If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Toronto International Film Festival finished today. TIFF is the second biggest film festival behind Cannes and this year showed 289 films not including shorts. Of those 289, we went through and listed the top films that have been receiving a lot of attention. These are the films that we can look forward to in the next few months and coming year. Separated into two categories, the award winners, and the buzz movies (films that garnered a lot of attention from critics), without going into spoiler territory we list off why you should be looking forward to these films.
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Winner of the BlackBerry People's Choice Award
Directed by David O'Russell, whose last outing The Fighter got several academy nominations including Best Director and awards for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. The Silver Linings Playbook is based on a novel by Matthew Quick, and stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver and Chris Tucker. Listed as a drama/comedy, the film follows Pat Solatano (Cooper) as he moves back in with his parents after being in a state health institution and tries to get his life together. Along the way he meets Tiffany (Lawrence) who has her own set of issues. They become friends with the agreement that she will help him pick up the pieces. If past TIFF People's Choice Awards are any indicator this film will probably get nominated for a few things at the Academy Awards, making this the second film by David O'Russell to receive universal praise.
Winner of the BlackBerry People's Choice Documentary Award
The music industry is a complicated harsh business machine and never has this been more shown in this documentary that focuses on the rock band 30 Seconds to Mars. The documentary's focus is on the band's current lawsuit with their previous record company. This conflict is the overarching focus of the documentary while the band moves forward with the recording of their next record, This is War. Directed by Bartholomew Cubbins (a pseudonym for lead singer Jared Leto himself), to say that the documentary might be bias is true, but regardless this film stands out as one of the best documentaries making a statement about the current music industry.
Winner of the BlackBerry People's Choice Midnight Madness Award
Since Irish Director Martin McDonagh's brilliant black comedy In Bruges, many have wondered if he could top it. Fast forward four years later we have Seven Psychopaths, a dark comedy about dog kidnappers, who kidnap the wrong dog. With an ensemble cast featuring Collin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson, Tom Waits, Olga Kurylenko, and Abbie Cornish. Seven psychopaths received praise for its humorous plot line, and comedic talents of Christopher Walken, and Woody Harrelson. Opening on October 12th in the United States, this is a most see for anybody who likes dark comedies.
Winner of the City of Toronto & Canada Goose Award for Best Canadian Feature Film
The third feature film from Montreal Director Xavier Dolan, spoken in French, the film focuses on a couple Laurence, played by Mevil Poupaud, and his girlfriend Fred, played by Suzanne Clement. Their relationship becomes complicated when Laurence tells Fred that he might be transgendered. This then opens up as a commentary for sexuality and love as Laurence and Fred try to figure out where their relationship is going, since Laurence believes he isn't the person he should be.
Winner of the Award for Best Canadian Short Film
The short film is a biographical documentary of Jean Benoit focusing on his childhood and how it has effected him as an artist. Parts of his life are then reenacted in an artful manner describing what drove him to be the artist that he is. Directed by Deco Dawson, Keep A Modest Head has a runtime of 19 minutes, and is in French. The film captures the idea of the tortured artist, and then explores with these themes.
Winner of The Skyy Vodka Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film
Following in his father's footsteps David Cronenberg's son, Brandon Cronenberg's directorial debut is as dark and features many trademarks of his father's body horror films. The film stars Caleb Landry Jones (X-Men: First Class) as Syd March a man whose job it is to harvest diseases from celebrities and sell those diseases to people. The trailer is already available on YouTube and looks promising as it features a lot of what made his father great and yet may carve out a career worthy of looking forward to future releases from Brandon Cronenberg.
Winner of The Skyy Vodka Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film
A heavy handed film that focuses on a goth teenager who is falsely accused of planning a school shooting that leads to the raid of his home by the Police. In the raid, police find collections of guns and ammunition that belong to the boy's father. So begins the trial of a teenager wrongly accused because of his awkwardness and some wrong decisions. If released and not convicted, how will he go on living a normal life once labelled as a potential killer. Features a great performance from actor Connor Jessup playing Sean Randall, the accused.
Based on a true story involving a prostitution scandal involving the Swedish government in the 1970s. This Swedish film follows Detective John Sandberg (played by Simon J. Berger) as he uncovers that several ministers may be running a prostitution ring. The backdrop of the story is a political one as the political party that the ministers belong to are looking to change Swedish law for the age of consent and even the definition of what is rape. Disturbing but true, the film shows what happens when those in charge do wrong and become power hungry. Sweden has been known in recent years for bringing us gritty crime films in fictional form, now they have brought us a true story, and that makes it even more relevant to today's culture.
Winner of the International Critic's Prize - Special Presentations
A French thriller/drama adapted from a Spanish play, In The House is about a student named Claude (Ernst Umhauer) in a French class who starts writing interesting essays except he is really writing about those around him including some of their perhaps darker secrets. This concerns and interests his teacher Germain (Farbrice Lunchini) who encourages Claude to continue writing, until Claude start's writing about Germain's wife (played by Kristin Scott Thomas). One reason to look forward to this film besides the interesting plot line is Kristin Scott Thomas and Director Francois Ozon. Ozon is perhaps best known internationally for his 2003 crime drama Swimming Pool.
The Land of Hope
The Land of Hope is a focuses on the struggle of a fictional family to survive in the wake of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami which causes a nearby nuclear facility to meltdown. The farming family must make the decision of whether to stay or abandon their home in fear of the radiation aftereffects. Director Sion Sono previous films have included Cold Fish and Suicide Club. Due to the sensitive subject avoids showing actual clips from the incident. Emotional, and having a very personal feeling to it The Land Hope stands out for it's controversial subject matter.
Winner of the Grolsch Film Works Discovery Award
Lebanese Director Rola Nashef expands on a short film about a young Lebanese man who takes over his father's business at a gas station in Detroit, after his father was killed during an armed robbery. As sad as that sounds this film is actually a drama/comedy. The son, Sami (E.J Assi) needs to take over the gas station to support not just himself but his whole family, and in doing so he comes to terms with growing up and responsibility. However, among all of this we see Sami working the late shift and dealing with all the shady people around his business.
The Buzz list:
The film that reportedly caused a standing ovation for nearly 5 minutes, The Place Beyond the Pines was written and directed by Derek Cianfrance, the guy who brought you the depressing but fantastic Blue Valentine in 2010. Not Much was known about the film till the premiere, making it a surprise hit for critics. The crime-drama stars Ryan Gosling (Drive) as a motorcycle stuntman who commits a crime to provide for himself and his new born child. The film also features Bradley Cooper (Limitless) as a police officer/politician, and Dane Dehaan (Chronicle) as a guy trying to get into a life of crime. Somehow all of these character's paths cross creating an emotional crime film. The cast also features Eva Mendes, Rose Byrne, and Ray Liotta. The film has not been set for a wide release yet, and since its premiere at TIFF there has already been Oscar buzz surrounding this film.
Opening the film festival, Looper is one of the most anticipated movies of not only the festival but also for the month of September when it goes into wide release. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt (50-50) as a hit man simply named 'Joe', his job is to kill targets that are sent back in time by the future mob, and not only kill them but dispose of their body which in turn cease's their existence. This is all changed when his latest target is himself played by Bruce Willis (Die Hard). Other cast include Emily Blunt and Paul Dano. To add to the anticipation of this film, it reunites Joseph Gordon-Levitt with writer/director Rian Johnson whose last collaborative effort was Brick in 2006, a highly praised murder mystery taking place within a high school. As of this article posting, Looper stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes with 25 fresh reviews.
Gone are the days of gold plated crotch armored, shouting "I am the law" in a courtroom and running around with Rob Schneider. By many accounts this is the definitive version of what Judge Dredd should look like on film. Directed by Pete Travis, whose last major film was the flop Vantage Point in 2008, and written by Alex Garland whose previous writing credits include the underrated Sunshine. This version was met with a lot of skepticism because of the similarities in storyline between Dredd 3D and The Raid (another great movie) and of course the question was, how could this possibly top the action of The Raid? Already released overseas and coming to theaters this coming weekend, September 21, Dredd continues to garner positive reviews and praise, apparently for its ultra violence and staying true to the Judge Dredd character. Karl Urban (Star Trek) stars as the titular character, called out to a large housing complex called "Peach Trees". Him and rookie psychic officer Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) become trapped in Peach Trees and must escape when the drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) orders all of her tenants to kill the Judges.