Sunday, October 30, 2016

WIFF 2016: Worth playing hooky for

With more than 100 film presentations (I counted 112), would class directors like Terrence Malick, Pedro Almodovar, Xavier Dolan, Susanne Bier, Jim Jarmusch (two films), Pack Chan-Wook, Ken Loach and Whit Stillman, stars such as Kate Winslet, Parker Posey, Isabelle Huppert (two films), Colin Firth, Ewan McGregor, Ethan Hawke, Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Dakota Johnson, Vera Farmiga, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Greta Gerwig, Susan Sarandon and Catharine Deneuve, Windsorites should congratulate themselves on being so lucky to live in a city where such a fabulous annual event takes place….. I’m speaking of course of the 12th edition of the Windsor International Film Festival (WIFF), which kicks off Tuesday and runs until Sunday. The lineup has been great in previous years but it is more than striking this year, enough for true filmgoers to book a week off work and, for me, almost delaying an overseas vacation (I seriously, if briefly, considered it) …. What films you attend, of course, is a matter of any number of things – whether you like documentaries, drama, comedies. Perhaps you’re inquisitive about films from certain parts of the world – Denmark, France, Iran. Or you simply like to see fave artists……The thing about the Windsor fest, unlike other festivals in our cross-border environs, is that it is, among other things, a heaping distillation of the best films from the best, or second best, festival in the world, Toronto. Why pay Toronto prices – and fight the crowds – in September, when you can see many of the same movies in comfortable, intimate, and inexpensive Windsor? And this year there are all new seats at the Capitol Theatre, worth celebrating itself! And the addition of the Chrysler Theatre can only be a bonus…. Now for the films. Truly, about 90 per cent of this year’s lineup I would attend if I wasn’t travelling. But here, with envy, are my top picks:

The Architect: I’ll always attend a film with Parker Posey in it but this screwball comedy about building a dream house has fun written all over it. 
Christine: Based on the true story of a TV anchor’s on-air suicide.
Eat That Question: Frank Zappa: Anything about this acerbic musical genius is more than worth a look.
Elle: The great French actress Isabelle Huppert in a perfect role in a drama about a sexually assaulted businesswoman who seeks revenge.
Gimme Danger: The Jim Jarmusch doc about the Motor City’s great, ever vibrant, Iggy Pop (and The Stooges).
The Handmaiden: Perhaps South Korea’s top contemporary filmmaker, Pack Chan-Wook knows how to interweave – sometimes surreal – suspense, with a compelling story.
I, Daniel Blake: Even if you don’t agree with his politics, the UK’s Ken Loach’s tales of the working class and down and out are fine character-driven stories.
Indignation and American Pastoral: two films based on the Philip Roth novels - one set in the Korean War 1950s, the other in the politically turbulent 60s. Anything based on a Roth story is must-seeing.
A Bigger Splash: With three top stars this film set on a sun-drenched Italian island is exhilarating.
It’s Only the End of the World: Quebec wunderkind Xavier Dolan’s latest. What more can I say?
Julieta: Anything by Spanish director Pedro Almadovar – for his outrageousness and passion - is worth seeing. And this film is based on three stories by Alice Munro.
Our Kind of Traitor: Based on the John le CarrĂ© novel starring Ewan McGregor – buy that ticket now!
Personal Shopper: This won Olivier Assayas, the director of Clouds of Sils Maria (2014), the Cannes Best Director award this year.
A Second Chance: Danish director Susanne Bier brings humanity to her dramas, and this crime thriller looks like icing on the cake.
Summertime: Ah, the 1970s, the early blossoming of feminism and revolution was still in the air, though everyone was moving to the countryside.
Things to Come: The second film in this festival starring Isabelle Huppert. Of course, a must see.
Toni Erdmann: Of all the films in this year’s line-up, this one, a German-Austrian co-production, sounds like an over-the-top exhilarating romp (if the reviews can be believed), and is my number one pick. 

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