It's that time of year once again film fans , as the streets of Toronto will be over run and lined with celebrities, executives and movie buffs who will be here for the 39th annual edition of the Toronto International Film Festival that is running from Sept 4th through Sept 14th at venues all across our great city.
With plans to take over the downtown core and truly remind people how TIFF is the people's festival, this promises to be one of the most interesting years ever. Today the first wave of 59 films that includes 13 Galas and 46 Special Presentations, I decided to cherry pick a few out of this first wave that caught my eye and are more than likely worth the festival goers hard earned dollars.
"Wild" is the tale of a woman bent on self destruction (Reese Witherspoon) who after her years of terrible behaviour is hell bent to set out on a thousand mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. With no experience, she sets out on a journey where she will learn more about herself then she had ever imagined. Based on Cheryl Strayed's bestselling memoir, director Jean Marc Vallee returns to the festival in a gala presentation of a stunning looking film that could mark a trip to the Oscars not only for Vallee but also for Reese Witherspoon who has two movies at this year's festival.
Also with two movies at the festival this year, up and coming star Anna Kendrick looks like she is due for a breakout with "The Last Five Years". From director Richard LaGravenese, "The Last Five Years" is a musical look at a love affair and a marriage over a five year period. Kendrick who comes from a musical theatre background who showed us flashes of what she could do in the grossly underrated "Pitch Perfect" should be able to give us nuanced and powerful performance while showing her dynamic vocal range.
Many people are coming up with multiple movies this year, including a legend of the acting game. With director Barry Levinson's latest "The Humbling" where a legendary stage actor has an affair in a secluded country house with a lesbian woman half his age and "Manglehorn" with director David Gordon Green about a love lorn locksmith who never got over losing the love of his life should make for some interesting fair from Al Pacino and should make for some entertaining Q&A's should he decide to come to town.
Actors and fake news pundits are turning directors as the feature debuts from the likes of Jon Stewart with "Rosewater" which is the true story of Maziar Bahari, the Iranian-Canadian journalist whose appearance on his show led to a five month imprisonment from the Iranian government. Chris Evans tells the story of a chance meeting in Grand Central over the course of an evening between two people while the indomitable Alan Rickman is closing the festival with only his second ever feature with "A Little Chaos" the tale of an unconventional gardener who is invited to design one of the fountains at the Palace of Versailles during the time of Louis XIV inexorably gets drawn into that world.
"The Imitation Game" brings Benedict Cumberbatch back to the festival as computer genius Alan Turing who cracked the German Enigma Code during the war but was convicted afterwards for homosexual acts. "Nightcrawler" takes us into the dark world of crime journalism in the city of angels, Los Angeles where freelance camera crews film the mayhem that they witness for top dollar, starring Jake Gyllenhaal & Rene Russo. "Phoenix" is a thriller from director Christian Petzold about a Concentration Camp survivor who ends up posing as her own doppelganger after reconstructive surgery due to a disfigured face and "The Reach" is a sadistic cat mouse thriller where Michael Douglas struggles to stay alive.
I could go on...and probably will in the weeks to come but at first glance, this year's edition of the Toronto International Film Festival is shaping up to be a pretty great one.
The Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 4th through the 14th, keep it locked right here for updates, news and reviews in the days and weeks leading up to the busiest 10 days for a film fan.