The Toronto International Film Festival is now in full swing. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people will be descending upon the city over the next few weeks hoping to catch a glimpse of the slew of superstars in town – stars at the apex of their career like Winona Ryder and Gwyneth Paltrow. And while most will be busy chasing stars like flocks of Japanese school girls, some are actually in town to see a few films. As a cinephile, I have my eye on a few films being screened at TIFF, but, as a broke film school grad, I can scarcely afford to see even one of them. That still won’t stop me from listing some films I want to see, and will be looking for when they are released wider.
Here are 10 films to check out:
1. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)
Obviously. I don’t think there’s any film fan not looking forward to this. Paul Thomas Anderson, Joaquin Phoenix, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and a score by Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood – who isn’t down for this? The good thing about The Master is that it will most likely be playing in wide release shortly after TIFF, so not a big deal if you miss it at the festival.
2. To The Wonder (Terrence Malick)
Terrence Malick’s latest was made in record time for him – less than a year. There isn’t too much information available about To The Wonder but reports from Venice indicate that the film is: difficult, lacks a story, and is heavy with narration – pretty standard for Malick. Although, apparently, it’s his most non-narrative film to date, which could be good or bad. Either way, it’s Terrence Malick, so I’ll see it. This is also the only movie I was able to score tickets for at TIFF (I’ll post a review after I see it).
3. Seven Psychopaths (Martin McDonagh)
Martin McDonagh’s previous film, In Bruges, was a great little film that featured one of Colin Ferrell’s best performances to date. Ferrell teams up with McDonagh again, this time as a struggling screenwriter who gets entangled in a bizarre situation in the L.A. crime world. Aside from the obvious appeal of McDonagh’s smart writing and directing, the cast he’s assembled is phenomenal. Besides Ferrell, there’s: Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, and Tom Waits. A great group of eclectic actors. This should be a really fun film and I hope it gets a wide release.
4. Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine)
A Harmony Korine film starring tween stars Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens who get tangled up with a bizarre, thugged-out James Franco. Franco plays a drug and arms dealer who recruits Gomez and Hudgens while they are on spring break. Sounds pretty awesome to me. Anyone who is familiar with Korine’s difficult, shocking, and experimental work will know that this won’t be any ordinary film. Don’t expect a wide release for this one.
5. A Liar’s Autobiography – The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman (Bill Jones, Jeff Simpson, Ben Timlett)
Utilizing multiple animation styles and featuring the voices of the remaining Monty Python members, this film looks like a must for any Python fan. Chapman had a rough life, so expect a mix of comedy and pathos.
6. The Hunt (Thomas Vinterberg)
Thomas Vinterberg is one of Denmark’s foremost directors (anyone who hasn’t seen his Dogma 95 masterpiece A Celebration should check it out). In his newest film, Mads Mikkelsen stars as kindergarten teacher who is falsely accused of child abuse. Vinterberg is a powerful director, and Mikkelsen is a powerful actor, so I expect a pretty damn powerful movie.
7. A Late Quartet (Yaron Zilberman)
This film’s all about the cast. It stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, and Catherine Keener. They are three members of a world-renowned quartet who are struggling to keep the band together (not exactly a band, but whatever). This looks like a dialogue driven drama that will allow for some great performances from the leads.
8. The Iceman (Ariel Vromen)
Michael Shannon plays real-life notorious hitman Richard “The Iceman” Kuklinski who was responsible for anywhere between 100 and 250 murders. This film boasts a pretty decent supporting cast – Ray Liotta and James Franco – and Shannon is always great to watch. This could be a pretty entertaining crime film.
9. Much Ado About Nothing (Joss Whedon)
Not sure if this will be good or not, but it certainly looks interesting. Whedon shot this Shakespeare adaptation in only 12 days on a cheap budget. It’s modern and stylized, but retains all the original text. This could actually turn out pretty well. Shakespeare’s witty barbs could make for a pretty good fit for Whedon, who is no stranger to banter.
10. Looper (Rian Johnson)
Another predictable pick. Looper will probably end up being a big hit – and that’s a good thing. We need more intelligent blockbusters.
Frances Ha – Noah Baumbach’s latest film. I’m a fan, but this looks like it could suffer from quirk overload.
Hyde Park on Hudson – Bill Murray as FDR.
Room 237 – A doc exploring insane theories surrounding Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.
Silver Linings Playbook – David O. Russell’s newest pic. A lot of people are looking forward to this, but I’m not the biggest O. Russell fan.
The Place Beyond the Pines – Ryan Gosling re-teams with his Blue Valentine director, Derek Cianfrance, for a story about a motorcycle stunt driver. Could be good, but looks kind of similar to Drive.
Stinkers (Or What is Garnering Buzz but Will Probably Bomb):
Cloud Atlas – The latest from the Wachowski siblings and Tom Tykwer. A lot of people seem to be eagerly awaiting this epic, sprawling movie, but I think it looks overlong, cloying, and pretentious.
Antiviral – Brandon Cronenberg, son of the legendary David Cronenberg, premiers his first feature film at TIFF. A lot of Canadian media have been pushing this film, but I have serious doubts about it. I saw one of Brandon’s short films, and it wasn’t too strong. This also looks like territory the elder Cronenberg would explore, which makes me think that Brandon is riding the coattails of his famous father.