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

  • By Nikola Grozdanovic
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  • September 11, 2012 9:20 AM
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  • 1 Comment
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 Expectations," the film leaves you with the wish that Adamson would stick to fantasy -- at least in that world there’s some fun to be found.

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

  • By Simon Abrams
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  • September 11, 2012 9:00 AM
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  • 5 Comments
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 follows a rag-tag couple, played by Colin Firth and Emily Blunt, who bond when they discover that they both want to run away from their respective families and create new lives for themselves. But because "Arthur Newman" is a drab, psychologically flat portrait of misfit lovers in the process of self-fashioning new identities, we never really learn who its two main characters aspire to be or in what new direction they want to take their lives.

TIFF Review: Overwrought 'The Impossible' Drowns In A Sea Of Melodrama

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 10, 2012 6:01 PM
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  • 16 Comments
If "The Impossible" moves viewers to do anything, it may be to upgrade their life insurance policy to cover injuries due to tsunami. Because as we watch the Bennett family get whisked away by helipcopter at the end of the film to the facilities of a hospital in Singapore, leaving the tragedy of the 2004 tsunami beneath them, all we could wonder is how everybody else in those dire circumstances are coping. Following a wealthy family who encounter undeniable hardship, they are also blessed with the kind of luck that only happens in the movies. Except as director Juan Antonio Bayona takes great pains tell us, this is Based On A True Story (with the words "true story" then left to linger on their own before the movie begins). And while that may (almost) forgive some of the more happenstance developments in the film, it doesn't excuse the overbearing emotion and narrow focus of this overwrought picture.

Review: 'Branded' Is An Incomprehensible Sci-Fi Mash-Up That Thinks It's Much More Clever Than It Actually Is

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • September 10, 2012 3:55 PM
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  • 2 Comments
The trailers for “Branded” promise a kind of the-world-is-not-what-it-seems science fiction head-turner in the vein of “The Matrix,” with an emphasis on the cultural fixation around name brands. They tantalizingly teased: What if, instead of giving you pleasure, those same brands were feeding off of you, in the most vile and sinister ways? Well, it turns out that the movie isn’t really about that. Instead, it’s about that and a whole bunch of other stuff, with filmmakers too undisciplined and untalented to either synthesize those ideas into a coherent plot nor the technical proficiency to pull it off with any kind of “well, at least it looks cool” finesse. The result isn’t just a muddled, unfocused, bloated mess - it’s a boring muddled, unfocused, bloated mess.

TIFF Review: Bloodless 'Byzantium' A Vampire Tale Without Fangs

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 10, 2012 12:29 PM
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  • 5 Comments
Between "Twilight" on the big screen, and "True Blood" and "Vampire Diaries" on the cable dial, among countless other books, graphic novels and more, if you're a fan of bloodsuckers, there's likely a flavor out there for you. And with countless other projects in the pipeline from Will Smith's directorial debut "The Redemption Of Cain" to Jim Jarmusch's "Only Lovers Left Alive," there are still more versions of this undead character on the way. But let's just hope they are more involving and creative than Neil Jordan's "Byzantium." The director's second bite into the genre following "Interview With The Vampire" is disappointingly bloodless (figuratively) and fangless (literally).

TIFF Review: Nick Cassavetes' ‘Yellow’ Is Daring, Bold And Just What The Doctor Ordered

  • By Nikola Grozdanovic
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  • September 10, 2012 10:20 AM
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  • 4 Comments
Officially the most refreshing breath of air at this year’s TIFF, Nick Cassavetes’ new feature ‘Yellow’, is a step into crazy terrritory, far from his recent romantic comedy fare and "Alpha Dog." Away from traditional ways of telling stories, and towards a different type of perspective, a very different type of view, as he admitted to in the Q&A. You can’t but feel almost like a child trying to talk or review this movie because of how infectiously zany it is; think "Young Adult" on Vicodin and acid. Leading lady Heather Wahiquist puts her all into a truly memorable leading performance, and no wonder; she co-wrote the screenplay with Cassavetes. But the winner has to be the imagination behind the trippiness.

TIFF Review: Joss Whedon's 'Much Ado About Nothing' Is An Unexpected Delight

  • By Christopher Schobert
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  • September 10, 2012 10:02 AM
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  • 8 Comments
How does one follow the biggest superhero film in box office history? Perhaps a better way to phrase it is, how does the man behind some of the most beloved cult TV series and characters in recent pop history follow the biggest superhero film in box office history? If we're talking about the much-loved Joss Whedon – who else? – you decamp to your home, grab a camera, invite over your friends, and create a delightful, DIY, modern-day black-and-white adaptation of Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing." Duh.

TIFF Review: 'Berberian Sound Studio' Is An Unnerving, Original Psychological Horror Anchored By The Great Toby Jones

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 10, 2012 9:00 AM
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  • 0 Comments
People love movies about the making of movies. Well, that's perhaps an exaggeration -- general audiences have a history of some apathy towards the genre. But filmmakers certainly love films that go behind the scenes of their own business, from "8 1/2" to last year's Oscar winner "The Artist," and cinephiles tend to eat them up as well. But most examples of the type tend to focus on the making of the movie, with a handful, like "Adaptation," following the gestation and writing of a film, but very few have ever focused on the point at which many filmmakers say their movies actually come together: post-production.

TIFF Review: 'Thanks For Sharing' The Uneven Dramedy Version Of 'Shame'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 9, 2012 8:12 PM
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  • 0 Comments
It's safe to say that sex addiction is no longer the misunderstood step-brother to alcohol and drug addiction. Thanks to reality television, cable shows like "Californication" and last year's awards season contender "Shame," the stigma around sex addiction, of it not really being a problem or something that only affects scuzzy perverts, has long since evaported. Which makes Stuart Blumberg's directorial debut "Thanks For Sharing" all the more curious. An uneven, somewhat out-of-time dramedy, the film takes great pains to confirm that sex addiction is just like any other addiction, but isn't sure what to say beyond that.

TIFF Review: Big-Hearted & Hilarious 'Silver Linings Playbook' A Touchdown From David O. Russell

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 9, 2012 12:17 PM
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  • 20 Comments
Life hasn't been too kind lately for Pat Solitano. He's just been released from a court ordered stint in a mental hospital after severly beating the man he caught cheating with his wife. Diagnosed as bipolar with mood swings, Pat has a difficult journey ahead of him but he's optimistic. With a rallying cry of "Excelsior," he believes that you can take "all negativity and make it a silver lining." His outlook is positive and he hopes to rebuild himself to win his wife back who has a restraining order out on him. And so begins David O. Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook," an enormously entertaining, crowd-pleasing winner from the director whose comedic edge has never been sharper.

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