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Movie Reviews

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    TIFF Capsule Review: 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist'

    Adapting Moshin Hamid’s novel was always going to prove tricky given that the “action” takes place over the course of one evening in a café in Lahore. The book follows a conversation between a Pakistani university professor who post-9/11 has turned his back on a successful Manhattan-based finance career and an ambiguous American stranger. “Monsoon Wedding” director Mira Nair uses the book’s hint that this mystery American is a C.I.A. agent as her main plot device, turning the observational novel into a full-blown thriller. Riz Ahmed delivers a breakthrough performance as Changez Khan. In flashback...

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    TIFF Capsule Review: 'Blancanieves'

    Forget “Mirror, Mirror” and “Snow White and the Huntsman” — this year’s most daringly original adaptation of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale is “Blancanieves,” from Spanish director Pablo Berger (the porn comedy “Torremolinos 73”). Shot as a silent film (Weinstein brothers, take note) and set in the 1910s and 1920s in Andalusia, this movie casts the evil stepmother (Maribel Verdu, the hot mamacita from “Y tu mama tambien”) as a plotting nurse who marries the paraplegic father of Snow White (Daniel Gimenez Cachio), a former toreador who was gored in the arena, and throws ...

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    TIFF Capsule Review: '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. As Kuklinski, Michael Shannon easily fits the creepy lunatic role, but Winona Ryder's bland turn as the killer's wife epitomizes the lifeless trajectory of this cold portrait. When the movie begins, Kuklinski has already displayed his psychopathic tendencies by killing people when he's off-duty. For a while, director Ariel Vromen manages to hold some interest by fo...

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    Toronto Review: Neil Jordan's Vampire Drama 'Byzantium' Is an Elegant Alternative to 'Twilight'

    Contemporary cinema has featured a fair share of young, attractive vampires in recent years, but Neil Jordan's "Byzantium" stands out for exploring that subject with a mixture of intelligence and gravitas.

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    TIFF Capsule Review: 'The Attack'

    "The Attack," by the Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri (West Beirut), a former assistant cameraman on films by Quentin Tarantino, tells an unsettling story about Israel and Palestine. As it opens, an Arab surgeon Amin Jafaari (Ali Suliman) receives an Israeli prize for his life’s work. The same surgeon treats victims of a bombing that kills Jewish children, and the prime suspect turns out to be the surgeon’s wife. Amins is ostracized from most of his Jewish colleagues. After initial denial, Amin accepts that that hard evidence that his wife was the bomber, and travels to the Occupied Territories to find the sheik who tau...

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    TIFF Capsule Review: '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&#...

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    TIFF Capsule Review: '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. That's starting to be a routine for the young director: Dolan's gently affecting debut, "I Killed My Mother," was a remarkably insightful portrait of a young gay man's relationship to his mother, but his two follow-ups have suffered from an overindulgence in style in spite of their many strengths. In the case of "Laurence, Anyways," Melvil Poupaud delivers a stirring performance in the title role as a high school teacher who confesses to h...

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    TIFF Capsule Review: 'Aftershock'

    Eli Roth basically wrote the modern book on the horror subgenre of hedonistic tourists receiving their comeuppance, so it comes as no surprise that his stamp is all over "Aftershock," a routine shock-fest about a couple of travelers led through a series of misfortunes when their vacation in Chile is interrupted by an earthquake. Roth produced the movie and stars as the sole American of the group, naturally nicknamed Gringo. While bar-hopping with Chilean friends Ariel (Ariel Levy) and Pollo (Nicolás Martinez), Gringo and his fellow pleasure-seekers pick up a trio of likeminded Russian women (Natasha Yarovenko, Lorenza Izz...

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    TIFF Capsule Review: 'End of Watch'

    The prospects of a gritty cop movie in the context of the found footage genre makes sense when one considers that the reality series "COPS" helped solidify the vernacular associated with the format. But "End of Watch" only uses the first person approach to frame the familiar dramas of two hackneyed characters, cocksure young officers Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Zavala (Michael Peña), as they uncover the dark underbelly of the drug trade in south central L.A. Taylor's obsession with filming their exploits provides a handy excuse for the constant shaky cam, but director David Ayer often abandons the device for...

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  • The Playlist
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    TIFF Review: 'Free Angela & All Political Prisoners' A Fascinating Chronicle Of Justice & Strength

    "Black power means dignity," is a phrase that lingers from Shola Lynch's documentary about activist and scholar Angela Davis. And dignity is just one of the many qualities that one can attach to Davis, a bold and powerful figure whose own battle for justice and freedom is chronicled in "Free Angela ...

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