Tuesday, August 13, 2013

TIFF13: Gala Guilty Pleasures

Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche in Fred Schepisi's
Words and Pictures
All right, let's do it. Let's fill this post with the guilty pleasures and just get it over with. Why not. Obviously, the main highlight of Tuesday's announcements was the Wavelengths programme, but before we go there, let's get a little giddy on a few romcoms that seem likely to go down as smoothly as a chardonnay at a seaside picnic.

Perhaps it was because the day had been difficult. But somewhere around two o'clock on Tuesday I found this picture above among the new announcements made that day of programming in the Contemporary World Cinema, Wavelengths, TIFFKids and remainder of Special Presentations and Galas titles... and I smiled. From veteran director Fred Schepisi (whose The Russia House I've always loved), Words and Pictures is about a competition between a high school English teacher (Clive Owen) and an artist on the same faculty (Juliette Binoche), as to what matters more, words or pictures. Yes, I know, perhaps more lemonade than chardonnay. And since by all sources it was not supposed to appear until 2014, we might be worried that it will be a very rough cut. But who cares. As a teacher myself, who has often challenged students to this very debate on the first day of one of my courses, I'm curious. And who can resist the first JB film to hit TIFF since TIFF11's Elles.

Laurent Lafitte and Fanny Ardant in
Marion Vernoux's 
Bright Days Ahead
Also announced as a late-breaking Gala was Bright Days Ahead, Marion Vernoux's portrait of a woman in her sixties who falls into a relationship (I hate the word 'affair') with a man half her age. It looks, feels and sounds like a remake of Manoel de Oliveira's exquisite Mari-Jo et ses deux amours, a film I was so grateful for in 2002.  I vowed to myself in the 80s that I would follow Fanny Ardant into any world and so I shall, but co-star Laurent Lafitte also seems genuine and unaffected in the trailer. (Watch it here.)

Timothy Spall, Celia Imrie, Emma Thompson and
Pierce Brosnanin Joel Hopkins'
The Love Punch
Pierce Brosnan has never been my idea of an appealing leading man - until I saw him just this year in Susanne Bier's Love is all you need, opposite the always beautiful and compelling Trine Dyrholm. Though I had problems with the film as a whole, the two leads were lovely, and I decided Brosnan, if not a deep actor, could at least make me care about him. Joel Hopkins' The Love Punch, features Brosnan and Emma Thompson as divorced jewel thieves who decide to work together on a heist. Co-starring the ubiquitous and under-appreciated Celia Imrie, it bizarrely also features Laurent Lafitte from Bright Days Ahead! If the title, and the five pictures on offer from TIFF are any indication, comedy has the upper hand in The Love Punch, but with the witty/icy capacities of these lead actors, the film just might actually be.... layered! All three of these offerings become 'nice break' contenders - hopefully sliding into slots in the afternoon when I am brain dead and ready to just be entertained.

Colin Firth in Jonathan Teplitzky's The Railway Man
Moving into more serious fare, there is already a considerable anticipation for Jonathan Teplitzky's The Railway Man, starring Colin Firth as a British soldier who is captured by the Japanese during the second world war and made to be a heavy labourer for years. This might be a good film to view in dialogue with Steve McQueen's Twelve Years a Slave as there is a similarity of theme. Hard to know much more until we get the longer programme notes, but co-starring Nicole Kidman, the early word of mouth is very strong.

For me, the full picture of TIFF doesn't happen until Wavelengths and Masters are known. We got one half today, the other is perhaps coming later this week. Hoping that Bruno Dumont's Camille Claudel 1915 will be getting its North American premiere here. Also featuring Binoche, it is my most waited-for film of the last few years. Fingers crossed! Now on to Wavelengths and Contemporary World Cinema in separate posts.

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