TIFF 2013 SCREENING LIST

  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 […]

When Jews Were Funny

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 […]

Unforgiven

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 […]

TIFF Interview – R100’s Matsumoto Hitoshi

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 […]

Rhymes For Young Ghouls

“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 […]

Enough Said

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 […]

Starred Up

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 […]

12.12.12 / Made In America

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 […]

Sunshine on Leith

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 […]

The F Word

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 […]

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 […]

Enemy

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 […]

A Touch Of Sin

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 […]

Man Of Tai Chi

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 […]

Oculus

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 […]

McCanick

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 […]

Rush

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, […]

Devil’s Knot

For each of the last three years, the story of what transpired in West Memphis, Arkansas on May 5, 1993 has been the subject of a film that has played the Toronto International Film Festival. In 2011, we saw the third installment of the Award winning Paradise Lost series. After an initial documentary that brought […]

Gravity

You’re going to hear a lot about this film, gushing hyperbole about how Alfonso Cuarón has created a new masterpiece of such wonderful elegance that it’s a sight to behold. You’ll hear that it’s the best set-in-space film of all time. You might hear talk of the lengths they surely went through filming the thing. […]

The Dog

The Dog is a highly entertaining if slightly indulgent look at the life of John Wojtowicz, the man who was portrayed by Al Pacino in Lumet’s classic Dog Day Afternoon. Wojtowicz is a pretty fascinating guy who crammed more than his share of lives into his time on earth, and we learn from a series […]

Break Loose

All the ingredients are here for a fine thriller – political discord, corrupt cops, ruthless proto-oligarchs, and car chases, all set against the backdrop of the waning years of Yeltsin, and the massive social and political change that would take place under Putin ushering Russia into the new Millennium. Alas, despite its slick facade and […]

The Square

Let’s cut right to the chase – Jehane Noujaim’s epic, astonishing documentary The Square is easily one of the most complex, most nuanced, and frankly most important documentaries made about the ongoing political developments in Egypt. Heck, I’ll go further, it’s one of the finer historical documentaries I think that’s ever been made, period. I […]

Triptych

Québecois filmmaker and theatre director Robert Lepage is one of Canada’s truly great artists, a man of astonishing visual style. Since then he has achieved great acclaim, often playing larger on the international stage than he does in most of English Canada. For his latest film, Lepage has teamed up with award-winning short film director […]

Tim’s Vermeer

For decades now, Penn & Teller have made a living pricking the balloon of illusion, showing the skill and sheer tenacity behind magical performances that’s as compelling as any level of deceipt or subterfuge. What makes their shtick so engaging is that they go out of their way to show you how the trick was […]

The Fifth Estate

Over the weeks leading up to the Toronto International Film Festival, I’ve been asked repeatedly about the choice of this film as an opening Gala. Many have questions whether the opening film somehow speaks to a great theme at the fest, as if a single title can speak for the hundreds of films from all […]

Parkland

It’s not really a surprise that the Kennedy Assassination continues to hold so much sway some half century after its occurrence. A young, charismatic President cut off in his prime, a picture-perfect doting wife, and all the mystery and machinations surrounding his death have made for generations of responses to the events of November 22, […]