There’s something magical about festival time in Toronto. The city is electric. Eleven days of non-stop buzz, red carpet premieres, glamour across the city, thousands of visitors from all over the world, paparazzi, bumping into celebrities and meeting people in ‘rush’ lines.
The best parts of the Toronto International Film Festival, however, are the feelings you get from screenings. The feeling of awe as you step out of a theatre after watching a great movie; the sound of laughter in theatre packed with 1600 people; standing in the cold for two hours waiting for tickets only to end up seeing the best movie you’ve ever seen. During those one-and-a-half festival weeks, there is no other city I’d rather be in (hence playing hooky from school).
Now the buzz has died down, the stars have returned home and Toronto is a little bit quieter, but these feelings persist. The bad news is that TIFF is over, but the good news is that you can still see these amazing movies on the big screen (and for a fraction of the price). Release dates are pending, but when they come out, go and watch them.
The F Word
From Harry Potter fans to anyone who has ever been in love with someone they said was “just a friend,” this is the romantic comedy of the year (and considering my unhealthy love of rom-coms, that’s a big deal). Daniel Radcliffe does a fantastic job as Wallace, a more than slightly awkward, bitter, med school dropout. Wallace happens to befriend, and inevitably falls in love with, Chantry (played by the lovely Zoe Kazan) who is in a long-term relationship. It’s easy to brush off rom-coms without a second thought, but this three-dimensional romantic comedy makes you laugh and cry, and makes you root for the scorned hopeless romantic. Michael Dowse (director of Goon) takes two ordinary characters and makes you love them.
Reasons to watch: Filmed in Toronto, Daniel Radcliffe’s butt and Adam Driver being Adam Driver
Blue is the Warmest Color
This profound French film reminds us how wonderful it is to find that one person who makes you rethink everything you thought you knew about yourself, and how much it can hurt when that relationship ends. This isn’t so much a movie about lesbians, but a story about two people who fall in love. Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) is a 15-year-old girl who, like all of us at one point, is just trying to navigate through high school and figure out who she is. Then she meets Emma (Léa Seydoux), who rocks her world. With time jumps and amazing chemistry, this movie tugged at my heart strings and tested my French skills.
Reasons to watch: Léa Seydoux with blue hair, a 12 minute sex scene and great art
Dallas Buyers Club
Now I’ve personally never heard anyone say “I really love Matthew McConaughey,” but after seeing this movie, you may change your mind. It’s 1986, AIDS is on a rampage, and people know very little about it. Homophobic cowboy Ron Woodruff (McConaughey) is surprised to have contracted HIV after unprotected sex with a slew of different women. AIDS research is scarce and the drugs are inadequate, so Ron, with his new transgendered friend Rayon (Jared Leto), smuggle drugs into the US to help many other suffering victims. This movie shows us just how strong friendship is. It can knock down your highest walls and completely scramble your way of thinking. Just beware, unless you’re a robot, you will cry.
Reasons to watch: Jared Leto in drag (do you need any other reason?)
To me, movies are enchanting. They can challenge our way of thinking or allow us to dream about all the possibilities in life. They show us the impossible and, for an hour and a half to two hours, they turn us into complete believers. I think this is why TIFF is so glamorous. Hundreds of thousands of people line up to see this magic happen firsthand and to see the people who made it possible. If you can make it to festival ‘14, I recommend it. Until then, be enchanted.