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Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) 2012 Preview!

09.03.2012by: Chris Bumbray
Well folks- itís time again for the Toronto International Film Festival, and once again, Iíll be covering it for As always, Iím extremely excited, as a visit to TIFF is like a visit to Mecca for me. It gives me ten solid days where I can forget about everything and just devote myself to non-stop movie watching- a luxury to be sure.

More than ever, the programmers at TIFF have outdone themselves putting together an absolutely knock-out list of films, which dwarfs a lot of the competition. The following is a list of twenty movies Iím particularly excited to see. Itís worth noting that in the last two years, I ended up seeing the eventual Best Picture Oscar winners (THE KINGíS SPEECH in 2010, THE ARTIST in 2011) at TIFF, so who knows? A film on this list may walk away with the big prize! Read onÖ

20- Passion

Supposedly a return to form for Brian DePalma (who hasnít done truly good film in years), PASSION is a sexually charged thriller featuring Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams as a corporate big-wig, and her possibly homicidal assistant. McAdams looks absolutely smoking hot in all the stills that have come out so far, and Iím very curious to see if De Palmaís still got the touch that made his earlier thrillers, BODY DOUBLE, BLOW OUT, and DRESSED TO KILL- so much fun. This also marks De Palmaís reunion with composer Pino Donaggio- which is intriguing.

19- The Silver Linings Playbook

If it wasnít for one important factor, I wouldnít be too keen on THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK. Starring Bradley Cooper as a former mental patient, whoís come home to his parents (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver) and falls in love with a young widower (Jennifer Lawrence), this sounds like typical Oscar bait. Lawrence seems ridiculously young for her role, which- in the book this is based on, is written as a woman in her mid-thirties (Lawrence was 21 when this was filmed), and De Niroís involvement means nothing after a run of atrocious films. BUT- this is directed by David OíRussell, whoís made a couple of great films (THREE KINGS, FLIRTING WITH DISASTER, THE FIGHTER) so that, and a rare appearance by Chris Tucker, makes this one to check out.

18- The Sapphires

THE SAPPHIRES, based on a real girl-group made up of Australian Aboriginals in the sixties, got raves at Cannes, with The Weinstein Co., picking it up. Starring the great Chris Dowd, Iím hoping this will inject a little breezy fun into a pretty heavy-duty festival. The Weinsteins usually have a good eye for these feel-good crowd-pleasers (see INTOUCHABLES), so Iím looking forward to it.

17- The Company You Keep

Robert Redfordís latest, which he also directs, featuring him as a Weather Underground fugitive, whose new existence is threatened by his outing by a journalist (Shia LaBeouf) Ė and has to go on the run to clear his name. At seventy-six, Redford seems a little long in the tooth to be doing a man-on-the-run thriller, but then again, heís pretty in-shape for his age, and judging from his other films as director, this will be less along the lines of his earlier THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR, and much lower key.

15- Pusher

A remake of Nicolas Winding Refnís 1996 film (albeit done with his blessing- he has a producer credit), this UK offering takes us through a hectic week in the life of a drug pusher- played by Richard Coyle, who did a great job in the recent horror-comedy GRABBERS. Iím a huge Refn fan, so this is high on my list, and Coyle, coupled with a score by electronica legends Orbital are giving me high hopes.

14- Rust & Bone

Jacques Audiardís last film, A PROPHET, was robbed in the best foreign film Oscar race by Michael Hanekeís THE WHITE RIBBON, and it looks like Hanekeís going to do it again with AMOUR. But- Iíve heard this offering from Audiard, featuring Marion Cotillard as a maimed whale trainer, and Matthais Schoenaerts (BULLHEAD) as her brutish but compassionate lover- is a force to be reckoned with.

13- Sightseers

Ben Wheatleyís a director that seems on the verge of crossing over in a big way. His last two films, DOWN TERRACE and KILL LIST- were remarkable, and his latest, SIGHTSEERS, played to raves at Cannes. A horror-comedy mix, produced by Edgar Wright, this one is high on my list of priorities. Wheatleyís a truly original voice in genre films, and I canít wait to see what he has up his sleeve with this one.

12- Much Ado About Nothing

Not much is known about Joss Whedonís Shakespeare adaptation- MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, other than the fact it was shot in twelve days (in black & white no less), and keeps the Shakespearean prose intact. The cast list reads like a whoís who of Whedonís past projects, including Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker from ANGEL, Nathan Fillion from FIREFLY, and Clark Gregg from THE AVENGERS. Like other films on this list, itís a mystery- but certainly one Iíll be checking out.

11- On The Road

Walter Sallesí adaptation of Jack Kerouacís ON THE ROAD is one of those projects that I think we all assumed would never see the light of day. After all- Hollywood has been trying to adapt Kerouac since the fifties, with none other than Marlon Brando once being attached. Against all odds, the film is done, and while the reception at Cannes was muted (itís since been recut), there was enough praise- even in some of the negative reviews, to suggest this one might be a diamond in the rough. Apparently Kristen Stewart and Garrett Hedlund do standout work.

10- End of Watch

David Ayerís END OF WATCH is apparently a really hyper-kinetic ďday in the lifeĒ of a couple of LA beat cops (Michael Pena and Jake Gyllenhaal) - with lots of found-footage style HD cam work being worked into the plot. Also starring Anna Kendrick, obviously END OF WATCH must be pretty solid, otherwise the studio- which is giving it a major release only a few weeks later wouldnít bring it to TIFF- as the word-of-mouth on this one will likely spread fast. Iím willing to be this is solid- even if the ďfound footageĒ gimmick is old.

9- The Place Beyond The Pines

Derek Cianfranceís BLUE VALENTINE was a stunningly directed film, and Iím very curious to see what we does with a multi-generation crime saga, as THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES has been described. Other than TO THE WONDER, this is the TIFF movie I know least about going in, but itís high on my must-list. After DRIVE, anything Ryan Gosling does has my attention- and Iím certain that this film, which pairs him with Eva Mendes, and Bradley Cooper, is going to be one of the hottest films of the fest.

8- The Iceman

The early reviews on THE ICEMAN out of Venice are saying that Michael Shannonís turn as contract killer Richard Kuklinski- who chalked up a body count in the hundreds during his heyday, is Oscar worthy. Shannonís one of my favorite actors, and I love a good crime sage- so this one sounds like itís right up my alley. Iím also hearing that Chris Evans does standout work as one of his murderous colleagues, and that Winona Ryder has a really solid comeback role as Kuklinskiís put-upon wife.

7- Seven Psychopaths

Martin McDonaghís IN BRUGES is one of my favorite films to come out over the last few years, so Iíve been anxiously awaiting his follow-up, SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS. Sporting a cast to kill for (Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, and more) and a funky, dog-napping premise (shades of WRONG), this should be a nutty, but awesome ride. As itís playing the usually hardcore Midnight Madness, Iím willing to bet that this puts the ďpsychoĒ back in SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS. Also- you gotta love that cheeky, self-aware trailer.

6- Dredd 3D

I AM THE LAW! Ah yes, I can still here good olí Sly Stallone screaming this line while being dragged off to the Cursed Earth in the 1995 version of JUDGE DREDD, which certainly hasnít stood up as one of his better films. Seventeen years later, we have a new, grittier version- DREDD 3D starring Karl Urban, that reportedly adheres closer to the source material (Judge Dreddís 2000 A.D is HUGE in the UK). JimmyO saw it at Comic Con, and loved it, and that recommendation, paired with the fact that itís written and produced by none other than Alex Garland (writer of my favorite book- ĎThe Beachí, as well as 28 DAYS LATER) has me pretty psyched.

5- To The Wonder

In addition to ARGO, Ben Affleckís also starring in Terrence Mallickís new film- TO THE WONDER. In true Mallick fashion, nobodyís quite sure what itís about- and heck, even after seeing the movie we may not be sure. Still, love him or hate him, Mallickís a visionary and Iím sure TO THE WONDER will be an experience. I really liked TREE OF LIFE- so Iím hoping this delivers, although- from what I hear Affleck's only got about 10 lines of dialogue, and McAdams is almost completely cut out.

4- The Master

The early reviews for THE MASTER have been puzzling, as it theyíve been so obscure about whether or not itís a good film that it seems the early critics are waiting for a general consensus before deciding. Iím certain that itís a challenging film, as are all of Paul Thomas Andersonís films, and I canít wait to experience this for myself. One thing they have agreed is that Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix (a comeback from his gonzo-rapper period) are incredible, and Oscar worthy. As an added bonus, Iíll be seeing it in 70MM.

3- Argo

Itís amazing that Ben Affleck, an actor I was never a huge fan of, has managed to totally reinvent himself in the space of a few years. GONE BABY GONE (an incredible film) proved he was a really talented director, and THE TOWN proved that he could not only make an epic that would do the masters proud, but also that- given the opportunity, he could be a terrific leading man. ARGO looks to be another winner, and I must admit that as a Canadian, Iím intrigued by Affleckís decision to tell the stranger-than-fiction tale of Iran Hostage rescue- where several embassy escapees were sheltered by the Canadian Ambassador to Iran. From there- things got really crazy, with the CIA inventing a phony sci-fi movie shoot to cover their rescue operation. Truly an amazing story and it should make a gripping film.

2- Looper

Iíve been hearing great things about LOOPER for the past few months, and Iím really looking forward to catching up with it. Iím a big fan of everyone involved, from Joseph Gordon-Levitt, to Bruce Willis, to director Rian Johnson- director of BRICK and THE BROTHERS BLOOM. The time travel plot is intriguing, and this looks like intelligent sci-fi, that nonetheless doesnít skimp on the action. If this one is as good as Iíve been hearing, I wouldnít be a bit surprised to see Johnson get the reins of a huge franchise (perhaps even the Robin-TDKR spinoff with star/bud Levitt). The stakes are high- but the payoff can be huge.

1- Cloud Atlas

A sprawling epic from directors Tom Tykwer (RUN LOLA RUN) and the Wachowskiís (THE MATRIX), thereís no film quite as intriguing playing the fest. Sporting a cast thatís fit for a king (Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent, etc), and a handsome budget, itís rare that such an offbeat project gets the big studio treatment. The non-linear story is certainly going to be a challenge to follow, and despite the great trailer, Iím still not 100% theyíll be able to pull it off. Still- whatever happens; itíll at least be an interesting film. And heck- it could be brilliant. Fingers crossed.
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