TIFF '12 Preview: Saturday the 8th

I'll eventually be compiling these into one big omnibus preview piece for Ain't It Cool News, but in the meantime here's the day-by-day preview of the hell that is trying to narrow a list of 101 picks into a workable, non-life-threatening 11-day schedule. Yes, I said 101 picks... this year's TIFF program is flat out ridiculous. I've never had a more laughably named 'short list'.

Thursday Sept 6th preview
Friday Sept 7th preview

Saturday Sept 8th:
  • Japanese box office champ Thermae Romae is about a Roman architect who becomes a hit after accidentally time-slipping back and forth to modern Japan and adopting elements of their public bathhouse culture for his own time period.
  • Genndy Tartakovsky, the animation genius behind the Powerpuff Girls, Samurai Jack, the Clone Wars and Dexter's Laboratory finally directs a feature, the 3D CGI romp Hotel Transylvania.
  • Much Ado About Nothing... sigh. Leave it to Joss Whedon to crank out a Shakespeare adaption with all his friends in 12 days while in the middle of shooting a massive Hollywood blockbuster.
  • The long, sad story of the West Memphis Three gets one more chapter, although not from Berlinger and Sinofsky, with West of Memphis.
  • There's a very The Man Who Was Thursday vibe about spy thriller The Color of the Chameleon, from first-time Bulgarian director Emil Christov, that has me intrigued.
  • The Year of Big Screen Snow White Adaptations (which I'm sure is how 2012 will be immortalized by historians) wouldn't be complete without a silent art-house riff, Blancanieves, in which Snow becomes a bullfighter. Because why the hell not.
  • Video director Ramaa Mosley debuts with the Twilight Zone-ish The Brass Teapot starring Juno Temple.
  • Viggo Mortensen plays twins with a dark past in the Argentinian thriller Everybody Has a Plan.
  • The Wachowskis team with Tom Tykwer to film the unfilmable, Fountain-esque Cloud Atlas (Tykwer didn't do too badly with the almost-as-unfilmable Perfume, so I have hope this'll be more than just a spectacle).
  • [REC] writer Luiso Berdejo co-writes Painless, about a surgeon with a mysterious past and an orphanage during the Spanish Civil War where bizarre experiments were conducted on bizarre children.
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower is Emma Watson's first big post-Potter chance to show she's worth paying attention to. Oh, and it's also an adaption of a beloved teen novel blah blah blah. We all know why you're really seeing it. You're fooling no one.
  • David O. Russell, who has yet to make a bad film in his career, returns to more idiosyncratic, Flirting With Disaster/I Heart Huckabees-ish territory with Silver Livings Playbook.
  • Argentinian doc filmmaker Jose Luis Garcia tries to finish a film he started over twenty years ago, tracking down a North Korean activist who miraculously walked through the DMZ to South Korea in The Girl From the South.
  • Fin looks like a post-apocalyptic thriller crossed with the Big Chill, from a first-time Spanish director. That's fest-speak for "total wild card that could be anything from great to awful".
  • Olivier Assayas does a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age film set in the wake of the May 1968 Paris protests, Something In the Air.
  • Julien Temple parades you through his version of the last 100 years of history along the banks of the Thames in London - The Modern Babylon.
  • The Act of Killing literally made me sit up and shout "Holy shit!" to an empty room when I read the synopsis. Former members of Indonesian death squads (people who have never been brought to justice and see themselves as the heroes of their own stories, since after all their side won) re-enact their crimes as though they were movie scenes, complete with special effects, sets, costumes and extras to gun down. Errol Morris and Werner Herzog apparently had the same reaction I did, since they signed on as executive producers after seeing early footage.
  • Yellow sees Nick Cassavettes possibly remembering who his father was and ditching his relentlessly middle-brow CV to do a pic about a woman who hallucinates her way through life.
  • Leave it to Graham Chapman, Monty Python's most subversive member, to narrate his own animated pseudo-biodoc, A Liar's Autobiography, decades after his death.
  • The Secret Disco Revolution continues a long, proud Canadian mock docs that began with the criminally-underseen The Canadian Conspiracy.
  • Tai Chi 0 is a cheeky, steampunk-and-anime-infused historical martial arts flick with fight choreography from Sammo Hung. That, folks, is what you call "must fucking see".
  • Palme d'Or winner Amour sees Michael Haneke trying to make something that isn't agonizingly misanthropic for once, as it portrays an old man watching his wife slowly fade away after suffering a stroke. On second thought, that could easily end up being just as misanthropic as the rest of his filmography...
  • Mark Ruffalo and Gwyneth Paltrow (Gwynnie-cakes to no one but me) headline Thanks For Sharing, a comedy about sex addiction from Kids Are Alright director Stuart Blemberg
  • And finally, No One Lives sees Versus director Ryuhei Kitamura pitting kidnappers against backwoods clans against who knows what else at Midnight, with an appropriately high body count.
  • Also, repeat screenings of Reincarnated, Far Out Isn't Far Enough, Argo, The Place Beyond the Pines, The We and the I, Dredd 3D, Three Kids, What Maisie Knew, Imogene, The Master, Seven Psychopaths, Me and You, Anna Karenina, Frances Ha and Wasteland.

TIFF '12 Preview: Friday the 7th

I'll eventually be compiling these into one big omnibus preview piece for Ain't It Cool News, but in the meantime here's the day-by-day preview of the hell that is trying to narrow a list of 101 picks into a workable, non-life-threatening 11-day schedule. Yes, I said 101 picks... this year's TIFF program is flat out ridiculous. I've never had a more laughably named 'short list'.

Thursday Sept 6th preview

Friday Sept 7th:
  • Another classic restoration sees the light of day, this time of Rossellini's little-seen Stromboli (the film on which he and Ingrid Bergman fell in love). It's paired with a doc on the shoot itself, War of the Volcanoes.
  • Imogene stars Kristin Wiig in what seems like a fairly by-the-numbers American indie wacky family comedy but hey, it's Kristin Wiig.
  • Three Kids looks like a vaguely George Washington-esque film about some young 'uns trying to survive in Port-au-Prince in the wake of the Haitian earthquake.
  • Zizek returns for another round of analyzing film clips while making your head simultaneously spin and hurt with The Pervert's Guide To Ideology.
  • Ryan Gosling re-unites with Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance, hooks up with Eva Mendes (in real life, I mean. I have no idea what their characters get up to in the film) and goes mano a mano with Bradley Cooper in moody crime drama The Place Beyond the Pines.
  • Call Girl is a '70s Swedish period piece and stripped-down procedural recounting the tale of a prostitution scandal that derailed the government.
  • Janeane From Des Moines is another semi-doc, this one about a Republican Iowa housewife who experiences a crises of political faith during the 2012 GOP caucuses.
  • Ben Affleck returns as director (yay!), but also as leading man (uh oh...), in Argo, a thriller about the Iranian hostage crisis and the too-crazy-not-to-be-true, Wag the Dog-ish rescue effort.
  • The We and the I sees Michel Gondry (who I've decided to forgive for the Green Hornet) riding shotgun with a pack of Bronx schoolkids on a bus on the last day of school.
  • Hip hop godfather Snoop Dogg becomes reggae neophyte Snoop Lion in the doc Reincarnated.
  • Paul Thomas Anderson. The Master. 70 fucking mm. Holy fuck. Did I mention there's a non-zero chance of a Scientology protest or something given their large, decrepit church/chapter house/gormless office building on Yonge Street in Toronto?
  • I'm actually not terribly looking forward to this one, but the English remake of Nic Refn's Pusher sees the light of day. At least Zlatko Buric returns as Milo.
  • Sally Potter is back with a Cold War coming-of-age flick starring Elle Fanning, Ginger and Rose.
  • Wasteland looks like a Ken Loach film made a baby with The Usual Suspects, which is too ridiculous a mishmash not to check out.
  • Julianne Moore struts around in leopard print and spars with Steve Coogan in What Maisie Knew, a 21st-century Kramer vs Kramer based on a Henry James book.
  • How To Make Money Selling Drugs is a doc exploring the US drug trade from the inside out, apparently structured like a video game that sees you rise from selling crack on the street corner to lording over a cartel and featuring interviews with everyone from David Simon to "Freeway" Ricky Ross (not the MC, the guy who says he invented crack).
  • A childless Vietnamese couple gets torn apart when the wife decides to let her husband's ex-best friend impregnate her in In the Name of Love.
  • Bernardo Bertolucci is back behind the camera with Me and You, about a couple of troubled young half-siblings who have different ways of hiding, and different reasons for doing it.
  • Joe Wright teams back up with Keira Knightley, again, for an adaptation of Anna Karenina.
  • Indie darling Noah Baumbach teams up with indie darling Greta Gerwig for a film about a rootless Brooklynite that's sure to be an indie darling, Frances Ha
  • And at Midnight Colin Farrell re-teams with In Bruges writer/director Martin McDonagh and drags Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, Tom Waits and Goddess known who else along with him for Seven Psychopaths, which looks like nothing less than a rebirth of that crazy '90s sub-genre of crime film that featured insanely deep, talented casts and made no sense at all (you know the ones I mean... Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead, 8 Heads In a Duffel Bag, Two Days in the Valley etc etc). Of course Seven Psychopaths looks like it might actually be good, but I'll settle for random, entertaining bosh.
  • Also, repeat screening of Kinshasa Kids and On the Road.

TIFF '12 Preview: Thursday the 6th

I'll eventually be compiling these into one big omnibus preview piece for Ain't It Cool News, but in the meantime here's the day-by-day preview of the hell that is trying to narrow a list of 101 picks into a workable, non-life-threatening 11-day schedule. Yes, I said 101 picks... this year's TIFF program is flat out ridiculous. I've never had a more laughably named 'short list'.

Thursday Sept 6th:

  • Things kick off with a bang as the opening night Gala is Rian Johnson's existential dilemma of a time travel thriller, Looper.
  • Kinshasa Kids is a semi-doc about Congolese children thrown out onto the streets because of suspected witchcraft, only some of them form a band instead of moping (there's a lot of this in the program this year, by the way, where the lines between fiction and documentary are deliberately blurred.)
  • The 3D restoration of Hitchcock's Dial M For Murder gets a test drive.
  • Rust and Bone stars Marion Cotillard and Bullhead's Matthias Schoenaerts as broken, damaged people trying to rebuild their lives. I can't think of two actors I'd rather see tackle that kind of material.
  • A doc on counter-culture illustrator Tomi Ungerer tells us that Far Out Isn't Far Enough.
  • Motorcycle Diaries' Walter Salles brings us his long-awaited adaptation of Kerouac's On the Road, with Kristen Stewart, Garrett Hedlund and Viggo Mortensen along for the ride.
  • And Midnight Madness hits the ground running with Dredd 3D, the plot of which sounds suspiciously like a riff on The Raid. Frankly, if it's as hard core as a Judge Dredd movie should be (and which all the early reports say it is), I'm OK with that.