Where the frames take me

Your friendly neighborhood critic previews the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival

By T.T. Stern-Enzi

Filmmakers take viewers on journeys, rendering the fantastic with startling specificity and introducing audiences to characters beyond the scope of their collective experiences and to faraway places they might never consider for the routine (and typically affordable) family excursion. Eager armchair travelers book passage in darkened theaters, longing for these experiences and sometimes all they need is an adventurous guide who has already gone ahead to clear the path.

This year marks my fourth sojourn to the Toronto International Film Festival, and for the first time, I will add a few extra days to my usual long weekend mad dash through an impossibly overbooked itinerary that leaves me feeling like a camera-toting tourist snapping pictures of all the officially sanctioned hotspots. There’s added pressure in these truncated trips because there is little room for side excursions down unfamiliar corners of the film world that sometimes lead, honestly, to dead ends, both in terms of quality and the likelihood of the titles ever reaching our regional screens.

With almost a full week at my disposal, I’m trying to embrace the travel philosophy of simply going where the frames take me. Undoubtedly, I will find myself lining up for the major attractions like “The Master” from Paul Thomas Anderson, “To The Wonder” from Terrence Malick, or Michael Haneke’s “Amour,” which marveled audiences earlier this year at Cannes, but I’m just as eager to wander through translations of a couple of contemporary literary adaptations (the rendering of controversial author Salman Rushdie’s “Midnight’s Children,” director Mira Nair’s take on “The Reluctant Fundamentalist”), get the documentary scoop from “Free Angela and All Political Prisoners” and “How to Make Money Selling Drugs,” and even hopefully have a bit of mindless fun with “Dredd 3D.”

The festival program is dauntingly packed with endless alternative routes, but it is best to imagine that there is no ultimate destination; the point is to experience as much of this screened journey as time allows. So, with that in mind, I have made plans to catch up with Marion Cotillard, fresh off her latest appearance in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises.” In “Rust and Bone” from co-writer/director Jacques Audiard (“A Prophet”), she stars opposite Matthias Schoenaerts, the menacing lead from Best Foreign Language Film nominee “Bullhead” as, respectively, an amputee and a single father/ underground fighter seeking to solace.

I also intend to indulge in some pre-“Grace” nostalgia thanks to “Greetings From Tim Buckley,” the first feature film to capture moments from the tragically brief life of musician Jeff Buckley (played by Penn Badgely) as he prepares to take the stage at the 1991 tribute concert for his father, Tim, another musical icon from the previous generation who passed too soon. As a fan of the younger Buckley, this film will, in some small way, feel like my chance to travel back in time to connect with him, since I sadly, didn’t have the chance to embrace his music until after his death in 1997.

Besides the countless hours I will spend in movie houses, I aim to attend a few media events, in particular, sessions from the Telefilm Canada series featuring Canadian talent discussing current topics and the impact of Canadian cinema around the world. As we, Americans and Hollywood, turn our gaze to the global film scene, we overlook the contributions from our neighbors to the north. Brandon Cronenberg, son of Toronto native David Cronenberg (“A Dangerous Method”), has a film (“Antiviral”) playing at TIFF this year and will be participating in the Class of 2012: Directors to Watch session. Having recently re-watched Sarah Polley’s “Take This Waltz,” which I caught at last year’s festival, I hope to have the chance to drop in on “Stories We Tell,” her new feature on family, memory, and truth.

Come walk with me and I’m sure whatever path we tread will on a set of worthy adventures.

Reach DCP film critic T.T. Stern-Enzi at Film@DaytonCityPaper.com

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