Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

102 Reviews From the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival

By Indiewire | Indiewire September 8, 2012 at 3:25AM

The Toronto International Film Festival continues through next weekend, but Indiewire has already reviewed a significant portion of the program at various other festivals over the past year.
1
"Hyde Park on Hudson."
Focus "Hyde Park on Hudson."

"Hyde Park on Hudson"

Bill Murray is a man of many talents who has lately struggled to find the right outlet for them. The latest example, "Hyde Park on Hudson," finds Murray in a tame, mannered costume drama delivering his best FDR impression. The actor's pathos and deadpan skills are buried in the material, which also suffers from a continuous lack of inspiration. It's high-minded entertainment with low ambition. Read more here. Criticwire grade: C+

"The Impossible"

Bringing a blockbuster vision to a large scale disaster that demands it, Juan Antonio Bayona's "The Impossible" delivers a visceral treatment of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami only hampered by the overwrought sentimentalism of the survival tale at its center. Adapting the real life experiences of a European family pulled apart while on vacation when the tsunami hit, Bayona reconstructs their survival through extraordinary technical prowess at odds with the warm, by-the-numbers inspiration that Sergio G. Sanchez's screenplay falls back on once the terror dies down. Read more here. Criticwire grade: B-

"Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp"

Iceberg Slim made his name by writing the autobiographical book "Pimp: The Story of My Life." Released in 1969, it was an eye-opening account of how pimps persuade, cajole and beat women into agreeing to sell themselves. Director Jorge Hinojosa (long time manager of Ice-T) doesn’t just concern itself with his seminal book, but looks at how the author turned himself from a seller of women to a seller of words. Read more here. Criticwire grade: A-

"The Iceman"

The historical background for "The Iceman" is the killing spree of hitman Richard Kuklinksi, a hired gun for the Gambino crime family from the fifties through the eighties, and the droll suburban existence he lived during that time with his clueless family. Read more here. Criticwire grade: C

"In the Fog"

Urkainian director Sergei Loznitza's narrative feature debut "My Joy" found the veteran documentarian was equally capable of distorting the truth through a Lynchian allegorical lens that sifted through the demons of Russian society. His follow-up is an equally grim but more narratively precise look at the country's history through the lens of WWII. Read more here. Criticwire grade: B+

"Jayne Mansfield's Car"

The best thing one can say about "Jayne Mansfield's Car," Billy Bob Thornton's loopy family drama about a group of eccentric American southerners in 1969, is that it's not quite as bad as it looks. A far cry from "Sling Blade," the crowning achievement of Thornton's otherwise non-career as a filmmaker, this tame exercise never quite jives and sometimes just bombs with one-note melodrama, but always maintains Thornton's conviction about the material. Read more here. Criticwire grade: C+

"Just the Wind"

After making the creepy sci-fi love story “Womb” with Eva Green in English, Hungarian director Benedek “Bence” Fliegauf returns to his home country and a much more realistic register with “Just the Wind.” Inspired by true events that occurred a couple of years ago, the film looks at the last day of a Romany family — composed of a mother (Katalin Toldi), her adolescent daughter (Gyongyi Lendvai) and her younger brother (Lajos Sarkany) — in a country where casual racism and verbal hatred of the Gypsy community have become such an accepted part of life that no one, not even the police and, to an extent, the Romany themselves, think it particularly strange or alarming. Read more hereCriticwire grade: B [Boyd van Hoeij]

"The Last Time I Saw Macao"

A provocative cinematic poem in the tradition of the late Chris Marker, "The Last Time I Saw Macao" valiantly attempts to dissect an entire metropolitan history. Perhaps because it aims so big, not every fragment connects, but Portuguese co-directors Joao Pedro Rodrigues and Joao Rui Guerra da Mata unload an intriguing collection of attitudes, themes and memories based around a largely effective combination of nostalgia and colonialist regret. Read more here. Criticwire grade: B+

"Laurence Anyways"

Montreal-based actor-turned-filmmaker prodigy Xavier Dolan's third feature is a terrific character study for its first two hours -- and then there's the third one. Read more here. Criticwire grade: B

"Leviathan"

There are moments in "Leviathan" so breathtaking that it's easy to forget they're also familiar. Documentarians Vérena Paravel and Lucien Castain-Taylor follow a pair of fishing vessels off the coast of Massachusetts from nearly every imaginable angle as well as a few impossible ones: Captured on small digital cameras fixed to fishermen helmets, tossed beneath the waves and strewn across the deck among the dead-eyed haul, the barrage of visuals populating "Leviathan" contain a routinely dissociative effect. The dialogue is sparse and distant, drowned out by hulking machinery, wind and water. The movie could take place on another planet; instead, it peers at this one from a jarring and entirely fresh point of view. Read more here. Criticwire grade: A

"A Liar's Autobiography -- The Untrue Story of Monty Python's Graham Chapman"

Even dedicated Monty Python fans might be surprised to learn some of the details revealed about the private exploits of the late Graham Chapman in this innovative take on the non-fiction biopic form. Largely consisting of animation created by 14 different studios and 17 varying styles, "A Liar's Autobiography" uses audio recordings Chapman made for his memoir prior to his death in 1989 for an ongoing voiceover track. As Chapman tracks his progress from an uninspiring adolescence to his burgeoning homosexuality and alcoholism, the wildly schizophrenic narrative gives the impression that it stems directly from the dead Python's consciousness. Read more here. Criticwire grade: B-

"Like Someone in Love"

There's a lot of driving and talking in "Like Someone in Love," Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami's latest production made outside of his native country, but beyond that is anyone's guess. Following last year's Tuscany-set "Certified Copy," the new movie finds the director in the vastly different turf of Tokyo with an all-Japanese cast. For Kiarostami buffs, that imbues the material with a disorienting quality, but it still manages to settle into a familiar Kiarostami enigma. Even far away from home, Kiarostami is still Kiarostami. Read more here. Criticwire grade: B+

"Looper"

This rollicking dystopian action-adventure yarn about time travel is a reasonable broadening of the director Rian Johnson's scope with enough potential to make its flaws stand out. Read more here. Criticwire grade: B

"The Lords of Salem"

Metal rocker Rob Zombie's second career as a filmmaker proved he was just as capable of unsettling showmanship behind the camera as he was onstage. His frightening "House of a 1,000 Corpses" merely hinted at the spectacular portrait of depravity that came next in 2005's "The Devil's Rejects," which got so intimate with serial killers even some dedicated genre fans felt it crossed a line. Zombie's two "Halloween" remakes, however, found less favor among most audiences, which means it's time for a comeback: With the effectively creepy "The Lords of Salem," Zombie reaffirms his capacity to tap into the genre's strongest qualities, although this time around he has toned down the scares. Read more here. Criticwire grade: B

"Lore"

Remove the prologue from Australian director Cate Shortland's German-language drama "Lore," which follows the teen daughter (newbie Saskia Rosendahl) of an S.S. officer on the lam in the immediate aftermath of World War II, and it would have much in common with any number of mopey Holocaust survivor dramas. But it's that extraordinary framing device that sets this movie apart from any precedent. Read more here. Criticwire grade: B+

"Love Is All You Need"

Danish director Susanne Bier's follow-up to her Oscar-winning "In a Better World" is a welcome change from the overdone weightiness of her last few films in favor of a conventionally heartwarming romance about aging loners finding a catharsis in companionship. Anders Thomas Jensen's screenplay unfolds with a light comic touch that's generally unremarkable but nevertheless energized by persistent wit. Read more here. Criticwire grade: B

"Love, Marilyn"

In its opening minutes, the documentary "Love, Marilyn" establishes a gimmick that seems destined to fail: Chronicling the rise and fall of Marilyn Monroe, director Liz Garbus unleashes a collection of movie stars who mainly read excerpts from her personal diaries throughout the film. Watching these contemporary faces dramatize Monroe's attitude initially creates a grating disconnect from the subject matter. Over time, however, the approach blends into an immersive account of the actress' career that both deconstructs her celebrity while interrogating its impact on her troubled existence. Read more here. Criticwire grade: B+

"Lunarcy!"

Each interviewee has a unique relationship with the Moon (one even claims ownership), but it’s quickly established that the film’s real star is the quixotic Christopher Carson, a young man who is determined to be the Moon’s first permanent resident. Read more here. Criticwire grade: A

"Midnight's Children"

Director Deepa Metha teams with Salman Rushdie for an adaptation of his 1981 novel, a lavish period drama about India's shift from British colonialism to independence through the eyes of a well-heeled young man. Read more here. Criticwire grade: C

"Mekong Hotel"

Thai director and installation artist Apichatpong Weerasethakul has steadily made his way from exclusively receiving a highly specialized form of cinephilic admiration for his plethora of experimental shorts and structurally ambitious features to global status as one of the most enthrallingly cryptic filmmakers working today. His recent popularity mainly stems from his 2009 Palme d'Or win for "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives." Although an established auteur years before "Uncle Boonmee," that last movie most clearly defined his far-reaching aesthetic of loopy existential storytelling filtered through Thai folklore and other mystical conceits. Weerasethakul's new hourlong experimental feature "Mekong Hotel," cobbled together from ideas for another unrealized project, reaffirms the filmmaker's appeal by simply arranging the same core elements into a distinctly odd collage. Read more here. Criticwire grade: B

"Me and You"

"Me and You" is the most inessential movie ever directed by the legendary Bernardo Bertolucci. It's also an entirely serviceable coming of age story, capably performed by its two leads and emotionally affecting within the constraints of its small scale aims. Read more here. Criticwire grade: B+

"More Than Honey"

Markus Imhoof's "More Than Honey" makes a convincing argument for the role of bees sustaining both organic and industrial concerns, not to mention their own complex set of behaviors. Facing crises that threaten to impact their existence as well as various marketplaces that rely on their survival, bees are the key in an equation that, through poetic images and convincing testimonials, Imhoof proves to be broken. While the movie struggles account for far too many issues involving the species' survival, it does manage to show the creatures in profound and at times even moving terms. Read more here. Criticwire grade: B+

"Mr. Pip"

Readers of Lloyd Jones’ much-acclaimed 2006 novel may be the only viewers who have the patience to sit through this badly botched and largely incoherent adaptation by director Andrew Adamson, a veteran of the “Shrek” and “Narnia” franchises. Working from his own screenplay, Adamson even fails to provide much of an entry point for this based-on-true-events story, which takes place on a remote South Pacific island whose inhabitants’ resistance to mining exploitation led to civil war in Papua New Guinea in the early 1990s. Read more hereCriticwire grade: C

"Much Ado About Nothing"

There's a certain irony to Joss Whedon's adaptation of "Much Ado About Nothing": While the script culls a beloved literary achievement more than 400 years old, it has relatively uncomplicated aims. Made in the immediate aftermath of Whedon's massive production of "The Avengers" and shot over the course of a two-week period at the cult director's Santa Monica home, "Much Ado About Nothing" has the scrappy feel of a high school play populated by professionals looking to take the pressure off. Call it a Shakespearean catharsis or just call it a lark -- either way, the movie represents Whedon's least essential work, regardless of the material's inherent comedic inspiration. Read more here. Criticwire grade: C+

"Mumbai's King"

Manjeet Singh is part of the new breed of Indian filmmaker that eschews the song-and-dance traditions of mainstream Bollywood to create observational slice-of-life social commentaries about contemporary India. This is cinema that’s more Satyajit Ray than Shah Rukh Khan. As with Ray’s “Pather Panchali,” Singh’s film is born from the traditions of Italian neorealism. Read more hereCriticwire grade: B

"Museum Hours"

To date, Jem Cohen has made intimate non-fiction diary films rooted in an attentiveness to atmosphere and riddled with small observations rendered in profound terms. While his new feature "Museum Hours" is technically his first narrative effort, with a pair of amateur performances and the backbone of a fictional story, its constant introspection and remarkable sense of place provide a fluid connection to the earlier work. With a keen eye for the capacity of fine art to address a complex range of attitudes and experiences, "Museum Hours" effectively applies Cohen's existing strengths to a familiar scenario and rejuvenates it by delivering a powerfully contemplative look at the transformative ability of all art. Read more here. Criticwire grade: A-

"No"

With his last two features, "Tony Manero" and "Post Mortem," Chilean director Pablo Larraín quickly established himself as the preeminent chronicler of his country's lingering demons from its years of oppression under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. For his third and most accomplished work, "No," Larraín has traded the allegorical track for the real thing, delivering a lively, mesmerizing drama about a national call to action during the 1988 referendum on Pinochet's presidency. With a full-bodied turn by Gael Garcia Bernal as its anchor, "No" broadens Larraín's range by replicating historical events in engrossing detail. Read more here. Criticwire grade: A

"On the Road"

Red flags go up when a filmmaker embarks on adapting a beloved classic. Walter Salles' long-gestating big screen treatment of "On the Road" spent years in development and the nearly-two-and-a-half hour treatment of Jack Kerouac's seminal novel of the Beat Generation invited immediate skepticism. Kerouac's autobiographical look at his friends and their journeys around the country in the late 1940s has become so closely identified with his prose that any attempt to replicate it would automatically create a certain distance from the material -- or it seemed. As it turns out, Salles' "On the Road" does the trick well enough. Overlong and unfocused in parts, Salles' adaptation nonetheless holds together about as well a movie can when the odds are so heavily stacked against it. Read more here. Criticwire grade: B

"Once Upon a Time Was I, Veronica"

As a portrait of emotional stasis, “Veronica” is at once specific and universal, with Gomes sticking close to his protagonist in order to get under her skin and Guedes delivering a beautifully shaded performance as a doctor who treats others but is herself adrift in a confusing sea of loneliness. Read more hereCriticwire grade: B+

This article is related to: Reviews, Toronto International Film Festival, The Act of Killing, At Any Price, Amour, Antiviral, Argo, Berberian Sound Studio, Beyond The Hills, The Capsule, Far from Afghanistan, Frances Ha, The Gatekeepers, Ginger and Rosa, In the Fog, The Hunt, Hyde Park on Hudson, Jayne Mansfield's Car, The Last Time I Saw Macao, Leviathan, Like Someone In Love, Lore, Love, Marilyn, Midnight's Children, Mekong Hotel, Me and You, More Than Honey, Museum Hours, On The Road, The Paperboy, Paradies: Liebe, Post Tenebras Lux, Reality, Room 237, Rust and Bone, The Sapphires, The Sessions, Sightseers, Spring Breakers, Stories We Tell, Tabu, Tower, War Witch (Rebelle), Watchtower, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Home Again, The Impossible, Thanks for Sharing, Fill the Void, Zaytoun, Fidaï, 7 Boxes, Love is All You Need, Quartet, Mr. Pip, Great Expectations, Arthur Newman, The Lords of Salem, The Secret Disco Revolution, What Maisie Knew, What Richard Did, Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang, The Iceman, Once Upon a Time Was I, Verônica, Blancanieves, Mumbai's King, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Yellow, Passion, As if We Were Catching a Cobra, Just the Wind (Csak a szél), Peaches Does Herself, Lunarcy!, Pieta, The Patience Stone, Reincarnated , English Vinglish , Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp, Disconnect, Road North, The Fitzgerald Family Christmas, Pusher