Frontmezzjunkies Arrives at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival With Much to be Excited for.

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Judy. Image credit: Courtesy of TIFF.

Toronto International Film Festival and Frontmezzjunkies Collides Happily

By Ross

With over 333 films being shown at the Toronto International Film Festival, TIFF is one hot cinephile gathering, and I feel very lucky and super excited to be invited into the press pool for an initial swim. It’s overwhelming, the schedule. Impossible to see more than just a handful of the films, especially when you are only in Toronto for the first four days of this massive festival that rules the screens of downtown Toronto from Sept 5th to the 15th. Tons of press people are writing about their favorites and their must sees in numerous publications, and I’ve done my best to try to narrow it down to about 10 or 12 films that I want to see. Sadly, because of overlapping schedules and my limited time frame and press pass, I will only get to see about half of the ones I’m listing below. But here goes, and we’ll start with a Canadian film, naturally and as it should be, while also doing this in alphabetical order:

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Anne at 13,000 ft. Image credit: Courtesy of TIFF.
  • Anne at 13,000 ft
  • Anne — played by Deragh Campbell, in one of the year’s most staggering performances — is a volatile young woman challenged by everyday social and professional encounters, in the latest from Kazik Radwanski (TowerHow Heavy This Hammer).
  • I’m hoping a can fit this in to my schedule. Everyone is talking about this Canadian film and Campbell, a TIFF 2015 Rising Star, and I would love to support it.
Matthew Rhys (Finalized);Tom Hanks (Finalized)
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Image credit: Courtesy of TIFF.
  • A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
  • A jaded journalist (Matthew Rhys) reluctantly accepts an Esquire assignment to profile the children’s television host Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks), and encounters a profoundly empathetic world view that changes his life forever.
  • Now who in the world wouldn’t want to see this film about this legendary kind hearted caring man, and who better to play him then Tom Hanks.  It just sounds all like a naturally good fit.
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Blackbird. Image credit: Courtesy of TIFF.
  • Blackbird
  • A terminally ill mother (Susan Sarandon) invites her family to their country house for one final gathering, but tensions quickly boil over between her two daughters (Kate Winslet and Mia Wasikowska), in Roger Michell’s (My Cousin RachelLe Week-End) remake of the award-winning 2014 Danish film Silent Heart.
  • I must admit I always moved quickly pass this as Sarandon has left a bad taste in my mouth with her “Not With Her” politics, but with Winslet and Wasikowska in a Michell film, I’m intrigued again.
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Frankie. Image credit: Courtesy of TIFF.
  • Frankie
  • An aging actor (Isabelle Huppert) summons her idiosyncratic extended family on a fateful holiday, in Ira Sachs’ thoughtful dramedy co-starring Marisa Tomei, Brendan Gleeson, Jérémie Renier, and Greg Kinnear.
  • All I can say is, like a few of these films, with that cast lead by Huppert (ATC’s The Mother), how could I not.
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Honey Boy. Image credit: Courtesy of TIFF.
  • Honey Boy
  • Actor and screenwriter Shia LaBeouf mines his own life in this confessional collaboration with director Alma Har’el, about the stormy childhood and early adult years of an actor struggling to reconcile with his abusive father (played by LaBeouf himself).
  • I’m not entirely sure why this intrigues me, but the trailer got its hooks in me, so I’m curious.  I’ll probably end up seeing “Frankie” (the press screenings are basically at the same time) but not because I don’t want a little Honey in my TIFF.
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Hope Gap. Image credit: Courtesy of TIFF.
  • Hope Gap
  • A together-forever couple, portrayed by Annette Bening (Broadway’s All My Sons) and Bill Nighy (National’/Broadway’s Skylight, “Love, Actually“), unpack the many complications of splitting up, in Oscar-nominated writer-director William Nicholson’s razor-sharp drama.
  • I love these two actors, so it just makes sense to try to see them.
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Human Capital. Image credit: Courtesy of TIFF.
  • Human Capital
  • The lives of two families become fatefully intertwined following an impulsive business deal and a tragic hit-and-run accident, in Marc Meyers’ (My Friend Dahmer) adaptation of Paolo Virzi’s award-winning 2014 drama, starring Liev Schreiber, Marisa Tomei, Peter Sarsgaard, Maya Hawke, and Alex Wolff.
  • Another amazing cast, or is it that I just love Marisa Tomei (Soon to be on Broadway in The Rose Tattoo)? Hard to say, but she is certainly surrounded by another amazing group of actors, just like the earlier mentioned “Frankie”.
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Judy. Image credit: Courtesy of TIFF.
  • Judy
  • Oscar winner Renée Zellweger delivers a note-perfect performance as Judy Garland during the last year of her life, in Rupert Goold’s (True Story) moving adaptation of the stage play End of the Rainbow.
  • Word is that she is pretty darn perfect in the role, so I’m curious.  But I will have to choose between this and the Tom Hanks/Mr. Rogers movie. Their press screenings are both early in the morning on Sunday.
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The Lighthouse. Image credit: Courtesy of TIFF.
  • The Lighthouse
  • Shot on 35mm black-and-white film, this psychological thriller from Robert Eggers (The Witch) follows the slow descent into madness of two lighthouse keepers (Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson) on a remote New England island at the turn of the 19th century.
  • Sounds pretty amazing to me, mainly because it’s a B&W psychological thriller, one overflowing with brim and brimstone, with secrets being pried loose by the wind and the waves. And Dafoe (“The Florida Project“)  elevates everything he’s in.
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Les Misérables. Image credit: Courtesy of TIFF.
  • Les Misérables
  • When three cops of varying lawfulness cross paths with local toughs, the Montfermeil district of Paris violently descends into chaos, in Ladj Ly’s Cannes Special Prize–winning debut feature that ingeniously weaves the thematic threads of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece into an explosive contemporary narrative spotlighting France as a place of seismic political and social change.
  • The conceptualization just sounds thrilling to me, especially with that source material underfoot.
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Pain and Glory. Image credit: Courtesy of TIFF.
  • Pain and Glory
  • An aging filmmaker (Antonio Banderas) grapples with an uncertain future and the circumstances that shaped his successful but troubled life, in Pedro Almodóvar’s self-reflexive consideration of identity and desire.
  • I’ve always loved Almodóvar, and his connection to Banderas has always tweaked my interest. It is supposed to be Almodóvar’s most personal movie to date, with Banderas, winner of the Best Actor prize at Cannes 2019, as a Madrid filmmaker named Salvador wrestling with demons of the heart, mind, and soul.
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The Personal History of David Copperfield. Image credit: Courtesy of TIFF.
  • The Personal History of David Copperfield
  • Director Armando Iannucci (The Death of Stalin) brings his sardonic wit — and a stellar cast that includes Dev Patel, Tilda Swinton, Hugh Laurie, Gwendoline Christie, Peter Capaldi, and Ben Whishaw — to Charles Dickens’ classic autobiographical novel.
  • The Death of Stalin is a wild film, and with Patel, Swinton, Laurie, and Whishaw (who was so amazing in ‘London Spy‘ and Broadway’s The Crucible), it sits strongly on my list, but it might fall on the wayside because of conflicts with the Canadian film, “Clifton Hill” and “Human Capital“.
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Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Image credit: Courtesy of TIFF.
  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire
  • Hired to paint a portrait ahead of a prospective marriage, an artist in 18th-century Brittany finds herself falling for the reclusive would-be bride, in the Cannes Queer Palm–winning fourth feature from writer-director Céline Sciamma (Girlhood).
  • Sounds pretty perfect to me. Sciamma’s film swoons in the obsession of art, love, and seduction, with Noémie Merlant portraying an artist named Marianne, hired by a wealthy woman to paint a portrait of her reluctant daughter Héloïse, played by Adèle Haenel. Dreamy and romantic, I’m betting, but it does conflict with “The Truth“, “The Lighthouse“, and “The Report“. How does one choose?
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Radioactive. Image credit: Courtesy of TIFF.
  • Radioactive
  • Closing Night Film, Gala Presentations
  • Based on Lauren Redniss’s award-winning graphic novel, Marjane Satrapi’s (Persepolis) biopic stars Rosamund Pike as two-time Nobel Prize–winning scientist Marie Curie, highlighting the groundbreaking discoveries she made with her husband, Pierre (Sam Riley).
  • This one might fall on the wayside, but it sounds wonderful. I can only do so much, right?
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The Truth. Image credit: Courtesy of TIFF.
  • The Truth
  • Acclaimed director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s (ShopliftersLike Father, Like Son) first film made outside his native Japan stars Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche as a mother and daughter in the film industry whose professional collaboration triggers long-buried resentments.

  • With this director, and these two women leading the film, this one might win that busy Thursday afternoon.
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Les Misérables. Image credit: Courtesy of TIFF.

And then there are some others. Ones I find totally interesting or fascinating. My second tier list (only in my head) of films that I’d love to see, but most likely won’t be able to because of timing and tired eyes. Who knows what the days will bring, so one of these might happen. Wouldn’t it be great to see them all….

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La Belle Époque. Image credit: Courtesy of TIFF.
  • La Belle Époque

  • In this high-concept comedy from Nicolas Bedos (Mr. & Mrs. Adelman), a luddite cartoonist suffering an existential crisis hires a VR company to recreate a happier time in his marriage, as he tries to reconcile the golden-hued past with an inescapable digital present.

  • It just sounds so interesting and cool.
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The Burnt Orange Heresy. Image credit: Courtesy of TIFF.
  • The Burnt Orange Heresy

  • An ambitious art dealer steals a rare painting and becomes consumed by his own greed as the operation spins out of control, in Giuseppe Capotondi’s (The Double Hour) thriller based on Charles Willeford’s noir novel and starring Elizabeth Debicki, Donald Sutherland, Claes Bang, and Mick Jagger.

  • Love a good noir thriller, but Mick Jagger?
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Clifton Hill. Image credit: Courtesy of TIFF.
  • Clifton Hill

  • Tuppence Middleton stars in Albert Shin’s psychological thriller, which follows a troubled young woman returning to her hometown of Niagara Falls, where the memory of a long-ago kidnapping quickly ensnares her.

  • This Canadian film by Toronto filmmaker Albert Shin seems more and more intriguing as I read more and more about it, and with Sense8 star Tuppence Middleton and Mindhunter’s Hannah Gross, I’m game.
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The Friend. Image credit: Courtesy of TIFF.
  • The Friend

  • Based on the award-winning Esquire article of the same name, a man (Jason Segel) puts his own life on hold to move into the family home of his best friends (Dakota Johnson and Casey Affleck) and support them through a terminal cancer diagnosis.

  • The cast sounds appealing and worth investigating, and I do love Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea)., even with the controversy swirling around him at the time of his Oscar win.
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Military Wives. Image credit: Courtesy of TIFF.
  • Military Wives

  • With their partners away serving in Afghanistan, a group of women on the home front form a choir and quickly find themselves at the centre of a media sensation and global movement, in this feel-good story from Peter Cattaneo (The Full Monty).

  • I really would happily see the gorgeously talented Kristin Scott Thomas (Broadway’s The Seagull, West End’s The Audience) in anything, and I mean ANYTHING. And this sounds just lovely, doesn’t it?
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The Report. Image credit: Courtesy of TIFF.
  • The Report

  • In this searing political thriller from screenwriter Scott Z. Burns (Contagion), Adam Driver stars as a dogged investigator who’s tapped by the US Senate to probe the CIA’s use of torture tactics after 9/11.

  • Compelling, and I love Driver even more after seeing him in Broadway’s Burn This.
'Mientras dure la guerra' -Rodaje Modmedia-
While at War. Image credit: Courtesy of TIFF.
  • While at War

  • Set in the first months of the Spanish Civil War, this riveting and timely chamber drama from acclaimed writer-director Alejandro Amenábar (The Others) tracks the country’s slide into nearly four decades of fascism under dictator Francisco Franco.

  • “The Others” was just so darn brilliant, and the topic for this film is fascinating.
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The Wild Goose Lake. Image credit: Courtesy of TIFF.
  • The Wild Goose Lake

  • A gangster on the run — and seeking redemption — meets a woman who’ll risk everything to gain her own freedom, in this noir crime thriller from director Diao Yinan (Black Coal, Thin Ice).

  • Once again, a good noir crime thriller always pulls me in. They call the director the Chinese “poet of the night“, which works for me, and with the “pouring rain, neon lights, a man, a woman, and the deafening roar of trains passing through a station somewhere on the outskirts of Wuhan in central China” what’s not to love?
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The Wild Goose Lake. Image credit: Courtesy of TIFF.

So on the 4th of September I will arrive back into Toronto for my first visit at the Toronto International Film Festival. I will pick up my press pass first thing in the morning on Thursday the 5th, and dive headfirst into four days of film viewing. Happily. Joyfully, and Thankful to all those at TIFF who were kind enough to have me. Watch out for the reviews! They will be coming shortly after. Until then, wish me luck at my first TIFF19.

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