With less than a month to go before the start of the Toronto International Film Festival, it’s time to start making your lists and checking them twice. Whether you’re more of a future-blockbuster type of moviegoer or a discerning cinephile, there’s something at the Festival for everyone.
TIFF 2014 at the Never Let Me Go Gala with Steve Venner, TIFF movie-picking expert extraordinaire
This will be my fourth year of being back in Toronto for the festivities and, coincidentally, my fourth year of leaning on my friend Steve Venner for his TIFF picks. I’ve never been disappointed, so this year I’m sharing his picks with you.
Before We Go
Chris Evans makes his directorial debut in a Richard Linklater-esque movie about two strangers that spend a night wandering around New York City, getting to know each other after missing the last train at Grand Central. In a recent Variety article, Evans showed a lot of depth and admiration for smaller indie fare, removed from the big-screen Captain America spectacle, so this passion project should be one to watch.
This is Where I Leave You
Jonathan Tropper’s novel about a semi-dysfunctional Jewish family sitting Shiva for a week after their father passes away has some rapid-fire, hilarious dialogue that this cast of Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, and Jason Bateman can assuredly do justice. Even if the end product is a bit mediocre (Director Sean Levy doesn’t have the best track record), try to hit the Gala screening to see the stars and the fantastic supporting cast (Rose Byrne, Connie Britton, please God Connie Britton).
The Last Five Years
Anna Kendrick has entered the full-blown musical phase of her career. At this point there should be little doubt that she has the singing chops to back up this Broadway hit about a struggling actress and her novelist boyfriend (Jeremy Jordan, who no one would probably remember from NBC’s Smash) reflecting on their relationship five years down the line. This project seems to have built up a bit of a cult following, so see it just to rub in that you’ve seen it before everyone else.
Jon Stewart directs Gael Garcia Bernal in the true story of Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari. TIFF marks the International Premiere for Stewart’s film, which should be interesting to see even just for how they handle the meta narrative, as it was his appearance on The Daily Show in 2009 which directly contributed to Bahari’s 100-day imprisonment. Worth checking out for the chance of hearing Stewart talk about the making of the film in person.
The Theory of Everything
This one was flying under the radar until the recently released Oscar-baity trailer, which started a nomination pool for Eddie Redmayne as physicist Stephen Hawking. The overall tone looks to be inspiring, and at the centre of it all is a Beautiful Mind style story of a wife (Felicity Jones) sticking by her brilliant husband as his capacities deteriorate (just ignore the real life infidelity/divorce outcome). For a similar, although slightly more depressing concept, also premiering at TIFF, check out Still Alice starring the always watchable Julianne Moore as a successful professor dealing with a diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s (Kristen Stewart and Alec Baldwin co-star).
Steve Venner is a ruggedly handsome bureaucrat by day, movie nerd by night. He enjoys the finer things in life, but probably chose these films while watching Twister (the best movie of the last 20 years, in his opinion) and eating Doritos in sweatpants.
I can’t wait to snap up tickets for these films at TIFF this year! While the parties and lounges are always a great time, I’m a blogger who loves to also see movies here in Hollywood North during the Festival.