BEST FEATURE “Beasts of the Southern Wild” | “Bernie” | “Keep the Lights On” | “Moonrise Kingdom” | “Silver Linings Playbook”
BEST DIRECTOR Wes Anderson, “Moonrise Kingdom” | Julia Loktev, “The Loneliest Planet” | David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook” | Ira Sachs, “Keep the Lights On” | Benh Zeitlin, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
BEST SCREENPLAY Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola, “Moonrise Kingdom” | Zoe Kazan, “Ruby Sparks” | Martin | McDonagh, “Seven Psychopaths” | David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook” | Ira Sachs, “Keep the Lights On”
The 2012 Toronto International Film Festival is done, folks. Well, it was done for me awhile ago since I was only able to attend the first four days of the festival. I have to say that I enjoyed my time in Toronto far more than I thought I would. I met some acclaimed directors, met some of my fellow film bloggers, hung out in a beautiful city, and probably saw the best line-up of movies I have at a film festival to date. I’m using this post just to recap my time at TIFF:
The Films I was able to squeeze in five great and eagerly anticipated films in my time in Toronto. I’m so grateful to be able to see this films and give you my impressions of them before most (if not all) are theatrically released. Read my thoughts on them:
Imogene (Kristen Wiig, Darren Criss, Annette Bening) “It didn’t have the perfectly timed comedic beats Bridesmaids had, and the end of the film moved toward the ridiculous, but the movie had great comedic must-see moments not only from Kristen Wiig but also from the great Annette Bening.”
The Place Beyond the Pines* (Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes, Bradley Cooper, Dane DeHaan) “Backed by an outstanding cast, the story is broken up into three parts and how the film moves from one stage to another, only slightly overlapping, is flawlessly connected like perfectly aligned dominos.”
Seven Psychopaths(Sam Rockwell, Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson) “Though it didn’t quite reach the cult classic iconic status of Kill Bill or Sin City for me, I did laugh and I do applaud how much it makes fun of itself all while speaking to the very nature of making midnight madness gory thrillers - all in the name of a shitzu named Bonnie.”
The Perks of Being a Wallflower(Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller, Mae Whitman) “The story focuses on the beauty of being young and having a future full of hope and promise. And that it does it so well.”
Much Ado About Nothing (Nathan Fillion, Amy Acker, Clark Gregg, Alexis Denisof) “Not everyone can weave in modern material into Shakespeare but Joss Whedon has found a way to blend in contemporary physical comedy with Shakespeare’s written follies in such a great way.”
*My overall festival favorite
Special thanks to Ryan for welcoming me to his city! And thanks to the other film bloggers (Andrew and Tom) who hung out with me for a bit! :)
The Special Events Sometimes the best things about film festivals are the non-film special events and parties…
Live Read of American Beauty(Christina Hendricks, Bryan Cranston, Adam Driver, Mae Whitman) “For TIFF, famed director Jason Reitman pulled together his celeb friends for a live reading of the 1999 Oscar winning (and TIFF) film American Beauty. I got tickets to this unique, once in a lifetime experience.”
The Drake Hotel - my friend Ije and I ate at the trendy hotel restaurant and even talked our way in to a party that was happening there. Not bad.
The Pictures Some of my favorite captured moments from Toronto…
Part 1: I explored the city, met Joss Whedon (that’s right!), and did some celeb spotting
Part 2: More celeb spotting, I chatted with Jason Reitman (yep!), and snapped a couple of cast photos
The Winners Will one of these features be the next Slumdog Millionaire or The King’s Speech? They won big at past TIFFs and went on to win Oscars.
With TIFF 2012 done (well, at least for me), it’s time to focus on upcoming film releases that I am anticipating the most for the rest of the year. Can’t say that I have been generally impressed with alot of the movies that have been released so far (I’ll be really interested in seeing the Oscar-nominated films for this year) so here’s hoping the next few months will have potential. Here is a list of what I want to see the most:
Hello I Must Be Going: Others may be tired for seeing the exploration of older woman/younger man relationships but I’m not, especially in a potentially great and akward indie comedy.
Arbitrage: I tend to shy away from financial dramas but this one is has been getting some buzz; the story focuses on a man on the brink of losing it all as he tries to hide a massive mistake, starring Richard Gere and new indie darling Brit Marling.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower: Based on the critically-acclaimed (and often school assigned) book, this story truly explores not only what it means to be young but also what it means to embrace the very things about yourself that make you invisible to others. Watch the trailer and read my review from TIFF.
Looper: Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a young Bruce Willis in a Rian Johnson futuristic thriller. Enough said. Anticipate this.
Argo: Some of the best movies teach you about important moments in history that you would have probably never heard about otherwise. This third film from Ben Affleck explores the dark humor of using a pseudo-movie in a rescue mission during the Iranian hostage crisis of the 70s.
Seven Psychopaths: a film with all the makings of a cult classic and Sam Rockwell in all his weirdly dark and quirky glory. Watch the trailer and read my review from TIFF.
Flight: Yep, I think it’s time again for another Denzel Washington movie. This time he plays a pilot hailed as a hero for crash-landing a plane but keeping a secret about just what happened on the plane.
Les Miserables: As a straight up sucker for musicals (life is music and music is life afterall), and this is one I have yet to see/experience. If the trailer is any indication of what is in store for this film, I’m very exited for it to be released.
Zero Dark Thirty: Because I am really curious to learn about some of the story surrounding the hunt for Bin Laden, I am interested in seeing this film from Kathryn Bigelow.
Just breathe. I don’t think I’ve ever done three movies in one day at a film festival but I wanted to get as much in as I could since I’m only in Toronto for a very short time. Today, I bounced from one theater to another and then back again to see three of the movies my top picks lists (part 1 and part 2). Yes, I have been lucking to get tickets to so many of the ones I wanted. I didn’t know much about the first film, The Place Beyond the Pines, only that it is a multi-generational story based on the decision of one man, a stunt motorcyclist, to commit a crime to provide for his soon. It appealed to me because it was the re-teaming of Ryan Gosling and director Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine).And of course, I have said it before - you can’t really go wrong with a Ryan Gosling film. In my opinion, his career has been riddled with alot of hits and very few misses. The second film, Seven Psychopaths, seemed to be of the stuff great cult classics are made of with a very misfit cast (I say that in the best possible way) and Tarantino-esque violence (the only violence I can really enjoy). And finally, the third one of the day, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, had my attention because the great experiences I had with reading the book 5 years ago or so thanks to a recommendation from a friend from graduate school. It had alot of heart and was one of those books where you the characters stay with you forever. So seemingly three very different films - one heavy character drama with some depth, one edge-of-your-seat dark comedy thriller, and one sweet love letter to high school and being young. Here are my thoughts:
The Place Beyond The Pines: I really dare anyone out there to not find this film one of the best in recent years. This film moved me in ways very reminiscent of my experiences with Blue Valentine. Backed by an outstanding cast, the story is broken up into three parts and how the film moves from one stage to another, only slightly overlapping, is flawlessly connected like perfectly aligned dominos. (SPOILERS) The story begins with Ryan Gosling’s character Luke, a very Drive-like daredevil with a propensity for stylish leather jackets and a swaggered walk. All of things are not total missteps in creating a fresh new character but something that makes you wonder how Driver and Luke would differ in the long run. This time, though, he is a stunt motorcyclist instead of a stunt car driver, and someone who doesn’t stay in one place for every long. He’s blonde and greasy without a care for how he appears, evidenced by his hole-y white tee shirts. One day, Row (Eva Mendes) shows up, a ex-lover he disappeared on about a year ago when he left town with his crew. She wasn’t the only thing he left behind as he discovers he has a son. And through this discovery we find out that he is a man that craves connection to someone and the family he never had. In this he goes beyond the character of Driver to do something about it, to try and for real create this family and not just push them away to protect them. That however leads to his tragic downfall as he slips into robbing banks in order to have money to provide for his son. It is then we pick up at the second stage of the movie, the life of Officer Avey Cross (Bradley Cooper), a rookie cop fresh out of law school who is called in on the police chase of Luke after he sloppily botches up a robbery and ultimately is the one responsible for his death. In this story we further explore the duplicitous nature of police and ultimately man. Here you have one man who whose lack of judgement and bending of protocol and ultimate cover up leads to the unjustified death of a man yet he proclaims himself to be a seeker of justice, even going as far as laying his reputation on the line to bring to light police corruption in the force. Are Luke and Avey that much different though one man is vilified and one is celebrated and revered as a hero (“The cops always use the hero card because its the own card that have”). The move brilliantly draws parallels and even brings religion into the comparison (Luke’s emotion at his sons christening that he crashes, the hymns used as music for Avey’s return to police station) His guilt over his participate in Luke’s death ultimate affects how he interacts and bonds with his own toddler son after he discovers that Luke had a son around the same age. This sets up the last stage of the story that jumps to fifteen years latter, when both boys are teenagers and come into each other’s lives, each lost and acting out though their backgrounds could not be more different. Luke son’s Jason (Dane DeHaan) comes to discover the truth about his father that was kept from which ultimately causes Avey to confront his past. The Place Beyond The Pines refers to specific place in the woods that the main characters find their way to at the peak points of the story. I loved the decision of Cianfrance to make this a focal point to connect the stories. Because of his performance in this and other recent ones (Chronicle, Lawless), Dane DeHaan is definitely one of the great actors in the up-and-coming generation. My Grade: A
Seven Psychopaths: Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, and Colin Farrell (yes, Colin Farrell). This trio is what makes Seven Psychopaths interesting (sorry Woody). Rockwell’s nonsensical ramblings, Walken’s wise words marred with the occasional senile slant, and Farrell with his awkward and totally hilarious facial experiences. You see, the movie finds the humor in dissecting the motivations of psychopaths in a way that is enjoyable. Though it didn’t quite reach the cult classic iconic status of Kill Bill or Sin City for me, I did laugh and I do applaud how much it makes fun of itself all while speaking to the very nature of making midnight madness gory thrillers - all in the name of a shitzu named Bonnie. (SPOILERS) Seven Psychopaths is a story within a story about a writer with writer’s block in the same vein as Adaptation. We meet Marty (Farrell), a struggling writer (and alcoholic) who is writing a screenplay called, you guessed it, Seven Psychopaths, and what he struggles with is exactly who these seven psychopaths will be. At the start of the movie, all he has in mind is one of the psychopaths, a religious man (Amish? Quaker? he keep changing his mind) who goes to great lengths to avenge the death of his daughter. What we come to discover is that this was a story told to him by his best friend Billy (Rockwell), a part-time actor and small time dog thief, about Billy’s partner in the dog kidnapping ring (Walken). This is only the start of how, throughout the whole movie, Bill helps to inspire Marty’s work and construct the characters by revealing the psychotic nature of those around him, including himself. You see, we discover that Billy is the infamous Jack of Diamonds serial killer who is currently on the loose and through Billy’s antics, we meet other ridiculous characters, including the gangster Charlie who love his dog Bonnie more than his girlfriend (and Billy’s occasional lover) Angela (Olga Kurylenko). The trailer gives us a look into the seven main characters of the movie who merge and overlap into Marty’s seven psychopaths. Not since Choke have I been so enamored with Sam Rockwell’s weirdly quirky characters. My Grade: B. You can watch the trailer for this film here.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower: If there is one book that I would recommend that everyone reads, it’s Perks of Being a Wallflower. In the same vein, I would whole-hearted recommend this film. As he did in his book, Stephen Chbosky brings to live the story about a shy boy entering high school all awhile dealing with a painful family secret and the suicide of his best friend. The story chooses to focus not on this but on the beauty of being young and having a future full of hope and promise. And that it does it so well. (SPOILERS) Charlie (Logan Lerman) is a loner who is starting his first year of high school. But Charlie has many more things to deal with than just surviving in the urban jungle of high school halls. He spent the summer hospitalized for blackouts and issues surrounding the death of his aunt, something that has plagued him since he was a little boy. Couple that with the sudden suicide of his best (and only) friend. Charlie moves through the world feeling that there is no one now that understands him, even his older sister (Nina Dobrev), brother, or parents. He begins to then write letters to a girl at his school that he does not know as an outlet to his thoughts and emotions. In the book, we are privy to these letters and they are the basis for which we learn about Charlie’s life. In the movie, the letters serve as a “friend” to Charlie, a device that is equally as powerful. It is when Charlie is welcomed into a group of misfit seniors including step-siblings, Sam (Emma Watson) and Patrick (Ezra Miller), does he come out of his shell and stops relying on the crunch of his letter writing. As their friendship builds, we see Charlie (and thus Lerman) come alive on the screen as he experiences many firsts that have defined some of our own adolescence - first love, first sexual encounters, first parties. And through his relationship with his proclaimed “best teacher” (Paul Rudd), he rediscovers his love (and his future) as a promising writer. The movie represents such a great voice for a young generation who is struggling to find their way in the world by making some mistakes along the way. The story is also powerful in its exploration of love, both the good and the bad, and is not immature enough to relate to our own decisions in the name of love (“We accept the love we think we deserve”) We are (truly) infinite. My Grade: A
Check out the trailer for this film below:
Post-TIFF To Do List 3. Add The Place Beyond the Pines to my Ryan Gosling collection 4. Start working own my own screenplay 5. Keep an eye out for Ezra Miller’s future film projects
Seven Psychopaths // The trailer has arrived for this dog kidnapping caper film. Yes, really. One seemingly normal one (Colin Farrell) + his best friend (Sam Rockwell) + the one with issues (Woody Harrelson) + his hot girlfriend (Olga Kurylenko) + the non-violent one (Christopher Walken) + the passive-aggressive girlfriend (Abbie Cornish) +and the one with the bunny (Tom Waits) = Seven Pscychopaths. One of my picks to see at the upcoming Toronto Film Festival.
Earlier this week, more films were announced. Here are more films I hope to see in Toronto to add to my initial list:
Seven Psychopaths Directed and written by Martin McDonagh
Synopsis: An alcoholic screenwriter (Colin Farrell) struggling to write a serial-killer script gets more real-life inspiration than he can handle when a dognapping scheme gone awry brings a galaxy of crazies to his doorstep. A top-notch cult-movie cast — including Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Tom Waits, Harry Dean Stanton-anchors this wacky, blood-spattered commentary on the psycho-killer thriller from the writer-director of In Bruges. Why I want to see it: It’s all about the interesting and unique casting choices. When did you ever think these guys would be a movie together? I have been awaiting the release of this film for alittle while now so I’m happy that it will make its debut at TIFF. Fingers crossed that I will make it to a screening.
Much Ado About Nothing Directed and written by Joss Whedon
Synopsis: Shakespeare’s classic comedy gets contemporary spin in Joss Whedon’s stylized adaptation. Shot in just twelve days using the original text, the story of sparring lovers Beatrice (Amy Acker) and Benedick (Alexis Denisof) offers a dark, sexy and occasionally absurd view of the intricate game that is love.Why I want to see this: Wait, so, you’re wondering why I want to see a Shakespearean adaptation by Joss Whedon?!? I think that says it all. Okay, I’ll throw in the fact that I love Shakespeare; I’ve read 11 of his plays (thanks to my Shakespearean lit class in high school; yes, I took that willingly). I’ll also combine it with the fact that Joss Whedon has given us some of the best entries into contemporary pop culture (Buffy, Firefly, The Avengers). Oh, one other thing. Nathan Fillion is in this.
Artifact Directed by Bartholomew Cubbins
Synopsis: Telling harsh truths about the modern music business, Artifact gives intimate access to singer/actor Jared Leto and his band Thirty Seconds to Mars as they battle their label in a brutal lawsuit and record their album This Is War. The film is a true artifact of our times, as its subjects struggle with big questions over art, money and integrity. Why I want to see this: I don’t watch documentaries. Ever. But Jared Leto has always been such fascinating person in my mind. He is a great actor (My So Called Life put him on my radar; I still can’t believe that show was only one season). He looks like he’s only 30 instead of 40 (seriously, is he a vampire??). He voice is amazing (any acoustic Thirty Seconds to Mars song is beyond belief beautiful). He avoids the celebrity spotlight (he won’t play for any venue/promoter that uses his name to front the band). He changes his look like I change my shoes. Okay, and yeah, he’s super attractive. All of this makes me what to know more about him and his life.
If you’re interested in more, head over to the festival’s film programming for a complete listing.
Man, don’t you love this movie poster? I caught wind of this movie Seven Psychopaths from writer/director Martin McDonagh (In Bruges) some months ago when the project was just getting off the ground. I’m so happy that it is go because with an eclectic cast like this, I don’t think it would be possible to not have a werid, awesome, peculiar indie film. I’m loving the Sam Rockwell/Abbie Cornish/Woody Harrelson mix, actors that I think always push the boundaries and put in some great work. Here’s hoping for a great movie.
Synopsis: Marty (Farrell) is a struggling writer who dreams of finishing his screenplay, “Seven Psychopaths”. Billy (Rockwell) is Marty’s best friend, an unemployed actor and part time dog thief, who wants to help Marty by any means necessary. All he needs is a little focus and inspiration. Hans (Walken) is Billy’s partner in crime, a religious man with a violent past. Charlie (Harrelson) is the psychopathic gangster whose beloved dog Billy and Hans have just stolen. Charlie is unpredictable and extremely violent and wouldn’t think twice about killing anyone or anything associated with the theft. Marty is going to get all the focus and inspiration he needs, just as long as he lives to tell the tale.
Seven Psychopaths is set for release in November 2012.