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Movie Reviews

  • Indiewire
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    TIFF Capsule Review: 'What Richard Did'

    “What Richard Did” follows a role-model athlete into a party, and after a violent drunken spasm of jealousy, a rugby teammate is dead. Director Lenny Abrahamson’s second feature shifts from a light airy palette on the beaches near Wicklow to darkening tones as his story devolves from jostling bonhomie into death and guilt. Newcomer Jack Reynor is Richard Karlsen, a team leader who can’t contain his surging emotions when there’s competition for dark-haired Lara (Roisin Murphy). After a brawl goes too far and the police investigate, omerta sets in among the mates who witnessed the fight, putting a few new wrinkl...

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    TIFF Capsule Review: 'Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang'

    The latest film from French auteur Laurent Cantet (the Palme d’Or-winning “The Class”) is set in an impeccably evoked small town in the U.S. of the 1950s, but the story set there involving the titular girl gang, which clocks in at a hefty 143 minutes, is dramatically repetitive and somewhat inert. For his adaptation of the Joyce Carol Oates novel, Cantet decided to work again with young, non-professional actors as in “The Class,” but to diminishing returns here. His lead, Raven Adamson, who plays the most daring of the girls and their de-facto leader, Legs, is appropriately spunky, but she’s surrounded b...

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  • The Playlist
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    TIFF Review: 'Great Expectations' Is A Handsome But Stodgy Literary Adaptation

    Adapted a dozen times for television and film (most memorably by David Lean back in 1946), the Charles Dickens classic "Great Expectations" is a tale ripe with thematic undercurrents, one that is more-than-ready for reinvention, interpretation, and reconfiguration. Sadly, no one told this to the mak...

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  • Indiewire
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    Why 'To the Wonder' Is Terrence Malick's Most Accessible Work in Years

    "The Tree of Life" was the epitome of Malick's cosmic fixations, but the comparatively muted "To the Wonder" delivers a similar collage of memories and desires in more easily digestible fragments.

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  • The Playlist
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    TIFF Review: 'A Late Quartet' Is A Soap Opera Symphony That Hits All The Wrong Notes

    Certainly, if a film pulls together a cast that includes Philip Seymour Hoffmam, Christopher Walken and Catherine Keener, there's going to be something worth enjoying. And indeed, the trio give top shelf performances as we've always come to expect from them in "A Late Quartet." But it's just too bad...

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    TIFF Capsule Review: 'What Maisie Knew'

    The latest by the directorial team of Scott McGehee and David Siegel is a modernized take on Henry James’ novel about a sweet little girl who’s saddled with two of the world’s worst parents. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine a pair less deserving of six-year-old Maisie (Onata Aprile) than Susanne (Julianne Moore), a temperamental rock singer, and Beale (Steve Coogan), an art dealer who’s even more self-involved. Since their selfishness is made perfectly clear in the opening scenes depicting the couple’s breakup, it’s a shame that McGehee and Siegel feel the need to reiterate the point so often as Maisie...

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  • Thompson on Hollywood
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    TIFF Brody Diary Day Four: The Delightful 'Silver Linings Playbook,' Sexual and Stylized 'Passion' & 'Secret Disco'

    Today I choose David O. Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook,” to be released in November, over Joss Whedon’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” which does not yet have a distributor. (And over a number of other screenings which either don’t grab me, or don’t grab me enough, or which I’ve already seen elsewher...

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  • The Playlist
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    TIFF Review: Unnerving ‘Lords of Salem’ Is Rob Zombie’s Best Film Yet

    “The Lords of Salem” is probably goth rocker-turned-filmmaker Rob Zombie’s best film, though it does often prove that the cinephile writer/director is a gifted tyro. At the same time, as his most formally mannered and tonally tempered film, Zombie’s latest also proves his ver...

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  • Thompson on Hollywood
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    Now and Then: NBC's Big Miss, 'The New Normal,' Could Learn a Thing or Two from 'Sleepwalk With Me'

    I look forward to each fall's slate of network comedies with roughly the same relish as I do a dental procedure. There are exceptions — "Modern Family" and "30 Rock," though they've struggled to stay fresh, started strong — but episodic comedy is hard to get right. Which is why I was surprised to fi...

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    TIFF Capsule Review: 'The Secret Disco Revolution'

    Dead as disco – the term is a statement that a trend was over, and deserved to be. Yet disco memories are alive enough to inspire “The Secret Disco Revolution,” which exhumes the music and style from dance records of the 1970’s and follows the genre’s short life up to the “Disco Sucks” gathering at Comiskey Park in Chicago in 1979 that blew up disco records. The archival vault is huge, full of music and footage. Now there’s also plenty of academic research on the phenomenon. It’s all there in Jamie Kastner’s documentary. Disco is traced to the Swing Kids, who were Germans expressi...

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