The Toronto International Film Festival offers 400 film titles, two Ryan Gosling movies, a Denis Villeneuve Arrival and if you’re lucky, free chips
By Jay Stone
There are many things to look forward to at the Toronto International Film Festival, including that party they have every year to celebrate Canadian cinema where they hand out bags of potato chips and chocolate bars, although this year I hear they’re not having the chocolate bars. But we soldier on. Getting through a film festival requires a certain amount of self-sacrifice.
And oh yes: the films. There are about 400 of them here, and if you play your cards right, you can see a couple of dozen and still have time to pick up enough bags of complimentary potato chips to get you through to lunch, although some chocolate bars would have been a nice addition. You know. For dessert.
Where was I? Right: the films. Here, in no particular order, are some that I’m looking forward to.
A sci-fi film from Quebec director Denis Villeneuve, whose previous movies — Prisoners, Enemy and Sicario among them — are further proof that there’s something in the Quebec culture, or water (or potato chips) that promotes a bold auteurist vision. Even the Americans agree: He was chosen to direct the new Blade Runner, currently shooting in Hungary with Ryan Gosling. But this year, it’s Arrival and the story is that 12 alien spacecraft have landed on Earth and linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) are recruited by the U.S. Army to go to Montana to find out what they want. The result, according to the reports of people who have actually seen the movie, is a science-fiction puzzle that is also a haunting document about what it means to be human.
Amy Adams again, this time with Jake Gyllenhaal and Armie Hammer in the second movie from fashion designer and film director Tom Ford (A Single Man). It’s a drama about a woman who’s pulled into a thriller novel written by her ex-husband. Based on the Austin Wright novel Tony and Susan, it features Adams as an art-gallery owner whose second husband (Hammer) is frequently out of town. One day, the manuscript of a book by her ex (Gyllenhaal) arrives at her house, drawing her into a chilling fiction. It would be great if they had a party for this movie and they handed out Tom Ford suits to all the men. Just saying.
I’m only sort of looking forward to this one because everyone says it’s going to be an Oscar contender. Here’s how the TIFF people describe it: “Dev Patel, Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman star in the true story of Saroo Brierley, who was adopted by an Australian couple after being separated from his family in India at the age of five, and then located his original home using Google Earth 25 years later.” But it’s from the producers of The King’s Speech, so maybe it has the same combination of fraught historical entertainment.
La La Land
It’s being described as a reinvention of the musical, a genre that is reinvented every few years (another musical, the animated film Sing, is also at TIFF). It’s about a jazz pianist (Ryan Gosling) and an actress (Emma Stone) who fall in love. He’s a serious musician who is currently playing a cocktail lounge and she’s a fan of classic cinema now reduced to being a waitress, but they have their dreams, sometimes expressed in song-and-dance in some famous Los Angeles locations. The director is Damien Chazelle, following up his surprise hit Whiplash, which was a more dramatic look at the world of music. Gosling, as we remember, was a song-and-dance man (on The All-New Mickey Mouse Club) long before he became the intense It Boy of indie cinema, so I expect some joyful hoofing. And I love musicals, even more than I love complimentary potato chips.
Manchester by the Sea
A tear-jerker (although my tears have remained stubbornly unjerked since Old Yeller died) from director Kenneth Lonergan, who previously made only two films: the great You Can Count on Me and the little-seen Margaret, which came in at three hours and frightened most of the distributors. This one stars Casey Affleck as a quiet but aggressively unhappy handyman who returns to his New England home when his brother dies and must confront his past, something that happens a lot in tear-jerkers, I believe. It co-stars Michelle Williams, which is another piece of good news. It’s getting rave reviews, and much of the praise mentions the welcome loose structure of Lonergan’s screenplay. I’ll bring Kleenex just in case, but I bet I end up using them to wipe potato chips crumbs out of my beard.
The Toronto International Film Festival runs September 8-18, 2016. Check in with The Ex-Press daily for updates about films. And free chips.
Images courtesy of TIFF
THE EX-PRESS, September 8, 2016