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Latest from David Cox

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Samurai, Sci-fi and more – February on Film4

27 Jan, 2014 Posted in: Film4 Channel

Now that the New Year is well and truly under way, we felt it was time to take a quick look at some of the highlights coming up on Film4 channel.

Yojimbo

Yojimbo

Having created a small showcase last year for the work of Japanese director Mikio Naruse in our weekly World Cinema slot (Thursdays at 11am), we return to the country and the era in February for a season of films from fellow master Akira Kurosawa.

A director who worked across a range of genres, who was equally at home in both the historical past and the present, and who enjoyed a two-way relationship with Western cinema in terms of influence and inspiration, Kurosawa probably remains best-known for his dynamic samurai dramas – the best of which are screening in our selection. Arguably his most famous film, Seven Samurai from 1954, was part of our ‘Men of Steel’ season in January and hopefully served as a taster for the riches to come.

The action kicks off on Thursdays 6th and 13th February with a pair of loosely-connected films following the exciting adventures of two lone-wolf samurai – 1961’s Yojimbo and its sort-of-sequel Sanjuro, from the following year. Both films star Kurosawa’s favourite leading-man Toshiro Mifune as rascally warriors who wander into violent situations in which their quick wits and sword skills prove very useful indeed.

There’s a change of pace on Thursday 20th February with 1952’s Ikiru (aka To Live, or Living), a moving tale of an elderly salaryman who, upon discovering he has terminal cancer, decides to do something special with his last days. If you’re only familiar with Kurosawa’s more action films or crime dramas, this touching masterpiece will be a revelation.

The samurai return on Thursday 27th February for Throne of Blood, a powerful and often eerie adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth that transports the tale to a medieval Japan ruled by feuding warlords. The curtain comes down on Thursday 6th March with the adventure-filled romp The Hidden Fortress, a loud and lusty tale that served as a key inspiration to George Lucas’s Star Wars saga. The widescreen photography in The Hidden Fortress is especially impressive, making for one of Kurosawa’s most enjoyable spectacles.

The Adjustment Bureau

The Adjustment Bureau

Bringing things back to the present day – and then beyond – is our Science-Fiction season, which begins on Thursday 13th February with the smart, romantic and surprising thriller The Adjustment Bureau, starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt. The ten-day season features double-bills every night until Saturday 22nd February, with triple-bills on the first Friday and Saturday and quadruple-bills on the second. The final line-up is still to be confirmed, but expect recent hits Battle Los Angeles, Transformers 2 and The Day the Earth Stood Still, firm favourites such as Independence Day and Terminator 2: Judgment Day and cult classics like Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, Darren Aronofsky’s Pi and John Carpenter’s Dark Star. And sci-fi meets private-eye with a double-bill of the The X-Files films.

Attack The Block

Attack The Block

Other notable items include a double-bill of films starring Nick Frost – Paul and Attack the Block – on Tuesday 11th February from 9pm, to celebrate the release of his sure-footed new salsa comedy Cuban Fury on Valentine’s Day. There’s also a double-bill from director Danny Boyle – Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting – on Saturday 8th February from 9pm, to get you in the mood for the unveiling of his new Channel 4 drama Babylon on Sunday 9th February.

If you’re keeping up-to-date with all the current new cinema releases and fancy doing some home-viewing as research, make a point of catching up with our Spike Jonze double-bill of Adaptation and Jackass Number Two (Wednesday 12th February, from 10.55pm) which precedes the release of his new film Her on Friday 14th. There’s also Claire Denis’s 35 Shots of Rum on Thursday 13th February at 1.05am (her new film Bastards opens the next day); Lars von Trier’s Antichrist on Monday 24th at 11.10pm (his two-part film Nymphomaniac opens on 22nd February); and Jim Jarmusch’s Ghost Dog on Thursday 27th February at 11.40pm (the director’s vampire film Only Lovers Left Alive opens the following day).

Hope there’s something here to brighten up your February – happy viewing!

Christmas on Film4

12 Dec, 2013 Posted in: Film4 Channel, Film4 Productions on TV

For those who like nothing better than to spend Christmas catching up with great films, Film4 has an unmissable line-up that begins before the actual holidays kick in and then keeps going, with more than just leftovers, through to the New Year.  



You’ll find plenty of highlights in our new Christmas promo as it whisks you through a cinematic wonderland that includes the premiere of Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers, World’s End pals Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in Paul, the Studio Ghibli magic of Spirited Away, Emma Stone in whipsmart high-school comedy Easy A, inventive Scandinavian horror adventures Troll Hunter and Rare Exports, and some Will Ferrell comedy to continue the Anchorman 2 excitement.

To get you started, here at the blog you’ll find 12 further holiday highlights:

totoro

My Neighbour Totoro

 

  • - Fresh from its recent cinematic re-release, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in the Hollywood epic Cleopatra. I won’t take up any more of your time here as the film is long enough as it is.

 

 

The Fighter

The Fighter

 

  • - A double-bill from director David O. Russell, whose livewire new film American Hustle is in cinemas over the holiday period. Catch his Oscar-winning drama The Fighter and his controversial debut Spanking the Monkey.

 

  • - Your tastes may run to edgier fare than Hollywood hits but it’s those blockbusters that bring people together, making them perfect Christmas viewing. Gather round for the likes of Transformers, Titanic, Iron Man, Mission Impossibles 2 and 3, and the J. J. Abrams version of Star Trek.

 

The Godfather

The Godfather

 

  • - We’ve solved the dilemma of what to do on New Year’s Eve by giving you the chance to stay in with a classic saga – The Godfather and The Godfather Part II runs through the night from 2013 to 2014, starting at 9pm

 

  • - Go your own way at Christmas and embrace some cult classics. There’s the button-pushing indie drama Compliance, tough Korean animated film The King of Pigs, the Film4-produced avant garde horror film Berberian Sound Studio and, from the 70s, the cool road-movie Vanishing Point. You’ll find more where they come from if you stay up late every night.

 

The Social Network

The Social Network

 

 

  • - Don’t be too down-hearted if you don’t get what you wish for – there’s still plenty to smile about as we bring you a wide-range of comedy for Christmas. Paul, Easy A and Sightseers are covered in the promo, with more laughs coming from Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd in Trading Places, the goofy double of Airplane and Airplane II on two consecutive evenings, Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon in Four Christmases, and Bill Murray offering a cynical response to Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future in the beloved Scrooged.

 

Troll Hunter

Troll Hunter

 

  • - Talking of ghosts, this is a good time of year to stay up late and shiver (even if you are wearing your new Christmas jumper). The promo gives you a glimpse of the mischievous mini-monsters in the Guillermo Del Toro-produced Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, but there’s also creepy business from Gremlins director Joe Dante in The Hole, intense Australian suspense in Red Hill and weird goings-on in Italy in Berberian Sound Studio, while Korean classic The Host proves that it’s not only in Troll Hunter that you’ll find monsters living under bridges.

 

  • - There’s always talk of the football season taking a winter break, but thankfully such a thing has never come to pass. Film4 is doing it’s bit to keep the beautiful game on your screens during Christmas with the ever-popular wartime adventure Escape to Victory. Pele and Bobby Moore team up with Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone in this one-of-a-kind footie favourite.

 

Sightseers

Sightseers

  • - Finally, we have to come back to Sightseers as our final seasonal highlight, even though it is featured in the promo and elsewhere on the site. Director Ben Wheatley has had an amazing year with the much-talked about release of his fourth film A Field In England, so it’s only fitting he should feature prominently on the channel as the year draws to a close. Sightseers is hilarious, scary, strange and subversive – and definitely something a bit different for Christmas. If you only find time to watch one film during the holidays, make sure that you mark Sightseers – 9pm on Boxing Day – as the one not to miss.

You can handle the truth! Documentaries on Film4

Film4 Channel Editor David Cox shares exciting news of a new programme of documentaries screening on Film4.

Although documentary features have always been part of the Film4 schedule, they’ve never before had a home of their own. We may have premiered the likes of Oscar-winner Undefeated, the unforgettable Mission To Lars, the poetic Bombay Beach, films about filmmaking such as Side By Side and Cameraman, and music portraits like Shut Up And Play The Hits and Benda Bilili! in recent years, but this week sees the start of our first-ever slot exclusively for docs – a five-week run of true-life tales every Thursday at 11am until 19th December.

Although time and place are consistent, not much else about the season is. Documentaries come in many forms, something demonstrated by our selection of films. The season begins with an acclaimed recent film by a master, director Werner Herzog. Although Herzog is famous for the fiction features he made in the 1970s (Aguirre: Wrath of God; Fitzcarraldo) he’s most prolific as a documentary-maker, having created a wide array of short- and long-form docs from the late 1960s through to the present day. Films such as Grizzly Man and Encounters At the End of the World were box-office hits, as was the film we’re presenting on Thursday 21st November at 11am – Cave Of Forgotten Dreams. This unique and haunting odyssey takes us where no movie cameras have gone before – deep into the Chauvet caves in Southern France to explore paintings made more than 30,000 years ago, the oldest examples of representational artwork yet discovered.

There’s also a touch of Herzog to the following week’s film – Two Years At Sea on Thursday 28th November. British experimental filmmaker Ben Rivers focusses on a hermit (an impressively bearded gent called Jake Williams) living in the Scottish wilds, although this is very far from a straightforward documentary (we don’t learn anything about his story, or even his name, from the action in the film). Instead, Rivers’ deals with this world in sublime fashion, slowing things down and finding glimmers of poetry in this extraordinary environment.

The season then continues into December with director Patrizio Guzman’s powerful Nostalgia For The Light on Thursday 5th December. Guzman is a documentary legend thanks to his three-part, five-hour epic The Battle of Chile, from 1977, which covers the overthrow of the Salvador Allende government by General Pinochet and the CIA. This more recent film – from 2010 – connects the sky above Chile’s Atacama desert with the secrets buried beneath it, as astronomers search the stars for fresh discoveries while relatives of those who ‘disappeared’ during the Pinochet regime comb the earth for traces of their missing loved ones. An imaginative approach to unbearably sad stories, this is a film that genuinely changes the way you look at the world.

You’ll have your mind expanded in all manner of ways by our offering on Thursday 12th December – Grant Gee’s Patience (After Sebald). This discursive doc follows in the footsteps – both literary and literal – of the late W. G. Sebald, a writer who fused history, geography, philosophy, politics and personal experience in books including ‘Austerlitz’ and ‘The Rings of Saturn’. Gee attempts to create on-screen the full Sebaldian worldview, with interviews, location shooting and archive footage coming together to create a heady experience.

This current season of documentaries finishes on Thursday 19th December with Waste Land, by director Lucy Walker. Walker has become one of the most prominent directors working in the world of non-fiction filmmaking, thanks to features including Blindsight, Countdown to Zero and, most recently, The Crash Reel. Waste Land looks at how art can emerge from the unlikeliest of places, in this case the world’s largest landfill, on the outskirts of Rio. Walker focusses on Vik Muniz, an artist who transforms the raw material he finds there; his work takes the viewer on a unique journey.

Hopefully these five films will inspire you to look further into the world of documentary filmmaking, catching up with other titles by the filmmakers showcased here and also seeking stories further afield. You’ll even find other docs in the schedule during this period – make sure you don’t miss the incredibly powerful and moving I Am Breathing, by directors Morag Mackinnon and Emma Davie, in our British Connection season on Sunday 24th November at 11.15pm. You should also look out for the premiere of the inspiring Ping Pong and a further play of the aforementioned Mission To Lars around Christmas (dates and times still TBC) – but if you add the titles you’re interested in to your Watchlist on Film4.com, we’ll email you when your chosen films are set to play on Film4.

Find out more about how to add films to your Watchlist and receive email reminders when they screen

 

Coming Soon on Film4: September

20 Sep, 2013 Posted in: Film4 Channel

Channel Editor David Cox looks forward to upcoming seasons and specials on Film4…

With a resourceful Saoirse Ronan taking the lead in Kevin Macdonald’s new dramatic-thriller How I Live Now, Film4 anticipates the film’s October 4th release with a week-long Heroines season – a line-up of formidable female-focused stories with a take-charge attitude.

Saoirse Ronan in How I Live Now

Saoirse Ronan in How I Live Now

Starting at 9pm for the first four nights before shifting to a late-night slot as the action gets tougher, the season features powerhouse performances from the likes of Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby, Sigourney Weaver in Alien, Carice van Houten in Paul Verhoeven’s Black Book (a real channel favourite) and Noomi Rapace in the original The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (with the rest of the trilogy coming up over the following fortnight).

The season displays a real range of character- and story-types, with season inspiration Ronan using her spiritual strength in The Lovely Bones through to the more straightforward ass-kicking attributes of Angelina Jolie in Salt and, especially, JeeJa Yanin in the Thai martial-arts extravaganza Chocolate. And heroines don’t necessarily have to be a force for good, as Keira Knightley proves in the late Tony Scott’s hyperactive Domino.

The season kicks off on Tuesday 24th September at 8.50pm with an exclusive interview with Saoirse Ronan about her role in How I Live Now, continuing that evening at 9pm with Kate Beckinsale in the graphic-novel adaptation Whiteout.

For the full-line-up of Film4’s Heroines season, take a look here.

world-of-apu-613

The World Of Apu

Also coming up over the next week is the final part of director Satyajit Ray’s ‘Apu trilogy’, one of the cornerstones of world cinema. The World Of Apu (Thursday 26th September, 11am) brings to a close the story of the character introduced to us as a village boy in 1955’s Pather Panchali (and which continued in 1956’s Aparajito). In this concluding chapter from 1959, Apu (played by Soumitra Chatterjee) is a young man living in Calcutta and struggling to reconcile adult responsibilities with his dream of becoming a writer. The film works perfectly well as a standalone story, so don’t worry if you haven’t seen the first two parts of the trilogy; however, you’ll certainly want to see the rest of the story at some point, so sign up to the watchlist to find out when we’re playing all three films again.

We’re also excited to be screening the debut film from cult director John Carpenter next week. His 1974 comedy Dark Star (Friday 27th September, 10.55pm) is both a clever spoof of sci-fi conventions (the poster tagline was ‘Bombed out in space with a spaced-out bomb’) and an original take on the experience of being an astronaut in its own right. There’s also one of the best low-budget alien creatures ever put on screen (it’s basically just a beachball with feet). Dark Star was co-created and co-written by the late Dan O’Bannon and you can detect in it more than a trace of his next film Alien which followed in 1979. However, you don’t have to wait five years to compare the two, as Alien is coming up on Film4 the very next night – Saturday 28th September, 10.55pm.

My Time In Toronto – The Films Of Toronto International Film Festival 2013

19 Sep, 2013 Posted in: Festivals, Opinion, Toronto, Uncategorized

Now back in the UK and recovering from festival overload, Film4 Channel Editor David Cox rounds up his experiences at the Toronto International Film Festival in one bumper blog…

Even with the benefit of a few days’ hindsight there’s no simple way to encapsulate the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), which wrapped on Sunday 15th September. Other major international festivals – Cannes, Berlin, Venice – have high-profile competitions, ensuring that each day is dominated by the unveiling of the new entrants and giving those events a narrative-ready focus and structure. Toronto doesn’t really have that (there is a structure to the programme but it’s less overt); it has plenty of big, much-anticipated films claiming the majority of the media spotlight, but the fact that these titles continue to screen beyond their respective premieres means they enter the flow of the festival more smoothly. Stop to survey the festival landscape midway through its 11 days, once the majority of films have played at least once, and it feels remarkably even and democratic; any high-points you can see rising up from the programme are the good films, rather than those that have been pre-selected by the programmers or carefully marketed for special attention.

Sounds almost perfect, doesn’t it? Well, it is – once you reach that aforementioned midpoint. The downside is that for the first few days you’re faced with more than 300 films and a daunting navigational task. Everything looks interesting – the small films you don’t know sound intriguing, the new films by directors you love are essential, the big films you could probably see at home in a few weeks time are too tempting to resist. Putting together a screening schedule from the first Thursday through to the Monday is a constant process of prioritising – what you quite fancy, what you want to see, what you definitely can’t miss, what you can see later in the festival, what you can see at the London Film Festival in a month’s time. Run those categories through your head a few hundred times, add in daily word-of-mouth to keep you on your toes, and suddenly each choice you make takes on great significance; after all, you’re not just seeing one film – you’re also missing about six others.

Luckily, there’s so much to see at Toronto that you could probably go through the festival a few times, seeing completely different films on each occasion, and always have an equally rewarding experience. In the end I managed to strike a fairly healthy balance, ranging from high-profile bruisers (the Weinstein Co.’s Oscar-hungry acting extravaganza August: Osage County; Alfonso Cuaron’s spectacularly-staged space thriller Gravity) to the very opposite end of the spectrum (Manakamana, a series of passenger-portraits captured by a fixed-camera on a Tibetan chairlift; The Strange Little Cat, a beautifully choreographed and observed German film set almost entirely in a single kitchen).

Sandra Bullock in Gravity

Sandra Bullock in Gravity

As usual, Toronto served as a launching pad for the penultimate wave of end-of-year awards hopefuls (the final assault tends to come throughout November). Festival opener The Fifth Estate probably fancied itself as one of these, but this account of the rise of WikiLeaks and the machinations of Julian Assange (distractingly played by Benedict Cumberbatch) is so desperate to be a breathless thriller that it never stops to acquire any real gravity. Conversely, Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners is a twisty mystery about kidnapped children that could have done with lightening its load, although the portentous tone and 150-minute running-time means it will probably be taken more seriously than it should. More convincing in every respect is Dallas Buyers Club, the story of avowedly heterosexual Texan rodeo star Ron Woodruff who, having contracted HIV in the mid-80s and being given 30 days to live, ends up taking on a pharmaceutical industry denying AIDS patients access to alternative medicine. Insouciant, angry and steering well clear of self-pity, the film’s tone is pretty much set by Matthew McConaughey in the lead role, although his performance is more than matched by Jared Leto as a Woodruff’s drag queen sidekick.

Labor Day

Labor Day

A major end-of-year Oscar prospect that seemed to land a little softer than expected, Jason Reitman’s Labor Day stars Kate Winslet as a single mother suffering from depression whose life, along with that of her devoted young son, is transformed when an escaped convict seeks refuge in her home. On the surface it may appear that the film doesn’t have the weight to stand up to supposedly more ‘important’ films when it comes to awards, but the beautiful layering of desire, discovery, transformation and actualisation gives this whole-hearted emotional story real tensile strength.

However, the film that emerged strongest from Toronto is Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave. The true story of Solomon Northup, a free man sold into slavery, is full of horror, heartbreak and righteous rage, with McQueen capturing all that strong feeling in a way that’s both delicate yet penetrating. Faced with a subject of such scope and import, McQueen has to work harder than ever to find a way to communicate with precision; that he manages to do so is testament to his formidable concentration and artistic imagination, coupled with performances from Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael Fassbender and Benedict Cumberbatch. The film won the festival’s Audience Award, surely only the first prize of many more to come. (Although 12 Years A Slave is a Film4 production, this assessment is purely objective.)

Benedict Cumberbatch and Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave

Benedict Cumberbatch and Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave

Although Toronto can sometimes feel like a huge muddle of movies that’s been left for the viewer to sort out (which it isn’t, of course), the programme does possess one defining daily feature by which it can be surely navigated. A dark star that shines only at midnight to guide weary festivalgoers to their final port of call, the Midnight Madness strand is quite simply the most fun, exciting and inspiring place to watch new horror, action and exploitation films. Housed at the Ryerson – a cavernous college hall turned into a cinema for the festival – Midnight Madness celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, with its dedicated programmer and host Colin Geddes delivering yet another monstrously entertaining 10-night line-up to the most vocal and energised audience I’ve ever been a part of (no-one does on-stage film intros like Geddes). Each night, at the end of the regular festival day, I tell myself I might be better off getting a decent night’s sleep, only to find myself inexorably drawn to the huge Midnight Madness queue that circles a city block and ultimately leads into a cinema full of pre-film beach ball fun, blasting music, black t-shirts and call-and-response insanity.

Oculus

Oculus

This year, my Midnight highlight was Oculus, a cleverly-constructed story of a haunted mirror that drives people to violent murder and suicide. Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites are siblings who concoct an elaborate plan to destroy the 17th-century ‘Lasser glass’ ten years after it possessed their parents, only to find that the only-superficially inanimate antique is quite capable of defending itself. Director Mike Flanagan fully delivers on the promise of his 2011 debut Absentia, combining past and present in the same physical and narrative space while never sacrificing the clarity that helps make his tale so effective.

Also keeping the Midnight masses wide awake was Eli Roth, whose new film The Green Inferno is a homage to the sub-genre of Italian cannibal films. Roth was here last year with a film he produced – Aftershock – and Green Inferno follows a similar game plan, starting slow before piling on the gory shocks. An aborted environmental protest leaves a group of student radicals stranded in the Peruvian jungle at the mercy of natives whose way of life they were trying to preserve, the basis for an ‘Americans abroad’ satire that’s not a million miles from Roth’s own Hostel films. It’s a formula that still works a treat here, especially with the added bonus of the Amazonian locations, a committed cast drawn from a local tribe and some seriously intense shock set pieces.

Elsewhere, the Midnight Madness crowd gave a warm welcome to a number of other genre luminaries – returning hero Hitoshi Matsumoto (Big Man Japan) was treated like a rock star when he introduced his perverse S&M comedy-fantasy R100, while Alex de la Iglesia (Witching & Bitching), Lucky McKee (All Cheerleaders Die) and Sion Sono (who won the section’s Audience Award with Why Don’t You Play In Hell?) all kept the Ryerson rocking until well past 2am. All in all, this was a 25th birthday celebrated in satisfyingly rude and rousing style.

All the above barely scratches the surface of what I saw in Toronto, which itself is only a fraction of what was actually on show. Thankfully, a number of leading titles had already screened in Cannes (Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue Is The Warmest Colour; Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive; Jia Zhangke’s A Touch Of Sin; Hirokazu Kore-Eda’s Like Father, Like Son) and I’d been lucky enough to see some of the many Film4 titles prior to the festival (Under The Skin; The Selfish Giant; Le Week-End; The Double), so there was plenty of time to explore the rest of the TIFF programme.

James Franco in Palo Alto

James Franco in Palo Alto

These days it seems that no international film festival is complete without the presence of James Franco in some form or another. At Toronto, he was on-screen in Palo Alto (which was also based on his book of short stories) and behind-the-camera as director on the Cormac McCarthy adaptation Child Of God. Palo Alto is a beautiful and unhysterical study of confused, troubled and sexually curious young teenagers from first-time director Gina Coppola (Francis’s granddaughter) – not having read Franco’s stories I can’t vouch for the skill of the adaptation, but what’s on-screen is sensitively observed by Coppola and exquisitely played by a young cast including Emma Roberts, Nat Wolff and, best of all, Val Kilmer’s son Jack. Franco’s own Child of God, his second feature is a bracing and vivid drama about a lost soul-turned-hillbilly necrophiliac (astonishingly played by newcomer Tim Haze, with worrying enthusiasm) roaming free in America’s rural South. The film feels natural and immediate, perfectly attuned to its character troubled state-of-mind; there’s something of early Werner Herzog in Franco’s approach that makes me eager to see what he’ll do next.

At the this point I’m at a loss to find fancy ways to bring a disparate bunch of films together so I’ll finish with a quick spin through some personal highlights. Club Sandwich is another droll, minimalist study of boredom and quiet yearning from Mexican director Fernando Eimbcke – it’s always amazing to see how much the director of Duck Season and Lake Tahoe can get out of so little. All Is By My Side is a Jimi Hendrix biopic that although light on his music (due to wrangling with the Hendrix estate) is heavy on charm and piquant dramatic moments, mainly thanks to a relaxed performance from OutKast’s Andre Benjamin.

All Is By My Side

All Is By My Side

The Stag is a winning Irish comedy about a stag weekend in the Irish countryside, firmly anchored by the wonderful Andrew Scott and then launched into the comic stratosphere by Peter McDonald as a force-of-nature known as The Machine. And, finally, two from Taiwan – a haunting, slow-motion mystery about demonic possession Soul and, perhaps best of all, the return-to-form of Tsai Ming-liang with the miraculous Stray Dogs, a moving story of urban dispossession in which the director extends his famous fixed long-takes almost to breaking-point, in the process going deeper than ever into the realm of pure feeling than ever before. If this is truly going to be Tsai’s final film, as he himself claims, then he’s going out on a high as one of the unassailable greats of contemporary world cinema.

So, that was Toronto 2013 – and I didn’t even get round to mentioning strong new films from some of my favourite directors (oh, ok then – Night Moves, by Kelly Reichardt; Enough Said, by Nicole Holofcener; Joe, by David Gordon Green; We Are The Best!, by Lukas Moodysson; The Wind Rises, by Hayao Miyazaki). And to let you off the hook if you couldn’t be bothered to read all the above, I’ll finish with a Top 12 list.

 

TORONTO TOP 12 (excluding Cannes and Film4 titles)

Child Of God (James Franco)

Dallas Buyers Club (Jean-Marc Vallee)

Gravity (Alfonso Cuaron)

Manakamana (Stephanie Spray, Pancho Valez)

Night Moves (Kelly Reichardt)

Oculus (Mike Flanagan)

Palo Alto (Gia Coppola)

R100 (Hitoshi Matsumoto)

Soul (Chung Mong-Hong)

The Strange Colour Of Your Body’s Tears (Helene Cattet, Bruno Forzani)

The Strange Little Cat (Ramon Zurcher)

Stray Dogs (Tsai Ming-Liang)

 

by David Cox

David Cox is Channel Editor of Film 4 and the Programmer of Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House.