The Toronto International Film Festival announced several new additions to its September lineup Tuesday, including what organizers promise to be a "vintage" Coen brothers' black comedy and a roller derby drama that marks Drew Barrymore's directorial debut with Halifax native Ellen Page.
TIFF co-director Cameron Bailey said Ethan and Joel Coen's A Serious Man , about a troubled Jewish professor in the 1960s who turns to three rabbis for help, is a return to the brothers' cinematic roots.
"It's their tone. Their sense of humour. Their sense of craziness of life," he said. "And it features very strong actors who are not well-known movie stars like George Clooney and Brad Pitt. It's a great ensemble, many of whom the Coens recruited from Yiddish theatre." (The cast also includes Tony nominee Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind and Fred Melamed.)
Barrymore's directorial debut, Whip It , features Page, the self-proclaimed tomboy from Nova Scotia, as a small-town Texas beauty queen who decides to throw in the crown and channel her inner Skinny Minnie Miller (a roller-derby icon in the seventies and eighties).
The film also stars Marcia Gay Harden and Juliette Lewis.
This fall, TIFF will also play host to a special presentation of Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story , which will screen on the 20th anniversary of Roger & M e . The new documentary is another of Moore's scathing dissections of American society, focusing on the disastrous impact of corporations on the everyday lives of Americans.
"What we're trying to do here is show a really broad mix of great movies that are big scale," said Bailey. "Michael Moore's new film is a documentary that deserves a special presentation because it is his take on what the economic collapse has done to America. And everyone will want to hear that."
Two TIFF galas were announced yesterday as well: The world premiere of British director Oliver Parker's adaptation of Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray , with Colin Firth, and Ben Barnes as the titular Victorian playboy; and writer-director Rebecca Miller's The Private Lives of Pippa Lee , adapted from her novel and featuring Robin Wright Penn.
Bailey promised that audiences are in for another cinematic treat with Werner Herzog's Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans . A remake of Abel Ferrara's 1992 film Bad Lieutenant , it features Nicolas Cage as Terence McDonough, a homicide detective who is promoted after saving a prisoner from drowning in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
"It's the same character, but the setting is different. The actor is different. The story is different. But the themes of the film are the same," explained Bailey. "It's Herzog treating [Ferrara's work]like a James Bond franchise."
Other special presentations include Daniel Barber's Harry Brown , a modern, urban western starring two-time Oscar winner Michael Caine; Ian Fitzgibbon's Irish gangster comedy Perrier's Bounty with Cillian Murphy and Brendan Gleeson; Danis Tanovic's war-photographer mystery Triage with Colin Farrell; and Shirin Neshat's Women Without Men , based on the novel by Iranian author Shahrnush Parsipur about a handful of Iranian women during the summer of 1953, a pivotal moment in that country's history when an American-led coup d'état brought down the democratically elected prime minister and re-installed the Shah.