The Reel Guys, Richard Crouse and Mark Breslin, wrap up their coverage of TIFF with a look at Midnight Madness and the lonely characters of Foxcatcher
Richard: Mark, we’re at the tail end of the festival, a time for reflection and sleep. Every year when it winds down like this — from full throttle to a trickle almost overnight — I always think of the last line in The Usual Suspects. I’m paraphrasing, but it’s been echoing in my head today: “And like that, poof. It’s gone.” Of course it’s not quite over, but the pace is manageable for the first time since Day 1. I look back fondly on movies like The Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game and Whiplash, but they seem like a long time ago now. Latter-half festival movies I really liked were 71 and a thriller from director Ruba Nadda called October Gale that suggests Patricia Clarkson might be up for a Liam Neeson-style action hero makeover.
Mark: I usually spend the second half of the festival watching foreign films I should have watched during the first half of the festival, having been distracted by all the stars and glitter. So let me say some great things about Labyrinth of Lies, a German film set in 1957 that tells the true story of the prosecutor who brought Germans working at Auschwitz to justice. It’s hard to fathom that the German people were in the dark about what happened there, but you can feel the horror rise in the prosecutor’s mind as he slowly realizes how many people were involved and that the rot went right to the top. Movies like this usually don’t look very good, but every shot is artfully done. The movie is gripping and important.
RC: Courtesy of the Midnight Madness program comes The Editor a giallo-comedy tribute to the films of Mario Bava and Dario Argento about a one-handed film editor who becomes the prime suspect in a brutal series of murders. It’s an odd film, but one that perfectly pays homage to the Italian horror films that inspired it. And there’s one that I’ve missed but am going to try to catch on the weekend. What We Do In The Shadows is a comedic mockumentary. Flight of the Conchords star Jemaine Clement plays one-third of a trio of vampires trying to adjust to life in a New Zealand suburb.
MB: Ahh. Midnight Madness, where the audience can be scarier than the movies. My favourite late night was spent in It Follows, about zombie-ism as a form of STD. There’s almost no gore in the film, just an overwhelming sense of dread brought on by moody atmospherics. It’s also shot with the detail of a magic realism canvas and supported by the most disturbing soundscape I’ve heard since John Carpenter’s work in the Seventies.
RC: You want disturbing? How about Channing Tatum with an under-bite and Steve Carell with a fake nose and dead eyes? Foxcatcher is a quiet, restrained film, one that demands the viewer to lean forward to appreciate, so when three loud gunshots ring out they shatter the quiet in a jarringly effective depiction of violence.
MB: What’s really scary about that movie is how horribly sad and lonely the characters are. Same thing is true for the characters in Maps to the Stars and Jason Reitman’s Men Women and Children. Affluent misery seems to be a big theme at this year’s festival.
Metro’s Reel Guys columnists Richard Crouse and Mark Breslin take a look at this year’s crop of potential crowd pleasers at the festival.
Richard: Mark, every year I look forward to covering the festival with a mix of dread and anticipation. The dread part comes from knowing how I’m going to feel once the 10 days of 18-hour shifts is finally over. The drooling anticipation part comes along with the slate of films TIFF offers up. This year the new David Cronenberg film is top of my list. In Maps to the Stars, he showcases the stupid, venal and stratospherically self-involved behaviour that goes on behind the scenes in Beverly Hills’ gated communities. The idea of debuting a jaundiced look at Hollywood at the biggest film festival in North America appeals to my rebellious side.
Mark: Can’t wait, Richard, for this or any other Cronenberg! I’m also a big fan of Jason Reitman, who consistently delivers movies that plumb the abyss of the zeitgeist. His latest, Men, Women, and Children, should be no exception. Based on one of my favourite novels by Chad Kultgen, it’s a look at how the Internet is warping families, twisting our sexuality and mediating our desires. Oh, and it’s a comedy.
RC: Mark, the sci-fi musical genre has been sadly overlooked at TIFF in past years. That changes with Bang Bang Baby, starring Jane Levy as a 1960s teenager whose dreams of rock ’n’ roll stardom are dashed when a chemical leak in her town causes mass mutations and “threatens to turn her dream into a nightmare.” Then there’s The Editor, a giallo-comedy tribute to the films of Mario Bava and Dario Argento about a one-handed film editor who becomes the prime suspect in a brutal series of murders.
MB: Sounds great, Richard! I’ll stand in line to see the new Denys Arcand film, An Eye For Beauty. Here’s a director not afraid to take a satirical look at our modern mores, but he’s never tackled a love story before. Some of it takes place in Toronto, so I’m expecting a sly gimlet-eyed view from this great Québécois director.
RC: Speaking of great Québécois directors, Jean-Marc Vallée, the Canadian Oscar nominee for Dallas Buyers Club, returns to TIFF with Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon in the story of a woman who finds an escape from her self-destructive ways on a 1,100-mile solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trail. I’m also psyched about Haemoo. With a script by Snowpiercer penner Bong Joon-ho, this movie about a fishing crew smuggling illegal immigrants from China to Korea promises wild action and unexpected thrills.
MB: Richard, do you realize all our picks inadvertently turned out to be Canadian directors? I’m looking forward to Black and White by Mike Binder. It promises to be a heartfelt drama about an interracial family with issues. Binder is from Detroit but went to summer camp in Muskoka, so he qualifies as an honorary Canuck.
The Toronto International Film Festival premieres some of the best movies across the globe and attracts some of the biggest names in Hollywood. This year is certainly no exception with expected appearances from Reese Witherspoon, Robert Downey Jr., Kristen Wiig, Bill Murray and more.
Each year we get the inside scoop on the hottest TIFF movie premieres from renowned Canadian critic Richard Crouse, an expert in what films to see…and what films to skip…