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Top 10 Films Screening at TIFF 2013

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Well, TIFF is a mere 6 days away and I’m finding it extremely hard to contain my excitement. So, I figured I’d compile this list to somewhat ease my strain as well as inform you all of what you can expect to be radiating from the festivities this year. Now, with nearly 300 films screening at the festival, narrowing it down to the top 10 was extremely difficult. Not to mention that each individual carries their own interpretation of anticipation and cinematic values. Inevitably, this means it’s almost a foregone conclusion that many of you won’t agree with most of my choices. That being said, I did my best to include the general public in my decisions regarding the films playing in Toronto and how hotly anticipated they are. So, please keep that in mind when judging this list. Click on the film title for all the information you need regarding the film.

As always, if you feel I’ve overlooked a film or listed one that shouldn’t have been included, feel free to voice your opinions and comments below.

Honourable Mentions: Kill Your Darlings, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her (it’s a film told in two parts from two perspectives), Prisoners.

James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain in “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby”

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Horror: The Sacrament, The Green Inferno.

Eli Roth’s “The Green Inferno.”

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Now, without further ado, let’s get to it!

10: August: Osage County.

Seriously, just read the cast list for this film and you’ll see why I’m so smitten.

9: Joe.

Similar to Mud, except instead of Matthew McConaughey, Nicholas Cage takes on the role of the mentor.

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8: Don Jon.

The Directorial debut for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, what’s not to like?

7: Enemy.

TWO Jake Gyllenhaal’s, yes please!

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6: Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

This just might earn Idris Elba an Oscar nomination.

5: Blood Ties.

Marion Cotillard and Clive Owen light up the screen in this thriller.

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4: The Fifth Estate.

Is this performance by Benedict Cumberbatch going to earn him an Oscar?

3: Dallas Buyers Club

Has anyone ever, in the history of cinema had two consecutive years as amazing as Matthew McConaughey’s past two? They are calling his role in Dallas Buyers Club Oscar worthy, even though he should probably win for Mud.

2: Gravity

This film has recently shot up the list since its initial screening. It is garnering masively positive reviews out of the gate.

1: 12 Years a Slave

There is tremendous Oscar buzz surrounding this film and for good reason. Watch the trailer and you’ll find out for yourself.

That’ll do it for this week’s top 10, hope you all enjoyed it. Remember to leave all opinions and comments below. Have a great weekend!

TIFF 2013 Releases Schedule and Final Announcements

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We are now less than two weeks away from when the Toronto International Film Festival tickets go on sale to the public and a mere 16 days away from the start of the actual festivities. On Tuesday morning, another slew of films were announced along with the schedule itself and a long list of celebrities set to attend the festival. I don’t know about you, but the anticipation is overwhelming me. I suppose the nervousness and excitement will dissipate somewhat when I actually know what screenings I will be attending, or it could skyrocket even higher. Either way, this is shaping up to be one hell of a festival!

Schedule:

Now, for those attending, or those simply who’d like to know what’s going on and when, you can find the full schedule by clicking here.

FInal Film List and Programmes:

If you’d like to know what films are playing at the festival, you can click here for the entire list or click the TIFF button in the main menu at the top of this page. You can also find all the programmes offered by the festival by clicking here. Essentially, all films screening at the festival are divided into groups for attendees to better understand what type of genre and themes the film will contain.

TIFF Guests:

Perhaps the most exciting news released Tuesday morning was the endless list of celebrities ready to attend the festival. Amongst the names are Benedict Cumberbatch, Meryl Streep, Rebecca Hall, Josh Broliin, Alan RIckman, Clive Owen, Kate Winslet, Jennifer Aniston, Mark Ruffalo, Elizabeth Olsen, Scarlett Johansson, Hugh Jackman, Tom Hiddleston, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Nicholas Cage, Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, Ben Foster, Anton Yelchin, Liam Neeson, James McAvoy, Nicole Kidman, Felicity Jones, Ed Harris, Spike Jonze, Melissa George, Paul Giamatti, Idris Elba, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sarah Gadon, Colin Firth, Michael Fassbender, Jesse Eisenberg, Sandra Bullock, Chris Hemsworth, Mila Kunis, Jessica Chastain, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ralph Fiennes, Jude Law, Tom Wilkinson, Mia Waikowska, Owen Wilson, Steve McQueen, Jason Reitman, Keanu Reeves, Keira Knightley, Matthew McConaughey, Ti West, Eli Roth, Daniel Radcliffe, Julia Roberts, Reese Witherspoon, Sarah Paulson, Oliva Wilde, Mike Myers, James Franco, Adrien Brody, Marion Cotillard, and Thandie Newton, just to name what I feel to be the most important. And honestly, I couldn’t type any more names. There is a bunch more on the list you can find here. Also, these are just the people confirmed thus far, it is expected that the likes of George Clooney and Brad Pitt, amongst others will be attending.

Jason Reitman’s Live Read:

You can find all the information below, provided by the TIFF website.

The Festival proudly welcomes back Jason Reitman’s Live Read — a unique event in which classic movie scripts are read by contemporary actors. With no rehearsal, the actors come together for a one-take read-through with Reitman narrating stage direction. In 2012, the Festival welcomed Reitman and an all-star cast — including Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, Adam Driver, Sarah Gadon and George Stroumboulopoulos — for a live table read of Alan Ball’s screenplay for American Beauty. This year, Reitman is back with a surprise script from a modern classic and a new cast at the Ryerson Theatre on Friday, September 6. Details, including cast and script, for the 2013 Live Read event will be announced in early September.

IMAX Screenings:

New this year, audiences are invited to be part of the action with two official Festival selections and two special screenings presented in spectacular IMAX. The two films will be Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity” and Keanu Reeves “Man of Tai Chi.”

Next Wave and Manifesto Announced:

You can find another plethora of titles announced by clicking here.

New Galas and Special Presentations:

Metallica Through the Never: Nimród Antal, Canada/USA, World Premiere

Dane DeHaan (The Place Beyond the Pines) stars as a Metallica roadie dispatched to hell and back in this mind-blowing mash-up of concert film and post-apocalyptic adventure, presented in IMAX 3D.

The Wizard of Oz: Victor Fleming, USA, World Premiere

Experience Judy Garland’s over-the-rainbow adventure in vivid new detail with this IMAX 3D presentation of Victor Fleming’s family classic.

10th Midnight Madness Film Unveiled:

Witching & Bitching:

Fleeing through the impenetrable forests of the Basque countryside after a jewel heist, a hapless band of robbers runs afoul of a coven of witches, in this madcap supernatural spectacle from Spanish genre specialist Alex de la Iglesia (The Last Circus).

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Okay then, that’ll do it for the pre-TIFF announcements. The Cinema Monster will be covering the festival in full, providing reviews, news, and Q and A’s as often as possible, make sure to follow our website to keep up with the festival. Also, follow The Cinema Monster on Twitter (@cinema_monster) and Facebook for up-to-the-minute news and posts, not to mention special pictures and videos provided by me from the screenings. Have a great week!

TIFF 2013 Adds Another Batch

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Hello all, just a brief post today outlining the Toronto International Film Festival’s newest additions announced Tuesday afternoon. For reference, you can check out all of The CInema Monster’s post regarding the festival thus far by clicking on TIFF in the main menu at the top of this page. Also, be sure to follow The CInema Monster on Twitter (@cinema_monster) and Facebook for up to the minute festival news, reviews, and Q and A’s. Now, below you’ll find what I feel to be the highlights of this newest batch. If you’d like to check out all the films announced thus far, click here. And in addition to the newly presented galas and special presentations, announced Tuesday afternoon were films in the Contemporary World Cinema, Contemporary World Speakers, Wavelengths, and TIFF Kids categories. You can see the full list of those films here.

Child of God

The latest from actor-turned-filmmaker James Franco is adapted from characteristically tough and violent Cormac McCarthy novel that draws the director’s ambitions into disturbing terrain as it explores the rituals and desperation of the Southern US’s rural poor.

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The Face of Love

Five years after the death of her beloved husband Garrett (Ed Harris), Nikki (Annette Bening) meets a man who seems to be his exact double. Ari Posen directs this emotionally thorny drama about how we cope with loss, live in the moment, and ultimately move forward. The film also stars Robin Williams.

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Blood Ties

Clive Owen and Billy Crudup lead a powerhouse cast — including Mila Kunis, Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts (Rust and Bone) — as a pair of brothers on opposite sides of the law in Guillaume Canet’s English-language remake of the gritty, 1970s-set crime drama Les liens du sang. The film also stars Zoe Saldana and James Caan.

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How I Live Now

Saoirse Ronan (Hanna) stars in this adaptation of Meg Rosoff’s award-winning near-future novel about an American teenager sent to live with her family in Britain on the eve of the Third World War, directed by Kevin McDonald (The Last King of Scotland).

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The Wind Rises

This decade-spanning epic from maestro Hayao Miyazaki is his most unique films to date, inspired by the true stories of Jiro Horikoshi, visionary designer of one the most beautiful airplanes in history — the famed Zero fighter — and the poet Tatsuo Hori, whose verses are brought to life by the vivid animation of Studio Ghibli.

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Inception (2010)

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Outlandishly complex, visually mesmerizing, and action-packed. “Inception” is an intelligent blockbuster that bursts forth from the screen with all the spectacle and wonder that makes cinema so riveting. With infinite staying-power fortified by unlimited ingenuity, an empathetic human element, and dynamism. “Inception” is easily one of the best science fiction films to ever be released, if not the best. Written and directed by the distinguished Christopher Nolan. “Inception” is a brilliant addition to his already stellar collection of highly memorable films and adds another layer of superlativeness to his stern and bright reputation. Completed by an all-star cast and an absolutely epic score from the incredibly talented Hans Zimmer. “Inception” is an unparalleled cinematic experience and regardless of its intricate story or the grandness of its heart-stopping scale, should stand the test of time (no pun intended).

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Dominic Cobb (DiCaprio) is a skilled thief who is somewhat of a master when it comes to the artistic science of extraction. Simply put, Dom can be inserted into anyones dreams and steal their most valuable secrets and information. After a failed job, Dom and his partner Arthur (Levitt) are hired by Saito (Ken Watanabe), the original target, to convince a rival company’s owner to disband his inheritance. This tactic is officially known as inception. Upon recruiting Eames (Hardy), Ariadne (Page), and a few others, the group begins plotting against their target, Robert Fischer (Murphy), unaware that Dominic is hiding a dark and possibly dangerous secret about his late wife Mal (Cotillard).

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Once again Nolan is able to top his previous efforts with a completely unique and bewildering idea presented with his usual flare and style. Evidently, more than a few like to poke fun at “Inception” claiming its premise as idiotic, amongst other aspects they feel to be miscalculated. Nonetheless, Nolan’s ability to transcend and harness the abstract remains unrivalled and is a much needed jump-start for the currently unbalanced film industry. While the path he has carved for cinema might not be for everyone. Cinephiles and critics universally agree that Nolan is a mind like no other. Arguably the most successful, forward-thinking, genius working in film as of the moment. Nolan always pushes the envelope and upon assisting in the much needed reboot of the Superman franchise, it appears the sky’s the limit for this one of a kind filmmaker, but I digress, back to “Inception.”

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Very rarely does a film come along that proves to be a game-changer, and in every sense, “Inception” is one of these films. Whether it is the folding over of an entire city, mind-churning paradoxes, or astoundingly choreographed action sequences, “Inception” is deliciously appealing. Granted, a majority of these magical, majestic, delectable scenes take place in a fantastical realm. However it doesn’t degrade the sheer intellect, talent, and innovation infused into every single one of these miraculous scenes. And while the production value and intricacy of these aspects is enough for them to stand on their own. What truly puts “Inception” at another level is the brains that accompany the brawn. Equally matched intellectually and visually, “Inception” is its own excellent contrast. The mind and eyes receive quite the workout, yet, never has a strenuous effort felt so euphoric.

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Talk about easy on the eyes. “Inception” has the outwardly striking, abundantly accomplished, and utterly skilled cast to assist in the completing of this masterpiece. Starring the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Cillian Murphy, Marion Cottilard, and Michael Cane, amongst other proficient personnel . “Inception” is undoubtedly the full package with an ensemble that knows no weakness.

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Many will deny it having seen a few of these stars in previous films, but “Inception” officially launched Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Cillian Murphy into the mainstream. Each give a humorous and heartfelt performance that instantly made them crowd favourites. Cottilard and Page do an outstanding job grounding this flick, adding a much needed emotional element to this larger-than-life picture. What can one say about Leonardo DiCaprio, he always makes it look so effortless, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Finally, to quote the great Mr. Nolan, “it’s always good to have a little Michael Caine in your film.”

Literally appealing to every sense, “Inception” is not to be missed by anyone in existence, cinephile or not…and how about that ending?

Inception: 9 out of 10.

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Midnight in Paris (2011)

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Leaving a lot for the imagination to ponder and envy. Woody Allen’s clever, insightful, magical Midnight in Paris is what fantasies are made of. Full of inspiration and romance, Allen returns to top form with this gem. Venturing through time, showcasing the who’s who in arts and literature, Midnight in Paris is an enjoyable history lesson. Garnering four Oscar nominations in 2012 and earning a victory for best original screenplay, Midnight in Paris is ripe with invention and individuality. Reviving the likes of Earnest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and T. S. Elliot, amongst other countless, unrivalled talents. Midnight in Paris is a writers wet dream. Leading the way through the wormhole is Owen Wilson who is supported by the beautiful and talented Rachel McAdams. Midnight in Paris also features terrific supporting performances from Michael Sheen, Tom Hiddleston, Adrien Brody, and the effervescent Marion Cotillard. Directed and written by the aforementioned Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris’s hallowed glow emits a calming, entrancing warmth.

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Gil (Wilson) and Inez (McAdams) tag-along on their parents business trip to Paris. Gil, who is a successful writer in Hollywood would like to make a change and begin writing novels. At first glance, he falls in love with Paris and insists he and Inez move their permanently. Inez does not agree with Gil’s infatuation with Paris or his notion that the 1920’s is the golden age. Gil is left alone for the night when Inez goes dancing with her friends. Gil decides to take a walk through Paris at midnight hoping it will spark his imagination. When the unthinkable happens, Gil is transported into a world filled with his wildest fantasies. This might be the break Gil is looking for, but it also might destroy his relationship with Inez.

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Allen’s satirical, ironic twists on the rom-com genre have never been more intoxicating. Blending the feverish, impulsive, hopeless romance and the disheartening reality of its lowering priority level amongst our social and political commercialism is ingenious. Allen hasn’t conceived a story this idealistic and unique since his 2008 release of Vicky Christina Barcelona. In that span of three years, he released two films, both misses. However, all is forgiven and forgotten with Midnight in Paris. I’ll contently digest the bad in order to obtain the good, and this good is an acquired and particular taste. Midnight in Paris’s easygoing, eccentric, fruitful completeness is a pleasant sedative that lulls the viewer into the bewildering perplexity of cinemas intended stupefaction.

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Midnight in Paris might cater to a certain level of expectancy, which might be off putting to some. It is fully plausible to understand how one might find Midnight in Paris presumptuous and founded upon pretentiousness. On the contrary, it has no intention of condescending to any viewer. A facet of Allen’s brilliance is the simplicity in Midnight in Paris. There is no overcompensation or unnecessary explanation for the time travelling aspect and as a viewer, among many, there is no need or desire to question the implication. Midnight in Paris is enjoyable and easily comprehended, regardless of a factual explanation. All the tools needed to connect with Midnight in Paris are traits of the human body. Laugh, weep, or spite, Midnight in Paris is one of the easiest films to adore that you’ll ever come by.

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To my surprise, Owen Wilson did not earn an acting nomination at the 2012 Oscars for his role in Midnight in Paris. His performance is distinguished by the subtlety of his comedic indifference radiating from slight body movements and facial expressions. This is the most effective Owen Wilson has been since 2007’s The Darjeeling Limited, possibly even further back to 2005 with Wedding Crashers. In a surprising change of pace, McAdams undertakes the role of a villain in Midnight in Paris, or maybe that’s just my interpretation. However, coming from me, someone who’s bordering adoration for McAdams is teetering towards obsession, to say that she’s the antagonist, it must be a powerful performance. Finally, Cotillard continues her North American domination with another outstanding effort. In the film, she is the reason we search for love. To sit here and nitpick the impeccable supporting performances from Hiddleston, Brody, Sheen, and Kathy Bates seems pointless. It’s hard to argue perfection when it is only on display for minutes at a time. Take their track records and my word for it, they’re terrific.

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In conclusion, just to be clear, I was joking about my McAdams obsession. I simply enjoy her films and performances, as well as think about her night and day…kidding. Midnight in Paris has the comedy and emotion to back up its boastful endeavours and melancholic moments.

Midnight in Paris: 8.5 out of 10.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

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Where to begin with a film that is so entrancing and cataclysmic it sets off air raid sirens to everyone of its viewers senses. Christopher Nolan once again manages to spawn a villain more loveable than the superhero. As destructive and necessary his evil may be, Bane has a method to his madness and somehow this insanity is acceptable and cheer worthy. The scale of the entire film is stupefying and the entire ensemble is out of this world. Literally featuring one of the greatest casts ever assembled. Leading The Dark Knight Rises is Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Marion Cotillard, Morgan Freeman, and Joseph Gordon Levitt. Directed by the previously mentioned Christopher Nolan or otherwise known as the series saviour. The Dark Knight trilogy’s beginnings may have grown from a simple comic book, but what the cast and crew have done is not that of the imagination from a few colourful pages. The trilogy has shattered stereotypes and the box office, redefined a genre, and set the bar for every comic book film to follow.

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Eight years after the events in The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne (Bale) is a recluse trying to recover mentally and physically from his arduous battles for Gotham. At the anniversary party of Harvey Dent’s death at Bruce’s manor, a seemingly normal maid steals from Mr. Wayne’s safe and proves elusive in his attempts to capture her. Bruce later finds out that this thief is career burglar Selina Kyle (Hathaway), however he is unaware that she is the least of his problems. Commissioner Gordon (Oldman) and a hot headed cop named Blake (Levitt) out on a call run into trouble. The commissioner is taken captive by the evil force named Bane (Hardy). While dealing with his financial problems with Mr. Fox (Freeman) and Miranda Tate (Cotillard), his return to the world, and the absence of Alfred (Caine), Bruce Wayne now must deal with the terrorist, Bane.

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One would have figured it safe to assume that it would be impossible for The Dark Knight’s follow up to compete, so most would watch The Dark Knight Rises with low standards. When in actuality the bar along with our expectations should have continued to rise (no pun intended). Yes Heath Ledger’s performance was delightfully mad and morally impartial, but he wasn’t the only aspect of that great cinematic achievement. Regardless of his tragic death, would the story have continued with the Joker? Calculating the way Nolan and his crew function, I think it’s a safe bet that they would have gone in a new direction. Therefore, for any of those who dismissed the sequel without giving it a chance or those not respecting Nolan and cast. it is your loss. The Dark Knight Rises, one of the best films of all time, let alone 2012 is an electric and stirring thrill ride that is deserving of our praise, its runtime, and to hold the Batman legacy for eternity.

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The Dark Knight Rises: 9 out of 10.