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

DEMON Final Screening

Tonight's the final screening of Marcin Wrona's Demon. Normally, we'd write something silly here, but Wrona died this morning. So instead, I'm going to share a few trailers to his films an encourage you to go and see what is tragically his final film. It's a really good one.

My Flesh, My Blood (2009)

The Christening (2010)

And his short film, "Telefono" (2004)

DEMON Final Screening:
Sat. Sept 19, 9:15PM SCOTIABANK 13

MEN & CHICKEN: More Madstache Movies

I brought you some cheese. And a sparkler. And my moustache.
Fearless Vanguarder and Midnight Madness Maven Carol Borden has taken you on a trip through the cinematic context of what we now refer to as "The Madstache." Now, we will guide your journey down Madstache Memory Lane.

Flickering Lights, 2000: You talkin' to me? Or you talkin' to my moustache?
King Arthur, 2004: Bonus Beard & Falcon! Which is the falcon & which is Mads? Only his hairdresser knows for sure.

Adam's Apples, 2005: It's OK. My moustache will protect you. Failing that, you have a gun.
Flame & Citroen, 2008: It still counts as a moustache, Sam Elliott. IT STILL COUNTS.
Coco & Igor , 2009: Why yes, this is a dapper moustache. Did you know I composed The Rites of Spring?
Valhalla Rising, 2009: I may only have one functioning eye and no dialogue, but my moustache game is strong.
Clash of the TItans, 2010: Release the Kraken? My moustache, beard & bonus braid are aghast at the thought.
The Three Musketeers, 2011: I am a proud Spanish peacock. What is haggis?
Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas, 2013: That's a mouthful. Just look at the moustache, OK?
The Salvation, 2014: Whatevs. At least I didn't lose an eye this time.
MEN & CHICKEN Final Screening!
Sun. Sept 20, 3:30 PM SCOTIABANK 1

RIP, Marcin Wrona Director of DEMON

We at Vanguard are greatly saddened to hear the news that Marcin Wrona, director of Demon has passed away.

The Toronto International Film Festival issued the following statement regarding the passing of Polish director Marcin Wrona, including a quote from Vanguard Curator, Colin Geddes: 
“We are all deeply shocked and saddened at the news of the sudden death of Marcin Wrona. His film DEMON truly marked the emergence of a strong new voice on the world cinema stage. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family, especially his wife and producing partner, Olga Szymanska, who was with him at the premiere in Toronto.”

 The final screening of DEMON is scheduled to take place this evening at 9:15PM at Scotiabank Theatre during which time TIFF will take the opportunity to pay tribute to Mr. Wrona. 
We have this from publicist Jim Dobson's announcement of Wrona's death.

Marcin Wrona, the director of the Polish Horror film "Demon" which made its World Premiere in World Cinema competition at the Toronto Film Festival last week, was found dead in a hotel room in Poland on Friday night.

Wrona was preparing for the Polish premiere of the film at the Gdynia Film Festival. The film was also slated to premiere at the upcoming Fantastic Fest in Austin and the Sitges Film Festival, as well as theatrical release in Poland in October.

 Wrona, who was born in the city of Tarnów in southern Poland in 1973, and was considered to be one of the brightest talents of his generation in the Polish film industry, His film Demon hinges on a dybbuk, the spirit of a dead person who according to Jewish mythology haunts the living. The film, Wrona's third, was an unconventional approach to Poland's coming to terms with the Holocaust.

The director had just returned to Poland following the film’s success as the Toronto Film Festival. His newlywed wife Olga Szymanska was also producer on the film "Demon." They had just signed with ICM Partners to sell the film and to break into the U.S. market with future films.

Polish police are currently investigating the death and no further information is available.

NO MEN BEYOND THIS POINT: Five Fave Mockumentaries

Look at all of those moustaches!
Have you seen No Men Beyond This Point? No? Well, the good news is that there is one more screening.

It's a mockumentary about asexual women and a dwindling population of men, directed by Mark Sawers. As such, it nestles snugly into the great pantheon of mockumentaries. Here are five more of our faves.
Man with a movie camera.
David Holzman's Diary, 1967
This is quite possibly the first mockumentary. It stars L.M. Kit Carson as David and tells the autobiographical story of a filmmaker who wishes to document his life, love interest (played by a pre-The Exorcist Eileen Dietz), as well as his fears about being drafted into the Vietnam War. It's so underplayed that viewers frequently don't even realize the fictional conceit until the very last scenes.
Derek Smalls tries to get a novelty pencil past airport security.
This Is Spinal Tap, 1984
Perhaps the most well-known and most beloved of all mockumentaries, this Rob Reiner film follows the titular band on an odyssey that involves cold sores, shit sandwiches, the little people of Stonehenge, amps that go to 11, and exploding drummers. As if we didn't already know this is a perfect film, the Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in 2002 for it cultural, historical, and aesthetic significance.
I guess they'll never know how a young heart really feels.
Best In Show, 2000
Perhaps inspired by This Is Spinal Tap, Christopher Guest (a.k.a. Nigel Tufnel) wrote, directed, and acted in this parody of the crazy, cutthroat world of dog show competitions. Michael McKean also appears as the flamboyant Stefan Vanderhoof, while Guest provides a hilarious, low-key performance as Harlan Pepper. Never forget that Pine nut is a nut, but it's also the name of a town.

Contemplating a business plan for Frankie Wilde Hummus.
It's All Gone Pete Tong, 2004
This Canadian film (which played at the Festival) is named after Cockney rhyming slang for "it's all gone wrong" and had me fooled into thinking that Frankie Wilde was a real person. Starring the delightfully zany Paul Kaye (a.k.a. Dennis Pennis from The Sunday Show) as Wilde, the film explores what happens to a BBC Radio 1 DJ when he loses his hearing and was filmed entirely in Ibiza, the natural habitat of all truly world class DJs.
"Hello ladies."

What We Do In The Shadows, 2014
This Midnight Madness Peoples Choice Award winner from last year was my favorite movie of 2014, even beating out Godzilla (as much as I love that giant lizard, it's hard to beat bat fights and "that guy from Twilight," come on). A remarkable, improvisational collaboration between Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, it spoofs every vampire cliché imaginable (and a few that no one had yet thought of) and is genuinely, gut-bustingly hilarious and a little bit creepy (thanks to Petyr).

Sat. Sept 19, 9:30PM SCOTIABANK 10

VETERAN Final Screening!

Warm up the car because tonight's you're last chance to see Ryoo Seung-wan's Veteran at the festival!

Action! Justice! Humor! Action! Let's get going!

"Do we really need to wear the 'Go Suits?'" "We need to be able to find each other. Scotiabank is big."

VETERAN Final Screening:
Sep. 19, Saturday, 6:15 pm, SCOTIABANK 4

Friday, September 18, 2015

MEN & CHICKEN's Madstache in Cinematic Context

My Madstache is not a Sadstache.
There's just something about Mads Mikkelsen's mustache in Men & Chicken that inspires me. It's a little bit of 1970s mustache history sitting there on Mads Mikkelsen's face. And that is enough inspiration for me to make a gallery of Mustaches in Film History!

Because I'm providing serious context, you know. Serious. Context. 

C'mon in, the context is fine...

Remember when Christopher Lee was a Dracula? I mean, remember when Christopher Lee was the Dracula? No, not that one. This one with the sweet, sweet 'stache.

That fox back there sure likes it. No, not a lady, a *fox*.

And did you know Klytus from Flash Gordon, was not only a noted singing sensation, but his whole Jason King tv series was his mustache's idea?

Peter Wyngarde's mustache was his manager throughout the 1970s.

And then there's... Well. Sean Connery in Zardoz (1974)

There is so much going on here, yet the 'stache comes through loud and clear.

 And in Neo-Retro Seventies 'Staches, Luke Evans in Vanguard Alumnus Ben Wheatley's High Rise.

(Don't make eye-contact with the mustache. I think it's angry)

And the wonder of Mad Men's Roger Sterling.

"I'm a Dracula, you know. Really."

See the Madstache and even more mustaches at the final screening of MEN & CHICKEN:
Sun. Sept 20, 3:30 PM SCOTIABANK 1