My Cinema

27 July 2012

TIFF Preview

By // Cinema

TORONTO – On July 24th, Piers Handling, CEO and Director of TIFF (the Toronto International Film Festival), and Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director, unveiled some of the films that will headline the 37th Toronto International Film Festival.

According to Bailey, TIFF 2012 will include the “most diverse Gala programme to date with films from Japan, China, India, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Italy, USA and Canada”.

Handling describes this year’s festival as looking “particularly strong” with a wide variety of work from “established and emerging filmmakers.”

Toronto audiences will be first in line to see many “exciting and prestigious films” with further announcements slated in the coming weeks. Until then, here is a sample of what you can expect to see:

Looper (Opening Night film, World Premiere)
Rian Johnson, USA
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Jeff Daniels

Directed by Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom), Looper is a futuristic action thriller set in a world where time travel has been invented. In that world, the mob, when they want to get rid of someone, sends their victims 30 years back in time to be killed by Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a hired gun, or ‘looper’. Joe’s life is copacetic until the mob decides to “close the loop” by sending back his future self (Bruce Willis) for assassination. Expect The Terminator mixed with ideas from Inception.

Argo (World Premiere)
Ben Affleck, USA
Starring Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Kyle Chandler

Based on true events, Argo, directed by Ben Affleck (The Town, Gone Baby Gone), tells the story of six Americans who find shelter in the home of a Canadian ambassador after the US embassy in Tehran is stormed by militants. In order to rescue them, the CIA devises a plan that is so incredible it could only happen in the movies. Expect something like Hotel Rwanda and Munich, but with a touch more levity.

Great Expectations (World Premiere)
Mike Newell, UK
Starring Holliday Grainger, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Jeremy Irvine

Obviously based on the Charles Dickens novel, Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Four Weddings and a Funeral) directs Great Expectations, which tells the story of an orphan named Pip (Jeremy Irvine). With the help of a mysterious benefactor, Pip rises through London’s caste system, using his new status to peruse Estella (Holliday Grainger), a woman of equal or greater class. With a solid cast and a seasoned, British director, expect the 2012 big screen adaptation to be more reverent than the 1998 version

Hyde Park on Hudson (World Premiere)
Roger Michell, UK
Starring Bill Murray, Olivia Williams, Samuel West, Olivia Colman, Laura Linney

Starring Bill Murray as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Olivia Williams as his wife Eleanor, the couple play host to the King and Queen of England (Samuel West and Olivia Colman) for a weekend at the Roosevelt home at Hyde Park on Hudson. Set in 1939 with Britain facing an imminent war with Germany, the royals try to win support from FDR and the US. Told through the eyes of a neighbour (Laura Linney), this weekend will create a deeper understanding of love and friendship. Expect an exercise in ‘masterpiece cinema’, and a bevy of nominations during awards season.

Silver Linings Playbook (World Premiere)
David O. Russell, USA
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Julia Stiles, Jacki Weaver

In this indie romantic comedy, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star as off-kilter, offbeat eccentrics that get partnered up in a secret agreement to rebuild their respective broken lives. Following his Oscar-nominated The Fighter, David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook looks like Punch-Drunk Love, but with more love and less punch.

Anna Karenina (International Premiere)
Joe Wright, UK
Starring Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson

Joe Wright (Hanna), with the help of writer Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love), undertakes an adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s epic love story, Anna Karenina. With Keira Knightley in the titular role, this will be her third time starring in one of Joe Wright’s films (Pride and Prejudice, Atonement), so expect Wright to direct her well and for Knightley to provide an equally strong performance.

At Any Price (North American Premiere)
Ramin Bahrani, UK/USA
Starring Dennis Quaid, Heather Graham, Zac Efron

Dennis Quaid plays Henry, an ambitious farmer who wants his son, Dean (Zac Efron), to help expand the family empire. Dean, however, dreams of becoming a racecar driver instead, and along with a high-stakes investigation into their business, the father-son relationship is pushed in unexpected directions. The story seems clichéd, but because it’s directed by the severely underrated Ramin Bahrani, (Chop Shop, Goodbye Solo, Man Push Cart) At Any Price will surely surprise.

Cloud Atlas (World Premiere)
Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, USA
Starring Tom Hanks, Hugo Weaving, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant

The Wachowski brothers are back (The Matrix, Bound), this time with the help of Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run). Together, they tell the story of how the actions and consequences of an individual’s life can cause a butterfly effect throughout the past, present, and future. With a directorial lineup as equally impressive as the cast, Cloud Atlas looks like an ambitious mindbender with the credentials to pull it off.

End of Watch (World Premiere)
David Ayer, USA
Starring Anna Kendrick, Natalie Martinez, America Ferrera, Frank Grillo, David Harbour, Michael Pena, Jake Gyllenhaal

Michael Pena and Jake Gyllenhaal play two LA cops that attract undue attention from a drug cartel. Shot in a found-footage, Cops-like intensity, End of Watch is a high-octane crime thriller that may turn out to be like Savages.

Imogene (World Premiere)
Robert Pulcini, Shari Springer Berman, USA
Starring Kristen Wiig, Michelle Morgan, Steve Golin, Miranda Bailey

A mediocre playwright fakes her own death in order to win back her boyfriend, only to end up with her equally down-on-her-luck mother. As the star, much of the film will rely on Kristen Wiig, and although she has proven to be a funny actor, her shtick may grow old if all she does is mug for the camera in Imogene as she did in Bridesmaids.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (World Premiere)
Stephen Chbosky, USA
Starring Logan Lerman, Kate Walsh, Ezra Miller, Emma Watson, Paul Rudd, Melanie Lynskey, Nina Dobrev, Dylan McDermott, Johnny Simmons, Reece Thompson, Mae Whitman, Joan Cusack, Nicholas Braun

The story focuses on a prototypical wallflower (Logan Lerman) who is coaxed out of his shell by a sympathetic teacher (Paul Rudd) and two new outgoing friends (Ezra Miller, Emma Watson). If the film captures even a fraction of the quality of the novel, which was written by director Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower will be a fantastic coming-of-age movie.

The Place Beyond the Pines (World Premiere)
Derek Cianfrance, USA
Starring Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Rose Byrne, Ben Mendelsohn, Mahershala Ali, Dane Dehaan, Emory Cohen, Ray Liotta

A motorcycle stunt rider, who moonlights as a bank robber, comes into conflict with an ambitious young cop. With Ryan Gosling as the star, this film is jarringly similar to Drive; even though the film is directed by Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine).

The Sessions (International Premiere)
Ben Lewin, USA
Starring John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy

John Hawkes plays Mark O’Brien, the real life California-based journalist and poet. Confined to an iron lung, O’Brien, age 38, is determined to lose his virginity with the help of his therapist (Helen Hunt) and his priest (William H. Macy). Like The 40 Year-Old Virgin, The Sessions promises ample humour and heart.

Thanks for Sharing (World Premiere)
Stuart Blumberg, USA
Starring Mark Ruffalo, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim Robbins, Josh Gad, Joely Richardson, Patrick Fugit, Carol Kane, Alecia Moore

Mark Ruffalo, Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim Robbins star in a comedy-drama about a group of sex addicts that form an unlikely friendship in order to forge meaning in their lives. So the exact opposite of Shame, then.

To the Wonder (North American Premiere)
Terrence Malick, USA
Starring Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Rachel Weisz, Javier Bardem, Barry Pepper, Amanda Peet, Michael Sheen, Olga Kurylenko

Marina (Olga Kurylenko) and Neil (Ben Affleck) are at the height of their love when they visit Mont Saint-Michel, once known in France as The Wonder. Upon their return to Oklahoma, Marina makes the acquaintance of a priest and fellow exile (Javier Bardem), while Neil rekindles a relationship with a childhood friend, Jane (Rachel McAdams). Expect To the Wonder to be Malick’s pontification about faith and love. Told beautifully, of course.

The Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 6th to the 16th.

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