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Movie Reviews

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    Toronto Review | Grief Cycle: Shawn Ku's "Beautiful Boy"

    "Beautiful Boy" tests the extent to which one can wallow in another person's grief before it becomes unbearable. The focused story of two parents dealing with their son's decision to kill several students and then off himself during his freshman year of college, the movie dwells in discomfort. Peeki...

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    Toronto Review | Afghan on the Lam: "Essential Killing"

    So little happens in Jerzy Skolimowski's "Essential Killing" that it barely exists as a movie. Instead, the story of an escaped Taliban fighter (Vincent Gallo) wandering through the forests of Europe meanders along as a succession of scenes. At times engrossing and not without palpable suspense, it ...

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    Toronto Review | A Natural Museum In 3-D: Werner Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams"

    In recent years, Werner Herzog's sly observations on the ways the universe in wondrously strange documentaries such as "Grizzly Man" and "Encounters at the End of the World" have taken on cult status apart from his existing place in the history of German cinema. Viral videos contain uncanny imitatio...

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    Toronto Review | A Gay Dad and a Mid-Life Crisis: Mike Mills's "Beginners"

    The delicate blend of playful drama in "Beginners," the second narrative feature by California-based filmmaker and graphic designer Mike Mills ("Thumbsucker"), is a small wonder to behold. Mills fashions the set-up for an overwrought, thoroughly depressing character study into an oddly charming come...

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    Toronto Review | A Title That Lies: "It's Kind of a Funny Story"

    Few American filmmakers in recent memory have matched the ability of co-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck to make small stories work in big ways. "Half Nelson" made a gritty, low key portrait of one teacher's struggles with the Brooklyn public school system into Oscar bait. Their follow-up, "Sugar," miraculously turned the immigrant experience in minor league baseball into a rousing sports movie. Given their proven track record for injecting socio-economic talking points into understated crowdpleasers, Boden and Fleck have earned the resources to make more of them. Unfortunately, their shift toward mainstream filmmaking with "It's Kind of a...

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    Toronto Review | One Sad Note: "Never Let Me Go"

    An incidental sci-fi story that favors elegant imagery over content, "Never Let Me Go" has plenty of emotional baggage to spare. Adapting Kazuo Ishiguro's 2005 novel about an alternative history where clones are bred to donate organs, Mark Romanek (directing his first feature since 2002's "One Hour ...

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    Toronto Review | De Niro Versus Norton: John Curran's "Stone"

    A bizarre, messy tale of religious philosophy and guilt, John Curran's "Stone" has several unique parts that never entirely fit together. Robert De Niro stars as Michigan-based parole officer Jack Mabrey, an unnervingly cold man with inner demons to spare. His latest subject is Stone (Edward Norton)...

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    Toronto Review | Punk Rock Women Talk: Bruce McDonald's "Trigger"

    The engine of Bruce McDonald's "Trigger" is chatter, and it rarely lets up. Gliding along on the controlled nature of its two lead performances, the movie portrays two aging women rockers in unflattering detail. Former childhood friends Vic (Tracy Wright, in her last performance b...

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    Eric Rohmer vs. the 3-D Threat: August in Focus

    No movie made more money in August than "The Expendables," an old school action product so thoroughly decried for its empty, virile spectacles that you have to wonder if the majority of audiences pouring money into Sylvester Stallone's pocket have done so with full awareness of the blatant stupidity...

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    Big Screen | "Mesrine" Finally Hits U.S. Theaters

    Two years after premiering at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival, the first of a two-part film, "Mesrine: Killer Instinct," is hitting U.S. theaters via Music Box Films. It's directed by Jean-François Richet and written by Abdel Raouf Dafri and Richet. The first part's script was based on ...

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