With the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival just under a week away, I figured that now would be as good time as any to write up a list of films that I think are worth checking out this year. The 2010 edition of the fest has some truly wonderful offerings from around the world. You can count on seeing interesting new films by established directors and newcomers alike.
If you’ve never been to the film fest before then I hope this list provides you with a good starting point, but be sure to read the full schedule. And, if you’re a seasoned festival-goer, feel free to point out all the amazing films that I’ve failed to mention.
See Will’s TIFF 2010 Picks after the jump.
If you’re a regular reader of the site then I can almost guarantee that you will find something you like at Midnight Madness. The late-night programme is the premiere destination for genre films with some of the best action, horror, sci-fi and fantasy movies from around the world.
Guy Moshe, USA
This strange tale of samurai and assassins is a genre bending pastiche that brings together the chop socky, chambara and spaghetti western film. Bunraku is set in a world without guns, where the sword is still carried with honour. Plus, it features Woody Harrelson and Kevin McKidd. Sign me up.
More info here.
Fire of Conscience
Dante Lam, Hong Kong, China
Dante Lam is an established talent in the Hong Kong action world, and his latest film Fire of Conscience looks like an awesome cops and robbers thriller in the spirit of the best Michael Mann or John Woo film. Add top notch action choreography, amazing stunts and stellar cinematography to the mix and you have a recipe for a great film experience.
John Carpenter hasn’t made a good film in a long time. Hell, he hasn’t made a film period, not since 2001’s disappointing Ghosts of Mars. But I, for one, am glad to have him back. What can I say? The director is responsible for creating two of my most favourite films: The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China. Yes, I know those films were made a long time ago, but I’d be happy to see a return to form (even if it’s his lesser 1990’s form) for the director.
More info here.
James Gunn USA
From James Gunn, the man behind the underrated Slither, comes SUPER. After his girlfriend leaves him for a drug dealer, Frank (Rainn Wilson of The Office) becomes the Crimson Bolt: fighting crime in order to win her back from the clutches of the dealer, played by Kevin Bacon. The film also stars Ellen Page as Frank’s unwitting sidekick.
More info here.
Takashi Miike, Japan
Due to increasing popularity and cult status in the West, prolific Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike has gone from making brilliantly oddball straight-to-video schlock to more legitimate—though equally strange—mainstream efforts. If Paul Verhoeven and David Lynch had a baby, his name would be Takashi Miike. His latest effort 13 Assassins may seem to be fairly pedestrian by Miike standards, but I’m eager to see how he handles a big budget period drama.
It’s a new film from one of the most significant and influential directors of the last century. That said, the French director is well past his prime; the film was not well received Cannes. But hey, what do the French know about filmmaking? Oh… right.
Ken Loach, United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Italy, Spain
Director Ken Loach tackles the Iraq War in a way that only he can. An English private security contracter returns home to Liverpool and has to deal with the loss of a friend and the consequences of his actions in theatre. Knowing Loach, the film will offer a realistic and very human take on this prescient subject matter. It also looks like a damn entertaining thriller.
Tsui Hark, China
Detective Dee is essentially the Chinese non-fiction equivelent of Sherlock Holmes. The film puts the always excellent Andy Lau in the title role of Di Renjie, a Tang Dynasty official reknown for his acute reasoning and detective work. And just because it’s a mystery film doesn’t mean it can’t have good fight choreography; the legendary Sammo Hung served as action choreographer on the film.
From Mordecai Richler’s novel of the same name adapted for the big screen, starring Paul Giamatti and Dustin Hoffman. The funny life story of a hard living Jewish guy from Montreal, named Barney Panofsky. If the film is half as enjoyable as the book (of which I must confess I’ve only read half) then the film should be very entertaining.
Darren Aronofsky is one of the finest filmmakers of his genera… alright, alright… Stop for a second. You can admit it, the main reason you’re looking forward to Black Swan is the prospect of seeing Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis make out. Don’t worry, I’m right there with you. That said, I am always interested to see what Aronofsky’s will come up with next.
Although this film isn’t at the top of my list for the fest, due to its impending wide release. But the great trailer for the film has me really sold. The heist thriller stars Ben Affleck (who also directed) as a professional thief from the Charlestown neighbourhood of Boston, who falls for a girl he took hostage during a botched bank robbery. With a stellar cast that includes Jon Hamm, Jeremey Renner, Rebecca Hall and Chris Cooper you could do worse.
Danny Boyle, USA
The real life story of Aron Ralston’s (James Franco), who spent five days pinned by a boulder in a remote area of Utah. Ralston was ultimately forced to make an incredible sacrifice in order to surive—don’t Google it if you want to remain spoiler free. I’m confident that director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire) will deliver a compelling film and do the young man’s story justice.
This Korean thriller stars the incomparable Choi Min-sik (Old Boy, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance) as a vicious killer responsible for a series of grisly murders. I Saw the Devil also stars Lee Byung-hun (Joint Security Area, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra) as a man who’s fiancee is murdered by the killer. What follows is a story of revenge and murky morality.
Bruce McDonald, Canada
Bruce McDonald directs Molly Parker, Don McKellar and the late-great Tracy Wright in this story of a rock band that reunites after years apart. Hard Core Logo and Pontypool have made me a McDonald fan for life, which is why, despite my dislike of Molly Parker, I will see Trigger.
More info here.
Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon play themselves in this reteam with director Michael Winterbottom. The Trip, which started as a series on BBC, is the sequel to the excellent Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story. I have high hopes.
More info here.
A Horrible Way to Die
Adam Wingard, USA
This indie horror film revolves around a recovering alcoholic named Sarah, who is trying to make a fresh start for herself in a small town. Things go well until her ex-boyfriend escapes from prison and tries to track her down. That premise alone is creepy enough, but is made all the more terrifying by the fact that Sarah’s ex is also a serial killer.
Werner Herzog, USA
Eccentric filmmaker and documentarian Werner Herzog in a cave. In 3-D. I’m sold. Herzog takes his cameras to the Chauvet caves in southern France, where the earliest known cave drawings made by humans can be found.
More info here.
From director Mark Hartley, the man who brought us the Ozploitation documentary Not Quite Hollywood comes Machete Maidens Unleashed!. The documentary is the story of exploitation movies made in the Philipines, a place where anything could be filmed (for the right price), no matter how dangerous or offensive it was.
Sturla Gunnarsson, Canada
The life story of one of the most iconic Canadians living today: David Suzuki. From his youth spent in a Japanese internment camp, to his years of environmental activism and education. Truly an amazing life lived and one worth learning about.
I’m Still Here
While it remains to be seen if this film is actually a documentary or mockumentary, one thing is certain: I’m Still Here is likely going to be entertaining no matter what it is. Joaquin Phoenix is either a performer of Andy Kaufman level genius or he’s legitimately insane.