Vanguard – TIFF’s programme devoted to bold filmmaking. Usually I’m too focused on Gala, CWC (Contemporary World Cinema), Masters and SP (Special Presentation) films to focus on many other programmes, but this year I’m trying to spice it all up. I’ve seen a few Vanguard films (Paranoid Park being a major one I recall from 2007’s TIFF) and they tend to be pretty much my thing. Hip, indie, bold and refreshing. TIFF has announced nine of these films, so I’ll give you the 411 and my thoughts on them!
Bold, Brash and Bouncy! VANGUARD
Accident – starring: Louis Koo and Richie Ren. TIFF and IMDb are giving me two totally different synopsis’ so I don’t know what to make of this film – I’ll trust TIFF’s one this one though. (For IMDb’s go here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1202514/) This film is about assassins who commit their murders by staging them to look like accidents/suicides. Flat out, that is an awesome concept. I do not know a thing about this film other than that simple idea and I love it. On the downside, there could be so much wrong with this film. Bad plotting; poor characterization/character development; an atmosphere that isn’t the one in my mind… I’ll try and give Dog Eat Dog a go to see what this director does with his films, but as of now… that plain concept is making me smile. (An 8/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)
The Ape – starring: Samuel Haus and Olle Sarri. The story is about a man’s decent into his own shattered psyche after he wakes up finding that the world and life he knew only a day prior has left and has been replaced with something disturbing. I like this idea, but I’m weary of it. There’s something about it – I can’t place my finger on it – that just isn’t giving me the tools needed to make an informed decision. TIFF’s synopsis is eerily vacant of much film content, so I see it as a way for programmers to stray attention from the actual film. I don’t know – it could be a very, very depressing movie that I’ll absolutely love. Again, I’ll wait for more info before I form a solid opinion of this film. It is to be released on October 1st in Sweden. (A 7/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)
Bunny and the Bull – starring: Edward Hogg and Simon Farnaby. An imaginary trip, if you will. A story about two friends – a precocious young man and his boozehound pal – who relive a road trip that they shared a few years ago in the confinements of their basement. I’m not too keen on British humor – most of the time it goes over my head/I don’t like it – but this seems less of a sentimental, semi-humorous piece and more of a rank and fun one. I’d like to see it… just not at the film festival. No release date has been set anywhere. (A 6/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)
The Dirty Saints – starring: No idea. This film is about five people who travel across the Fijman River in search of survival post-apocalypse. It could either be a grating and gnawing look into the frustrations and desperation that follows being one of the few survivors in the world, or a very trite and boring look at the same event. It’s bound to be short – the two other features directed by Luis Ortega have been roughly 80 minutes – so that’s a plus if it happens to be worst case scenario. I doubt I will see this, but it could just as well be a solid film. No release date has been announced for this anywhere yet. (A 5/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)
Enter the Void – starring: Nathaniel Brown and Paz de la Huerta. Oh, how wonderful! A well-received film at Cannes (and one that I’d like to see, but am not dying to) about a drug dealing teen in Japan who dies and watches over his sister as a ghost back in his hometown. I like Noe because he’s known to be a director that never holds back and usually exploits whatever he’s got, so it’s certainly fitting he’s found his latest feature in Vanguard. I also like that this film seems to be dedicated to its story – pushing 160 minutes in length – so I’ll give a Noe film a go before the festival and will probably see this. This has the making to be ‘best of the year’ type stuff. No release date as of yet. (A 9/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)
Hipsters – starring: Anton Shagin and Oksana Akinshina. The latest film from Russian, Hipsters is about a former soldier in the Communist regime who rid himself of a life for mother Russia in search of mother rhythm. With a saxophone and falling into friendships that contradict the Communist ideal, Mels is quickly becoming a hipster. It should be noted that this is also a musical, which is kind of cool. I wouldn’t mind watching this, but the concept is playing out in my head without a stern voice and seems very loose with its theme. It opened in Russia last December. (A 5/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)
The Misfortunates – starring: Johan Heldenbergh and Wouter Hendrickx. I’m a sucker for Belgian cinema! This film is about the upbringing of a 13 year old boy in a very unconventional household. He is vulgar and turning into a mirror of one of his drunken uncles. Set in a village, this story is bound to show the contast between the peaceful outdoors and annoyed indoors that this teenager views on a daily basis. It’s meant to be darkly humorous, but quite dramatic as well. I like the concept and the fact that it won an award at Cannes, so I might pop this film in. It’s set for release in a few countries – The Netherlands being first on October 1st. (An 8/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)
My Queen Karo – starring: Deborah Francois and Anna Franziska Jaeger. As much as I love Deborah Francois, I will pass on this at the festival. A simple, probably overly dramatic film about a young girl (Karo, played by Anna Franziska Jaeger, I assume) who is taken to a squatter community (wilderness people, I assume) by her parents and raised as such. More or less, she is surrounded by hippies and the film discusses the dilemmas of raising a child and growing yourself in such an enviroment. It sounds like a fine movie, but it certainly not one I’ll jump at the opportunity to see. Set for an October release in Belgium. (A 6/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)
Spring Fever – starring: Wu Wei and Hao Qin. Welcome to the most contriversial movie of the festival (and perhaps the year… apart from Antichrist). Get this: A film about a gay love triangle that spins out of control, adapted and inspired by prohibited novels written in the 1920 China. It also won Best Screenplay at Cannes, which is what interests me the most. I’ve seen very mixed things – some calling it a disaster and some calling it a masterpiece – so I might have to watch it to quench my curiosity. Certainly not the film I’m most excited for, but I’ll see if I can give it a go. Set for an October 1st release in Russia. (A 7/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)
So those are some of the less conventional and inspired films that will be playing this year – I’m sure I’ll see Enter the Void (I’m currently downloading I Stand Alone to get a sense for the director’s style) and I hope that Accident is as interesting as the synopsis. Should be yet another good festival – I’m especially excited because this is the first year I’ve examined the films as much. Interested in any of the films? Post a comment, ya’ll.