#TIFF12: Buzzy Films

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It’s back.

The city is awash in TIFF madness. One
can’t walk down the street without running into pop-up mobs of star-gazers out front of Toronto’s swankiest hotels (okay, maybe even we cast a glance at
the entrance when passing hot spots like the Templar (Target) Hotelthe Drake Hotel, the SoHo, the Hyatt and Le Germain). Most bars have an
extended 4 a.m. license for the duration of the festival,
even if half the hopeful partiers find themselves standing outside Soho House hoping to spot one of the many A-listers coming and going.

But it’s not really about catching a glimpse of Ryan
Gosling, is it? Toronto’s film fest is known as an Academy Award barometer and is truly all about the films. Here are
the films we’re most excited about, or have seen and loved the most thus far:

Billed as a “mind-bending futuristic thriller,” Looper
features Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a young Bruce Willis on a mission to kill his
future self.  By all accounts, director Rian Johnson’s ability to blend genres and create something fresh and
interesting is at play again here and the result is both action-packed and
mentally stimulating. Jo-Go’s star is on the rise and, apparently, neither his
nor co-stars Willis and Emily Blunt’s performances disappoint.

An adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s classic and the third
collaboration of Keira Knightley and director Joe Wright (previously Atonement
and Pride & Prejudice), this film is a shoo-in for Academy nods. The trailer
alone attests to the film’s sumptuous settings and costume design and we are
excited to see Jude Law in the role of Alexei Karenin.


It was said that the novel Cloud Atlas would be impossible to adapt to film. Apparently not
for the Wachowski siblings (previously brothers) behind The Matrix and Tom Tykwer, who have directed a movie of “epic”
proportions (according to TIFF co-director Cameron Bailey himself).  The cast includes Tom Hanks, Halle
Berry, Hugo Weaving and more with appearances from Susan Sarandon and Hugh
Grant.

The premise of this film is a dog-napping scheme gone awry.
Directed by Martin McDonagh and boasting a star-studded cast, including Colin
Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken and Tom Waits, we
can’t wait to see what happens following the theft of a ganster’s Shih Tzu…right?

Based on a true story this film, directed and starred in by
Ben Affleck, is a movie about a fake movie made by the CIA in order to get six
stranded Americans out of Tehran. It promises to be filled with suspense and
sprinkled with humor. John Goodman, Bryan Cranston and Barry Livingston support
and, darn it, Ben Affleck looks good with a beard.

The list of films we’re excited about goes on. Here are some
more you should definitely check out: Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang, Rebelle, Laurence Anyways, The Master, Silver Linings PlaybookHyde Park on Hudson,
Dredd 3D, Midnight’s Children,
 Inescapable
Stories We Tell and My Awkward Sexual Adventure starring Jonas Chernick and Emily Hampshire.

TIFF is also a great time to check out some up-and-coming talent. The Rising Stars Programme features young Canadian actors and actresses Charlotte Sullivan, Charlie Carrick, Tatiana Maslany and Connor Jessup. Jessup stars in the Independent Film and Festival 2012 selection Blackbird as Sean Randall: an angry and troubled teenager who finds himself in juvenile detention after being accused and arrested for a crime that he did not commit – forever reshaping his life. Maslany stars in Picture Day, directed by Kate Melville, which premieres at TIFF. She has also started filming the Jason Priestley-directed Cas & Dylan with Richard Dreyfuss.


Rave: Karaoke

We’re not going to lie, initially the idea of karaoke made
us cringe (and let’s be honest, a little terrified). Singing in front of an
audience not knowing what notes we can or cannot hit and without an
abundance of shots? No, thank you, not for us. All this changed when we
discovered the world of private karaoke rooms at a friend’s birthday, then
later while visiting Korea and Japan, where karaoke
bars are their answer to an after-party. So whether you’re braver than us and
it’s public karaoke you’re after, or you prefer less audience and
more mic time, we’ve rounded up the best places in the city to sing your heart
out.



Public karaoke bars
Cadillac Lounge 1296 Queen St. W.
Complete with a full-size stage and smoke machines, we only
recently discovered that this bar (with one of the best patios in the city) offers
karaoke on Saturday nights.


The Gladstone 1214 Queen St. W.
Head on over to the Melody Bar at the Gladstone Hotel Friday and Saturday nights and hang out at what Now Magazine has
voted “Best Karaoke Bar” for eight years straight.  


Sneaky Dees 431 College St.
Sing away your case of the Mondays at Sneaky Dee’s Monday
night karaoke. With more than 15,000 songs to choose from, no cover and $3
drinks before 11 p.m., now the nachos
aren’t the only reason to head to this College Street favourite. 

TKO’sSports Pub 1600 Danforth Ave.

Don’t
be fooled by the crowds of men watching hockey or UFC – the upstairs of this
Danforth sports bar doubles as a karaoke bar on Saturday nights. Bonus: great
wings, great burgers. We’re sold.


The smoke machine adds a little something extra at Cadillac Lounge.



Private karaoke rooms



XO Karaoke 693 Bloor St. W.
Thank you to one of our best friends who decided to host her
birthday at XO Karaoke a few years back and introduce us to this gem. Conveniently located beside Clinton’s in the heart of Korea Town, we say why not make a night of it, or hit it
up late night like they do in Korea and Japan. And if XO is too crowded, BMB Karaoke is just down the street!

Bar+ Karaoke & Lounge 360 Yonge St. 2nd floor (above Swiss Chalet) 
Another private karaoke bar intro’d to us via a birthday celebration, Bar+ has a huge selection of English, Korean, Chinese, Japanese and Thai music open to all who love to sing and dance. One of our favourite parts? We got to bring our own snacks in, as long as we bought drinks from their bar. Stuff your face, sing at the top of your lungs and get your drink on. Good times.



Izakaya  294 College
St. 
After enjoying our regular sushi dinner at this delicious
new Japanese restaurant at College and Spadina, we got to talking to the owner
who let us in on a secret: the back room of the restaurant turns into a private
karaoke room if booked for 20 people or more. Sushi and karaoke? You know where
to find us at our next birthday.


S Lounge 4901 Yonge St. 2nd floor
If you are willing to make the trek (we prefer adventure) to
Yonge and Sheppard then we strongly suggest you check out this snazzy karaoke
bar. With themed rooms and a menu clad with pub
favourites and Japanese food alike, this karaoke bar is in a league of its own. 


Just two of the rooms at S Lounge
So next time you’re looking for birthday, bachelorette, or just regular Saturday night plans, why not check out the karaoke scene in Toronto. After all, there’s never a dull moment when a little Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys or Journey singalong is involved.