TIFF Countdown

It’s that time of the year again. Only a week until the Toronto Film Festival starts up again and the excitement has just crossed the threshold from not palpable to palpable. This is my third year, so I’m still an amateur festival goer, but I’ve been ramping up my attendance nicely. From fourteen movies last year I’m going up to a potential thirty five. This is also the first year that I’m getting them in advance with a festival program and it’s all quite overwhelming. Buying individual tickets, as I have previously done, is easy. I just go online, see what hasn’t been sold out and try to arrange it into a nice schedule. This attempt to cram thirty-five movies into less than ten days is something else entirely.

I spent a good four hours on a patio yesterday afternoon making my way through the schedule and the 500 page program book. It left me feeling woozy. I’m sure all those beers had something to do with it too but I feel no less closer to my final list of first and second choice picks than I did before I received my order form.

Film Festival

That said, here’s a list of some of my stand-out films:

  • Flashpoint: I saw SPL three years ago as my first ever Midnight Madness showing and it was such a blast. Flashpoint is a new Wilson Yip / Donnie Yen action movie to follow that up. Instant top of the list!
  • The Edge of Heaven: I really enjoyed Fatih Akin’s Head-On. It was very raw and honest, I felt. Interested to see how he follows it up.
  • Ulzhan: The description makes it seem like a mix of Paris, Texas with the films of Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Good enough for me.
  • No Country for Old Men: Yeah, this will likely get a wide release but who cares? It’s Coen Brothers.
  • Control: A biographical film on the life of Joy Division‘s Ian Curtis directed by the perfectly suited Anton Corbijn.
  • Run, Fat Boy, Run: Yes, it’s directed by that David Schwimmer, but it has Simon Pegg and that’s all that counts. Plus, I tend to see too many depressing films so a comedy is needed.
  • The Passage: The description calls it a an artistically rendered horror film that is “channelling” Alfred Hitchcock. Sold.
  • Lust, Caution: Ang Lee’s film on pre-revolution Shanghai.
  • Blood Brothers: A mob movie set in… pre-revolution Shanghai.

I try to make it a habit to see every Western that screens at the film festival but it’s becoming a futile quest. There are only two Westerns this year. One is The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford , but that’s only getting the Visa Screening Room treatment and, no doubt because of Brad Pitt’s starring role, it’s already sold out. There’s also SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO and I do hope to see that, but I’d only count it as a half-Western. There has been some talk of a potential Western revival because of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and the upcoming 3:10 To Yuma remake. It might be true but I don’t think it’ll ever be anything more than a small blip on the film radar. When there are more movies about pre-revolution Shanghai than there are about the American (Canadian/Australian) frontier, it’s hard to call it a revival.

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