"Brother" and "Weird" top "Chasing the Buzz" 🐝 poll for 47th TIFF


Peter Howell

Movie Critic


A coming-of-age drama about two Scarborough brothers and a comedy biopic about an exceedingly strange pop accordionist top our 22nd “Chasing the Buzz” poll of what movie lovers want to see at the Toronto International Film Festival.


Clement Virgo’s “Brother” and Eric Appel’s “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” each took four votes from the 33 respondents to the Toronto Star’s annual pre-TIFF probe of the hive mind of film critics, writers, programmers, scholars and regular movie buffs.


Both films are having their world premieres at TIFF, “Brother” in the Special Presentations program and “Weird” in Midnight Madness. The significant difference between them attests to the eclectic appeal of TIFF’s 2022 offerings.


A total of 48 films rocked the hive this year, which we hope will assist you in selecting from the 203 features coming to TIFF ’22, Sept. 8 to 18. Previous Chasing the Buzz polls have given early radar alerts on such eventual Oscar winners as “Nomadland,” “The Shape of Water” and “Moonlight.”


Our 33 panellists each named the TIFF-bound film that most excites them, with explanations why. They also each named a “wild card” film, no explanations given, to expand the selection. And now, with much further ado, it’s time to buzz:


🐝 MOVIES WITH FOUR VOTES:


Brother (Clement Virgo)

“It’s been 15 years since Clement Virgo’s last theatrical feature, but his new film about growing up Black in ’90s Scarborough promises to be as tough and relevant and on the money as his sparkling debut ‘Rude.’”

Piers Handling, former TIFF CEO (Wild card: “Women Talking”)


“Bring on ‘Brother’ by CFC alum Clement Virgo! Excited to see deep Scarborough portrayed in the book I adored. Can’t wait to see this film.”

Maxine Bailey, executive director, Canadian Film Centre (Wild card: “This Place”)


“Based on the novel by David Chariandy, this Scarborough-set film is beautifully made, deeply thoughtful and a power punch to the gut. I literally could not get up out of my seat or speak for five minutes after seeing it.”

Jane Schoettle, TIFF lead programmer, Special Presentations (Wild card: “The Happiest Man in the World”)


(The other vote for “Brother” is a wild card pick.)


Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (Eric Appel)

(All four votes are wild card picks. How weird is that?)


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🐝 MOVIES WITH THREE VOTES:


The Fabelmans (Steven Spielberg)

“I am beyond excited for Spielberg’s latest offering, which is loosely based on the famed director’s life growing up in Arizona. With an all-star cast that includes Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen and Paul Dano, this just feels like it has Oscar written all over it. If ‘The Fabelmans’ moves me even half as much as ‘Schindler’s List’ did, I’m all in for the three-hour watch time.” — Bonnie Laufer, executive producer, Smart Entertainment Group (Wild card: “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story”)


“Why wouldn’t I pick this film? It’s Spielberg’s TIFF debut. He’s coming to Toronto with his most personal film, tackling his early childhood in Arizona. This is one of the biggest and most eagerly awaited world premieres in TIFF history.”

Jordan Ruimy, critic, World of Reel (Wild card: “Emily”)


“As a lifelong Spielberg fan, considering the impact he’s had on the film industry, a movie tribute to his life and the movies that made him into the storyteller he is today is something I want to see, feel and experience with others around me in a dark movie theatre, as we reflect on the life and career of one of the all-time greats.”

Matt Neglia, editor-in-chief, Next Best Picture (Wild card: “The Swimmers”)


The Woman King (Gina Prince-Bythewood)

“Gina Prince-Bythewood brings her signature brand of heart, soul and swagger to a visually stunning historical epic. Factor in Viola Davis as a general training an all-female unit to defend their African kingdom and you’ve got a must-see event.”

Victor Stiff, senior critic, That Shelf (Wild card: “The Gravity”)


“The historic tale of a band of all-female warriors starring Viola Davis, sign me up. Very interested in the experience Gina Prince-Bythewood crafts with this epic combination of cast and writer Dana Stevens.”

Jacqueline Valencia, movie critic, Critical Focus (Wild card: “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story”)


“Do I even have to say anything about Viola Davis and ‘The Woman King’? I’ve wanted to see an ancient world epic based in Africa for my whole life and can’t wait to see what Gina Prince-Bythewood has in store.”

R.T. Thorne, director (Wild Card: “When Morning Comes”)


Riceboy Sleeps (Anthony Shim)

“The story is simple and timeless, and the feelings it brings out are complex. A beautiful story of a mama and her son.”

Maria Alejandra Sosa, TIFF director of communications (Wild card: “The Blackening”)


(The other two votes for “Riceboy Sleeps” are wild card picks.)


🐝 MOVIES WITH TWO VOTES:


The Banshees of Inisherin (Martin McDonagh)

“Looking forward to director Martin McDonagh’s followup to ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ (TIFF’s People’s Choice Award winner in 2017). And a reunion of ‘In Bruges’ co-stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson? Brilliant.”

Astrid Lange, library and research specialist, Toronto Star (Wild card: “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story”)


“Martin McDonagh has never steered me wrong. This one reunites Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson for the first time since ‘In Bruges,’ a movie I have watched many times and will watch again.”

Jim Slotek, critic and editor, Original-Cin (Wild card: “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story.”)


The Swimmers (Sally El Hosaini)

“If you’re ready for big feels, Sally El Hosaini’s epic drama of the real-life Syrian sisters who fled to Europe as refugees and Olympic hopefuls is the one.”

Cameron Bailey, TIFF CEO (Wild card: “Riceboy Sleeps”)


(The other vote for “The Swimmers” is a wild card pick.)


When Morning Comes (Kelly Fyffe-Marshall)

“Coming off a powerful award-winning short film that had Ava DuVernay singing her praises, Fyffe-Marshall’s feature debut is a must-see for me.”

Courtney Small, film critic, That Shelf (Wild card: “Black Ice”)


(The other vote for “When Morning Comes” is a wild card pick.)


Women Talking (Sarah Polley)

“Sarah Polley directing a cast of some of the very best actors working today, based on a Miriam Toews novel that Sarah also adapted, has had my movie-loving heart racing for months.”

Teri Hart, entertainment producer, Super Channel (Wild card: “Brother”)


(The other vote for “Women Talking” is a wild card pick.)


Black Ice (Hubert Davis)

(Both votes are wild card picks for this racially themed hockey documentary.)


Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues (Sacha Jenkins)

(Both votes are wild card picks for this documentary about the music and politics of the legendary jazz trumpeter and singer.)


🐝 MOVIES WITH ONE VOTE:


Alice, Darling (Mary Nighy)

“I’m a fan of everything Babe Nation Films has produced, from the short film ‘Swimmers’ to ‘The Rest of Us.’ Add one of my favourite Canadian actresses, Kaniehtiio Horn, and I’m fully ready for this female-led thriller.”

Ashleigh Rains, actor, producer, C’Mon Mort Productions; festival director, Canadian Film Fest (Wild card: “Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues”)


All the Beauty and the Bloodshed (Laura Poitras)

“Art and activism collide in this doc portrait of maverick photographer Nan Goldin and her fight to hold Big Pharma accountable for grotesquely profiteering amid the opioid crisis. A rare film to unite Oscar watchers and the ‘Eat the rich!’ crowd.” — Pat Mullen, publisher, POV Magazine (Wild card: “Riceboy Sleeps”)


The Colour of Ink (Brian D. Johnson)

Looking forward to this documentary, which travels the world with masterful ink maker Jason Logan, discovering the mysteries of ink. It’s as much a product of terroir as is wine or honey.”

Michèle Maheux, former TIFF executive director (Wild card: “Chevalier”)


Corsage (Marie Kreutzer)

“Vicky Krieps is electrifying as Sissi, the Empress Elizabeth of Austria, in this brilliant rock ’n’ roll delirium of a goddamn movie.” — B Ruby Rich, editor-in-chief, Film Quarterly (Wild card: “The Eternal Daughter”)


Dalíland (Mary Harron)

“That cast! That director! Finally, the story of two iconoclastic provocateurs that begs to be told. And these gifted creators? Bonus.” — Anne Brodie, critic, What She Said (Wild card: “Triangle of Sadness”)


Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (Rian Johnson)

“One of my all-time favourite TIFF screenings was the 2019 world premiere of ‘Knives Out,’ Rian Johnson’s wildly clever, rambunctious whodunnit, with a crowd that was absolutely locked in from the opening moments to the riotous closing coffee cup. Johnson is a plot maven and, given the budget (via Netflix) to do almost whatever he wants, I can’t wait to see what he’s dreamed up.”

Piers Marchant, film critic and editor, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Wild card: “R.M.N.”)


The Inspection (Elegance Bratton)

“Elegance Bratton’s semi-autobiographical look at the experiences of a closeted gay Black man in the military promises an absorbing, timely drama with potential to be an awards season surprise.”

Eric Kohn, VP and executive editor, IndieWire (Wild card: “Sanctuary”)


Joyland (Saim Sadiq)

“Visually stunning and emotionally devastating, ‘Joyland’ is a staggering debut and a serious contender for Best International Film of the Year.”

Ravi Srinivasan, TIFF senior manager, programmer, Canada/South Asia (Wild card: “Until Branches Bend”)


Living (Oliver Hermanus)

“Thrilled to see a new adaptation of Kurosawa’s ‘Ikiru,’ with Bill Nighy’s portrayal of a magnificent character by Takashi Shimura that previously sparked the screen.”

Alice Shih, critic, Fairchild Radio (Wild card: “Return to Dust”)


Moonage Daydream (Brent Morgen)

“This film promises a look into legendary artist David Bowie’s sound and vision like no other. A career as long and complex as Bowie’s can’t possibly be contained in a traditional doc, so I’m looking forward to Brent Morgen’s immersive, sensory approach to capturing Bowie’s enigmatic magic.”

Richard Crouse, host, “Pop Life” (Wild card: “I Like Movies”)


No Bears (Jafar Panahi):

“TIFF is where I discovered Iranian writer/director Jafar Panahi, a superb, subtle storyteller whose slice-of-life films I adore. In July, he was jailed by the Iranian regime, so I will watch this film with hope for his release. #FreeJafarPanahi.”

Karen Gordon, critic, Original-Cin (Wild card: “So Much Tenderness”)


Paris Memories (Alice Winocour)

“I admire Alice Winocour’s gift for stories about women seeking healing and transformation, so this film is a top pick for me, about a survivor of the Paris terrorist attacks trying to feel her own emotions again.”

Sherry Coman, spirituality and media professor, Martin Luther University College (Wild card: “Empire of Light”)


Self-Portrait as a Coffee Pot (William Kentridge)

“The South African artist William Kentridge lets us inside his studio for a witty and joyful experience of creativity including camera tricks that enable him to hold dialogues with himself.”

Thom Powers, TIFF Docs programmer, host Pure Nonfiction podcast (Wild card: “Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues”)


Theatre of Thought (Werner Herzog)

“With the recent purchase of a 4K projector, my living room has begun to resemble this film’s title. I’m looking forward to an upgraded Festival at Home experience with Herzog’s latest mind-bender.”

Jake Howell, writer, freelance film programmer (Wild card: “How to Blow Up a Pipeline”)


Viking (Stéphane Lafleur)

“One of Quebec’s — and Canada’s — most distinctive filmmakers returns for his first feature since the Cannes hit ‘Tu dors, Nicole’ with this surreal, visually striking and entirely earthbound take on space travel.”

Steve Gravestock, TIFF senior programmer (Wild card: “Something You Said Last Night”)


Wendell & Wild (Henry Selick)

“A stop-motion/dark/fantasy/comedy/horror from the filmmakers behind ‘Coraline’ and ‘Nope’? They had me at ‘stop-motion.’”

Bern Euler, founder and executive director, Canadian Film Fest (Wild card: “Black Ice”)


Werckmeister Harmonies (Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky)

“Béla Tarr has been one of my all-time favourite festival guests over the last decade. I’ve never seen this film but, beyond being a Béla fan, Frederick Wiseman once told me that Roger Ebert compared it to his work so I’m intrigued.”

Dorota Lech, TIFF lead programmer, Discovery and International (Wild card: “Thunder”)


The Whale (Darren Aronofsky)

“I want to be able to say I was there for ‘the Brenaissance’ (of actor Brendan Fraser) at TIFF ’22. It’ll be historic.”

Jerry Nadarajah, movie lover (Wild card: “Decision to Leave”)


The remaining one-vote films, all wild card picks, are: “The Blackening” (Tim Story), “Chevalier” (Stephen Williams), “Decision to Leave” (Park Chan-wook), “Emily” (Frances O’Connor), “Empire of Light” (Sam Mendes), “The Eternal Daughter” (Joanna Hogg), “The Gravity” (Cédric Ido), “The Happiest Man in the World” (Teona Strugar Mitevska), “How to Blow Up a Pipeline” (Daniel Goldhaber), “I Like Movies” (Chandler Levack), “Return to Dust” (Li Ruijun), “R.M.N.” (Cristian Mungiu), “Sanctuary” (Zachary Wigon), “So Much Tenderness” (Lina Rodríguez), “Something You Said Last Night” (Luis De Filippis), “This Place” (V.T. Nayani), “Thunder” (Carmen Jaquier), “Triangle of Sadness” (Ruben Östlund) and “Until Branches Bend” (Sophie Jarvis).


(Originally published in the Toronto Star.)


@peterhowellfilm

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