As far as I’m concerned, TIFF offers two distinct pleasures: discovering films that may never appear on a Toronto screen again, and catching an early peak at titles earmarked for Oscar glory. When planning my calendar, I like to mix it up between the two.
True to the title of his latest enterprise, writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson is a master of films about modern masculinity, where men define themselves through their careers. There was Mark Wahlberg’s porn star in Boogie Nights, Tom Cruise’s sex guru in Magnolia, and Daniel Day-Lewis’s oil tycoon in There Will Be Blood. In The Master, PTA regular Philip Seymour Hoffman stars as an L. Ron Hubbard-like cult leader, with Joaquin Phoenix as his emotionally unstable pupil. See it for the glorious 70mm presentation, its Oscar chances (a sure bet since Harvey Weinstein will engineer buzz) or Phoenix’s return to acting without irony (after the I’m Still Here shenanigans). Either way, I’m there.
September 7, 9 pm, Princess of Wales September 8, 3:15 pm, and September 16, 6 pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox 1
Eran Riklis’s The Human Resources Manager was among my favourite titles at TIFF 2010, yet it never played here again. So no way am I going to miss his latest about an Israeli fighter pilot (Stephen Dorff) shot down over Lebanon who finds his way out with the help of a Palestinian boy. Riklis, who directed The Syrian Bride and Lemon Tree, tackles Middle Eastern problems with an absurdist and humanist touch. Dorff’s presence is a bit mystifying, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt after his resonant turn in Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere.
September 9, 6 pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox 1 September 11, 9:30 pm, Scotiabank 2 September 16, 3:45 pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
The Place Beyond The Pines
Ryan Gosling plays a stunt rider who moonlights as a bank robber, which sounds like a repeat of Drive, a movie that was all superficial style posing as postmodernist art. But I have faith in director Derek Cianfrance, whose debut, Blue Valentine (also with Gosling), showed promise. Cianfrance’s sophomore outing, with Bradley Cooper and Eva Mendes, should provide a much more substantial drive through thriller territory.
September 7, 6 pm, Princess of Wales September 8, 11 am, Ryerson Theatre
James Franco sports cornrows and a grill and Justin Bieber’s girlfriend is along for the ride in the latest from off-kilter director Harmony Korine. I could pretend I’m excited about Korine’s return, but really I just want to see Franco do some very bad things to Selena Gomez.
September 7, 6 pm, Ryerson Theatre September 9, 3 pm, and September 14, 9 pm, Bloor
Interview With The Vampire director Neil Jordan takes another bite out of the genre in Byzantium. Playing Nosferatu’s minions are Saoirse Ronan, fresh from kicking ass in Hanna, and sexy former Bond girl Gemma Arterton, a talent in need of better movies.
September 9, 9 pm, Ryerson Theatre September 11, 11 am, Elgin September 15, 9 pm, Bloor