First Man and High Life are two of the hottest tickets at TIFF, both featuring serious star-power and (very different) plots that take viewers on an interstellar adventure.
Space exploration has served as the backdrop of some of the most fascinating stories in cinema, from Apollo 13 to Gravity. This year, TIFF will screen two distinct takes on the genre, one based on fact, the other pure fiction — both promise to be out of this world.
First Man: the true space story
Ryan Gosling has again teamed up with Damien Chazelle, who directed the critically acclaimed La La Land, but this time, Gosling trades his dancing shoes for moon boots as he portrays Neil Armstrong on his first mission to land a man on the moon.
First Man had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival earlier this month and is already being hailed as a masterpiece and a next-level achievement from Chazelle, who just last year became the youngest filmmaker to ever win the Best Director Oscar. There’s a good chance that Damien Chazelle could be headed for Oscar number two after a seriously impressive streak of three highly regarded films within the last four years (he broke onto the scene with his masterful debut, Whiplash, in 2014).
The film tells the story of NASA’s first moon landing mission, a historic event that somehow hadn’t made it into a major motion picture until now. Early reviews laud Gosling’s depictions of Armstrong’s famous speech upon landing as eerily accurate. The drama also stars Claire Foy as his wife, and a solid supporting cast including Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler and Christopher Abbott.
High Life: the sci-fi fantasy
On the more experimental side of filmmaking, French auteur Claire Denis gives us a very different take on space in her first English-language feature, High Life.
Starring Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche, this dark and sexually explicit film follows a group of criminals on death row who are sent into space as part of a controversial experiment involving some gruesome reproductive testing. For those familiar with Denis’ fearless work, the genre-bending High Life promises to be both shocking and thought provoking.
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