TIFF 2011: Anticipation Meter

I would have liked to have kept up with the TIFF title announcements as they came, but my internet was down for a few weeks, so I’m dealing with the titles collectively in my blog as I have in reality. I’m excited, and if you’re reading this, odds are you are too.

Since I will be seeing less films this year – maybe as low as ten, but I’m doing my best to get to thirty – I’m only going to include those which I really want to see because I will eventually end up with a lineup consisting of those titles. And since I have little time, I will simply copy and paste the synopses.

TEN.

SHAME — starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan.  Brandon is a thirty-something man living in New York who is unable to manage his sex life. After his wayward younger sister moves into his apartment, Brandon’s world spirals out of control. From director Steve McQueen (Hunger), Shame is a compelling and timely examination of the nature of need, how we live our lives and the experiences that shape us.

RAMPART — starring Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster. A genre-bending, 1990s Los Angeles police family drama, Rampart explores the dark soul and romantic misadventures of a never-changing LAPD cop (Woody Harrelson) whose past is finally catching up with him in the wake of a department-wide corruption scandal. Along the way, he is forced to confront his disgruntled daughters (Brie Larson, Sammy Boyarsky), his two ex-wives (Anne Heche, Cynthia Nixon), a tenacious Deputy DA (Sigourney Weaver), an investigator on his trail (Ice Cube), a homeless witness to his crimes (Ben Foster), his aging mentor (Ned Beatty) and a mysterious new lover who may or may not be on his side (Robin Wright), as he fights for his own sanity and survival.

OSLO, AUGUST 31ST — starring Anders Danielsen Lie and Ingrid Olava. Anders wanders the city, meeting people he hasn’t seen in a while. Long into the night, the ghosts of past mistakes will wrestle with the chance of love, of a new life, with the hope to see some future by morning. An adaptation from The Fire Within (Le feu follet).

WUTHERING HEIGHTS — starring James Howson and Kaya Scodelario. A Yorkshire hill farmer on a visit to Liverpool finds a homeless boy on the streets. He takes him home to live as part of his family on the isolated Yorkshire moors where the boy forges an obsessive relationship with the farmer’s daughter. Starring James Howson and Kaya Scodelario.

NINE.

360 — starring Jude Law and Rachel Weisz. In 360, director Fernando Meirelles and screenwriter Peter Morgan combine a modern and dynamic roundelay of original stories into one, linking characters: from different cities and countries in a vivid, suspenseful and deeply moving tale of love in the 21st century. Starting in Vienna, the film beautifully weaves through Paris, London, Bratislava, Rio, Denver and Phoenix into a single, mesmerizing narrative.

THE IDES OF MARCH — starring Ryan Gosling and Philip Seymour Hoffman. An idealistic staffer for a newbie presidential candidate gets a crash course on dirty politics during his stint on the campaign trail. Based on the play by Beau Willimon. Directed by George Clooney.

TAKE THIS WALTZ — starring Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen. A funny, bittersweet and heart-wrenching story about a woman struggling to choose between two different types of love. Sarah Polley’s latest.

A FUNNY MAN — starring Nikolaj Lie Haas and Julie Zangenberg. Opening in the seductive style of the 1960s, A Funny Man uncovers the perennial loneliness that comedian Dirch Passer (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) has found himself in after a fast-track rise to fame, despite being surrounded by a mélange of wealth, women, alcohol and infamy.

ALPS — starring Aggeliki Papoulia and Aris Servetalis. A nurse, a paramedic, a gymnast, and her coach have formed a secret, illegal company. The service they provide is to act as stand-ins for the recently deceased, for the benefit of grieving relatives and friends. The company is called “ALPS” and the ALPS members, taking inspiration from the life of the deceased, adopt their behaviours and habits, memorizing favourite songs, actors, foods, familiar expressions. Although the members of ALPS operate under a disciplined regime demanded by the paramedic, their leader, the nurse doesn’t.

MICHAEL — starring Michael Fuith and David Rauchenberger. A mousy insurance salesman keeps an under-aged boy locked in his basement, while doing his best to appear ordinary to the outside world.

VOLCANO — starring Theodór Júlíusson. This coming of age story follows a 67-year-old man who proves that it is never too late to change. Hannes is a bitter old man who finds renewed purpose in life in the wake of a family tragedy. For years, Hannes isolated himself from his wife and his now grown children. Determined to care for his wife for the first time, Hannes slowly discovers sentiments long buried within him.

EIGHT.

DAMSELS IN DISTRESS — the latest by Whit Stillman. Damsels in Distress is a comedy about a trio of beautiful girls as they set out to revolutionize life at a grungy American university – the dynamic leader Violet Wister (Greta Gerwig), principled Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke) and sexy Heather (Carrie MacLemore).  They welcome transfer student Lily (Analeigh Tipton) into their group, which seeks to help severely depressed students with a program of good hygiene and musical dance numbers. The girls become romantically entangled with a series of men – including smooth Charlie (Adam Brody), dreamboat Xavier (Hugo Becker), the mad frat-pack of Frank (Ryan Metcalf) and Thor (Billy Magnussen) – who threaten the girls’ friendship and sanity.

JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME — starring Jason Segel and Susan Sarandon. Penned by the writer/director team of brothers Jay and Mark Duplass (Cyrus), this is the story of one man searching for the meaning of life while running to the store to buy wood glue.  Using the universe as his guide, Jeff looks for signs to help determine his path. However, a series of comedic and unexpected events leads him to cross paths with his family in the strangest of locations and circumstances. Jeff just may find the meaning of his life… and if he’s lucky, pick up the wood glue as well.

YOUR SISTER’S SISTER — starring Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt. Still mourning the recent death of his brother, a bereft and confused man finds love and direction in a most unexpected place. It also stars comedian Mike Birbiglia and Mark Duplass, and is directed by Lynn Shelton (Humpday).

PLAY — starring Kevin Vaz and Yannick Diakite. Play is an astute observation based on real cases of bullying. In central Gothenburg, Sweden, a group of boys, aged 12-14, robbed other children on about 40 occasions between 2006 and 2008. The thieves used an elaborate manipulation scheme called the ‘brother trick,’ involving advanced role-play and gang rhetoric rather than physical violence.

MELANCHOLIA — starring Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg. In this beautiful movie about the end of the world, Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Michael (Alexander Skarsgård) are celebrating their marriage at a sumptuous party in the home of her sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), and brother-in-law John (Kiefer Sutherland). Despite Claire’s best efforts the wedding is a fiasco, with family tensions mounting and relationships fraying. Meanwhile, a planet called Melancholia is heading directly towards Earth… Melancholia is a psychological disaster film from director Lars von Trier.

LOVE AND BRUISES — starring Tahar Rahim and Corinne Yam. Hua, a young teacher from Beijing, is a recent arrival in Paris. Exiled in an unknown city, she wanders between her tiny apartment and the university, drifting between former lovers and recent French acquaintances. She meets Matthieu, a young worker who falls madly in love with her. Possessed by an insatiable desire for her body, he treats Hua like a dog. An intense affair begins, marked by Matthieu’s passionate embraces and harsh verbal abuse. When Hua decides to leave her lover, she discovers the strength of her addiction, and the vital role he has come to play in her life as a woman.

CENTURY OF BIRTHING — the latest by Lav Diaz. A grand meditation on the roles of the artist, Filipino director Lav Diaz’s Century of Birthing tells two seemingly unrelated tales: one focusing on a filmmaker who has spent years working on his latest opus; the other about a Christian cult leader in a rural region. (Six hours in length.)

MONSTER CLUB — starring Eita and Yôsuke Kubozuka. Having abandoned modern civilization, Ryoichi lives an isolated, self-sufficient life on a snow-covered mountain and sends mail bombs to the CEOs of corporations and TV networks. One day, he encounters a mysterious creature in the forest. That night, his older brother, who had committed suicide, appears before him at his cabin. The apparition takes Ryoichi beyond a door, where Ryoichi learns the truth about his family.

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN — starring Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly. A suspenseful and psychologically gripping exploration into a parent dealing with her child doing the unthinkable.

KEYHOLE — starring Jason Patric and Isabella Rossellini. Idiosyncratic, cheeky and uncategorizable, the films of Guy Maddin are testaments to the singular vision of a great contemporary cinema artist, and Keyhole may be his boldest film yet. A surreal indoor odyssey of one man, Ulysses Pick  struggling to reach his wife in her bedroom upstairs, this hypnotic dreamlike journey bewilders and captivates.

CUT — starring Hidetoshi Nishijima and co-written by Shinji Aoyama. An obsessive young filmmaker becomes a human punching bag to pay off the yakuza loans that financed his films. A love poem to cinema classics from the acclaimed director of The Runner, Vegas: Based on a True Story, and A,B,C…Manhattan.

CHICKEN WITH PLUMS — starring Mathieu Amalric and Isabella Rossellini. Tehran, 1958: Nasser Ali Khan, the most celebrated violin player, has his beloved instrument broken. Unable to find another to replace it, life without music seems intolerable. He stays in bed and slips further and further into his reveries from his youth to his own children’s futures. Over the course of the week that follows, and as the pieces of this captivating story fall into place, we understand his poignant secret and the profundity of his decision to give up life for music and love.

HIMIZU — starring Megumi Kagurazaka and Denden. The story is about a teenager who aspires to be ‘ordinary’ within a world of chaos. Following an incident that can never be erased from his life, his wish becomes something impossible to achieve, turning him into a person obsessed to sanction evil people in society.

FOOTNOTE — starring Lior Ashkenazi and Shlomo Bar-Aba. This story chronicles the outcome of a great rivalry between a father and son, both professors in the Talmud department of Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

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