TIFF Adds More Gala and Special Presentation Features.

As the 20th draws nearer, TIFF continues with their film announcing strides that seems somewhat redundant at this point. Hopefully they restrain themselves on Tuesday so we have 70 or 80 unannounced features to dig through come Thursday. There are plenty of features here that will peek many interests, but I’d like to discuss one thing quickly. This is Cameron Bailey’s Twitter update announcing that some production company withdrew their film from TIFF – an unannounced one – so TIFF went and plugged that film’s spot in with another. This is alarming because it’s an alleged ‘high profile’ feature – and as of now, the only one I can think of is The White Ribbon – a film I am very, very, very excited to see. Well, hopefully that remains in the schedule, but if it doesn’t… well, I can only say I’m disappointed in Sony Pictures Classic for being so self-absorbed. Regardless, I’m sure this batch of features will be more than enough to suffice my film greed.

Can’t Stop Till Ya Get Enough
L’Affaire Farewell – starring: Guillaume Canet and Alexandra Maria Lara. As a follow up to his Academy Award nominated Joyeux Noel, director/writer
Christian Carion premieres his latest this year at TIFF. With his most impressive cast to date with Canet, Lara and Willem Dafoe, he’s bound to have plenty of talent to mold into his most ideal project yet. The story is set in 1981 and is about a KGB colonel who is fed up with the Soviet’s procedure and decides to bring it down from the inside. Now, I’ve yet to see a film by Carion (that will change soon), but I am most certainly ecstatic to see this one. No release date has been announced – TIFF is having the world premiere. (A 9/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Agora –
starring: Rachel Weisz and Max Minghella. Apparently containing Rachel Weisz’s best performance yet, ‘Agora’ is a sweeping epic about the troubled lives of Egyptian civilians while they were under Roman ruling in the fourth century. Within the battle against power there are several stories going off in different tangents – all stemming from Hypatia (Rachel Weisz) and her disciples. It sounds like it could be one of the films I really like and I’m sure it’ll be a technical wonder, but I’m not sure I want to spend 150 minutes watching a possible personal flop at TIFF. If it can fit in without me feeling worried, I’ll be sure to include it. Set for an October release in Spain. (A 7/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Baaria – starring: Francesco Scianna and Monica Bellucci. The latest from one of Italian’s greatest film exports Giuseppe Tornatore is set for its premiere at Venice. Set in the first half of the twentieth century, the story is focused solely on Peppino Torrenuova and his growth in class from being a young cow herder’s son to his fascinating and comical political career. Clocking in at 150 minutes, I doubt I’d be game of such a typical tale told in such a grand length with exquisite cinematography and other things that Tornatore is beloved for doing so well. Tornatore is always bound to be good, so I’ll be sure to catch this in conventional theaters or on DVD, but I shall not TIFF it. Set for an Italian release in September. (A 7/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky – starring: Mads Mikkelsen and Anna Mouglalis. As opposition to fellow Coco Chanel film Coco Avant Chanel this promises to be the more intellectually stimulating of the two. The story goes as follows: after witnessing a wonderful performance by Igor Stravinsky that was heavily booed seven years earlier, Coco Chanel stumbles across his path once again – this time as a rich and respected woman. Poor and in exile after the Russian Revolution, Igor is vulnerable and willing to take help from anyone – Coco obliges and the two set off on a romantic engagement. Not exactly the most exhilarating premise, but more intriguing to me than the Tautou flick. Had a July release in Norway. (A 6/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Les Derniers Jours du Monde – starring: Mathieu Amalric and Catherine Frot. This has one of the greatest ensemble that will be put on display at TIFF this year – primarily organized of under appreciated talent in Frot, Sergi Lopez and Clotilde Hesme. Although not widely acclaimed, the Larrieu brothers are still putting forth films – this, the most interesting sounding of their filmography yet. A global apocalypse is about to occur – Robinson sets out on a journey to Spain to find his one true love that he let slip out of his hands years earlier. The world is in a state of euphoria – no panic emerges amongst those willing to accept the fate about to be throttled towards them. So it’s interesting and has a cast I really admire – hopefully it fits in. Otherwise, I’m willing to give the Larrieu brothers the detriment of doubt. Set for a late August release in France. (A 7/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

I, Don Giovanni – starring: Lorenzo Balducci and Lino Guanciale. The latest film from musically influenced director/writer Carlos Saura is, of course, music oriented. Rather than being a musical – a trademark of the director – this feature is much more about the complexity of man. A lot like Amadeus, this film is about Salieri’s negative obsession with Mozart – this film, however, is from the perspective of an up and coming composer in Lorenzo da Ponte. How it goes is like so: Salieri wants to sabotage Mozart’s blossoming musical career by telling him da Ponte is a genius when really he’s just an inexperienced young man. What turned out to happen was da Ponte helped Mozart out vastly in creating one of his most remarkable pieces in Don Giovanni. Sounds alright, but I won’t be seeing this at TIFF. Set for an Italian release in October. (A 5/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

The Joneses – starring: Demi Moore and Amber Heard. The story of a seemingly perfect family who move into a upper-class neighbourhood and are the envy of all their neighbours. The twist is that everything isn’t what it seems and the Joneses have a dark secret. Wow, so that sounds completely boring. Throw in the fact the director/writer is inexperienced/has previous features that don’t sound too good and you’ve got me repellent. No release date has been announced. (A 2/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Love and Other Impossible Pursuits – starring: Natalie Portman and Lisa Kudrow. If it weren’t for Don Roos making this film, I’d be very excited based on Portman’s involvement alone. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and one of my least favourite films The Opposite of Sex‘s filmmaker is directing one of my favourite actresses. The story is about a post-graduate law student who is married to a power-hungry lawyer Jack. The couple lose their baby in the woman’s womb and face constant battles with Jack’s ex-wife, be they verbal or physical. Alright concept, decent cast… I’ll rent it and hope for the best, but boy is Roos’ participation a disappointment. No release date has been set. (A 3/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Men Who Stare At Goats – starring: George Clooney and Ewan McGregor. Ah, George Clooney – one of the effortlessly charismatic actors in Hollywood today. This black comedy is about a reporter who is looking for his next big story and happens to bump into a shady man who claims to be apart of the next big US military experiment. Clooney as the shady figure and McGregor as the reporter. Also sporting an amazing supporting cast with the likes of Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey and Stephen Lang, this is bound to be a fun one. Count me in. Set for a November release in the US. (An 8/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Mother and Child – starring: Annette Bening and Naomi Watts. The story is about a pair of mothers and children and how their relationship dynamic changes through various trials that they face. On one hand you’ve Bening and Watts as an elder mother with an adult daughter and on the other you’ve got Kerry Washington and Shareeka Epps (or I’d assume). Being directed and written by Rodrigo Garcia (Nine Lives), it’s bound to be a good one. IMDb has to have the release date wrong if its ready for release now, so I’ll just assume it’ll get a December 2009 release for Oscar consideration. (A 7/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done? – starring: Michael Shannon and Willem Dafoe. Get ready for one of the best sounding films ever? Directed by Werner Herzog; Produced by David Lynch; starring Shannon, Dafoe, Sevigny, Dourif Kier & Pena… this cannot be any more amazing. Brad Macallam, an aspiring actor, is set to star in a Greek tragedy play. He takes his method acting too far when he kills his mother as his character does in the play and a full out investigation is made for the inquiry. There is more, as this murder seems to be triggered by an event that the child had with his mother some years prior. Yeah, that’s amazing. No release date set, but I believe its world premiere will be at Telluride. (A 10/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Phantom Pain – starring: Til Schweiger and Jana Pallaske. The story is about a slacker who is only passionate about his cycling. When he has a terrible accident and faces severe adversity for the first time, he’s forced to look at and reexamine his life. Supposedly told in a lighthearted fashion, this German film will certainly be as plain as snowfall during a Canadian winter. Released in Germany in April. (A 3/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

The Road – starring: Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee. Alright, one of my most anticipated for the year has finally been announced. After my lukewarm expectations of it last year and it getting the re-edit treatment and subsequent thumbs up from Paramount Vantage, this post-apocalyptic tale has finally got my attention. The story is about a father and son who trek across the barren landscape once known as America after a cataclysmic event. Very, very excited – I hope the atmosphere is as decrepit that found in the last McCarthy adaptation No Country for Old Men. Set for an October release in the US. (A 9/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Road, Movie – starring: Abhey Deol and Satish Kaushik. This is the story of one man and his road trip across India with his film crew, setting his sights on creating a feature that will change him and everyone involves life. I guess that’s all there is to it – it sound pleasant, but not something I’d catch at TIFF. I’m open to renting it one day though – sounds like it could be a fun ride. No release date has been set. (A 4/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

A Single Man – starring: Colin Firth and Julianne Moore. Honestly, neither of these two beloved actors have ever intrigued me enough to go into one of their films solely because of their participation. Luckily, this one does have an intriguing plot, so I might catch it regardless of initial excitement. The story is about a British college professor who starts to question his purpose on Earth after his love Jim dies. The story follows the professor in one day of depression where he is comforted by his long time friend Charley and is being stocked by one of his students named Kenny. Sounds good – especially since I appreciate minimal storytelling much more than stories that take place over months/years. No release date has been set. (A 7/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

The Traveller – starring: Omar Sharif. The film is about a man’s journey through space and time – a story of reflection and recollection of past memories and the thought of a better tomorrow. The main character is Hassan and the story takes place over three days and how he evaluates his life in those 72 crucial hours. The tragedies of life and love play a vital role in molding his characterization. Sounds alright, but TIFF seem to have really buttered this one up with appealing adjectives. No release date has been announced. (A 4/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

The Waiting City – starring: Radha Mitchell and Joel Edgerton. The story is about an Australian couple who travel to Kolkata, India to claim their adopted child. However, the paper work wasn’t completely processed and they have to wait in this strange and foreign country – slowly their xenophobia grows, as do their marital issues in this mystical city. Sounds alright, but not for me. Mitchell is always down for a good performance though, so hopefully I’ll be able to check it out one day if only for her. No release date has been announced. (A 4/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Wheat – starring: Jue Huang and Bingbing Fan. The story is about Lady Li and her ruling of the Kingdom of Zhao during her husband’s leave to fight in the war. Daily, her people fret for their kingdom’s stability as the war treads longer and longer. That is until two soldiers from the opposing side cross sides and pretend to be Zhao soldiers – fabricating a story causing for the kingdom’s unwarranted optimism – sparking a potential downfall through a surprise attack. Sound invigorating – perhaps a bit too much like Curse of the Golden Flower for my tastes, but I’ll check it out if positive word of mouth spreads. No release date has been announced. (A 5/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Youth in Revolt – starring: Michael Cera and Zach Galifianakis. Yet another quirky comedy being headed by the president of the indie comedy trend Michael Cera. The film is about a 14 year old (Michael Cera, obviously) teenager who is trying to get into the pants of a sexy senior. He faces daily trials with his parents getting a sticky divorce and other angsty things. I generally enjoy these features, so I won’t put it past myself if I catch this at TIFF just because. Set for an October release in the US. (A 7/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

So that’s that for the latest bunch. A few I’m very excited for – especially the Herzog I hadn’t heard of until today. Good to have my suspicions for The Road to be reinforced – that should be a great one. Please cross your finger for The White Ribbon – that as an addition to this years lineup will make for the best schedule in my three years at TIFF.

Take care to those who read all this!

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