TIFF 2013 :: Breaking Down The Program – 100 Picks at TIFF

by Shannonn Kelly
05:12AM, EST, Thursday September 05, 2013

Chiwetel Ejiofor, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jason Bateman bring their personal best to TIFF 2013
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jason Bateman bring their personal best to TIFF 2013

Well film lovers – the behemoth that is known as the 38th Annual Toronto International Film Festival is in full swing starting Today!

As my readers know, I try and give you the best bang for your $23.50 per ticket by breaking down the monster program book into a pop-culture-y take and make it all user friendly.

I always try to find the gems from all over the world and not just Hollywood blockbusters. Especially interesting to filmgoers should be films without distribution. Those are the films people need to see so the filmmaker can build and audience through word-of-mouth, no matter what country they’re from. This year was tough to stay ‘indie‘ with so many good people making good movies and a few GREAT directorial debuts, by the likes of (my crushes) Jason Bateman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt for instance.

I’ve been following Chiwetel Ejiofor since he played ‘Okwe’ in Stephen Frears‘ film Dirty Pretty Things (2002). I saw the premiere of this film when I was still in school but came here for TIFF. I was blown away by his performance and the screenplay in general.the script was originally submitted by writer Steven Knight to the BBC Writersroom. This screenplay went on to become ‘Dirty Pretty Things’. Ejiofor won Best Actor at the British Independent Film Awards, the Evening Standard Film Awards, and the San Diego Film Critics Society Awards. He went on to co-star in  Love Actually (2003), Woody Allen‘s Melinda and Melinda (2004), Kinky Boots (2005), Inside Man (2006), Children of Men (2006), American Gangster (2007) which I really thought he was the star and not Denzel Washington.

This year Ejiofor stars in two heartfelt and dramatic films at TIFF. He plays ‘Odenigbo’ in Half of a Yellow Sun about family and war in Nigeria by director and starring opposite Thandie Newton and Anika Noni Rose.

In “12 Years a Slave“, Ejiofor also stars as ‘Solomon Northup’ in this horrendous based on fact story about a fiddle playing 19th-century free black man abducted and sold into slavery in the pre-Civil War era Deep South. Directed by Steve McQueen “Hunger” (2008) and Shame (2011). Cast your early Oscar vote for for Ejiofor in “12 Years a Slave”. It’s going to be a Winner.

There are 366 short and feature films and docs screening at TIFF 2013. I’ve narrowed it down to 100. I have finished all my research, but I haven’t key in all my notes. I’ll continue to plug in more info as the days progress. For the rest of my picks in alphabetical order, please see below. If you see 2 ** that equals a *MUST SEE*.  Happy TIFF-ing!

    1. 12 Years  a Slave ** See Above
    2. Starred Up, dir. David Mackenzie (UK) Instead of wanting to get out, 19-year-old Eric desperately wants to stay behind bars, where he can be with his dad Neville played Ben Mendelsohn. I suggest you see anything and everything with Ben Mendelsohn in it, including an episode of “Girls” and “Animal Kingdom” (2010)
    3. The Fifth Estate, dir. Bill Condon (USA) is the opening night gala for TIFF. And it’s the official start of “Cumber-Palooza” as Benedict Cumberbatch stars as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Cumberbatch also co-stars in “12 Years   a Slave” and “August: Ossange County”.
    4. Parkland, dir. Peter Landesman (USA) Where were you when JFK was shot? An adaptation from the novel “Four Days in November“. Stars James Badge Dale, Zac Efron, character greats Jacki Weaver and Paul Giamatti and Mark Duplass in an ensemble piece that looks at the day and the people involved the day JFK was shot.
    5. Docs: Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon directorial debut of Toronto’s Mike (I went off the rails for a bit) Myers (CDN). Back from messes like the Love Guru and hopefully a lot saner, Myers brings us a documentary about Shep Gordon, a Hollywood insider, dealmaker, hedonist and career launcher of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. Features interviews with Alice Cooper, Michael Douglas to name a few
    6. Words and Pictures, dir. Fred Schepisi (Australia) Empire Falls (2005 TV movie), Six Degrees of Separation (1993) The Russia House (1990), Roxanne (1987) are just a few of his credits. Clive Owens is an English teacher and a drunk who was once big in the literary world and Juliette Binoche is a painter with arthritis making painting a different kind of suffering for her art.
    7. The Lunchbox, dir. Ritesh Batra (India/France/Germany) I love the premise of lunchbox being delivered to the wrong person starts a romance.
    8. The Grand Seduction, dir. Don McKellar (CDN) While I love Brendon Gleason, Gordon Pinsent, I loved the original French film McKellar’s film is adapted from by Quebec director Jean-François Pouliot called, “La grande séduction” (Seducing Dr. Lewis). I say see Mckellar’s but immediately after TIFF see the original.
    9. Rush, dir. Ron Howard (USA) Learned about this film watching the UK smash TV show “Top Gear”. Ron Howard was a guest and he talked about the movie and the backstory and then was subjected to a grueling speed-lap test. His lap time was better than AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson . Stars Chris Hemsworth as Austrian 70’s driving star Niki Lauda. Screenplay by Peter Morgan who wrote The Queen and The Last King of Scotland.
    10. August: Osage County**, dir. John Wells (USA) ER, West Wing and Third Watch helmer Wells works with one of the best writers of stage and screen, Tracy Letts a Pulitzer prize winner. Film stars Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sam Shepard. This is a hard story about fractured family of daughters (Roberts, Julianne Nicholson, Juliette Lewis) an Oklahoma poet/alcoholic played by Shepard whose wife (Streep) suffers from cancer and drug dependency. The strained family has to come together and deal with a crisis.
    11. Blood Ties**, dir. Guillaume Canet (France/USA) Mean streets of NYC in the 70’s filled with criminals, corrupt cops, hookers and hijinks. Stars Clive Owens, Marion Cotillard (Rust and Bone), Mila Kuis, the incredible Matthias Schoenarts Rust and Bone (2012), Bullhead (2010)
    12. Kill Your Darlings**, dir. John Krokidas (USA) Daniel Radcliffe plays a young Allen Ginsberg and Ben Foster plays William S. Burroughs in the early days of the Beat Generation and a notorious 1944 murder of Burroughs’ friend David Kammerer
    13. American Dreams in China, dir. Peter Ho-sun Chan (Hong Kong/China) dubbed “the Chinese Social Network” – Three business student friends launch a successful online English instruction school for Chinese students and then suffer the legal consequences of getting rich and not signing contracts
    14. Les Beaux Jours (Bright Days Ahead), dir. Marion Vernoux (France) The French Academy Award equivalent César-winning French cinema icon Fanny Ardant is a married woman in her sixties who has an affair with a much younger man. It’s like a ‘sexy’ Cougar Town’ without Busy Philipps J
    15. Cold Eyes, dir. Cho Ui-seok, Kim Byung-seo (South Korea) Action-thriller that involves a high-tech police surveillance team and a gang of ruthless bank robbers.
    16. Life of Crime, dir. Daniel Schechter (USA) This film will close the 38th Annual TIFF. The incredible John Hawkes stars along with Jennifer Aniston and Tim Robbins in this story about two ex-cons whose plan to kidnap a real estate developer’s wife doesn’t go as smoothly as planned.
    17. Che strano chiamarisi Federico: Scola racconta Fellini (How Strange to be Name Federico: Scola narrates Fellini), dir. Ettore Scola
    18. Moebius, dir. Kim Ki-duk (South Korea) Twisted family. Psychological thriller. Grotesque comedy. Sadomasochism. I’m In!
    19. Les Salauds (Bastards), dir. Claire Denis (France)
    20. Prisoners, dir. Denis Villeneuve (USA/CDN)
    21. Sunshine on Leith, dir. Dexter Fletcher (UK)

As soon as you see him you’ll recognize actor turned director Fletcher. He co-starred the TV series Band of Brothers (2001), as well as movies – The Elephant Man (1980), The Bounty (1984), Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), Layer Cake (2004) and Kick-Ass (2010). I’m curious to see his outing as a first time director. Also, I was such a huge fan of Peter Mullan in the deep and dark Tyrannosaur, that I have to see him in a different role if not just for comparison. He and Jane Horrocks (Little Voice, Chicken Run) star in this musical inspired by the songs of “The Proclaimers”. All the actors do their own signing. Let’s see if we’d all walk ‘500 Hundred Miles” to see this film…

  1. Dallas Buyers Club**, dir. Jean-Marc Vallée (USA/CDN)
  2. Bad Words**, dir. Jason Bateman (USA)
  3. Can a Song Save Your Life?, dir. John Carney (USA)
  4. The F Word dir Michael Dowse (CDN/Ireland)
  5. Philomena**, dir. Stephen Frears (UK)
  6. Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises), dir. Hayao Miyazaki (Japan)
  7. Amour Crime Parfait (Love is the Perfect Crime), dir. Arnaud Larrieu, Jean-Marie Larrieu (France/Switzerland)
  8. Enough Said, dir. Nicole Holofcener (USA) James Gandolfini in his last role. Aslo stars Toni Collette, Catherine Keener in this story about a woman pursuing a man only to find out he’s the husband of her new BFF.
  9. The Blind Detective**, dir. Johnnie To (Hong Kong)
  10. Under The Skin, dir. Jonathan Glazer (UK)
  11. Dom Hemingway, dir. Richard Shepard (UK)
  12. The Double**, dir. Richard Ayoade (UK) I’m suggesting you see a movie only because I absolutely love absolutely everything Richard Ayoade does. Trust me. Or I owe you a movie ticket. 😉 The director, writer of the small, quirky and satisfying “Submarine” (2010), writes and directs a comedy centered on a man who is driven insane by the appearance of his doppleganger. Stars Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, Wallace Shawn.
  13. Ida, dir. Pawel Pawlikowski (Poland) Just before taking her vows as a nun, a young woman discovers a dark family decret.
  14. Quai d’Orsay**, dir. Bertrand Travernier (France) If you love French Politics, you’ll j’adore this film. Political satire about a dashing, globetrotting French foreign minister whose charm and insouciance mask his utter and complete incompetence.
  15. Attila Marcel, dir. Sylvain Chomet (France)
  16. Felony**, dir. Matthew Saville (Australia) Screenplay written by Joel Edgerton, fabulous actor of “Warrior” and “Animal Kingdom” to name a couple, writes and stars in this story of three male detectives who struggle after a tragic accident that leaves a child in a coma.
  17. La Grande Bellazza (The Great Beauty), dir. Paolo Sorrentino (Italy)
  18. Like Father Like Son**, dir. Hirokazu Kore-Eda (Japan) Nature vs. Nurture. Two sons switched at birth
  19. La Vie d’Adèle chapitres 1& 2 (Blue is the Warmest Color), dir. Abdellatif Kechiche (France)
  20. Vi är bäst! (We are the Best!), dir. Lukas Moodysson (Sweden). The film for anyone who was not with the “cool kids” in school. I’m in!
  21. Mystery Road, dir. Iven Sen (Australia)
  22. The Husband, dir. Bruce McDonald (CDN)
  23. Le Passé (The Past), dir. Asghar Farhadi (France/Italy)
  24. Joe, dir. David Gordon Green (USA)
  25. The Finishers, dir. Nils Tavernier (Belgium/France)
  26. Child of God**, dir. James Franco (USA) From a Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name, a loner get more and more estranged from the ‘normal world’ descending literally and figuratively to the level of a cave dweller as he falls deeper into crime and degradation.
  27. Lucky Them, dir. Megan Griffiths (USA)
  28. Enemy, dir. Denis Villeneuve (CDN/Spain)
  29. All Is By My Side**, dir. John Ridley (UK/Ireland) Biopic of Jimi Hendrix starring OutKast’s André 3000 Benjamin
  30. Man of Tai Chi, dir. Keanu Reeves (USA/China)
  31. Tracks, dir. John Curran (UK/Australia)
  32. Only Lovers Left Alive, dir. Jim Jarmusch (USA)
  33. Tom à la ferme (Tom at the Farm), dir. Xavier Dolan (CDN/France)
  34. Don Jon**, dir. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (USA)
  35. Fading Gigolo, dir. John Turturro (USA)
  36. Mavericks: In Conversation With Spike Jonze
  37. Mavericks: In Real Life With Beeban Kidron
  38. Mavericks: Made in America With Ron Howard
  39. Mavericks: Qu’est-ce que le cinema ? With Chuck Workman
  40. Corey Monteith “All the Wrong Reasons”, dir. Gia Milani (CDN)
  41. Corey Monteith “McCanick”, dir. Josh C. Waller (USA)
  42. Fat, dir. Mark Phinney (USA)
  43. The Stag, dir. John Butler (Ireland)
  44. Por Las Plumas (All About the Feathers), dir. Neto Villalobos (Cosa Rica)
  45. Around the Block, dir. Sarah Spillane (Australia)
  46. Bends, dir. Flora Lau (Hong Kong)
  47. Paraíso (Paradise), dir. Mariana Chenillo (Mexico)
  48. Jo Nan-ja-deul (Intruders), dir. Nok Young-seok (South Korea)
  49. Lobo atrás da Porta (A Wolf at the Door), dir. Fernando Coimbra (Brazil)
  50. De Umoralske (The Immoral), dir. Lars Daniel Krutzkoff Jacobsen (Norway)
  51. The Sea, dir. Stephen Brown (Ireland)
  52. The Dick Knost, Show, dir. Bruce Sweeney (Canada)
  53. Bastardo, dir. Nejib Belkadhi (Tunisia/France/Qatar)
  54. Málmhaus (Metalhead), dir. Ragnar Bragason (Iceland)
  55. The Major, dir. Yuri Bykov (Russia)
  56. L’Inconnu du lac (Stranger by the Lake), dir. Alain Guiraudie (France)
  57. Het Diner (The Dinner), dir. Menno Meyjes
  58. Docs: Finding Vivian Maier, dir. John Maloof, Charlie Siskel
  59. Docs: The Unknown Known**, dir. Erroll Morris (USA)
  60. Docs: Un Voyageur (Ain’t Misbehavin’)**, dir. Marcel Ophüls (France)
  61. Docs: The Dog**, dir. Allison Berg, Frank Keraudren (USA)
  62. Docs: Beyond the Edge, dir. Leanne Pooley (New Zealand)
  63. Docs: El Alcalde (The Mayor), dir. Emiliano Altuna Fistolera, Carlos Federico Rossini, Diego Osorno (Mexico)
  64. Docs: Tim’s Vermeer, dir Teller (USA)
  65. Greece: Miss Violence, dir. Alexandros Avranas
  66. Greece: I aionia epistrofi tou Antoni Paraskeua (The Eternal Return of Anonis Paraskevas), dir. Elina Psykou
  67. A Field in England, dir. Ben Wheatley (UK)
  68. A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness, dir. Ben Rivers, Ben Russell (Estonia/France)
  69. Das merkwürdige Kätzchen (The Strange Little Cat), dir. Ramon Zürcher (Germany)
  70. Docs: Feng Ai (‘Til Madness Do Us Part), dir. Wang Bing (Hong Kong/France/Japan)
  71. Antboy, dir. Ask Hasselbalch (Denmark) Listed in the Tiff Kids section, the appeal of comic book superheroes is universal and I think we should see this film for the kid in us.
  72. Horns**, dir. Alexandre Aja (USA) – Daniel Radcliff
  73. Midnight Madness: All Cheerleaders Die, dir. Lucky McKee, Chris Sivertson (USA)
  74. Midnight Madness: Blutgletscher (The Station)**, dir. Marvin Kren (Austria)
  75. Midnight Madness: The Green Inferno, dir. Eli Roth (USA)
  76. Midnight Madness: Rigor Mortis, dir. Juno Mak (Hong Kong)
  77. Midnight Madness: R100, dir. Hitoshi Matsumoto (Japan)
  78. Midnight Madness: Jigoku de Naze Warui? (Why Don’t You Play in Hell?) dir. Sion Sono (Japan)
  79. Las brujas de Zugarramurdi (Witching & Bitching), dir. Álex de la Iglesia

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