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Feature Archive > TIFF Preview #1: Guns, Grit, Teeth, Ghosts
mike | 6 Sep 2011 | 636 Views | 1 Likes | 0 Dislikes
TIFF Preview #1: Guns, Grit, Teeth, Ghosts
TIFF, beneath its layers of celebrity glitz and behind its high-architectural-concept theatre/condo/restaurant complex façade, is a festival that exists to show movies to the public. That's it, that's all. That may seem unlikely given the astronomic costs and pain-in-the-keister ticket purchasing procedure, but it's true none the less.
You'd be excused for thinking that there was some other purpose to the whole thing, though, as TIFF is reticent about coming right out and selling their wares. They're cagey, and they've built a whole shedload of prestige on a foundation of being, well, kind of confusing about this whole movie showing business.
To whit: their whole film schedule is broken down into (among others) the following programs: Galas, Special Presentations, Masters, Discovery, Vanguard, Visions, Wavelengths and Contemporary World Cinema. This is about as helpful as breaking a dinner menu down into Noshes, Nibbles, Bites, Plates, Servings and Things. It's weirdly obfuscatory, and purposefully confusing: note that many of the films in the Galas or Special Presentations sections are a) contemporary and b) from the world but NOT Contemporary World Cinema and that many of them are also by c) Masters and further, that many Vanguard films may in fact be Discoveries. I've been going to the festival for a long time, and I still struggle with this stuff.
So, our preview is going to be a little different. We're cutting through the high art garbola. We're gonna give it to you straight. You know what you want, and now you're gonna know how to get it, as we present part one of our four-part TIFF preview:
WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU LIKE NASTY SCARY/THRILLING GENRE MOVIES
Dir. Nicolas Winding Refn
Sure to be a hot ticket despite a release date two days before the festival's close, Drive is the big-star, big-budget (well, $13M anyway) American debut of Danish wunderkind director Nicolas Winding Refn. He's rocked TIFF before with the Pusher trilogy and the gnarly Valhalla Rising, and Drive is pulling into the fest with a trunk-load of hype... hype that might actually be deserved. Ryan Gosling prowls the streets of L.A. as a stunt-driver-turned-getaway-man in this ink-black hunk of seriously nasty genreness, and it's interesting to note that he apparently hand-picked Refn to helm his tough-guy debut.
The Moth Diaries
Dir. Mary Harron
OK, sure, it's a teen-girl vampire movie, but it's directed by Mary Harron, who besides a bunch of good TV stuff has made a three very good, very smart movies - The Notorious Bettie Page, American Psycho and I Shot Andy Warhol - all of which have explored gender issues in entertaining, decidedly not Twilight-y ways. If you've got a Pattinson-obsessed teen sister mooning around the house longing to be neck-bit, maybe haul her out to this - it might be a little bit smarter than norm for this kind of stuff.
Dir. William Friedkin
He's made films considered masterpieces (The French Connection, The Exorcist), and he's made films so bad that they're impossible to find (Deal of the Century). There's hope that William Friedkin's Killer Joe might be closer to the former rather than the latter: the fact that his last flick (2006's Bug) was every inch a tight, simmering, character-based thriller certainly can't hurt. That Killer Joe boasts a talented cast is a bonus, as well (although it should be noted that Friedkin directed Al Pacino in Cruising, a film so offensive (and offensively bad) that members of NY's gay community tried to disrupt production, and it still runs with an apologetic preamble). That said, this tale of familial mayhem might be worth catching.
Dir. Morten Tyldum
One of the best of the surging Scandinavian crime writers, Norway's Jo Nesbø’s Headhunters has been adapted into a twist-packed thriller starring Norway's biggest star, Aksel Hennie (Max Manus). Avid crime-fiction fans have discovered a huge, dark world of Nordic thrillers beyond the Dragon Tattoo books, and they'll hopefully serve as a much-needed jolt to a genre that's rapidly disappearing from North American cineplexes.
Dir. Nick Murphy
A ghost story of the olden schoole, Nick Murphy's The Awakening promises to serve as an ooky, eerie tonic to folks with nerves all jangled from the slam-bang screech and clang of nouveau haunted house movies like Paranormal Activity or the remakes of The Amityville Horror and House on Haunted Hill. Rebecca Hall plays Florence Cathcart, a post-WW1 debunker of hoaxes. Summoned to a rural boarding school to deal with reports of ghost sightings, she will have to deal with a whole shitload of spooky ass stuff, hopefully.
Dir. Oren Moverman
OK, bear with me as I describe the talen avalanche: director Moverman (fresh off an Oscar noms for orig. screenplay & supporting actor for his last feature The Messenger, which he co-wrote and directed) co-writes the script for this L.A. cop drama with L.A. crime fiction legend James Ellroy (L.A. Confidential) that stars Woody Harrelson, Anne Heche, Cynthia Nixon, Ben Foster, Robin Wright, Sigourney Weaver, Steve Buscemi and Ice Cube. Based on the true story of L.A.'s really-corrupt-cops-scandal from the '90s, I have an inkling that this movie might be kind of… good.
Dir. Gareth Huw Evans
Just when you thought we'd used up all the different martial arts in the world, along comes The Raid, director Gareth Huw Evans' homage to the Indonesian art of "Silat". Iko Uwais stars as a... you know what? It's a bunch of raw-ass fight scenes inside a scary tenement building, and it's going to rule.