TIFF 2012: Justin’s Most Anticipated Films

I’m a proud Torontonian. The Toronto International Film Festival is a great example of why. With great movies coming from all corners of the globe, the festival matches the diversity and quality of its host city, and is a marquee event on anybody’s social calendar. In its 37th incarnation, TIFF 2012 promises to be yet another great showcase in the best of cinema, and here’s five films I can’t wait to see.

At Any Price

Ramin Bahrani may just be the most underrated filmmaker in contemporary cinema. Hands down. His previous films (Chop Shop, Goodbye Solo, Man Push Cart) have all been quiet neorealist masterpieces, with a sharp and deft focus on the pecuniary and social issues of minorities.

His forthcoming film, however, features Zac Efron as an aspiring racecar driver who clashes with his noncompliant father (Dennis Quaid). Judging by the synopsis, the film promises a lot of mumblecore, which usually isn’t my cup of tea, but if anyone can make it work, it’s Mr. Bahrani.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

It’s quite rare that an author of a book can direct his or her own film adaptation, but this is exactly the case for Stephen Chbosky. What this means is that, at the very least, we can expect Mr. Chbosky to capture the essence of the novel, which was about a solitary teenager being coaxed out of his shell by his new outgoing friends.

I’ve read The Perks of Being a Wallflower beforehand, and found it powerful, socially articulate, and heavy with pathos. If the quality of the film is even a fraction of the novel’s, we can surely expect another coming-of-age classic.

To the Wonder

A famously reclusive man, we really don’t know all that much about Terrence Malick. He doesn’t do many interviews or attend promotional events. He didn’t even go to the Oscars when he was nominated. But what little we do know about Mr. Malick comes directly from his films.

With immaculate verve, he is able to translate his nebulous abstractions into sublime and indescribable works of art. The Tree of Life was his thesis on the origins of the universe told through a man’s childhood memories (presumably his own), so one can expect To the Wonder, starring Ben Affleck, to be his pontification about faith and love. Told beautifully, of course.


I like David Cronenberg; I really do. As a Canadian, liking him is practically a requirement for citizenship. But we’ve seen him forgo his body horror trademark in some of his latest features (Cosmopolis, A Dangerous Method), and, consequently, I feel rather nonplussed.

Now, his literal and prodigal son Brandon, in his debutant appearance as a feature film director, hopes to revive some of his father’s aesthetics. Telling the story of a clinic employee who injects himself with the potentially fatal disease of a celebrity (which he usually sells to obsessed fans), the film looks to be a chilling and septic examination on the nature of pop culture.

The Master

One of the great perks of being a reviewer is the ability to watch movies for free. One of the great tragedies of TIFF 2012 is the fact that I didn’t get a press pass. People that know me know that I hate paying for anything, but, that being said, I’d pay full price to see anything by Paul Thomas Anderson.

In only five feature films, Mr. Anderson (not to be confused with Wes or Paul W.S.) has solidified his position as one of the formative pillars of modern American Cinema; one of the four indispensible and unique faces on the auteur version of Mount Rushmore. In telling his story about the founding of a new religion (allegedly Scientology), he casts two actors of equal magnetic reputation in Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix. With so much gravitas, it looks like this picture is bound to be a heavyweight.

– Justin Li

Trailers and photos courtesy of TIFF

The Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 6-16

For more information and tickets, please visit the official website

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