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Here’s Every Indiewire Review From the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival

Here's Every Indiewire Review From the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival

The 38th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival is coming to a close, and Indiewire has been on the ground to survey the endless array of cinematic selections that have screened at the event over the past week and a half. In case you missed any reviews, we have compiled a list of all the films we saw below. Read our takes on the various movies that are sure to be talked about once fall movie season kicks into full swing.

“12 Years A Slave”

More than a powerful elegy, “12 Years a Slave” is a mesmerizing triumph of art and polemics: McQueen turns a topic rendered distant by history into an experience that, short of living through the terrible era it depicts, makes you feel as if you’ve been there.

“At Berkeley”

“At Berkeley” reminds us that a Berkeley education is a valuable asset, but also a valuable experience. Surveying the Berkeley lawns, Wiseman wants us to see how pleasant that experience can be. Going beyond Wiseman’s doc, you get a sense that fewer people will be on the lawn in the coming years. They will be too busy paying for it.

“August: Osage County”

Condensing the material into just over two hours and taking cues from Letts’ screenplay, Wells services the play mainly by sitting back and letting the A-listers lead the way. The result is a distinctly uneven but imminently watchable theatrical showcase in which cinematic and stagy devices go head to head with no clear winner.

“Bad Words”

Taking cues from Andrew Dodge’s Blacklist screenplay, “Bad Words” has a caustic wit that puts its comedy in league with “Bad Santa,” but just barely delivers on the cruel intensions of the premise without deepening it, as the aforementioned precedent does so well. 


A muddled revenge drama about family ties and traumatic experiences, the movie wallows in its characters’ anger and frustrations but never manages to organize them into a compelling whole. Despite a strong cast and shadowy mysteries that deepen the plot, “The Bastards” creates the sour impression of a half-formed work.


By keeping the polemical chatter to a minimum, it’s a disconcerting look at a battle that many of its fighters can’t recall why they’re fighting in the first place. 

“Blue is the Warmest Color”

Though nobody states it outright, “Blue is the Warmest Color” elegantly tussles with the idea of reconciling desire with other factors involved in the cultivation of healthy companionship.

“Can A Song Save Your Life?”

Moving along at a reasonably engaging pace, it foregrounds the actor’s investment in the scenario and makes it relatable.

“Closed Curtain”

Tough to categorize but weighted with meaning, Panahi’s latest fascinating defiance of the constraints placed on him illustrates his deep commitment to the art form at all costs — including, perhaps, his own sanity.

Dallas Buyers Club

To its credit, “Dallas Buyers Club” provides McConaughey with sufficient room to gradually make his onscreen persona more palatable, but like the character’s battle to survive, it’s no easy proposition. 

Whatever happens with it, “Eleanor Rigby” at the very least succeeds at depicting the ambiguity of communication embedded in every relationship. 

“The Dog”

As sometimes happens with long-gestating non-fiction projects where the footage keeps piling up, “The Dog” contains more content than the filmmakers need for their story, and it sometimes suffers from attempts to stuff unnecessary details into an otherwise fascinating overview of Wojtowicz’s plight.

“The Double”

While sometimes too obviously clever in its use of symbolic devices, “The Double” sticks to its eccentric ways

“El Mudo”

As a metaphor for responsible citizens silenced by indifferent majority, his vocal restrictions are a touch on-the-nose, but “The Mute” efficiently roots Constantino’s experience in loud, talky urban surroundings to reflect his entrapment.

“An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker”

Danis Tanovic’s “An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker” has plenty to say, but as tragic observations go it’s curiously dry.

“The F Word”

Yet despite formidable performances from Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan as the duo in question, “The F Word” never comes close to realizing the expletive-fueled comedy implied by its title.

“The Fifth Estate”

With so many factors in play and Assange’s fate still developing, the idea of an Assange biopic might seem premature. But that’s the least problematic issue plaguing Bill Condon’s “The Fifth Estate,” an uneven, intermittently thoughtful but largely preachy overview of WikiLeaks’ rising influence that has less of an issue determining Assange’s character than it does with telling a compelling story. 


By conveying Gloria’s alienation so effectively, the movie taps into a greater generational anxiety that imbues the character with metaphorical value.


Cuarón, always one eager to tinker with film form, here has taken on the role of an Imagineer-like visionary, crafting a cinematic rollercoaster that’s both visceral and dreamlike in its capacity pull viewers into a queasy encounter with the realistic perils of space.

“Green Inferno”

Unfortunately, the unbridled shock value isn’t matched by a similar investment in other ingredients that might have made this low rent B-movie worthwhile. 


Predominantly a failure of tone, “Horns” has plenty of admirable traits and yet dooms itself from the outset.

“The Invisible Woman”

Though suffering from dry patches and a fairly mannered approach, “The Invisible Woman” eventually makes its way to a powerful final third documenting an ultimately tragic romance in deeply felt terms.


If “Joe” marks a new beginning for some of its characters, the same description applies to its director and star.

“Labor Day”

There’s a certain elegant simplicity to the movie’s execution that maintains a spirit of familiarity but also keeps the material afloat.

“Last of the Unjust”

By unearthing a series of interviews conducted in 1975 with the elderly Benjamin Murmelstein, the only survivor of the so-called “Elder of the Jews” in charge of the ghetto, Lanzmann resurrects the aesthetics of “Shoah” while extending its narrative into a new chapter. 


On the whole, “Manakamana” succeeds by creating the ongoing anticipation of something, anything to happen next, a wholly unique sensation specific to its inventive design. 


It’s impossible to look away — not only because the sense of anticipation is so vivid, but because there’s no other way to follow the bizarre plot than keep with it. 

“Night Moves”

If not a definitive achievement, it nevertheless offers a uniquely riveting experience that plays like a culmination of the movies preceding it – and an ideal starting point for exploring them.

“Only Lovers Left Alive”

If you can groove with Jarmusch’s patient, philosophical indulgences and the wooden exteriors of his characters’ lives, the movie rewards with a savvy emotional payoff about moving forward even when the motivation to do so has gone.

“Our Sunhi”

As usual, Hong’s camera generally just sits there and lets the scenario organically unfold, but the actors are especially lively and the dialogue fits together with puzzle-like finesse.

“Palo Alto”

Though it lacks a cohesive means of fusing together its interlocking vignettes, “Palo Alto” effectively showcases the despair and sophomoric rebellion of teen life with a mature eye that clearly establishes a new filmmaker to watch. 

“The Past”

Farhadi’s nuanced storytelling results in an overlong and sometimes lethargic feel, occasionally to the detriment of its seriously fascinating plot, but for that same reason its set of surprises continually resonate.

“Pays Barbare”

If not a fully realized movie, it offers a cogent record of the capacity for the past to inform the present, ending with a fleeting expression of concern for the next stage — and hinting at the chilling possibility that it might one day require a sequel. 

Before all else, Villneuve’s grim chronicle of the fallout when two young girls vanish in a small town succeeds at crafting one powerfully suspenseful moment after another. 

Yet despite its head-scratching moments, “R100” also maintains an elevated cult movie consistency that’s par for the course with Matsumoto, by combining its playful irrationality with an emotional and philosophical core. 

Compared with most psycho-thrillers, “Real” never attempts to make the depths of a troubled mind into a compelling labyrinth.
Though the movie contains no voice recordings of the author, it’s certainly effective at giving him more dimensionality than the tenuous mythology surrounding him.
The process of mourning, too, is messy and discordant, and “Southcliffe” attempts to tackle, less surefootedly, the ways in which grief can be suppressed or express itself in uncomfortable ways, how it can redirect itself toward others in the same way that despair can.

“A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness”

To some extent, the movie is hurt by being forced into a linear structure it implicitly rejects.

“Starred Up”

Pushing beyond the brutal exterior of his material, Mackenzie reveals the tender story of estrangement beneath, but never forces the sentimentality.

“Story of My Death”

Intentionally obtuse in its closing scenes, the movie doesn’t quite manage to pull off the comeuppance promised by the initial semblance of an eerie presence in the finale.

“The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears”

A loud, visually assaultive assemblage of genre tropes as technically accomplished as it is difficult to watch, “The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears” has plenty to impress while simultaneously offering so little.


“Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon,” the directorial debut of Mike Myers, is a vaudeville celebrity remembrance of mega-manager Shep Gordon by stars who might have starved without Gordon’s help. 


 It takes a special talent to turn the romantic lyricism of Zola and turn it into chick-lit.

Experientially, “Tim’s Vermeer” is surface deep; no great work of cinematic showmanship about the creative process a la Orson Welles’ seminal diary film “F for Fake,” it nevertheless teases out an provocative dialogue about the nature of creativity and the tenuous distinction between inventors and artists.

While “Tracks” certainly does justice to the splendor of the surroundings, it never manages to justify the expansion of the material into a feature. 

A totally wacky head-trip with midnight movie sensibilities and a daring avant garde spirit, Glazer’s movie is ultimately too aimlessly weird to make its trippy narrative fully satisfying, but owes much to Johansson’s intense commitment to a strangely erotic and unnerving performance unlike anything she has done before. 

A depressing epilogue to the Bush years, “The Unknown Known” lacks enough empirical weight to elaborate much on a story now widely understood.

Not classifiable as any kind of documentary, “Visitors” instead functions as pure lyrical document, not just a record of existence but what it means to experience it. 

“When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism”

Yet for those unfamiliar with contemporary Romanian cinema, “Metabolism” is a hardcore immersion into distinctly innovative storytelling.

“The Wind Rises”

It’s hard to believe the brilliant 72-year-old visionary could run out of ideas, but just as easy to see how Miyazaki may have entered a more reflective stage of his career less tied to the otherworldly stories that populate his movies than the struggles of his own life.

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