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TIFF Toronto Films

TIFF Today: Jeff Who Lives at Home, Breathing, I'm Carolyn Parker, A Happy Event, The Patron Saints

With only a few days of TIFF left, we're in the home stretch, but there are still a couple big ticket events and first-time screenings to be had. Tonight's gala event will see the premiere of Hysteria, a Tanya Wexler film about the invention of the vibrator. The film, which is headlined by Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy, and supported by Jonathan Pryce and Rupert Everett, sold out long ago. Today's options for the last minute planner, however, are still pretty darn good. There are plenty of great films screening today with tickets available — including a red carpet gala!

JEFF WHO LIVES AT HOME (11am, Visa Screening Room - Elgin)
For those who didn't get to gawk over Jason Segel at last night's red carpet premiere of Jeff Who Lives at Home, there is still a chance to see the film before it hits theatres. This morning's screening about an unemployed, pot smoking Jeff (Segel), who lives with his mother (Susan Sarandon), has surprisingly not gone to rush. When Jeff and his brother Pat (Ed Helms) embark on an adventure together, many comedic mishaps naturally follow. Directed by brother duo Jay and Mark Duplass.

BREATHING (2:45pm, AMC 5)
Breathing is a slowly unwinding tale about an 18 year old boy, Roman, who is imprisoned for accidentally committing murder. Roman is given several opportunities at day-release jobs which could lead to parole, but he can never make them stick. He finally finds a fit when he starts working at a job carrying dead bodies to the morgue. It turns out, not having anyone to talk to is the best way for Roman to open up.

This doc follows a mother from the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans after the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. Filmed over five years, Carolyn Parker proves herself to be a very strong woman as she reassembles her and her family's life from literally nothing. Her daughter, who had a full scholarship to Syracuse University, gave it up to return home with her mother and rebuild their neighbourhood.

A HAPPY EVENT (6:30pm, Roy Thompson Hall)
Tonight's gala screening for A Happy Event is not sold out, giving the uninitiated a chance to get a glimpse of the red carpet experience. French director, Rémi Bezançon, follows a young couple through the unexpected birth of their first child. Although, it's a happy experience overall, most of the film is centred on their dramatic lifestyle adjustment!

THE PATRON SAINTS (9:45pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox 3)
The Patron Saints takes an unconventional look at nursing home life in Canada. Unlike the typical accusations made towards old age homes, the staff in The Patron Saints are friendly, and the patients are well looked after. Instead, the focus is on the residents of the home. Their weird quirks, sad stories, and increasing levels of dependence are given a unique perspective, as they are narrated by the home's youngest, and most independent resident.

Update 10:50 a.m.

Here are some additional picks for today, courtesy of Julian Carrington.

TAKE SHELTER (6PM, Ryerson Theatre)
Jeff Nichol's Take Shelter was among the films I recommended highly in our first TIFF preview post back in August. 30-odd screenings later, it remains near the top of my best of fest list, thanks to terrific performances from Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain, and Nichols superb writing and direction. It's a haunting film, about a father on the cusp of madness, feverishly determined to protect his family from encroaching dangers, real or imagined.

Today, in fact, features a trio of selections from our preview post, the third of which is Amy George, an artful take on the coming of age tale from local first-time filmmakers Calvin Thomas and Yonah Lewis. Featuring a great performance from Toronto unknown Gabriel del Castillo Mullally, it captures peculiar pubescent curiosities, sensitivities, and, indeed, perversities with a uniquely empathetic eye.

THE TURIN HORSE (9:30PM, Lightbox 1)
Hungarian arthouse master Béla Tarr (of TIFF best of the decade selection Werckmeister Harmonies) continues to work his austere, black and white magic in The Turin Horse. It's a tale of some downtrodden farmers, and is likely to be heavy going, but Tarr's legion of devoted admirers wouldn't expect anything less.

To offer a bit of levity in what is otherwise a generally brooding set of selections, I'll close with Canadian theatrical adaptation Billy Bishop Goes to War. Director Barbara Willis-Sweete brings the Soulpepper hit to the screen with vitality and humour, as actor/composer duo Eric Peterson and John Gray revive their celebrated stage partnership.

A big thanks to Drive, an Alliance film opening in theatres on September 16th, for sponsoring our coverage of the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival.

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