Outlaw King TIFF

The opening and closing night films at TIFF have been announced. David Mackenzie’s Outlaw King, starring Chris Pine, will open the fest, while Justin Kelly, Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy, starring Laura Dern and Kristen Stewart, will close. More info on these titles, and what else to look forward to at TIFF below.

The TIFF titles keep on coming. Today, the festival announced the big opening and closing night films. Outlaw King reunites the Hell or High Water team of Chris Pine and David Mackenzie to tell the story of Robert the Bruce – someone you might remember from Braveheart. Here’s the synopsis:

Outlaw King follows the untold, true story of Robert the Bruce, who transforms from defeated nobleman to outlaw hero during the oppressive occupation of medieval Scotland by Edward I of England. Despite grave consequences, Robert seizes the Scottish crown and rallies an impassioned group of men to fight back against the mighty army of the tyrannical King and his volatile son, the Prince of Wales.

I like Pine as an actor, but I’m curious to see if he’s going to be able to perform the accent required for this part. Outlaw King will play on September 6.

The closing night film will be Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy, starring Laura Dern and Kristen Stewart. This is the true story of author J.T. Leroy, who didn’t actually exist. Instead, author Laura Albert created J.T. Leroy as a pen name of sorts, and was then forced to concoct an elaborate, lengthy hoax after the books of “J.T. Leroy” because literature sensations. This material was covered in the excellent documentary Author: The JT LeRoy Story, and while I’m usually against the idea of remaking documentaries as feature films, the casting of Dern and Stewart is too exciting to ignore. Here’s the synopsis:

This captivating true story goes beyond the headlines to reveal the most compelling literary hoax of our generation. Laura Albert (Laura Dern) is an author who writes under a fictionalized persona, a disenfranchised young queer man named JT LeRoy. When her debut novel becomes a bestseller and JT becomes the darling of the literary world, she comes up with a unique solution to preserve her anonymity while giving life to her nom-de-plume. Enter her boyfriend’s androgynous sister, Savannah Knoop (Kristen Stewart), who connects with Laura’s punk, feminist, outsider universe and agrees to be JT in the public eye. Together, they embark on a wild ride of double lives, infiltrating the Hollywood and literary elite — and discovering who they are in the process.

I’ll be on the ground at TIFF this year representing /Film (watch for my reviews!), and I couldn’t be more thrilled. The lineup this year is truly stellar, and there are still more titles to be announced. First, some highlights.

a star is born tiff

A Star Is Born

Perhaps the most high-profile film at TIFF this year is Bradley Cooper‘s A Star Is Born remake. This film has had Oscar buzz for months, and only a handful of people have seen it so far. Cooper retells the classic tale with Lady Gaga in the lead as a woman with a killer singing voice and very little confidence. Cooper’s washed-up musician character helps nurture Ms. Gaga into a star (the titular star, you could say). The trailer for this flick was almost shockingly great, and while I hate getting caught up in awards season buzz before December, I have to admit I’m pretty damn excited for this.

Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut tells the story of a seasoned musician who discovers — and falls in love with — a struggling artist, but, even as her career takes off, he fights an ongoing battle with his own internal demons.

 

First Man TIFF

First Man

La La Land director Damien Chazelle reunites with Ryan Gosling for First Man, a biopic about Neil Armstrong. Even though Armstrong is one of the most famous men in American history, there has somehow never been a big screen biopic devoted to his life. Chazelle is going to change that, and based on what we’ve seen so far, the film looks promising – if a bit derivative of The Right Stuff. I know Chazelle got a lot of blowback during La La Land‘s awards season run, but I think he’s an incredibly gifted filmmaker, and I think First Man is going to deliver.

The Academy Award–winning team of director Damien Chazelle and star Ryan Gosling (La La Land) reunites for this biopic on the adventures and life of Neil Armstrong, from his entry into NASA’s astronaut program in 1961 to his epoch-making walk on the moon eight years later.

 

Widows TIFF

Widows

12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen has assembled one of the best casts of all time – Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Colin Farrell, Brian Tyree Henry, Daniel Kaluuya, Garret Dillahunt, Carrie Coon, Jacki Weaver, Jon Bernthal, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo with Robert Duvall and Liam Neeson – for this slick-looking heist flick. Davis leads a team of widows (hey, that’s the title!) who have to come together to finish the heist their husbands died starting. This looks both pulpy and smart.

A heavyweight cast — including Viola Davis, Daniel Kaluuya, Liam Neeson, Jacki Weaver, Colin Farrell, and Michelle Rodriguez — propels Steve McQueen’s white-knuckle thriller (co-written by Gone Girl’s Gillian Flynn) about four women left in a deadly lurch when their criminally connected husbands are all killed.

 

If Beale Street TIFF

If Beale Street Could Talk

Moonlight director Barry Jenkins is back with If Beale Street Could Talk, an adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel of the same name. Moonlight was phenomenal – one of the best films of the 21st century. Which means I’m all-in on pretty much everything Jenkins does from here on out. The story focuses on a woman trying to free her falsely accused husband from prison. Jenkins said adapting the novel to the screen “was about trying to coalesce the thoughts and ideas in the book into something that felt like cinema and not like literature.”

Director Barry Jenkins’ ambitious follow-up to Moonlight adapts James Baldwin’s poignant novel about a woman fighting to free her falsely accused husband from prison before the birth of their child.

 

Beautiful Boy TIFF

Beautiful Boy

Call Me By Your Name star Timothée Chalamet is coming for that Oscar nom again, so watch out. Chalamet stars in Beautiful Boy as a young man struggling with a meth addiction. Steve Carell plays his very concerned father trying to get him clean. This looks like it’s going to be an emotional rollercoaster, so bring some tissues and/or handkerchiefs.

The English-language debut from Felix Van Groeningen (The Broken Circle Breakdown) chronicles the meth addiction and recovery of a young man (Timothée Chalamet) through the eyes of his pained father (Steve Carell).

High Life TIFF

High Life

Claire Denis makes her English language debut with this sci-fi film starring Robert Pattinson. Much of the film has been kept under-wraps, but Denis is one of the best of the best (seek out Trouble Every Day immediately), and Pattinson has grown into a very strong actor. The story focuses on a group of criminals in space, looking for an alternate form of energy. Denis has been trying to make this movie for years – at one point she wanted Philip Seymour Hoffman to star – but now High Life is almost here.

Master French filmmaker Claire Denis’s long-anticipated English-language debut and provocative sci-fi drama stars Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, Mia Goth, and André Benjamin as a group of criminals sent into deep space.

 

The Sisters Brothers TIFF

The Sisters Brothers

The Sisters Brothers looks stylish and strange, and boasts a fine cast to boot. Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly play a pair of outlaw brothers sent to kill a prospector. A team-up of Phoenix and Reilly is too good too ignore. Jacques Audiard, who directed A ProphetRust and Bone and Dheepan, helms the film, and it looks like he and cinematographer Benoît Debie have conjured up a rich visual style for this neo-Western (watch the trailer here).

Joaquin Phoenix, John C. Reilly, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Riz Ahmed headline Jacques Audiard’s (DheepanRust and Bone) adaptation of Patrick deWitt’s award-winning western novel about the picaresque adventures of two brothers sent to kill a prospector accused of stealing from a tyrannical crime boss.

 

Burning

Burning

Lee Chang-dong‘s Burning played at Cannes this year, and the reviews were ecstatic. The Village Voice review states: “Lee Chang-dong’s dexterity with the telling minutiae of human interactions ensures that Burning makes for an emotionally gripping film.” IndieWire says: “Burning keeps twisting back on itself, charting the path of a man waking up to the world, only to find that it won’t stop messing with him.” Vox adds: “It’s gripping and unnerving, a noir-style mystery with no answers that goes in entirely unexpected directions (and harbors a hint of William Faulkner too).” The film focuses on three individuals involved in a mysterious incident.

In this thriller from director Lee Chang-dong, based on a short story by Haruki Murakami, a young man grows suspicous about the motives of a deceptive interloper who is hanging around with his childhood friend–turned–burgeoning love interest.

 

It’s worth noting that this is not the full lineup: there is always a second round, which will include Midnight Madness titles (fingers crossed for Suspiria). In the meantime, here’s the lineup as of now.

GALAS 2018
“Beautiful Boy,” Felix van Groeningen, USA
“Galveston,” Mélanie Laurent, USA
“Everybody Knows,” Asghar Farhadi, Spain/France/Italy
“First Man,” Damien Chazelle, USA
“The Hate U Give,” George Tillman, Jr., USA
“Hidden Man,” Jiang Wen, China
“High Life,” Claire Denis, Germany/France/Poland/United Kingdom
“Husband Material,” Anurag Kashyap, India
“The Kindergarten Teacher,” Sara Colangelo, USA
“The Land of Steady Habits,” Nicole Holofcener, USA
“Life Itself,” Dan Fogelman, USA
“The Public,” Emilio Estevez, USA
“Red Joan,” Sir Trevor Nunn, United Kingdom
“A Star is Born,” Bradley Cooper, USA
“Shadow,” Zhang Yimou, China
“What They Had,” Elizabeth Chomko, USA
“Widows,” Steve McQueen, United Kingdom/USA

SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS 2018
“Ben is Back,” Peter Hedges, USA
“Burning,” Lee Chang-dong, South Korea
“Can You Ever Forgive Me?” Marielle Heller, USA
“Capernaum,” Nadine Labaki, Lebanon
“Cold War,” Pawe? Pawlikowski, Poland/UnitedKingdom/France
“Colette,” Wash Westmoreland, United Kingdom
“Dogman,” Matteo Garrone, Italy/France
“The Front Runner,” Jason Reitman, USA
“Giant Little Ones,” Keith Behrman, Canada
“Girls of the Sun (Les filles du soleil),” Eva Husson, France
“Hotel Mumbai,” Anthony Maras, Australia
“The Hummingbird Project,” Kim Nguyen, Canada
“If Beale Street Could Talk,” Barry Jenkins, USA
“Maya,” Mia Hansen-Løve, France
“Manto,” Nandita Das, India
“Monsters and Men,” Reinaldo Marcus Green, USA
“Mouthpiece,” Patricia Rozema, Canada
“Non-Fiction,” Olivier Assayas, France
“The Old Man & the Gun,” David Lowery, USA
“Papi Chulo,” John Butler, Ireland
“Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón, Mexico/USA
”Shoplifters,” Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan
“The Sisters Brothers,” Jacques Audiard, USA/France/Romania/Spain
“Sunset,” László Nemes, Hungary/France
“Through Black Spruce,” Don McKellar, Canada
“The Weekend,” Stella Meghie, USA
“Where Hands Touch,” Amma Asante, United Kingdom
“White Boy Rick,” Yann Demange, USA
“Wildlife,” Paul Dano, USA

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