Oh Canada! TIFF Announces the Canadian Programme


It is that time – the time where TIFF announces the entire catalog of Canadian cinema. What was once the point of the festival now takes a backseat to the glitz and glamor of public spectacle and celebrities. I’ve yet to attend a Canadian screening – although, I do admit that I’m disappointed that I didn’t get to catch My Winnipeg with live narration back in ’07 – so I suppose this is my chance to make it up to my home and native land. With true patriot love, of course.

We Stand On Guard For Thee
Cairo Time – starring: Patricia Clarkson and Alexander Siddig. The plot sounds like a dramatic version of Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona – when Juliette goes to Cairo to spend some time with her UN official husband, Mark she ends up spending time with one of his close friends as a substitute to Mark’s unavoidable absence. Slowly, she begins to fall in love with Mark’s friend. This sounds like oh so many other films and none I can remember, so that’s a warning signal for me right there. Clarkson will undoubtedly give a good performance and although my absence to this is avoidable… my presence will be much more glad elsewhere. Set for a November 1st release in Canada. (A 5/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Chloe – starring: Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore. This will be one of the films that will cause quite a discussion during the festival; even mediocre Egoyan seems to get people talking (see: Adoration). Although I wasn’t too fond of his latest effort, Chloe certainly sounds like a better feature than Egoyan’s last. The story is about a doctor (Moore) who suspects that her husband (Neeson) is unfaithful – so she hires an escort (Seyfield) to seduce him and test his moral fiber. So you know what? I really like this idea! And I really like the screenwriter’s abilities – I’m quite in the minority of those who appreciated Fur and Secretary was quite good too – so I’ll probably watch it. No release date has been announced yet. (An 8/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Cooking With Stella – starring: Don McKellar and Seema Biswas. I’m very uninterested in this: a chef and his Canadian diplomat wife move into a beautiful house in New Delhi filled with Indian servers at every corner – butler, maid and chef to start. The chef of the house, Stella decides to take it upon herself to each the man about Indian dishes… while cooking up a scheme of her own. Neat… No release date has been set. (A 2/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Defendor – starring: Woody Harrelson and Kat Dennings. Weird synopsis – a man adopts a superhero persona and tries to find his arch enemy Captain Industry (a metaphor for big business Canada/America, I’m sure) while becoming friends with a prostitute. A comedy/crime film that will most likely be a decent feature… if not, a bad one. Odds are, I’ll skip this, but Harrelson, Dennings and Booth could persuade me otherwise if there’s nothing going on. No release date set. (A 6/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel – documentary by Brigitte Berman. Academy award winning documentarian Brigitte Berman releases her latest documentary this year at TIFF – clearly about Hugh Hefner and his battles with the government. Whether it be his angst-riddled youth fights with the politics of the US or his struggle with getting Playboy out into the public, this will certainly be a fascinating story.  I’ve learned quite a bit about Hefner over the years on cable TV documentaries/interviews, so I’ll probably skip this… but it could undoubtedly be great. No release date has been announced. (A 6/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus – starring: Jude Law and Heath Ledger. Having received plentiful raves from Cannes and Munich, Terry Gillam’s latest feature will certainly be a mindful. Starring the late Heath Ledger and a trio of other great actors in Law, Farrell and Depp, I’m excited already. Although I’m not quite into Gillam – he’s a hit or miss director for me (hit: The Fisher King – miss: Tideland) so it’ll be interesting if I see this. There won’t be a release in US or Canada until late this year or sometime next year, so odds are I’ll watch this based on availability issues. Set for an October release in the UK and other countries. (An 8/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Jai Tue Ma Mere – starring: Xavier Dolan and Anne Dorval. Playing in Quebec right now, the directorial Canadian protege Xavier Dolan expands his release to Toronto and the festival. At only 20 years old, this is quite a feat. Honestly, this feature doesn’t appeal to me – a 17 year old deals with an uneasy relationship with his mother. A coming-of-age tale of sorts, but coming-of-age has never appealed to me. Plus it’s playing in Quebec right now… how irritating is that?! Was released in Quebec in June of this year; set for a late September release for the rest of Canada. (A 6/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

The Trotsky – starring: Jay Baruchel and Emily Hampshire. This is your typical Canadian comedy; a quirky and screwy take on contemporary people and their lives. This is about a Leon, a private high school student who claims to be the reincarnation of Leon Trotsky – a red army hero. He’s sent to another school as punishment for his outlandish behavior and soon views the world from a more harsh perspective in a public school. It sounds very boring. No release date has been announced. (A 4/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

The Young Victoria – starring: Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend. I’ve already seen this film – the closing night Gala for this years festival. It isn’t bad, but it doesn’t add anything to the historical hierarchy films. The story is about Queen Victoria in the few years leading up to her position on the throne. The first half is quite mundane and flimsy – the second half is more interesting, but it isn’t impressive. Blunt gives a great performance – but then again, her character is the only one that’s given any structure. It’s alright – if you loved The Duchess you should enjoy this one quite a bit. It’ll get an Oscar season release in the US I’m sure – it’s already played in many countries. (A 5/10 rating)

And S’More Titles
All Fall Down – documentary by Philip Hoffman. Former TIFF short film winner Philip Hoffman comes to TIFF with his latest film; a documentary about Toronto native George Lachlan Brown and his tortured last years due to regional myths and other homegrown folklore. This sounds very interesting and I may check it out – I believe it’ll be at Venice, so if word of mouth is good from there then I’ll be sure to see it. (A 7/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Carcasses –
starring: Jean-Paul Colmor. The latest from minimalist director Denis Cote is about an introverted man who runs a junkyard – mostly consumed with spare car parts. At only 72 minutes, this’ll more or less be the Canadian Wendy and Lucy… I just hope it’s better. I’m seeking some other films by Cote to give me more a taste of what he’s capable of, and if its anything impressive, I’ll be seeing this one. Received a Quebec release in May. (An 8/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Cole – starring: Richard de Klerk and Kandyse McClure. A film about a man who wants to leave his mundane and suffocating small town while falling in love with a woman from his writing class – a woman who promises to change his life drastically. A drama, not a comedy… could be good. Sounds too plain for me though. No release date set. (A 5/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Crackie – starring: Mary Walsh and Kristin Booth. The debut film by Sherry White is about a young woman who feels trapped in her life in Newfoundland. An overbearing grandmother only makes her life more difficult. But when her mother visits her and the young woman begins to have an affair with a take-out food man, her perception of her life seems better. Not really for me, but I am of Newfoundland heritage, so I’d love to see some people try to pull off some Newfie accents – Walsh is a native of the province anyway. (A 4/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Le Donation – starring: Elise Guilbault and Jacques Godin. Part of the Masters program, Bernard Emond’s latest film is about a young doctor who inherits her head doctor’s facility after he dies. She contemplates whether to leave everything she has at home for the job or to stay in her town and live humbly. I’m going to check out an Emond film before writing this off, but I doubt I’ll be encouraged enough to see this. Set for its World Premiere in Venice. (A 6/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Excited – starring: no clue! Honestly, the cast doesn’t matter at all to me – this story is overdone and causes me mental dystrophy, so I’m not seeing it. Story: Man meets woman of his dreams but has nagging mother… the kick? He also has issues with his sexual life. Funny? No. A comedy? Sadly. No release date set. (A 1/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Glenn Gould: The Inner Life – a documentary by Michele Hozer and Peter Raymont. A documentary about Toronto born musician Glenn Gould and his intense personal life. I’m not too keen on documentaries about musicians… any musician really, I’ve no idea why, but I rarely enjoy them. Anyways, it’ll be introspective and touching for fans of the artist, but I’m not too familiar with his work (apart from his love of classical music) so I’m going to skip it. Hopefully it gets some sort of release so I can see this on DVD – he seems like a passionate person. No date has been set. (A 4/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

A Gun to the Head – starring: No idea. An interesting concept – a reformed criminal goes out for a drink with his cousin and former partner in crime and suddenly his life is flipped upside down; he falls back into his old routine. Taking place over the course of one night, this could really be a riveting and vile tale. I’ll check it out some more, but I wouldn’t mind catching this. No release date set. (A 7/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

High Life – starring: Timothy Olyphant and Joe Anderson. A story about four drug addicted losers that set their sites on a heist. Plenty of positive reviews from several earnest publications have me interested, but not overly. I really enjoy Olyphant and Anderson’s character work, so that’s my main motive for catching this. No release date has been announced. (A 7/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Hungry Hills – starring: No idea. Based on the George Ryga acclaimed novel, ‘Hungry Hills’ is a depression era film set in Alberta. It chronicles the life of a teenager trying to cope with the drastic financial changes on the farm he lives on – in this dark film. Sounds interesting, I’ll look into the book a bit (maybe) to see if I like the story any more, but I doubt I’ll see it. (A 5/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Machotaildrop – starring: Anthony Amedori and James Faulkner. This surreal comedy about a young skateboarder doesn’t sound like my thing. The story is about a youth that is scouted by a big-time skateboarding company to be their next big star. That, in and of itself, isn’t interesting to me – but toss in the quaking and uneasy surreal-fantasy aspect and you’ve got a film I wouldn’t see ever. (A 2/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Leslie, My Name Is Evil – starring: Gregory Smith and Kristin Hager. Another quirky comedy – this one is about a man who falls in love with a woman at first sight… unfortunately, he sees her across the bench as a juror at her trial for murder. Eh, could be funny, but I’m not comfortable with this one. No release date is set. (A 3/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Passenger Side – starring: Adam Scott and Joel Bissonnette. A road trip story told in the confinements of Los Angeles about two brothers and their fundamentally different lives. I really enjoy Adam Scott – a true talent that will definitely breakout one day (or at least I hope so), so it’s got that going for it. Decent reviews from LAFF (Los Angeles Film Festival) don’t really do much from me, but I might catch this. No release date has been announced. (A 6/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Petropolis: Aeriel Perspectives on the Alberta Tar Sands – documentary by Peter Mettler. It’s sand! It’s just a lot of sand! Well, that’s what the film is about – Peter Mettler takes breathtaking shots of Alberta’s Tar Sands in this documentary. Not really digging it, but it could be pretty. No release date announced. (A 4/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Reel Injun – documentary by Neil Diamond. This documentary is about how Native Americans are portrayed in films and includes interviews with Adam Beach and other important key players in the Native acting scene. Honestly, I haven’t seen a Native film that has impressed me, so I’m not at all interested in this. No release date set. (A 2/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

A Shine of Rainbows – starring: Connie Nielsen and Aiden Quinn. The story of a woman helping a discouraged orphan boy through beautiful gifts and by taking him view of the world in a new light. Sounds adorable – it is apart of the Sprockets section – but not something I’d really like. Played at the European Film Market in Germany as well as Cannes. (A 4/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Suck – starring: Malcolm McDowell and Dave Foley. A story about a rock ‘n roll band that want a record deal badly. One night, one of the members of the band goes out with a vampire and returns with flare and an engagingly sexy personality. So the band seek the vampire and become vampires… so yeah, that sounds pretty dumb. I’m skipping it – plus the director/writer made Phil the Alien which is one of my least favourite movies ever. No release date set. (A 2/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

The Wild Hunt – starring: No idea. The TIFFG give so little info about this feature that it’s hard to judge, but the way they describe it is so annoying that I’m going to skip it. Apparently, it’s a story about fantasy and reality colliding when an ancient ritual is rediscovered and performed in Montreal’s woods. Yeah, not for me at all. (A 1/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Year of the Carnivore – starring: Cristin Milioti and Will Sasso. Sook-Yin Lee’s latest feature as a director – you may remember her as Sofia in Shortbus – won’t be as sexually explicit as that film, but will promise to be quite promiscuous. The film is about a young woman who is told that she is too sexually inexperienced in bed by her boyfriend… so she goes out and gets better at it. Sounds fun, so I’ll check it out – but not at TIFF. Not TIFF worthy, I say! (A 6/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

So that’s it for the Canadian films – I won’t discuss the shorts because I’m not going to invest all that time in speaking about 40 individual shorts; exhausting or what? None of them caught my attention anyhow, so I won’t be seeing any of those. ‘Chloe’, ‘Parnassus’ and ‘Carcasses’ are the only three I’m really excited to see from this list; though the ones I give a 7 may make it into my schedule as well. I hope ya’ll have fun and I certainly hope Canada’s got some cream of the crop type stuff this year. Oh, and I’m going to go ahead and predict that Year of the Carnivore will be this years Young People Fucking.



2 thoughts on “Oh Canada! TIFF Announces the Canadian Programme

  1. Rhonda Buckley says:

    Thanks for the note on Crackie. All the actors in the film are Newfoundlanders with the
    exception of Kristin Booth. Thanks.

  2. Les Petities says:

    A little off the subject perhaps, but a request for people to think about the ethics of buying things like designer clothes. Do try and consider, for example, the materials your product is made with, the conditions of the employees where they’re made and the ethics of retailers. Oh, and endeavour to recycle rather than throwing away. Thanks!!!!

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