When we released our Must-Watch Top 12 for TIFF 2012 sometime back, we thought it be a great selection of films to choose from when going to the festival. What we didn’t realize was the level of enthusiasm of those who attend the festival: Hardcore movie lovers who want to spend extra time at the festival. As such, we thought we’d provide another 12 films you should watch at the festival, some of which we hope to talk about in the coming days and weeks.
We had to do a double take when we realized that Nick Cassavetes was on the list! Cassavetes – known for directing The Notebook and Face/Off – returns to the big screen with another character focused film. The film stars Heather Wahlquist in the title role; a woman by the name of Mary Holmes who on the surface looks completely normal. That isn’t the case. From drugs to mental issues, Holmes struggles with everyday life, unraveling things on a journey back home. If The Notebook and Face/Off are any indication, Cassavetes understands the development of character and this is something that would be a treat to see with a dynamic artists involved in the project, such as Sienna Miller, Melanie Griffith and Ray Liotta. The curiosity in the colour makes this a must-watch!
This is rather an easy on choice for our list. Directed by Shola Lynch, this documentary focuses around legendary radical activist Angela Davis, who in the 1970’s was imprisoned as a terrorist and conspirator. For the first time since her arrest, Davis shares her story. From the arrest, the struggle, to the many years of adjustment, Davies gives Lynch a deeper look at the time period and what she had to go through to make a point. Documentaries of historical significance are always a must-watch as they provide an opportunity to revisit past happenings and to really reflect and learn from them. Celebrating its World Premiere at TIFF 2012, this is a documentary you must see.
From director Andrzej Jakimowski comes a very moving and emotional film. Imagine follows the story of Ian (Edward Hogg); a blind man who walks without a cane, envisioning the landscape around him and venturing into the busy streets of Lisbon with a woman who has the same affliction. The majority of the cast in this film are blind, a truly incredible decision by Jakimowski; to highlight the experiences and barriers of an individual who does not have something that the majority of us take for granted is not an easy task. If you wish to see a film that will move you, give you a sneak-peak at human life without the gifts that most of us have, then you must see this!
Inside Man director Spike Lee returns to the festival with a very special film. Bad 25 celebrates the 25th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s album Bad while also commemorating the life of the Jackson that made it big. Lee takes us back 25 years to the day Michael was recording his album, providing us with behind-the-scenes footage of the recording session. In addition, the documentary features interviews by well known celebrities including Kanye West & Sheryl Crow. Michael Jackson’s death marked the loss of not only great talent but of a great individual. Lee hopes to put the spotlight back on Michael and give audiences the chance to once again reflect upon an icon.
Ralph Fiennes returns to the festival in another highly anticipated film: Great Expectations. This Charles Dickens adaption by director Mike Newell features a stellar cast including Sally Hawkins, Helena Bonham Carter, and Fiennes’ Harry Potter co-star Robbie Coltrane. Bringing a classic to the screen is no easy task and having a fantastic cast is only the tip of the iceberg. A classic masterpiece requires deep understanding and a precise approach. Newell has the ability to deliver. Seeing a classic being re-envisioned is a risk but it would be treat to see such amazing talent together on the big screen.
No, this is not a Marvel film. The Iceman follows the story of Richard “The Iceman” Kuklinski, a notorious real-life mob hit-man who is reportedly responsible for over 200 murders. The title role of Iceman is portrayed by the brilliant – and Academy Award nominee – Michael Shannon, joined by an absolutely talented cast including Winona Ryder, Ray Liotta and Chris Evans. Shannon is a very gifted actor. He goes beyond what his characters are “planned” as and demonstrates amazing ability to master different emotions and character traits. This movie is a staple just to see Shannon in his element!
Documentary filmmaker Liz Garbus brings to the festival what is likely the most unusual, interesting and innovative production of Marilyn Monroe yet. Monroe – a style and entertainment icon – has be portrayed in many films since her death in 1962. Garbus takes a rather different approach. Drawing on never-before-seen personal papers, diaries and letters, this Academy Award nominated director uses an ensemble cast of Hollywood’s best to enact the various aspects of the legend. Whether it be passion or ambition, each actor uses Monroe’s very own letters to bring to the screen a part of Monroe, which Garbus then weaves together. By using personal documents that belonged to Monroe, this film has a certain significance to it and the reason why it ends up on our list.
Frank Langella. We don’t really need to say more but we will anyways. Nenad Cicin-Sain makes fiction feature debut with The Time Being, which stars Wes Bentley and Frank Langella, with a story that focuses around a struggling young artist (Bentley) who receives ridiculous commissions from a dying millionaire (Langella). The question that remains: is he really helping him? Langella is a veteran actor who simply delivers every single time. From stage to the big screen, his acting is universal and to see him participate in a filmmaker’s debut film is a big deal. Indie filmmakers bring a certain new perspective that adds a refreshing project to the mix of blockbusters and big hit films we see today. Here we get to see veteran acting with new generation perspective.
Director Cate Shortland brings to the festival her second feature film. You may think this is no big deal. She, however, has demonstrated the ability to create great film. Her first feature released nearly eight years ago, back in 2004; Somersault debuted in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival to great reviews. Not only that, it starred newcomers Sam Worthington and Abbie Cornish before anyone really knew them. Lore, by the same token, features new actress Saskia Rosendahl who portrays the title role of Lore, a fourteen-year-old German girl who – after her SS father is captured by the allies – must lead her four siblings through a war zone and put her trust in a person she was taught to hate. This has the makings of a great film and should be a staple on anyone’s list.
No festival is complete without a good action film from the east. Legendary director Takeshi Kitano returns to the big screen with a sequel to his 2010 thriller, Outrage. Outrage Beyond brings back the yakuza genre that put Kitano on the map. The story focuses on the infiltration and destruction of the underworld by local police, a story that brings to the screen Kitano’s “deadpan-funny sensibility” to the Tokyo underworld, with a hyper-violent film that conveys various themes including honour, retribution, and loyalty. For anyone wanting to see a great example of the yakuza genre, this is a must watch!
Its been a while since we saw Zhang Ziyi, her last proper western film being 2009’s Horsemen starring Dennis Quaid. She returns to TIFF in Dangerous Liaisons, a Chinese film adaption of the French epistolary novel by Choderlos de Laclos of the same name. The film is directed by South-Korean director and screenwriter Hur Jin-ho. Laclos’ story is a classic, one that has been adapted to film, television and stage many times. Seeing such a classic story be given a very different regional context is both interesting and unique. With such veteran actors from the Chinese film industry a part of this project, this production should be an interesting cinematic experience for audiences everywhere.
Director Andrew Adamson adapts Lloyd Jones’ award-winning novel Mister Pip. During the struggles of the New Guinean Civil war, an eccentric schoolteacher – portrayed by the talented Hugh Laurie – forms a very close and personal bond with a young girl (Xzannjah Matsi), all sparked by their common love of Dickens’ Great Expectations. Laurie, known for his work on House as Dr Gregory House, steps into a role with similar emotions but revolves around a story that will make your heart melt away. Adamson is known for making films that simply touch your heart and this would be a great opportunity to see him work with a veteran actor on a story that has so much going for it. Add this to your TIFF list!