UPDATED 08/22/10: Incorporating recent press announcements and preview capsules from the Fall Movie Preview issue of Entertainment Weekly, which has been especially helpful for determining distribution dates.
Twitch teammate Kurt Halfyard characterizes the Special Presentation and Gala sidebars at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) as "code for High Profile films" and today's announcement of the lineup for these sidebars in TIFF's 35th edition confirms his characterization. From Cannes award-winning films such as A Screaming Man—the Chad entry that won the Cannes Jury Prize—and Javier Badem's Best Actor performance in Biutiful, to films that are sure to gain distribution and firm footing in the Oscar® race, let alone accolades at the concurrent Venice International Film Festival, both the Special Presentations and Gala sidebars promise big buzz film. That being said, I rarely watch films from either sidebar, aware that they will achieve distribution and that I'll have the chance to see them elsewhere. The added lure, of course, is the opportunity to interview talent who attend Toronto to promote their projects, so I also never say never. Who wouldn't want to talk to Philip Seymour Hoffman about his first directorial effort Jack Goes Boating? Or revisit conversations with Andrucha Waddington on his biopic of Lope de Vega, Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden on their new comedy (!), or John Cameron Mitchell on what it was like to direct Nicole Kidman? What follows are short synopses provided by the TIFF press office, which I'll supplement as further research allows. Despite a generous announcement of 50 titles at today's press conference, I remind myself that 50 titles is about one sixth of what will become available in what is already sizing up to be a stellar year at TIFF. Be sure to check out updates here, at 1st Thursday, and TOFilmfest. On your mark, get set, go!
127 Hours (Danny Boyle, USA)—127 Hours is the true story of mountain climber Aron Ralston's (James Franco) remarkable adventure to save himself after a fallen boulder crashes on his arm and traps him in an isolated canyon in Utah. Over the next five days Ralston examines his life and survives the elements to finally discover he has the courage and the wherewithal to extricate himself by any means necessary. The film also stars Clémence Poésy, Amber Tamblyn and Kate Mara. IMDb. Wikipedia. Facebook. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Empire offers a MovieCon video interview with Danny Boyle on how to make a one-set film cinematic. At Entertainment Weekly (August 13, 2010; no. 1115, p. 13), Karen Valby relays that—when Boyle first heart of Ralston's story—he started envisioning what he calls "an action movie where the hero can't move." Boyle adds: "The movie is going to be obsessive, and it will be for obsessives. You will want him to cut his arm off by the end." At Rama's Screen, Aron Ralston relays his grueling experience in a video essay. Release date: November 5, 2010.
Amigo (John Sayles, USA)—At the beginning of the 20th Century, during the Philippine-American War, a garrison under the command of US Lieutenant Compton is left to "protect" San Isidro, a remote region located in the Philippines. Compton can only communicate with Rafael, the Head of the barrio, through the friar Hidalgo who bears a deep resentment towards Rafael. Neither side can understand or trust the other, but are forced to live together, trying to survive in the middle of a war. When the American occupation policy gets tougher, Rafael has to answer to both the Americans and the Filipino patriots. At Cinematical, Monika Bartyzel reports that Amigo is based on Sayles' novel Some Time In the Sun. Jessica Zafra interviews Sayles for The Philippine Star. Sayles' production blog. IMDb. Facebook, which includes a Photobucket slideshow. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Facebook synopsis: "Amigo, the 17th feature film from writer-director John Sayles, stars Joel Torre as Rafael Dacanay, a village mayor caught in the murderous cross-fire of the Philippine-American War in 1900. When U.S. troops garrison his village, Rafael comes under pressure to collaborate from the blood-and-guts Colonel Hardacre (Chris Cooper) as he tries not to betray his people, especially his brother Simón (Ronnie Lazaro), head of the local Filipino guerillas. A sympathetic American lieutenant (Garret Dillahunt) learns that "hearts and minds" cannot be won at gunpoint. A devious Spanish friar (Yul Vazquez) thwarts communication with his spiteful intrigues. Rafael is forced to make the near-impossible, potentially deadly decisions faced by civilians in an occupied country. Friendship and betrayal, romance and heart-breaking violence, Amigo is a page torn from the forgotten history of imperialism and a mirror of today's unresolvable conflicts."
Another Year (Mike Leigh, United Kingdom)—A happily married, middle-aged couple are visited by a number of unhappy and lonely friends who use them as confidantes. When an unmarried friend falls for their young son, they watch as events unfold. The film stars Jim Broadbent, Lesley Manville, Ruth Sheen, Peter Wight, Oliver Maltman, David Bradley, Karina Fernandez and Martin Savage. Official website. IMDb. Wikipedia. Facebook. TOFilmFest. North American Premiere.
At MUBI, Daniel Kasman included Another Year among his favorite moments of Day 4 at the Cannes Film Festival. He followed up with extended thoughts: "Another Year has little strict story development, and is more a series of encounters.... All is admirably executed in regards to situational insight, but as the film remains structured on the single wave-beating idea, one finds the Another Year curl up into the stability and contentedness of its single idea much like the admirable but ultimately unsatisfying marriage at its center." Also at MUBI, David Hudson has rounded up reviews from the film's premiere at Cannes.
"Filmmaker Mike Leigh's latest look at middle-class Londoners follows a long-married couple (Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen) surrounded by friends in various states of distress. Most notable is a wine-swilling secretary played by Leigh vet Lesley Manville, whose devastating performance received unanimous praise from the international media when the film debuted at Cannes earlier this year."—Entertainment Weekly (#1116/1117, August 20, 27, 2010, p. 89). Opens December 31, 2010.
Beginners (Mike Mills, USA)—When his 71-year-old father (Christopher Plummer) comes out of the closet, Oliver (Ewan McGregor) must explore the honesty of his own relationships. From the director of Thumbsucker. IMDb. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
The Big Picture / L'homme qui voulait vivre sa vie (Eric Lartigau, France)—Paul Exben is a success story. He has a great job, a glamorous wife and two wonderful sons, except that this is not the life he has been dreaming of. A moment of madness is going to change his life, forcing him to assume a new identity that will enable him to live his life fully. The Big Picture, an adaptation of the novel by Douglas Kennedy, is directed by Eric Lartigau and stars Romain Duris, Marina Foïs, Niels Arestrup and Catherine Deneuve. It is produced by Pierre-Ange Le Pogam. IMDb. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Biutiful (Alejandro González Iñárritu, Spain / Mexico)—This is a story of a man in free fall. On the road to redemption, darkness lights his way. Connected with the afterlife, Uxbal is a tragic hero and father of two who's sensing the danger of death. He struggles with a tainted reality and a fate that works against him in order to forgive, for love, and forever. The film stars Javier Bardem who shared the Best Actor award at Cannes with Elio Germano (Our Life). At MUBI, David Hudson has rounded up the reviews from Cannes. IMDb. Wikipedia. Facebook. TOFilmFest. North American Premiere.
Blue Valentine (Derek Cianfrance, USA)—Blue Valentine is the story of love found and love lost, told in past and present moments in time. Flooded with romantic memories of their courtship, Dean and Cindy use one night to try and save their failing marriage. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams star in this honest portrait of a relationship on the rocks. At MUBI, David Hudson has rounded up the reviews from Sundance. IMDb [External Reviews]. Wikipedia. Facebook. TOFilmFest. Canadian Premiere.
Karen Valby reports to Entertainment Weekly (#1116/1117, August 20, 27, 2010, p. 94): "Blue Valentine, the story of a young couple who fall madly in love—and then terribly out of it—over the course of six years, left Sundance in January with a $1 million distribution deal with Focus and fizzy awards buzz for stars Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling. But making the film was a wrenching 12-year struggle for co-writer/director Derek Cianfrance (Brother Tied), who repeatedly postponed production as various financiers dropped out. Up until a week before the 30-day shoot began in the spring of 2009, the Brooklyn-based filmmaker was paying for preproduction out of his own pocket. ...'One of my inspirations all these years is that Supremes song "Where Did Our Love Go," ' says Cianfrance. 'That question, that yearning, that mystery is what I wanted to build the film around.' " Opens December 31, 2010.
Brighton Rock (Rowan Joffe, United Kingdom)—Based on Graham Greene's 1938 novel, we follow the odd relationship between a young thug on the rise in the British underground and a tea room waitress who witnesses a crime he has committed. Greene's novel was previously adapted as a British noir in 1947 by John Boulting. TOFilmFest synopsizes the film as "the headlong fall of Pinkie, a razor-wielding disadvantaged teenager with a religious death wish" and adds that "Joffe wrote the screenplay and shifted the story from Greene's setting in the Thirties to the mods and rockers era of 1964, a time of what Joffe termed 'sexual modernity'. Producer Paul Webster added that the year was also the last in which the death penalty was carried out, which in the film gives Pinkie a sense of fearlessness." IMDb. World Premiere.
Buried (Rodrigo Cortés, Spain/USA)—When Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) wakes up six feet underground with no idea who put him there or why, life for the truck driver and family man instantly becomes a hellish struggle for survival. Buried with only a cell phone and a lighter, poor reception, a rapidly draining battery and a dwindling oxygen supply become his worst enemies in a tightly confined race against time. Buried premiered at Sundance. Lionsgate purchased the theatrical rights to the film, which is scheduled for theatrical release in late September/early October. Official website. IMDb [External Reviews]. Wikipedia. Facebook. TOFilmFest. Canadian Premiere.
Karen Valby reports to Entertainment Weekly (#1116/1117, August 20, 27, 2010, pp. 56-57) that—though "Ryan Reynolds was riveted when he first got the lean, 75-page script for Buried", he "differed with his director on just one point: Cortés wanted a week of rehearsals; Reynolds preferred to just be thrown into the coffin and have the cameras roll—which is what happened. 'Knowing myself,' explains the actor, 'I would have gotten my head too far up my own ass if we'd rehearsed.' " Reynolds adds: "I've never been happier to finish a movie. I will never complain on a film set again. I mean, I'm standing right now in the Green Lantern costume on my 93rd day of shooting this movie. My hardest day on this is nothing compared to my easiest day on Buried." Opens September 24, 2010.
Cirkus Columbia (Danis Tanović, Bosnia and Herzegovina)—From the Oscar®-winning director of No Man's Land and based on the eponymous literary debut of Croatian journalist Ivica Đikić, Tanović adapted Cirkus Colombia to the screen with Đikić's assistance. After 20 years of exile, Divko returns to his hometown in Herzegovina to settle some scores with his ex-wife, armed with a new Mercedes, a sexy new girlfriend and a mangy black cat. TOFilmFest offers video interviews with Tanović and actress Mira Furlan. Variety's Alissa Simon complains about the film's gender stereotypes and "major problems of tone" though she grants that Tanović's fourth feature "succeeds in making clear the incredulity with which most people regarded the thought of war and dissolution of Yugoslavia, as well as the machinations of various opportunistic groups." Simon compliments how cinematographer Walther van de Ende "creates a sense of nostalgia for a vanished world." IMDb. Wikipedia. Facebook. International Premiere.
Conviction (Tony Goldwyn, USA)—Conviction is the inspirational true story of a sister's unwavering devotion to her brother. When Betty Anne Waters' (two-time Academy Award® winner Hilary Swank) older brother Kenny (Sam Rockwell) is arrested for murder and sentenced to life in 1983, Betty Anne, a Massachusetts wife and mother of two, dedicates her life to overturning the murder conviction. IMDb. Wikipedia. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
"Amelia Earhart, suffragette Alice Paul, transgender murder victim Brandon Teena, freedom writer Erin Gruwell: Hilary Swank has a knack for bringing real people to the screen. 'It's definitely a coincidence, but I have noticed it,' says the two-time Oscar® winner of her penchant for biopics. 'I find that when the true stories come across my desk, they tend to be more compelling than the fiction that I get. ...Amelia's long gone and Alice Paul's passed away, but Betty Anne, she's still living on this planet,' says Swank. 'You feel an enormous responsibility to get it right.' "—Entertainment Weekly (#1116/1117, August 20, 27, 2010, p. 68). Opens October 15, 2010.
Deep in the Woods / Au fond des bois (Benoît Jacquot, France / Germany)—France, 1865. A young vagabond, Timothée, arrives in a village and is given food and lodging by Doctor Hughes and his daughter Joséphine. Joséphine runs after him, leaving her home and father, driven by an uncontrollable force. Distraught, she follows this young man for whom she seems to feel only fear and disgust. Their pilgrimage will reveal another truth. At MUBI, David Hudson rounds up the reviews from the film's Opening Night premiere at Locarno. Unfortunately, they're not pretty. At indieWIRE, Eric Kohn writes: "Jacquot's dark, sexy tale of savage love lacks the emotional clarity to match its ideas." At TimeOut, David Jenkins calls it "a one-note film" and complains that the film's central conundrum "eventually comes across as haughty and misogynistic." At Variety, Jay Weissberg adds the project to the negative column on Jacquot's balance sheet and describes it as "an unsatisfying costume psychodrama whose attractive sylvan visuals only modestly compensate for a deliberately ambiguous 'did she or didn't she' tale of mind control." IMDb. TOFilmFest. North American Premiere.
Dhobi Ghat (Kiran Rao, India)—In the teeming metropolis of Mumbai, four people separated by class and language are drawn together in compelling relationships. Shai, an affluent investment banker on a sabbatical, strikes up an unusual friendship with Munna, a young and beautiful laundry boy with ambitions of being a Bollywood actor, and has a brief dalliance with Arun, a gifted painter (played by Bollywood heartthrob Aamir Khan, real-life husband of director Rao). As they slip away from familiar moorings and drift closer together, the city finds its way into the crevices of their inner worlds. The film's title draws from a well-known washers' area in Mumbai. IMDb. Wikipedia. Facebook. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Easy A (Will Gluck, USA)—After a little white lie about losing her virginity gets out, a clean-cut high school girl (Emma Stone) sees her life paralleling Hester Prynne's in The Scarlet Letter, which she is currently studying in school—until she decides to use the rumor mill to advance her social and financial standing. Official website. IMDb. Wikipedia. Facebook. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Adam Markovitz reports to Entertainment Weekly (#1116/1117, August 20, 27, 2010, p. 55): "Sharp-tongued dialogue. A high-school-is-hell attitude. A redheaded star. Is it any wonder that bloggers have pinned their hopes on Easy A becoming the next Mean Girls? But for Emma Stone (Zombieland), who stars as a quick-witted teen branded with a bad reputation after lying about losing her virginity, the film's roots go back even further. 'Olive just wants her life to be a John Hughes movie,' says Stone. 'She does everything she can to make it some half-ass version of The Breakfast Club.' " Opens September 17, 2010.
Everything Must Go (Dan Rush, USA)—After 16 years spent devising motivational speeches that promise certain success, Nick Porter (Will Ferrell) is abruptly fired. He returns home to discover his wife has left him, changed the locks on their home and dumped all his possessions on the front yard. Nick puts it all on the line—or, more properly, on the lawn—with an absurdly escalating garage sale that becomes a unique strategy for survival. Nick comes face-to-face with a life turned inside out and discovers in total exposure an unexpected path to renewal. IMDb. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie (Sturla Gunnarsson, Canada)—At 75 years old, David Suzuki shows no signs of slowing down. In this captivating documentary portrait, the passionate environmentalist's legacy lecture is entwined with candid interviews in which he reflects on his life and shares deeply personal stories, revealing a side previously unseen. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Good Neighbors (Jacob Tierney, Canada)—Director Jacob Tierney (The Trotsky) returns with an innovative and unsettling thriller about some very strange people living in the same apartment building in Montreal's Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighborhood. The film stars Scott Speedman, Emily Hampshire and Jay Baruchel. IMDb. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Gorbaciòf—The Cashier who Liked Gambling / Gorbaciov—Il Cassiere Col Vizio Del Gioco (Stefano Incerti, Italy)—A compulsive gambler who works in the petty-cash office of the Poggioreale prison falls in love with Lily, an illegal immigrant, and tries to free both of them from their dead-end lives. The film stars Toni Servillo, Mi Yang and Nello Mascia. As David Hudson reports at MUBI, Gorbaciòf is screening Out of Competition at Venice. IMDb. TOFilmFest. North American Premiere.
Heartbeats / Les amours imaginaires (Xavier Dolan, Canada)—Wunderkind filmmaker Xavier Dolan returns with his second feature—a sophisticated comedy about close friends, Francis and Marie, who pursue their mutual obsession with a young man. As they face off in competition, cracks in their friendship begin to appear with both comic and tragic results. IMDb. TOFilmFest. English Canadian Premiere.
Henry's Crime (Malcolm Venville, USA)—After serving three years in prison for a bank robbery he did not commit, an amiable but aimless man decides to rob the bank for real. His plan involves infiltrating a local theatre company, but his scheme gets complicated when he falls for the company's lead actress. The film stars Keanu Reeves, Vera Farmiga, James Caan, Fisher Stevens, Peter Stormare, Danny Hoch and Bill Duke. IMDb. Facebook. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Hereafter (Clint Eastwood, United Kingdom)—The story of three people haunted by mortality in different ways, Hereafter stars Matt Damon as a blue-collar American who has a special connection to the afterlife. On the other side of the world, a French journalist (Cécile de France), has a near-death experience that shakes her reality. And when London schoolboy Marcus (Frankie/George McLaren) loses the person closest to him, he needs answers. Each in search of the truth, their lives will intersect, forever changed by what might—or must—exist in the hereafter. The film also stars Jay Mohr, Bryce Dallas Howard, Marthe Keller, Thierry Neuvic and Derek Jacobi. As David Hudson reports at MUBI, Hereafter will be the closing night film for NYFF. IMDb. Wikipedia. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
The House by the Medlar Tree / Malavoglia (Pasquale Scimeca, Italy)—The Malavoglia are a family of fishermen: Grandfather Padron 'Ntoni, his son Bastianazzo and wife Maruzza, and their children 'Ntoni, Mena, Alessi and Lia. One night Bastianazzo dies in a boating accident, leaving the family on the verge of a break down. Based on the novel I Malavoglia by Giovanni Verga, which was previously adapted by Luchino Visconti as La terra trema (The Earth Trembles, 1948). As David Hudson reports at MUBI, The House by the Medlar Tree will have its world premiere in Venice. IMDb. TOFilmFest. International Premiere.
I Saw the Devil (Kim Jee-woon, South Korea)—A hard-boiled thriller from Korean master Kim Jee-woon, I Saw the Devil is a tale of bloody vengeance against a dangerous psychopath who has committed a gruesome series of murders. Offical site [Korean]. IMDb. TOFilmFest. North American Premiere.
The Illusionist / L'illusionniste (Sylvain Chomet, United Kingdom)—From the director of The Triplets Of Belleville comes a film of grace and unique beauty. Working from a never-produced script written by Jacques Tati for his daughter, Chomet tells the story of a magician who was pushed aside by rock and roll, yet finds one young girl who appreciates his magic. The film stars Jean-Claude Donda and Eilidh Rankin. At MUBI, David Cairns reviews the film's premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival while David Hudson rounds up additional perspectives. At Twitch, Todd Brown does the honors from the film's Berlinale screening. Official website. IMDb (External Reviews). Wikipedia. TOFilmFest. North American Premiere.
I'm Still Here (Casey Affleck, USA)—The directorial debut of Oscar®-nominated actor Casey Affleck, I'm Still Here is a portrayal of a tumultuous year in the life of internationally acclaimed actor Joaquin Phoenix. With remarkable access, I'm Still Here follows the Oscar® nominee as he announces his retirement from a successful film career in the fall of 2008 and sets off to reinvent himself as a hip hop musician. The film is a portrait of an artist at a crossroads. Defying expectations, it deftly explores notions of courage and creative reinvention, as well as the ramifications of a life spent in the public eye. At MUBI, David Hudson offers the teaser trailer. IMDb. TOFilmFest. International Premiere.
In A Better World aka Civilization / Hævnen (Susanne Bier, Denmark / Sweden)—The story traces elements from a refugee camp in Africa to the grey humdrum of everyday life in a Danish provincial town. The lives of two Danish families cross each other, and an extraordinary but risky friendship comes into bud. But loneliness, frailty and sorrow lie in wait. Soon, friendship transforms into a dangerous alliance and a breathtaking pursuit in which life is at stake. IMDb. TOFilmFest. International Premiere.
Incendies (Denis Villeneuve, Canada)—After their mother Nawal's death, twins Simon and Jeanne embark on a journey to the Middle East that shines a disturbing light on their mother's past and culminates in a shocking revelation. Based on the acclaimed play by Wajdi Mouawad and directed by Genie and Jutra award-winner Denis Villeneuve (Polytechnique). IMDb. Facebook. TOFilmFest. North American Premiere.
It's Kind of a Funny Story (Ryan Fleck, Anna Boden, USA)—Stressed-out teenager Craig checks himself into a mental health clinic—where he finds himself in the adult ward. Sustained by friendships on both the inside and the outside, Craig learns more about life, love and the pressures of growing up. The comedy-drama stars Keir Gilchrist, Emma Roberts and Zach Galifianakis. IMDb. Wikipedia. TOFilmFest. Release date: September 24, 2010. World Premiere.
Jack Goes Boating (Philip Seymour Hoffman, USA)—Adapted from Bob Glaudini's acclaimed Off Broadway play, Jack Goes Boating is a tale of love, betrayal, friendship and grace centered around two working-class New York City couples. The film stars John Ortiz, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Amy Ryan and Philip Seymour Hoffman, with Hoffman making his feature directorial debut. At MUBI, David Hudson rounds up the reviews from the film's premiere at Sundance. Official website. IMDb [External Reviews]. Wikipedia. Facebook. TOFilmFest. At MUBI, David Hudson has gathered reviews from the film's Sundance premiere. International Premiere.
Julia's Eyes / Los Ojos de Julia (Guillem Morales, Spain)—Julia, a woman suffering from a degenerative eye disease, finds her blind twin sister Sara hanged in the basement of her house. Julia decides to investigate what she feels is a murder case, entering a dark world that seems to hide a mysterious presence. As Julia begins to uncover the terrifying truth about her sister's death, her sight deteriorates further, until a series of unexplained deaths and disappearances cross her path. The film stars Belén Rueda and Lluis Homar. IMDb. Wikipedia. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
The Last Circus aka A Sad Trumpet Ballad / Balada triste (Álex de la Iglesia, Spain / France)—Álex de la Iglesia's genius for dark humor is at its most eloquent in his latest parody about the Spanish Civil War. Two clowns attack and disfigure one another in jealous rages over a beautiful dancer. In the name of love, they destroy the very object of their affection. IMDb. Wikipedia. TOFilmFest. North American Premiere.
The Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen (Andrew Lau, Hong Kong)—In 1920s Shanghai, hero Chen Zhen single-handedly avenges his mentor's death by killing all the Japanese at a dojo in Hongkou, only to be showered with bullets while making his legendary flying kick. Now, years later, Chen Zhen, who is believed dead, returns in disguise to infiltrate a criminal empire and to dismantle the evil collusion that plagues the country. Official website. IMDb. Wikipedia. TOFilmFest. North American Premiere.
Let Me In (Matt Reeves, United Kingdom / USA)—Chloë Moretz (Kick-Ass) stars as Abby, a mysterious 12-year-old girl, who moves next door to Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Road), a social outcast who is viciously bullied at school. As a string of grisly murders occupy the town, Owen has to confront the reality that this seemingly innocent girl is really a savage vampire. Let Me In is based on the best-selling Swedish novel Låt den Rätte Komma (Let The Right One In), and the highly acclaimed film of the same name. IMDb. Wikipedia. Facebook. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Lope (Andrucha Waddington, Brazil/Spain)—Andrucha Waddington brings famed Spanish playwright Lope de Vega's passionate life to the screen. The young poet returns to Madrid from war and gets his foot in the door of Madrid's most important theatre troupe—quickly charming his boss's daughter. His childhood friend, Isabel de Urbina, also falls under the spell of his poems. So much seduction eventually brings misfortune and he must flee Madrid.
At MUBI, Boyd von Hoeij looks forward to Waddington's biopic, which is screening out of competition at Venice. He writes: "Brazilian filmmaker Waddington (House of Sand) shot his Lope, about Spanish Baroque-era writer Lope de Vega, in Spain and in Spanish. Period films and literary pedigree are a recurrent theme in the Venice line-up this year, though this seems to be one of the most interesting titles, especially because Waddington, as a foreigner and non-native Spanish speaker, might bring something interesting to the table here. The star cast includes beauties Sônia Braga and Pilar López de Ayala as two potential lovers of Vega, and Cell 211 breakout star [Alberto] Ammann, in his second starring role, as the author himself. Luis Tosar and Leonor Watling co-star."
According to John Hopewell's early Variety report, the film's original title was 14 and Daniel Bruehl (fluent in Spanish!) was being groomed for the title role. Says Waddington: "The screenplay and subject fascinated me: a young man becoming an artist. Plus, it's set when Spain was the center of the world." IMDb. TOFilmFest. El Séptima Arte has an image gallery, the trailer (in Spanish), and a second gallery that includes a music video of Jorge Drexler's title theme (embedded below). World Premiere.
"Que el soneto nos tome por sorpresa (Lope)'", Jorge Drexler
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Love Crime / Crime d'amour (Alain Corneau, France)—Dangerous Liaisons meets Working Girl in this deliciously caustic tale of office politics. Starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Ludivine Sagnier as mentor and ingénue, Love Crime is a remorseless clash of two competing egos. IMDb. TOFilmFest. International Premiere.
Film Catalogue synopsis: "Isabelle works under Christine. They think alike. They are quite different. They might be lovers. But Christine takes credit for Isabelle's brilliant ideas. A struggle ensues between these two attractive and powerful women, the two top executives in the French office of an American multinational. Christine has the upper hand and no mercy. Humiliated and nearly destroyed, Isabelle begins to plot her revenge. Imaginative and thorough, calculating and exact, Isabelle makes an outstanding murderer. Every strange, seemingly haphazard thing she does—including a sudden drug dependence and wandering aimless in the rain—is part of her plan to kill. And get away with it."
Made in Dagenham (Nigel Cole, United Kingdom)—Sally Hawkins stars as Rita O'Grady, the catalyst for the 1968 Ford Dagenham strike by 187 sewing machinists which led to the advent of the Equal Party Act. Working in extremely impoverished conditions for long, arduous hours, the women at the Ford Dagenham plant finally lose their patience when they are reclassified as "unskilled." With humor, common sense and courage, they take on their corporate paymasters, an increasingly belligerent local community, and finally the government itself. The film also stars Bob Hoskins, Miranda Richardson, Geraldine James and Rosamund Pike. IMDb. Wikipedia. Facebook. TOFilmFest. Woolton Picture House has extensive production notes. Release Date: October 1, 2010. World Premiere.
Miral (Julian Schnabel, United Kingdom / Israel / France)—From the director of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Before Night Falls and Basquiat, comes Miral, the visceral, first-person diary of a young girl growing up in East Jerusalem as she confronts the effects of occupation and war in every corner of her life. Schnabel pieces together momentary fragments of Miral's world—how she was formed, who influenced her, all that she experiences in her tumultuous early years—to create a raw, moving, poetic portrait of a woman whose small, personal story is inextricably woven into the bigger history unfolding all around her.
The film is scheduled to have its world premiere at the Venice International before arriving in Toronto. Miral's screenplay was written by Rula Jebreal, based on her novel. Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) plays the title role alongside Hiam Abbass (as Hind al-Husseini, the Palestinian woman who converted her grandfather's mansion into an orphanage to house the rescued and orphaned survivors of the Deir Yassin massacre while advocating education as the path to peace). Supporting turns by Willem Dafoe and Vanessa Redgrave. As reported at TOFilmFest, Harvey Weinstein has stated: "This is the first film I am involved in that shows the 'other side' of the Israel/Palestine conflict. As a staunch supporter of Israel, I thought this would be a movie I would have a hard time wrapping my head around. However, meeting Rula moved me to open my heart and mind, and I hope we can do that with audiences worldwide." IMDb. Wikipedia. North American Premiere.
" 'It's not Baby's Day Out,' jokes Pinto.... Acting in the film 'really changed me as a person.' "—Entertainment Weekly (#1116/1117, August 20, 27, 2010, p. 87). Opens December 3, 2010.
Mothers / Majki (Milčo Mančevski, Macedonia / France / Bulgaria)—A child's friend is accosted by a flasher so she decides to go to the police herself; a film crew sets out to find the old traditions and discovers a grandmother living alone in an abandoned village; retired cleaning women are found raped and strangled in a small town. The innovative structure of Mothers highlights the delicate nature of truth and fiction, of drama and documentary. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Never Let Me Go (Mark Romanek, United Kingdom)—Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightley) spent their childhood at a seemingly idyllic boarding school. When they leave the shelter of the school, the terrible truth of their fate is revealed and they must confront the deep feelings of love, jealousy and betrayal that threaten to pull them apart. Official website. IMDb. Wikipedia. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Missy Schwartz reports to Entertainment Weekly (#1116/1117, August 20, 27, 2010, p. 54): "Four years ago, Carey Mulligan read Kazuo Ishiguro's acclaimed 2005 novel Never Let Me Go and felt like she'd been knocked sideways. 'I just loved it,' she says. 'I remember thinking, "If they ever make a film of this, I have to be in it." ' Luckily for her, Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo) was a big fan of her Oscar®-nominated performance in last year's An Education and cast her in the lead role of Kathy, a restrained woman who narrates the haunting story of British boarding-school students brought up for one mysterious, dark purpose.... A human-scale drama with sci-fi leanings, Never Let Me Go explores how Kathy and her friends (played by Keira Knightley and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus' Andrew Garfield) come to terms with their circumscribed lives." Opens September 15, 2010.
Norwegian Wood / Noruwei No Mori (Tran Anh Hung, Japan)—Adapted from Haruki Murakami's bestselling novel. Watanabe, a quiet and serious college student, becomes deeply devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman with whom he shares the tragedy of their best friend's death. When Naoko suddenly disappears, Midori, an outgoing, vivacious and supremely self-confident girl marches into Watanabe's life. The film stars Kenichi Matsuyama, Rinko Kikuchi and Kiko Mizuhara. Official website [Japanese]. IMDb. TOFilmFest. North American Premiere.
Outside the Law / Hors-la-loi (Rachid Bouchareb, France / Algeria / Tunisia / Italy / Belgium)—Bouchareb's follow-up to Days of Glory is an epic French gangster movie in the tradition of Once Upon a Time in America. The film follows three brothers from childhood in Algeria through turbulent years in Paris, as their paths diverge towards radical politics and violent crime. Official website. IMDb. Wikipedia. At MUBI, David Hudson has rounded up the reviews from Cannes. TOFilmFest. North American Premiere.
Passione (John Turturro, Italy)—Passione journeys through Napoli, one of the biggest jukeboxes in the world with a treasure chest of songs from the 1200s to present day. Each song conjures distant stories and myths that speak of love, sex, jealousy, crime, poverty, irony, superstition, and social protest. At MUBI, David Hudson reports that Passione will be screening Out of Competition in Venice. IMDb. TOFilmFest. North American Premiere.
Passion Play (Mitch Glazer, USA)—Set in the desert and laced with the deep elements of a modern fable, Passion Play tells the tale of Nate (Mickey Rourke), a down-on-his-luck jazz trumpet player who forms a bond with Lily (Megan Fox), a woman born with wings who has wound up as a carnival sideshow attraction. Together these two damaged souls undertake a turbulent romantic journey while trying to avoid the witty and menacing Happy (Bill Murray), a local gangster. IMDb. Wikipedia. Facebook. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
The Poll Diaries (Chris Kraus, Germany / Austria / Estonia)—On the eve of World War I, a 14-year-old German girl returns to her home on the Baltic coast, a place uneasily shared by Germans, Russians and Estonians. While her morbid scientist father controls the family with a cruel hand, the passionate young girl secretly nurses a wounded Estonian anarchist back to health—an act of curiosity and then of defiance that could set off an uncontrollable chain reaction. IMDb. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Rabbit Hole (John Cameron Mitchell, USA)—A family navigates the deepest form of loss in John Cameron Mitchell's screen adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning play by David Lindsay-Abaire. Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart deliver captivating performances as a husband and wife who fight to save their marriage in the life that begins again after tragedy. IMDb. Wikipedia. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Repeaters (Carl Bessai, Canada)—Veteran director Carl Bessai returns with a tense thriller that follows three young addicts in a rehabilitation center. Each day they live the same events over and over—a situation each responds to in radically different ways. IMDb. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Rio Sex Comedy (Jonathan Nossiter, France / Brazil)—Rio Sex Comedy charts the misadventures of expatriates in Rio in their search for both personal pleasures and social justice. Charlotte Rampling is an English plastic surgeon determined to subvert anyone from going near the knife. Irène Jacob is a French anthropologist whose political correctness is upstaged by more carnal ambitions. Bill Pullman is a befuddled American ambassador who flees from his responsibilities into one of Rio's most dangerous favelas. There he becomes co-opted by the schemes of Fisher Stevens, favela tour operator and romantic huckster. IMDb. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
A Screaming Man / Un homme qui crie (Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, France / Belgium / Chad)—One of Africa's preeminent film artists, Haroun returns to themes of family and loyalty in war-torn Chad. A father and son work together at the pool of five-star hotel, but the civil war forces life-and-death choices upon them. Winner of the Prix de jury at Cannes where David Hudson has rounded up the reviews for MUBI. Also at MUBI, Daniel Kasman includes A Screaming Man among his favorite moments from Day 4 of the festival. IMDb. Wikipedia. TOFilmFest. North American Premiere.
Special Treatment / Sans queue ni tête (Jeanne Labrune, France / Luxembourg /Belgium)—A high-class prostitute and a pre-eminent psychoanalyst discover that they share many things in common. They are both unhappy with their professions, seeking a way out that involves unique contact with each other's worlds. IMDb. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Stone (John Curran, USA)—Robert De Niro and Edward Norton deliver powerful performances as a seasoned corrections official and a scheming inmate whose lives become dangerously intertwined. Stone weaves together the parallel journeys of two men grappling with dark impulses, as the line between lawman and lawbreaker becomes precariously thin. The film also stars Milla Jovovich and Frances Conroy. IMDb. Wikipedia. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Submarine (Richard Ayoade, United Kingdom)—British comic Richard Ayoade delivers his hotly-anticipated feature debut Submarine. One boy must fight to save his mother from the advances of a mystic, and simultaneously lure his eczema-strafed girlfriend into the bedroom, armed with only a vast vocabulary and near-total self-belief. His name is Oliver Tate. IMDb. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Tamara Drewe (Stephen Frears, United Kingdom)—Based on Posy Simmonds' beloved graphic novel. When Tamara Drewe returns to the village of her youth, life for the locals is thrown upside down. Tamara—once an ugly duckling—has been transformed and is now a minor celebrity. As infatuations, jealousies, love affairs and career ambitions collide among the inhabitants of the neighboring farmsteads, Tamara sets a contemporary comedy of manners into play. At MUBI, David Hudson has rounded up the reviews from Cannes. Official website. IMDb. Wikipedia. Facebook. TOFilmFest. North American Premiere.
That Girl in Yellow Boots (Anurag Kashyap, India)—Ruth is searching for her father—a man she hardly knew but cannot forget. Desperation drives her to work without a permit, at a massage parlor, where she gives "happy endings" to unfulfilled men. Torn between several schisms, Mumbai becomes the backdrop for Ruth's quest as she struggles to find her independence and space even as she is sucked deeper into the labyrinthine politics of the city's underbelly. IMDb. Facebook. TOFilmFest. North American Premiere.
Trigger (Bruce McDonald, Canada)—Molly Parker and the late Tracy Wright form a highly dysfunctional yet endearing rock duo reuniting a decade after their band called it quits. Directed by Bruce McDonald (Pontypool, The Tracey Fragments, Hard Core Logo, Highway 61), and written by Daniel MacIvor, the film features Sarah Polley, Don McKellar and Callum Keith Rennie. IMDb. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
The Trip (Michael Winterbottom, United Kingdom)—Follow two good friends in this hilarious road movie as they embark on a tour of the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales of Northern England, eating, chatting and driving each other crazy. The film stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. At Twitch, Todd Brown has the skinny on why this project—which reunites Winterbottom with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon (Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story)—seemingly emerged out of nowhere. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Trust (David Schwimmer, USA)—Safe and sound in their suburban home, Will and Lynn Cameron (Clive Owen and Catherine Keener) used to sleep well at night. When their 14-year-old daughter, Annie (Liana Liberato), made a new friend on-line—a 16-year-old boy named Charlie—Will and Lynn didn't think much of it. But when Annie and Charlie make a plan to meet what happens in the next twenty-four hours changes the entire family forever. Charlie is really a 40-year-old serial pedophile (Tom McCarthy) and, once Annie's rape comes to light, it becomes a touchstone event that reverberates through the entire family. TOFilmFest praises: "relative newcomer Liberato's slow-burning self-realization and climactic breakdown is undeniably heartrending." IMDb. World Premiere.
What's Wrong With Virginia (Dustin Lance Black, USA)—Jennifer Connelly stars as Virginia, a charming yet mentally ill mother whose greatest love is her protector and illegitimate son, Emmett (Harrison Gilbertson). Richard Tipton (Ed Harris), the local married Mormon sheriff, who is running for public office, might very well be Emmett's father. Their boardwalk town's peculiar secrets are threatened when Virginia's son begins a romantic relationship with Tipton's daughter (Emma Roberts) sending mother and son on a mad dash to seize their own brand of the American Dream—guns blazing. IMDb. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (Woody Allen, United Kingdom / USA / Spain)—Woody Allen's latest comic ensemble piece follows a group of Londoners struggling with failing marriages, restless libidos, the perils of aging and desires that drive a series of decisions with unforeseen consequences. The film stars Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Anthony Hopkins, Gemma Jones, Lucy Punch and Naomi Watts. At MUBI, David Hudson has rounded up the reviews from Cannes where the film screened out of competition. Official website. IMDbFacebook. TOFilmFest. North American Premiere.
" 'The theme of the movie is "The grass is greener on the other side, until you get there," says Josh Brolin, who plays one of several restless spouses in Woody Allen's London-set dramedy. Brolin is a struggling author who flirts with his new neighbor (Slumdog Millionaire's Freida Pinto) when he's not bickering with his wife (Naomi Watts). The wife has a crush on her boss (Antonio Banderas), while her dad (Anthony Hopkins) shacks up with a call girl (Lucy Punch). The film is Brolin's second with Allen. 'I got this e-mail from Woody that said, "You may remember me from Melinda and Melinda; I was the director. I thought you did a great job in W.," ' says Brolin. 'I framed it. "You may remember me"!' "—Entertainment Weekly; #1116/1117, August 20, 27, 2010, p. 53. Opens September 22, 2010.
Yves Saint Laurent—L'Amour Fou (Pierre Thoretton, France)—Yves Saint Laurent built one of fashion's most celebrated empires. This moving documentary chronicles his rise, his lifelong partnership with Pierre Bergé and their decision to auction off a lifetime of precious art and objects. IMDb. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.