The 39th Annual Toronto Internationa Film Festival runs from Sept 4-14, and I, your humble correspondent, will be heading to the Queen City for a few days to feast on films. The titles listed below, accompanied by brief synopses, are the ones I plan on attending. Follow me on Twitter for snap judgements and witty reactions to the films and other goings-on at the festival. Full reviews will be posted on the site at a later date. Which of these sound interesting to you?
Sunday September 7
The New Girlfriend – After the death of her best friend, Claire falls into a deep depression, but a surprising discovery about her friend’s husband gives her a new taste for life. Based on a short story of the same name by Ruth Rendell, the film is written and directed by François Ozon.
Bird People – In the Paris airport zone, two strangers are trying to make sense out of their lives: an American engineer under great professional and emotional pressure who decides to radically change the course of his existence, and a young hotel chambermaid who goes through a life-altering supernatural experience. The film stars Josh Charles and Anaïs Demoustier.
Monday September 8
The Equalizer – Denzel Washington plays McCall, a man who believes he has put his mysterious past behind him and dedicated himself to beginning a new, quiet life. But when McCall meets Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz), a young girl under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters, he can’t stand idly by – he has to help her. Antoine Fuqua directs this film adapted from the TV series.
Whiplash – Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) is an ambitious young jazz drummer, single-minded in his pursuit to rise to the top of his elite east coast music conservatory. Plagued by the failed writing career of his father, Andrew hungers day and night to become one of the greats. Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), an instructor equally known for his teaching talents as for his terrifying methods, leads the top jazz ensemble in the school. Fletcher discovers Andrew and transfers the aspiring drummer into his band, forever changing the young man’s life.
Mr. Turner – Profoundly affected by the death of his father, loved by a housekeeper he takes for granted and occasionally exploits sexually, British painter J.M.W. Turner (Timothy Spall) forms a close relationship with a seaside landlady with whom he eventually lives incognito in Chelsea, where he dies in director Mike Leigh’s latest film.
Pasolini – Writer/director Abel Ferrara presents a look at the final days of Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini (Willem Dafoe) and the confusion surrounding his death in 1975.
Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films – Mark Hartley’s documentary tells a one-of-a-kind story about two-of-a-kind men, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, who (for better or worse) changed film forever. [I am most excited about this one.]
Tuesday September 9
Cake – In this film written by Patrick Tobin and directed by Daniel Barnz, the acerbic, hilarious Claire Simmons (Jennifer Aniston) becomes fascinated by the suicide of a woman (Anna Kendrick) in her chronic pain support group.
Still Alice – Based on Lisa Genova’s 2007 bestselling novel of the same name, the film stars Julianne Moore as Dr. Alice Howland, who learns that she is suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s disease. She struggles to manage her life while dealing with the illness and her job, family and friends. Alec Baldwin plays her husband and Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth, and Hunter Parrish play her children.
A Second Chance – Detectives and best friends Andreas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Simon (Ulrich Thomsen) lead vastly different lives; but all that changes when the two of them are called out to a domestic dispute between a junkie couple, caught in a vicious cycle of violence and drugs. It all looks very routine – until Andreas finds the couple’s infant son, crying in a closet. The usually collected policeman finds himself confronted with his own powerlessness and is shaken to his core. As Andreas slowly loses his grip on justice, it suddenly becomes up to the unruly Simon to restore the balance between right and wrong.
Mommy – In Xavier Dolan’s film, a widowed single mother (Anne Dorval), raising her violent son (Antoine-Olivier Pilon) alone, finds new hope when a mysterious neighbour, a woman, inserts herself into the mother and son’s household, providing the mother with needed support.
Wednesday September 10
Good Kill – In Andrew Niccol’s military drama, a family man (Ethan Hawke) begins to question the ethics of his job as a drone pilot.
Elephant Song – Xavier Dolan, Bruce Greenwood, and Catherine Keener star in this big-screen adaptation of the play by Nicolas Billon about a psychiatrist who is drawn into a complex mind game when he questions a disturbed patient (Dolan) about the disappearance of a colleague.
Human Highway (Director’s Cut) – Co-directors Neil Young and Dean Stockwell appear alongside Russ Tamblyn, Dennis Hopper, and the band Devo appear in this bizarre cult classic where employees and customers spend time at a small gas station-diner in a fictional town next to a nuclear power plant unaware it is the last day on Earth.