Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Holding Out for a Hayao

This year’s TIFF lineup is fairly decent as is, with plenty of must-see movies, but there are a few films that I’d be ecstatic to have revealed next Tuesday, when the entire slate is let loose. My top 5 most-wanted movies would be:

5. Julia (Erick Zonca)

Erick Zonca’s been silent since his excellent 1999 feature The Little Thief, so when his Julia premiered at Berlin this year, it was a major event. The reception to the film was mixed, at best, but the sort of partisans it’s attracted have piqued my interest. Recent Oscar-winner Tilda Swinton stars, and she’s never less than interesting on screen, so hopefully TIFF has the good sense to program this, even if might be coming into the festival as damaged goods.

4. Lake Tahoe (Fernando Eimbcke)

Practically everyone loved Duck Season, Fernando Eimbcke’s charming and poignant first feature. Judging by its Cannes and Berlin reception, Lake Tahoe, another minimalist and low-key comedy, is nearly as well-regarded. Judging from its trailer, it seems to have the same kind of slacker protagonists and languid pacing that defined his debut.

3. Two Lovers (James Gray)

Gray’s woefully underappreciated We Own the Night was a sterling example of the kind of classical filmmaking that’s all too rare these days. Two Lovers, an apparent retread of Visconti’s White Nights got slightly bruised during its premiere at this May’s Cannes Film Festival, but that scarcely matters, as We Own the Night was similarly maligned there. If this doesn’t show at TIFF, it’s not a huge disaster (it’s slated to be released next January), but I can’t say I wouldn’t be a bit disappointed.

2. A Lake (Philippe Grandrieux)

Back in 2002, during my first TIFF trip, one of my most exciting viewing experiences occurred when I watched Philippe Grandrieux’s last film, A New Life. Partly because it clearly incensed the audience, causing them to flee the screening at the (dearly missed) Uptown 2 en masse, and partly because I found Grandrieux’s bleak vision and astounding cinematography to be downright intoxicating, it was a screening to remember. Since then I’ve seen Grandrieux’s Somber, an even more accomplished work, and have been utterly convinced that he is my kind of filmmaker.

1. Ponyo on the Cliff (Hayao Miyazaki)

Already a blockbuster in Japan (taking in $50 million in its first three weekends), this animated feature from master filmmaker and national treasure Miyazaki is reportedly more in line with his kid-friendly My Neighbor Totoro. For many, that might be sound like disappointing news, but I consider Totoro to be the best animated film ever made, so that’s only exponentially increased my frothing demand.


ciaoelor said...

In the beginning of Somber, do you know if the kids were watching a Horror movie? It's a clever scene if they were.

Jeremy Heilman said...

That's the intended effect, but I believe the children were actually watching a puppet show.