Above: Bryan Cranston, Steve Carrell and Laurence Fishburne in a scene from "Last Flag Flying," screening this year at the Twin Cities Film Fest.
The program guides for the eighth annual Twin Cities Film Fest aren’t back from the printer yet, but a sample of the titles in the lineup have been announced. The roster has increased by 20 percent this year, showcasing over 155 features and short films, according to Jatin Setia, the program’s executive director.
TCFF focuses on promising films, many from the top film studios, which appeal equally to cinephiles and average Joes. Earlier editions have included such well-regarded films as “Moonlight,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Lion,” and “Nebraska.”
Again this year, the curators have a schedule including Oscar-caliber titles likely to be contenders at the 2018 Academy Awards. Some of the most buzzed-about:
Industry gurus are wagering that Willem Dafoe will have a run at the best actor gold statue for his lead performance in “The Florida Project.” Directed by indie hero Sean Baker (who made the moving, visually sensational “Tangerine” using his iPhone) the film turns a conventional camera on anxious people living in tough conditions around Orlando, near the fantasy kingdom of Disneyland. Dafoe plays the manager and man of all work at the fleabag motel where a brusque young mother and her six-year-old daughter have camped out until mom can get her act together.
There are also high expectations for “Last Flag Flying,” directed by Richard Linklater, with stars Bryan Cranston and Steve Carell and Laurence Fishburne as they take an unexpected trip to New York City. Thirty years after they served together in Vietnam, the old buddies to bury one’s son, a young Marine killed in the Iraq War.
Stories about the aftershocks of war never go out of style, sadly. In “The Darkest Hour,” directed by “Atonement’s” Joe Wright, Gary Oldman stars as Prime Minister Winston Churchill facing a colossal test. As the WWII explodes, he must consider whether to retain his predecessor’s negotiated peace treaty with Nazi Germany, or to put the nation to war to fight for its ideals, liberty and freedom. We know how that works out, but it’s the kind of fire and brimstone history lesson that is nearly irresistible.
TCFF honors films with audience pleasing Minnesota connections, and this year’s opening night feature is the directorial debut of Rochester native Lea Thompson. Her daughters Madely and Zoey Deutch star in the comic drama “A Year of Spectacular Men,” dealing with substandard post-college dating opportunities, fizzling relationships and binge watching TV.
The closing night feature, “Permanent,” tackles coming of age problems from a 1980s perspective and a somewhat more adult perspective. Rian Wilson and Patricia Arquette star as members of an oddball family obsessed about their hairstyles. Colette Burson, the creator of HBO’s “Hung,” directed from her own script.
TCFF runs Oct. 18-28 on several screens at the ShowPlace ICON theater in St. Louis Park. Ticket passes are on sale at http://twincitiesfilmfest.org/