Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Early Thoughts about TIFF 2008

The initial announcements for the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) have started to roll out and I've already got a bunch picked out.

I'm going for the 30 ticket pass this year which might be straining reality somewhat since I'm not on vacation during the fest. I expect I'll be grabbing a day off here and there though while squeezing bucket loads in on the weekends.

Midnight Madness selections are to be announced today, so there will definitely be a few more added to my list. Though I love the idea of attending a midnight screening with ravenous fans, it just never seems like a great plan on the day of...

A couple of other great resources...First, Greg over at TOFilmFest has built a lovely site that adds all the films as they are announced PLUS short synopses of the films and links to reviews, etc. It's a great place to start your investigation of the slate of movies (instead of going one by one through IMDB).

Darren Hughes' First Thursday blog has risen again for another couple of months of news and discussion leading up to the fest. I found this invaluable last year as I connected with a couple of long time attendees.

Here are some of my early picks from the currently announced crop:

  • 24 City (Jia Zhang-ke) - Given the raves I heard about Jia's films at previous fests (and having seen and enjoyed "The World"), I may have to dive into his latest.

  • Control Alt Delete (Cameron Labine) - In the heady Internet Porn days of 1999, Lewis begins a new relationship - complicated by the fact that he is also sexually involved with his own computer. One can only hope that the filmmakers leave a lot to the viewer's imagination...

  • Cooper's Camera (Warren Sonoda) - Young Teddy uses a camcorder to document the strange happenings around his dysfunctional family during Christmas 1985. Has possibilities, but with the wrong tone it could be a "seen it all before" bore. Part of the Canada First program.

  • Every Little Step (Adam Del Deo, James Stern) - The makers of 2006's political doc "...So Goes The Nation" turn to musical theatre by comparing behind the scenes footage from 1975 rehearsals of "A Chorus Line" to the recent Broadway revival of the same show. Could be quite interesting to see the commonalities across 30 years.

  • Fear Me Not (Kristian Levring) - One of the more intriguing premises has a man who continues his experimental drug regimen (after the clinical trial has been cancelled) and begins to try to take control of others' lives. From Denmark.

  • Gomorrah (Matteo Garrone) - Five separate stories about characters from Italy's underworld make "probably the most authentic and unsentimental mafia movie ever to come out of Italy" (Screen Daily's Lee Marshall). Based on a non-fiction expose by Roberto Saviano.

  • The Good, The Bad And The Weird (Kim Jee-woon) - Kim's previous two films ("Bittersweet Life" and "A Tale Of Two Sisters") were both well done and visually interesting, so I'm looking forward to see what he can do with a Western in 1930s Manchuria that follows 3 Korean outlaws.

  • O'Horten (Bent Hamer) - I suppose the plot (of a man about to take his last train trip between Oslo and Bergen after 40 years) doesn't scream excitement, but I really enjoyed one of Hamer's previous films - "Kitchen Stories" - and tend to find the Scandinavian sense of humour to be in sync with mine.

  • Real Time (Randall Cole) - Randy Quaid and Jay Baruchel in the story of a man given an hour to live by the man that was hired to kill him. Sounds like the title of the film describes it and I'm a sucker for movies that impose restrictions like that on themselves...

  • Three Monkeys (Nuri Bilge Ceylan) - I'm two for two with Ceylan having really liked the slow moving "Distant" and recent "Climates". His latest (about a family who tries to ignore and cover up their problems) has had a few not so glowing reviews, but it still makes the list.

  • Tokyo Sonata (Kiyoshi Kurosawa) - You need me to explain at this point that I'm excited about a new Kiyoshi Kurosawa film? Have you not been paying attention? It's billed as his first real "drama" (ie. not horror), so I'm curious to see where he's headed. Having said that, it's not like all his films have been solely genre exercises. By the way, he has his own Blog-a-thon coming up! Excellent news Michael!

  • Tony Manero (Pablo LarraĆ­n) - In 1978, a Chilean dancer lives to imitate John Travolta's Tony Manero character from "Saturday Night Fever" - especially when word arrives that a TV station is holding a Manero impersonation contest.

  • Toronto Stories - A "tribute" to the city of Toronto, this omnibus film contains 4 short stories (each directed by a different filmmaker from the city) that are all witnessed by the same young boy. I love omnibus films (well, at least the concept of them anyway) and I'm pretty damn fond of my city as well - so this is a strong contender for can't miss status.

  • White Night Wedding (Baltasar Kormakur) - I didn't see last year's "Jar City" from the same director nor did I really much care for another of his films ("101 Reykjavik"), but it's an Icelandic film and the country definitely has found a place on my must visit list. And Sigur Ros are from there too...


Anonymous said...

Hey Eternal Sunshine, I'm Warren Sonoda, the director of "Coopers' Camera" - and I'm extremely happy our movie made your list! I hope you do enjoy it - I know how crazy TIFF can be, and we're certainly amongst some amazing films trying to get attention -- if you don't like it, please find me during TIFF and I will refund your ticket! Would love to know what you think of our "little movie that could". Happy TIFF'ing.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Bob. I'm hoping to put together a few previews like I did last year but so far have felt too busy. I am doing some reading and a few of yours will also be on my list (24 City, White Night Wedding, at least). I'm also hoping we can do another meetup with some of our US blogging brethren.

Bob Turnbull said...

Hi Warren! Thanks very much for commenting...You've essentially ensured I'll make time for your film now - that's pretty ingenious marketing. B-)

Congrats on making TIFF by the way. That must be enormously satisfying.

Hey James...Yes, I'm also hoping we can crash the blogging dinner again. That's why I'm keeping tabs on them over at the 1st Thursday blog. Don't want them sneaking off to some hidden corner. B-)

Looking forward to your picks as more films get announced.

Bob Turnbull said...

And by the way...Neither of you bothered to mention my typo in the Subject line? "Early Thoughts about TIFF 20088"? Not even a "Geez, you're not kidding when you said early thoughts Bob...".

I had to leave it up for a whole day and half before I noticed it myself.


Anonymous said...

LOL - no, I didn't notice that Bob! And yes - getting into TIFF was the boost we were waiting for as we finish the film. It's a world stage, one of the biggest there is for festivals. Yeah - maybe I should keep googling Coopers' and responding to blogs! I'll pack the house for sure! Ahhhh..... but seriously, I really do think we were able to make a special, funny little movie that will hopefully surprise and entertain people and hopefully make them forget about the price of gas for 90 minutes. WPS

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Great list Bob! There are a lot of exciting film choices this year I can't wait to start making lists!

Have you had a chance to look at the Midnight Madness choices? I usually go to the second screening for films I'm interested in, as doing a midnight film then a 9am film just doesn't work. Last year I did catch Sukiyaki Western Django at midnight and it was unbelievable. I might try one or two this year, especially the opening/closing films.

Bob Turnbull said...

I'm looking forward to seeing the film Warren...If you aren't besieged by media hounds afterwards, I'll come say Hi...B-)

Hey Shannon! I'm looking at the Midnight Madness Picks right now actually - "Detroit Metal City", "Not Quite Hollywood" and "Sexykiller" are my faves so far, but I must say I still want to see "Chocolate"...I know it'll be relatively bad outside the stunts, but the stunts will be awesome.

The TIFF site seems to have gone bye-bye for the moment (I'm getting an error no matter what URL I go to within the tiff08.ca site at the moment), but the trusty TOfilmfest site is up and running, so I'll try to finish up my write-ups tonight.

Michael Guillen said...

Hey Bob, thanks for the shout-out regarding the Kurosawa blogathon, which ended up being more subdued than I anticipated; but, that's okay. Maybe we'll get to catch Tokyo Sonata together?

Anonymous said...

Bob, thanks very much for recommending our site, TOfilmfest.ca -- it's nice to see the traffic from people using the site, but even better to read a post about us like that! 8-)
We linked to some of your reviews last year, so I hope to hear from you again this year!