TIFF Finishes Off The Films (part one)


Since over 40 films got announced, I’ll split the load in half. This post will be about the CWC (Contemporary World Cinema) films that have just been announced – the next will contain the Masters program, as well as the couple of films left in other categories (Vanguard, SP, Sprockets, etc…) So lets get this underway:

This Is How We Do It:
25 Carat – starring: Ignasi Abadal and Manuel Morón. After winning a few awards at the Spanish Film Festival in Malaga, newcomer to features Patxi Amézcua writes and directs his first feature film in ’25 Carat’ – an intersecting story of criminals that commit furious violence and other crimes. Yet another multiple storylined film that I’m certainly not looking forward to because of the design, but it does sound at least a little interesting. I won’t see it, but I wouldn’t mind renting it one day. Had an April release in Spain.
(A 5/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Adrift – starring: No idea. After being faked out and believing that this was Heitor Dhalia’s A Deriva (Adrift), I’ve now recovered from the disappointment of not seeing Cassell’s latest. Rather, this is a Vietnamese feature by one of the up and coming oriental directors in Chuyên Bui Thac. After plentiful success with his 2005 feature Song trong so hai, Thac is back with this: a sensual drama about a newlywed couple, exploring sexual awakening, forbidden lesbian desire and marital infidelity within modern Vietnam. Because of the lack of theatrical release for Thac’s first feature, I cannot view it and be able to understand his ability better. I know he’s got talent based on the few reviews online, but this synopsis is very quaky. If I can see it, I will – I won’t rush into it, though. No release date set. (A 6/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Ajami – starring: Fouad Habash and Nisrine Rihan. After winning the Golden Vision award at Cannes earlier this year, directors Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani come to Toronto to showcase their latest – a feature about the uncontrolled violence and crime in a Palestinian community in Jaffa. Cannes winners for most awards usually do well by me and although the concept sounds typical, it might have the more cinematic feel that deters the gnawing grittiness that comes with the subject. I’ll look into it more, and as I’ve said before, if I can see it, I will. Set for a February release in France. (A 6/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

At the End of Daybreak – starring: Meng Hui Ng and Tien You Chui. Although the director has been panned time and time again, I feel as if this will be Yuhang Ho’s magnum opus, if not, at least his least bad feature yet. The story is about a 23 year old man who feels trapped in a home with his alcoholic mother, so he strikes up a sexual relationship with a young teenager online. Soon he realizes that she is too young for him (15), but its too late – she’s set to blackmail him. It sounds very interesting, but to be honest, I’m not willing to go in blind knowing he’s not considered good. If my close-mindedness keeps me away from seeing a great feature here, I’ll probably regret it. My instincts are just telling me to avoid. (A 3/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Backyard – starring: Ana de la Reguera and Joaquín Cosio. The latest from one of Mexico’s premier directors in Carlos Carrera is ‘Backyard’, the story of a policewoman investigating the slew of murders enacted on female assembly line workers in Ciudad Juárez. IMDb voters seem to really like the film – I can’t find any reviews on the film – so that’s a good sign that it’ll appeal to your average moviegoer. I’m becoming exhausted with all these investigative films, but one more couldn’t hurt – I’ll see if I can fit it in. Had a Mexico release in February. (A 6/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Balibo – starring: Anthony LaPaglia and Oscar Issac. An Australian feature documenting the true story of war correspondent Roger East who went searching for his missing colleagues during the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in 1975. A supposedly suspenseful wartime thriller, Robert Connolly’s latest seems to be his best yet. Doesn’t sound all that good to me though, could be very tedious and Connolly hasn’t proven himself yet – I can wait for a DVD release. Got its Australian theatrical release earlier this month. (A 4/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Bran Nue Dae – starring: Geoffrey Rush and Magda Szubanski. After making the title sound Vietnamese, ‘Brand New Day’ is yet another Australian feature playing at TIFF this year. It’s the story based off a renowned Australian stage musical about young love and Aboriginal identity makes its exuberant and fun-filled way to the big screen. Disgusting, a blend of things I truly find to be the opposite of what I like. Stage adapted musicals, quirky Aboriginal stories… not for me at all. No release date has been set. (A 1/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Castaway on the Moon – starring: No idea. Since there’s no IMDb page for this feature and all I can gather on director Lee Hey-jun is that he was apart of the animation department for Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone (set for a DVD release in November), I’ll just copy and paste the TIFF synopsis: This is a smart and original love story by one of Korea’s most promising young filmmakers, Lee Hey-jun. A potential suicide victim becomes a modern Robinson Crusoe on an island in the middle of Seoul’s Han River. Well, Robinson Crusoe is a great story and I enjoy stories of depressed people ending up in favorable situations, so I might see it. Time and time again, it all depends on how the schedule fleshes itself out. (A 7/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Cell 211 – starring: Carlos Bardem and Luis Tosar. Well, considering the director apparently (for lack of a better word) sucks, I won’t be seeing this at TIFF. However, you might want to see a bit of dumb entertainment this year, so here’s the synopsis: A newly hired prison officer finds himself in the midst of a prison riot after an unforeseen turn of events. With the inmates around him unaware of his position, he must pretend to be a prisoner to survive. So that’s sounds alright – something you’d rent for kicks on a late Saturday evening, but not something you’d spend plenty of money on to see at TIFF. However, if you do see this at the festival, expect the worst and you can’t be disappointed (a theory that has worked for me time and time again over time). Set for a November release in Spain. (A 3/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Deliver Us From Evil – starring: Lasse Rimmer and Lene Nystrøm. Ole Bornedal’s love letter to 1971’s classic Straw Dogs, is ‘Fri os fra det onde’ a Danish realization of Straw Dogs. The story is about a young couple that move to the country side, but don’t take their xenophobia into account. While they struggle coping with their issues, some people in the town begin to terrorize the newcomers violently. I’ve yet to see an Ole Bornedal film yet, but coincidentally I have his 2007 feature Not Another Love Story kicking around here, so I’ll try to view that before the festival. But honestly, this sounds like a very solid Danish thriller, so I’d advise weary people to just jump in – Ole has proven himself before. The film got an April release in Denmark. (A 8/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Dogtooth – starring: Christos Stergioglou and Aggeliki Papoulia. What appears to be Greece’s submission to the Academy Awards this year is this feature, ‘Dogtooth’, the surrealist story of three siblings living under harsh rule of their parents before the eldest daughter is given an interest proposal outside of the home. Apparently riddled with plentiful symbolism and obtuse/random sex and violence, this is bound to be one of the experiences the festival has to offer. The feature won Un Certain Regard at Cannes this year, so that just amps up my anticipation. Set for a December release in France. (A 9/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Doublehour – starring: Kseynia Rappoport and Lucia Poli. So finally Ms. Rappoport has a new feature out in which she is the star. After her brilliant (and I use that word strictly) performance in The Unknown Woman, I’ve just been anticipating her next starring role. Set to premiere in Venice, this story of a young Slovenian woman who moves to Italy, falls for a young man and both of them fall into the center of suspicion for the on-going investigation about a recent art heist. Although I’m not all that fond of the plot, I would be willing to watch a lesser sounding film just to get for Rappoport in my system. Set for a November release in Italy. (A 7/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Help Gone Mad – starring: Evgenii Sytyi and Sergei Dontsov. Simply put, this is a modernized version of Don Quixote and for those who don’t know of Quixote’s tales, its a comical tale about two men trying to find pleasure and fantasy in their decadent lives. Hardly excited for this – not really for fantasy comedies, even if they’re tongue-in-cheek. Had a Russian release in July. (A 3/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

I Am Not Your Friend – starring: Csaba Czene and Csaba Gosztonyi. Films like these make me smile – I hope you feel the same way. The film – done for complete artistic and film loving merit – is entirely improvisational and filled with amateur actors. Their goal? To portray the many faces that relationships have. It’s a drama, but I’m sure it’ll have some humor scattered in there somewhere – especially since there’s an alleged opening short film also entitled ‘I Am Not Your Friend’ about the interactions between kindergartners. No release date has been set. (A 7/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

If I Knew What You Said – starring: Zoe Sandejas and Romalito Mallari. A weird take on the romantic dynamic in teenagers – this is the story of a punk rock girl falling in love with a deaf boy who loves to dance. This could come off as one of the most ridiculous and tryhard films of the festival, or one of the most earnest and beautiful. I’m not trusting the IMDb rating for the film, so I’ll really just have to look at the schedule and see how it compares to the rest. That said, I’d really like to see this in hopes that it would be modest. No release date has been set. (A 7/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Jean Charles – starring: Selton Mello and Daniel de Oliveira. The true and tragic story of an earnest young man who travels back to his homeland only to be executed accidentally by the police. Since I know how the entire film plays out, I pretty much have no desire to see it, unless I believe the writer(s) could unravel such a film delicately and poignantly… which I don’t. Could be good, but I’m skipping this one. Got a June theatrical release in Brazil. (A 3/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

The Last Days of Emma Blank – starring: Marlies Heuer and Alex van Warmerdam. To be honest, I find that Dutch filmmaking is very relatable to myself and basically any teenager I can imagine, its just most would rather avoid some random, obscure foreign feature. They tend to be unique, very humorous, but also very emotionally affecting – this sounds no different. The story is about Emma Blank and her family – her family that doubles as servants for the rich woman. They’re vocal to one and other about hoping her ill health will do her in soon so they can inherit Emma’s riches, so they put on a facade to please their relative in order to obtain the bigger cut. Sad, but very funny – count me in. Received a May release in the Netherlands earlier this year. (An 8/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

My Year Without Sex – starring: Sacha Horler and Matt Day. This movie is as the title indicates – its about one woman’s venture without any sexual activity and substituting the universal pasttime for sports and other activities. I believe I saw this online earlier and I passed it up then, so don’t expect me to want to see this at the film festival. To be honest, it sounds quite repulsive and an attempt at quirk. Received an Australian release in May. (A 2/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

La Pere de mes Enfants – starring: Chiara Caselli and Louis-Do de Lencquesaing. Winner of Un Certain Regard – Grand Jury Prize (perhaps the most important Cannes award sans Palme d’Or) ‘The Father of My Children’ is about a hard-working independent film producer who has far too much pressure on him and releases himself from the grip of his family, leaving his wife to pick up the broken family pieces. This sounds phenomenal, so count me right in. Set for a December release in France. (A 9/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Prince of Tears – starring: No idea. This is latest from Chinese filmmaker Yonfan, a story about Taiwan’s untold 1950 story – the anti-communist backdrop of White Terror. Rather than focus the films attention on the untold story, it apparently opts to talk about the friendships that took place in that time. Youfan’s filmography and critical acclaim (or lack thereof) is keeping me from seeing this (along with any other of his features) so… you know… I’m not seeing it. No release date has been set. (A 4/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Same Same But Different – starring: David Kross and
Apinya Sakuljaroensuk. An iffy romantic tale starring acting newcomer David Kross (The Reader) in the true tale of a young man who falls for a German bargirl who is HIV Positive and refuses to leave her side until the inevitable end. This sounds a lot like 1999’s Jeanne and the Perfect Guy, a drama-musical about a woman who stays by an HIV positive man’s side after falling in love with him (a decent feature). So if it’s anything like that, I’ll give it a go, but certainly not a festival shot. Set for a January release in Germany. (A 6/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

The Search – starring: Manla Kyab and Lumo Tso. This is the first feature to be entirely shot in Tibet and spoken in Tibetan. The story is somewhat of a scavenging road trip that takes place across Tibet and resonates the death of this once stable culture. It sounds alright – certainly something I’d be interested in seeing someday, but sentimental/preachy flicks are usually not for me. No release date has been set. (A 5/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Tales from the Golden Age – directed by: Cristian Mungiu, Hanno Höfer and Others. This collection of shorts (written all by Cristian Mungiu) directed by some of Romania’s most talented directors is a comedic take on the history of Romania. Certainly set to be a more cinematic roast of the country in comparison to Mungiu’s heavy part played in the Romanian New Wave subgenre that has won me over. I’ll undoubtedly see this – especially if its anything like Romania’s Academy submission of last year The Rest is Silence. Set for a September theatrical release in Italy. (A 9/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

V.O.S. – starring: Agata Roca and Vicenta N’Dongo. Supposedly a poor attempt at comedy from Spanish filmmaker Cesc Gay. It’s allegedly a play on the lovely film-within-a-film idea about the dynamics of relationships – be them friendly or romantic. I’ve yet to see a film by Cesc Gay, but I know En la ciudad is meant to be pretty good. I doubt I’d want to see this film after seeing anything he’s done, however. Received a Spanish release in July. (A 3/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

So that’s it for CWC – a few wonderful sounding flicks mixed in with a bunch of mediocre sounding ones. My next post will certainly be more enthusiastic with the announcements of The White Ribbon and Antichrist. Cheers, and I’ll catch you in a few more hours after the final TIFF update.

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