City Living: Our top TIFF movie picks

It’s finally here. 

With all the parties, gifting lounges and celebrity sightings that take place during TIFF, it’s sometimes hard to remember the real reason for the fest – the movies. From indie films to documentaries to A-list directors, this year’s programming offers something for every movie-goers’ taste. We understand that with over 300 films to see, it can be hard to choose what to watch. Thankfully, we’re here to help. Below, in no particular order, are the films we’re most excited about.


Other than the obvious reason we want to see this flick – helloooooo, Ryan Gosling – we’ve always had a soft spot for a good car chase. Drive directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, features Gosling as a Hollywood stunt car driver who moonlights as a wheelman. After a heist goes wrong, he finds out there’s a contract put out on his head. Gosling’s Steve McQueen-esque perfomance coupled with the lovely Carey Mulligan makes this flick a must-see. And if you need one more reason to check it out, the sexual tension between Gosling & Mulligan in the film’s trailer should do it (specifically, the elevator scene). 

Martha Marcy May Marlene

Martha Marcy May Marlene stars Elizabeth Olsen (yes, as in Mary Kate and Ashley’s little sis) as a young woman who flees an abusive cult in the Catskills Mountains. As she tries to assimilate into her sister’s family, her increasing paranoia leads her to believe that the cult and it’s enigmatic leader (John Hawkes) may still be watching her. The trailer scared the bejesus out of us and director Sean Durkin took home the Best Director’s award when it premiered at Sundance, two compelling reasons to check it out.

We Need To Talk About Kevin

When we read Lionel Shriver’s book a few years back, we had a hard time believing it could translate into a feature film. Then we heard Tilda Swinton was cast in the lead role and all faith was restored! This movie tells the story of a school massacre, told from the perspective of the killer’s mother, Eva (Swinton). The narrative travels back and forth in time, in an attempt to grasp the nature of evil and lightly touching on the nature vs. nurture argument. Directed by Lynn Ramsay, this film premiered at Cannes where Swinton earned rave reviews for her compelling performance. 

Take This Waltz
Canadian film darling Sarah Polley returns to TIFF to premiere her newest film. Take This Waltz stars Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Luke Kirby and the hilarious Sarah Silverman in a bittersweet story about a married woman struggling to choose between her husband and a man she’s just met. This film is Polley’s first directorial effort since the much-lauded Away From Her, so expectations are high. 

Machine Gun Preacher
Directed by Marc Forster this film is based on the true story of Sam Childers, an American drug dealing biker who became a crusader for Sudanese child soldiers. Starring Gerard Butler as Sam Childers, Machine Gun Preacher also features Michelle Monaghan, Michael Shannon and Kathy Baker in this heart-wrenching depiction of children at war. Buzz is already building about Butler’s performance, but if you can’t catch it at TIFF, it will be in Toronto and Vancouver theatres on September 30.

See you at the movies! But not until October, when we actually have time to get into a theatre to see something.


Rave: Blue Valentine

Recently, Alliance Films offered the Fourth Floor tix to a screening of Blue Valentine. We happily accepted and raced each other to the theatre. 

Why should you see this movie? Ryan Gosling. The end.

Jokes! There’s more to this flick than a pretty man-face. Much more.

We loved Blue Valentine. It was gritty, real, tough, sweet, and utterly charming at moments. At other moments, it was heartbreaking. There were more than a few tears in the audience. 

The film focuses on Dean (Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams), a couple with a young daughter, a golden retriever and an unhappy marriage. The story of their relationship is told through flashbacks juxtaposed with scenes from their current life. 

They seemed fated to be together, and watching Dean and Cindy fall in love is so enjoyable. Their beginning is sweet, sincere and happy. 

Dean and Cindy’s relationship doesn’t keep its golden glow forever. It’s so sad to see how life changes such a strong love. 

It was interesting to see how the appearances of Williams and Gosling change throughout the film as they age. They go from young, attractive and glowing, to older and looking like life had finally just… gotten to them.

The four of us who saw the film could relate to it in different ways, and it left us thinking long and hard about the relationships in our lives. Here are our thoughts:

Christina: Although Blue Valentine didn’t make me cry (like most of the audience), I immensely enjoyed this film. Going home later that evening, and for two days following the film, I’ve found my mind drifting back to the story of romantic relationship turned cold. Looking forward to seeing it again (perhaps even in theatres). 

Rachelle: The movie made my heart swell and my eyes cry. It was a very honest portrayal of a couple facing real life happening and love fading. Sad, but true.

Abby: It made me really think about my relationship with my fiance, how similar our relationship was (in some ways) to the young Dean and Cindy, and how much I don’t want to become the older version of them. It’s scary to see how easily a relationship can crumble away, even with the best beginning. It’s cliché, but true – love isn’t enough. 

Lara: The acting was superb, and the story was incredibly easy to relate to. The sensitive man with philosophical depth is so attractive to women at the beginning of the relationship and good “on paper” qualities we look for are often thrown out the window as a result. However, these characteristics that attract women in the beginning can end up being turn-offs in the long run; this was the case in Blue Valentine. Watching their relationship unfold was a reminder of my first boyfriend and our relationship. With no resolution at the end, I was left feeling sombre watching a relationship turn sour. What can I say, I’m an eternal optimist!
Go see this (but not with someone you just started dating). Then, run home and hug the one you love.