“How I Live Now”
Synopsis: An American girl comes to England to visit her cousins and falls in love for the first time, only for society to collapse following a nuclear war while she's there.
What You Need To Know: While we've faced apocalypses aplenty this year already, one thing we haven't seen so far is a coming-of-age, human drama-based take on the cinematic staple. We're intrigued as to whether director Kevin Macdonald has delivered just that with his adaptation of Meg Rosoff's best-selling young adult tale. Penned by Jeremy Brock ("The Last King of Scotland") and Tony Grisoni (The "Red Riding" Trilogy, the much-hyped "Southcliffe" which also screens at TIFF), it's got tough subject matter — not least from a quasi- incestuous romance at the center — but it certainly looks the part judging from the trailer that features the halcyon, sun-kissed "before" as well as scenes of a violent, militaristic "after." If Macdonald's last non-documentary film, "The Eagle" was disappointing, he has certainly already proven his dramatic chops with the underrated "State of Play" and, of course, "Last King of Scotland", and boasts one of the most talented young actors of her generation, Saoirse Ronan in the lead. She's alongside "The Impossible" breakout Tom Holland and we're expecting this to be the one to substantially transcend the slew of samey YA adaptations that continue to bedevil our multiplexes.
Synopsis: After 12 years in prison, a larger-than-life safecracker reteams with a pal and goes about trying to collect what he's owed for keeping his mouth shut about his boss, while also trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter.
What You Need To Know: Returning to the crime-caper-comedy genre that yielded strong, if underseen results before with 2005's "The Matador" (and to a lesser extent, 2007's "The Hunting Party" which nobody saw), writer/director Richard Shepard heads to the big screen after racking up a few TV credits on "Criminal Minds" and "Girls" among other shows, with "Dom Hemingway." In a rare move these days, the film features Jude Law in the lead role, albeit one that seems a far distance away from his first go-round at straight-up, matinee idol, leading man status. In fact if the splashy and self-consciously sensationalist promotional material so far is anything to go by, his Dom seems like the kind of loudmouth cockney wideboy who'd be a supporting character elsewhere, but has been given his own movie here. It could all come crashing down around our ears, but with a supporting cast including Richard E. Grant, Demian Bichir and Emilia Clarke and a director versed in pulling of this kind of offbeat, blackly comedic tone, we're cautiously optimistic.
Needless to say with such a crammed schedule, TIFF has many more titles we're curious about and will be looking to check out. Some of those that have us pricking up our ears but just missed out on our top picks are the Dennis Lehane-esque "Felony" written by and starring Joel Edgerton; the Australian WWI survival film "Canopy"; the adaptation of acclaimed novel "Half Of A Yellow Sun" starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton; Alejandre Aja's "Horns" with Daniel Radcliffe; Kevin Kline-starring Errol Flynn biopic "The Last Of Robin Hood"; "Life Of Crime" with Jennifer Aniston, based on the late, great Elmore Leonard's novel "The Switch"; Ron Howard's "Rush"; "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner's “You Are Here” starring Owen Wilson, Amy Poehler and Zach Galifianakis; “Hotell” starring Alicia Vikander; “The F Word,” with Daniel Radcliffe (again); Jason Bateman's directorial debut “Bad Words"; potential awards dark horse “Belle”; “All Is By My Side” with Hayley Atwell and Imogen Poots; Catherine Breillat's “Abuse of Weakness” with Isabelle Huppert; Idris Elba-starring biopic "Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom"; "Pioneer" from original "Insomnia" director Erik Skjoldbjærg and Keanu Reeves' "Man of Tai Chi." We'll be bringing you reviews and other coverage from TIFF 2013 from Thursday onward. Wish us luck.