Okay, I doubt Charles Bronson will be there, but if anyone could pull it off, Colin Geddes could.
There are few things I look forward to with more fervor each year than Toronto's Midnight Madness selection each year. Programmer Colin Geddes is not just a phenomenal ringleader, an instigator of a controlled cinema riot every single night of the festival, but he is also a tremendous friend, the sort of person who is a pleasure to bump into anywhere at any festival in the world.
Today, the announcement was made of his line-up, and my first reaction is, “I can vouch for some of those.” I really liked “The Guest” when I saw it at Sundance, and I think it's got one of the weirdest performances of the year in the form of Dan Stevens, previously best known for “Downton Abbey.” It's from the same team who brought you “You're Next,” and at this point, Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard are enjoying a somewhat unprecedented run of festival success. Between their work on the “V/H/S” films and this movie and “You're Next,” I feel like I can count on seeing them as invited guests at every single festival I attend. Which is fine… they keep bringing such fun things.
When I saw David Robert Mitchell's “It Follows” at Cannes, I thought it was effectively creepy. As I've chewed on it, what I like about it most is the way it sort of works as a highly moralistic teenage horror film (reading this as a warning about STDs is easy), but one that plays like a sweaty hallucination. It is well-acted, with a pretty tremendous scream queen all-timer of a performance from Maika Monroe.
The last of the films that I've already seen is “What We Do In The Shadows,” and again… I'm a big fan. It is a brutally funny movie, and about as genre-wise as any genre comedy I can name in the last five years. Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi are both insane… not in a slangy way, either, but quite possibly deranged, and it just happens that if you bounce Clement's madness off of Waititi's, it's pretty much impossible for me to stop laughing. Scene for scene, shot for shot, joke for joke, this is the closest thing there is right now to the model for how to make a genre comedy.
Because Colin Geddes programmed it, and because I believe in miracles, I am going to break my promise that was contained in my “Red State” review. I am going to go see “Tusk,” and I'm certainly curious to see what Smith's been up to. It would be a delight to report that he is energized and doing something intriguing. I will be as open to it as I will to anything else that's playing at the festival. If you haven't seen the trailer yet, check it out:
There's a very good chance that I may be more excited to see “Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story Of Cannon Films” than I am to see anything else at Toronto this year, and I make no apologies. “Not Quite Hollywood” flattened me. It was such a great and energetic ride through an entire landscape of Australian exploitation film history, and director Mark Hartley made a movie, not just a clips reel. Telling the story of Cannon Film using clips and interviews sounds like a slam dunk even if it's just talking heads, which it won't be. Hartley's too good at what he does.
Sion Sono's been on fire lately. I think “Love Exposure” is the sort of film that makes a director permanently interesting, and even if he'd just made okay movies since, he'd still be a guy I paid attention to. “Cold Fish” is harrowing, though, “The Land Of Hope” is this startlingly grown-up left turn, “Guilty Of Romance” is a dark and freaky cop story, and “Why Don't You Play In Hell?” is… actually, describing that one is probably unfair. Suffice it to say, Sono hasn't been stuttering. He's made different films each time, and he approaches each of them like it's the only film he's ever going to get to make. “Tokyo Tribe,” his latest, is an adaptation of a big giant hit gangster manga, and I can't wait to see it on opening night.
Manuela Velasco's back? Then definitely count me in for “[REC] 4: Apocalypse.” Jaume Balaguero, who sat out the third film in the series, is back for this one, and it sounds like a direct sequel, picking up as Angel Vidal (Velasco) is rescued and taken to an oil tanker for debriefing. She may be carrying something now, though, something that is going to be very bad news for everyone else onboard, and yes… let's do that. I hope they wrap the series up with style.
That leaves two films that I don't have some firm idea about ahead of time, and there should always be room for discovery with a Midnight Madness line-up. “The Cub” is a Belgian film about what happens on a particularly bad Cub Scout camping trip, and “Big Game” is an English/German film about what happens when a 13 year old boy and the President end up engaged in a bizarre cat-and-mouse on a mountainside. That's all I know, and frankly, that's all I want to know.
It sounds like another great year for Colin and TIFF and Midnight Madness fans, and I'm going to be there covering all of it for you.
The 39th Toronto International Film Festival opens September 4 and runs to the 14th.