with his Cannes prize winning Take Shelter, which reunites him with star Michael Shannon, in a story about a man paranoid about an upcoming apocalypse who builds a storm shelter. I cannot wait.

Tyrannosaur (Paddy Considine) - Considine has been delivering great performances for years now, and now he steps behind the camera for this dark study of martial abuse. Stars Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman won acting prizes at Sundance this year, so if nothing else, it should be an acting tour de force.

Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky) - Like many film fans, I have followed the story of the West Memphis Three since Berlinger and Sinofsky's Paradise Lost in 1996. They are three teenagers who were convicted of murdering three younger children on almost no evidence. The pair followed up their documentary in 2000, and are back again now. Strangely, just last month, they entered Alfred pleas, which allowed them to maintain their innocence, while asserting the prosecuters had enough evidence to convict them, and were set free. So this story continues, but I am looking forward to this latest documentary.

The Descendants (Alexander Payne) - Payne made 2004's most critically acclaimed film in Sideways, and has taken a long 7 years to follow it up. I don't know much about this movie, which is how I like it, but the reviews so far suggest another winner. It stars George Clooney, who has become one of the most consistent actors out there. Here's hoping for another gem.

Dark Horse (Todd Solondz) - In 1998 following two huge successes with Welcome to the Dollhouse and Happiness, Todd Solondz was a critics darling. His three films since - Storytelling, Palindromes and Life During Wartime - have not generated the same praise, and I am at a loss as to why. To me, Solondz continues to be among the most daring filmmakers in the world, and I will follow him anywhere. The cast of this - which includes Christopher Walken, Mia Farrow and Selma Blair (hopefully as great here as she was in Storytelling) has me excited.

Martha Marcy May Marlene (Sean Durkin) - Durkin's debut film was a prize winner, and received rave reviews, at this year's Sundance film festival. It is the story of a young woman (Elizabeth Olson, younger sister of Mary Kate and Ashley), struggling with adapting to life outside of the cult she spent years in. Word is Olson, and perhaps John Hawkes, are due Oscar nominations for this one, so I'm looking forward to it.

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