With the Toronto International Film Festival just arriving in less than 24 hours, our team has busy wrangling and seeking last minute tickets for coverage at this year’s festival! Needless to say, we’re all hyped. Being one of the largest festivals of it’s kind in the world, Toronto hosts a wide variety of films and even television, screened for critics and the general public alike! The following are a few films that we’re especially ecstatic too see at this year’s festival. Expect reviews for many of these titles in the coming days/week! Happy TIFF everybody!
Ever since Thoroughbreds leaped into theaters last year, after the somber world premiere at Sundance in 2017, we’ve all been waiting to see what Corey Finlay does next. With Bad Education, his latest feature with an all star cast, this sophomore effort may just be one of the best films from this year’s Toronto International Film Festival; an underdog sleeper hit as they would call it. Currently without any distribution, the premise and scope sounds wild; a larceny scheme that goes off the rails! My only gripe so far is that Finlay isn’t writing the screenplay this time around, which is honestly a big shame. Thoroughbreds was ingeniously crafted from a dialogue perspective, so seeing him only direct this time around is a little disappointing. However, Ray Romano has a funky mustache in this movie, so what’s not to love?
I’m really looking forward to taking in Pablo Larraín latest, Ema, a reportedly dark, surreal drama about a dancer and her complicated relationship and family history. Larraín is one of the most exciting and dynamic directors working today, internationally and within North America. I’ve seen his past few films at TIFF, and the overlap is merely spiritual. Since his Academy Award nomination for No, Larraín has deftly dealt with, among other things, the effectiveness of political propaganda, what goes through the mind of religion’s most predatory leaders, the very nature of truth and subjectivity in poetry, and the way women adjacent to men in power must navigate the world when those men are absent; all while experimenting with structural form, wildly divergent shooting formats, and eliciting lightning-in-a-bottle performances from mere unknowns to Natalie Portman. Larraín’s newest work, replete with dance sequences and Gael fucking García Bernal, looks just as challenging, moody, and surprising. And the continuity of seeing Larraín’s films is exactly what this festival is about: initially following a director’s work by fluke and knowing that slotting their newest feature into your schedule every year is always a good call.
Although this decision to put this film on the list may seem obvious, considering I have been a fan of the comic book film genre for the longest time; it just has to be said that Joker simply looks unreal! When this film was first announced, I was already burned out by what the DCEU had made before that point. I honestly thought this movie was a stupid idea! After Todd Phillps and Joaquin Phoenix were announced to be involved in the project however, I was warming up more to the idea. Fast forward to the first trailer being released and my expectations were blown away. The Joker himself is a very fascinating character, and seeing this refreshing approach of an almost indie-feeling film; where it’s just a pure character study on one of the most famous villains of all time, is something that sounds amazing! Some of my favorite films are ones that focus purely on character development and this film looks like it’s going to follow this trend. Also, having Phillips in the director’s chair is something I still really like the idea of. Phillips made War Dogs in 2016 which was a film I really liked for how it handled it’s comedy and darker elements into it’s very true story. From the looks of the Joker, it seems that Phillips has stepped his A-game up to 11 for this movie!
Dead-set on becoming the most popular East Asian film at this year’s festival, Saturday Fiction sounds incredible! Already selling out at multiple screenings, the hype behind Lou Ye’s latest spy-drama is one largely due to its lead talent, Gong Li. The film centers on an actress working undercover for allied forces, who discovers the Japanese plot to bomb Pearl Harbor. With a pitch like that, Saturday Fiction is sure to be one hell of an intense, climactic, ride; with beautiful noir cinematography and lush production design included.
I really dug the last film Robert Eggers made (The Witch) as it showed how patient he could be with a horror film by building great characters and atmosphere throughout. However, with Eggers’ latest film, The Lighthouse straight up looks incredible and is one I’m dying to see. The artistic decision to shoot not just in standard 35MM film, but with old fashion Black and White film, is something that looks amazing! The trailer gave a glimpse at what this could eventually be, and it looks like a film directly taken from it’s depicted ear. Then there’s the two actors leading the film; Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, which is literally the best duo you could ever get! Dafoe is a legend in my eyes and Pattinson is someone who is starting to become one of the most talented actors of his generation. Reviews have claimed The Lighthouse as a character focused film of two people who are going insane, and builds the tension from that moment on. The trailer really does give that specific vibe, which is awesome too see! I love films that focus purely on characters, and this type of plot gives so much endless possibilities to this concept.
Good Time has arguably now become a 21st century masterwork, so hearing that the Safdie Brothers are returning yet again for another serving of chaotic, frenetic action, is honestly a real treat! Already screened at the Telluride Film Festival, reactions for Uncut Gems have been more than just stellar; claiming the film as one of Adam Sandler’s best films to date! Part crime drama, part sardonic black comedy, this latest A24 venture is sure to turn some heads into a void of relentless chaos, when it premieres on Monday.
I may be biased with Honey Boy, as I’m attending the Canadian premiere with the whole cast and crew attending; however this has always been a film I have waited for so long too see! Ever since I heard the whole idea regarding the film’s content about Shia Labeouf’s life and how Labeouf himself is playing his own father, I was 100% sold. And after the critical reception from Sundance and the amazing first trailer, I am now absolutely certain that this film is going to be amazing! This film doesn’t just seem crazy, it looks raw and honest. Also, Labeouf is someone I have admired over the years and seeing him really get deep in an indie film is something I am really excited to see!
For those who adored Claire Denis’ space drama High Life, which premiered at last year’s festival, than Proxima may just be the film for you! The English language debut from famed french director Alice Winocour, seems to be one of the most emotional films to premiere at this year’s festival. Making its way into the very competitive Platform selection, the film follows a single mother (Eva Green), who is forced to leave her daughter behind for a year, in order to complete an extensive, grueling space mission. Based on the concept alone, and the fact that Ryuichi Sakamoto is composing the score, this film seems out of this world! I’m quite a fan of Winocour’s previous outing Disorder, so it’s pretty safe to say that Proxima will be an emotional ride of the sense!
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See you at the festival!
Header Photo Credit – Connie Tsang