Tag Archives: Penn Badgley

10 Lesser-Known Films to See at TIFF

If you’ve been following TIFF this year, you probably know that several big films will be playing at the festival. Most notably, Rian Johnson’s sci-fi blockbuster, Looper (starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis) was selected as TIFF’s opening night film. As well, the Wachowski brothers’ Cloud Atlas
(which boasts a reported $140 million budget) will play, as well as the 3D blockbuster Dredd (which was announced as part of the festival’s Midnight Madness program). Other big names have garnered quite a bit of attention in during the lead-up to the festival, including Robert Redford’s star-studded The Company You Keep, Ben Affleck’s Argo, and David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook.

Like a lot of festival-goers, I’m excited for these big TIFF titles. But the festival has so much to offer beyond movie stars and blockbusters that will show up at your local multiplex within a couple of months. To celebrate some of the smaller TIFF films, I thought I’d make a list of 10 movies I’m excited for that you might not have heard about yet. These films haven’t played at any other major festivals and don’t boast big name directors, and they haven’t received much attention, so far.

1. Ginger and Rosa (Sally Potter, United Kingdom)

This drama from Sally Potter (Orlando) stars Elle Fanning and Alice Englert as two teenage girls growing up in 1960’s London during the time of the Cold War and the burgeoning sexual revolution. I’m a sucker for coming-of-age stories, England, the 1960’s, and Elle Fanning, so this movie sounds like it’ll be right up my alley. Definitely one of my most anticipated for the festival this year.

2. Lore (Cate Shortland, Australia/United Kingdom/Germany)

Cate Shortland’s last film, 2004’s Somersault, helped to launch the career of Abbie Cornish. Now, she returns with a new film and another potential young ingénue. In Lore, Saskia Rosendahl stars as a teenager who must bring her siblings across the war-torn German countryside at the end of World War II, placing her trust in a man she has been taught to hate. This one looks pretty stunning.

3. Greetings From Tim Buckley (Dan Algrant, USA)

This one is a personal pick. As a massive Jeff Buckley fan, I am both nervous and curious to see how his life has been adapted to the big screen. And while the other Buckley project, Mystery White Boy (which stars Reeve Carney and has obtained the rights to use Buckley’s music) sounds more promising on paper, it’s still in pre-production (and has been in the works for years), so this one will have to do for now. I’m even optimistic about Penn Badgley, who at least showed some signs of life onscreen in a small role in last year’s excellent Margin Call.


4. In the House (Francois Ozon, France)

It’s the plot description on this one that’s got me interested. It revolves around “a high-school student whose essays about a friend’s family start to blur the lines between reality and fiction — and may conceal a dark purpose.” It also stars Kristin Scott Thomas, which is always a bonus.


5. Jump (Kieran J. Walsh, Ireland)

Jump revolves around a group of 20-somethings whose lives intertwine on New Year’s Eve in Northern Ireland. It looks highly stylish, and is described as a “twisty, blackly comic crime thriller”. And that’s enough for me.


6. Wasteland (Rowan Athale, United Kingdom)

If you follow young, British actors at all, you’ll probably recognize at least a couple of the leads in this heist thriller from first-time director Rowan Athale. You’ve got Harry Potter‘s Matthew Lewis, Attack the Block‘s Luke Treadaway, and Misfit’s Iwan Rheon all together here, and that is enough to get me interested. The plot sounds a bit standard, but enjoyable nonetheless.


7. Dead Europe (Tony Krawitz, Australia)

Dead Europe‘s TIFF synopsis boasts, “From the producers of Shame and Animal Kingdom.” And while this may be an unsubtle attempt to make the project sound gritty and shocking, aside from that, it sounds and looks like a fascinating film. Ewen Leslie plays a photographer who visits his ancestral hometown, and along the way, discovers some disturbing family secrets.


8. Blondie (Jesper Ganslandt, Sweden)

As part of TIFF’s provocative Vanguard program, this Swedish drama is bound to throw out some interesting twists. The film revolves around three sisters who reunite for their mother’s birthday, causing “conflicts to rise to the surface”. Things are going to get weird.

9. Twice Born (Sergio Castellitto, Italy/Spain/Croatia)

Italian actor Sergio Castellitto directs Penelope Cruz and Emile Hirsch in this Italian-language war romance. It looks intense and vaguely like Angelina Jolie’s In the Land of Blood and Honey, but the cast involved is enough to catch my interest.

10. I Declare War (Jason Lapeyre and Robert Wilson, Canada)

This Lord of the Flies-esque Canadian film follows a group of children whose neighbourhood adventure games turn deadly. It sounds like a great Midnight Madness pick, but as part of the Vanguard program, you know it’ll pack a punch.

Apparently There Are Two Jeff Buckley Films in the Works?

According to Entertainment Weekly, the trend of duelling movie projects continues, and their newest subject is Jeff Buckley.

Gossip Girl star Penn Badgley has reportedly signed on to play the late musician in the film Greetings from Tim Buckley, which is slated to start filming in August. The film will focus on Buckley’s life in 1991, which came well before the release of his lone studio album, Grace, in 1994, and his eventual drowning in 1997. Focusing on the early stages of his career, the film will depict Buckley’s performance at a tribute concert for his late father, Tim, who died of a drug overdose at the age of 28.

A second Buckley-centric project, based on the biography Dream Brother, is also in the works, but has yet to find a star.

It hardly seems coincidental that after years of rumours about a Buckley biopic, there are now two projects gearing up to start production. We’ve seen the same phenomenon recently with the two Snow White films slated for 2012 release (along with a spat of other fairytale updates), and 2005 saw the release of two Truman Capote biopics (Capote and Infamous).

Though I’m not sold on Badgley as the star (I have nothing against the guy, I just don’t really see much similarity between him and Buckley), I like the approach of covering only a small part of a musician’s life in a biopic. It’s a tactic that worked well in last year’s Nowhere Boy (which covering the formation of The Beatles during John Lennon’s teenage years), and it could perhaps work in Greetings from Tim Buckley‘s favour.

Over a year ago, I shared my choices for “8 Biopics That Need to Be Made“. In there, I suggested that James Franco would make a fitting Jeff Buckley. I still think he’d be a good choice, but as well as being a bit on the older side now (At 31, Franco is now slightly older than Buckley was when he died), I feel like Franco’s growing superstardom might be a bit incongruous with Buckley’s much more low-key persona. My current pick for the role is Reeve Carney (who is currently starring in the ill-fated Spider-Man musical). He’s a lot younger, has proven to be a good singer, and looks strikingly like Buckley at some angles. I haven’t seen him in anything, so I can’t vouch for his acting, but he seems like he has the right balance of charisma and enigma. I also think Rocket Science’s Reece Thompson could make for a more interesting, less “suave” Buckley than Badgley.

And then there’s the question as to whether we really need a Buckley biopic (let alone two). He is an amazing musician, but his following is still somewhat limited. A lot of people have never even heard of him, and while these films would almost certainly introduce him to a wider audience, they also run the risk of cashing in on his early death.