TIFF Announced Midnight Madness and Wavelengths

Yes yes, the Toronto International Film Festival group has now announced the films scheduled for both the Midnight Madness and Wavelength programmes.

Midnight Madness usually consists of horror films, action films or very sexy comedies; sometimes even a blend. Last year, I saw two Midnight Madness films in JCVD (opening night) and Martyrs (later on in the festival). I’ve also just recently seen Not Quite Hollywood and saw Chocolate quite awhile back. So usually, they program good and fun movies for sold out audiences to view. No doubt that this year will please the masses as the programmers seem to have shelled out quite a bit for this occasion – grabbing two highly anticipated foreign sequels in Ong Bak 2 and [rec] 2. What does this mean? It means I’m more excited than ever to attend some midnight screenings.

Here we go with my anticipation for each of the 10 Midnight Madness films to be shown at the festival this year:
[REC] 2 – starring: Manuela Velasco and Leticia Dolera. Holy moly! This will be wonderful and extremely frightening. Although the first received an overwhelming hype wave before I stepped my foot in the water, I did like it quite a bit. It was well-crafted, not extremely innovative but quite refreshing, and above all realistic. Zombie movies are one of the most enjoyable types of films and to see the sequel in a packed crowd at midnight will be more of an honor than a privilege. This film is scheduled to be released in South American and European countries in the Fall/Winter of this year
(A 10/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Bitch Slap – starring: Julia Voth and Erin Cummings. Alright, so this doesn’t look all that amazing – sure, I’ll rent it, but I certainly won’t see it at the festival this year. The story of three renegade women in a world that’s crumbling and falling out of morality sounds like a action-y and biting satire, but the trailer screams mediocre and nothing memorable. However, if sexy fun is your thing, I advise you to at least check out the trailer before dismissing the film like I have. No release date has been announced for this anywhere. (A 3/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Daybreakers – starring: Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe. Alright, alright – so vampire movies seem to be on their way out of the pop-culture door, but the Spierig brothers seem to be biding the sub-genre sometime to regroup and sustain itself. The story isn’t one that appeals to me, but maybe it will to you: The world is now over run by vampire, but the people don’t exactly know it yet. However, they’re running out of blood to sustain their civilization, so a drastic group of vampires suggest wiping out the human race to say alive – of course, others digress. So the story is basically a back and forth fueled by morality, and although I won’t be seeing it at the festival, I will check it out when it gets its theatrical run. A January 2010 release is scheduled for this film in the US. (A 4/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead – starring: Alan Van Sprang and Kenneth Welsh. OK, so George A. Romero films will always get an audience in me based on the fact that it’s George fucking Romero and he’s a God among the zombie fans. This concept is a tad better than the decent Day of the Dead and it goes as followed: A group of people attempt to simultaneously find a cure for their undead relatives back home while battling the zombies on the island they’re currently on in the medical search. It has a no name cast once again and is a Canadian production (apparently), so I’m not *too* excited for it, but if I’m up for another Midnight film during the festival, I’ll certainly give this one a shot. Currently without any scheduled release anywhere. (A 7/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Jennifer’s Body – starring: Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried. Alright, so Diablo Cody certainly isn’t my favourite screenwriter in history, but her movies do make me laugh, are enjoyable, and usually have a very lightly reinforced theme and purpose. OK, so I’m totally basing that on Juno, but Jennifer’s Body looks like more of the same. Although a comedy about a possessed cheerleader is much more fun than one about a quirky pregnant teen – a movie that I saw at 2007’s film festival. So I will certainly see this and adding the midnight factor certainly adds more interest. It does come out only a week after the festival concludes, which may make me hold back on seeing this one, but my snowballing excitement for this might push me over the edge and into a midnight screening of this. (An 8/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

The Loved Ones – starring: Xavier Samuel and Victoria Thaine. The concept, as well as my new found appreciation for Australian horror films, intrigue me a bit. Although the story of troubled young man becoming the focus of spiritual devastation and therefore horrific events has been done many times in many different countries, I might give this a whirl based on the quaint atmosphere the photographs on TIFF’s page provide. It surely won’t provide more than a few thrills, but I doubt the film aims to be more than that. If it does and succeeds, well, all the better. It has just recently been released in Australian cinemas. (A 5/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Ong Bak 2: The Beginning – starring: Tony Jaa. Well, I did enjoy the first quite a bit and these “real martial arts” films are very appealing, but I’ve only heard the same tired “much prefer the first” statement from many an internet pirate. Honestly, I’ll probably just watch one of several copies being offered to me by friends and not bother to see this at TIFF. I hope to be surprised, but the concept just isn’t doing it for me. An October 23rd release is scheduled for this film in the US. (A 3/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Solomon Kane – starring: James Purefoy and Max von Sydow. Alright, so I don’t really know who the star James Purefoy is, but the movie does sound very interesting – a throwback to the gladiator films of the 70’s. It’s even created by the man that brought us Conan the Barbarian, so it’s assured to be a fun movie. It’s about Solomon Kane, a man who owes the devil his soul and fights evil to redeem himself. So that’s pretty awesome in and of itself, but I’m not all that wild for historical epics. On the plus side, this film is sporting a pretty impressive supporting cast that includes Max von Sydow and Pete Postlethwaite (veteran actors and Academy Award nominees). All in all, this could be one of the gems that TIFF provides, so I might just be game for it. (A 7/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Symbol – starring: Hitoshi Matsumoto and Adriana Fricke. In 2007, Matsumoto’s first feature premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Its reception was rather warm, but its concept has yet to grab my attention as of late. To me, Matsumoto seems to be an eccentric and stylish new director from Japan, but his films do not seem to be for me. The concept is very abstract – a man wakes up in an empty room with only a pink toothbrush. His storyline alternates with that of a Mexican wrestler and his current focus: an important event. His humor is apparently very deadpan (totally my thing), so I won’t write it off just yet. If it gets a wild and positive reception, I may pop fit it into my schedule during a second or third screening of the film. No release date announced anywhere. (A 5/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Town Called Panic – starring: No idea, actually. OK, so this is the first stop-motion animation film to have ever been played at Cannes Film Festival. It sounds like a silly and absurd film – an assortment of toys burst from their captivity that is a treasure chest and go on to live a life of their own – that is apparently also quite good. I’m not sure if the film will be more adult or childish (I mean from the concept how can you not assume the latter?), but if it is a more risque film I will be sure to check it out. I’m not too keen on stop-motion animation, but apparently the film also sports slapstick humor… which I love. So it’s got a lot going for and against it, but odds are I’ll check it out based on my curiosity. No release date announced as of yet. (A 6/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

And onto the Wavelength portion of this post. Now, I’ve yet to see a Wavelength film at the festival, but I hope to change that this year. Known for it’s varied nature – mixed with shorts and feature length films with unusual concepts – Wavelength supports the lesser appreciate film makers. Since most of these have more than one focus (a bunch of shorts put together), I’ll point out the high points of each and then give a collective rating for my anticipation.

Here We Go:
Wavelength #1 – (010101, Hotel Roccalba, Puccini Conservato, Titan, Two Projects by Frederick Kiesler & Waterfront Follies) Alright, so Waterfront Follies looks the most sublime of the six shorts to be played – luckily, it is also the longest. Clocking in at around 40 minutes, this short documents the beauty of a singular Brooklyn harbourfront accompanied by simplistic music. I enjoy my share of simplicity, so I may see this just to try something new in the programmes. Of course, it all depends on timing. (A 6/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Wavelength #2 – (Corado Verde, Kafig, Lumphini 2552, Pro Agri & Tamalpais). So none of these really appeal to me – actually, the whole ambiguity about trying to express a million words with simplistic photography seems like a very tired occupation. The only short here that seems to be anything interesting is Kafig – a surreal black and white German film about dancing rhinos – and that isn’t even in the top two longest features in the five piece feature. (A 2/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Wavelength #3 – (Let Each One Go Where He May). Apparently this 135 minute feature contains just over a dozen rigorous tracking shots of two brothers traveling across a Maroon village in Suriname. It is also edited non-linearly, which is intriguing to me because a calm tale usually benefits from abstract composition (this is all I’m getting from the TIFF write-up. THANKS ANDREA PICARD). All in all, this could either be one very interesting film or one very boring one – I doubt there is any middle ground. Will I see it? Oh maybe. Timing plays a huge factor in my schedule (if it isn’t obvious by now), so it might be able to find itself somewhere in my lineup. (A 7/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Wavelengths #4 – (Une Catastrophe, Film for Invisible Ink: Case No. 142: Abbreviation for Dead Winter, A Letter to Uncle Boonmee, The Secret School & Le Streghe, femmes entre elles) This Wavelengths “film” clocks in at just under an hour, which is good because short films will help me use my 50 pack to its full purpose. Well, lots of people are excited for another Jean-Marie Straub short (it follows her two previous shorts; one played at last years TIFF), so I suppose that segment will be for those who’ve been devoted to her on-going short series as of now. Godard has a new short… it’s only 1 minute long though. The Invisible Ink film seems quite interesting (I’m going to go back and see as many as possible) and the Greek short The Secret School sounds like a very retro look at political and religious policies – a concept that I enjoy. I might throw it in based on the hype it’s getting, but if it doesn’t fit the part, I’ll skip it. (A 6/10 on my Anticipation Meter)

Wavelengths #5 – (In Comparison & S/T) Well, I can’t find much on S/T so I am very unenthusiastic about this Wavelengths feature. Plus In Comparison seems like a very humbled, but tiresome documentary about brick production in India. I shall skip this, but I hope that my buddy Eli loves it. (A 3/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Wavelengths #6 – (Flash Camera Movie, FM/TRCS, Greenpoint, Passage Briare, Polterabend & Snowing Chestnut Blossoms) Alright, so Snowing Chestnut Blossoms looks like the best of the bunch here. It sounds like a very tender and loving short documenting the passing of the filmmaker’s parents and his appreciation for them. The film as a whole doesn’t seem all that impressive, but it also a very short one – roughly 63 minutes long – so I might toss it in to use up my 50 passes. Could be a good one – definitely could be. Seems like the most warming group of shorts from the Wavelengths programme. (A 7/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Alright, so it doesn’t appear that Wavelengths is exactly my thing, but I’ll be sure to try and fit one or two into my lineup this year. Above all, the news of [rec] 2 being added to Midnight Madness’ roster is worth the few days of my impatient excitement for today’s announcement. I hope you all have a good festival – I’ll be sure to keep you updated on what I think looks good from the announced lists. I do believe there were a few other films announced (as well as the Reel-to-Reel programme), so I’ll try to pop some insight on those later on this evening.

On that note, I’ve also added a contributor to my blog: tylosaur. He’s a very cool guy – also named Tyler – so for those reading, please welcome him in the comment section below! And of course, your thoughts on my thoughts are loved, so spit them as well.

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