TIFF 2014: Music at the Movies

10 must-see flicks for music fans at this year's festival

TIFF is in full swing again with another huge roster of films. Let’s be real, choosing a movie can be a bit overwhelming. Here are ten must-see films for music fans:

The Valley Below
TIFF often presents movies that are as awesome in the act of storytelling as the story itself is. The Valley Below is a feature film made of four separate, but related narratives about life on the Alberta Badlands. Four different Canadian songwriters separately composed the four stories: Rae Spoon, Dan Mangan, Eamon McGrath, and Gavin Gardiner (The Wooden Sky).

Starring indie film darling, Greta Gerwig stars in this movie about the French electronic scene and it’s happenings right around the time a band named Daft Punk formed. Expect a love story about two people on the periphery of music history, told in intimate and quiet, but beautiful, moments.

The path to perfection can be painful – sometimes literally. A protégé drummer and his harsh instructor have a relationship driven by the pursuit of excellence, even at the expense of dignity. The tension climbs and climbs to crashing down in what else but a musical crescendo. Expect to still familiar face J.K. Simmions (Spiderman, Juno) in a whole new way.

The Last Five Years
An unconventional timeline drives the plot of this “sung-through” film backwards and forwards and back again. The film stars Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan as ex-lovers, broken up by unevenly achieved ambitions. First, Kendrick takes audiences through time from the end to the first spark of their relationship, and then Jordan tells his version of the story from the beginning to the bitter end.

Hector and the Search for Happiness
Simon Pegg plays a dissatisfied London psychiatrist who embarks on a trip to discover the secret of happiness. This globe-trotting comedy also features Rosamund Pike, Toni Collette, Stellan Skarsgard, Jean Reno and Christopher Plummer and Dan Mangan’s brand new song “Vessel“.

Love & Mercy
This biopic about Brian Wilson’s music and psychological torment contrasts the singer’s swinging ‘60s career with the Beach Boys with his solo career in the ‘80s, showing the audience the dark mind that lay behind some of the 20th century’s happiest music. The cast is stellar, starring Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine, There Will Be Blood, Looper) as a young Wilson, Jon Cusack as an older version, Paul Giametti as Wilson’s controversial therapist and Elizabeth Banks as the car saleswoman who would become Wilson’s wife and driver behind his 1980s career revitalization.

Human Highway (Director’s Cut)
In 1982 Neil Young released a post-apocalyptical musical comedy about a town built beside a leaky nuclear plant, living on the edge of disaster. The film stars Young, Dennis Hopper and the members of Devo unknowingly living their last days on earth. The movie is wacky and wild and TIFF will be showing Young’s remastered and revisted version of the little known kooky classic.

Roger Waters: The Wall
Pink Floyd made their original film The Wall in the 1970s. This year, Waters premieres it’s resurrection at TIFF 2014 capturing his 2010-2013 worldwide tour. But this is much more than a concert movie. Waters wrote The Wall as plea to end wars and fighting – something that is personal to him – having lost both his grandfather and father in battle. For this film, the audience will see Waters in personal moments as he visits the sites of his family’s deaths. The film is promised to bring together the art of film, music and activism. And the sound is supposed to be incredible.

Beyond The Lights
This film is Bodyguard for the 21st century. At least that is the take away when first hearing about a film about a music star that falls for the uniformed man paid to protect her. But Beyond The Lights goes much further, examining the complexities of life when when being told one is destined for greatness and pushed to achieve it. Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball, Secret Life Of Bees).

Seymour: An Introduction
Seymour Bernstein is a composer, classical pianist, author and teacher. And you’ve likely never heard of him. But Ethan Hawke has and chose him as the subject of his first documentary. Bernstein is 85-years-old, living in an apartment in New York City, spending much of his time teaching music, having walked away from a promising career as a concert pianist. By reflecting on an impressive life, Hawke and Bernstein discuss and invite their audience to ponder why making art has value to us all.

(Main image: “TIFFBellLightbox2” by Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler)