Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The films I'm (hopefully) seeing this year...

Assuming the Gods that watch over the TIFF ticket lottery are on my side (and assuming I can get out of bed in the morning), here's what I'll be seeing at the festival:

3 Needles (Thom Fitzgerald)
50 Ways of Saying Fabulous (Stewart Main)
Angel (Jim McKay)
Backstage (Emmanuelle Bercot)
Bangkok Loco (Pornchai Hongrattanaporn)
Banlieue 13 (Pierre Morel)
Battle in Heaven (Carlos Reygadas)
Be With Me (Eric Khoo)
Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee)
Brothers of the Head (Keith Fulton, Louis Pepe)
Cache (Michael Haneke)
Citizen Dog (Wisit Sasanatieng)
Drawing Restraint 9 (Matthew Barney)
Duelist (Lee Myung-se)
Entre ses mains (Anne Fontaine)
Everlasting Regret (Stanley Kwan)
Evil Aliens (Jake West)
Fateless (Lájos Koltai)
Festival (Annie Griffin)
Free Zone (Amos Gitaï)
Gilaneh Rakhshan (Bani-Etemad, Mohsen Abdolvahab)
Harsh Times (David Ayer)
Hostel (Eli Roth)
Iron Island (Mohammad Rasoulof)
Isolation (Billy O'Brien)
L' Enfer (Danis Tanovic)
Le Temps qui reste (François Ozon)
Linda Linda Linda (Nobuhiro Yamashita)
Look Both Ways (Sarah Watt)
Manderlay (Lars von Trier)
Mary (Abel Ferrara)
October 17, 1961 (Alain Tasma)
Revolver (Guy Ritchie)
River Queen (Vincent Ward)
Romance & Cigarettes (John Turturro)
Runaway (Tim McCann)
Sa-kwa (Kang Yi-Kwan)
SPL (Wilson Yip)
Takeshis' (Takeshi Kitano)
Thank You For Smoking (Jason Reitman)
The Forsaken Land (Vimukthi Jayasundara)
The Great Yokai War (Takashi Miike)
The Notorious Bettie Page (Mary Harron)
The Porcelain Doll (Péter Gárdos)
The Quiet (Jamie Babbit)
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (Tommy Lee Jones)
Three Times (Hou Hsaio-hsien)
Tideland (Terry Gilliam)
U-Carmen eKhayelitsha (Mark Dornford-May)
Un Couple Parfait (Nobuhiro Suwa)
Vers Le Sud (Laurent Cantet)
Wah-Wah (Richard E. Grant)
Walk the Line (James Mangold)
Wassup Rockers (Larry Clark)
Wavelengths: Program 1 (Various)
Why We Fight (Eugene Jarecki)

I had a very easy time with scheduling this year, all things considered, and have only a few instances where I'm genuinely disappointed that I couldn't squeeze a film into my schedule. In a perfect world, I would have included:

Twelve and Holding (Michael Cuesta)
Mrs. Harris (Phyllis Nagy)
Transamerica (Duncan Tucker)
Tsotsi (Gavin Hood)
Va, Vis et Deviens (Radu Mihaileanu)
Beowulf & Grendel (Sturla Gunnarsson)
Gentille (Sophie Fillières)
Sunflower (Zhang Yang)
Fallen (Fred Kelemen)
The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes (Timothy Quay, Stephen Quay)
Into Great Silence (Philip Groening)

Pre-festival Regrets

One of the byproducts of being fairly (i.e. obsessively) aware of new films in the works has to be that when a festival like Toronto announces its 300-plus film line-up, you can’t help but be a bit disappointed by the dozens of hopefuls that didn’t make the list. It’s a silly stance, to be sure, not only because I live in New York City and am bound to see everything that I want to see eventually, but also because with the massive number of films available at the festival, there’s no way I’ll be able to cover all of my bases as is.

Nonetheless, before the public screening schedule goes live later this morning, and I come to terms with the crushing realization that I can’t see all 300 films at this year’s festival, I figured I’d exorcise some demons and mention a few of the films that I had hoped to include while taking in my 50-odd films at TIFF in September.

To be sure, there are some movies that I had been anticipating that were unlikely to be announced since they probably aren’t yet in anything resembling a finished state. For example, things like Terrance Malick’s The New World, Richard Linklater’s A Scanner Darkly and Robert Altman’s A Prairie Home Companion never had a chance of surfacing at the fest, but I have to admit that I frantically searched for each of them as soon as I first saw the list.

More realistically “absent” were the major films that made a splash at the festivals earlier in the year (specifically Berlin, Sundance and Cannes). For example, Match Point, Woody Allen’s supposed return to form, was all that anyone could talk about this May. It’s not on the TIFF slate nor, more surprisingly, on the New York Film Festival’s. Dreamworks apparently has it scheduled for a December 25th release, but the awesome buzz (which has admittedly drifted a bit closer to Earth since Cannes) has an Allen fan like me salivating already.

Perhaps not the biggest omission, but the strangest one, has to be the elimination of the new Wim Wenders film from the festival selection. Previously announced, but somehow stricken from the lineup, Don’t Come Knocking is now in limbo, it seems. Originally scheduled for an October stateside release, it seems it’s now been bumped to February ‘06. I can only assume that SPC has abandoned all hope for an Oscar campaign for the film (which might not be a mistake, given the Cannes reports), and will be trying to re-launch the movie at Sundance.

I have to suppose that a Sundance premiere is similarly planned for Terry Zwigoff’s Art School Confidential, which hasn’t screened anywhere that I know of. I remember seeing a September release scheduled for the film, but now I understand that it’s not coming our way until next April.

Also missing from the Cannes line-up is Johnny To’s Yakuza thriller Election, which I imagine I’ll end up seeing, like many of the Asian films on this list, on a cheap import DVD (I’ve already picked up Shanghai Dreams, for example). The most disappointing absence from the festival’s sidebars would have to be Joao Pedro Rodrigues’ Odete. That’s the follow-up to his somewhat impenetrable but clearly personal debut feature O Fantasma, which was precisely the sort of movie that makes you want to see what’s coming next.

Three particular films would tale honors as my most distressing Sundance no-shows. Rodrigo Garcia’s Nine Lives combines a single-take formal strategy and a bevy of reportedly solid female performances in an anthology of short films. Brick offers Joseph Gordon-Levitt (excellent in Mysterious Skin) in what has been irresistibly been described as Dashiell Hammett in high school. Those two have distributors in place, but Steve Buscemi’s Lonesome Jim doesn’t seem to, which is disappointing because every movie starring Mary Kay Place (who incidentally turns up in Nine Lives) deserves to be seen.

Even though it was held back in February, there are still many films from Berlin that have yet to filter their way down to New York. Two that are especially missed from the TIFF lineup are Yoji Yamada’s successor to The Twilight Samurai, The Hidden Blade and Andre Techine’s Changing Times (which seems to have gone everywhere but North America at this point).

That’s a hefty list already, and it totally ignores fare that didn’t make a big splash on the festival circuit. Take Cedric Kahn’s The Airplane, for example, which is apparently a kiddie film, totally unlike the psychological thrillers that have made the man’s reputation to date. It seems to have bypassed the festival route, already opening in France, with domestic distribution an unlikely prospect.

As news from Venice and Telluride, which occur almost concurrently with the Toronto Festival, filters in I’m sure more frustrating no-shows will be become apparent, but I suppose that’s the nature of the game. The plus side to the absence so many films that are already on my radar from the TIFF list is that I’m more likely to make new discoveries. After all, looking at the notes I made after researching the films at this year’s festival, I see that there are still nearly a hundred films that I still know too about to guess whether or not I should give them one of my precious festival slots.

All things considered, it could be worse…

Monday, August 29, 2005

Another year, another blog...

It seems from the preponderance of other online blogs I read that Blogger's got a better interface than what I've been using the last year or two, so I suppose I'll switch over to here to do my Toronto site updates this year...

I have to post this here, apparently to use it in my profile....