Recently I posted a piece detailing how George Romero and Stuart Gordon would be at Toronto this year with their new films. (Romero, In Toronto, At Midnight) Experienced TIFF attendees might have noticed that there were two films too few to fill out the Midnight Madness schedule as reported, though. Not anymore.
Dario Argento and Takashi Miike will bring The Mother of Tears and Sukiyaki Western Django (respectively) to TIFF ’07, and I’m going to lose my mind in an orgy of genre filmmaking.
Now, I’m saddled with grave doubts about both of these movies. The Mother Of Tears is the long-awaited conclusion to Argento’s ‘Mother’ trilogy, which began with Suspiria and had the amazingly silly (but entertaining) middle chapter Inferno. It’s been a long time since Argento made a movie worth watching, though if he’s going to bring the quality one last time, this should be the flick. And Miike’s movie is his sorta (vaguely) remake of Django, and while it could be very cool, I’m just not sold yet. I’m long past the point of fanboy-ism with Miike, and take every new film with as many grains of salt as I can fit in my little fist.
And rather than pollute the main page with item after item about TIFF, here’s a bunch of flicks that have been added to the Vanguard slate. They’re after the Midnight Madness additions, and these synopses have all been copied wholesale from TIFF’s info sheet. Holy Christ, it’s going to be a busy festival!
THE MOTHER OF TEARS Dario Argento, Italy/USA
Italian horror fans rejoice! The maestro of cinematic murder, Dario
Argento, is back with the long-awaited conclusion of his The Three
Mothers trilogy (SUSPIRIA and INFERNO were the first two films) with
THE MOTHER OF TEARS. Archaeology student Sarah Mandy (Asia Argento, the
director’s daughter) opens an ancient urn that releases the demonic
forces of a powerful witch. Havoc explodes in the streets of Rome as
waves of suicide and violent crime herald the dark priestess’ rebirth.
The Age of Witches is at hand, but Sarah is the only one who can save
the world from descending into a hellstorm of supernatural chaos. Also
starring Udo Kier and Daria Nicolodi.
SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO Takashi Miike, Japan
Tighten your saddlebags, load your revolvers and pack your chopsticks
for cult cinema bad boy Takashi Miike’s audacious wagon ride mash-up
into the wild, wild east. A familiar spaghetti western premise that
involves a mysterious stranger arriving into the middle of two clans
feuding over hidden loot gets sliced and diced into new
Americana-Kabuki-baroque fare: Buddhist temples sit alongside saloons,
samurai swords hang from gun belts and sake flows with blood. Blue-eyed
samurai Quentin Tarantino makes his first Japanese film appearance in
Miike’s first English language film. Starring Hideaki Ito, Koichi Sato,
Yusuke Iseya, Yoshino Kimura, and Masanobu Ando.
PARANOID PARK Gus Van Sant, France
Alex (Gabe Nevins), a teenaged skateboarder, is at the centre of a criminal investigation after a security guard is killed near a skate park. Through non-linear fragments of action, voiced memories, skating scenes and Alex’s inner conflict, his connection to the case is made clear. Like Van Sant’s recent trilogy (GERRY, ELEPHANT and LAST DAYS) the sophisticated PARANOID PARK, based on the novel by Blake Nelson, is a provocative work about the human condition.
DÉFICIT Gael García Bernal, Mexico
Mexican star Gael García Bernal’s compelling directorial debut is about a 20-something rich kid named Cristobal (Bernal) and a party he throws over a weekend. The clash between his and his younger sister’s friends is comic and intense; class differences also reveal a unique social commentary on the state of Mexico.
CHRYSALIS Julien Leclercq, France
In Julien Leclercq’s action feature debut, a lieutenant returns to the line of duty to hunt down a dangerous smuggler behind a series of murders, including his wife’s own. The investigation leads him to a state-of-the-art clinic where memories are a precious and highly coveted commodity. Starring Albert Dupontel, Estelle Lefébure, Marie Guillard, Marthe Keller and Mélanie Thierry.
EX DRUMMER Koen Mortier, Belgium
Three disabled punk rockers find their perfect drummer in the uber-hip and arrogant author Dries, except for the fact that he can’t actually play drums. Dries’ unscrupulous behaviour sets off tension within the band, as family vendettas and personal disputes begin to jeopardize their fragile future. Set to a blood-soaked, sweat-drenched punk rock soundtrack, Koen Mortier’s debut feature is as coarsely gruesome, sexually raunchy and blackly comic as the novel – by controversial writer Herman Brusselmans – on which it is based.
HELP ME EROS Lee Kang-sheng, Taiwan
From acclaimed actor Lee Kang-sheng comes a darkly comic and sexually daring tale that follows a young, penniless stock broker (Lee) who consoles himself with marijuana grown in his apartment closet. In his misery, he calls a suicide help line and falls for his counsellor, then sets a love triangle in motion when he projects his fantasy of her onto another girl who sells nuts at a nearby stall.
ME Rafa Cortés, Spain
The feature-directorial debut from Spain’s Rafa Cortés, ME sees the writer-director musing on the place of his birth – the island of Majorca. When Hans (co-writer Alex Brendemühl) arrives in a small island town to take up work as a caretaker, his presence persistently invokes memories of the previous caretaker, also named Hans – memories that hang heavily over him as he searches and struggles to find an identity to call his own.
PING PONG PLAYA’ Jessica Yu, USA
Streetwise swaggering Christopher "C-dub" Wang is a suburban guy who waxes political on all things Asian American and clings to pro basketball pipe dreams. But when misfortune strikes his family, C-dub must overcome living at home, working a dead-end job and his worldly older brother, to run his Mom’s ping pong classes and defend the family’s athletic dynasty.
XXY Lucía Puenzo, Argentina/Spain/France
Fifteen-year old Alex carries a heavy secret about her gender status and, at puberty, must make a decision one way or the other. But friends visiting from the family’s former hometown with their 16-year-old son, Álvaro, and the inevitable attraction between teenagers, complicates matters.