THE IMITATION GAME Falls More Than A Bit Flat

THE IMITATION GAME Falls More Than A Bit Flat

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From a British Nation that has had its fair share of scientific geniuses, it’s perhaps no surprise that the life and work of Alan Turing has spawned its fair share of dramatic works. There have been TV versions, drama/docs, and even a musical with the score by The Pet Shop Boys. Now, with The Imitation [...]

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Kevin Smith’s TUSK Gleefully Plays By Its Own Rules

Kevin Smith’s TUSK Gleefully Plays By Its Own Rules

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“Why don’t you ask him if he’s going to stay? Why don’t you ask him if he’s going away? Why don’t you tell me what’s going on?” – TUSK, Fleetwood Mac Kevin Smith is many things to many people – stoner disciple, prurient podcaster, agitprop commentator, guerilla filmmaker. Yet at its heart the phenomena surrounding [...]

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WILD, A Decent Film

WILD, A Decent Film

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Taking on another true story after his hugely successful Dallas Buyer’s Club, Jean-Marc Vallée this time turns his lens onto the story of Cheryl Strayed, a woman with a past who takes it upon herself to hike hundreds of miles on the Pacific Coast Trail. Shooting from a screenplay adapted by Nick Hornby, the scribe [...]

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RUN Finds Thrilling Drama In Fractured Character

RUN Finds Thrilling Drama In Fractured Character

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Ivorian Philippe Lacôte’s film Run is a brash fiction debut for this documentarian. The film begins with an off-camera assassination, and through a series of concentric flashback’s we’re told the story of Run. Part gangster and part activist, Run also proves to be a man with a complicated past and a strong moral code. With [...]

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THE CONNECTION Misses Its Mark

THE CONNECTION Misses Its Mark

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The Connection (titled La French in its native county) has the makings of a great film, which is what makes the final product such a disapointment. Drawing upon the same case that was the basis for the William Friedkin classic, this companion piece to The French Connection should have it all – power, money, hubris, [...]

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CHARLIE’S COUNTRY, Wild Vistas, Remarkable Performances, And Assured Direction

CHARLIE’S COUNTRY, Wild Vistas, Remarkable Performances, And Assured Direction

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When I saw Rolf de Heer’s Bad Boy Bubby in an arthouse theatre back in the mid-90s, I was totally unprepared for such raw and nihilistic filmmaking. A violent and dark film, it was clear from that one film that de Heer was a massive, fearless talent. The director, born in The Netherlands but an [...]

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THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING Celebrates The Messiness Of The Universe, Concisely

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING Celebrates The Messiness Of The Universe, Concisely

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James Marsh’s eye for documentary is a welcome aspect to this biopic about one of the most recognizable scientists to have ever lived. Stephen Hawking is perhaps known more widely for his physical struggles, synthesized voice and pop culture appearances than he is for his scientific work, but for many he embodies the brilliant scientist, [...]

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THE LAST FIVE YEARS Is On-Screen Music Theater Done Right

THE LAST FIVE YEARS Is On-Screen Music Theater Done Right

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It’s common knowledge that a pure musical takes more than a bit of suspension of disbelief. From the first notes, you kind of have to go with the flow, taking in the abstraction as it comes. On stage, this level of abstraction is often heightened by the stage design, the proscenium forming a canvas on [...]

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MONSOON Paints A Brash, Beautiful Portrait Of India And Its Storms

MONSOON Paints A Brash, Beautiful Portrait Of India And Its Storms

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There’s something primal about our fascination with storms, something connected for even the most urban of city dwellers to the enormous forces that shape our planet. It’s no surprise that earlier civilizations named gods after these elements, and that for millennia the cleansing and chaos brought by heavy rain has shaped our very existence. There [...]

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NIGHTCRAWLER Out Networks NETWORK

NIGHTCRAWLER Out Networks NETWORK

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Soon after seeing this film, I just kind of blurted out what this film meant to me when talking to fellow critics – it may be premature to declare it as such, but what the hell: Nightcrawler is my Network. Sidney Lumet’s 1976 film is a scathing commentary on the News business, but it’s also [...]

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BIG GAME, Big Fun That Feels Totally Fresh

BIG GAME, Big Fun That Feels Totally Fresh

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It’s such a delight to see a film that plays by its own rules, fulfilling the premise that it sets up, and delivering right through to the conclusion. This is especially true for Midnight movies, as often you get a mildly clever idea, only to have it beaten to death (sometimes quite literally) as the [...]

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THE PRICE WE PAY, One Of The Most Compelling Docs Of The Year

THE PRICE WE PAY, One Of The Most Compelling Docs Of The Year

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It’s not often that something as dry as tax theory can result in an engrossing night at the movies, but credit Harold Crooks and his team for providing an exceptional articulation about the vagaries of “off shoring” in an accessible, engaging way with The Price We Pay. Crooks co-wrote the narration for Mark Achbar and [...]

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ROSEWATER, Jon Stewart’s Debut Is Earnest, If Middling

ROSEWATER, Jon Stewart’s Debut Is Earnest, If Middling

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It’s safe to say that for the last several decades Jon Stewart has been one of the most powerful voices in comedy. Since taking over The Daily Show, his show has been the beacon for popular American political satire, showing through his witty segments, farcical interviews done by a series of correspondents, or his probing [...]

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TIFF 2013 SCREENING LIST

TIFF 2013 SCREENING LIST

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  12.12.12full review 12 YEARS A SLAVEExtraordinary, moving, the perfect blend of a historical drama and artfilm. McQueen’s masterpiece, instantly jumps to consideration for top of any best-of-year list A TOUCH OF SINfull review A FIELD IN ENGLANDA surreal, baffling, yet (blessedly) humourous experimental film by Ben Wheatley that is sure to divide audiences, but [...]

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When Jews Were Funny

When Jews Were Funny

Directed By: Alan Zweig


Once upon a time, Jews were funny. You’d turn on Ed Sullivan, and some Ashkenaz from the Lower East Side would be kvetching about his wife (please), or slyly kibitzing about slurping soup in a deli. Alan Zweig’s documentary makes a bold claim, that 20th Century American comedy is Jewish comedy. Born from Yiddish theatre [...]

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Unforgiven

Unforgiven

Directed By: Lee Sang-il


The cross-pollination between Japanese chambara films and the traditional Hollywood-style Western has resulted in some of the most important films in cinema history. As Kurosawa looked to John Ford for inspiration, the cycle would continue in the 60s and 70s as Italians like Sergio Leone would traipse all over Spain remaking one Japanese film after [...]

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TIFF Interview – R100′s Matsumoto Hitoshi

TIFF Interview – R100′s Matsumoto Hitoshi

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Thursday, September 12, 2013 proved to be one of those extraordinary festival days for me. I found myself closing the day with a trio of highly interesting films from Asia, the last two forming one of the most perfect double bills in my two decades of attending TIFF. Cold Eyes is a decent thriller, falling [...]

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Rhymes For Young Ghouls

Rhymes For Young Ghouls

Directed By: Jeff Barnaby


“The day I found my mother dead I aged by one thousand years.” So begins this harrowing, explosive debut from Jeff Barnaby. The backstory may be unfamiliar to audiences – the post-genocide period of our countries treatment of its Native population was governed by the Indian Act, words from which serve as the introductory passage [...]

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Enough Said

Enough Said

Directed By: Nicole Holofcener


I saw Enough Said at a festival screening surrounded by several of my colleagues. They laughed at the jokes (there are many), they fell for the characters, and they left the film happy and content with this presumably insightful and warm portrayal of a woman coming to terms with her foibles. I, on the other [...]

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Starred Up

Starred Up

Directed By: David Mackenzie


Starred Up is a gritty, intense, and shockingly unique take on the prison drama genre. Yes, there are echoes of the likes of HBO’s OZ, but David MacKenzie’s take on the family dynamics in jail is executed in a fresh and vital fashion. When we meet Eric (Jack O’Connell), he has just been transferred from [...]

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12.12.12 / Made In America

12.12.12 / Made In America

Directed By: Amir Bar-Lev, Charlie Lightening, Meghan O'Hara / Ron Howard


There are loads of ways to do a concert documentary. One is to simply shoot the goings on that take place on stage – set up a bunch of cameras and be done with it. Given that the majority of big shows are shown via video screens anyway, this is hardly an uncommon process, as [...]

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Sunshine on Leith

Sunshine on Leith

Directed By: Dexter Fletcher


What would happen if Ken Loach or Mike Leigh made a musical? You know, cast a bunch of hardscrabble Brits in a family drama, add a bit of grit and friction, and set it all within the context of a jukebox musical? It shouldn’t work at all, yet Dexter Fletcher’s Sunshine on Leith manages, almost [...]

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The F Word

The F Word

Directed By: Michael Dowse


Ah, the 20-something romantic comedy. A genre usually filled with twee Emo-soundtrack tunes, magical or manic pixie dreamgirls, and the shuffling boys who win their love through good heartedness. Some are decent, some utterly wretched, but most follow a pretty narrow path. It’s to Michael Dowse’s credit that The F Word manages to feel so [...]

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Bad Words

Bad Words

Directed By: Bad Words


The career of Jason Batemen is rather fascinating. Rising from a sidekick on Silver Spoons early in his career, he stumbled through a number of films that his sister’s sit-com sibling would pass on (including the truly egregious Teen Wolf Too). He showed up as a minor character in a few projects here and there but [...]

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Enemy

Enemy

Directed By: Denis Villeneuve


With film, things often come in pairs. Sometimes the doubles are explicit; some studio vying with another for a given plot, be it a tale of animated insects or impending asteroid impacts. Sometimes, the twinning takes the form of accidental synergy; say the back-to-back S&M Asian romps of Moebius and R100 that I experienced earlier [...]

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A Touch Of Sin

A Touch Of Sin

Directed By: Jia Zhangke


Almost a week after I screened A Touch Of Sin, I’m still trying to come to grips with my reaction to it. There’s plenty to admire about Jia Zhangke’s film, from its stark violence through its sweeping scope, but I can’t help but come back to the fact that its 129 minute running time made [...]

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Man Of Tai Chi

Man Of Tai Chi

Directed By: Keanu Reeves


It’s not entirely simply a matter of being snarky to refer to Keanu Reeve’s directorial debut, Man of Tai Chi, as a vanity project through and through. Constructed as a showcase for martial artist Tiger Hu Chen, this is hardly the first time in the history of action films that an entire project has revolved [...]

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Oculus

Oculus

Directed By: Mike Flanagan


The Midnight Madness slate usually has a few rules – keep things snappy, keep them gory, and you’ll do well to keep the denizens of the dark with you for a running time that stretches well into the very early morning. Splatters of blood and blaring horns are often key, and often mood is sacrificed [...]

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McCanick

McCanick

Directed By: Josh C. Waller


Once upon a time, our screens were littered with one-name cops – Serpico, Canon, Columbo, Kojak, all with hard C-sounding consonant names that bespoke of a grittiness or hard hardheadedness. It’s no surprise that McCanick borrows both the power of the single named title and many of the same consonants, as it plays as a [...]

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Rush

Rush

Directed By: Ron Howard


There’s a dilemma about any “based on a true story” film. First, the movie has to work for those unfamiliar with actual events, those neophytes completely unaware of actual historical facts. Most movies often coddle these people, spending far too much time situating plot with interminable exposition that it all becomes a bit pedantic. Secondly, [...]

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