I write this in the glow of the fluorescent light, shaded by my blaring wall-mounted swamp cooler from the new headquarters of UPROXX NORTH, aka my hotel room in Toronto, a glamorous venue whose own official website describes it as “affordable accommodation for visitors seeking comfortable rooms.”
Hey, that’s me! Perfect for a second-class media outlet not worthy of official press access like this one (more on that in a bit).
Anyway, after a brief stopover in the beautiful Dallas Ft. Worth airport, which offers at least 11 or 12 different types of barbecues (and a Popeye’s – score!), followed by another quick flight up north seated next to a spoiled, overfed 12-year-old and his long-suffering little sister (definitely request them as your next seatmates if you ever have the chance), I am now here and ready to see some films!
Here are a few (just a few) films on our radar as of now (you can see the full programme here).
You may remember the awful poster for this one, which makes it sound like some sort of magical realist fairytale where a cobbler played by Adam Sandler learns his customers’ secrets by smelling their shoes or something (preferably doing his Cajun Man voice the entire time). It comes from director Tom McCarthy, who basically discovered Peter Dinklage in The Station Agent, but also created the perfect Sundance Film For Moms Who Like To Laugh But Not Too Much in Win Win. The cast of The Cobbler includes Dustin Hoffman, Ellen Barkin,
Dan Stevens Matthew Crawley (just go with it, Cousin Matthew, no one’s going to remember “Dan Stevens”), Steve Buscemi, and Method Man. While it could be another mostly-dull film fest darling designed for boring, Patagonia-clad intellectuals a la Win Win, it will at least be worth a watch, if only to see Adam Sandler get serious again. Seriously, kiss my ass if you don’t like Punch Drunk Love.
Bill Murray as a gruff-but-lovable, foul-mouthed anti-father figure? Sure, it looks formulaic as hell, but as far as formulas go, you can’t do much better than “Bill Murray swears at children.” Film was written and directed by Theodore Melfi, and I don’t know who that is now, but I’m hoping we’ll all want to know soon.
Do you really need more than “Jake Gyllenhaal looks and acts weird” to be interested in this one? …Jeez, well you’re a tough one to crack, aren’t you. Okay, fine, here’s the synopsis (trailer here):
When dusk falls on Los Angeles, the nightcrawlers come out. Roaming the streets, cameras at the ready, they outrace ambulances to get to the scene of an accident or crime first, looking to bag footage they can sell to local television stations.
In this gripping portrait of LA’s dark side from first-time director Dan Gilroy, local TV feeds on local crisis. Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a loner and petty thief adrift in the LA night when he happens upon the nightcrawlers in action. He gets himself a cheap video camera and a police radio scanner and begins the chase. Fresh car accidents, robbery victims, home invasions — everything is fair game. But the competition is stiff: Joe Loder (Bill Paxton) is already a seasoned professional with police contacts and a reliable buyer in TV producer Nina (Rene Russo).
But Lou has a nose for blood. Seemingly immune to the moral dilemmas of his new job, he doggedly pursues the most shocking scenes he can find. It turns out he also has the eye of an artist: if the scene doesn’t quite tell the story Nina needs — urban crime threatening innocent suburbanites — he is more than willing to enhance the picture. Like the protagonists of Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom or Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Camera Buff, he is a chilling metaphor for filmmakers.
Damn, son, I hope they give out awards for hard-boiled synopses.
Men, Women, and Children.
The trailer for this actually looks pretty bad, but it’s Adam Sandler-serious-role number two, AND it has Jason Reitman directing. No one much liked Reitman’s last effort, Labor Day, which seemed like a serious attempt to make an artistically relevant Nicholas Sparks movie. For what it’s worth, it was a pretty good version of a Nicholas Sparks movie. I’ll take Labor Day over that one where Miley Cyrus saves a nest of sea turtles on her way to Juilliard any day. Though I can see why people might not think “Artistically Relevant Nick Sparks” was such a worthy endeavor. Anyhow, Reitman made Up In The Air and Thank You For Smoking, so I have a hard time believing he’s going to do two stinkers in a row.
So this one comes from a director I’ve never heard of and the casts boasts no stars to speak of – unless you count Not Anton Yelchin up there and the Irish female Charlie Murphy (f*ck yo couch!). Nonetheless, I was intrigued by the synopsis (also, it played at Berlin, where I missed it, but heard it was good).
In the divided city of Belfast at the height of The Troubles, a rookie British soldier (Jack O’Connell, Starred Up) finds himself separated from his unit and lost in IRA-controlled territory, in this gripping fusion of charged political drama and action-thriller.
Sounds good to me. I don’t think I’ve seen a film about Northern Irish conflict since The Crying Game. Based on that, I’m hoping the rookie soldier hides out the battle by taking up with a transgendered hottie. I’m picturing a long, slow penis reveal, followed by 25 minutes of gratuitous puking.
Ha, “separated from his unit.”
I mean, obviously (trailers here and here). This story about weirdo millionaire murderer Jon DuPont and his personal wrestling team will feature C-Tates and Steve Carell wrestling over who gets first Oscar consideration. Will it be C-Tates for his prosthetic cauliflower ears, or Steve Carell for his wackadoo schnoz? Only time will tell, you guys.
Love & Mercy.
Speaking of based on a true story, did you know there’s a Brian Wilson biopic starring Paul Dano? Paul Dano is an interesting case, because he straight up sucked the first time I saw him, in Little Miss Sunshine, a performance most reminiscent of Wiley Wiggins in Dazed and Confused, but then he ended up being pretty great in There Will Be Blood and The Master. It goes to show you never can tell.
Paul Dano and John Cusack play younger and older iterations of Brian Wilson in this chronicle of the Beach Boys founder’s decades-long struggles with mental health and substance abuse.
Dispensing with staid biopic conventions, director Bill Pohlad nimbly intercuts between two key periods in Wilson’s life, shining a double spotlight on his rise to stardom with the Beach Boys in the sixties and his remarkable eighties solo resurgence.
Director Bill Pohlad has been a producer on The Runaways, Into the Wild, 12 Years a Slave, and a bunch of other stuff, but is an unknown quantity as a director. John Cusack as Brian Wilson? This could either be an award season dark horse or a total f*cking disaster. (MAYBE. That’s my strong take for the day.)
While We’re Young.
OH SNAP, SON, BEN STILLER AND NOAH BAUMBACH BE BACK TOGETHER! Okay, so I never saw their last collaboration, Greenberg, but I did enjoy Baumbach’s last effort, Frances Ha (by the way, approximately how white does that make me, on a scale of Whole Foods to Suburu?).
Starring Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Amanda Seyfried and Adam Driver, this one follows two sets of couples who find their lives intertwined. Here’s the official synopsis: Noah Baumbach’s exploration of aging, ambition and success, stars Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts as a middle-aged couple whose career and marriage are overturned when a disarming young couple enters their lives. [ThePlaylist]
OH MY GOD THERE’S GONNA BE SO MUCH ENNUI! (*shreds on electric guitar, kicks over fake plant, ponders meaning of life*)
The Imitation Game and The Theory Of Everything.
This year’s TIFF is really a feast of British scientists. If you’re looking for something gay and mathematic, there’s The Imitation Game (trailer), starring Benedict Cumberbatch as legendary mathematician, futurist, and codebreaker (and lawbreaker, alright alright alright) Alan Turing. If it’s disabled physicists you’re after, then there’s The Theory of Everything (trailer), starring Eddie Redmayne. I lean towards The Imitation Game myself, if only because I’m allergic to Eddie Redmayne and the poster heavily implies equations being drawn on windows.
Whatever Movie This Is.
Wait, But What Did You Mean About “If They’ll Let Us?”
It’s quite possible we won’t see any of those films at all. My initial request for TIFF press credentials was denied. At first I assumed it was a repeat of Sundance a few years back, where FilmDrunk was denied credentials on account of being “inappropriate” (which I know because I happened to have a mole in the Sundance press office at the time). I wasn’t entirely surprised to be denied a laminated badge and serious-guy lanyard, probably because I regularly invite people to kiss my ass in my festival previews and my reviews frequently include “your mom” jokes and I do things like nickname Lars Von Trier “Crazy Uncle F*ck Knuckles.” Obviously, being seen as “respectable” was never part of our mission statement (to be fair, Uncle F*ck Knuckles is an awesome nickname). FilmDrunk was always more about making film criticism and movie news sound, you know, more like people who enjoy such things actually talk. About making discussing movies fun for folks who are neither bloodless, Ken doll-crotched art snoots nor infantile fanboys breathlessly awaiting the design of some new Ninja Turtles toy so they can ponder what it might mean for the larger Mattel universe or whatever. I thought people would get the joke at first, but as it turns out, organizations who make it their business to put movies (and especially “awards movies” and “festival movies”) up on a pedestal don’t necessarily like it when you come along and spraypaint mustaches and wieners on all the pedestals (but it’s so fun!). I suppose it makes a sick sort of sense. And not that I regret it. If I have to choose between getting a press badge and being able to talk about the dongs going in, I’m going to pick dongs going in every time. I’m trying to make a site I would actually want to read, that’s all.
That said, I hadn’t had trouble getting credentialed for a good three years before this (SXSW, Berlin, Fantastic Fest – all wonderful people). I talked to a few colleagues who told me TIFF was notoriously difficult about press badges, and that we may not have actually been specifically barred just for being FilmDrunk like with Sundance, and that it may have been just too much demand for press credentials like they claimed (whatever that even means). A few nice folks even wrote the press office some incredibly nice emails on my behalf. On the advice of some of these friends, I called up the press office, to stomp my feet and whine and point out that Uproxx is a top 100 website and why won’t you let me into your party you jerks I really really wanna come! In the nicest way possible, of course. They were very polite (Canadians, after all), and while not offering me full press access, did come to the compromise of offering me five screening vouchers and access to press conferences (at least, that’s how I originally understood it. turns out I have access to *one* press conference). This was more than enough for me to book my plane ticket. Hell, I’ve showed up to festivals with far less than that and it’s always been fine. (I don’t think I would’ve ever seen Winter’s Bone and begun my love affair with Jennifer Lawrence had I not been turned away from some big, buzzy Sundance movie I can’t even remember now and had to see some no-name film about Appalachia starring a teen with glorious cheekbones as a consolation. Damn that was a good movie.).
Only trouble is, I spent the next few weeks trying to figure out where I was supposed to pick up these vouchers and no one seemed to be able to explain what kind of screenings they were for (are they valid for public screenings? press screenings? both? neither?). It turns out, my vouchers entitle me to sit in the extreme front row of any press screening, which I will be allowed to do once all the actual badge holders have been seated and there are still seats available in said theater. And I will be allowed to do this exactly FIVE TIMES. Eh, not so bad, right? Free movies are still free movies (if you don’t factor in airfare, lodging, poutine charges…).
So I asked an orange-shirted volunteer for a hard copy of the press screening schedule.
“Oh, did you not get one?” she asked cheerfully. “They would’ve given one to you when you picked up your press credential and gift bag.”
“I didn’t get one of those,” I admitted, not knowing what else to say.
“Oh,” she said, looking away.
Anyway, to make a long, terribly boring story short, it’s still unclear whether I’ll be seeing all of the films or none of the films at all, whether I’ll be the first to review the hot new Bill Murray and Adam Sandler joints, surfing the foamy crest of awards season buzz into the tube of hella clicks, or if I will be writing 1,000 words about a deaf eskimo’s erotic journey from Milan to Minsk that not even my mother will care about. Stay tuned! In the meantime, I will attempt to steal as much free-to-pass-holders swag that I’m not officially entitled to as I can.