by Rosalie Kicks, Old Sport and Benjamin Leonard, Best Boy
Making a watch list for TIFF is no easy feat. With four hundred and fourteen films screening at this year’s fest, it is impossible to see every film… even if you are staying for the entire duration. This means that flick picks are a serious matter. There are some flicks that automatically make the cut, such as: Jo Jo Rabbit (better see it before Disney buries it), Knives Out (we are all about Michael Shannon in his sweater) and of course the oddly anticipated (*editor’s note: only Old Sport is excited for this) Joker.
However, the reason to go to a fest like this is to find the diamonds in the rough and to possibly see something that you would not have an opportunity to otherwise. With just a short synopsis, eye-catching photo and cast list, sometimes you take the chance and do the dance. Hey who knows… that movie you took a gamble on could be your next favorite talkie.
This year your MJ Pals, Old Sport and Best Boy will be headed north with one goal in mind: to watch as many movies as humanly possible in five days. Here is a run down of some of their most anticipated pictures playing at this year’s fest.
Rosalie Kicks, Old Sport
After watching the film Personal Shopper I started paying attention to Kristen Stewart. When I learned she would be portraying French New Wave icon, Jean Seberg, I was excited. I became fascinated with Jean after listening to the series series on the podcast, You Must Remember This. Director Benedict Andrews’ Seberg, will focus on Jean’s life in the late 1960s, who found herself being followed by the FBI due to her affiliation with the Black Panther party, her political leanings and relationship with a civil rights radical, Hakim Jamal. I think this seems to have the potential to be a memorable flick.
How to Build a Girl
Sometimes I read a movie description and leave thinking it was made specifically for me. This is exactly how I felt after stumbling upon the synopsis of, Cory Giedroyc’s How to Build a Girl. Set in the 1990s (who doesn’t love the Gin Blossoms, am I riiiiight?) it tells the story of a nerdy teen girl that enters a writing contest and manages to become a rock n’ roll music critic. Unfortunately, she knows nothing about the music scene. So instead, she creates a fictitious persona, Dolly Wilde, to pen her reviews. Starring Beanie Feldstein (Booksmart, Lady Bird) this sounds like it will be a fun time at the movies!
Blow the Man Down
The image above, being utilized to advertise the film definitely roped me in. The Connolly Sisters have found themselves in a predicament and if I had to put money down, it seems like they have a corpse to dispose of. What else could be in that cooler? Lobsters? Welll, maybe, it is set in Maine. However, I am putting my chips on a cadaver.
This flick pick is a no-brainer for the Old Sport. For anyone that reads Moviejawn regularly, you know I’m all about that razzle dazzle and am fond of actors of the golden age of Hollywood. Judy Garland was a treasure. I will always have a special place in my heart for The Wizard of Oz, but it was A Star is Born (1954) that truly made me adore her. With what seems like somewhat of a comeback role for Renee Zellweger, judging by the stills this seems to have a lot of promise. Rather than telling your typical biopic, this story will focus on a specific part of Judy’s life: the winter of 1968, when she found herself in London to perform a stint of sold-out shows. Having Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose, Chernobyl) cast in this too… well that is just icing on the cake!
I can’t leave TIFF without this movie being shown to my eyeballs. I loved everything about Robert Eggers’ first feature, The VVITCH and have been stalking his IMDb profile ever since, watching for news of his next project. I have a feeling that The Lighthouse is going to end up on my top ten list at the end of the year. Judging by the trailer, it looks to be beautifully shot with a hypnotic soundtrack that is sure to hook me. I am such a sucker for the details and this director knows how to make the most of production design to create an alluring atmosphere. Oh yea, and did I mention there is a mermaid in this?
Benjamin Leonard, Best Boy
This is a zombie movie as zombie movies do best, heavy on the cultural critique. The Mi’gmaq (a Canadian First Nations people from the Atlantic provinces) community is immune to the zombie plague and they must decide whether or not to allow outsiders onto their land (again). This is the second feature from Jeff Barnaby and it might seem like a lot to bite off, but it stars veteran Michael Greyeyes (recently of Fear the Walking Dead and True Detective) who should be more than able to help carry the load.
This seems like it’s gonna be a total mindfuck. Ostensibly it is a man vs nature sort of tale as the men of Kerala, India are attempting to capture a loose buffalo. Director Lijo Jose Pellissery and cinematographer Gireesh Gangadharan seem to have put together some overwhelming images here to show mankind’s tendency towards chaos. Overall, the feeling is supposed to be very base and primal. I’m excited for the experience.
TIFF Short Cuts
In addition to all the feature length films, there are a large number of shorts playing at TIFF and they are packaged together in 8 different programmes. They seem to do a good job of mixing the styles and languages of shorts they package together so that each programme has something for everyone, but it also exposes viewers to something they might not have picked out on their own. I thought I’d share some of the titles that I’m most excited about here.
All Inclusive by Teemu Nikki is the story of a schmuck that gets a chance to turn his life around but (as always) may suffer unintended consequences. Two years ago, Nikki came to TIFF with Euthanizer and I absolutely loved that movie. If nothing else, I’ll be watching this one just to see what else Nikki comes up with. (Short Cuts Programme 06)
Are You Hungry? by Teemu Niukkanen is one that should make for a good chuckle after some tough subjects. This story about a son dealing with his overprotective mother is described as both endearing and raunchy. Well, that almost perfectly describes my teen years. So I’m down for watching this one. (Short Cuts Programme 08)
Darling by Saim Sadiq is about a young man that helps his transgender friend (and crush) audition for the lead in an erotic dance show. Honestly, the overall look of this one had me hooked. The stage show looks beautiful and the behind the scenes portions look seedy as all hell. They make for good contrast in the same film. (Short Cuts Programme 08)
God’s Nightmares by Daniel Cockburn is meant to represent the things that keep God up in the middle of the night and is presented via a one two punch of “found-film hallucination and metaphysical comedy routine.” At five minutes, even if this one doesn’t turn out that well it’ll sure be interesting to check out for that quick glimpse. (Short Cuts Programme 06)
Lucia En El Limbo by Valentina Maurel is described as a caustic take on coming-of-age tropes that had me at “the teen at the center...does all she possibly can to rid herself of both her head lice and her virginity.” This is sure to be awkward and silly and will likely be a nice breath of fresh air after some of the heavier topics. (Short Cuts Programme 06)
Please Speak Continuously And Describe Your Experiences As They Come To You is by Brandon Cronenberg seems to be one that will take after his dad’s (David) style. Described as a psychedelically retro thriller, it is about a psychiatric patient with a brain implant that his having trouble distinguishing reality from her dreams. (Short Cuts Programme 01)
Check back here next week to follow Moviejawn’s coverage/adventure at TIFF