Top TIFF flicks to catch this year

North Toronto Post - - Currents - by Richard Crouse

From phan­tas­mago­ria to just plain glo­ri­ous For 10 days each Septem­ber at the Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val (TIFF), thou­sands of miles of film un­spool, movie mavens push the lim­its of their en­durance to take it all in and movie stars dec­o­rate red car­pets.The fes­ti­val is more about cel­lu­loid than celebri­ties, how­ever. Here’s a look at some in­ter­est­ing ti­tles from this year’s crop.

From Toronto doc­u­men­tary direc­tor Ron Mann comes Carmine Street Gui­tars, the story of one of the world’s great gui­tar shops. The film doc­u­ments a week in the life of the leg­endary Green­wich Vil­lage store, its master gui­tar builder, Rick Kelly, and his ap­pren­tice Cindy Hulej. The pair make hand­crafted gui­tars us­ing sal­vaged wood from his­toric New York build­ings, “the bones of the city,” for the likes of Bob Dy­lan, Lou Reed and Patti Smith.

Through Black Spruce stars Tan­too Car­di­nal, Brandon Oakes, Gra­ham Greene and Tanaya Beatty in a story about the dis­ap­pear­ance of a young Cree woman. When she goes miss­ing it causes rip­ples in Moosonee — her north­ern On­tario home­town, where a drug dealer, con­vinced she is alive, has­sles her fam­ily for in­for­ma­tion — and Toronto, where she worked as a model. Based on a novel by Joseph Boy­den, who was not in­volved in the pro­duc­tion, the film’s dual set­ting al­lows a deep dive into themes of In­dige­nous iden­tity.

Af­ter shoot­ing Hand­maid’s Tale in On­tario, Mad Men star Elis­a­beth Moss re­turns to Toronto with the film Her Smell. She plays Becky Some­thing, a self-de­struc­tive

punk rock singer whose wild life­style alien­ates every­one around her, band­mates and au­di­ence in­cluded. As her band’s suc­cess slowly slips away, she watches as other bands, in­clud­ing the Ak­er­girls (fea­tur­ing Cara Delev­ingne as their singer) and a former friend, be­come megas­tars in this re­demp­tive rock ’n’ roll story.

I've Heard the Mer­maids Singing direc­tor Pa­tri­cia Rozema re­turns to TIFF with

Mouth­piece, an adap­ta­tion of an award­win­ning two-woman play by Amy Nost­bakken and No­rah Sa­dava. In this highly orig­i­nal look at how the main char­ac­ter, Cas­san­dra Hay­wood (Nost­bakken and Sa­dava play two sides of the same woman) tries to ex­press grief over her mother’s death, Rozema uti­lizes drama, mu­si­cal num­bers and wild hu­mour.

Spe­cial­iz­ing in genre films, Mid­night Mad­ness is TIFF’s tip of the hat to hor­ror and sub­ver­sive art. Among the 10 films, which are “guar­an­teed to ei­ther ter­ror­ize or mes­mer­ize,” is In Fab­ric, a ghost story star­ring Os­car nom­i­nee Mar­i­anne Jean-Bap­tiste and Gwen­do­line Christie. It is de­scribed as a “haunt­ing phan­tas­mago­ria.”

Joel Edger­ton is best known as an ac­tor, but when he isn’t ap­pear­ing in films like

The Great Gatsby or Red Spar­row, he’s be­hind the cam­era as direc­tor. His lat­est film is Boy Erased, based on a mem­oir by Gar­rard Con­ley. Lu­cas Hedges plays Jared, the 19-year-old son of a Bap­tist pas­tor in a small Amer­i­can town. Outed to his par­ents (Ni­cole Kid­man and Rus­sell Crowe), he is of­fered a choice: at­tend con­ver­sion ther­apy or be shunned.

Af­ter mak­ing a gi­ant splash at TIFF two years ago with Moon­light, which went on to win the Best Pic­ture Os­car, direc­tor Barry Jenkins re­turns with If Beale Street

Could Talk. Based on the James Bald­win novel, it stars KiKi Layne as Tish, a preg­nant Har­lem woman fac­ing an un­cer­tain fu­ture as she tries to prove her fi­ancé in­no­cent of a crime. This 1974 period drama is a story of des­per­a­tion, love and jus­tice. De­nis Ar­cand was in­spired to make The

Fall Of The Amer­i­can Em­pire — the the­matic se­quel to his Os­car-nom­i­nated The

De­cline of the Amer­i­can Em­pire — by a 2010 mur­der in an Old Mon­treal bou­tique.This story of a man whose life is changed when he finds two bags stuffed with money af­ter an armed rob­bery ex­am­ines the im­por­tance of money and sta­tus in a world where other val­ues have been di­min­ished.

Ben Is Back hap­pens over the course of 24 hours dur­ing the Christ­mas hol­i­days. Lu­cas Hedges plays the ti­tle char­ac­ter, a prodi­gal son who re­turns home to his par­ents’ ( Ju­lia Roberts and Court­ney B. Vance) sub­ur­ban place on Christ­mas Eve. He brings with him some trou­bles that test his mother’s love, as she does what she can to keep him and her fam­ily safe. Hedges and Kathryn New­ton were both at TIFF last year, co-star­ring in two films, Lady Bird and Three Bill­boards Out­side Ebbing, Mis­souri.

KiKi Lane and Stephan James star in ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’; in­set: Ju­lia Roberts and Lu­cas Hedges in ‘Ben Is Back’

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