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Entries in film festivals (214)

Friday
Sep202013

Amir's TIFF Roundup, Pt 2: The Good

Amir here, back to finish my TIFF diary. With the bad taste of my previous roundup washed away, it's time to move on to the good stuff. And boy did we have a lot of that.

As a diligent ticket stub collector (I know some of you do that, too) it wasn't hard for me to look back at the previous editions of the festival, put the films side by side and compare this year to past festivals. Without a doubt, my 2013 lineup is the cream of the crop. So strong were the films I watched this year that my TIFF top ten can easily match the quality of any of my year-end top tens. Still, I hesitate to call this a good year for Toronto. TIFF is, by nature, impossible to classify as having a "good" or "bad" year. The festival's gargantuan program offers nearly 300 films and each person's experience hinges entirely on their particular selections. Essentially, every year is a good year for TIFF and every years is also a bad one. It all depends on which tickets you buy.

Yet, the films themselves aren't the only thing that made this festival special for me. The people did, too. Boring as it might be for you to read, I'd be cheating you if I pretended that the cinema was all I had on my mind, that the conversations and the atmosphere didn't affect my experience of the festival. And that's really what makes the whole ordeal worth it. Sure, I watched a few early morning screenings with pins holding my eyes open, but would you pass up on the chance to talk about actresses with Nathaniel and Nick over beer and nachos? Yes, I had to skip a screening I had paid for, but I dare you to find an Iranian cinephile who wouldn't take a dream-come-true interview with Asghar Farhadi over any film. I should have probably given a film its fair due by not watching it hungover, but hey! I got to Karaoke with the two German brothers who made my favourite film of the festival, so that's a win-win in my books. That's not to mention the invaluable friends I've made among journos whom I cherish more than the films I watched. The point is, the standard of films was more consistently great than previous years, but the mood was set just right, too. I'm aware, however, that most of you would rather read about the films than my beer-fuelled adventures, so let's get right to the point.

Starting from the top, the aforementioned German film by Ramon Zurcher, The Strange Little Cat, was the clear highlight for me... [more]

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Sep152013

TIFF 2014 Vow

I will do this better next year. I will do this better next year. Steep learning curve I experienced schedule-wise at the Toronto International Film Festival. One must build in travel from theater-to-theater time, doublecheck "types" of screenings, have plan "B"s for screenings at the ready, interview time for some glitz, writing time for some sanity, reign-handing to people to cover non-festival news while you're abroad, queueing time for your limited public screenings. And that's just the obvious ones learned through trial by error. TIFF 2014 here I come. 

But I did eventually write up each and every film save one. Herewith links to all of my TIFF 13 adventures

Podcast a group discussion of TIFF 13: Oscar buzz, our favorite films, and more
Ambition & Self Sabotage on Gravity and Eleanor Rigby: Him & Her
Mano-a-Mano Hallucinations Norway's Pioneer & Jake Gyllenhaal² in Enemy
Quickies Honeymoon, Young & Beautiful, Belle
Labor Day in a freeze-frame nutshell
Jessica Chastain at the Eleanor Rigby Premiere
August Osage County reactions Plus Best Picture Nonsense
Rush Ron Howard's crowd pleaser
The Past from Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi & Cannes Best Actress Berenice Bejo
Queer Double FeatureTom at the Farm and Stranger by the Lake
Boogie Nights Live Read with Jason Reitman and Friends
First 3 Screenings: Child's Pose, Unbeatable and Isabelle Huppert in Abuse of Weakness 
TIFF Arrival: Touchdown in Toronto. Two unsightly Oscars

Post Festival Additions:
Amir interviewed Asghar Farhadi on The Past
Amir on the David Cronenberg Exhibition - Long Live the New Flesh!
Amir's Fest Roundup - Pt 2
Amir's Fest Roundup - Pt 1 
August Osage County - an exceedingly rough draft months in the making  

Tuesday
Sep102013

TIFF: "Eleanor Rigby" Was Written For Jessica Chastain

Jessica outside the Elgin in TorontoOne of my fondest memories of TIFF 13 will be the simple fact that I sat in the same theater with Jessica Chastain for what appeared to be one of the most personal moments of her career. The theater, the Visa Elgin in Toronto, is a giant spacious ornate beast that holds well over a 1000 people but still... I was there! And so was Jessica! Proximity glory even from the balcony, people. 

The event was the premiere of The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her and the movie, a two part romantic grief drama that runs 3 hours when combined (and which probably shouldn't be separated), will undoubtedly have a difficult path to audiences. So its first screening was in the biggest theater it will ever see to the most appreciative crowd it might ever get. That audience included a few members of the film's principal cast most of whom hadn't yet seen it.

Jessica Chastain was in tears afterwards detailing her friendship with the writer/director Ned Benson. They first met ten years ago when she approached him at a film festival where his short was playing asking to show him her reel because she loved his movie! (Take that Nicki & Naomi). This film, his feature debut, appears to be a giant loving personal gift to her or maybe its her gift to him since she stars and also produced it. Consider that Jessica's self proclaimed "favorite actress in the world" Isabelle Huppert plays her mom, that her beloved co-star from The Help Viola Davis plays her confidante and professor and that her very best friend "practically my sister" Jess Weixler (The Good WifeTeeth a few years ago) plays her best friend & actual sister in the film and you know how personal this all runs.

Jessica, her friend Ned Benson (the writer/director) and her co-star James McAvoy

The bow on this Jessica gift? The film, or films if you will, is/are wonderful. But more on them later.

Despite a premiere/movie that is all about loving and struggling with losing her (she's Elle Rigby), she deflected the light, getting most tearful when she expressed her feelings about her friend and debuting director's long journey to this premiere. 

I'm just so happy for him."

Jessica's First (of Many to Come) Oscar Ceremony in Feb 2012

When we (i.e. all of us) first met Jessica Chastain as an actress a couple of years ago now, her performances were so varied and and wave-like in their multitudes that who she was as a star offscreen was a tantalizing mystery. By the end of her first year in the limelight her offscreen persona was visible to all at the Oscars. Turns out she's just a big softie, a gushy sentimental girlie girl, a walking warm fuzzy. She probably loved unicorns as a child and probably still dots her "i"s with hearts! Which is all completely endearing... especially since her screen performances have told such a different story and cinema's iciest and least sentimental actress, Isabelle Huppert, happens to be her personal favorite.

Don't you love the rich disparity? 

 

 

Podcast a group discussion of TIFF 13: Oscar buzz, our favorite films, and more
Ambition & Self Sabotage on Gravity and Eleanor Rigby: Him & Her
Mano-a-Mano Hallucinations Norway's Pioneer & Jake Gyllenhaal² in Enemy
Quickies Honeymoon, Young & Beautiful, Belle
Labor Day in a freeze-frame nutshell
August Osage County reactions Plus Best Picture Nonsense
Rush Ron Howard's crowd pleaser
The Past from Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi & Cannes Best Actress Berenice Bejo
Queer Double FeatureTom at the Farm and Stranger by the Lake
Boogie Nights Live Read with Jason Reitman and Friends
First 3 Screenings: Child's Pose, Unbeatable and Isabelle Huppert in Abuse of Weakness 
TIFF Arrival: Touchdown in Toronto. Two unsightly Oscars

Tuesday
Sep102013

"At the Farm" or "By The Lake", Queer Films Among Best @ TIFF

This article was originally published in my column at Towleroad

The French famously call an orgasm "la petit mort" or, the little death. In two new French-language films playing at the Toronto International Film Festival (in full swing through next weekend) this euphemism forgets to be euphemistic. If you like your sex all mixed up with danger -- you know, the way straight people did during the mainstream erotic thriller years (the Glenn Close thru Sharon Stone continuum) -- consider these films 'must sees' when they hit your city. IF they hit your city. It's tough out there for art films, especially gay ones, as recently discussed in a fascinating piece at IndieWire mapping out the problems.

Prolific twenty-four year old writer/director/actor Xavier Dolan has been a sensation on the festival circuit and in Canada since his award-winning debut I Killed My Mother in 2009. Despite the accolades Dolan has yet to win the Stateside following he deserves, even among LGBT audiences. This is largely because his films are in French and they have had a weirdly hard time making their way onto US screens. I Killed My Mother was famously delayed and delayed and delayed again. Before I received a screener a couple of years ago I was convinced that it was an imaginary movie, dreamt up by journalists to make the rest of us feel jealous that we aren't fabulous enough to party in Cannes with them each May. Dolan's subsequent features, the stylish unrequited love triangle Heartbeats (also known as Imaginary Lovers) and the recently released three hour trans drama Laurence Anyways only increased his wunderkind reputation. His latest TOM AT THE FARM may well be his most accessible but reviewing it presents a challenge because the less you know about it going in the better.

Let's keep it very simple AFTER THE JUMP... 

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Sep082013

Meanwhile in Venice...

While I struggle to keep up at TIFF (good lord what a learning curve) the Venice Film Festival wrapped up and announced its awards. We didn't share them in a timely fashion. My apologies. The winners were...

Stray Dogs

 

Golden Lion: Sacro GRA (Gianfranco Rosi)
This surprise winner is a documentary about a famous highway in Rome. Sometimes non-sexy subject matter translates into great films.
Grand Jury PrizeStray Dogs (Tsai Ming-liang)
From the sounds of twitter this was the sensation of the festival though it doesn't screen at TIFF until after I leave town. *snifffle*
Silver Lion (Best Director): Alexandros Avranas, Miss Violence
Best Actor: Themis Panou, Miss Violence
I have a terrible habit of skipping films which then become winners at festivals. This is also playing Toronto but descriptions make it sound like a Greek version of The Virgin Suicides and I didn't bite. In hindsight and with awards under its belt a Greek version of The Virgin Suicides sounds tempting.
Best Actress: Elena Cotta, A Street in Palermo
Luckiest Gown: "Versayce" on Scarlett Johansson
okay that's not a real award but it should be. because dayum...

Marcello Mastroianni Award (Best Young Actor)Tye Sheridan, in Joe
Between this and his wonderful work in Mud, quite an arrival, huh
Best Screenplay: Philomena (Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope)
Dench was rumored to be the frontrunner for Best Actress but the jury thought otherwise... which might be telling since they obviously liked the film.
Special Jury Prize: The Police Officer's Wife (Phillip Groning)
Luigi de Laurentiis Award (Best Debut Feature): White Shadow (Noaz Deshe)
This one is a Tanzanian film (!) about an albino on the run from witch doctors.  

Theres another set of awards called "Horizon" and they chose...

Eastern Boys

Best Film: Eastern Boys (Robin Campillo)
A film about Eastern European young male immigrant hustlers in Paris's Gare du Nord station. 
Best Director: Still Life (Uberto Pasolini)
Special Jury Prize: Ruin (Michael Cody)
Award for Innovative Content: Fish and Cat (Shahram Mokri)
Best Short Film: Kush

 

Have you ever been to Venice or Toronto? Are they way up on your dream festival list or are you all about Cannes?

Thursday
Sep052013

Queer or "Queer": Newfest hits New York City

Glenn here discussing queer cinema. Or should I say “queer cinema”? The term has kind of lost its meaning these days where those words are used to describe anything with homosexuality at its core. Gone are the days of directors like Gregg Araki, Todd Haynes and Tom Kalin making confronting, even angry films about sexuality that were heralded under the banner of “New Queer Cinema”. As I discussed just last week, there appears to be less of a need for that type of transgressive filmmaking anymore in our culture (although I’d certainly take it over some of the films discussed below) so if society’s going to change then I guess cinema has to change with it. 

Beginning tomorrow in New York City is Newfest, the city's “premier LGBT film festival”. Just as an aside, wasn’t one of Gayby’s (mini-reviewed here) best jokes the one about the ever-expanding acronyms of gay culture? I think it was. Anyway, let’s take a look at a selection of titles screening for local audiences and which may be arriving at a queer film festival near you over the next 12 months (if not already). 

James Franco, Elizabeth Taylor (er) and Terrence Malick (umm) after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Sep022013

Interior. Link Post.

AV Club what if you could hit "pause" on pop culture -- what would you catch up on?
Daily Beast an uninhibited interview with the stars of Blue is the Warmest Colour on working with "fake pussies" and watching the movie with their families
Glenn Dunks enters Interior. Leather Bar 
Cinema Blend on Zach Snyder's continued defense of Man of Steel's insane body count -- which ruined the movie for a lot of people, my friends at Panel Culture included, because... seriously, what kind of hero is that?
Pajiba wants to get away from The Getaway 

The New Yorker on the list as the signature form of our time "a comic nightmare of futile enumeration"
Ultra Culture on an important underreported piece of info from that Lars von Trier Uma Thurman Nymphomaniac clip 
Awards Daily Sasha reviews Gravity which she calls a masterpiece. Here's the thing about festivals. They are both a blessing and a curse on the world. One wants to avoid the movies that have upcoming release dates but then you end up being the last person to see them -- i haven't read this for fear of spoilers I'm just saying a lot of reviews are out there now floating in space. How to resist seeing it at TIFF when there are movies that I'm much less likely to get the chance to see next month? 
In Contention on a Marilyn Monroe Bruce Dern prophecy that's coming true with Nebraska
LA Times Jason Reitman's Labor Day premieres - sucks that it isn't in theaters now during, uh, Labor Day.

Oooh, Maggie is staring at you.

That's one version of the new poster for the 50th annual Golden Horse Awards. It looks like a delicious VIP ticket, yes? Basically Maggie Cheung's eyes are the selling point on each poster. The Golden Horse Awards are Asia's oldest film awards and still its most competitive. Nominations will be announced on October 1st and will see how well this year's hot titles like Stray Dogs, A Touch of Sin, and The Grandmaster do. The awards ceremony will be held in late November. Ang Lee, who has won two Golden Horses as Best Director (Lust Caution, The Wedding Banquet) and two Oscars for Best Director (Brokeback Mountain, Life of Pi), is president of the jury this year.