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Entries in Reviews (566)

Thursday
Sep142017

TIFF: Glenn Close is "The Wife"

our ongoing adventures at TIFF. An abdriged version of this review was originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad.

Film festivals nearly always provide curious dialogues between films that you weren't expecting. On the same day on the exact same screen at TIFF I managed to see two films about female writers and the male writers in their lives who take up all the oxygen (and praise) in the room. Who would have thought that a film about the origins of Frankenstein (just discussed) and a star vehicle for Glenn Close in Stockholm would have so much in common? 

THE WIFE (Björn Runge)
Joan Castleman (Glenn Close) is a longsuffering wife who would bristle at that very description. She's married to a famous novelist Joe Castleman (Jonathan Pryce) and their homophonic names are no coincidence. The silver-haired couple have been together for nearly half a century and are inseparable if not quite interchangeable...

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Thursday
Sep142017

TIFF Discovery: A Shirley Henderson Master Class and a Wild Argentinian Family

by Sean Donovan

The films featured in TIFF’s ‘Discovery’ section are sometimes given short shrift by the festival at large. Already arriving with the disadvantage of being announced last, and thereby with the least amount of time for anticipation to brew, these small modest productions (many of which are debut features for their directors) are easily buried underneath the hype of awards season giants and glitzy red carpets. If that’s the macro view of things, in micro the audiences that find their way to ‘Discovery’ films are incredibly eager and excited, anxious for the chance to look at films that may never find healthy distribution outside of festival spaces. Here are two of the absolute highlights of TIFF’s ‘Discovery’ program:

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Thursday
Sep142017

Review: Brad's Status

by Murtada

Brad’s Status, the new film from Mike White (the creator of Enlightened and the writer of Chuck And Buck) is about a forty-something man’s emotional crisis. That information made me giddy with anticipation. Could White have come up with the male version of Amy Jellicoe in Ben Stiller’s Brad Sloan? Are we in for an emotional ride with a polarizing but endearing character with rough but compulsively watchable qualities?

Alas, no. If you were expecting all that, I’d say go in with tempered expectations...

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Wednesday
Sep132017

TIFF: Notes on Oscar hopefuls "Darkest Hour" and "Downsizing"

Detroit may have bombed but the letter "D" could still reign come Oscar time with Dunkirk, Darkest Hour, and Downsizing all potential Best Picture players. Though it can sometimes feel gross to discuss rich movies from an Oscar perspective before they've even been considered as films, it happens to us all this time of year and the films invite it with their slow rollouts from festival reviews that result in months of discussion and speculation before the public can buy tickets. In other words: Look what they made me us do!

DOWNSIZING
After 'miniature masterpiece' style reviews at Venice the critics got considerably chillier with Alexander Payne's latest once it hit Telluride. Now the film is playing in Toronto and the reviews continue to be mixed. This could spell trouble for the film, but be patient. Initial reviews are only part of the Oscar equation...

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Wednesday
Sep132017

TIFF: Elle Fanning is "Mary Shelley"

Our ongoing adventures at TIFF

In the summer of 1816 legendary Romantic literary figures Mary Shelley (and stepsister Claire Clairmont), Percy Shelley, Lord Byron and Dr John Polidori were holed up in a Swiss estate and challenged each other to write scary ghost stories. From that fateful contest two famous works of horror emerged ("Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus" in 1818 and "The Vampyre" in 1819 -- neither of them actual ghost stories!). Ken Russell attacked this collision of authors with his trademark sexual abandon and visual insanity in Gothic (1986) and his wasn't the first or last film to stare with fascination at that morbid contest 201 years ago. We return to that summer for a good chunk of Haifaa al-Mansour's Mary Shelley but with far different intent.

Haifaa al-Mansour, the first Saudi female film director (she previously directed Wadjda) is more interested in the trailblazing of Mary Shelley (née Godwin) as a female author -- and the unique challenges that came with her gender in the literary world of 1818 -- than in the creation of Frankenstein...

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Tuesday
Sep122017

TIFF: Sean Baker's Wondrous "The Florida Project"

by Chris Feil

With Sean Baker’s compassionate ingenuity, The Florida Project is a heartbreaking (and heart-renewing) fable of American poverty seen through the resilient eyes of children. Set in a slum motel just a stone’s through away from Disney World, the film follows a boisterous toddler names Moonee and her mother Halley as they struggle to get by. But like Baker’s other tales of people on the fringes, Project lives more in their joy than their pain.

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