As TIFF’s frenzy of film comes to a close for 2013, CBCers who covered this year’s fest offer up some quick notes on their favourites of this edition. Look for these movies in the coming months at a theatre near you.
Zulekha Nathoo, CBC Arts Unit
Philomena: This film, based on a true story, stars Judi Dench and Steve Coogan. An Irish woman reveals after 50 years that she had once given birth while in a convent and goes on a quest to find out what happen to the child who was taken from her. Every close up of Dench revealed a new emotion. It's subtle, funny and moving — and you feel like you're on the journey right alongside her. Philomena’s theatrical release is pending.
The F Word: Daniel Radcliffe has great comedic timing. Who knew? He proves it in this romantic comedy that's more comedy than romantic. It's about the dreaded "friend zone" and what happens when one person likes the other more. It's is a pleasure to watch from beginning to end and you will come out of the movie feeling a little lighter. The F Word is set for theatres in 2014.
Eli Glasner, CBC Arts Unit
The Double: Early on, I would have picked the brutal and beautiful 12 Years a Slave, the whip-smart The F Word or pared-to-the-bone thriller Blue Ruin. But that was before I watched The Double. Richard Ayoade has gone from being an actor with funny hair in the Britcom The IT Crowd to a director with a remarkably precise vision. The Double is a dark comedy about a meek man (Jesse Eisenberg) who finds his life stolen by a twisted reflection of himself. It sounds Kafkaesque, but no description can capture the film’s wonderful sense of the absurd. Like Buster Keaton trapped in George Orwell's 1984, The Double is a well-articulated movie from its sound design to its restrained performances. After his first film Submarine and this sophomore effort, I cannot wait to see what Ayoade does next. The Double’s theatrical release is pending.
Laura Thompson, CBC Arts Unit
The F Word: This movie caught me by surprise: it’s a story of a sweet, tender "crush" that you hope becomes more. A sharp, witty script well-played by solid, bright actors, it features Toronto as a alluring character in its own right. The F Word is slated for release in 2014.
Rush: I'm not inherently a "car person,” but Rush is a wild ride showcasing the sport of racing for the intense, high-stakes, life-or-death endeavour that it is. This is a captivating real-life story brought to the big screen with colour, spirit and a master's touch. It also reinforced my enthusiasm for Daniel Bruhl, a personal star discovery this year. Rush hits theatre on Sept. 27.
Jesse Kinos-Goodin, CBC Music
Made in America: Going into this Ron Howard-directed documentary about rapper Jay Z and the Made in America concert he put on last year in Philadelphia, I wasn't expecting much more than a promotional video filled with platitudes about what it's like to make it in America, mixed in with some performance footage. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of that still, but Howard has a way of disarming his interview subjects to get some truly great moments out of them, whether it's Run DMC recalling the first time they were asked to rap over Aerosmith's Walk this Way, Janelle Monae on her wardrobe as tribute to her working-class parents or Jay Z seeming to be truly overcome by his rise to fame. Made in America airs Oct. 11 on Showtime.
Deana Sumanac, CBC Arts Unit
Only Lovers Left Alive: Tom Hiddleston (Loki from The Avengers) and Tilda Swinton, Hollywood's most otherworldly leading lady, are star-crossed vampire lovers in Jim Jarmusch's delightfully weird film Only Lovers Left Alive. The dialogue is sparse and surprisingly funny at times, the films sets and costumes are haute couture meets Gothic chic and — most remarkably — this film manages to steer clear of vampire clichés. It’s a good reminder why Jarmusch is perhaps America's most underrated auteur director. Only Lovers Left Alive is set for release in Europe and Australia in Dec. 2013/Jan. 2014. North American release is pending.
The Face of Love: What would happen if your lover died and then you met someone who looked exactly like him? Annette Bening lives through this harrowing situation in director Arie Posin's The Face of Love.She plays a grieving widow who meets a man (Ed Harris) who is a double for her late husband. It’s worth watching just for the emotions that move over Bening's beautiful face, remarkably (for Hollywood) unscathed by Botox. The Face of Love hits theatres Sept. 20.
Alice Hopton, CBC Arts Unit
Dallas Buyers Club: Matthew McConaughey’s performance is spot on in the Jean-Marc Vallee film Dallas Buyers Club. This character is so unique and unlikely, you almost don’t believe he can be real: an accidental activist who is horrible and charming all at once. Never was activism around AIDS so very funny and inspiring. Dallas Buyers Club is set for release on Nov. 1.
Evan Mitsui, CBCNews.ca
Finding Vivian Maier: The story of a nanny in upstate New York who shot a staggering number of photos — all in secret — really hit home for me. Maier’s black-and-white street photography, now regarded as some of the finest of the 20th century, is likened to the work of Diane Arbus, Robert Frank and Henri Cartier-Bresson — giants of photography. Finding Vivian Maier is instantly fascinating, but the fact that her work would have been lost to us if it hadn’t been discovered at a storage locker auction (by the doc’s producer, John Maloof) adds a twist that makes this the perfect story. Even if you’re not a photo buff, this is a smart, snappy story about life and dogged determination that offers a stunning look at some of the finest photography I've ever seen. Finding Vivian Maier is set for release in Feb. 2014.
Ed MacDonald, CBC Arts Unit
Rush: I love auto racing and I think that Ron Howard’s Rush nailed the excitement and danger involved in this sport. I also loved that this film was set in the 1970s but didn’t feel cheesy. Daniel Bruhl was excellent: his accent and sense of social awkwardness made me think he was Niki Lauda. Rush hits theatres on Sept. 27.
Jessica Wong, CBC Arts Unit
The Lunchbox: Many films come into TIFF on a huge wave of incredible and deserved buzz — like 12 Years a Slave or The F Word. But it’s often the unheralded gems that endure in my cinematic memory. For 2013, one of my favourites is The Lunchbox, a thought-provoking film about a relationship that forms between a soon-to-retire office worker and a neglected housewife thanks to the mistaken delivery of a homemade lunch. Kudos to first-time feature director Ritesh Batra as well as his stars Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur for a nuanced, funny and moving romance set in India, but which will undoubtedly delight a global audience. The Lunchbox is slated for release in 2014.
Rhymes for Young Ghouls:TIFF can be a great place to discover the next wave of Canadian talent and Jeff Barnaby's stylish, assured feature film debut Rhymes for Young Ghouls is a thriller and a promise of great things to come. Though somewhat reminiscent of the bleak Winter's Bone (in this case for its stark depiction of life on a reserve during the 1970s and backdrop of the horrific residential schools system), Rhymes is also irreverent and funny and moving. This is an impressive first feature and Barnaby undoubtedly a Canadian filmmaker to watch. Theatrical release is pending.
Jelena Adzic, CBC Arts Unit
Gravity: Yes, it couldn't be more Hollywood and, yes, George Clooney is utterly unbelievable as an astronaut. Still, Sandra Bullock proved herself to be extraordinary in Gravity, even to bonafide astronaut Chris Hadfield. His kudos coupled with the film's incredible cinematography makes Gravity a top pick for me. Absolutely all is forgiven for that whole Canadarm thing. Gravity hits theatres Oct. 4.
The Art of the Steal: My Canadian favourite of TIFF 2013 is The Art of the Steal. Jay Baruchel does the scene-stealing in this one and despite a tiny bit of an over-scripted feeling to the zip-zap dialogue, the movie totally delivers the goods when it comes to heisty fun. I never thought Niagara Falls could be captured in such a cool, non-touristy way. Nice one! The Art of the Steal comes to cinemas Sept. 20.