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TIFF may not be a genre movie paradise, but the festival never fails to showcase a handful of heavy hitters, essential movies that every self-respecting genre fan needs to see. Of course, some of the highlights will emerge from obscurity as the festival unfolds (viable contenders include any of the four directorial debuts in the Midnight Madness program), but we can only guess about their quality at this point. However, there are at least seven genre movies we’re anxiously awaiting at this year’s festival.
A gritty departure from the superhero norm, Joker earned passionate praise—and yes, some criticism—when it debuted last week at the Venice Film Festival. But while this may look like a relatively modest critics’ movie, the film’s YouTube teaser tells a very different story, as it currently has an astounding 58 million views. In other words, just about everyone who watches movies is gearing up to watch Joker.
Writer-director Rian Johnson launched his career with a trio of films (Brick, The Brothers Bloom, Looper) that suggested a director of uncommon style and wit. For some, The Last Jedi felt like a surprising departure from his usual approach—and he will continue in that direction later this year when he begins work on a new Star Wars trilogy—but the star-studded Knives Out appears to resume his career where he left off before entering the world of franchise filmmaking.
Based on box office alone, it seems the general public has yet to discover indie virtuosos the Safdie brothers. Fortunately, it seems their earlier triumphs (Heaven Knows What, Good Time) got the attention of at least one major Hollywood player: Adam Sandler. According to early reviews, the actor gives a career best performance in Uncut Gems, playing a shady jeweler struggling with the kinds of viscerally charged predicaments that have become the Safdies’ signature.
Robert Pattinson gave arguably his best performance to date in the Safdies’ Good Time, but he has earned a fresh wave of acclaim at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for his work in The Lighthouse, the second film from director Robert Eggers (The Witch). Once again, the filmmaker ventures into the distant past (1890) to stir up his distinctively historical brand of horror. Thus far, critics have done a good job hiding the film’s secrets, but there are at least two intriguing rumours involving Willem Dafoe: (1) he is Pattinson’s only co-star and (2) he steals the film.
Five years have passed since filmmakers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead made their TIFF debut with Spring—an unlikely fusion of romance and horror—but they also made a strong impression on genre fans with 2012’s Resolution and 2017’s The Endless. It’s not clear whether SYNCHRONIC will finally help this duo expand their audience, but the cast (which includes Jamie Dornan and Anthony Mackie) should give them a push in the right direction.
After getting his career off to a promising start with 1990’s Hardware and 1992’s Dust Devil, director Richard Stanley made the mistake of signing on to direct 1996’s The Island Dr. Moreau. After getting fired from that fiasco of a production (for more harrowing details, see 2014’s Lost Soul), Stanley essentially abandoned Hollywood, devoting all his filmmaking energy to documentaries and shorts. With Color Out of Space, he finally returns to fiction features after a 25-year hiatus, and he’s joined by Nicolas Cage, a Midnight Madness heavyweight who guarantees unpredictability.
The good news about Crazy World is you still have over a week to prepare for the film’s Midnight Madness premiere on Saturday, September 14. For those who aren’t in the know about Wakaliwood and multi-hyphenate Ugandan filmmaker Nabwana Isaac Godfrey Geoffrey (aka Nabwana IGG or IGG Nabwanna), now would be a good time to acquire the recent AGFA Blu-ray featuring his signature films Bad Black and Who Killed Captain Alex? Known for lo-fi special effects, extreme violence, and an anything goes approach to micro-budget filmmaking, Nabwana is likely to conclude this year’s Midnight Madness on just the right note.
The 2019 Toronto International Film Festival gets underway September 5 and runs until Sunday, September 15.