ComingSoon.net’s 2012 Toronto Film Festival Preview

Over the past few years, ComingSoon.net has covered the Toronto International Film Festival (a.k.a. TIFF) and anyone who has read any of our earlier preview pieces already knows the significance of the festival as part of the annual “festival season” which debuts some of the strongest films of the fall as well as a number of great genre films that will be making an impact down the road.

At this point, TIFF is up there with Cannes and Sundance in terms of being a market festival where new films from top filmmakers and first-timers will show off their wares in hopes of getting distribution. Some TIFF premieres will fare better than others – step up and take a bow The Hurt Locker and Crash, two movies picked up at TIFF that went all the way to winning Best Picture on Oscar night over a year after premiering there. Others may take months and even years to get any sort of distribution or may just disappear without a trace.

Roughly a month back when the titles were announced, we put together a picture preview of some of the movies and now we’re going to fill in a few of the blanks of movies we either missed or have been announced since then, focusing on the ones we definitely hope to fit in sometime during the ten days we’re attending.

As mentioned before, things will be kicking off on Thursday, September 6 with Rian Johnson’s sci-fi crime-thriller Looper (FilmDistrict – Sep. 28), starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt, one of the big studio movies premiering at TIFF we’ve already seen – our review will be up on Thursday and interviews will follow.

Two other studio movies we’re looking forward to are Warner Bros.’ TIFF offerings, Ben Affleck’s third movie as director Argo (Oct. 12) and the adaptation of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas (Oct. 26) directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski and Thomas Tykwer, starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent, Jim Sturgess and Ben Whishaw. We’ve actually been reading the latter book in preparation for the movie and it should be quite an amazing achievement if they can pull it off, while Argo has already gotten rave reviews out of the Telluride Film Festival and is being considered as another Oscar-worthy movie from Affleck.

We’re also looking forward to Irish playwright-turned-filmmaker Martin (In Bruges) McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths (CBS Films – October 12), starring Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Abbie Cornish and Olga Kurylenko, which we expect to be as funny as his previous film. It’s getting a premiere as part of the “Midnight Madness” section (which you can read more about below).

One of the more anticipated TIFF debuts is Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master (The Weinstein Co. – Sep. 14), starring Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams, which has played a number of secret and benefit screenings before its premiere at Venice last week. Reactions have been fairly mixed so far, but with it opening a week after its debut, it should be one of the festival’s more well-attended press screenings.

After making three films with non-actors, Ramin Bahrani gets an all-star cast including Dennis Quaid, Zac Efron and Heather Graham to star in his new movie At Any Price (Sony Pictures Classics) set in the world of agriculture with Quaid playing a man hoping to get his rebellious son (Efron) into the family’s farming empire.

While our experiences watching Lee Daniels’ earlier movie Shadowboxer at Toronto in 2005 will still be ingrained negatively in our brain forever, we’re looking forward to his new movie The Paperboy (Millennium – October 5), starring Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron and Matthew McConaughey, being his follow-up to the Oscar-nominated Precious, which will play both at TIFF and at the New York Film Festival that follows.

Since our earlier preview piece, many other movies have been announced for TIFF, and what’s cool is that many of them are productions we’ve either announced or have been reporting on right here on CS over the past few years. Many of these are finally seeing the light of day even if they’re mostly arriving at Toronto without distribution looking to sell their rights to the highest bidder.

One of the ones in that category we’re looking forward to is What Maisie Knew, the new film from Scott McGehee and David Siegel (The Deep End), starring Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan as a couple caught in a bitter divorce and their six-year-old daughter Maisie caught in the middle. It also stars Alexander Skarsgard.

Joss Whedon has the distinction of having directed the highest grossing movie of 2012 under his belt with Marvel’s The Avengers but shortly after filming that he decided to adapt William Shakespeare’s play Much Ado About Nothing featuring an all-star cast including Nathan Fillion and Clark Gregg.

I’m really not a fan of Harmony Korine’s recent work but his Spring Breakers has an interesting cast of James Franco and a quartet of nubile young things on spring break played by Selena Gomez, Emma Roberts, Vanessa Hudgens and Heather Morris, so yes, I’m clearly making my TIFF decisions with my nether regions in wanting to see it.

TIFF also marks the return of legendary director Brian De Palma with Passion, an English language remake of the French Love Crime starring Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace as two women who get into a conflict in the corporate office place.

Murderball director Henry-Alex Rubin tries his hand at dramatic features with Disconnect, an anthology film starring Jason Bateman, Hope Davis, Paula Patton, Andrea Riseborough, Alexander Skarsgard, Frank Grillo, Michael Nyqvist and Max Thieriot about people trying to connect in a world where everyone’s wired to the internet.

One seemingly new section at the festival is TIFF Kids, offering films for families and younger moviegoers, and two big studios are premiering their September releases as part of the festival. First of all, Sony Animation Studios is bringing their family comedy Hotel Transylvania (Sony – September 28), the feature film debut by “Samurai Jack” creator Genndy Tartakovsky, featuring the voices of Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James and lots more. Disney is also bringing their re-release of Finding Nemo 3D to TIFF a week before its national release.

As far as some of the foreign films, Denmark’s finest actor Mads Mikkelsen has two movies playing during festival season including Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt. The role won Mikkelsen the acting award at the Cannes Film Festival. He also stars in Nikolaj Arcel’s A Royal Affair, a 19th Century period piece about the controversial relationship between the King of Denmark and his British-born queen and the relationship she has with the royal physician, played by Mikkelsen.

Denmark may choose to go with Susanne Bier’s Italy-set romantic comedy Love is All You Need as their Oscar offering, being that Bier won the Foreign Language Oscar with her previous film In A Better World. Starring Pierce Brosnan and taking place outside of Denmark may give A Royal Affair a slight advantage.

We’ve heard good things about The Attack, the new film from Ziad Doueri (Lila Says), based on the novel by Yasmina Khadra, about an Arab surgeon who discovers a secret about his wife after a suicide bombing. We also love Audrey (Amelie) Tautou so we’re interested in seeing her latest Thérèse Desqueyroux, the final film from the late Claude Miller (A Secret) in which she plays unhappy housewife trying to break free of her boring suburban setting.

We’re also very excited about this year’s “Midnight Madness” slate, which will kick off with Pete Travis’ Dredd 3D (Lionsgate – September 21), a movie we enjoyed seeing at Comic-Con, but also offers a good mix of genre films both with and without distribution.

Metal frontman and filmmaker Rob Zombie (Halloween) returns with The Lords of Salem involving a radio DJ in Salem, Massachusetts, who receives a wooden box containing a mysterious record that threatens to return the Lords of Salem to the modern-day world.

For whatever reason, David Cronenberg decided to release his latest movie Cosmopolis weeks before TIFF, but his son Brandon is bringing his own debut thriller Antiviral (IFC Midnight) to the festival with Caleb Landry Jones as the employee of a clinic that injects viruses from sick celebrities into their fans until he gets infected himself.

One of our favorite Japanese filmmakers, Ryuhei Kitamura, is bringing his revenge thriller No One Lives to “Midnight Madness,” which involves a gang kidnapping a young couple (including Luke Evans) and bringing them to an abandoned house where their plans go horribly wrong. While most American horror fans will know Kitamura from The Midnight Meat Train, based on Clive Barker’s short story, we love his earlier work like Versus, Azumi and Godzilla: Final Wars and we’re hoping this will stand up to that.

There’s some early buzz for director Nicolás López’s Aftershock co-written and starring Eli Roth, whose Hostel debuted at Toronto’s “Midnight Madness” a bunch of years back. It involves a group of travellers in Chile who get caught in an underground nightclub during an earthquake and they discover they’re not alone down there.

Horror anthologies have been fairly common in recent years as seen by the upcoming V/H/S which played at Sundance, but The ABCs of Death (Magnet) ups the ante with 26 short films from 26 directors showing 26 ways to die, including Ti West, Jason Eisener, Adam Wingard, Xavier Gens and Nacho Vigalondo.

Another filmmaker involved in that anthology is Ben Wheatley, the British filmmaker behind Kill List (which premiered at “Midnight Madness” last year) and he’ll be bringing his dark road comedy Sightseers (IFC Films) to TIFF. Another British film of interest is the English language version of Nicolas Refn’s debut Pusher (Radius-TWC), starring Richard Coyle as a low-level drug dealer. We’re curious whether this crime thriller directed by Luis Prieto will have quite as big an impact as Refn’s debut did on him.

Last but not least, we’re really big martial arts movie fans and Stephen Fung’s Tai Chi 0 looks like it will offer the type of fun action we’ve gotten from some of TIFF’s previous martial arts offerings.

ComingSoon.net’s coverage of TIFF will kick off on September 6 with a bunch of early reviews and we’ll be updating regularly over the course of the following ten days. You can keep up with quicker updates with reaction to movies we’ve seen on the Weekend Warrior Twitter account.

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