Thursday, August 29, 2013

TIFF Approacheth

So I might have made a mistake.

I've got 20 films lined up to see for TIFF, and 11 days to see them. Works out to about 2 films a day, mostly after work. Here's hoping they're all amazing and not completely draining.

I mean, they seem to be an interesting bunch, even if there is no Von Trier this year.

Tim's Vermeer
Johannes Vermeer painted 150 years before cameras were invented, yet his works show incredibly accurate perspective and realism. There are theories floating that he used lenses and rudimentary camera techniques to create these paintings. They tend to fall short in a few places. Enter Penn & Teller to explore this in a documentary (with Teller directing). Their friend, Tim Jenison spends over a year to recreate Vermeer's techniques using these theories, and filling in the blanks himself. From recreating the pigments used to crafting his own lenses, Tim goes for authenticity.

Since I first heard about the theory of "Vermeer's Camera", I've been intrigued by these ideas. So this clearly had to be seen. Plus, Penn & Teller and world premiere.

Standing Aside, Watching
Something about the description of this film kept me coming back to it. A greek movie about a woman returning to her small town from the big city, and just trying to fit back in. Except that her townspeople are violent and wary and things get out of hand. Oh, and her name is Antigone.

Joe Hill's book of a man, who wakes up growing a pair of horns and finding everyone spilling their darkest desires to him, is now a movie. Starring Daniel Radcliffe and directed by Alexandre Aja. That was pretty much all I needed. I do fear the legion of Harry Potter fans that will be waiting to catch a glimpse of Radcliffe though.

Adapted Robert LePage play, so I think I'm largely seeing this so I can tell a friend, who's a huge fan of his, all about it. Although it does sound interesting as another film tying together multiple stories into one intersected tale. This time involving a schizophrenic bookseller, a brain surgeon with a tremor, and a jazz singer who might end up with temporary aphasia.

Only Lovers Left Alive
Jim Jarmusch film about a vampire rock star, his girlfriend, and her sister. I feel I've seen a good number of vampire rock star movies at TIFF. Or at least movies about vampires with rock stars in them. Whatever. Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska... good enough for me.

Heart of a Lion
Ah good, a Finnish movie. TIFF ain't TIFF for me without something from that general area in it. This time it's the, I assume, uplifting tale of a racist skinhead gang leader who falls in love with a waitress with a mixed-race son.

The Double
THIS is the movie I'm most excited about. Based on Dostoevsky's novella of the same name about a man whose live is being taken over by his doppelganger. Now, Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska are fine actors, but they aren't the reason I want to see this. Not even Wallace Shawn is the driving force. No, director/writer Richard Ayoade is. Most famous perhaps as Moss in The IT Crowd (where he's brilliant), or maybe less so as the only reason to see The Watch, he also directed one of the best episodes of Community - Critical Film Studies (Pulp Fiction/My Dinner with Andre). Now, combine that last bit with him directing Wallace Shawn, and I'm in.  It had better not suck.But then, even if it does, I'd still be stoked to hear a Q and A with him afterwards.

The F Word
More Daniel Radcliffe. I really should have added Kill Your Darlings just to complete this year's Radcliffe TIFF trilogy. Really, Zoe Kazan is more of an attraction here (go see Ruby Sparks if you haven't already). Now, I would have overlooked this one entirely (Romantic Comedy isn't my usual TIFF genre), but it's from Michael Dowse of Goon and Fubar fame (I'm just gonna ignore Take Me Home Tonight).

Fading Gigolo
Woody Allen plays John Turturro's pimp. Written and directred by Turturro. That's all I should have to write here.

Finding Vivian Maier
Maybe you read about the cache of over 100,000 photos found a couple years ago in the effects of a career nanny. As Vivian Maier was busy nannying, with spouse, children or apparently friends of her own, she was also taking pictures. Lots of pictures. Of everyday life while wandering around the cities she worked in. Self-taught, and very talented, these shots were almost lost. This is the movie about trying to find out more about this woman, 4 years after her death.

The Husband
Bruce McDonald's entry to this year's festival. After Pontypool and Trigger, he pretty much gets automatic placement on my picks (others would put him there for Hard Core Logo and The Tracey Fragments). The story of a father having a shitty year as his wife is in jail for sleeping with one of her students, and he's raising their infant son alone. Called "a kind of horror comedy about impotent male rage and the limits of compassion" in the TIFF description piques my interest, Stephen McHattie being in the cast only helps.

The Grand Seduction
Don McKellar is another one of those Canadian directors that gets an automatic entry on my list. He has this incredibly droll and deadpan sense of humour and humanity that makes its way into his films and roles. In this instance, he's remaking a French Canadian hit from 2003 about a small fishing village that tries to entice a big city doctor into living in their town so they can get a big manufacturing plant to set up nearby and give them jobs. And Gordon Pinsent's in it, so I think I'm legally required to watch this as a Canadian.

Jodorowsky's Dune
Just realized I have three documentaries this year. This one is about the Dune movie that was never made by Alejandro Jodorowsky. Using production storyboards and recollections, we are to learn about what would have been one hell of an ambitious project. It would have starred Mick Jagger, Orson Welles, and Salvador Dali, and would have been written by Dan O'Bannon, and designed by H.R. Giger, years before Alien would appear.

The Wind Rises
Possibly Miyazaki's last film, it spans the decades of life of Jiro Horikoshi, designer of the Japanese Zero Fighter. A bit of a departure in subject matter for the famed Japanese animator for sure.

Short Cuts Canada - Programme 5
It's been a few years since I've gone to a shorts programme at TIFF. But this has a Bruce Alcock piece in it (Impromptu), and his rendering of A Night at the Quinte Hotel remains one of my all-time favourite short films. The End of Pinky, and CRIME: Joe Loya - The Beirut Bandit also looked interesting. Rumour is An Extraordinary Person is one of the highlights of the entire short program, so this should be a good time. And as always with short films, if you don't like one, it won't last long.

A Chinese film about a chauffeur and the spoiled wife of his employer and the secrets they both have. It reads as a film that explores the Hong Kong/Mainland China divide, and Chinese class divisions. Most appealing to me though is that it's cinematographer is Christopher Doyle, best known for his films with Wong Kar-Wai. So it should at the very least be gorgeously shot.

A Japanese remake of Clint Eastwood's classic. How can one turn down the old Samurai in place of gunslingers concept? Having not actually seen the Eastwood version (what?? I know!), I get to go into this fresh.

All Is By My Side
A biopic of Jimi Hendrix on his way to stardom. Who doesn't love Hendrix? If it's you, then I'm sorry, but you're wrong. Starring André Benjamin as the iconic James Hendrix.

Witching & Bitching
My only Midnight Madness pick this year. I'm either getting old, or they moved a bunch of the more interesting stuff to the Vanguard and Wavelengths programmes. A Spanish film, that, well, here's a paragraph from the description:

"A group of buskers led by a Jesus Christ in silver body paint pull out machine guns and grab a massive haul from a Cash for Gold store. The heist is masterminded by José (Hugo Silva), a down-on-his-luck divorced dad who, due to his custody schedule, is forced to bring his eight-year-old son to the robbery."

This somehow leads to them dealing with a coven of soul-sucking witches in a dark forest or something. Look, just read that over again and don't question me.

Atilla Marcel
I finish the fest off with this one. Not through any planning, it just happened to fit there in the schedule. This is Sylvain Chomet's (The Triplets of Belleville, The Illusionist) first live action film, and that on it's own hooked me. Supposedly calling back to Buster Keaton and Jaques Tati, with a Wes Anderson colour palette, the general impression I get is this will be a bittersweet French comedy, which suits me just fine as a Sunday afternoon end to what will be a very long festival.

You got all the way down here? Impressive. But not as impressive as if I actually see them all. Interestingly, I don't think any of these have made the "Movies you must see at TIFF" lists I've read so far. Surely that's a good sign.

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