The Toronto International Film Festival begins on the 4th
of September and this year promises to be one of the most memorable in recent
memory and for good reason.  The line-up
only solidifies Toronto’s reputation as being the second greatest film festival
in the world after Cannes. 


As a result, my regularly scheduled articles on CHUD will be
put on hold for the duration of the festival, as I will be seeing a number of
films over the next couple of weeks.  In
their place, I will be providing regular updates from the festival, complete
with reviews and comments on films that I will be seeing. 


What follows is an overview of said films (in order of when
I’ll be seeing them), complete with synopses and any buzz they may be




The film that is turning a lot of heads at the festival
circuit, JCVD is the story of once-great action star Jean Claude Van Damme
(played by Jean Claude Van Damme) and how his professional and personal life
begin to unravel after a series of mishaps and misunderstandings.


I’ve always found Van Damme to be hilariously entertaining,
intentional or not.  So, placing him
front and center as a deadpan version of himself who happens to be fully aware
of the joke seems too good to pass up.


While the film promises some great comedic set pieces (how
could they not address his hilariously choreographed martial arts sequences?),
I’ve been hearing rumblings that the film carries a heavy dramatic punch.  Only time will tell; but needless to say, I
am very much looking forward to seeing this film amongst a rabid crowd of
Midnight Madness and Van Damme junkies.


Burn After Reading


A lot has been said of the Coen’s latest work.  It tells the twisty tale of a former CIA
agent who writes a tell-all memoir about his experiences, only to have it fall
into the hands of two moronic fitness employees. 


As is the case with any Coen brothers picture, the cast is
stupendous, with George Clooney, John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, Tilda
Swinton, Brad Pitt and J.K. Simmons. 
Admittedly, the story sounds light, but that’s what the brothers do
best; surprise us at every possible moment. 
Remember what they followed up Fargo with?  The Big Lebowski.  This
just proves that the filmmakers love their idiots.  And so do I.  At the very
least, Burn After Reading should be a fun movie, complete with A-list actors
making fun of themselves.  Who wouldn’t
want to see that?


Is There Anybody There?


One of the low key premieres of the festival may very well
be the biggest surprise.  Director John Crowley
follows last years great Boy A with this story about a ten year old boy
fascinated with death and the afterlife who befriends an old former magician
who refuses to come to terms with his past.


It sounds sort of like Harold and Maude for a new generation,
but something tells me there’s more to the story than that.  At its core, it’s a story about a young man
growing up, who meets a man who is too proud to admit that he is scared of


Is There Anybody There? has the potential of catching a
lot of people off guard, so it should be interesting to see how it plays out.


Zack and Miri Make a Porno


Any self-respecting film geek knows what this movie is
about.  Two platonic friends/roommates
decide to make a homemade porno in hopes of selling it so they can pull
themselves out of a financial rut.  A
simple, yet very interesting premise that perhaps only Kevin Smith can pull off
effectively.  After all the controversy
it’s garnered over the past couple of months, I’m intrigued to see what all the
fuss is about.


But what I’m even more interested in seeing is the inspired
pairing of Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks; one, a proven comedic actor, the
other a great actress about ready to explode into the mainstream.


Smith may very well have a huge hit on his hands.  And if the rumors I hear are true, this
should be a great time at the movies.


Adam Resurrected


One of my most anticipated films, based solely on the
premise alone, which is saying a lot considering the talent in front and behind
the camera.  After the horrors of WWII,
a former circus clown becomes the ringleader of an asylum for Holocaust


Director Paul Schrader and actors Jeff Goldblum and Willem
Dafoe bring this interesting story to life. 
In my eyes, Goldblum can do no wrong, so seeing him in a role that
perfectly suits his unique sensibilities only makes me want to see this picture
sooner.  Schrader has proven himself one
of the greatest filmmakers to sympathize with the outsider and Adam
doesn’t appear to be any different.


It takes a tremendous amount of love and care to ensure such
a premise doesn’t veer off in odd and unnecessary directions.  With that in mind, the film appears to have
the perfect marriage of artist and material. 


Me and Orson Welles


Orson Welles is one of the greatest icons in cinematic
history.  The man was a unique legend;
someone who can never be surpassed in terms of artistic brilliance or
outlandish behavior.  While an outright
biopic has yet to be made about the man (I think it’s near impossible to do so,
actually), Welles’ character has found its way into a number of fiction films
over the years.  This film is different,
however, in that Welles plays an important supporting character.  Plus, it takes place during the pre-Citizen
era of his career.


Me and Orson Welles tells the story of a teenager, who is
discovered by a young Welles, performing on the street and is immediately cast
in the Mercury Theatre production of Julius Caesar.  What starts off as a friendship quickly turns sour, as Welles’
narcissistic and womanizing personality presents itself.


Director Richard Linklater (of Dazed and Confused fame)
has proven himself to be a wonderful storyteller regardless of genre; so having
him tell a tale that involves one of the most eccentric figures in motion
picture history is undeniably exciting and unpredictable.  And in this day and age, that’s saying a


Mesrine: L’Instinct de Mort


Without a doubt, one of the most interesting and gifted
actors working outside of North American is Vincent Cassel.  Many know him from his incredible turn Eastern Promises, but I first noticed him in Brotherhood of the Wolf.  Cassel exudes anger and menace in every one
of his performances, so having him play France’s most notorious gangster,
Jacques Mesrine, is a perfect casting decision.


The buzz on this film has been relatively quite, seeing as
how the print screening at the festival will be a work-in-progress.  Granted, seeing an unfinished film usually
spells trouble, but the cast and the subject matter of Mesrine was just too
good to pass up.


Not really a plot driven affair, Mesrine is part one of
two epic character studies about a gangster who took the criminal underworld by
storm and made it his own personal playground. 
I look forward to seeing how the filmmakers blur the line between
protagonist and antagonist while pulling the viewer in to the world of the one
of the lesser-known gangsters in history. 
The French answer to Scarface? 
Where do I sign up?


The Wrestler


Whether you like his films or not, Darren Aronofsky is one
of the most interesting filmmakers working in the industry today.  And The Wrestler only solidifies that


As of late, The Wrestler has been making waves based on
the revelation that Slash will be contributing to Clint Mansell’s score.  Not to mention the fact that Bruce
Springsteen is writing a new acoustic tune exclusively for the film.  But the real star of the film, even more so
than Aronofsky, is Mikey Rourke.


I have been an unabashed Rourke fan since watching Angel
years ago, so seeing him once again in the spotlight is going to be a
treat for all moviegoers. 


The film is about an indy wrestler who is told that his days
are numbered, so he decides to make amends with his broken family while he can.


While The Wrestler was a controversial decision on
Aronofsky’s part to make, under closer inspection it proves to be the wild
horse of his filmography.  The
independent wrestling scene is something that hasn’t effectively been tapped
into before on movie screens.  Needless
to say, a lot of drama can arise from such a topic. 


With a strong script (which is present), Aronofsky and
Rourke are going to surprise a lot of people with this film.


Tony Manero


The most peculiar title on the “to see” list is Tony
, a Chilean film about a man who idolizes John Travolta’s turn in Saturday Night Fever to the point that he’d even consider murder in order to
win a Tony Manero look-alike contest.


I don’t know what to expect with this film, which will
probably prove beneficial for me. 
Whilst I know enough about each of the aforementioned films, with Tony
anything can happen. 


Besides, this is what a film festival is all about; watching
films that you would otherwise not get the opportunity to see.




One of the most controversial films at the festival this
year, Martyrs, tells the relentlessly disturbing story of a former abductee
who, fifteen years after the traumatic event, meets a couple who may have been
her kidnappers.


I’ve read a lot about this film and have discovered that
nothing pertaining to the premise is what it seems, so I am anticipating a wild
ride, to say the least.


As of late, France has proven to be the king of horror, with Haute Tension and last years Inside. 
But the buzz around Martyrs is that it’s different than all the
rest.  There’s emotion that stands
alongside the gore.  Plus, it’s being
compared to the original Hellraiser. 
Come on, don’t say that doesn’t grab your interest. 


All in all, this year’s festival proves to be one of
the best.  It’s a great time to be a
moviegoer and, if the upcoming slate of films are any indication, it’s only
going to get better by the end of the year.