Holy sh*t that was scary! I'm admittedly very easily freaked out and I tend to stay away from ghost thrillers because they scare the crap out of me. But I am very glad I decided to see James Wan's Insidious tonight. I'm a fan of Wan's work (the original Saw, Dead Silence, Death Sentence) and I love watching his fresh new takes on the horror genre, and this time he has definitely created something very unique, something we've never seen before, and it's awesome. It reminded me of a modern mash-up of Poltergeist, The Exorcist, and old school Sam Raimi with some kooky (and enjoyable) laughs, but boy is it just a damn good horror movie!
This is it. This is the wonderful, amusing, brilliant little indie gem I've been waiting to stumble across here at the Toronto Film Festival. The film is called Submarine and its the directorial debut of The IT Crowd actor and former The Mighty Boosh member Richard Ayoade. It was produced by Ben Stiller's Red Hour Films and stars young newcomer Craig Roberts as a quirky 15-year-old British kid named Oliver Tate (seen above). Its been described by others (so I can't take credit for this) as Rushmore meets The Squid and the Whale and that's dead on accurate. And damn is it good, I mean really good, one of the best films of TIFF.
Are you afraid of the dark? One great film I caught the other night at a midnight screening was the newest feature from The Machinist and Transsiberian director Brad Anderson titled Vanishing on 7th Street, which we featured a trailer for just a few weeks ago. This apocalyptic thriller focuses on four "survivors" of a mysterious supernatural occurrence who randomly meet up at a bar on 7th Street in an attempt to survive. It has a great concept with some very creepy elements, but with Hayden Christensen in the lead, you already know that the characters are going to be the weakest part, and that was definitely the case. But it's not bad.
Its been a few days and I can already tell you this is one of those films that will stick with me. I first heard about Dan Rush's Everything Must Go when I noticed it was one of the most highly rated scripts floating around, one that everyone seems to love. Before I knew it, the film had already been shot with Will Ferrell starring in the lead, and now its making its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. The first thing to note about this indie movie is that it's not really a comedy. Sure, it has Will Ferrell starring in it, but it's actually a very low key, very smart indie drama. And although it's not perfect, I personally really enjoyed it.
One of the most heavily debated films of this year has to be Let Me In, which is Cloverfield director Matt Reeves' new take on John Ajvide Lindqvist's vampire tale Let the Right One In, that was brilliantly adapted in 2008 by Swedish director Tomas Alfredson. I'm a huge fan of the original film and I was truthfully a bit worrisome going into this, but despite all my fears, Reeves has pulled it off. I was stunned to discover that Let Me In is a beautifully dark and superb film that is actually on par with Alfredson's Let the Right One In. Believe it. This is one American remake is just as worthwhile as the original, in every way - it's that good.
Filmmaker duo Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck first found success in 2006 with the indie Half Nelson, but didn't really hit it out of the park with Sugar in 2008 (I thought it was just okay). They're back again with their third feature film, another fun, quirky drama called It's Kind of a Funny Story, adapted from Ned Vizzini's novel of the same name that's based on his own real experiences. The film stars Keir Gilchrist as a 16-year-old suicidal kid who checks himself into an adult psychiatric ward in hopes of curing himself, but eventually discovers to appreciate life and live stress free after spending a week with the rest of the patients.
And here we go… My very first movie of the Toronto International Film Festival this year was Ben Affleck's sophomore directorial effort The Town, based on Chuck Hogan's novel Prince of Thieves. Before I get into this, I want to preface it by saying that I'm a huge fan of Affleck's first film Gone Baby Gone, it's one of my personal all-time favorites, I loved it through and through. That said, The Town is not one of my favorites, not by a long shot. It's a solid film with some fantastic performances, but heavily flawed, with the script and dialogue being the weakest parts of it. I couldn't ever really get into it, and damn was Blake Lively terrible.
My first Midnight Madness film of the Toronto Film Festival this year was Slither director James Gunn's new "superhero" comedy Super, starring Rainn Wilson as The Crimson Bolt (as pictured above). It's one of those wacky regular-citizen-decides-to-become-a-crime-fighter comedies in the same vein as Kick-Ass or Defendor, but with Gunn's own badass, unique comedic and stylistic touch. It's a helluva lot of fun and it's one of those hilarious indie comedies that you have to watch with a group of people (because everyone will be cheering) but unfortunately I didn't love it. I had a great time watching it, but I still love Kick-Ass more.
What the hell did I just see? My second film of the Toronto Film Festival (first was The Town) that I just saw today was the Casey Affleck directed documentary I'm Still Here about Joaquin Phoenix's attempt to become a rapper. The film just hit limited theaters today and also showed in Venice, so there's some good buzz for it already. I will admit that I actually enjoyed this, it was entertaining and it was a fairly fascinating character study, but it's not perfect, and it's not anything more than just a bit of entertainment. And I'm still not even sure if it was all just an act or not, but that's one of the most interesting ideas. Was he just acting?
Some big news this morning. The world famous Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas announced that they're starting a distribution label called Drafthouse Films and will be releasing the British "terrorist comedy" Four Lions (that showed at Sundance earlier this year). "I've been a huge fan of Chris Morris' comedic television and radio for years. To launch our new distribution label with what I consider to be a modern classic is a dream come true," said Drafthouse founder Tim League. This is exciting news for anyone in the film world, as the Drafthouse is a strong brand and it's great to see Tim testing the waters in distribution.
For the third straight year in a row, I'm embarking upon a massive 30-day non-stop film festival tour. I'm catching a flight this morning to kick things off starting at the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado (Sept. 3 - 6), then I'll be heading up to the Toronto Film Festival (Sept. 9 to 19), and finally I'll be heading back to Fantastic Fest in Austin at the Alamo Drafthouse (Sept. 23 - 30). It's a very long trip, but I love every second of it, I live for this stuff. My partner in crime is Peter Sciretta of SlashFilm, who will be joining me on this exciting, exhausting and entertaining adventure to some of the best fests the film world has to offer.
The 35th Toronto International Film Festival has announced an additional set of films as part of their line-up at this year's festival, which runs September 9th to 19th in Toronto, Canada. We announced the first half of the line-up back in July, and it was already full of a lot of awesome titles, but this just makes things even better. I know a few of you will be attending this fest as well, but for everyone else we'll definitely be bringing you some coverage from the fest, including early reviews of a lot of these films, interviews with cast and filmmakers, and so much more. You can find the latest list of new selections announced today below!