While part of the joy of a film festival is discovering something new, the unveiling of a master director's newest work can be just as rewarding. Just last year, I had the double whammy of a new Terry Gilliam and the latest Quay Brothers film back-to-back. This may not seem like much to TIFF vets, but I hate you all, so who cares what you think. (NOTE: Please disregard this last comment. I love everyone equally, especially TIFF vets.)
Anyway, here's my amateur take on the filmmakers I'm paying special attention to this year:
WERNER HERZOG - I've been a mild Herzog fan for several years now, but just started properly appreciating him in the last year or so, after Grizzly Man came out. Since then, I've been returning to his older work and find them richer, deeper and stranger than I remember. His film this year, Rescue Dawn, is an adaptation of his earlier Little Dieter Needs to Fly, a film I own, but shamefully haven't watched yet. I've heard it may be more conventional than his usual fare, but I sincerely doubt Herzog is capable of anything too conventional, so we'll see.
TAKASHI MIIKE - Another film festival, another Takashi Miike. Since the man makes approximately 600 films per year, it's not a shock, I suppose, though the lack of a Midnight Madness Miike is somewhat surprising. Big Bang Love Juvenile A (yes, that is the title) looks like an episode of Oz, filmed on the sets of Dogville by the cast of Brokeback Mountain. And if that description doesn't make it sound totally awesome, you may need serious help. Seriously, this one looks absolutely beautiful. Seriously, if you don't believe me, head here, then dig up the trailer.
GUILLERMO DEL TORO (AKA, THE FANBOY'S AUTEUR) - I sort of like del Toro, though I can't say I particularly love any of his films. He moves fairly effortlessly between glossy, sometimes entertaining Hollywood fare (the best being Blade 2) and more serious, personal films. Of his serious work, The Devil's Backbone is the best, mixing real and fantasy horrors in a manner that is almost perfect. Plus, I love any ghost story where the most shocking scene is the snap of a child's bone, with no supernatural influence whatsoever. Pan's Labyrinth is supposed to be in this vein, so I'm officially excited. Also, it's got cool looking monsters. Did you see that guy with the eyeballs in his hands? Awesome.
More to come later. As usual, drop a comment in the bucket and let me know you're out there. If you are out there...