Sunday, August 30, 2015

80 Films to Watch Out for at TIFF15 Part 2 D - L

This is Part 2 in the continuation of a list begun in the previous post, with twenty more titles of an eventual eighty, given alphabetically, that I am looking forward to seeing at TIFF15.  An  indicates a movie in my top twenty priority list. A-D was previously posted; D - L is here; the rest will follow in separate blogs. Titles link to the TIFF profile page and wherever a trailer is available, I have provided it. All still images can be found on the TIFF website at the movie page linked.

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The Dressmaker


Kate Winslet vamps as a small-town Australian girl made good in the couturier world of Paris who comes home to care for her mother, and to also stare down an old unresolved scandal. Aussie director Jocelyn Moorhouse returns to film with this feature after an hiatus since her solid films of the 90's (Proof, A Thousand Acres) and a turn directing with the Sydney Theatre Company. Winslet hasn't been this steamy since Romance and Cigarettes.
Gala

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Endorphine
 


Although André Turpin has directed two previous features (Zigrail, Un Crab dans la tête), he is best known for his work as cinematographer on important Québecois features like Denis Villeneuve's Maëlstrom and Incendies and Xavier Dolan's Mommy. Those dramatically intense works are interesting background for his first feature since 2001, about three different women named Simone, ranging in age from twelve to sixty. No trailer is available, but the exemplary cast includes Sophie Nélisse (Monsieur Lazhar, The Book Thief).
Vanguard

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Les Êtres Chers 


The legacy of loss is the major theme of Anne Émond's second feature, Les Êtres Chers (Our Loved Ones), which follows several generations of a Bas-St.-Laurent family as they come to terms with the suicide of their patriarch in order to reshape life for the generations to come. Also shot in Barcelona, it is produced by Nancy Grant, whose last film was Xavier Dolan's Mommy.
Contemporary World Cinema


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Every Thing Will Be Fine

Wim Wenders epitomizes what it is to be an auteur. The German filmmaker who has won all of the most significant film awards from Palme to Oscar - and more than once - has written and directed movies that express the same, evolving visual style and aesthetic while deepening reflection on an ever-widening circle of themes and embracing technological change long ahead of most others. His 2011 3-D documentary Pina was my favourite film of that year. Every Thing Will Be Fine is Wenders' first essay into dramatic storytelling in 3-D, following the story of a writer who is profoundly affected by an accident that kills a boy. Shot in Oka, Québec, it features a mixed international cast, including Charlotte Rampling (also appearing in 45 Years), James Franco, Rachel McAdams and Marie-Josée Croze. Masters

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Eye in the Sky

An interesting counterpoint to Michael Moore's Where to Invade Next? also playing at TIFF is this feature from Gavin Hood that looks at what can happen once that choice on where to invade has been made and the unexpected occurs. I wish so much that the sudden appearance of a nine year old girl in a drone 'kill zone' did in fact make any kind of a difference in a planned strike, but this is the dramatic problem posed in Eye in the Sky, which Helen Mirren's colonel character, intent on killing her target, is told of. I am not sure about this one, but am very drawn to stories that look at drone warfare and its moral implications. (See Full Contact below) and I'm hopeful that the movie engenders further debate on it. No trailer.
Gala

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Five Nights in Maine 



Wow - a feature starring Dianne Wiest - that hasn't happened in a long time. And with Selma's David Oyelowo to boot! That's the way in which I first became interested in this first feature by American Maris Curran, but tracing the movie's development back to its Kickstarter campaign (while searching for a non-existent trailer), I was impressed by the intelligence and acumen (not to mention accomplishment) of its creative team as they talked about the project, which tells the story of a man who goes to meet his mother-in-law after his wife has suddenly died, confronting not only his own grief, but the unresolved problems of race and relationship that were running in the background of his marriage. And then there's the mother's story! A high priority for me. 
Discovery

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Francofonia 




I will never forget the voyage that Alexander Sokurov took me on, through the halls and history of the Hermitage Museum in Russian Ark. Shot in one seamless take, it blended dramatization with historical detail and lingered in the most unexpected places. I am hoping for more of the same from the great Russian master in this exploration of the Musée Louvre in Paris through the ages, dwelling in its role as a protector of European culture. No trailer.
Masters

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Freeheld

Another in a series of filmmakers returning to features after time away (see Patricia Rozema below), Peter Sollett directs Julianne Moore and Ellen Page in this true life story of Detective Laurel Hester, a New Jersey police officer whose attempt to transfer her pension benefits to her partner Stacie Andrée in the wake of a terminal cancer diagnosis helped increase the momentum toward same-sex marriage as a means of legally protecting gay couples. With a comedic turn from Steve Carrell and a script from Ron Nyswaner, who wrote Philadelphia, this film, like Todd Haynes' Carol (not coming to TIFF alas) is another lesbian feature likely to garner awards-season honours.
Gala

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Full Contact


Bearing similar story curves as Eye in the Sky (see above), Dutch filmmaker David Verbeek's new feature imagines the challenges faced by a drone navigator in Nevada who routinely fires at targets half a world away. When his own mistake one day causes collateral damage, he seeks solace in two very different ways, with a Las Vegas stripper and a military psychologist. I'm not usually one for thrillers but again, it is the moral landscape that interests me here, and the sense in the uncredited programme notes that the method of storytelling is itself also controversial. We'll see. 
Platform

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Heart of a Dog 









Laurie Anderson loves dogs. She's loved them for years. She's written songs about them. She's held live concerts in which she performs for them at the Sydney Opera House. (You don't believe me?, go here.) She is also one of the world's most prolific and inspiring composer and performance artists and in 2011 she experienced a painful series of losses: her mother, her husband Lou Reed, and her dog Lolabelle. Anderson explores her losses through an ongoing conversation with Lolabelle and has created what those who have seen it are saying is one of the most moving films of the year. No trailer.

Tiff Docs

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He Named Me Malala

Who of us has not heard by now of the extraordinary teenager and youngest person to (co)win the Nobel Peace Prize? Davis Guggenheim's feature documentary, however, offers us a view out of the media spotlight that pays tribute to the influence on Malala of her father. While it's tempting to resist this as yet another way of making an astonishing woman's success about a man, the trailer hints at a more relational documentary, showing us how much the ongoing support of her father interacts with Malala's own growing sensibilities.
Tiff Docs


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Hitchcock/Truffaut

I watched an interview in which director Kent Jones explains how reading François Truffaut's legendary 1962 book in which he interviews Hitchcock, changed his life. That deep inspiration is paid tribute to now in this Tiff Docs entry that interviews other filmmakers about how the book influenced them as well. Stories from Martin Scorsese, Kiyoshi Kurosawa (who directed A Journey to the Shore below), David Fincher and others illustrates how creativity flows out of its spiritual ancestors. Jones is the Director of Programming for the New York Film Festival. No trailer.
Tiff Docs

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In the Shadow of Women


The Paris of new wave cinema in the sixties, to which Philippe Garrel traces his roots, becomes the setting for a story of a filmmaker whose promising life includes a supportive wife who shares his work. Then he becomes attached to a young archivist who is helping him probe the dark world of his current project, a documentary on a French resistance veteran. Shot in black-and-white in the style of that era's auteurs, it continues a Nouvelle Vague theme of the dissipated hero, whose choices point up his own failings.
Masters


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Into the Forest



Okay, so Freeheld and Into the Forest are on the same blog post alphabetically and both star Ellen Page, and both are relational dramas between women. But in Patricia Rozema's first theatrical feature since Mansfield Park, the women are sisters, trying to survive in a country home after an apocalyptic event has caused a continent-wide power outage that has launched a scramble for survival. It's great that Rozema is back in the festival ring after so long away as her imaginative realities are always interesting places to explore. Based on the novel by Jean Hegland. No trailer.
Special Presentations

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Invention




Again, you could read my notes here, or you could head on over to Andréa Picard's page for this movie (linked in the title) and read hers, which offer much more depth. But I will say that what draws me to this Wavelengths debut feature by Canadian conceptual artist Mark Lewis is Picard's promise of a reflection on "the modern city as the prototype for cinema", particularly the implicit way in which the evolution of one has been assisted by the other. The cities of Toronto, Sao Paolo and Paris are involved, including another visit to the Louvre (see Francofonia above). 

Wavelengths

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Jafar Panahi's Taxi 

If you are faithful to the films of Iranian masters, then you are no stranger to the up and down real-life challenges that have dominated the life and art of Jafar Panahi in the last decade. Put under house arrest and banned from making movies, the world-renowned director of The Circle and The White Balloon is still astonishing us with his capacity to somehow make movies and get them out to the world. In this one, he is driving a cab, and roams around Tehran, picking up unwitting passengers who give him (and us) a view of changing life in the capital city. 
Masters


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A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers


When we think of United Nations peacekeepers, we tend to think only of our own nation or maybe North Americans as the primary providers. But Geeta Gandbhir and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy's documentary takes us in another direction, waking us up! The pair's first film together follows five policewomen from Dhaka, Bangladesh as they arrive in Haiti to help thwart violence in the wake of the devastating 2010 earthquake there. They are greeted by the Haitians' disappointment and disaffection in the U.N. and confronted by their own limited training for such a complex and challenging situation. Made with reverence and respect for how lives are upheaved in disaster, including those who are trying to provide assistance.
Tiff Docs 
 


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Journey to the Shore 

Sometimes a clip conveys much better than a trailer the true emotion, pacing, mood and visual style of a movie. I love this clip from Kiyoshi Kurosawa's film which debuted at Cannes. It reminds me in some ways of The Tree of Life with its use of music and interest in the profundity of ordinary gestures. The story of a piano teacher whose missing husband of three years returns to her one day, the film is a deep bow to the Japanese custom of mitoru (giving accompanying to those who are palliative) and is a significantly more spiritual and less eerie work than this auteur's previous films.
Contemporary World Cinema

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The Lady in the Van
 
Alan Bennett's friendship with a homeless woman who moved her caravan into his driveway and stayed for fifteen years, has already been the fodder for a memoir and a hit West End play. Now it is a movie directed by Nicholas Hytner and starring Dame Maggie Smith. As eccentric as she is irascible, the marks of Miss Mary Shephard's education and erudite past allow for plenty of wittiness and barbery, and might make her a spiritual cousin to the Dowager Countess of Downton, if either character would ever be caught dead associating with the other. 
Special Presentations


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Lamb 

I love this clip (not trailer) from the first feature of Ethiopian filmmaker Yared Zeleke, particularly because of its silences and focus on relationships and dwelling in the moment. A young boy is consoled in the loss of his mother by caring for her pet lamb, until his adopting family wants to slaughter it to feed an ailing girl in the household. A tale of survival, the boy's subsequent journey finds unexpected allies and includes the "majestic backdrop of Ethiopia's southern mountains."
Contemporary World Cinema

More to come! Part 3 is now up with films 41 - 60! Check here soon for the last post with the remaining movies.

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