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Review

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    TIFF '11 Review: Fernando Meirelles' International Love Story '360' May Leave His Fans Heartbroken

    In a photo studio in Vienna, a sleazy photographer (Johannes Krisch) is coaxing a young Slovakian woman Mirkha (Lucia Siposová) into posing for her first nude pictures. We soon find out this man is also a pimp and the pictures are for luring clients on the internet. Her younger sister Anna (Gabriela Marcinkova) tries to persuade her to reconsider but she has her mind made up. She needs the money and wants to change her life. Her sister intones through darkly humorous voiceover “If there’s a fork in the road, take it.” It’s a highly provocative opening for what ends up being just a so-so anthology of interweaving tales, even though director Fe...

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    TIFF '11 Review: 'Pariah' Is So Much More Than Just This Year's 'Precious'

    Listen, we understand that sometimes in order to get some attention, indie films need glib comparisons and word out of Sundance this year was that Dee Rees' "Pariah" was this year's "Precious." However, not only is "Pariah" nothing like "Precious", it is so much better and so much more rewarding than anything Lee Daniels' "achieved" with his hysterical, exploitative, ghetto soap opera porno. Real in ways few movies ever are, "Pariah" mixes the coming out and coming-of-age story and pitches it against the backdrop of an African-American family adapting to the shifting cultural sexual tides. The result is a film that is warm and raw, sometimes ...

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    TIFF '11 Review: Haphazard 'Your Sister's Sister' Ambles Towards Drama With Little Consequence

    Independent filmmaking has become somewhat hyper-obsessed in the last few years with "realism." Lighting rigs have been put away, available light filling in where it will and scripts tossed out for sketches, shaped by improvisation in an attempt to capture as close to an approximation of real human interaction as possible. It's an admirable approach and not just limited to "mumblecore" movies -- Terrence Malick has followed this path pretty closely throughout this career. However, the risk in this style is that if it's too loose, it can structurally crumble the emotional and narrative focus. And for "Humpday" director Lynn Shelton's "Your Sis...

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    Review: David Mackenzie's Music Festival Rom-Com 'You Instead' Has A Tin Ear

    Not many films are set at music festivals. D.A. Pennebaker’s documentary, “Monterey Pop” is vital, we’ll grant you, and other rock docs that expose something fundamental about the artists they’re profiling (“Don’t Look Back,” “Gimme Shelter”) remain compelling portraits of some of the most important...

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    TIFF '11 Review: 'Machine Gun Preacher' Is Essentially A Botched 'Rambo'

    In 2008’s blitzkrieg actioner “Rambo,” writer-director Sylvester Stallone recognized the real-life struggles of the people of Myanmar, dramatizing the struggle in a blood-drenched exploitation film that, despite its inelegance, emboldened the people of that region while lionizing a fictional hero of...

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    TIFF '11 Review: Sarah Polley's 'Take This Waltz' Has Insights And Edges Sharp Enough To Stab

    In Sarah Polley's Toronto-set drama "Take this Waltz," Margo (Michelle Williams) stumbles across Daniel (Luke Kirby) on a business trip, only to find he lives across the street; despite being married to Lou (Seth Rogen), Margo can't stop thinking of Daniel. Or maybe it's because she's married to Lou that she can't stop thinking of Daniel … Following up "Away from Her," Polley's second film is sharply dividing critics and audience in Toronto: Many find it simultaneously exhilarating and depressing; others find it ugly and hateful; a third faction seems to be kicking against the film not for how it says what it says, but, instead, for what it ...

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    TIFF '11 Review: A (Mostly) Delightful 'Damsels In Distress' A Welcome Return By Whit Stillman

    From the moment the Sony Pictures Classics logo pops up not in the usual blue -- but in cupcake frosting pink -- you know that Whit Stillman's first film in 13 years (!) is going to be something special. While word from Venice -- where the film closed the festival before heading to TIFF -- was good, the question to be answered was whether or not Stillman's style and cinematic persona would stand up in a filmmaking landscape that has changed immensely since "Last Days of Disco." Well, let there be no doubt: Stillman is just as enjoyable as when we last met him those many years ago and "Damsels In Distress" finds the director with lots (and lo...

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    TIFF '11 Review: 'The Oranges' Delivers A Grove Of Big Laughs

    The indie ensemble comedy genre is fraught with pitfalls, from high concepts that just don't deliver, to outrageous storylines that can't sustain their own frenzied energy. For every "Little Miss Sunshine" there are countless more that attempt to create that film's almost intangible alchemy but falter somewhere along the way. "The Oranges" could have gone either way - with Julian Farino a mostly TV director ("Entourage," "How To Make It In America") making his sophomore film with a grab bag cast including Hugh Laurie, Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt, Allison Janney, Alia Shawkat, Adam Brody and Leighton Meeste,r we really had no idea what to e...

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    TIFF '11 Review: Admirable, Low-Key ’50/50’ Splits Difference Between Genuinely Funny And Sad

    Let's get this out of the way early; the cancer dramedy, "50/50," formerly known as "I'm With Cancer," is an admirable effort by all the parties involved. There's maturity and restraint shown throughout in this story, about a healthy young twentysomething man staring his mortality in the face when he is suddenly diagnosed with a rare spinal cancer, and it's a well-intentioned humanistic drama that tries to demonstrate that life is complicated and never quite cut and dry. The measured film takes pains to illustrate there is laughter to be derived in difficult and near-tragic situations and melancholy can also be found in some of the most humor...

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    TIFF '11 Review: Oh The Horror -- Francis Ford Coppola's 'Twixt' Is A Low-Rent Nightmare

    Francis Ford Coppola has played quite a few roles in his five-decade-long career. He started as a low-budget filmmaker in skin flicks and Roger Corman films before becoming an icon with a hugely impressive run of films that started with "The Godfather" and, arguably, ended with "Apocalypse Now." The...

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