Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) showcased some of the most anticipated films set to be released over the coming months (Suburbicon, Downsizing, The Shape of Water). However, those who went searching for those films with a lower-profile – ones that don’t even yet have a UK release date – were rewarded for their efforts thanks to the programme’s inclusion of several smaller features that shocked, thrilled and stunned audiences in equal measure.
Below is a roundup of the five you should mark down in preparation for when that inevitable release date announcement rolls around.
This drama from Hollywood wild card Paul Schrader has emerged as many people’s unexpected pick of the festival. With First Reformed, the Taxi Driver and Raging Bull screenwriter has paid old-fashioned homage to Robert Bresson’s The Diary of a Country Priest, providing Ethan Hawke with his best role in years in the process. The story follows his former Army chaplain crippled with guilt over the death of his soldier son whom he convinced to join the service years before.
Brawl in Cell Block 99
What’s perhaps most shocking about this new thriller, other than the fact it stars comedic actor Vince Vaughn as a former boxer-turned-drug runner, is just how shocking the violence – not hugely surprising considering the extent to which director S. Craig Zahler made people wince with previous film Bone Tomahawk. There was a lot of talk of five stars bandied around following the initial TIFF screening and you’ll be able to see it for yourself when it’s shown at London Film Festival next month (11 October).
Mom and Dad
Mom and Dad is the kind of high-concept film you want to see the moment you hear the plot, but one you have to see the moment you discover it stars Nicolas Cage: a teenage girl and her little brother must survive a wild 24 hours during which a mass hysteria causes their parents (Cage and Selma Blair) to turn violently on their own kids. Crank director Brian Taylor clearly has the most fun a filmmaker can have permitting Cage madness – as you’ve never seen it before – to reign. Praise be.
A two-hour long rap film produced by Eminem may not sound like a guaranteed success, but rest assured – Bodied is the battle rap film you never knew you needed. In a genius move, the film – from music video director Joseph Kahn (Torque) – places young white male Adam (Calum Worthy) at the forefront as he steps into the rap ring and rises through the battle rap ranks. At once a social critique and zany satire, Bodied will whip up a frenzy the moment it’s released.
A lot of people have been classing Thelma as a horror, but it’s not – it’s a psycho-thriller from Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Trier worlds away from his previous credits including drama Louder Than Bombs (seek it out). The film is a melting pot of themes – an exploration of sexuality, techno horror – yet Trier directs with an adeptness ensuring he’s always in control of the story he wants to tell. It’s existence as a Carrie-style journey of self-discovery – as well as Norway’s official Oscar submission – marked Thelma out as a real TIFF talking point, if you were savvy enough to see it, that is. Catch its London Film Festival Gala screening on 14 October.
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