Is it really possible that TIFF announced a further 100 movies? Thankfully, in the programme there are now four Australian features and one short, with the big news being the world premiere of Red Dog director Kriv Stenders' Kill Me Three Times, starring Simon Pegg, Sullivan Stapleton, Alice Braga, Teresa Palmer, Callan Mulvey, Luke Hemsworth and Bryan Brown. Tony Ayres’ Cut Snake, also featuring Stapleton (the hunk from Animal Kingdom and 300: Rise of an Empire), will have its international premiere after debuting at MIFF, as will Mark Hartley’s previously announced Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films, while Charlie’s Country makes its North American premiere after screening in Cannes and Australia. The French–Australian short A Single Body, directed by Sydney-born Sotiris Dounoukos, will premiere in the festival’s Short Cuts International section. (See more info on Aussie films below.)
Also, the ubiquitous Mia Wasikowska takes the title role in writer-director Sophie Barthes’ adaptation of 19th-century French novelist Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, which co-stars Paul Giamatti and Ezra Miller. The US production represents an interesting international mix not the least because of the director. Barthes (Cold Souls (2009) was born in France and grew up in the Middle East and South America.
Incredibly, the festival hosts two Madame Bovary world premieres. Gemma Bovery represents a modern take on Flaubert’s story and is directed by Anne Fontaine, the French director who brought us the recent Australian-French abomination, Adore (aka Adoration aka Two Mothers). Though, I’d probably watch the film’s lead, Gemma Arterton, in anything.
Other eagerly anticipated new additions:
• Escobar: Paradise Lost. Andrea Di Stefano’s drama starring the fabulous and tragically under-used Benicio del Toro as the notorious Colombian drug lord.
• The Cobbler. Adam Sandler stars as a man able to step into other people’s lives, in a film directed by Thomas McCarthy.
• Shelter. Paul Bettany’s directing debut about two homeless people bonding in 1970s New York stars his missus Jennifer Connelly.
• Revenge of the Green Dragons. Andrew Lau and Andrew Loo’s New York-set Chinatown gang saga.
• The Connection, a 1970s-set thriller starring Jean Dujardin as a cop campaigning against a crime kingpin. Directed by France’s Cedric Jimenez.
• Welcome to Me, starring Kristen Wiig as a lottery-winner who goes off her meds and buys herself a talk show.
Films Starring Some Oldies But Goldies
• Boychoir. Dustin Hofffman plays the tough conductor of a world-class music school for Quebec director Francois Girard.
• The Forger stars John Travolta as a gifted petty thief who must aid his ailing father, Christopher Plummer, in one last job.
• Ruth & Alex stars Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton in an adaptation of Jill Ciment’s novel about a couple maybe selling their Brooklyn walkup, directed by Britain’s Richard Loncraine.
• Maggie will surely be a curiosity in that it is billed as a rural-set zombie heartwarmer starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Entertainment One is releasing both Kill Me Three Times and Cut Snake in 2015. Here are their blurbs. I will give my two cent’s worth direct from TIFF in September.
In Kill Me Three Times, Simon Pegg plays the mercurial assassin, Charlie Wolfe, who discovers he isn't the only person trying to kill the siren of a sun drenched surfing town. Charlie quickly finds himself at the centre of three tales of murder, mayhem, blackmail and revenge. Kill Me Three Times was produced by Western Australian producer Tania Chambers, Laurence Malkin and Share Stallings (Death at a Funeral, A Few Best Men).
Pegg is having a strong festival run, also starring as a lovable ditzy shrink in Hector and the Search for Happiness (releasing here Oct 23); Toni Collette plays a supporting role as his feistier lost love. Pegg also has the lead voice in The Boxtrolls (in cinemas Sept 18), which premieres in Venice.
Cut Snake is a crime drama set in mid-‘70s suburban Australia from Matchbox Pictures’ Tony Ayres (The Home Song Stories). The story centres around Sparra Farrell (Alex Russell, Carrie), a young man trying to escape his past and make a life for himself in a new city. He finds honest work and becomes engaged to the beautiful Paula (Jessica De Gouw, These Final Hours). But when the charismatic and dangerous Pommie (Sullivan Stapleton) tracks him down, Sparra finds himself drawn back into a world that he had tried to leave behind.
Watch the teaser for Cut Snake below:
Screening as part of the inaugural global TIFF short film showcase Short Cuts International, A Single Body, from writer/director Sotiris Dounoukos, is about best friends and skilled abattoir workers David and Wani, who are saving to open their own butchery. Before they can realise their dream, the arrival of a new worker will test the bonds of their shared life. The drama was produced by François-Pierre Clavel and Alexandre Perrier.