Sprawling Ambition

Well, there goes my idea of an exclusive 2012 New York Film festival debut of Roger Michell‘s Hyde Park on Hudson (Focus, 12.7) because of the political-and-cultural FDR-NY connection…forget it. Because it was announced this morning that Hyde Park is debuting at the 2012 Toronto Film Festival. Will NYFF honcho Scott Foundas accept sloppy seconds?

I’m sitting here and sifting through the first batch of Toronto Film Festival selections as we speak. They were announced this morning at a Toronto press conference.

Where’s Paul Thomas Anderson‘s The Master? I don’t see any Master here. Does this indicate a Scott Foundas-engineered North American exclusivity coup of some kind?

Terrence Malick‘s unsold and possibly troubled To The Wonder, which has been imagined as a space-case Oklahoma love story occuring in the mind of a gifted but undisciplined wackadoodle director, will also turn up in Toronto following its Venice Film Festival premiere.

Joe Wright‘s Anna Karenina will pig out and go crazy with 2012 TIFF exposure.

David O. Russell‘s The Silver Linings Playbook will also play Toronto so there’s another debut that Foundas can’t have. If I were Scott I would get on the stick and land (a) Steven Spielberg‘s Lincoln as the NYFF’s closing-night attraction, (b) Robert Zemeckis‘s Flight and (c) Robert Lorenz and Clint Eastwood‘s Trouble With The Curve.

And Juan Antonio Bayona‘s much-awaited The Impossible will also play Toronto. Will this be the absolute first-anywhere debut, or will this Asian tsunami disaster drama peek out first in Telluride?

And don’t give me any of that “oh, wow!…oh, joy!…Looper in Toronto!” jazz. Rian Johnson‘s sci-fi crime actioner starring Joseph-Gordon Levitt and Bruce Willis is said to be pretty good but watch out for Johnson — the quietly oppressive Brick convinced me that he’ll be a problem for many, many years to come. Besides, Looper opens on 9.28, or two weeks before it plays Toronto…big deal.

Does anyone jump off a skyscraper in Looper? Isn’t it contractually assured that in every big-studio sci-fi, comic-book-based or futuristic actioner a significant character HAS TO JUMP OFF A BUILDING? That may be so but I’m telling you right now that any and all building-jumpings are hereby verboten, and any film that includes one henceforth will suffer the consequences.

Pablo Larrain‘s No, one of the surprise hits of the Cannes Film festival two months ago, will have its major North American exposure at Toronto.

The TIFF Galas and Special Presentations include Ben Affleck‘s Argo (a kind of double-header for Affleck when you add in the Malick), the mind-bending. German-financed, Wachowski/Tom Tykwer Cloud Atlas, Derek Cianfrance‘s The Place Beyond The Pines, Billy Bob Thornton‘s Jayne Mansfield’s Car (which played in Berlin), Robert Redford‘s The Company You Keep (a Lem Dobbs-written thriller about a former ’60s radical on the run after a journalist exposes his identity), Stephen Chobosky‘s The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (a Mr. Mudd production) and David AyersEnd of Watch.

Nicholas Winding Refn‘s Only God Forgives was teased in Cannes (I saw the footage at the Salles du Soixantieme) so where is it?

I don’t have Clue #1 about Noah Baumbach‘s Frances Ha…nothing. But it’ll be in Toronto.

There will also be Stuart Blumberg‘s Thanks For Sharing, Liz GarbusLove, Marilyn (what?), Shola Lynch‘s Free Angela And All Political Prisoners, Deepa Mehta‘s Midnight Children, Mike Newell‘s Great Expectations (Dickens), Rubba Radda‘s Inescapable (sounds too much like The Impossible), Sergio Castellitto‘s Twice Born, Gauri Shinde‘s English Vinglish, Mira Nair‘s The Reluctant Fundamentalist (with Kate effing Hudson?…get outta here), Nikolai Arcel‘s A Royal Affair, Hur Jin-Ho‘s Dangerous Liaisons, Hideki Takeuchi‘s Thermae Romae (too obscure sounding, cross it off), it off), Stuart Blumberg‘s Thanks For Sharing, Robert Puccini and Shari Spring Berman‘s Imogene, Yaron Zilberman‘s A Late Quartet, Joss Whedon‘s Much Ado About Nothing (a growth movie that we’re all going to have to sit through), Nenad Cicin-Sain‘s The Time Being, and Josh Boone‘s Writers.

Other slush-pile contenders include Ramin Bahrani‘s At Any Price, Maiken Baird‘s Venus And Serena, Neil Jordan‘s Byzantium, Dustin Hoffman‘s Quartet, Sally Potter‘s Ginger And Rosa, Ben Timlett, Bill Jones and Jeff Simpson‘s A Liar’s Autobiography, Laurent Cantet‘s Foxfire, Francois Ozon‘s In The House (with Kristin Scott Thomas), Margarethe von Trotta‘s Hannah Arendt, Andrew Adamson‘s Mr. Pip, Costa-GavrasCapital, Ziad Doueiri‘s The Attack, Eran RiklisZaytoun, Baltasar Kormakur‘s The Deep, Nishikawa Miwa‘s Dreams For Sale, Lu Chuan‘s The Last Supper, Chen Kaige‘s Caught In The Web, Marco Bellochhio‘s Dormant Beauty, Ana Piterbarg‘s Everybody Has A Plan, and Joachim Roenning and Espen Sandberg‘s Kon-Tiki.

Not to mention Matteo Garrone‘s Reality (seen and respected but also dismissed in Cannes). Stephane Brize‘s A Few Hours Of Spring, Thomas Vinterberg‘s The Hunt, Ariel Vromen‘s The Iceman, Cate Shortland‘s Lore, Takeshi Kitano‘s Outrage Beypmd and Jacques Audiard‘s excellent Rust And Bone.

26 thoughts on “Sprawling Ambition

  1. Jordan is a marginal guy at this stage. He was all the rage in the ’80s and ’90s, but now he’s past it and just hanging on. Could he rebound? Of course, and good for him if he does. But right now he’s flatlining. Or so it seems.

  2. Marginal? Ondine was a charming misfire, but Breakfast on Pluto and The Good Thief are two of his better films. He just happens to work slowly these days. Truly D.Z. Sr.

  3. No, Jordan is “over” for now. Been that way for some time. No hostility intended — just fact. Like I said, he could rebound, and good if he does.

  4. There are rumors that The Master will screen at Fantastic Fest and also very likely Venice. NYFF is running out of options though for opening/closing night exclusives, which they should have since it’s the 50th year and all.

  5. A ton of strong gets here for TIFF.

    The “North American Premier” has really become the thing these days.

    It’s healthy to take the U.S. and N.Y.C. in particular down a notch from time to time to just remind us we ain’t the whole damn world.

  6. Trouble With the Curve opens commercially the same day as the NYFF (September 28th). I guess having Eastwood in attendance on opening night wouldn’t be a bad thing, but it wouldn’t be much of a coup either.

  7. “Nicholas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives was teased in Cannes (I saw the footage at the Salles du Soixantieme) so where is it?”

    Drive wasn’t confirmed for TIFF until just before the TIFF schedule was released (mid to late August). It will more than likely play there, and/or Venice.

  8. Speaking of directors who are “over,” I didn’t realize that Takeshi Kitano was making a sequel to OUTRAGE.

    Outrage has been in my Netflix queu since it appeared many months ago but I’ve been reluctant to watch it after suffering through his barrage of crap over the past decade.

    Worth seeing?

  9. Nothing to get excited about. Straightforward (but gory!!!) yakuza/world-weary tough guy business, basically a less labored Brother minus the American angle (but with a dubious African angle). If that sounds up your street, then knock yourself out. Takeshis’ seemed like such an obvious summing-up I’m surprised he didn’t announce his retirement then; the years since have basically been one long shoulder-shrug and the fact he’s done a sequel to what was more or less admittedly a cash grab (which didn’t even leave much room for a sequel) is kinda depressing.

  10. I get that Neil Jordan’s over in that Byzantine is his fifth movie in about 13 years, and hardly anyone saw Breakfast on Pluto or Ondine. I had to look up The Good Thief. In Jordan’s defense, he’s spent a lot of time lately on Showtime’s The Borgias, but his hot streak was definitely the 90′s.

  11. Unless he was kidding when I talked to him in late June (which could very well be), Refn will finish “Only God Forgives” in November at the earliest, but he said he will take his time and that the movie will be finished when it’s finished. So look out for it sometime in 2013, Berlin or more likely, I guess, Cannes. Then again…

  12. Of the announced films, here’s the five I’m most interested in seeing (granted, a lot of these I know nothing about…):

    1. Cloud Atlas: Sounds utterly fascinating, and I love the Wachowskis. I’ve just recently started the novel.

    2. To the Wonder: Malick. ‘Nuff said.

    3. Silver Linings Playbook: Russell always brings the juice, and I’d be shocked if this wacky yarn was any exception. The cast seems like a mixed bag, though (thrilled about the prospects of J-Law, Weaver, and a revitalized De Niro; notsomuch for Cooper, Stiles, and…Chris Tucker???).

    4. Argo: Affleck has not directed a bad film. Felt weird to type that, but (whoop) there it is.

    5. Looper: Haven’t been thrilled with Johnson’s output thus far, but I’m more than willing to forgive if this delivers the way it could. This will probably either make him or break him as a commercial filmmaker depending on how it performs (critically and financially).

    Redford’s movie is possibly one to watch (I’m probably one of the last young-ish dudes to still anticipate a new release by him), esp. with the involvement of Dobbs — who CAN breathe new life into seemingly rote material (but not always).

    What’s with all the adaptations of classic literature, though? I can pretty much envision EXACTLY how Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina and Mike Newell’s Great Expectations unspool without watching a single frame (at least Whedon and Gavras will attempt to throw a few curves, although I’m still not really that interested).

  13. I thought Ondine was fantastic. Beautiful little film, should have been a cinematography nom. Colin Farrell v committed as usual.

    Didn’t bother with the hackery before that with Jodie Foster, but brother’s gotta eat I guess.

  14. I didn’t like Ondine much (which is surprising given how much it would seem to play to Jordan’s strengths) but Breakfast on Pluto and The Good Thief are superb. The Brave One, meanwhile, is a genuine masterpiece, one of the finest films of the last decade, despite the inclination of some to dismiss it as “hackery” sight unseen.

  15. I loved The Brave One when I saw it in ’07, but for some reason it didn’t hold up a few years later. Still an oddly both brutal and witty film, just second tier. Also completely forgot it was Neil Jordan.

  16. (turns back impetuously)
    Seriously, anyone who so casually dismisses Breakfast on Pluto as “flatlining” has no business calling themselves a Movie Catholic. Pun intended. Moneychangers begone!

  17. “Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing (a growth movie that we’re all going to have to sit through)”

    It’s a Shakespeare adaptation starring his friends that he shot in Santa Monica over a couple weeks. Might be good, might suck, but it’s hardly homework. How many big shot Hollywood directors can you name who do stuff like this on the side *because they just actually enjoy making movies*?

  18. for the record, the Costa-Gavras film is not based on Marx’s Capital, it’s based on a French novel of the same title from 2004

    of course you don’t call your novel (or film) “Capital” unless you’re trying to conjure up Marx in some way, but it’s not like he’s trying to pick up where Eisenstein left off (or Alexander Kluge for that matter)

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