TIFF movies

TIFF Today: Keyhole, Urbanized, Think of Me, This is Not a Film, Wuthering Heights

Last night's gala premiere of U2 documentary From the Sky Down marked the formal opening of TIFF 2011, and the festival kicks into high gear today with its first full slate of screenings, including the world premiere of Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt, and penned by The Social Network scribe Aaron Sorkin. While that will doubtless be this evening's hottest ticket, I've selected five stand-out films that ought to prove more accessible, provided you're willing to brave a moderate rush line.

KEYHOLE (5:30PM, Lightbox 1)
Having won TIFF's award for best Canadian feature in 2007 with My Winnipeg, Guy Maddin returns to the festival with Keyhole, "a rousing gangsters-meet-ghosts sonata in which dream and waking life are deliriously blended." Maddin has demonstrated a consistent flair for the surreal, and Keyhole, starring Jason Patric, Isabella Rosellini, and Udo Kier, is reported to be his boldest vision yet.

URBANIZED (3:00PM, Ryerson Theatre)
Urbanized is the conclusion of Gary Hustwit's Design Trilogy, which also includes popular documentaries Helvetica and Objectified. Maintaining the style of his earlier entries, but expanding on their scope, Hustwit examines inventive international strategies to combat challenges faced by urban populations. Notably, none of these include the development of monorails or mega-malls.

A portrait of a struggling single mother faced with a heart-wrenching dilemma, Bryan Wizemann's feature debut recalls the work of established American realists - and TIFF favourites - Kelly Reichardt and Ramin Bahrani. Think of Me boasts an excellent lead performance by Lauren Ambrose, and shares thematic similarities with Reichardt's Wendy & Lucy and the Dardenne Brother's L'Enfant.

WUTHERING HEIGHTS (7:00PM, Lightbox 2)
Andrea Arnold's follow-up to 2009's superb Fish Tank represents an intriguing departure. Swapping the present-day council estate for 1840's Yorkshire, Arnold tackles Emily BrontÍ's literary classic Wuthering Heights. Foregoing romanticized period trappings, she reinvigorates the familiar story with her spare, urgent naturalism.

THIS IS NOT A FILM (4:45PM, Lightbox 3)
In tribute to celebrated Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi's struggle against state-enforced oppression, TIFF presents This is not a Film (co-directed by Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb) as a free public screening. The film provides a look at a day in Panahi's life under house arrest, documents his attempt to appeal his conviction for "propaganda against the system" -- which carries with it a jail sentence and a twenty-year ban from writing or directing. Tickets available on a first-come, first-serve basis, beginning 2 hours prior to the screening.

Summary excerpts courtesy of Tiff.net

A big thanks to Warrior, an Alliance film in theatres September 9th, for sponsoring our coverage of the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival.

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