Festival season heading your way out there in the dark. Even if you only experience film festivals through blog mania for the same, that's still something. That's how most of us experience Cannes each year, yes? This year TFE will be doing a lot from NYFF as it's close to home (5 stops on the subway close!) and quite inexpensive since there's already a bed to sleep in: one's own! But we have lined up a few foreign correspondents to give you bits and bobs from Venice (Aug 31st-Sept 10th), Toronto (Sept 8th-18th), and London (Oct 12th-27th). Quite often commenting is light on film festival pieces, which one assumes is because of the unfamiliar factor of the films, though sometimes it's quite distressing -- I even drew you cartoons from Nashville and there was nary a peep! -- so some feedback would be greatly appreciated:
What interests you and what doesn't about film festivals?
The full Toronto International Film Festival schedule is up at their website. I won't be there but I am leaving town right about then because I do not want to be anywhere near Manhattan when the 10th anniversary of 9/11 rolls around. That's just going to be a nightmare and I don't mean in the fear-of-terrorism sense. Someone on TV the other day was theorizing about small scale terrorism as they do -- fear being our great masochistic national addiction -- and deadly gas or whatnot in crowded places came up. Movie theaters were mentioned. I know it's perverse but my immediate unbidden thought was this: 'If I have to die by terrorism, that'd be an awesome. At least I'd be enjoying myself when the end came!'
Oh but Toronto, yes, yes. Rather than attempting to type up their entire 200+ film list, after a very quick glance through of the titles and summaries here are 16 that I'd probably try to snag tickets for had I gone this year. Festival moviegoing is much different from regular moviegoing in that you have to not only consider your normal desires but balance those out -- you can't go all drama or all France or even (gasp) all actressy -- and you have to immediately rule out films you'll be able to see in a week or two after you get back like all the NYFF titles.
So here we go...
Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank was so mesmerizing and incisive that I'm naturally curious to see her follow up Wuthering Heights, even though I prefer it when wonderfully contemporary filmmakers tell original stories. Despite reservations that come with yet another Bronte adaptation the TIFF write up promises a stripped down power... "No starched lace, no panoramic views, no sweeping score"; After Reprise Joachim Trier should win automatic eyeballs for Oslo, August 31st which might be Norway's Oscar submission; I hadn't realized until just now that A Funny Man, one of Denmark's Oscar finalists, is by the director of Applause Martin P Zandvliet. Though the praise for that film was mostly directed at Paprika Steen's shattering lead work, if Zandvliet can work similar magic with Nikolaj Lie Kaas who takes center stage here perhaps we'll have to regard him as one of the world's finest directors of actors?; Yorgos Lanthimos's follow up to Dogtooth called ALPS sounds juicily provocative "A mysterious underground outfit, going by the name of ALPS, offers bereaved individuals a very unusual service: they stand in for their dearly departed." Yes, please. If you can already surprise just from a concept line, I'm in.
Gender and Sexuality: Love and Bruises follows an international love affair between Tahar Rahim (A Prophet) and newcomer Corrine Yam. It's from Lou Ye, the director of Summer Palace and Spring Fever which were both successfully sensual and evocative pieces; Lost in Paradise is supposedly a sympathetic leap forward for gay depictions and characters in Vietnamese cinema; Leave it on the Floor is a coming of age musical about a young gay man in the vogueing underground ball circuit. That milieu, such a cinematic one, hasn't been center stage since what, 1992?; Finally the French Canadian Nuit #1 investigates a one night stand. Films which focus tightly on one event can often reap big rewards, because film is such a great medium for short stories as it were. Plus it's a debut feature (from Anne Emond) and festivals are a great place to discover new directors.
For the Actressing: Christophe Honoré's Beloved is about the love lives of a mother and daughter. They're played by real life mother/daughter Catherine Deneuve and Chiara Mastroianni (who also did that trick for A Christmas Tale) and Ludivine Sagnier co-stars so this is must-see-times-three; Huh Jong-ho's crime drama about a collection agent and a con artist Countdown features Korean actress of the moment (and TFE obsession of the moment) Jeon Do-yeon of Secret Sunshine and The Housemaid fame.; Albert Nobbs and We Need To Talk About Kevin... regarding both: I'm just impatient, y'all!
For the Variety: Friends With Kids is the directorial debut of Jennifer Westfeldt (Kissing Jessica Stein) who was once more famous than her husband Jon Hamm but hasn't been for some time now post Mad Men. Hamm is part of the ensemble cast she's collected for this comedy about a group of tight friends who begin to fall apart once children are in the picture. The film co-stars Adam Scott, Kristen Wiig, Megan Fox, Edward Burns and Maya Rudolph; Where Do We Go Now? is a Lebanese musical from the director of Caramel; Alois Nebel is a black and white rotoscoped animated film from the Czech Republic and the style would be enough for me in the festival setting (plainly different than everything around it!) though the content sounds interesting, too; Finally, I'm letting The Encounter stand in for avant garde programs in general. It's a short but I know I need to experiment with more that's truly experimental when given the chance ... and A list festival are that chance. In this film "a woman's synethesia transforms her vision into beautiful song." Wait, is this a Björk biopic?
But really, there are so many that I could do this for several more hours. Wrapping it up, now. Bye!