The Toronto International Film Festival kicks off today, and as usual, your correspondent will be on Canadian soil to take in the latest awards-season hopefuls, foreign favorites, and (checks notes) comic book movies, that can’t be right? At any rate, I’ll have a full report for you at the festival’s conclusion, with mini-reviews and general thoughts on the cinematic temperature we can take from this year’s line-up, but in the meantime, here are a handful of the titles I’m hoping to take in.
‘Ford v. Ferrari’
This one’s been in the works for a long time, most notably back in 2013 with Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise performing a Reunion with a Vampire in the leads (under the much better title Go Like Hell) for director Joseph Kosinksi (Oblivion). Logan and 3:10 to Yuma director James Mangold is, if we’re being honest, an upgrade; he’s cast Christian Bale and Matt Damon as a pair of American mavericks attempting to push the Ford motor company into the elite class of sportscars. It hits theaters in November.
Aside from being one of our most consistently engaging actors, Julie Delpy has quietly carved out a career as a nuanced, thoughtful independent filmmaker, known primarily for films like 2 Days in Paris and 2 Days in New York– i.e., films not far removed from the Before movies for which she’s best known. But her latest (in which she wrote, directs, and stars) is “unlike anything she’s done before,” according to the festival, “a psychological drama with hints of science fiction,” which is, to say the least, intriguing.
Hirokazu Kore-eda is one of the most gifted and insightful filmmakers working in Japan today – his Like Father, Like Son is a masterpiece, and Shoplifterswas one of last year’s best – so this admirer approaches his first film with most excitement and caution. The latter, however, is tempted by the irresistible set-up of Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche starring as a mother and daughter, both working in the film industry. Oh, and Ethan Hawke co-stars.
‘The Personal History of David Copperfield’
Two TIFFs back, The Death of Stalin proved that director Armando Iannucci could do much more than the contemporary political comedy with which he’s so readily identified. This year he continues that evolution with this adaptation of Charles Dickens’s classic novel; Dave Patel takes on the leading role, and the impressive supporting cast includes Tilda Swinton, Hugh Laurie, Gwendoline Christie, Peter Capaldi, and Ben Whishaw.
Rosamund Pike stars in this Marie Curie biopic, and if your eyes are already rolling at what sounds like a 30 Rock parody of prestige Oscar bait, put a pin in it – the source material is Lauren Redniss’s award-winning graphic novel, and the director is Marjane Satrapi, who broke into movies with an unforgettable adaptation of her own Persepolis before blessing us with such weird, wild pictures as The Voices and Chicken With Plums. In other words, if there’s one director who’s not likely to craft a traditional prestige biopic…
‘Color Out of Space’
Director Richard Stanley’s long-dormant career got a huge boost out from the sympathetic documentary Lost Soul, which detailed the troubled production of The Island of Dr. Moreau, his shot at mainstream success. Star Nicolas Cage got some of the best reviews of his, um, erratic career with last year’s Mandy, a gonzo genre movie that leaned into his manic energy. So this Midnight Madness collaboration, adapting H.P. Lovecraft’s short story, couldn’t be better timed – or more promising.
Trey Edward Shults is one of our favorite young American directors, thanks to the psychological discomfort of his debut film Krisha and the straight-up terror of its follow-up, It Comes at Night. Here, he tells the story of a young athlete (Kelvin Harrison Jr., so good this summer in Luce) for whom everything seems to be going right – until he begins to crack. Lucas Hedges, Clifton Collins Jr., and Sterling K. Brown co-star.
Ira Sachs has become one of the most evocative of New York filmmakers, with lived-in, small-scale comedy/dramas like Love is Strange and Little Men capturing both the beauty and difficulty of living in the city in the 21st century. But his latest is a bit of a vacation, as he follows an actor and her extended family on a getaway to Portugal. Isabelle Huppert (!!) is the actor; the family includes Marisa Tomei, Brendan Gleeson, Jérémie Renier, and Little Men’s Greg Kinnear.
‘How to Build a Girl’
Beanie Feldstein’s global takeover continues apace with Coky Giedroyc’s adaptation of Caitlin Moran's semi-autobiographical novel, in which the Booksmart sensation stars as an awkward teen who attempts to remake herself as super-cool London music critic. Chris O'Dowd, Emma Thompson, and Paddy Considine lend support.
We love a good, solid Alex Gibney documentary, and his latest is reportedly a juicy one. The subject at hand is Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once one of the richest men in Russia – but arrested and jailed for fraud, embezzlement and money laundering, though his fall from grace came, somewhat suspiciously, after publically criticizing Vladamir Putin. Nobody does the documentary-as-political-thriller quite like Gibney, and in this specific moment, a deep dive into Putin’s friends and enemies is especially welcome.
The Toronto International Film Festival runs through Sunday, September 15th.