Thursday, August 28, 2014

My 2014 Films

My picks for 2014:

  • 1001 Grams (Bent Hamer, Norway/Germany/France): Saw Hamer's Home for Christmas back in 2010, this sounds like a fun film.
  • Before We Go (Chris Evans, USA): While Evans might be best known for Captain America, this marks his directorial debut, and from some interviews I've read, may be the direction he takes career-wise once his Marvel commitments are over and done with. A friend pointed out this year there are a number of films somewhat similar in nature to Before Sunrise, this being among them. I like both Evans (in films as varied as Captain America, Scott Pilgrim, and Snowpiercer) as well as Alice Eve, so I'm interested to see how this turns out.
  • Cake (Daniel Barnz, USA): I like both Jennifer Aniston and Anna Kendrick, so picked this one for both of them.
  • Clouds of Sils Maria (Olivier Assayas, France/USA): got some good buzz out of Cannes, plus I've seen a number of Assayas' and Juliette Binoche's films at the festival (sometimes together, sometimes not). Was disappointed by Words and Pictures last year, but I'm holding out hope for this film this year.
  • Force Majeure (Ruben Ostlund, Sweden/Norway/Denmark/France): another one I heard buzz about from Cannes, about the effect of a father's actions when he thinks he and his family are about to die, but don't.
  • Kabukicho Love Hotel (Ryuichi Hiroki, Japan): this film about people intersecting in a red-light district in Tokyo sounded interesting; I didn't realize that the star, Shota Sometani, is in another film I'm seeing this year (Tokyo Tribe).
  • Kill Me Three Times (Kriv Stenders, Australia): sounds like an over-the-top, noir-ish film set in the Australian outback. Have to admit one of the main reasons for picking this is the photo of a black-clad, mustachioed Simon Pegg holding a rifle.
  • The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness (Mami Sunada, Japan): I'm seeing this documentary about Studio Ghibli back to back with The Tale of The Princess Kaguya. Having seen a number of Ghibli and Miyazaki films over the years, I'm really interested to get a look behind-the-scenes.
  • Laggies (Lynn Shelton, USA): Keira Knightley plays a woman stuck in a state of arrested development since high school who gets a push out of her rut when her longtime boyfriend proposes to her. I like Knightley, and enjoyed her in last year's Can a Song Save Your Life?
  • The Last Five Years (Richard LaGravenese, USA): Anna Kendrick is probably the only thing that could get me to see a musical like this, although I've liked some of LaGravenese's other work.
  • Mavericks Conversation with Juliette Binoche: Having seen so many of her films at the festival over the years, was a no-brainer to pick this extended Q&A with her.
  • Monsoon (Sturla Gunnarsson, Canada): intriguing look at the impact of this natural phenomenon on India. I've seen a couple of Gunnarsson's other films at the festival including Beowulf & Grendel, and Force of Nature.
  • October Gale (Ruba Nadda, Canada): a thriller starring Patricia Clarkson and Scott Speedman.
  • Over Your Dead Body (Takashi Miike, Japan): set in a theatre during rehearsals for production of a Kabuki play rife with murder and betrayal, life soon begins to imitate art. 
  • Revivre (Im Kwon-taek, South Korea): a businessman with an ailing wife struggles with his feelings for his younger coworker, against his dedication to his family.
  • Seymour: An Introduction (Ethan Hawke, USA): Hawke directed this documentary about classical musician Seymour Bernstein, that takes its focus from the question of why should anyone make art? Sounds like an interesting study, plus my girlfriend is a fan of Hawke's work.
  • The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (Isao Takahata, Japan): a film from Studio Ghibli co-founder Takahata, this film seems very visually distinct from Ghibli's (and Takahata's) normal style.
  • Tokyo Fiancee (Stefan Liberski, Belgium/Canada/France): a Belgian woman obsessed with Japanese culture falls in love with a Japanese man obsessed with French culture.
  • Tokyo Tribe (Sion Sono, Japan): based on a manga, this film is placed in a futuristic Tokyo beset by warring gangs and set ro a driving hip-hop beat.
  • The Tribe (Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy, Ukraine): a new student at a boarding school for the deaf and mute falls in with a gang of fellow students that revel in criminal behaviour from theft to prostitution, but soon falls afoul of friends.
  • Winter Sleep (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey/France/Germany): I always mean to see one of Ceylan's films but never seem to get around to it. I'm disappointed I never got to see Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, so I made an effort this year to pick his latest, which won the Palme d'Or at Cannes this year.
You can also view this list at


I'll be at the Sept 7 screening of 1001 Grams. I've been interested in the "kilogram issue" for a while; it's the only SI unit based on a particular object rather than a fundamental constant or property of physics, and there have been various proposals to "modernize" the definition of the unit. I certainly never imagined a feature-length comedy would be made on this matter! (Maybe a documentary.) Also I noticed that TIFF this year has two chess-themed films (Pawn Sacrifice and The Dark Horse) and one about the International Mathematical Olympiad (X + Y); overall probably a higher geek quotient than any TIFF in recent memory. (Not even counting The Theory of Everything.)

My experiences at the Toronto International Film Festival. Note this blog is not affiliated with the Toronto International Film Festival Group or the festival itself.
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