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Movie Reviews

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    Twenty-Five Toronto Reviews

    Catch up with indieWIRE's first batch of reviews from the Toronto International Film Festival:

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    REVIEW | Out of Fashion: Anne Fontaine's "Coco Before Chanel"

    Following in the footsteps of the unfortunate Jane Austen biopic "Becoming Jane," Anne Fontaine's glossy period piece "Coco Before Chanel" focuses exclusively on the youthful romances of a fascinating, independent woman in the years before her professional success. For this approach, the intention, or excuse, seems to be that in looking at her origins we will begin to understand the seeds of her artistic temperament, and that this is somehow more valuable than a glimpse into her actual process. Aside from this being a relatively specious, and utterly conventional, approach to hagiography, in each cases it also reduces a real-life woman to a s...

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    REVIEW | Uneven But Charming, "Informant!" Works On Basic Level

    With "The Informant!", Steven Soderbergh enforces a happy-go-lucky sensibility not unlike the hyperbolic punctuation in its title. Transporting the agreeable flow of his "Ocean's" series to a company espionage setting, the director turns a rather dry true life story of company conspiracies, embezzle...

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    REVIEW | Succeeding On Her Own Terms: Samantha Morton's "The Unloved"

    Actors directing features at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival tackled wildly different material, but each displayed an attempt to try something ambitious. Maybe hanging around in front of the camera engenders a desire to figure out its boundaries, or perhaps veterans of the set simp...

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    REVIEW | The Horrors of Bearing Witness: Lu Chuan's "City of Life and Death"

    War movies produced by commercial film industries have a tendency to show any given conflict not as it is or was, but as the side footing the bill for the film would like for it have been. The essential moral irony of war — that acts that would be considered revoltingly inhumane if committed in the...

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    Chaos & Claustrophobia: Toronto '09 titles from "Lebanon" to "Collapse"

    Stuck in basements, tanks and various landscapes of inescapable desolation, I will fondly remember this year's Toronto International Film Festival as a procession of utter despair. From the first press screening last Thursday night of Lu Chuan's "The City of Life and Death," an unsparing black-and-white epic about the 1937 Nanking massacre, which largely forgoes character development for lots of carnage, to Jean-Luc Godard's 1-minute fittingly titled "Un Catastrophe" - a meditation on love and war tucked away in the experimental Wavelengths program (available for viewing here, what began as a curious trend slowly became a kind of obsessive se...

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    REVIEW | Campion's Prudish "Star" Needs More Sizzle

    EDITOR'S NOTE: This review was originally published as part of indieWIRE's coverage of the Cannes Film Festival. The film is being released in theaters today.

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    REVIEW | Cedric the Entertainer: Cedric Klapisch’s “Paris”

    The films of Cedric Klapisch are easy to dismiss. They seem a bit too slick of surface and shallow of meaning. They’re comfortably tucked between entertainment and art, between slumming intelligence and vainglorious style. They go down easy. Klapisch hasn’t the formal genius of contemporary countrym...

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    REVIEW | Norton's Dual Role Salvages Nelson's "Leaves of Grass"

    2009 is starting to look like The Year of the Dual Role, with the stars of three major festival films acting opposite themselves as Patty Duke-esque physical copies with polar opposite personalities. In "Leaves of Grass," Edward Norton plays classically dissimilar twin brothers –– Brady is id, Bill is superego –– who come together after a long stretch of estrangement. Norton’s dual characterization and Tim Blake Nelson’s slight-of-hand staging is more seamless and convincing than the similar tricks employed by actor Michael Cera and director Miguel Arteta in Toronto premiere "Youth in Revolt," but even with scads of overwritten philosophicall...

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    REVIEW | Jeunet Continues His Magical Realism With "Micmacs"

    Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s signature films, including "Amelie" and "City of Lost Children," have functioned as gateway drugs, getting the previously uninitiated hooked on the habit of foreign film. Romantic enough to please what we now think of as the "Twilight" se...

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