Sunday, September 20, 2015

The 2015 Vanguard Mascot Battle Winner!

It's that time again. The time when the most coveted award in all of TIFF is up for the taking.

We are talking about, of course, Vanguard Mascot Battle, in which several people, insects, animals and even inanimate objects compete for the coveted title of Official Vanguard Blog Mascot.

We're coming at you all the way from England to announce the winner. Since the Giant Novelty Pencil from the Keswick Pencil Museum from Ben Wheatley's Sightseers (GNP for short) is from England, it only made sense for me to be here so I could pay tribute to GNP before passing the torch/crown/what was it again? to the new winner. Okay, fine, I moved here for realsies, which is why you didn't see me around on the Vanguard Blog much this year. I've been busy planning out my road trip to the Pencil Museum, and other British things. Sad news bears, most definitely, but not even an ocean could keep me away from the Vanguard Mascot Battle!

My steadfast blogging colleagues (blogeagues?) graciously allowed me to do the honours of announcing the final winner and I promise you it isn't a pencil or anything remotely British. Like Paddington Bear, because that would just be silly. I did seriously consider making it a marmalade sandwich, though.

So who's it going to be? That chicken is looking like he could easily take Joe Swanberg and Bruce McDonald's cowboy hat. Have you ever seen a chicken fight? Has anyone in this family ever seen a chicken? They fight mean, man.

Then again, we can't ignore the fact that Joe Swanberg is definitely more flexible than GNP and even had a burger named after him. Basically we all want to be Joe Swanberg, but is that enough to reclaim the title of Vanguard Mascot?

And Bruce McDonald's hat—we don't have to say anything else about that because it's Bruce McDonald's hat. Duh.

Unfortunately, as with most things in life, like Highlander, there can only be one. So without further ado, may we present to you this year's Vanguard Mascot Winner:

*drumroll please*

Mads Mikkelsen's Moustache! 

AKA the Madstache.

Maybe you're all like, "Huh?" But don't deny it: in this picture of the chicken, you found yourself strangely drawn to the Madstache. It's the allure of the Madstache. The essence of the Madstache. The power of the Madstache. That's just what it does.

That and beat out cowboy hats and chickens and Joe Swanberg for coveted titles! Wham, bam, thank-you ma'am. And the children rejoiced.

That's a wrap for this year! We're already eagerly anticipating who—or what—will de-throne this glorious Madstache next year. It's gonna be good. Joe Swanberg, you have a year to grow a mustache that rivals the Madstache. God speed.

DER NACHTMAHR: Parasites In Cinema

"Pssst, do you have any Reese's Pieces?"
 If you haven't yet seen Der Nachtmahr, now's your chance. Its last screening is tonight.

What's Der Nachtmahr about you ask? The TIFF Vanguard blog is here to help!

After a wild night out, a Berlin party girl finds herself haunted by a twisted, repellent little creature that no one else can see.
Is he an alien? Is he good or evil? Is he a parasite? You'll have to see Der Nachtmahr to find out, but in the meantime we thought we'd pay our respects to some well-known (or perhaps underrated) cinematic parasites.

Parasite, 1982
Set in the nearly impossible to imagine future of 1992, when gas is $40 a gallon, this is a Charles Band production, the guy who gifted the world with the Puppet Master series as well as Evil Bong: High 5, currently in pre-production according to IMDB. Parasite not only boasts Demi Moore's first film role as "the lemon girl," it also includes former Runaway Cherie Currie as a "hooligan." You might be able to find it on YouTube; we're not sure.

Basket Case, 1982
Parasite never had a chance against Frank Henenlotter's deliriously twisted creation. Filmed in a grody and gritty pre-Guiliani New York City, and using actual residents of the seedy Times Square area, Basket Case is both funny and frightening. Duane Bradley carries his deformed conjoined twin named Belial around in a basket as they seek vengeance for the surgeon who separated them.

How To Get Ahead In Advertising, 1989
Before Mad Men's Don Draper, there was Richard E. Grant as the unfortunately named    
Denis Dimbleby Bagley, whose obsession with trying to promote a new pimple cream backfires in the most grotesque way: he develops a huge boil that becomes sentient and begins talking to him. It's delightfully and horribly hilarious.

The Bay, 2012
We couldn't talk about parasites without mentioning our favorite, the Unofficial Midnight Madness Blog Mascot: The Isopod! We first fell in love with these cuddly creatures in Barry Levinson's The Bay, which not only played at the Festival but also definitely appears in the Top Ten list of best found footage movies.

Watching Vanguard movies makes isopods hungry.

DER NACHTMAHR Final Screening!
Sun. Sept. 20, 6:00PM SCOTIABANK 14


Dressed for red carping in honor of Der Nachtmahr.
Still ready for some more movies on the final day of this year's Festival?

Check out these three movies, any of which should suit your Sunday night movie-watching needs.

Ain't no party like a parasite party!
DER NACHTMAHR Screening Times:
Sun. Sept. 20, 6:00PM SCOTIABANK 14

"I'm looking for isopods; have you seen any?"
EVOLUTION Screening Times:

Ready for red carping at the Peeps Choi in a red dress!
MY GREAT NIGHT Screening Times:
Sun. Sept 20, 9:00PM SCOTIABANK 14


Don't be a Sad Mads. Catch an afternoon screening of a Vanguard film!
Welp, it's the last day of the Festival and you still want to see some films.

Might we suggest the following Vanguard titles as good choices? Any of these would be a great way to spend your Sunday afternoon.

THE MISSING GIRL Final Screening:
Sun. Sept 20, 2:30PM SCOTIABANK 4

"Hello, can you tell me if the Official Vanguard Blog Mascot for 2015 has been announced yet?"
LACE CRATER Final Screening:
Sun. Sept 20, 3:15PM SCOTIABANK 9

Run like the wind! It's the final screening of Men & Chicken!
MEN & CHICKEN Final Screening:
Sun. Sept 20, 3:30 PM SCOTIABANK 1

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Vanguard Mascot Battle Contender #3

Pew! Pew! Pew! Splosions! Wonder!

It's that time again. The time when the most coveted award in all of TIFF is up for the taking.

We are talking about, of course, Vanguard Mascot Battle, in which several people, insects, animals and even inanimate objects compete for the coveted title of Official Vanguard Blog Mascot.

Our final contender is going to have some rough competition with the chicken and Once and Future Vanguard Mascot Joe Swanberg.

The chicken has all the powers of a chicken and a pedigree traceable to the age of the dinosaurs. Joe Swanberg has all the powers of being a good sport and probably deserving better than being drawn into our Mascot Battle, but he probably doesn't know since he's directing/acting in/producing fifty movies simultaneously right this moment. But that doesn't detract from the might of our next contender...

Name: Iconic Director Bruce McDonald's Iconic Cowboy Hat.

Also Known As: Bruce McDonald's Cowboy Hat; "Man, what a sweet hat."

Description: Straw cowboy hat, well-worn, with a lot of character.

Strengths: Protecting from the sun's glare and other bright lights; Preventing sunburn on the scalp; Looking pretty sweet; Biding.

Weaknesses: Strong winds; Possibly moths or carpet beetles; Definitely goats; Being inanimate.

See how happy the cowboy hat makes Bruce McDonald? We could all be this happy.

Signature Moves: Setting; Being cocked; Reblocking; Going really well with a men's shirt with a floral design, especially if it's embroidered by one's pa.

Why Bruce McDonald's Cowboy Hat would make a good replacement Vanguard Blog mascot for the Giant Novelty Pencil from the Keswick Pencil Museum in Ben Wheatley's Sightseers:

Bruce McDonald's Cowboy hat is equally inanimate and yet has far greater stature than the Giant Novelty Pencil from the Keswikc Pencil Museum. It has a quiet dignity that we can all admire. It could easily contain the Midnight Madness blog's isopod and at least distract the chicken. The only real challenge to the hat is Joe Swanberg. Will Swanberg's acting skills allow him to successfully wear the hat--or will the cowboy hat seem to wear him?

The hat isn't in Bruce McDonald's Hellions, but you can feel its presence... 

MEN & CHICKEN: Anders Thomas Jensen Director Profile

Did you know that Anders Thomas Jensen is one of the filmmaking community's most prolific screenwriters? It's true!

Go check out his IMDB profile. We'll wait.

See what we mean? Since 1996 he's written 50 screenplays. That's like, a LOT of screenplays.

Some of these scripts have been for hugely successful and/or critically acclaimed films: Mifune's Last Song, In China They Eat Dogs, Open Hearts, Stealing Rembrandt, and Brothers. Several of these films have been directed by Danish dynamo Susanne Bier. More recently Jensen wrote A Second Chance (with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Kristian Levring's epic Western The Salvation (with Mads Mikkelsen, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Eva Green).

Although Jensen has only directed four of his own screenplays, that doesn't mean that those four movies are any less wonderful.
All right boys, we're gonna swim the HELL out of this lake!
Flickering Lights sets the stage for Jensen's ability to elicit empathy towards the most screwed up, unlikable characters you can imagine. It's also terrifically funny and touching, but not maudlin or cliché.
Mads Mikkelsen's very bald forehead just needs a few minutes to collect itself.
The Green Butchers was Jensen's next directorial effort and like Flickering Lights, itincludes Mads Mikkelsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Ole Thestrup, and Nicolas Bro. And nothing on the menu is vegetarian.

Hannibal Lecter is amused by your cannibal references.
Did you eat the last cookie?
Adam's Apples, again starring Mikkelsen, Thestrup, Bro, and Kaas, is another movie about severely dysfunctional people led by a dysfunctional pastor whose dysfunction is literally the only thing keeping them all from complete mental breakdowns. It's a whole lot funnier than it probably sounds and again, is surprisingly poignant.
The cheese will never stand alone if these three have anything to say about it.
Men & Chicken takes the same Jensen trademarks and amps them up to become even crazier and more hilarious and perhaps most shocking of all, genuinely heartwarming.

Don't miss Men & Chicken's final screening. It's a movie you won't soon forget. Trust us. We know these things.

MEN & CHICKEN Final Screening!
Sun. Sept 20, 3:30 PM SCOTIABANK 1

Producer Profile: LACE CRATER's Joe Swanberg

Joe Swanberg is well known for being one of our Vanguard Mascot contenders, but he is also well known for his micro-budget filmmaking style. Nearly every film he has directed has been produced by himself, but he has also produced a few films he did not direct, including this year's Lace Crater in the Vanguard program. Below are just of a few of the many films Joe has produced, some of which you may not have heard of.

In 2009, Joe produced his wife Kris Swanberg's film It Was Great, But I Was Ready to Come Home. The film, which selected for SXSW 2009, follows Cam (Jade Healy) and Annie (Kris Swanberg) on a trip through Costa Rica. The film is currently available to rent or buy via Vimeo.

2011's Fantasia festival saw TIFF favourites Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett (A Horrible Way to Die, You're Next, The Guest) screen the Swanberg produced film What Fun We Were Having. The film is an anthology of short films about date rape, and not much is known about it beyond the reviews out of Fantasia. Joe Swanberg does however star in the fourth story in the anthology as a young man who, while under the influence, makes the biggest mistake of his life with his roommate's sister.

Queen of the Earth is a film by Alex Ross Perry that premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival this past February. Released by IFC Films in August, the film stars Katerine Waterston and Elisabeth Moss as two women that grew up together that discover they have drifted apart while at a lake house retreat.

Further information about Lace Crater can be found on the Festival website, as well as on the film's Facebook page and director Harrison Atkins' website.

LACE CRATER Screening Times:
Sun. Sept 20, 3:15PM SCOTIABANK 9