ARGO and the “Truthiness” Doctrine

Argo is a delightful throwback film, echoing the kind of “political intrigue” style that was commonplace during the Nixon administration. The fact that Argo shares many characteristics with the likes of The Ides of March might be no mere coincidence. Forgetting the obvious point, that George Clooney is listed as a producer on both works, […]

TIFF 2012 in Capsule Form

ABCs OF DEATH – B- Like any anthology film, there’s good bits, decent bits, and awful bits. Luckily, you just have to sit back and wait for another letter to come up in, um, “cue”, and it all gets either better (or worse). FULL REVIEW THE ACT OF KILLING – A+ Stunning, unforgettable film about […]

70mm, 4K, and THE MASTER’s Split Personality

Ever since Paul Thomas Anderson announced that he’d be shooting The Master for large format celluloid presentation, many of us have been drooling at the prospect of a modern, epic 70mm masterpiece slipping out of Hollywood. It’s been 16 years since anyone had the chutzpah to shoot a feature film on 65mm neg (Kenneth Branagh’s […]

A LIAR’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY – THE UNTRUE STORY OF MONTY PYTHON’S GRAHAM CHAPMAN

Graham Chapman has been dead for almost a quarter century, but that hasn’t stopped him from starring in a brand new film. If that weren’t notable enough, this work is also the closest we’ll probably ever get to a legitimate Monty Python Reunion. Back even earlier, Chapman wrote (well, co-wrote) his so-called “Liars Autobiography”, a […]

THERMAE ROMAE

The TIFF programme guide breathlessly extolled the success of Thermae Romae in its native country, declaring the film, based on an extremely popular manga, “Japan’s biggest box office hit of the year”. This goes to prove a couple things – sometimes, what the masses choose to be their hit of the summer can be completely […]

ARTIFACT

One one level, Artifact has elements of that that most egregious of self-serving documentaries, the tale of the woeful band fighting against their evil corporate overlord. We start with the band Thirty Seconds to Mars trying to record their latest album, and they’re chafing against the restrictions of a nine-year contract that they’re still beholden […]

FREE ANGELA AND ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS

Let me be completely frank and upfront about this – the world could very much use a fine documentary about Angela Davis. She’s a fascinating woman, extremely intelligent and eloquent. A continental philosopher who rose to a level of prominence within the American political left, her tale is a fascinating one on almost every level, […]

BLANCANIEVES

When an ostensibly “silent” film takes home the best picture Oscar, beating out another film about George Meliés, you know we’re living in a cinematic landscape where everything nostalgic is ripe for revisitation. While some found The Artist contrived, I fell deeply for that film, finding its cheeky mix of fun with melodrama a refreshing […]

Ghost Graduation

One of the most charming, silly and rambunctious films of this year’s festival, Ghost Graduation is an unabashed love letter to the cinema of John Hughes, mixed in with bits of The Frighteners or Ghostbusters for good measure. The film starts, as most should, with the thumping melodrama of Bonnie Tyler’s epic “Total Eclipse of […]

LONDON – THE MODERN BABYLON

By any normal measure, Julien Temple’s film London could easily have been terrible. The conceit, a slew of archive footage interspersed with talking head interviews, is the recipe for loads of horrendous television programmes that serve as filler on the higher numbered cable channels. What’s remarkable about this film is just how effective it is […]

LUNARCY!

Lunarcy! is one of those delightful character piece documentaries, akin to where Errol Morris will go down to some swampy Florida town and meet totally unique, bizarre and obsessive individuals and put them on screen for our edification. Director Simon Ennis’ interest is in those interested in/obsessed with that giant orb that dominates our night […]

THE ICEMAN

Like a stiff mixed drink that doesn’t live up to the quality of its ingredients, The Iceman proves to be an unpalatable, underwhelming crime drama. All the great parts are there – we’ve got a simmering Michael Shannon in a 70s gangster drama, and a true life tale of a mob enforcer thought to have […]

THE ACT OF KILLING

Easily one of this decade’s most important and most harrowing documentaries, The Act of Killing is a shattering take on the nature of evil. The conceit of the documentary is unique to the form – filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer traveled to Indonesia to tell the story of mass murder by having those that perpetuated the killings […]

ABCs of Death

The anthology film, that strange form of film where a number of directors assemble to tell their own take on a given subject, are strange cinematic beasts. On the one hand, they play like mini festivals, a cinematic buffet, or one of those sushi places that have the dishes on a conveyor belt. As an […]

LOOPER

In one of Looper‘s most delicious scenes, two versions of the same lead character are discussing the vagaries of time travel. When asked to explain how the technology works, “old” Joe deadpans a response to deflect the question, stating that to account for time travel paradoxes, “we’re going to be here all day talking about […]

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

The trailer for David O. Russell’s follow up to his Oscar nominated The Fighter, combined with the twee title, makes Silver Linings Playbook to be a horrible film about crazy people in love. Its a credit both to Russell, a fine ensemble cast and dramatically lowered expectations that film proved to be absolutely terrific when […]

THE BAY

When it was announced that Barry Levinson was going to be having a film as part of the TIFF Midnight Madness slate, and that it would be a found footage horror piece about infected water, I admit I wasn’t expecting very much. It’d be easy to dismiss this as both a cash-in on the fad […]

AFTERSHOCK

Playing in the Midnight Madness section to a ravenous audience expecting thrills every reel, the fact that Aftershock takes its sweet-ass time to get going feels like a bold move indeed. At the outset, it appears to be another placid film about how cool it is to go clubbing in Chile. We see wine tours […]

BAD25

It’s not so far into Bad 25 when you realize just what kind of film it’s going to be – exuberant, energizing, even at times elegiac, this is very much a straight ahead celebration of a particularly exceptional recording. For the last two years at TIFF, two extremely compelling documentaries were shown about superstar artists coming to […]

HYDE PARK ON THE HUDSON

It may be difficult to get past seeing Hyde Park on Hudson as anything more than a cynical play at Oscar success, shadowing last year’s The King’s Speech with another tale of the stuttering King, this time set on Terra Americana. I think this kneejerk reaction would be unfair – love it or hate it, […]

The Master

You are going to look at me, and you’re not going to blink. I’m going to tell you a series of things about this film, and if you blink, I’ll have to start again. The Master is a hypnotic film. The Master is a hypnotic film. It’s hypnotic in that it repeats itself, repeating phrases and […]

Cloud Atlas

Bold, brash, epic, and silly, Cloud Atlas is the latest of a slew of big budget sci-fi epics that’s likely to find far more detractors than fans of its quirky style. Drawn from a popular book many considered to be “unfilmable,” the Wachowski siblings and Tom Tykwer have crafted a visually compelling if cumulatively frustrating tale […]

WEST OF MEMPHIS

The documentary West of Memphis begins where it should, highlighting the initial victims that are at the heart of the entire tale: Three young boys who were hogtied, murdered and dumped into a creek in the small town of West Memphis, Arkansas. Three adolescents were arrested for the heinous crime based on a confession by […]

ANNA KARENINA

It’s probably best to admit up front that I’d never actually read Tolstoy’s tome about lust and infidelity in the Russian court. While I’ve made my way through much of the sullen Dostoyevsky, and maintain that dear Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov was the finest writer of the 20th century, my knowledge of Russian authors, even those […]

Brandon Cronenberg talks ANTIVIRAL

Antiviral marks the feature debut of the scion of one of the world’s most esteemed genre filmmakers. The film will be competing as part of the Un Certain Regard series, an immesely prestigious honor for this young filmmaker. Brandon Cronenberg’s name has actually appeared already on a film screened on the Croisette, appearing in the […]