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Movie Reviews

  • 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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  • Indiewire
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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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  • Indiewire
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  • The Playlist
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    TIFF Review: 'Mr. Pip' Features A Fine Hugh Laurie Performance, But Fails On Most Other Levels

    From Andrew Adamson, the director who brought us the first two "Shrek" and "Narnia" movies, "Mr. Pip" is a rather feeble attempt at more serious subject matter than talking lions and animated ogres. A literary adaptation of a coming-of-age story, with links to Charles Dickens’ classic "Great Expecta...

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  • Indiewire
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    TIFF Capsule Review: 'Arthur Newman'

    It takes some doing to make the only interesting thing about a character the fact that he has faked his own disappearance and assumed a new identity. Nevertheless, the title character in “Arthur Newman” – played by Colin Firth at his dourest – proves to be such a bore that it’s downright miraculous he finds the gumption to pull off this piece of “Passenger”-like subterfuge in the early scenes of this relentlessly drab and thoroughly enervating debut feature by Dante Ariola. The script by Becky Johnston (“The Prince of Tides,” “Seven Years in Tibet”) is a hefty serving of Mid...

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  • Indiewire
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    TIFF Capsule Review: 'Great Expectations'

    It’s hard to understand how things could’ve gone so wrong with this latest adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic cautionary tale of class mobility. For one thing, director Mike Newell is wise to have eschewed the genteel trappings of the many TV incarnations in favor of a grubby, even brutal naturalism more akin to Roman Polanski’s 2005 version of “Oliver Twist” or Andrea Arnold’s more radical take on Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights.” What’s more, Newell scores at least two casting coups by enlisting Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham and Ralph Fiennes as Magwitch, two...

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  • Indiewire
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    TIFF Capsule Review: '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. The action centers on the bond between Matilda (Xzannjah), a 12-year-old islander, an...

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  • The Playlist
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    TIFF Review: 'Arthur Newman' An Intentionally Listless Story About A Boring Everyman

    What if we are all Arthur Newman? This is the question that director Dante Ariola and screenwriter Becky Johnston beg in "Arthur Newman," their tepid, imaginatively uninvolved drama about two strangers that fall in love while trying to escape their banal past lives. Ariola and Johnston’s film follow...

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  • Indiewire
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    TIFF Capsule Review: '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. Trine Dyrholm plays Ida, a hairdresser and cancer survivor whose solemn life is complicated when she comes home for a doctor's visit to find her husband fooling around with a woman half her age. The timing couldn't be worse, since Ida's young daughter plans to get married soon at an orange grove in Italy. At the height of her frustration, Ida literally slams...

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  • Indiewire
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    TIFF Capsule Review: 'Quartet'

    Dustin Hoffman's directorial debut is mainly of note because the iconic actor takes his first stab at working behind the camera. The lightweight story, an adaptation of Ronald Harwood's play about a retirement home for aging classical musicians, plays by the rules and lets the performances lead the way. Former opera stars Wilf (Billy Connolly) and Reggie (Tom Courtney) enjoy old age without much pressure. While Reggie enjoys teaching as a means of bridging the gap between classic music and popular forms, the boisterous Wilf gleefully hits on fellow retiree Cissy (Pauline Collins) while the trio gleefully reminisce about their halcy...

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