With Springtime comes the chirping of birds, the start of the blockbuster movie season and the announcement of the Cannes Film Festival lineup to officially launch the film festival season with all roads leading to Oscar.
Amongst the major blockbusters and must-see movies vying for your holiday viewing time, this is a proper movie that definitely requires a viewing.
Amour opens to a limited release just before Christmas this year on December 19th.
About The Film Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) are in their eighties. They are cultivated, retired music teachers and their daughter, who is also a musician, lives abroad with her family. One day, Anne has an attack and the couple’s bond of love is severely tested. Michael Haneke (Funny Games, Cache, The White Ribbon) writes and directs Amour which debuted at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival earlier this summer and won the coveted Palme d’Or. Isabelle Huppert also stars in the film which played at Telluride, TIFF and NYFF
Continuing with our ongoing coverage of the 37th Toronto International Film Festival, Xavierpop is pleased to bring the second part of MovieJay’s breakdown of the Special Presentaations programme. The first part can be found here. Now onto:
Notable Directors, Big Expectations
Byzantium Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, The Good Thief) returns to TIFF with the mother-daughter vampire team of Gemma Arterton (Tamara Drewe, Prince of Persia) and Saoirse Ronan (Oscar nominee for Atonement and fresh off last year’s Hanna). Both of these actresses are on the rise, Jordan has a good track record, and the screenplay is courtesy of Moira Buffini, who penned last year’s Jane Eyre as well as Tamara Drewe. We’re betting this won’t be just any other blood-sucking flick.
Frances Ha Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale, Margot at the Wedding) is for folks who like Wes Anderson movies only without all the quirks and embellishments around the edges. His new one stars the red hot Greta Gerwig, who is fresh off of Damsels in Distress and To Rome With Love. She’s a girl in the big city and that’s when I stopped reading because I love her and Baumbach, and since he hasn’t made anything close to a rotten tomato yet, audiences can expect something intelligent and funny here.
In the House Francois Ozon (Under the Sand, Potiche) is one of the more underrated French directors of the past decade, churning out reliable dramas along with the odd comedy, like his charming 2003 arthouse hit 8 Women. He has worked with the likes of Charlotte Rampling and Catherine Deneuve, and now he adds Kristin Scott Thomas to the list of notables with this interior thriller.
Outrage Beyond As a director, he goes by Takeshi Kitano; as an actor, Beat Takeshi, which probably explains his neat shades. He’s the stoic and strong Japanese actor-writer-director who is a favorite on the festival circuit, and he returns with the follow-up to his Outrage from a couple years ago. That started as an internal affairs-like struggle and now a total police crackdown on organized crime goes national in this one, promising auds another lethal dose of violence from a director who until recent years did not indulge in it.
Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang Laurent Cantet finally got some respect 4 years ago when his superior school drama The Class won the Palme D’Or at Cannes and then got nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars. He follows it up with his first English language pic, an adaptation of the bestseller by Joyce Carol Oates about an upstate New York girl gang set in the late 1950′s–though it was shot in Sault Ste. Marie and features a plethora of young Canadian talent. Another “can’t wait” pic.
Ginger and Rosa Sally Potter wowed audiences at TIFF in 2004 with the Joan Allen vehicle Yes, with its neat screenplay written in modern language but using iambic pentameter. This is another coming-of-ager that turns back the clock, set in early 1960′s London, and starring Elle Fanning and Alice Englert–daughter of Jane Campion.
Dormant Beauty Writer-director Marco Belloccchio hopes to lock up Italy’s foreign Oscar hopes with this follow-up to his arthouse hit Vincere. The hyperlink drama about a young woman who lived the last 17 years of her life in a vegetative state questions the meaning of life in a mosaic of stories and characters, starring the great Isabelle Huppert.
The Hunt Danish helmer Thomas Vinterberg (The Celebration) took home the Ecumenical Jury’s award at Cannes this year and his lead, Mads Mikkelsen, walked home with the best actor prize for this drama about a man who is accused of something he did not commit and how that information spreads in a small community, making it tougher for him to maintain his dignity.
Hannah Arendt German writer-director Margarethe von Trotta (Rosenstrasse, The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum) returns to TIFF with the biopic of political theorist Hannah Arendt, played by reliable European vet Barbara Sukowa–check out Fassbinder‘s Lola and Von Trier‘s Europa for some of her best work. The film co-stars two-time Oscar nominee Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs).
The Last Supper Chuan Lu found international recognition 3 years ago with his City of Life and Death, the WWII drama that followed the Japanese takeover of the Chinese capital, Nanjing. His latest goes way, way back to 200 B.C. and finds two warring generals near the end of the Qin Dynasty.
Capital Costa-Gavras is the European counterpart to America’s William Friedkin (The Exorcist, The French Connection) having made back-to-back masterpieces 40 years ago with Z (1969) and The Confession (1970) and then fading into a series of mostly underwhelming follow-ups ever since. But both directors have rebounded in recent years, Friedkin with Bug and Killer Joe, and Costa-Gavras with the arthouse hits Eden is West and Amen. His new pic looks promising, telling the story of a European investment banker trying to survive an American buyout.
The Deep Icelandic helmer Baltasar Kormaker took home the TIFF Discovery Award back in ’99 for his subzero romcom 101 Reykjavik. Since then, he has made his mark as a reliable director of dramedies, and then hit Hollywood paydirt with his last couple of efforts with Inhale and the Mark Wahlberg actioner Contraband. The Deep sees him returning to familiar territory with the story of a 1984 shipping boat that sank off the coast of Iceland only for it to turn out that there is a remarkable survivor among the crew.
Reality Matteo Garrone won acclaim for Gomorra, his wonderful Italian crime saga following the various levels of that country’s drug trade. His new pic is lighter fare, a comedy involving a man who is urged by his family to sign up for a reality show in the style of Big Brother.
The Attack Lebanese helmer Ziad Doueiri first came to prominence as a camera assistant for Quentin Tarantino in all of his 90′s films. Then he came to TIFF and won the Discovery Award in ’98 for his drama West Beirut. He followed that up 6 years later with the equally impressive Lila Says, did some TV work back home in ’05, and then disappeared until this year with this new pic that follows an Arab surgeon living in Tel Aviv and the dark secret he discovers about his wife after a recent suicide bombing. The surgeon is played by Ali Suliman (The Kingdom, The Time That Remains).
Off the Radar: The Good, the Hidden, & the Overlooked
TIFF is filled with all kinds of surprises. The best bet is to stick with directors with reliable track records. Having said that, of the remaining crop of Special Presentations, should any of them touch a nerve with the fine movie lovers of Toronto, a pic will find itself with a distributor and a larger audience afterwards. Some of these are genre pics, others have stars, while others do not.
Stephane Brize is a French director here for the first time with his Oedipal drama A Few Hours of Spring; Japanese director Miwa Nishikawa is another first-timer, premiering the dark comedy Dreams for Sale; Argentinian TV director Ana Piterbarg brings her first feature here–the twin brother drama Everybody Has a Plan–although not everyone has Viggo Mortensen as their main attraction; Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini have struggled with lame comedies in The Nanny Diaries and The Extra Man since they made a splash almost a decade ago with American Splendor, and they’ll look to rebound with Imogene, starring Kristen Wiig as a playwright who stages a suicide attempt in order to win back her ex.
Kon-Tiki is the follow-up from the team that brought us Max Manus, with the retro adventure drama following explorer Thor Heyerdahl and his 1947 crossing of the Pacific on a wood raft; Cate Shortland made the festival hit Somersault in ’04 and returns after a long hiatus with the WWII drama Lore with its intriguing take on a young teen who must lead her younger siblings to safety after their Nazi parents are imprisoned with Germany having been defeated; No is the Gael Garcia Bernal vehicle about the 1988 campaign to oust Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, from Tony Manero director Pablo Larrain.
Australian TV director Wayne Blair will be premiering his first feature The Sapphires, about a 60′s all-girl group that entertains Vietnam vets; Sundance Audience Award winner The Sessions looks to continue its winning ways at TIFF with the true-life account of Mark O’Brien, a man rounding 40 who is confined by an iron lung and who wishes to lose his virginity, starring John Hawkes, Helen Hunt and William H. Macy; Yang Luchan is the inventor of Yang style Tai Chi in the Chinese actioner Tai Chi O; The Kids Are All Right scribe Stuart Blumberg makes his feature debut with the sex-addict dramedy Thanks For Sharing, starring Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, and Gwyneth Paltrow, who I hope falls off the wagon at least one good time in this picture.
Frank Langella and Wes Bentley star in the character dram The Time Being from first-timer Nenad Cicin-Sain; Venus & Serena is a doc following the tennis siblings for one year; Writers is a divorce drama starring Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly and Logan Lerman, from another first-timer in Josh Boone; and last, but certainly not least is Zaytoun, which looks to be an inspiring drama set in Beirut in 1982 as an Israeli fighter pilot and a Palestinian refugee try to make it across Lebanon.
TIFF runs September 6-16. Ticket packages are on sale now. Keep it tuned to Xavierpop for the sweet ‘n lowdown on all the films showing this year.
Everything that was predicted pretty much came true by the end of the 11-day Festival de Cannes as it celebrated its 65th anniversary. It was a year with no big controversies, repeat winners and an American slate of films that were almost entirely shut out of the award proceedings.
Michael Haneke entered as one of the favorites, having won awards previously with The Piano Teacher, Cache and the Palme D’Or winning The White Ribbon just 3 years ago, and now he’s won the big prize for the second time in 4 years with his new one, Amour about love among a couple in their twilight years. Hailed as a masterpiece early on in the festival and eventually becoming the inevitable front-runner, it now stands to reason that is also the front-runner for best foreign language film going into the busy fall season. Look for its North American premiere to occur in Toronto in September.
The octogenarian couple in the film played by France’s own Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant had been the favorites to win awards in the acting categories, but momentary shock ran through the crowd when Madds Mikkelsen took the prize for Best Actor for his role in The Hunt, the new drama by Thomas Vinterberg (The Celebration), which also picked up the Ecumenical Jury’s top prize. The film as well as Mikkelsen’s performance were lauded, but the frenchies were pulling for Trintignant.
Best Actress was shared between co-stars Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur for Beyond the Hills, directed by Cristian Mungiu, who also won best screenplay for his Romanian drama. Mungiu won the Palme d’Or for 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days in 2007. Beyond the Hills was met with warm enough praise, but not like his previous effort.
Mexico’s Carlos Reygadas took the Best Director prize for Post Tenebras Lux, a dreamlike exploration of the undercurrent of menace within Mexican society today. His last film was the wonderful religious drama Silent Light.
The second-place prize–Le Grand Prix–went to previous Grand Prix winner for Gomorrah director Matteo Garrone‘s new one, Reality, which was lauded as a good but minor film from him.
Also proclaimed a minor effort was the third-place finisher–the Cannes Jury Prize–Ken Loach for his new comedy Angel’s Share. He previously won the Palme D’Or for The Wind That Shakes the Barley.
Brazilian director Carlos Diegues headed the Camera D’Or jury, which awards the prize for best first feature film, and this is where the only American production won anything for the indie drama Beasts of the Southern Wild by Behn Zeitlin. It got the greatest applause of the festival.
In the Un Certain Regard set of films, with jury head Tim Roth at the helm, they bestowed awards on a couple of the films playing out of competition. The final “A Certain Regard” choices were diverse, with the top prize going to Despues de Lucia by Mexican director Michel Franco, a film about a girl and her father struggling with starting over in a new town. The Special Jury Prize went to the French film Le Grand Soir by Benoit Delepine and Gustave Kervern, in which two brothers aim to spearhead a punk revolution following personal economic disaster.
Make a list and check it twice through the summer, TIFF will no doubt be premiering many if not all of these intriguing selections.
As we wrap up the 65th Festival de Cannes, so come the awards. The In Competition Programme anchored by the Palme D’or is the last of the awards to be announced, however the Awards for Un Certain Regard and the Cinéfondation were announced earlier with director Michel Franco‘s Despues de Lucia taking the top prize in the Un Certain Regard and Doroga Na (The Road To) directed by Taisia Igumentseva taking the top prize in the Cinéfondation programme.
The decision was decided by a jury presided over by actor and director Tim Roth.
“This was an extraordinarily strong group of films and our deliberations were passionate,” Roth said in a statement. “The film makers never once failed us! Incredible!”
UN CERTAIN REGARD :
Un Certain Regard Special Distinction DJECA (CHILDREN OF SARAJEVO) directed by Aida BEGIC
Un Certain Regard Award for Best Actress À PERDRE LA RAISON played by Emilie DEQUENNE LAURENCE ANYWAYS played by Suzanne CLÉMENT
Un Certain Regard Special Jury Prize LE GRAND SOIR directed by Gustave KERVERN, Benoît DELÉPINE
Prize of Un Certain Regard DESPUÉS DE LUCIA directed by Michel FRANCO
1st Prize Cinéfondation DOROGA NA (THE ROAD TO) directed by Taisia IGUMENTSEVA
2nd Prize – Cinéfondation ABIGAIL directed by Matthew James REILLY
3rd Prize Cinéfondation LOS ANFITRIONES (THE HOSTS) directed by Miguel Angel MOULET