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Entries in Reviews (530)

Friday
Sep132013

TIFF: "Gravity" & "Eleanor Rigby: Him / Her"

Here's to grand ambition, the spiritual cousin of self-sabotage; whatever scale filmmakers are working on, it's a thin (blood)line that separates them. An noble arguable failure and an unwieldy arguable success from the Toronto International Film Festival will illustrate…

GRAVITY
The very talented multi-hypenate filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón has been MIA from cinema for the past seven years. He's presumably been huddled over various computers or engulfed in endless meetings trying to work out the logistics of bringing this epic outerspace survival drama to the screen. [more...]

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Friday
Sep132013

TIFF Quickies: Young & Beautiful, Honeymoon, and Belle

Brief notes on three more TIFF pictures

HONEYMOON
Maybe I would be a fan of Jan Hrebejk if I saw more of his pictures? He's been submitted three times for Oscar consideration in Best Foreign Film but of the three I've only seen his most recent Kawasaki Rose which I liked quite a lot. We don't yet know if the Czech Republic will submit his latest, Honeymoon, but it's an involving drama about our past selves and how well we know the ones we love. I really liked the gradual unfolding of its story-puzzle which takes place during a wedding weekend in which an uninvited gayish stranger spoils the proceedings for the bride and groom though they don't quite know why. Or maybe someone does but they're not saying. The relationships were intriguing and the groom is the sexiest ginger bearded actor this side of Fassbender. Though it maybe pushes too hard aesthetically in its climax, the final shots really moved me. 

Of note
: Fans of Nastassia Kinski will be delighted at the marquee treatment she receives here. She's not in the film but her late 70s early 80s stardom is a key plot point. B/B+

François Ozon and a British Costume Drama after the jump

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Tuesday
Sep102013

"At the Farm" or "By The Lake", Queer Films Among Best @ TIFF

This article was originally published in my column at Towleroad

The French famously call an orgasm "la petit mort" or, the little death. In two new French-language films playing at the Toronto International Film Festival (in full swing through next weekend) this euphemism forgets to be euphemistic. If you like your sex all mixed up with danger -- you know, the way straight people did during the mainstream erotic thriller years (the Glenn Close thru Sharon Stone continuum) -- consider these films 'must sees' when they hit your city. IF they hit your city. It's tough out there for art films, especially gay ones, as recently discussed in a fascinating piece at IndieWire mapping out the problems.

Prolific twenty-four year old writer/director/actor Xavier Dolan has been a sensation on the festival circuit and in Canada since his award-winning debut I Killed My Mother in 2009. Despite the accolades Dolan has yet to win the Stateside following he deserves, even among LGBT audiences. This is largely because his films are in French and they have had a weirdly hard time making their way onto US screens. I Killed My Mother was famously delayed and delayed and delayed again. Before I received a screener a couple of years ago I was convinced that it was an imaginary movie, dreamt up by journalists to make the rest of us feel jealous that we aren't fabulous enough to party in Cannes with them each May. Dolan's subsequent features, the stylish unrequited love triangle Heartbeats (also known as Imaginary Lovers) and the recently released three hour trans drama Laurence Anyways only increased his wunderkind reputation. His latest TOM AT THE FARM may well be his most accessible but reviewing it presents a challenge because the less you know about it going in the better.

Let's keep it very simple AFTER THE JUMP... 

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Tuesday
Sep102013

TIFF: More Than a Head Rush

David reporting from TIFF in spirit though I'm an ocean away in person. Ron Howard's Rush premiered at the festival last night, but I got a sneak peek on my own shores so Nat didn't have to. Turns out, he might want to anyway...

Motor racing is a peculiar sport. Dangerous (formerly deadly even), impulsive and isolated, it’s often more about the beauty of the machines than the drivers for fans. Seeing the flash of the sleek cars go past is about all spectators actually present will do – the whole picture can only come across on screen. It’s less a sport than a spectacle.

Brühl & Howard on the setThis is what makes it, perhaps, an ideal subject for cinema, although it’s been far less exploited than most sports have over the past sixty years. Senna, Asif Kapadia’s 2010 documentary, thrillingly reproduced the story of its eponymous driver from archive footage, focusing particularly on his rivalry with fellow driver Alain Prost. It’s a similar competitive rivalry that drives Ron Howard’s latest blockbuster, the rather obviously titled Rush, which rewinds the F1 clock a little further to the 1970s. [more...]

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Sunday
Sep012013

Review: The Spectacular Now

Hey everybody. Serious Film's Michael C here to take advantage of the late-Summer doldrums (Getaway, anybody?) as an excuse to draw attention to a terrific movie currently passing through theaters with insufficient critical fanfare.

The genre of high school romance is so moribund by cliché that most savvy film watchers probably feel like they could outline an entire film just from hearing the premise. If, for example, I were to tell you that The Spectacular Now begins with Miles Teller’s Sutter asking out a shy bookworm (Shailene Woodley) in an attempt to make the prettiest girl in school (Brie Larson) regret dumping him, you would probably contend, with understandable certainty, that the film would hold few surprises for you. [more...]

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Sunday
Sep012013

Review: The Grandmaster

Dancin' Dan here with my take on one of my most anticipated films of the year.

It's often easy to forget that the martial arts indeed are art, despite the fact that the word is right there in their given name. Practioners of kung fu, or karate, or judo hone their craft just as intensely (if not more so) as any painter, dancer, musician, actor, or filmmaker practices theirs. And to watch martial artists perform (that is, to fight) is quite often just as much of an awe-inspiring spectacle as it is to, say, watch Cate Blanchett navigate the course of Jasmine's unraveling. Wong Kar-Wai's The Grandmaster, far more than any martial arts movie in recent memory, understands this.

One might expect no less from a film directed by Kar-Wai, cinema's premiere sensualist. And on this point, at least, he doesn't disappoint. [more...]

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