Tomorrow is the opening day of the 31st Toronto International Film Festival. I have to admit, that I start to feel a little woozy looking at the list of films playing in Toronto–it’s just too much of a good thing. Although I won’t be going, our friends Dean and Sheryl will be there making us proud, and bringing home their insights to the hidden gems they find. My interests may be a little more pedestrian and personally motivated, but there are quite a few films that I am excited about. (First, let me just say, in a perfect world that does not exist within these confines of time and space, I would see all of these films.) For now, here is the short list of films that I will pine after until someone tells me not to:
For Your Consideration Christopher Guest – A year with a Christopher Guest film is a good year.
I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone Tsai Ming-liang – Tsai Ming-liang can do no wrong in my book. One of the most interesting filmmakers out there. (Commissioned for Motzart’s 250th birthday.)
Syndromes of a Century Apichatpong Weerasethakul – If you missed Apichatpong’s Regis Dialogue and retrospective as part of the Walker Without Walls program, it’s not my fault–I would have told you to go. Screen Daily noted this film as his “ most unconventional narrative yet.” This makes me laugh. If the unconventional were unconventional, would that be like a double positive? (Yet another film commissioned for Mozart’s 250th birthday.)
Dong Jia Zhang-ke – Sixth Generation Chinese filmmaker use his documentary aesthetic to make a real documentary, following painter Liu Xiao Dong first to Fengjie, in the heart of the Three Gorges River Dam project, then to Bangkok.
Big Bang Love Takashi Miike – Miike gets serious again and offers up a film that might propel him beyond his current fan base.
Climates Nuri Bilge Ceylan – Ceylan’s Distant played a couple years back at the MSPIFF, and I was really caught off guard by its somber eloquence. There was some big buzz on this film at Cannes. (I love a trailer with no dialogue.)
Summer Palace Luo Te – The Chinese censors are always great for a little PR. In this case, I hope Summer Palace does well so the government will reconsider the five year filmmaking ban for Luo and producer Nai An.
Brand Upon the Brain! Guy Maddin – This is just one of those things that I have very little hope of experiencing. This new film by Maddin includes live music and singing, a narrator, and foley artists.
Exiled Johnny To – A sequel to The Mission (easily one of the best Hong Kong films of the 90s), To is working the festivals like no other Hong Kong director.
Paris, je t’aime Bruno Podalydès, Gurinder Chadha, Gus Van Sant, Joel and Ethan Coen, Walter Salles, Daniela Thomas, Christopher Doyle, Isabel Coixet, Nobuhiro Suwa, Sylvain Chomet, Alfonso Cuarn, Olivier Assayas, Oliver Schmitz, Richard LaGravenese, Vincenzo Natali, Wes Craven, Tom Tykwer, Frédéric Auburtin, Gérard Depardieu, Alexander Payne – These omnibus films hardly ever work on a whole, but there must be a gem or two in there somewhere…
Woman on the Beach Hong Sang-soo – While US distributors continue to ignore him, Hong continues to establish himself internationally as a truly original auteur.
Volver Pedro Almodvar – Yes, Almodvar’s new film is coming, and it includes a long overdue reunion with actress Carmen Maura.
Shortbus John Cameron Mitchell – Five years after Hedwig, Mitchell is back with a film full of sex and controversy.
Rain Dogs Ho Yuhang – More Malaysian films please. I was very pleasantly surprised by Ho’s Min that played at the MSPIFF a couple years ago. The trailer for Rain Dogs looks very promising.
Dean and Sheryl, we will be waiting for your reports!