13 Movies to See in Toronto

... or to catch when they come out later this year

13 Movies to See in Toronto

I’ve been too busy getting my pre-festival ducks neatly lined up to post much this week, but readers should look forward in the coming days to reviews and impressions from the 2022 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival (September 8 through 18). One of the signal starting guns of the fall movie season, it’s a place to gorge on feature films and documentaries from around the world, some of which will loom large in any end-of-year discussions and others of which will … not. And it’s never predictable: Some of the starriest movies in Toronto over the years have made the biggest face plants, and some of the darkest of horses have become the most celebrated. I’ve been going to TIFF since the late 1990s, and the thrill remains the same: Taking one’s seat in the dark and expecting anything to happen. Here’s a baker’s dozen of Toronto movies I’m looking forward to seeing the most. All will be coming to a theater – or a streaming platform – near you over the next three months.

The Banshees of Inisherin – Writer-director Martin McDonagh had a hit in 2017 with “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” but his latest film reunites him with Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, the stars of the filmmaker’s beloved cult movie “In Bruges” (2008). The two play old friends who turn against each other in a bucolic Irish setting where resentments build toward violence. If it sounds closer to McDonagh’s theater work than one of his more cinematic endeavors, reviews out of Venice have been rhapsodic. (In theaters Oct. 21)

Broker – Japan’s Hirokazu Kore-eda travels to South Korea for what appears on the surface to be a crime drama about traffickers in stolen babies. If you’ve seen any of this filmmaker’s work, though — his 2004 breakthrough “Nobody Knows” or 2018’s incandescent “Shoplifters” — you know his obsession with abandonments, connections, and makeshift families. (TBA)

Chevalier – A lavish biopic of Joseph Bologne, the celebrated Creole violinist and composer who conducted the leading orchestra in Paris and at one point was literally Mozart’s next-door neighbor. A Black “Amadeus”? We’ll see. But the presence of the busy, charismatic Kelvin Harrison Jr. (“Luce,” “Waves,” “Cyrano,” B.B. King in “Elvis”) in the lead is promising. (TBA)

Corsage – Devoted readers know of my admiration for the Luxembourg-born actress Vicky Krieps, most well-known for giving Daniel Day-Lewis the business in “Phantom Thread.”  (She’s also in a terrific puzzle film called “Hold Me Tight,” opening theatrically this week.) In Marie Kreutzer’s film, Krieps plays the 19th-century Empress Elisabeth of Austria, pushing back against husband Emperor Franz Joseph while cinching her corsets tighter, ever tighter. (Dec. 23)

The Eternal Daughter – Tilda Swinton played mother to her own daughter in Joanna Hogg’s autobiographical “The Souvenir” (2019) and “The Souvenir Part II” (2021), and now Hogg has Swinton playing both mother and daughter in a moody, spectral take on Victorian Gothic dramas. Swinton is one of the cinema’s great changelings, and it’ll be fascinating to see her for once play against herself. (TBA)

The Fabelmans – Not much is known about Steven Spielberg’s 34th feature film other than that it’s an autobiographical gloss on his own growing up as a movie-besotted suburban kid reeling from his parents’ divorce. The young hero, Sammy Fabelman, is played by newcomer Gabriel LaBelle, while Michelle Williams plays the mother, Paul Dano the father, and Seth Rogen an influential family friend. No trailers for this one and no advance stills — just high expectations. (Nov. 23)

Living – Who knows why novelist Kazuo Ishiguro (“The Remains of the Day”) felt the need to script a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 classic “Ikiru” (“To Live”), about a gray postwar bureaucrat blooming under the death sentence of a cancer diagnosis, but they’ve gone and cast Bill Nighy in the lead, and that’s good enough for me. (Dec. 23)

Mariupolis 2 — In 2016, filmmaker Mantas Kvedaravičius made “Mariupolis,” about the Ukrainian city of Mairupol during earlier Russian incursions. Early this year, he returned to document the survival tactics of citizens under relentless bombardment and to celebrate their stubborn will to live and overcome. On April 2, Kvedaravičius was killed by Russian soldiers; his widow smuggled his new footage out of Ukraine. What remains is a memorial to an artist and a testament to the city he loved.

No Bears – What do you do when you’re a moviemaker whose government has forbidden you to make movies? You find novel solutions. Jafar Panahi (“This is Not a Film”) has been end-running the Iranian authorities since being placed under house arrest in 2010, and his latest has him directing a film crew and actors just over the Turkish border while he stays safely in Iran. The film’s a parallel narrative of escape and accusation; as always, its refractions of real life will have real bite. (October)

Sidney – A biography of Sidney Poitier, with narration provided by the late, great actor himself, from filmmaker Reginald Hudson (“House Party,” “Marshall”). (Apple TV+, Sept. 23)

The Son – With 2020’s “The Father,” playwright Florian Zellner proved himself a formidable filmmaker while winning an Oscar for Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins also appears as a grandfather in “The Son,” which despite its title is not a sequel but a new story about an emotionally troubled young man (Zen McGrath) and his relationship with parents Laura Dern and Hugh Jackman. Early word is that it’s one of the strongest performance of Jackman’s career. (Nov. 11)

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story – Playing in the festival’s “Midnight Madness” sidebar, Eric Appel’s life story of the beloved song parodist plays about as straight as you’d expect — i.e., not at all. (That’s Rainn Wilson as Dr. Demento at right in the photo above, by the way.) In the lead, Daniel Radcliffe continues his fascinating journey away from Harry Potter. (Nov. 4)

Women Talking – A group of Mennonite women gather in a hayloft to discuss their community’s history of abuse. Director Sarah Polley has grown from an actress of no small talent (“The Sweet Hereafter”) to a director of uncommon gifts — please see her brilliantly tricky 2012 documentary “Stories We Tell” if you haven’t already — and her cast here is powerhouse: Frances McDormand, Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, and Judith Ivey. (Dec. 22)

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