Must-see movies at Novem­ber film fests

What fes­ti­vals are open­ing, what to see, where to see it

NOW Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - By NOR­MAN WILNER

Oh, so you thought Oc­to­ber’s film fes­ti­val slate was crowded? Take a look at Novem­ber, which is jammed with spe­cial­ized cin­e­matic cel­e­bra­tions all over town. We rounded up the five most prom­i­nent.

Ren­dezvous With Mad­ness (ren­dezvouswith­mad­ness.ca) When: Fri­day (Novem­ber 3) through Novem­ber 11 Where: Mul­ti­ple venues, in­clud­ing the Work­man Theatre (651 Duf­ferin) What to see: The only film fes­ti­val devoted to ex­plor­ing themes of men­tal ill­ness and ad­dic­tion has clearly learned the value of star power after last year’s open­ing gala The Other Half, with Ta­tiana Maslany and Tom Cullen.

This year’s fes­ti­val kicks off with Mad To Be Nor­mal (Fri­day, Novem­ber 3, 7 pm; re­peats Satur­day, Novem­ber 4, 11 am), star­ring Doc­tor Who’s David Ten­nant as coun­ter­cul­ture psy­chol­o­gist R.D. Laing, with Elis­a­beth Moss as his part­ner and Michael Gambon and Gabriel Byrne as two of his pa­tients. (It’s pretty good.) Jes­sica M. Thomp­son’s The Light Of The Moon (Novem­ber 10, 6 pm) lets Brook­lyn Nine-Nine’s dead­pan Stephanie Beatriz show her range as an as­sault sur­vivor try­ing to re­gain her equi­lib­rium.

Hos­sein Kon­dori’s Ira­nian drama No­body Dies Here (Tues­day, Novem­ber 7, 6 pm) tracks the psy­cho­log­i­cal de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of a sol­dier (Houman Seyedi) sta­tioned alone at a re­mote out­post. The fest also of­fers Toronto au­di­ences an­other chance to catch Michael O’Shea’s un­set­tling psy­cho­log­i­cal hor- ror movie The Trans­fig­u­ra­tion (Satur­day, Novem­ber 4, 7 pm), and Kalina Bertin’s com­pelling fam­ily his­tory Manic (Wed­nes­day, Novem­ber 8, 9 pm).

Ekran Toronto Pol­ish Film Fes­ti­val (ekran.ca) When: Mon­day (Novem­ber 6) to 12 Where: Re­vue Cinema (400 Ron­ces­valles), the Re­gent Theatre (551 Mt. Pleas­ant) and the High Park Li­brary (228 Ron­ces­valles) What to see: The an­nual show­case of Pol­ish cinema opens this year with Maria Sad­owska’s The Art Of Lov­ing (Mon­day, 6 pm), star­ring Mag­dalena Boczarska as Michalina Wis­locka, the doc­tor and au­thor whose work on sex­u­al­ity rev­o­lu­tion­ized – and scan­dal­ized – Poland in the 70s. Ryszard Bu­ga­jski’s Blind­ness (Tues­day, 7 pm), which pre­miered at TIFF last year, stars Maria Ma­mona – the film­maker’s wife – as a for­mer Stal­in­ist en­forcer who be­came pen­i­tent in mid­dle age and seeks an au­di­ence with the Catholic of­fi­cial (Marek Kalita) she once per­se­cuted. And the dar­ing Spoor (Novem­ber 9, 9 pm), di­rected with max­i­mum at­mos­phere by Ag­nieszka Hol­land and Ka­sia Adamik, mixes a stan­dard po­lice pro­ce­dural about mur­ders in a small town with eerie eco­log­i­cal hor­ror.

Reel Asian (reelasian.com) When: Novem­ber 9 to 18 Where: Mul­ti­ple venues, in­clud­ing TIFF Bell Light­box (350 King West), In­nis Town Hall (2 Sus­sex), Is­abel Bader Theatre (93 Charles West), Glenn Gould Stu­dio (250 Front West) and the Ja­panese Cul­tural Cen­tre (6 Gara­mond) What to see: There’s some­thing for ev­ery­one at the 21st edi­tion of Canada’s largest pan-Asian film fes­ti­val.

Ac­tion en­thu­si­asts will line up for Lu Yang’s his­tor­i­cal epic Brother­hood Of The Blades II: The In­fer­nal Bat­tle­field (Novem­ber 11, 9 pm) and Takashi Mi­ike’s fe­ro­cious 100th fea­ture Blade Of The Im­mor­tal (Novem­ber 16, 7 pm), while fans of the sit­com Kim’s Con­ve­nience can cel­e­brate its new sea­son with a screen­ing and panel, fol­lowed by a re­cep­tion with the cast (Novem­ber 15, 7 pm).

Doc­u­men­taries in­clude Hui SeeWai’s The Pos­ter­ist (Novem­ber 11, 6:30 pm), a charm­ing look at the ca­reer of Yuen Tai-yung, whose dis­tinc­tive car­i­ca­tures graced the posters for more than 200 Hong Kong features in the 70s and 80s; and Megumi Sasaki’s A Whale Of A Tale (Novem­ber 18, 6 pm), which at­tempts to place the Taiji dol­phin har­vest in a larger cul­tural con­text in much the same way Alethea Ar­naquq-Baril’s An­gry Inuk looked at the Canadian seal hunt from an Inuit per­spec­tive.

But if you can only see one fea­ture, check out Justin Chon’s nervy Gook (Novem­ber 12, 3 pm), which fol­lows Korean-Amer­i­can broth­ers (David So and writer/di­rec­tor Justin Chon) work­ing at a shoe store dur­ing the 1992 Los An­ge­les ri­ots. An au­di­ence favourite at this year’s Sun­dance, it’s a black-and­white mash-up of Clerks and Do The Right Thing – that’s a tall or­der, but it works.

Euro­pean Union Film Fes­ti­val (euffto.com) When: Novem­ber 9 to 23 Where: The Royal (608 Col­lege) What to see: The show­case of com­mer­cial cinema from Europe of­fers an in­ter­est­ing cross-sec­tion of anx­i­eties and cul­tural com­men­tary. The most re­cur­ring theme is anx­i­ety – whether eco­nomic, psy­cho­log­i­cal or ex­is­ten­tial.

Mi­randa Bowen’s Gozo (Novem­ber 9, 8:30 pm) – star­ring Joe Kennedy and El­e­men­tary’s Ophe­lia Lovi­bond as a Bri­tish cou­ple whose re­lo­ca­tion to the Mediter­ranean is­land na­tion turns into a wak­ing night­mare – is an ef­fec­tive psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller with gor­geous lo­ca­tions. By con­trast, the UK en­try Adult Life Skills (Novem­ber 12, 6 pm) is an in­sis­tently ec­cen­tric com­edy star­ring Jodie Whit­taker as a 29-year-old burnout who moves into her mother’s gar­den shed be­cause she’s given up on life. If you missed My Name Is Emily (Novem­ber 20, 8:30 pm) at Ren­dezvous With Mad­ness last year, Si­mon Fitz­mau­rice’s drama – star­ring Evanna Lynch as a mis­fit teenager search­ing for her in­sti­tu­tion­al­ized fa­ther (Michael Smi­ley) – is the Ir­ish con­tri­bu­tion.

In darker ter­ri­tory, Marco Martins’s Saint Ge­orge (Novem­ber 17, 8:30 pm) is a slow-burn drama about a boxer (Nuno Lopes) pinned down by Por­tu­gal’s 2011 aus­ter­ity pro­gram, while Pet­ros Char­alam­bous’s Boy On The Bridge (Novem­ber 21, 8:30 pm) is a jit­tery thriller about a 12-year-old Cypriot (Con­stanti­nos Far­makas) who be­comes tan­gled in a mur­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion. And Thomas Vin­ter­berg’s do­mes­tic dram­edy The Com­mune (Novem­ber 22, 8:30 pm), which had a com­mer­cial run ear­lier this year, re­turns to rep­re­sent Den­mark.

Re­gent Park Film Fes­ti­val (re­gent­park­film­fes­ti­val.com) When: Novem­ber 15 to 18 Where: Daniels Spec­trum (585 Dun­das East) What to see: Cel­e­brat­ing its 15th year, the neigh­bour­hood film fest stays true to its man­date – all screen­ings are free and free child­care is avail­able on site.

The pro­gram is a mix­ture of fes­ti­val hits like Ash­ley McKen­zie’s har­row­ing ad­dic­tion drama Were­wolf (Novem­ber 16, 8:30 pm with a post-screen­ing con­ver­sa­tion be­tween McKen­zie and my­self) and Charles Of­fi­cer’s in­spir­ing Hot Docs prizewin­ner Un­armed Verses (Novem­ber 17, 6 pm), as well as lo­cal de­buts like Moze Mos­sa­nen’s doc­u­men­tary My Piece Of The City (Novem­ber 18, 2 pm). Also back this year: the an­nual Satur­day morn­ing Break­fast And A Movie (Novem­ber 18, 9 am), which this year features a spread from Bom­bay Street Foods and a screen­ing of Ann Marie Flem­ing’s lovely an­i­mated drama Win­dow Horses.

If you’re in the mood for an ec­cen­tric com­edy, check out Adult Life Skills at the Euro­pean Union Film Fest.

The star-stud­ded Mad To Be Nor­mal kicks off Ren­dezvous With Mad­ness.

Gook is a must-see at Reel Asian.

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