TIFF 2012 – Top 10 Most Anticipated Genre Movies (Matt Hodgson)

For cinephiles in Toronto the time is nearly upon us to walk into the fray known as the Toronto International Film Festival. It may be busy as hell and it may cost a few bucks more than $20 for a ticket, but it’s all worth it as there is no better time during the year to watch the latest and greatest in terms of film. Here at Entertainment Maven we have been posting about our most anticipated selections for this year’s festival. Personally, I will watch anything so long as it is reputed to be good or looks good, but I have a soft spot (or dark spot) in my heart for anything ‘genre’ related. Sometimes difficult to define, to me a genre film features something wicked, weird, or fantastical. Below are the top 10 genre films that I am looking forward to checking out at this year’s fest. You should too, because they look incredible!

10. Thale

Out of Norway comes a tale (hah!) about a fantastic creature found by two forensic clean-up men in a cabin deep in the woods. Helmed by a first time director, I don’t really know what to expect from Thale, but that is half the fun. It looks original and will hopefully defy the cliches typically found in backwoods cabin movies.

9. No One Lives

The latest offering from Ryuhei Kitamura, the man responsible for Versus and The Midnight Meat Train. The story about road bandits and less than helpless victims sounds very similar to last year’s runaway success, You’re Next. Here’s hoping this recurring formula proves to be a winning one at Midnight Madness.

8. Motorway

A cocky young cop tries to take down one of the best getaway drivers  in Hong Kong. I don’t even need to know anything else about this project because it sounds like it will be action-packed from the first minute to the last. The Raid with cars? We’ll have to wait and see!

7. Painless

Painless may be the most intelligent horror/thriller on the docket. The story is about a young neurosurgeon who miraculously survives a devastating car crash, only to learn about his past which may or may not involve a history of bizarre experiments. The script was also co-written by one of the writers responsible for [REC]. Sign me up!

6. Berberian Sound Studio

Berberian Sound Studio could possibly be a Giallo movie that takes place behind the scenes during the making of a Giallo movie. This has the potential to be a taut thriller in a unique environment that has been lost in the annals of time. I’m really expecting a lot from Berberian, I hope my expectations aren’t too high.

5. Sightseers

The next movie from Ben Wheatley, the director of last year’s Kill List. Kill List just happens to be one of my favourite films from last year. A remarkable movie that sucks you in from the beginning and doesn’t loosen its grip until well after the final credits have rolled. Sightseers looks to be more similar to Wheatley’s first film, Down Terrace, but who knows what to expect from this talented director.

4. Dredd 3D

I was ready to write off Dredd 3D as mainstream crap, but after watching the first 20 seconds of the trailer the movie has rapidly climbed my ‘most anticipated films’ list. Dredd 3D looks like Strange Days on crack, and that is a very very good thing.

3. The ABCs of Death

The ABCs of death is an ambitious project: 26 directors around the world agreed to make 26 short films about the brutality and beauty of death, with each letter of the alphabet corresponding to a word, which in turn describes a certain way to die. Entirely fictional (I hope), ABCs has the potential to be one of the most talked about movies at the festival.

2. Seven Psychopaths

In Bruges happens to be one of my favourite movies of recent memory, so much so that I actually went to Bruges simply because of the movie. Seven Psychopaths is the latest offering from Martin McDonagh, the man responsible for the previously mentioned Belgian crime/thriller. Featuring an all-star cast and an outrageous storyline. Seven Psychopaths will hopefully be one of the best movies of the festival.

1. John Dies at the End

Finally my most anticipated genre film of 2012. John Dies at the End is one of the most hilarious, outrageous, and charismatic books that I have ever read. I can only hope that the cinematic translation will be of the same quality. If you like ‘weird’ then you can’t miss this film!

See you at TIFF!

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TIFF 2012 – Top 10 Anticipated Female Performances (Paolo Kagaoan)

The greatest female performance I’ve seen so far this year is Zoe Kazan in the titular Ruby Sparks, a role that she wrote for herself. Now I don’t think that I need to ‘rectify’ anything but I’m sure you’re all thinking that I need to watch more movies. Well, TIFF fixes that. In ten days, the festival gives us a dose of what will be in our theatres for the next season, and they are also a way for actresses – established, relatively obscure or upcoming ones – to show what they’ve got to the most eager and eclectic movie lovers in the world.

Marion Cotillard in Rust and Bone – This seems like a quiet movie but then I watched the trailer and saw Cotillard play fifty interpretations of broken. She was always third in my mind, especially with her clunky work in American movies that can only be described as passable. But this film might just make her jump to first in my heart.

Keira Knightley in Anna Karenina – Keira Knightly is a good actress, and some people agree with me on this, ok? (Eds note – Where’s the proof?) If she pulls this off, she can complete her hat trick of overlooked awesomeness, pulling the rug out from under actors like Carey Mulligan and Michael Fassbender in movies like Never Let Me Go? and A Dangerous Method.

Maggie Smith in Quartet – Back up other festivals because we TIFFers get to see Quartet first. This movie, based on Ronald Harwood’s play, is Dustin Hoffman’s highly-anticipated directorial debut and he has Maggie Smith on his team playing Jean, an opera singer stirring things up in a retirement home for a musical clientele. Will she do her own singing? It doesn’t matter because she’s Maggie fricking Smith.

Zhang Ziyi in Dangerous Liaisons – Director Hur Jun-ho gives one of my favourite actresses ever, Zhang Ziyi, a great challenge in casting her in this new adaptation of Cholderos de Laclos’ epistolary novel of the same name. She plays Du Fenyu, based on the character Madame de Tourvel, a woman of 1930’s Shanghai whose innocence comes into conflict with a blossoming sexuality. The trailer already shows how she can convey desire and sorrow, marking a truly great actress.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead in Smashed – Mary Elizabeth Winstead is my MVP in 2010’s Scott Pilgrim because of her voice and poise, giving the love interest archetype a different colour. Winstead retells Ramona Flowers’ troubled past but in James Ponsoldt’s Smashed she makes her audience confront Kate Hannah’s present drug addiction. The buzz for her performance here has started in Sundance and it will continue to build until the whole world will get to see what her talent can offer.

Isabelle Huppert in Dormant Beauty – Huppert’s buzzier film is Amour but she’s barely mentioned in reviews of that movie, despite being Isabelle Huppert, who I would call the best French actress ever had I seen The Piano Teacher. She leads an ensemble cast who have to live amongst people with comas. I’m not trying to dissuade you from seeing Amour but that movie will come out and depress you during winter. This might not get limited distribution here in Canada.

Olivia Williams in Hyde Park on Hudson – Early reviews have not been nice to this movie and, if I take their word for it, it deserves the lack of praise. Director Roger Michell’s takes us to the story of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s (Bill Murray) affair with his cousin (Laura Linney), but I hope that Olivia Williams will show her usual innate strength in playing FDR’s wife Eleanor, without relying on stereotypes of what we the audience think of her historically. She’s the reason I’ll be buying a ticket.

Halle Berry in Cloud Atlas – Unlike Scott Weinberg, I’m actually looking forward to Halle Berry’s comeback, and I shouldn’t be using that word because she has starred in under-watched curiosities after her Oscar win. It’s her mix of beauty and pathos that still gets her in the door. Despite being in an all-star cast to end all-star casts, she can make her two subplots stand out. I’m jealous of people seeing this and I also can’t wait to see what they will tell us about it and one of its many stars.

Rachel McAdams in Passion – McAdams mixes up her good romance movies with vampy ones, and as her career progresses it’s as if she’s trying to see what would happen if Regina George grew up. Passion is based the French movie Love Crime, where Kristin Scott Thomas cobbled the shoes McAdams has to fill. This also looks like a chance for her to dive into the inner bad girl within the heroines of director Brian de Palma’s hero, Alfred Hitchcock.

Janet McTeer in Hannah Arendt – This movie seems like the Barbara Sukowa show but being the MVP in last year’s Albert Nobbs, I can’t wait for her to steal the show as the equally tough Mary McCarthy, a writer who deserves a biopic of her own.

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TIFF 2012 – The Movie Junkie’s Top 10 Anticipated Films (Kirk Haviland)

Kirk here, as the Toronto International Film Festival begins I’m here to spotlight my top picks for the fest and perhaps fill those leftover vouchers or last minute gaps in the schedule with some films that have definitely caught my eye. I will be brief in detail to avoid spoiler type material, but for further info on all titles go to the TIFF website by clicking on the titles below.


Painless – Dir. Juan Carlos Medina

Spanish Horror Thriller about a man who slowly unravels the truth about his origins, and a series of experiments conducted on children at the dawn of the Spanish Civil War.

Screening Sat Sept 8th, Sun Sept 9th and Sat Sept 15th


Berberian Sound Studio – Dir. Peter Strickland

A British sound engineer (Toby Jones) starts a descent into madness when he starts to work for a flamboyant Italian Horror director.

Screening Mon Sept 10th and Tues Sept 11th


Fin (The End) – Dir. Jorge Torregrossa

A post-apocalyptic thriller set in the shadow of the Pyrenees Mountains in which a group of survivors set out to survive nature and their own demons after an all-encompassing blackout and the apparent disappearance of everybody else on the planet.

Screening Sat Sept 8th, Mon Sept 10th and Sun Sept 16th.


Tai Chi 0 – Dir. Stephen Fung

Martial Arts meets Steampunk in Director Fung’s hyper-stylized account of the founder of the Yang school of Tai Chi set during the Qing Dynasty. Crazy, delirious fight scenes ensue.

Screening Sat Sept 8th, Tues Sept 11th and Sat Sept 15th.


Thale – Dir. Aleksander L. Nordaas

While cleaning a cabin in the Norwegian wilderness, two forensic clean-up crew members stumble upon a deadly mythical siren known as a ‘Huldra’, known for luring men away to their demise.

Screening Wed Sept 12th, Thurs Sept 13th and Sat Sept 15th


No One Lives – Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura

Midnight Madness vet Kitamura returns after 10 years since “Versus” to deliver a tale of a gory home invasion that goes wrong when the ‘helpless’ victims turn out to be anything but helpless.

Screening Sat Sept 8th, Mon Sept 10th and Fri Sept 14th


Looper – Dir Rian Johnson

The mind-bending futuristic tale of a mob hit man whose job is to exterminate people from the future. The job becomes less appealing when he is assigned the task of killing his future self.

Screening twice on Thurs Sept 6th (Opening Night Gala)


Much Ado about Nothing Dir – Joss Whedon

After his mega hit The Avengers, Whedon strips down to deliver a faithful retelling of Shakespeare’s play set in a contemporary world and populated by many of the actors from his television shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly.

Screening Sat Sept 8th, Sun Sept 9th and Fri Sept 14th.


Hellbenders Dir – JT Petty

The Hellbound Saints of Brooklyn Parrish are the most foul-mouthed, ill-tempered, beer-swilling, raucous group of priests you’re likely to meet. But you’ll want them on your side if you need an exorcism performed in this town.

Screening Sun Sept 9th, Tues Sept 11th and Sat Sept 15th.


The Hunt – Dir. Thomas Vinterberg

Mads Mikkelsen won the Best Actor prize at Cannes for his performance as an innocent man accused of child molestation in this ferociously powerful new film that is sure to be controversial.

Screening Mon Sept 10th and Wed Sept 12th.

And a bonus Pick!….

Come out and Play – Dir – Juego de Ninos

In a Children of the Corn inspired Mexican thriller a vacationing couple must unravel the blood soaked mystery of why a mysterious island is apparently only populated by children.

Screening Thurs Sept 13th, Fri Sept 14th and Sat Sept 15th.

The staff here at Entertainment Maven will be out there killing ourselves to provide the most coverage we can for your benefit, so if you stumble upon us during your TIFF adventure don’t be afraid to come by and say hello, have a beverage with us, or just provide a shoulder for us to cry on!

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

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The Junkie’s Top 10 Martial Arts Action Sequences – In Honour of The Raid: Redemption (Kirk Haviland)

With the fantastic “The Raid: Redemption” being released in theaters I thought I would compile a list of my Favorite Action Sequences in honor of the film and in particular its stellar staircase sequence near the beginning of the film. I will say this is a personal list and is likely to start debate over its inclusions and exclusions, this is good. Hopefully there are a few new discoveries on this list for you.


Final Fight in Five Deadly Venoms

A very personal pick as the Venoms was the first Shaw brothers film I ever saw and for me it’s still the best. This was the film that got me hooked on the Martial Arts genre and the clip features 5 of the 6 actors who would go on to be known as “The Venoms Crew”



Way of the Dragon – Bruce vs Chuck

Bruce Lee is the godfather of Modern Kung Fu film and Enter the Dragon is his masterpiece. Yet my favorite fight of his comes from Way of the Dragon mainly due to the caliber of his opponent, Chuck Norris. Chuck may be a punchline nowadays, but when this was filmed he was a Karate world champion. The fight scene was choreographed between the two of them, and you can tell they both wanted it to be perfect.



The Opening Sequence of JCVD

The fact that a nearly 50 year old Jean Claude Van Damme pulls off this scene is brilliant. A continuous sequence of Jean Claude fighting his way through a war torn setting, taking out multitudes along the way, only to finish and be told he needs to go again by a spoiled film director who “forgot” to watch.  The fact that JCVD is actually a really good movie helps as well.



Jet Li vs an entire Japanese Dojo in Fist of Legend

Jet Li playing the classic character of Chen Zhen, walks into a Japanese Dojo and proceeds to kick everyone’s ass in sight. Jet Li at his absolute best.



Final Fight – Chocolate

The man behind Tony Jaa’s first 2 films brings us the female counterpart in JeeJa Yanin. In the film she plays an autistic girl who learns muay thai from movies and watching fighters in a local gym, then when her mother becomes ill (a former mob enforcer), she decides to go collect on her mother’s old debts to afford the medical attention she requires. Great film, seek it out.



Dragons Forever – Final fight in warehouse

The first fight scene from the “Three Brothers” (Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung) on this list is one of the last times they were all on the screen together. It features the three fighting all over a  nondescript warehouse with the highlights being the rematch between Benny “the jet” Urquidez and Jackie Chan (their first battle may also end up on here) and the cigar chomping, scene stealing of Yuen Wah.



Ong Bak – The Kick

Tony Jaa’s debut came with so much hype attached that he would be the new savior of Martial Arts film making that it comes as quite a surprise that he does no fighting for almost the entire first half of the film. Director Prachya Pinkaew builds this tension til Jaa’s Ting is thrust into the ring, and answers any questions in mere seconds.



Wheels on Meals – Final Fight Sequence

The Second “Three Brothers” sequence on the list features Sammo at his comedic best and Yuen Biao’s lightning quick hands and feet being displayed as well as his fencing ability!?! But the real gem here is Jackie Chan vs Benny “the jet” Urquidez in what is still arguably the best one on one fight sequences of all time. And yes those candles are real and that was not faked.



Jackie Chan vs the Axe Gang – Drunken Master 2

Known in North America as Legend of the Drunken Master, DM2 may be the best overall film of Jackie’s entire catalog, and also features a killer end fight between Jackie and his real life bodyguard. But this manic ballet of violence in which Jackie takes on and defeats over 100 men who just keep coming is the essence of what makes Jackie great. The use of environment and acrobatics as well as comedy has become his trademark, and nowhere else is it done better.



And the controversial #1….

Alley Fight from SPL aka Killzone

…is only controversial if you’ve never seen it. This is one great film, if you haven’t seen it you need to. Donnie Yen and newcomer Wu Jing , also known as Jackie Wu,  choreographed this sequence between themselves, and rumor has it they spent little time setting moves and worried more about the blocking and hitting the camera marks so they could go all out with each other. A brutal, intense scene that works so well due to rawness of the fight, this fight definitely takes my #1 spot.


Honorable Mentions: The aforementioned final fight from Drunken Master 2, The Staircase sequence from Tom Yum Goong (The Protector) – very hard to leave that one off, the underground fight from Enter The Dragon, the Axe Gang fight from Kung Fu Hustle and many more I sure I’ve missed and am betting I will be told about. So let the debate begin, how good/bad do you think I did?

Movie Junkie TO

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