Tuesday, September 6, 2011

TIFF Picks

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is rolling around, as it does ever year. The programmer's pick HUNDREDS of films to be shown over the week and a half of the fest. Me? I pick just TEN of those to watch. It's often a difficult process to narrow it down to such a small percentage, but this year seemed easier. My "long" list was only 31 films and the top 10 came fairly easily from those. Here they are:

The Raid

Indonesian film where a SWAT team gets stuck behind enemy lines in an apartment complex controlled by one of those untouchable badass gangster-types, thereby guaranteeing that it is filled with bad guys with guns and martial arts skills. The lead actor is compared favourably with Tony Jaa in terms of martial artistry. Yah, floor after floor of violence. This starts my fest at midnight.


I honestly have no idea what this is about. It's Guy Maddin's latest feature film, so that's enough for me. Okay, something about a guy desperately trying to reach his wife in her bedroom upstairs I think. But with Maddin, it's never that straightforward.

The Artist

A silent film. A MODERN silent film, about the last days of silent film. Has a definite Sunset Boulevard feel to the description, except it's actually a silent film. Also, it has John Goodman in it. Also Malcom MacDowell and James Cromwell.


The story of the last days of John Barrymore, as portrayed by Christopher Plummer. With Plummer doing a talk afterwards. Christopher Plummer - 'nuff said.

Juan of the Dead

Cuban zombie comedy. The title alone sells it.

Take This Waltz

Sarah Polley's latest directorial effort. Seeing as I must, by Canadian law, love Sarah Polley (I don't need the law for that), it's a given. Throwing Sarah Silverman somewhere in that mix (I just learned that) is a bonus. Something about Michelle Williams being married to Seth Rogen but falling for Luke Kirby. Oh, and also Toronto.

Surviving Progress

A documentary, based on the book A Short History of Progress, where a bunch of progressive thinker-types (David Suzuki, Margaret Atwood, Jane Goodall, Stephen Hawking, etc..) talk about how somehow "good ideas at the time" lead to quagmires of stagnation for society - "progress traps". I need to get me some thinking in at some point.

Carré Blanc

Here, I'll just copy-and-paste the TIFF description:

A young boy ekes out an existence with his mother in an austere, unidentified city where loudspeakers make strange announcements and proclamations, a rapidly declining po­pulation resides in grim high-rises and the weak are killed and likely used for meat. In the wake of a suicide attempt, the boy undergoes a harsh rehabilitation in a state-run school. When we next see him, he’s a productive adult member of society, estranged from his wife and working for a nameless organization, where he puts other employees through a series of humiliating and bizarre performance tests.

Oh, and it's in French.


Shakespeare's play, modernized by Ralph Fiennes, starring him and Gerard Butler. The preview looked pretty cool, I saw Colm Feore in the role at Stratford, so I'm looking forward to it. Besides, it doesn't get released until December otherwise.


Lars Von Trier tackles the end of the world. That's about all I know about it (other than Kiefer Sutherland and Kirsten Dunst are in it). That's more than I needed, as "Lars Von Trier" would be enough to get me to sign up. Oh, one more thing I've heard - it's beautiful and people like it.

So there they are - ten films for TIFF. Maybe I'll even get around to reviewing a few of them here. [checks drafts folder from last year...] Maybe I won't.

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