Films

TIFF Wrap-Up from Bruce!

TIFF 2009 was slightly smaller than it has been in past years but there were still 335 films to choose from, an absolutely impossible task. This year seemed generally higher in quality than past years but that could be simply the luck of the draw. At the end of the festival I had four clearcut 5 cat favorites:

DOGTOOTH - this Greek film makes one painfully aware that many interesting films rarely see the light of day in English speaking countries. This dark comedy is the story of parents who have succeeded in raising three children in a fortresslike compound. The three teenagers, a boy and two girls, have never seen another person other than their parents. When the father hires a sex worker to satisfy the biological urges of the son, things begin to unravel.

THE GOOD HEART - reunites Brian Cox and Paul Dano, this time in a black comedy from Iceland directed by Dagur Kári. No, Cox and Dano do not speak Icelandic as the film is in English and is set in New York City. Cox, a curmudgeonly bar owner, rescues homeless man (Dano) after the two end up as roommates in hospital. Each changes the other profoundly and things go swimmingly until a woman (Isild Le Besco) enters the picture.

LES HERBES FOLLES - this French absurdist comedy is the latest from master Alain Resnais (LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD, HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR, PRIVATE FEARS IN PUBLIC PLACES). A stolen handbag leads a middle aged man into an adulterous affair with an emotionally unstable avaitrix. I totally agree with a critic who said the cinematic agility of this film seems more likely the work of a 27 year old than an 87 year old. The film won the Palme d'Or at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.

VISION - veteran director Margarethe von Trotta succeeds in making the 12th century fascinating,with her tale of nun Hildegard von Bingen: the mother of herbal medicine; a composer,poet and the person most responsible for resuscitating dramatic arts which had laid dormant for one thousand years since the time of the ancient Greeks. Hildegard wrote liturgical musicals which the nuns in her convent performed and her music is very much alive today. Barbara Sukova is magnificent as the nun who had visions, a fatal attraction to one of the nuns in her order and a wily tactical ability to manipulate the chauvinistic leaders of the Catholic Church who held great power over the people. She even convinced the Archbishop and Pope that science and religion were compatible.

Other excellent films include: AN EDUCATION, LESLIE MY NAME IS EVIL, CHLOE, J'AI TUÉ MA MÈRE, POLICE ADJECTIVE, LIKE YOU KNOW IT ALL, CAIRO TIME, I AM LOVE and WHITE MATERIAL.

The TIFF Announcements Just Keep Coming!

The past week saw a whole passel of Gala and Special Presentation screenings at the Toronto International Film Festival, including new films from the Coen Brothers, Fatih Akin, last year's Best Movie Chltorudis winner's director, Werner Herzog, and Drew Barrymore's directorial debut starring Ellen Page.

GALAS

The Damned United Tom Hooper, United Kingdom
North American Premiere
Set in 1960's and 1970's England, this is the confrontational and darkly humorous story of Brian Clough's doomed 44 day tenure as manager of the reigning champions of English football Leeds United. Previously managed by his bitter rival Don Revie, and on the back of their most successful period ever as a football club, Leeds was perceived by many to represent a new aggressive and cynical style of football. Taking the Leeds job without his trusted lieutenant, Peter Taylor, by his side, Clough encounters a changing-room full of players who - in his mind - were still Don's boys. An examination of Clough's belligerence and brilliance, The Damned United stars Michael Sheen, is written by Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon) and directed by Tom Hooper (John Adams, Longford).

Dil Bole Hadippa Anurag Singh, India
World Premiere
In a village where girls don't play cricket, Veera (Rani Mukherjee) has to put on a turban and beard and become a man to fulfill her dreams. Her brilliance on the field earns her a place in Rohan's (Shahid Kapoor) team and Veera Kaur becomes Veer Pratap Singh. And then begins a roller-coaster journey of Veera, Rohan and Veer filled with music, romance and comedy through Punjab and beyond.

Dorian Gray Oliver Parker, United Kingdom
World Premiere
In Victorian London, the handsome Dorian Gray (Ben Barnes) is swept into a social whirlwind by the charismatic and cunning Lord Wotton (Colin Firth). Immersed in the hedonistic pleasures of the city, Dorian vows he would give anything to keep his youth and beauty - even his soul. Based on the Oscar Wilde novel, Dorian Gray examines the destructive power of beauty, the blind pursuit of pleasure and the darkness that can result from both.

Micmacs Jean-Pierre Jeunet, France
World Premiere
Is it better to live with a bullet lodged in your brain, even if it means you might drop dead any time or would you rather have the bullet taken out and live the rest of your life as a vegetable? Are zebras white with black stripes or black with white stripes? Is scrap metal worth more than landmines? Can you get drunk from eating waffles? Can a woman fit inside a refrigerator? What is the human cannonball world record? Micmacs, a fantastical comedy from the world class director of Amélie and Delicatessen, answers these questions and way more.

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee Rebecca Miller, USA
North American Premiere
From all outward appearances, Pippa Lee (Robin Wright Penn) leads a charmed existence. An anchor of feminine serenity, she is the devoted wife of an accomplished publisher (Alan Arkin) 30 years her senior, the proud mother of two grown children, a trusted friend and confidant. But as Pippa dutifully follows her husband to a new life in a staid Connecticut retirement community, her idyllic world and the persona she has built over the course of her marriage will be put to the ultimate test. Adapted from writer-director Rebecca Miller's novel of the same name, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee presents the complex portrait of the many lives behind a single name.

What's Your Raashee? Ashutosh Gowariker, India
World Premiere
What's Your Raashee? is a romantic comedy about a young man who has always wanted to marry for love. When he suddenly is told that he must find his dream girl within ten days in order to save his family from utter ruin, he discovers that finding her is even hard when it has to happen in a hurry. The film is based on the Gujarati novel, Kimball Ravenswood, by Madhu Rye and stars Harman Baweja and Priyanka Chopra.

SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans Werner Herzog, USA
North American Premiere
Terence McDonagh (Nicolas Cage), a homicide detective with the New Orleans Police Department, is promoted to Lieutenant after he saves a prisoner from drowning in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. However, during his heroic act, he severely injures his back and is put on prescription pain medication. A year later, Terence - struggling with his addictions to sex, Vicodin and cocaine - finds himself in the battle to bring down drug dealer Big Fate, who is suspected of massacring an entire family of African immigrants.

Capitalism: A Love Story Michael Moore, USA
North American Premiere
On the 20-year anniversary of his groundbreaking masterpiece Roger & Me, Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story comes home to the issue he's been examining throughout his career: the disastrous impact of corporate dominance on the everyday lives of Americans (and by default, the rest of the world). But this time the culprit is much bigger than General Motors, and the crime scene far wider than Flint, Michigan. From Middle America, to the halls of power in Washington, to the global financial epicenter in Manhattan, Michael Moore will once again take film-goers into uncharted territory.

The Good Heart Dagur Kári, Iceland
World Premiere
A homeless boy Lucas (Paul Dano), meets Jacques (Brian Cox), a grumpy bar-owner, whose unhealthy lifestyle has brought him five heart attacks. Jacques takes Lucas under his wing with the intention of having him continue his legacy. Everything is going according to plan until a drunken stewardess named April enters the bar.

Harry Brown Daniel Barber, United Kingdom
World Premiere
Harry Brown is a provocative and thought-provoking modern urban western featuring a tour-de-force lead performance from two-time Academy Award®-winner Michael Caine. Harry Brown has lived to see his community descend into crime and violence, and ruled over by a gang of teenage thugs. After his best friend is brutally murdered and the gang leader responsible walks free, Harry reaches a breaking point and revenge becomes his only aim.

The Hole Joe Dante, USA
North American Premiere
After moving into a new town, brothers Dane and Lucas and their neighbour Julie discover a bottomless hole in their basement that brings their nightmares to life. With shadows lurking around every corner, they must face their darkest fears in order to put an end to the mystery of the hole.

Perrier's Bounty Ian Fitzgibbon, Ireland/United Kingdom
World Premiere
When Michael's (Cillian Murphy) debt to Dublin kingpin Darren Perrier (Brendan Gleeson) is called in and one of Perrier's goons accidentally ends up dead, Michael escapes to the mountains with his father Jim (Jim Broadbent) and best friend, Brenda. Flat broke, on the run and with only 24 hours to pay up, Michael is forced to confront his true feelings for Brenda and make amends with his father. However, with Perrier and his gang in hot pursuit, time is running out for Michael and only fate, a bit of luck and possibly a gang of savage dogs will save him, in this cracking gangster comedy.

A Serious Man Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, USA
World Premiere
Imaginatively exploring questions of faith, familial responsibility, delinquent behaviour, dental phenomena, academia, mortality and Judaism - and intersections thereof - A Serious Man is the new film from Academy Award®-winning writer-directors Joel and Ethan Coen.

Soul Kitchen Fatih Akin, Germany
North American Premiere
From the director of HEAD-ON comes the story of a young restaurant owner Zinos is down on his luck. His girlfriend Nadine has moved to Shanghai, his Soul Kitchen customers are boycotting the new gourmet chef, and he's having back trouble. Things start looking up when the hip crowd embraces his revamped culinary concept, but that doesn't mend Zinos' broken heart. He decides to fly to China for Nadine, leaving the restaurant in the hands of his unreliable ex-con brother Illias.

Triage Danis Tanovic, Ireland/Spain
World Premiere
Mark (Colin Farrell), a war photographer, returns home from Kurdistan without his friend and colleague David (Jamie Sives). As time goes on, it becomes clear that Mark holds the key to the truth of David's disappearance.

Up in the Air Jason Reitman, USA
World Premiere
From Jason Reitman, the Oscar®-nominated director of JUNO, comes a comedy starring George Clooney as Ryan Bingham, a corporate downsizing expert whose cherished life on the road is threatened just as he is on the cusp of reaching ten million frequent flyer miles and just after he's met the frequent-traveller woman of his dreams.

Whip It Drew Barrymore, USA
World Premiere
Drew Barrymore's directorial debut stars Ellen Page (Juno) as Bliss, a rebellious Texas teen who throws in her small-town beauty pageant crown for the rowdy world of roller-derby. Marcia Gay Harden (Mystic River, Pollock) plays Bliss's disapproving mother, while Drew Barrymore, Kristen Wiig (Saturday Night Live) and Juliette Lewis (Old School) play roller-derby stars. Whip It also stars Eve, Jimmy Fallon, Daniel Stern, Alia Shawkat, Ari Graynor, Andrew Wilson, Zoe Bell and singer-songwriter Landon Pigg.

Women Without Men Shirin Neshat, Germany/France/Austria
North American Premiere
Shirin Neshat's first feature-length film is based on a magic-realist novel written by Iranian author Sharnush Parsipur. The narrative interweaves the lives of four Iranian women during the summer of 1953, a pivotal moment in Iranian history when an American led coup d'état brought down the democratically elected prime minister Mohammed Mossadegh and reinstalled the Shah to power. The film chronicles each woman's quest for change and their mysterious encounter in a magical orchard.

Almodóvar, Scherfig and Steen, Oh My!


Another batch of films playing TIFF were announced last week, and there are some pretty exciting choices on the list. New films by Pedro Almodóvar, Lone Scherfig, Todd Solondz and Koji Yakusho are represented. In addition, there's a chance we'll finally get to meet Paprika Steen after her aborted trip to Chlotrudis last spring. The Danish actress' latest film, APPLAUSE, for which she won the Best Actress Award at Karolvy Vary, is screening as part of the Discovery series!

Check out the latest list below:

TIFF ADDS EIGHT NEW FILMS TO ITS SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS LINEUP

Toronto – The Toronto International Film Festival announces the addition of eight titles to its Special Presentations programming lineup for TIFF09, which runs September 10 to 19, 2009. These include works from Argentina, France, Italy, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. These new films join the nineteen previously announced Special Presentations. For more details, please refer to tiff.net/press.

Ticket packages for the Festival are now available for purchase by cash, debit or Visa†. Purchase online at tiff.net/thefestival, by phone at 416-968-FILM or 1-877-968-FILM (Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., closed weekends and holidays) or in person at the Festival Box Office at Nathan Phillips Square (Box Office hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week), located at 100 Queen Street West, in the white tent, west of the square.

SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS

Broken Embraces Pedro Almodóvar, Spain
North American Premiere
Harry Caine, a blind writer, reaches a point when he has to heal his wounds from 14 years ago, when he was still known by his real name, Mateo Blanco, and directing his last movie. As the past is revisited, a story of “amour fou” unfolds, dominated by fatality, jealousy, the abuse of power, treachery and a guilt complex.

An Education Lone Scherfig, United Kingdom
Canadian Premiere
A coming-of-age story about a teenaged girl in 1960s suburban London and how her life changes with the arrival of a playboy nearly twice her age. Torn between her parents’ dream of going to Oxford University and a more tempting kind of life, she must decide if the new path is one that will trap her or set her free.

The Front Line Renato De Maria, Italy
World Premiere
Set during a turbulent period in 1970-80s Italy, the plot centres on passionate couple Sergio and Susanna, who have been living as fugitives. Pursuing an uncompromising cause as members of the notorious Prima Linea, they have become increasingly alienated from the real world. Their luck finally runs out when Susanna is captured and thrown in jail. Putting his life on the line, Sergio embarks on a radical plan.

Glorious 39 Stephen Poliakoff, United Kingdom
World Premiere
This tense conspiracy thriller set on the eve of World War II and based on disturbing real events, focuses on a young woman who stumbles across evidence of a sinister Nazi appeasement plot. As her close friends begin to die in suspicious circumstances, she finds her own life in danger from an increasingly menacing and powerful enemy.

Kamui Yoichi Sai, Japan
World Premiere
A crowd pleasing, sweeping epic brilliantly directed by one of Japan’s finest auteurs, Kamui is the adventurous story of a fugitive ninja played by superstar Kenichi Matsuyama.

Life During Wartime Todd Solondz, USA
North American Premiere
Happiness director Todd Solondz returns with another unsettling dark comedy about sexual obsession between friends, family and lovers struggling to find love, forgiveness and meaning in a war-torn world. Allison Janney and Ciarán Hinds star.

A Prophet Jacques Audiard, France
North American Premiere
A young Arab man, Malik, is sent to a French prison where he is cornered by the leader of the ruling Corsican gang. He is given a number of “missions” to carry out, toughening him up and gaining the gang leader’s confidence in the process. But Malik is brave and a fast learner, daring to secretly develop his own plans.

The Secret of Their Eyes Juan José Campanella, Argentina/Spain
International Premiere
Benjamín Chaparro, a secretary of a court in Buenos Aires, is about to retire and decides to write a novel based on a case that deeply affected him thirty years ago. Chaparro’s tale crosses Argentina’s turbulent years during the 1970s, when nothing was necessarily what it seemed to be.

EXCITING WORKS FROM NEW FILMMAKERS ANNOUNCED FOR DISCOVERY
Toronto – The 34th Toronto International Film Festival announces twenty-one feature films for the Discovery programme, showcasing provocative feature films by new and emerging directors. This is where audiences can find the year’s most exciting debuts as the Festival shines a light on the works of up-and-coming filmmakers.

Ticket packages for the Festival are now available for purchase by cash, debit or Visa†. Purchase online at tiff.net/thefestival, by phone at 416-968-FILM or 1-877-968-FILM (Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., closed weekends and holidays) or in person at the Festival Box Office at Nathan Phillips Square (Box Office hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week), located at 100 Queen Street West, in the white tent, west of the square. The Festival runs from September 10 to 19, 2009.

DISCOVERY

The Angel Margreth Olin, Norway/Sweden/Finland
World Premiere
A young mother (played brilliantly by Maria Bonnevie) struggles with a history of drug abuse in this exquisitely rendered and deeply compassionate piece, the first fiction film from one of Norway’s most respected documentary filmmakers.

Applause Martin Pieter Zandvliet, Denmark
North American Premiere
Paprika Steen delivers a tour-de-force performance in this devastating drama about an alcoholic actress trying to put her life back together.

Bare Essence of Life Satoko Yokohama, Japan
International Premiere
In this original fusion of black comedy, surreal fantasy and feel-good drama about a mentally challenged hero, Japanese heartthrob Kenichi Matsuyama plays a strange farmer who finds an unexpected path to the miracle of love.

Beautiful Kate Rachel Ward, Australia
International Premiere
In order to make peace with his combative, dying father, a writer must return to his childhood home and confront long-suppressed memories of the mysterious deaths of his brother and twin sister.

A Brand New Life Ounie Lecomte, South Korea/France
North American Premiere
An impressive debut by French-Korean filmmaker Ounie Lecomte who, inspired by her childhood, recounts the emotional journey of a little girl abandoned by her father in an orphanage.

The Disappearance of Alice Creed J. Blakeson, United Kingdom
World Premiere
Two ex-cons kidnap a woman, but the tables turn and turn again in this tight, smart tale. This film is a terrific little thriller starring Eddie Marsan, Martin Compston and Gemma Arterton.

Eamon Margaret Corkery, Ireland
North American Premiere
A family holiday brings to a head the destructive love triangle between Eamon, a little boy with behavioural problems, his selfish mother Grace and his sexually frustrated father Daniel.

Every Day Is a Holiday Dima El-Horr, France/Germany/Lebanon
North American Premiere
From Lebanon, this is a striking debut about three women on the road to visit their imprisoned men. Mixing real politics and stark absurdity, El-Horr announces herself as a major new voice in Middle Eastern cinema.

Five Hours from Paris Leon Prudovsky, Israel
World Premiere
In a suburb of Tel Aviv, an Israeli cab driver who longs to fly and a Russian music teacher who is soon to board a plane find out that romance is only a cab ride away.

Heliopolis Ahmad Abdalla, Egypt
World Premiere
An Egyptian art film with some major stars, Heliopolis weaves together portraits from one of Cairo’s most storied neighbourhoods.

The Day Will Come Susanne Schneider, Germany/France
International Premiere
Thirty years after giving her daughter up for adoption to join the terrorist underground in Germany, Judith is tracked down by her now-adult daughter Alice to a vineyard in the Alsace where she is living with a new family and a new identity.

Le Jour où Dieu est parti en voyage Philippe van Leeuw, Belgium
World Premiere
Offering a new take on the Rwandan genocide, acclaimed cinematographer van Leeuw’s directorial debut recreates the first-person experience of one woman as the horror descends.

Last Ride Glendyn Ivin, Australia
International Premiere
A desperate father and his 10-year-old son flee into the wilderness of the desert and the human heart, battling the elements, the past and each other.

My Dog Tulip Paul Fierlinger and Sandra Fierlinger, USA
North American Premiere
Christopher Plummer and Isabella Rossellini voice this vividly animated, touching tale of friendship between an elderly bachelor and his German Shepherd.

My Tehran for Sale Granaz Moussavi, Australia/Iran
International Premiere
Shot underground on location in Tehran, the film tells the story of modern-day Iranian youth struggling for cultural freedom.

Northless Rigoberto Perezcano, Mexico/Spain
World Premiere
Andrés reaches the Mexican border to cross into the United States. As he waits between crossing attempts, he discovers the complicated border world of Tijuana.

La Soga Josh Crook, Dominican Republic/USA
World Premiere
This gritty and gripping drama explores political intrigue, love, death and the power of memory, set in the Dominican Republic.

Shirley Adams Oliver Hermanus, South Africa/USA
North American Premiere
This intimate, precise portrait focuses on a mother in Cape Town, South Africa, whose son is disabled in a neighbourhood shooting.

Toad’s Oil Koji Yakusho, Japan
International Premiere
The story of Takuro Yazawa, a day-trader who claims he can earn hundreds of millions of yen in one day, and those around him as they attempt to cope with the death of his son and somehow find a way to benefit spiritually from the experience.

Together Matias Armand Jordal, Norway
International Premiere
The tragic death of a mother causes her family to shatter when they struggle to cope with the loss.

The Unloved Samantha Morton, United Kingdom
International Premiere
Morton shifts from actor to director in this stark portrait of a young British girl plucked from an abusive family and thrown into the hands of government care.

NEWS RELEASE #11
NEW VANGUARD FILMS ANNOUNCED FOR 2009 FESTIVAL
Toronto – The 34th Toronto International Film Festival adds nine titles to its Vanguard programme.

Works presented under the Vanguard banner are bold films that challenge our social and cultural assumptions. This is where innovative filmmakers tend to blur the distinction between different genres, styles and narrative conventions – and where savvy film-goers can expect a satisfying challenge.

Ticket packages for the Festival are now available for purchase by cash, debit or Visa†. Purchase online at tiff.net/thefestival, by phone at 416-968-FILM or 1-877-968-FILM (Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., closed weekends and holidays) or in person at the Festival Box Office at Nathan Phillips Square (Box Office hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week), located at 100 Queen Street West, in the white tent, west of the square. The Festival runs from September 10 to 19, 2009.

VANGUARD

Accident Soi Cheang, Hong Kong, China
North American Premiere
Gripping and smartly constructed, this unconventional crime thriller/psychological drama, revolves around assassins who commit murder by making perfectly staged crimes look like unfortunate accidents. Produced by Johnnie To.

The Ape Jesper Ganslandt, Sweden
World Premiere
A descent into hell, Jesper Ganslandt’s disturbing and suspenseful second feature begins with a man waking up in unfamiliar surroundings, only to find the life he knew the day before is gone.

Bunny and the Bull Paul King, United Kingdom
World Premiere
Shy Stephen and his totally disordered boozehound of a best friend, Bunny, show us how to embark on an adventure-filled road trip without leaving the room.

The Dirty Saints Luis Ortega, Argentina
World Premiere
Luis Ortega’s apocalyptic third feature follows a group of five survivors as they embark on a journey that will force them to face their fears, dreams and longings in their quest for salvation across the Fijman River.

Enter the Void Gaspar Noé, France/Germany/Italy
North American Premiere
Controversial filmmaker Gaspar Noé (Irreversible) is back with a mind-bending journey that transcends life and death as he follows the exploits of a young American drug dealer living in Japan.

Hipsters Valery Todorovsky, Russia
North American Premiere
In a fantastical 1950s Moscow, straight-laced Mels swaps his drab Communist uniform for a saxophone, pompadour and zoot suit in this vibrant musical that is bursting with razzle and dazzle and of course, rhythm.

The Misfortunates Felix Van Groeningen, Belgium/Holland
North American Premiere
From Belgium comes this rambunctious, vulgar story of a 13-year-old boy growing up in a small village with his father and three uncles, all drunken, incorrigible louts. Yet they are hilarious and they love Roy Orbison.

My Queen Karo Dorothée van den Berghe, Belgium
World Premiere
A young girl witnesses the moral dilemmas of free love when her parents join a squatter community in 1970s Amsterdam.

Spring Fever Lou Ye, China
North American Premiere
A lyrical and audacious portrait of a doomed gay love triangle that spins out of control, Spring Fever is inspired by prohibited Chinese novels from the 1920s and directed by controversial filmmaker Lou Ye.

Hilary Weighs In With Her Top 10!

(in alphabetical order)

4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, 2 DAYS
CHRIS AND DON: A LOVE STORY
THE EDGE OF HEAVEN
I´VE LOVED YOU SO LONG
IN BRUGES
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
MAN ON WIRE
MILK
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
YOUNG@HEART

Best Performance By Something Other Than A Person: The cats from LET THE RIGHT ONE IN

ORDER OF MYTHS here in its entirety!

For this weekend only, Dailymotion and Cinetic Media are making available, for free, Margaret Brown's Spirit Award-winning (and Chlotrudis Award nominee) film THE ORDER OF MYTHS. Here it is:

THE ORDER OF MYTHS - FEATURE FILM
Uploaded by cineticmedia

Top 10 from Manhattan!

Bruce is our New York City Board member, and he's sent his Top 10 along for your perusal...

  1. 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, 2 DAYS
  2. ALEXANDRA
  3. LOVE SONGS
  4. XXY
  5. THE ORDER OF MYTHS
  6. CHRIS AND DON: A LOVE STORY
  7. I'VE LOVED YOU SO LONG
  8. LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
  9. MY WINNIPEG
  10. REPRISE

Bruce's First Report from Toronto!

Just spent my first full day in Toronto after arriving in time to see only one film last night. Tickets seem harder to get this year and we REALLY miss Michael and Scot's morning trek to the box office which made things ever so easy for the rest of us. A computer glitch caused many people to get tickets for overlapping times and I talked to many who were frantically trying to reschedule their films in wholesale fashion. Sadly the Cumberland is gone. Work was supposed to have begun turning the wonderful art house into luxury condos but I hear some glitch has stopped all that, alas too late to save the cinema. The Varsity is almost exclusively used now for press/industry screenings. This year there is a new venue - AMC - at Dundas and Yonge, diagonally across from the northern most part of the Eaton Centre. The College Park Box Office has been moved there. All lines for the Festival Box Office and films are formed outside which is messy and uncomfortable considering AMC is on the third floor and the Box Office is on the second.

Thursday night I began with a less than so-so Italian film THE REST OF THE NIGHT (2.5 cats) which belongs on TV, not in a major film festival. The acting was decent but the film was decidedly uncinematic. Furthermore it was filmed in winter giving it a bleak feeling that I suspect was unintentional. Friday started off with a bang. Brent Hamer's O'HORTEN (5 cats) was over-the-top fabulous. It is a bittersweet tale of a man coming to grips with his retirement and his past concurrently. O'HORTEN is a wonderful companion piece to his earlier KITCHEN STORIES. Hamer is definitely maturing as an artist. Later today I saw PANDORA'S BOX (4 cats) a Turkish film about three adult children who are forced to face their personal demons when their aged mother disappears, a victim of Alzheimer's. The mother is played beautifully by French actress Tsilla Chelton who some may remember in the delicious title role of TATIE DANIELLE. Finally I saw FEAR ME NOT a film from Danish director Kristian Levring. FEAR ME NOT (3.5 cats) is a pharmaceutical horror story inspired by none other than the venerable Jean Renoir's version of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." Ulrich Thomsen (FESTEN, ADAM'S APPLES) is a knock-out as the average man who innocently signs up for testing a new drug. The strong supporting cast includes the wonderful duo of Paprika Steen and Lars Brygmann. So far on Saturday I have seen SERBIS (4.5 cats) from the Philippine director Brillante Mendoza and a documentary on Senegalese Grammy-winning musician Youssou Ndour, YOUSSOU NDOUR: I BRING WHAT I LOVE (4.5 Cats).

Bruce Kingsley (posted by M Colford)

Most Anticipated from TIFF #1

As we all know, I wasn't able to go to the Toronto International Film Festival this year. It was difficult for me, but I will survive. Thanks to Wiebke, Alberta and Tracy for sharing in my pain. I would loved to have seen them on this trip.

Fortunately, as you've seen, Beth is doing a great job providing coverage for Chlotrudis, and there are a lot of online film outfits covering the festival from top to bottom, so I almost feel like I'm there. Today I read the first piece that made me really excited.

Obviously I'm excited about the upcoming releases, BLINDNESS, written by Don McKellar, and ADORATION, the latest film from Atom Egoyan, but I have no doubt I will be seeing both of these films soon after the festival when they are released Stateside. I think I am most excited, however about the new film by French director Claire Denis called 35 RHUMS. I'm hoping someone from Chlotrudis caught it (I'm sure I can count on Ivy) but indieWIRE's Eugene Hernandez reports on it in his blog. Here's an excerpt:

...its a wonderful movie that I've had a hard time shaking. 35 RHUMS offers quiet moments with its characters -- each striving for someone, or something, else. Agnes Godard's photography and Tindersticks' music, in particular, are striking and beautiful.

Eugene refers to a review in indieWIRE by Shane Danielsen who also had a great quote:

I was looking forward to a number of films here, but none more than the latest from Claire Denis. Such anticipation usually ends in disappointment, but 35 RHUMS only confirmed her mastery. Her finest piece of work since 1999's superb BEAU TRAVAIL, it seemed like nothing so much as her version of a late Ozu, a latter-day response to EQUINOX FLOWER and LATE SPRING -- and like those films, it's about the bonds of family, and people being kind and desiring the best, for themselves and for each other. Yet it's no mere homage; rather, it's imbued with Denis' own, unmistakeable sensibility, the patient and watchful eye that disinguished earlier Paris-set masterpieces like I CAN'T SLEEP and FRIDAY NIGHT.

Now I just have to hope that I won't be waiting too long before we get to see it in the States.

Independent Distribution Loses Another Outlet.

Red Envelope Entertainment, the acquisition and and distribution wing of Netflix has closed its doors. As blockbusters make more money and indies get more and more marginalized, going direct to DVD or to Cable TV, we hate to see indie distributors disappear, thus making our cinematic choices that much more limited.

Red Envelope Entertainment had released some pretty significant Chlotrudis films in its short life, including Chlotrudis Best Documentary winners from the past two years PROTAGONIST and THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED. Just recently Red Envelope provided U.S. distribution for two Chlotrudis co-presentations, LOVE SONGS and WATER LILIES. Hopefully another company will turn up to take its place.

While discussing the difficulties of indie and foreign-language film distribution, a film that is sure to be of interest to Chlotrudis members has just been released directly to DVD in the States. HELP ME EROS the Taiwanese film directed by and starring Lee Kang-Sheng, muse and lead actor for beloved Chlotrudis director Tsai Ming-Liang, was released this week on DVD without receiving an official theatrical release. While most Chlotrudis members would probably prefer to see HELP ME EROS on the big screen, better on DVD than not at all!

The Top 10's are starting already!

Over at eugonline, indieWIRE's Eugene Hernandez has posted his Top 10 of 2008 so far. Since we are over halfway through the year, and in a few short months, Chlotrudis members will be pondering nominations, Top 10 lists and what not, I thought I'd follow suit and share my own Top 10 of 2008 so far. Of course, given the nature of Chlotrudis, this is never a simple operation, so I'm going to post two Top 10 lists. The first will be my ten best movies that I've seen in 2008 so far, the other will be my ten best Chlotrudis-eligible films of 2008 so far. What are you favorites of the year so far?


My 10 Best Movies seen in 2008 so far! (in alphabetical order)

4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, 2 DAYS

THE AXE IN THE ATTIC
THE BAND'S VISIT
BLIND
CHRIS & DON: A LOVE STORY

THE EDGE OF HEAVEN
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (pictured right)
POSTCARDS FROM LENINGRAD
THEATER OF WAR
WATER LILIES

My 10 Best Chlotrudis-eligible Movies for 2008 so far! (in alphabetical order)

4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, 2 DAYS

THE AXE IN THE ATTIC
BLIND
CHRIS & DON: A LOVE STORY

JELLYFISH (pictured right)
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
MONKEY WARFARE
MY WINNIPEG
THE TRACEY FRAGMENTS
THE VISITOR