TIFFing time again
If this year’s Toronto International Film Festival lineup is any indication, it will be a long fall, with the Artist-Industrial Complex lecturing about the evil that is (in the words of this blurb) “the so-called War on Terror” (and the rest of the usual demonology). With that in mind, I didn’t give a bunch of films playing at this year’s festival so much as a second look — here’s the whole list of Toronto movies and presentations that I would not see on principle. I saw the subject matter or read the descriptions, crossed it off and moved on.
Looking at that list, or rather the length of it (20 films and several presentations) — I really have to wonder if alienating conservative viewers is something Hollywood, Indiewood and the Festival Mafia do as a conscious marketing strategy or is just so much their unstated “Dasein” that they can’t even step outside themselves to see it.
But in a festival of almost 300 films, that’s not an insurmountable loss. In fact, here is another pretty distinguished list (will try to reconstruct later, VJM) — the films I really wanted to see but probably will not (I may juggle stuff around, depending on buzz). For the most part, it was simply a matter of scheduling, trying to squeeze a quart of 60 must-see films into a pint pot of 50 time slots. You can get to their individual pages from this list-page.
- Cassandra’s Dream (Woody Allen, Britain) — no explanation needed, I hope
- The Last Lear (Rituparno Ghosh, India) — Amitabh Bachchan, the world’s biggest star, in his first English role
- Beyond the Years (Im Kwon-taek, South Korea) — the pansori singer was the best part of Im’s Chunhyang
- Christopher Columbus: The Enigma (Manoel de Oliveira, Portugal) — another weird-out conversation piece like A Talking Picture?
- The Duchess of Langeais (Jacques Rivette, France) — every film by the New Wave Masters is an event
- Juliette Binoche in films by Hou Hsiao-hsien and Amos Gitai — can maybe the world’s greatest actress help out torpid auteurs?
- The Pope’s Toilet (Enrique Fernandez/Cesar Charlone, Uruguay) — wack premise could make a great semi- (or even non-) blasphemous black comedy
- Juno (Jason Reitman, USA) — Thank You for Smoking as a debut film; plus, later, Mike d’A says strong buzz from Telluride
- Lars and the Real Girl (Craig Gillespie, USA) — Ryan Gosling; the word “Lars” and the use a puppet to substitute for a person (Ryan, stay the hell away)
- Boy A (John Crowley, Britain) — echoes of Nolan’s Memento and the Dardennes’ Le Fils
- Ellen Burstyn presents Alice Doesn’t Live Here Any More (Martin Scorsese, USA) — No explanation needed, I hope
So … bitching over.
Unlike last year, I got all my first choices, and this festival is shaping up with the potential to be the greatest ever. After a so-so first day, the potential masterpieces come in daily and in bunches — Andersson, Herzog, Rohmer, Maddin, A. Lee, Baumbach, Olmi, Lee M-s, Ozon. Plus enormous buzz on the Bar-Lev, Van Sant, the Coens and Matsumoto. The films by the uneven Miike and Loach look to fit the maker’s good molds rather than the bad ones. Plus Cannes prize-winners by Mungiu, Kawase, Lee C-d. And my first exposures to Tarr, Reygadas, and Jiang. The Breillat and Arcand even seem tolerable. A rediscovered Ford silent, plus a contemporary-made silent slapstick homage. Even Greenaway, whose last film became the first I ever walked out on, is cause for optimism — getting back into Dutch paintings and a group of militiamen, so can we expect The Draughtsman, The Thief, His Wife, etc.? And to top it all off — Max von Sydow presenting one of Ingmar Bergman’s movies a few weeks after his death.¹
This will be an awesome week-and-a-half. Here is my planned schedule.
915am You, the Living (Roy Andersson, Sweden)
noon The Mourning Forest (Naomi Kawase, Japan)
400pm One Hundred Nails (Ermanno Olmi, Italy)
715pm Les Chansons d’Amour (Christophe Honore, France)
900pm Lust, Caution (Ang Lee, Taiwan)
1000am Persepolis (Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi, France/Iran)
1245pm The Man from London (Bela Tarr, Hungary)
330pm The Edge of Heaven (Fatih Akin, Germany/Turkey)
600pm No Country for Old Men (Coen Brothers, USA)
900pm The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik, USA)
200pm Bucking Broadway (John Ford, USA, 1917; presented by Peter Bogdanovich)
345pm In Memory of Myself (Saverio Costanzo, Italy)
600pm Nightwatching (Peter Greenaway, Britain)
900pm Silent Light (Carlos Reygadas, Mexico/Holland)
1000am 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days (Cristian Mungiu, Romania)
1215pm Happiness (Hur Jin-ho, South Korea)
300pm Elizabeth: The Golden Age (Shekhar Kapur, Britain)
700pm Encounters at the End of the World (Werner Herzog, USA)
915pm My Kid Could Paint That (Amir Bar-Lev, USA)
1100am Children of the Sun (Yaldey Hashemesh, Israel)
100pm Chaotic Ana (Julio Medem, Spain)
345pm Operation Filmmaker (Nina Davenport, USA)
600pm Margot at the Wedding (Noah Baumbach, USA)
915pm Paranoid Park (Gus Van Sant, USA)
1159pm Sukiyaki Western Django (Takashi Miike, Japan)
930am Dr. Plonk (Rolf de Heer, Australia)
1230pm Reclaim Your Brain (Hans Weingartner, Germany)
300pm Days of Darkness (Denys Arcand, Canada)
515pm Secret Sunshine (Lee Chang-dong, South Korea)
915pm A Gentle Breeze in the Village (Nobuhiro Yamashita, Japan)
900am Romance of Astrea and Celadon (Eric Rohmer, France)
noon M (Lee Myung-se, South Korea)
300pm The Walker (Paul Schrader, USA)
545pm Erik Nietzsche: The Early Years (Jacon Thuesen, Denmark)
800pm The Virgin Spring (Ingmar Bergman, Sweden, 1960; presented by Max Von Sydow)
1159pm Dainipponjin (Hitoshi Matsumoto, Japan)
945am California Dreamin’ (Endless) (Cristian Nemescu, Romania)
1245pm Angel (Francois Ozon, France)
245pm Son of Rambow (Garth Jennings, Britain)
600pm The Sun Also Rises (Jiang Wen, China)
800pm My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin, Canada)
1100pm Just Like Home (Lone Sherfig, Denmark)
¹ Was there nobody in Italy to do the same for Antonioni? Or is/was any tribute programming done at Venice?
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