When we Rejects get let out of the cage (and it’s a literal cage, a big one under Dear Leader Miller’s desk, with a hamster wheel and everything) to journey to festivals far and wide, we tend to turn in some pretty comprehensive coverage. Along the way, we often cover some films that pop up along the festival circuit for months on end, titles that show up at Sundance and then journey west to SXSW, that premiere at Cannes before going American at LAFF, and those that parlay good buzz at one fest into showings across the globe.
We’ve already drooled over today’s announcement of the Toronto International Film Festival‘s first wave of programming, but buried within those 62 just-announced films are five we’ve already checked out at other festivals (including Sundance and Cannes). Want to get a taste of what TIFF will offer (hint: tastes like poutine and makes your mouth water just as much)? Hit the break to get reacquainted with 5 TIFF-bound films that we’ve already seen (and, in many cases, already loved).
Our Euro-spondent (that’s European correspondent) Simon Gallagher tore up this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and the benefits from his French journey continue to make themselves plain, even three months later. During his outstanding work at Cannes, Simon saw and reviewed no less than four TIFF-bound features, but there was only one that earned a staggering “A+” grade from him. Simon said that Thomas Vinterberg‘s production is “a hugely affecting film, inspiring the full gambit of emotions from humor through to fist-clenching rage, exploring the dangers of group ethics in a clever and nuanced way that is successful in part thanks to a very strong script from Vinterberg and Tobias Lindholm and a career-high, authentic turn from Mads Mikkelsen. It is a chilling, and engrossing crescendo of horror, pitch-perfect in its execution, and while it might not be given the wide commercial release it deserves, it is strongly recommended that you go and find it.”
You know what else Simon loved? Jacques Audiard‘s Un Prophet follow-up, Rust and Bone. His review explains that “Rust and Bone is still an emotionally raw film though – like an exposed nerve at times – and Audiard’s minimalist approach to shot composition and cinematography help that cause wonderfully. Every decision feels choreographed to the most extreme degree and as a result no shot feels wasted: Audiard’s approach is one of economy, relying on spectacle only when it is appropriate for the story and instead allowing the strength of his actors, and indeed of his story, which is adapted (though not closely) from Craig Davidson‘s short story collection.” Final thoughts? Simon drew parallels to Biutiful, and he drew “the parallel as a compliment – Biutiful was one of my favorite films, and certainly one of my favorite performances of 2010 – and the same will no doubt be said of Rust and Bone when this year is out.”
Cannes also played host to Matteo Garrone‘s Reality, another offering that Simon reviewed, though after his adoration of The Hunt and Rust and Bone, his praise was a bit more restrained when it comes to this reality TV-tinged tale. He noted that “Garrone also chooses to again film with near documentary-like sparseness, the camera following characters as a member of their group rather than framing them with distance, or wasting too much time on non-functional aesthetic composition: his portrait of the un-sanitized banality of living striking just the right counter-balance to Luciano (Aniello Arena)’s delusions of fame and glory. And thankfully, Garrone never stoops to forcing the message down our throats – the decision to go for gentle comedy, rather than dark, biting satire values the audience’s ability to connect the dots and work out what Garrone is trying to say for ourselves. The film is better for it, and an open ending brilliantly refuses to offer any judgement on how Luciano’s story ends, in a final blur of the reality/fantasy divide.”
While Simon didn’t go totally ga-ga over Wayne Blair‘s “aboriginal Dreamgirls,” he still found plenty to like in the period musical. He declared it “one of the most commercial concerns included in this year’s festival schedule (it appears out of competition), and it is certainly the most harmless, eschewing provocation in favour of a genuine entertainment factor, and preferring to tell its worthy story in terms of its characters and their personal relationships. And thanks to the tight, technically impressive cinematography from Samson and Delilah‘s Warwick Thornton, those relationships play out on a beautiful, vibrant canvas. It will be well worth any wider cinematic release it finds (it’s currently only slated for an August Australian release) offering a less insistent take on a Dreamgirls-like story, and backed up by some fine performances from its cast.”
Our own Allison Loring reviewed Ben Lewin‘s The Sessions in January at Sundance (back then, it was called The Surrogate), saying that the director “succeeds in crafting a film that takes on a difficult subject matter in a way that portrays even the most awkward moments with humor and honesty.” She also singles out John Hawkes‘ performance, saying that he “transforms into Mark from his (limited) mannerisms to the intonation of his voice to his sense of humor and all the while keeping that undeniable charm that had us wanting to join his cult in Martha Marcy May Marlene last year and not be too intimidated by Tear-Drop in Winter’s Bone. Hawkes’ performance is most impressive because he is not only able to develop these natural relationships with the different women that come into his life, he does so in a way that is believable and you never once think these women’s affection for him is born out of pity.”
The Toronto International Film Festival runs September 6 to September 16.