"If everyone decides you're not a person, you aren't, in a way." One of my favorite films that I saw at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival is The Double, the second feature from comedian-actor-filmmaker Richard Ayoade. I fell in love with his first film, Submarine (watch it on Netflix!), back at TIFF in 2010 and was lucky enough to catch the world premiere of The Double at TIFF this year. Based on the Fyodor Dostoevsky novella, Jesse Eisenberg stars as a timid worker whose life is thrown into disarray when his doppelganger shows up. I met up with Richard Ayoade in Toronto for a good chat about The Double recorded on Flipcam.
The wonderful, exciting, thrilling world of cinema. Last week I returned home from my seventh trip to the Toronto Film Festival, best known just as TIFF. Over the course of one week, I screened a total of 18 films; combined with the 10 I saw in Telluride, that puts me at a grand total of 28 festival screenings since the end of August/start of September. It was a wild ride this year, between controversy and complaints, a couple of interviews, and tons of parties, screenings, meet-ups and discussions. To finish my coverage of TIFF 2013, I'm recapping my 5 favorite films that I saw at this festival (excluding those I originally saw in Telluride) as well as my quick thoughts on any others. I'm always excited to talk about my personal favorites of Toronto.
My appreciation for Formula One racing grew exponentially in the last few years. It all began with Senna, the outstanding doc (see it if you haven't!) profiling driver Ayrton Senna. This year we have a feature film titled Rush from director Ron Howard that focuses on the rivalry between two other famous drivers - Niki Lauda, played by Daniel Brühl, and James Hunt, played by Chris Hemsworth. While the mechanics of the cars are fascinating, it's just as compelling to dive deep into the psyche of the drivers, and what drives them. That's a bit cheesy, but all I wanted to do by the end of this was go out and drive, and push the limits.
"We can't afford to let ourselves be guided by contemporary cultural standards—particularly now..." -M. Scorsese on cinema. Last week at the Toronto International Film Festival, my story and name made headlines around the world. But for all the wrong reasons. I love TIFF, I've been attending for seven years and hope to return for many more. But the fest has an embarrassing problem with rampant cell phone use during Press & Industry screenings. And I am the first person in the festival's history to stand up to it, say something about it, and make a ruckus big enough to actually draw the attention of the festival's decision-makers. It's time for them to make a change. It's time for this repulsive problem to be brought to light and for the festival to once again set a precedent for preserving the profoundly affecting experience of cinema.
Revenge is a... we all already know that old Klingon proverb. So how about something a bit different? How about revenge with a tinge of blue and some blood splattered in there, too? One of the films I caught early at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival was one I originally missed at Cannes, a small revenge feature titled Blue Ruin from director Jeremy Saulnier. It's a bit of a slow burn take on one man's desire to exact revenge on the people who destroyed his family, but it never drags at any point. As the buzz claims, it's actually one of the best revenge films this year, and a good one to discover for yourself if you love bloody revenge stories.
As the 2013 Toronto Film Festival comes to close, it's one of your last chances to catch some of the short films playing at the fest. As part of a deal with TIFF, YouTube has been hosting 22 shorts online for free viewing. One of them has already been making the rounds, a short called Noah about a teenage kid's failing relationship told entirely through video of his computer screen - it just won the festival's big shorts award. There's also the short titled Method, directed by "Rookie Blue" star Gregory Smith about an actor playing a police officer, and a short called Young Wonder, a fun outdoor fantasy action-adventure film. These will only be online for a limited amount of time, and they're all worth watching, so hurry up and check them out.
The winners of many prestigious awards at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival have been announced today as the festival wraps up. The big winner this year is Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, which won the "People's Choice" award. It's one of the most coveted prizes at TIFF considering the prominent history of past winners. Over these last four to five years, the big winner usually goes on to achieve some Oscar glory. The last few winners include: Silver Linings Playbook, Where Do We Go Now?, The King's Speech, Precious and Slumdog Millionaire. Now McQueen's 12 Years a Slave joins those ranks, but it should be noted that Sion Sono's Why Don't You Play in Hell? won the midnight award.
What a beautiful, beautiful film. That's the best way to put it. And that's the first thought that came to mind and stayed at the forefront of my thoughts while I was watching this. The film Tracks, directed by John Curran, and follows the real-life story of Australian naturalist Robyn Davidson, who crossed 1,700 miles of the Australia Outback by foot by herself in 1977. Her journey was documented and published in National Geographic and this film gives us a dramatic recreation of it, following Robyn and her sunburned trip with three camels. Watch it is like floating through a beautiful dream journeying across the Australian Outback.
Holy crap! This was awesome! The Midnight Madness selection at the Toronto Film Festival usually features some outstanding genre gems and this year I caught one of them that considerably impressed me. The film is titled Afflicted and if there's anything I must suggest it is to catch a screening of it as soon as possible without knowing anything else about it. It's yet another genre found footage film, but it's also genre-bending and the closest comparison I can come up with (without giving away too much more) is Chronicle. If you loved that film, you should love this, too. Afflicted kicks ass and will leave you with chills at the same time.
In the delightful world of romantic comedies it's always hard to stay fresh when so many of them hit the big screen every year. But there's always one or two hidden gems to be found, and the latest one to appear in 2013 is Michael Dowse's The F Word. Playing at the Toronto Film Festival, this stellar romantic comedy stars Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan and addresses in a comically fun way the dreaded "f" word in relationships - "friend". It's very sweet, shot exquisitely around Toronto, and endearing in all the right ways. While it doesn't reinvent the romantic comedy wheel, it doesn't really need to. I enjoyed every second of it.
What happens when you mix Fyodor Dostoevsky with the mad genius mind of comedian and filmmaker Richard Ayoade, co-writer Avi Korine, and the suave of Jesse Eisenberg? We get The Double, this funky mindfuck, Terry Gilliam-esque, trippy, fun, dark comedy that may not have all the pieces there, but is certainly unique. I'm a very big fan of Ayoade's feature directorial debut Submarine (watch it on Netflix), and happily dived headfirst into his second feature, The Double, based on an 1846 Dostoevsky novella with a dystopian plot involving a worker whose entire life is thrown into disarray when his doppleganger shows up.
"He's going to be missed by this city, and the audiences of this festival." I must make an honest, personal confession. The one chance I had to meet and talk with Roger Ebert was at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) a few years ago. He used to frequent this fest and I would always see him at the same press screenings that I was attending. One year I saw him just standing there, waiting, and I never got the nerves to say hi. Now it's one of my greatest regrets, and I still miss him and still think about that moment. At the Toronto Film Festival this year the festival is paying tribute to the iconic film critic and has released the 4-minute video they made. It's a lovey and wonderful appreciation for a real voice of the festival. Enjoy.
I still remember my very first Toronto Film Festival way back in 2007. The festival denied me a press badge, so I woke up early and bought tickets every day. I crashed with my friends Peter Sciretta (of SlashFilm) and Jen Yamato (of Rotten Tomatoes at the time) in the basement of a bed & breakfast on Church St. Somehow, with an endless amount of passion and determination, I saw 20 films in total, from Michael Clayton to The Assassination of Jesse James to Juno. I'm back in Toronto again, for my 7th TIFF in a row, continuing the crazy fall film festival season. From Telluride straight to Toronto. It's a completely different fest now, I'm already tired, Peter and Jen don't go anymore, but I'm here for the films. As always, it's all about the movies.
Every once in a while, a film will choose to take the path less traveled and use unique poster art that eschews Photoshop and goes for aesthetic beauty instead. Here we have the TIFF promo poster for Simon Hawkins and Zeke Hawkins' We Gotta Get Out of This Place, a twisted Texas-set crime drama about three teens (Mackenzie Davis, Jeremy Allen White and Logan Huffman) hoping to make a break for it and escape their dead-end existence in their cotton-mill town. The poster features hand-painted artwork by Eisner Award winning artist Sean Phillips that's just gorgeous. This film is now on our festival radar thanks to this art.