Shelagh’s TIFF ’09 Picks

Trying to choose films to see at Toronto International Film Festival is often like trying to eat everything at the buffet of the world: every kind of food is offered and it is impossible to eat everything.  Choices have to be made, and gems will be missed.  But choose I must.  Will has already covered some of my own picks, so I will add others that, in my opinion, are not to be missed.

Fish Tank

Fish Tank

Director Andrea Arnold has been called the new Ken Loach in the great tradition of British Social Realism.  Her first film, Red Road, was a knock-out of the gritty life on a Scottish council estates, and her new film, Fish Tank, is set on a similar place. A young girl tried to find a way out of generations of poverty and crime, while avoiding the advances of her mother’s boyfriends and the pressures of wayward youth. Starring the outstanding Michael Fassbender (Hunger, Inglourious Basterds), this looks to be an outstanding follow-up feature.

See the trailer for Fish Tank here.

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Screenings

Saturday September 11th 9pm Scotiabank

Sunday September 12th 12:30pm Winter Garden

Saturday September 19th 9:00am Isabel Bader Theatre

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The Vintner’s Luck

The Vintner's Luck

The fourth feature film by New Zealand director Niki Caro (Whale Rider, North Country), The Vintner’s Luck follows the struggle of a peasant in 19th century France who struggles to rise above his station to create beautiful wine. While seemingly a period piece, the film also delves into realms of fantasy, with an angel assisting the peasant on his journey (or is it an angel at all?).  All I need to know is that it was created by the director of Whale Rider, certainly one of the most gorgeous and beautiful films of the past years.

See the trailer for The Vintner’s Luck here.

Screenings

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Saturday September 12th 4pm Winter Garden

Tuesday September 15th 9am Scotiabank

Friday September 18th 4:15pm Cumberland

Les Herbes Folles

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Les Herbes Folles

Directed by Alain Resnais, one of the greats of French New Wave who continues to make relevant work.  Enough said.

Screenings

Saturday September 12th 9pm Scotiabank

Tuesday September 15th 9:30am Scotiabank

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Bright Star

Bright Star

I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for period dramas and Romantic poetry. So I am planning on arriving at the theatre at 8 am on Sunday morning to rush the screening of Jane Campion’s new film about the last years of John Keats.  You might wonder why this is at all relevant, considering Keats’ story is 200 years old. But for anyone who is an artist, struggling to live off their art, to make a contribution to the world that would see him remain penniless rather than foster his pursuits. It is also the story of a time when women’s lives were so constrained that they had little choice but to marry, even if they wished to pursue life and career outside of marriage. Unfortunately this reality still exists for both artists and women today.

See the trailer for Bright Star here.

Screenings

Friday September 11th 9pm Elgin

Sunday September 13th 9:30am Scotiabank

Air Doll

Air Doll

Despite the moderate success of Lars and the Real Girl, only the Japanese could make a movie about an air/sex doll. In this case though, the doll somehow comes to life and begins to explore the world that sees her only an object. Director Hirokazu Kore-eda made the haunting and disturbing Afterlife, and this film looks to be no exception.

See the trailer for Air Doll here.

Screenings

Sunday September 13th 9pm Scotiabank

Thursday September 17th 8:15pm AMC

Saturday September 19th 12:30pm Scotiabank

Leslie My Name is Evil

Leslie My Name Is Evil

Decades later, the name Charles Manson is still familiar and the icon for deranged killers everywhere. Canadian director Reg Harkema focuses on one of the Manson family, her trial, and the innocent young jury member who becomes obsessed with her. This film examines the possibility of learning from history (if there even is one), the counterculture of the 60s, and the government’s attempt to justify the atrocities of Vietnam while condemning Manson and his followers; but it does so with music, sex, and camp. A film like this could only be made outside the US – and hey, it’s Canadian! That’s a very good thing.

See the trailer for Leslie My Name is Evil here.

Screenings

Monday September 14th 6:30pm Varsity

Wednesday September 16th 9:15am Scotiabank

White Material

White Material

Claire Denis is not nearly as well known as she should be in North America.  Her films are sublime examinations of colonialism, feminism, and the spaces we occupy.  Her new film examines the contemporary place of white families in Africa, the rampant use of child soldiers, and the interference of western nations in African politics (both positive and negative).  If nothing else, her films are gorgeous to look at.

Screenings

Tuesday September 15th 6:30pm Scotiabank

Thursday September 17th 3pm Ryerson

Saturday September 19th 12:30pm Winter Garden

Hipsters

Hipsters

Hipsters

One of Midnight Madness programmer Colin Geddes’ picks outside of MM, this is a Russian 50’s style musical.  Yes, Russian.  I saw the trailer several months ago and was immediately hooked.  Caught between the burgeoning jazz culture and communism, the youth of Moscow find love and music in Red Square.  Well, not literally, but this movie might have me dancing in the aisles.

Screenings

Friday September 18th 6pm Ryerson

Saturday September 19th 12:45pm AMC

Saturday September 19th 7:15pm AMC

The Hole

The Hole

Why do people think small towns are such great places to raise kids? All they need to do is watch the great tradition of parents who take their children to nice, quiet towns, only to have said children discover some unearthly evil and unleash it upon the world. The great Joe Dante returns with a film about some kids who find a hole that seems to go on forever … into Hell … maybe, but no place that’s good.  Any place that brings your deepest fears to life is not good.

Screenings

Saturday September 12th 3pm Ryerson

Monday September 14th 6:45pm Scotiabank

Saturday September 19th 3:45pm AMC

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