2011 Fest Preview

A quick list of some of the coming films that have caught my eye at TIFF this year:

Midnight Madness:

God Bless America - Bobcat Goldthwait is back in the director's chair, returning to TIFF for the first time since Sleeping Dogs Lie. This one seems to be about a bottomed-out loser on a rampage, sounding a bit like Falling Down meets the Doom Generation.

The Incident - a rock band is trapped in an asylum where the inmates are running amok. It's from the French co-director of the White Stripes' Seven Nation Army video. It could suck, or it could be everything an Alejandro Aja film is supposed to be but isn't. Fingers crossed!

Kill List - Down Terrace director Ben Wheatley brings us something about hit men in over their heads. Could be interesting.

Livid - a full-on, balls-out Gothic haunted mansion film from the directors of a l'Interieur. I. AM. SO. FUCKING. THERE.

The Raid - an Indonesian martial arts film, with a plot that sounds like something out of Hong Kong in the '80s? Yes please.

You're Next - A Horrible Way To Die director Adam Wingard riffs on Straw Dogs. Works for me.


Arirang - Kim Ki-duk deconstructs a behind-the-scenes doc, or something. Don't know, don't care - it's been too long since I've seen a new film from him.

Comic-Con: Episode IV - A Fan's Hope - I kinda suspect Spurlock's Comic-Con doc will bite, but I'm basically obligated to see it.

Crazy Horse - Frederick Wiseman's latest subject? The legendary Paris cabaret Crazy Horse. Wheeeee!

Dark Girls - a doc that explores skin colour bias within African-Whateveran communities around the world.

I'm Carolyn Parker: The Good, The Mad & The Beautiful - Jonathan Demme's biodoc on New Orleans heroine Parker.

Into the Abyss - Herzog's doc about a Texas murder case and death row. Not, sadly, shot in 3D, but still a must-see.

The Last Gladiators - Alex Gibney's latest is about hockey goons, and Chris Nilan in particular.

Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory - Berlinger and Sinofsky are back with part three in the saga of the West Memphis Three.

Paul Williams Still Alive - a semi-obsessed fan tries to figure out what the hell happened to Paul Williams, anyway?

Sarah Palin - You Betcha! - Nick Broomfield does his usual shtick, but with Palin in his crosshairs.

Pearl Jam Twenty - Cameron Crowe's Pearl Jam doc. What more needs to be said?

Yes, I'm deliberately leaving the U2 doc off the list...

Other Stuff:

A Dangerous Method - Cronenberg. Viggo. Michael Fassbender. Oh, and it's about the relationship between Freud and Jung, with keira Knightley playing Sabina Spielrein. If this isn't my favourite film of the fest, it'll be a shocking upset.

The Ides of March - Clooney directs Clooney, Gosling, Giamatti and Hoffman (Philip Seymour, not Dustin) in a political thriller about an Ohio primary.

The Lady - Luc Besson's Aung San Suu Kyi biopic, starring Michelle Yeoh and David Thewlis. No clue whether that could actually work or not, but I'm just glad Thewlis is getting projects like this again, frankly.

Moneyball - I have zero faith this will be a good movie, but like the Spurlock I feel obligated to see it.

505/50 - I have no idea what this is about, but the cast includes Joseph Gorder-Levitt, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard and Anjelica Huston. Oh, and Seth Rogan, but no film is perfect.

Anonymous - more Thewlis! Sweet! On the bright side, it's a mystery about the authorship of Shakespeare's plays with Vanessa Redgrave as Queen Liz. On the other hand it's directed by... Roland Emmerich????

Coriolanus - Ralph Fiennes directs himself and Gerard Butler in a Roman revenge tale. Could potentially be bad-ass.

Dark Horse - Solondz's latest is a love story about a girl who tried being a grown-up and failed, and a guy who never tried. The cast includes Christopher Walken, Aasif Mandvi and Selma Blair as one of the leads. Your guess is as good as mine.

The Descendants - Alexander Payne's latest stars Clooney as a widower forced to pay attention to his kids for a change.

Drive - OK, if the Cronenberg isn't my fave of the fest, then this almost certainly will be. Pusher trilogy director Nicolas Winding Refn makes his Hollywood debut with a crime thriller about a professional getaway driver, starring Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan, with Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman as the bad guys. Fuck yeah.

Friends With Kids - Kissing Jessica Stein co-writer and co-star Jennifer Westfeldt rounded up the following cast for her directorial debut, an ensemble relationship comedy: Kristin Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Megan Fox and Westfeldt's boytoy Jon Hamm.

Melancholia - von Trier's "psychological disaster film". Is it wrong of me to indulge in a little schadenfreude over what he probably put Kirsten Dunst through during the shooting? I've never even met her... she just seems like an actress who needs to go through the von Trier actress meat grinder.

Rampart - this sounds terrible and indulgent, like it should have been titled Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call Los Angeles, only starring Woody Harrelson. And yet the rest of the cast... Anne Heche and Cynthia Nixon as his ex-wives? Sigourney Weaver as the deputy DA? Ice Cube? Ned Beatty? Ben Foster? Robin Wright? I mean, it has to be a train wreck, but it could be an entertaining one.

Shame - Michael Fassebender and Carey Mulligan star in Steve McQueen's latest, about a dissolute bastard whose younger sister moves in with him. Yup, I'm sold.

Twixt - a writer on a book tour gets sucked into a murder mystery in a small town. Yawn. It stars Val Kilmer. Still yawn. It's directed by Sofia Coppola's dad. Oh, dear. This is going to be painful to watch, isn't it?

We Need To Talk About Kevin - apparently two films about parents dealing with the aftermath of their kids doing awful things wasn't enough last year, because here comes another one. Mind you, this one stars Tilda Swinton and is directed by Lynne Ramsay, so maybe one more isn't so bad.

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