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The Playlist

TIFF Review: ‘Tabu’ Is Magic Realism In Rapture, As Only The Language Of Cinema Can Tell It

  • By Nikola Grozdanovic
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  • September 9, 2012 10:00 AM
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  • 2 Comments
It’s been known that a singular moment during a brilliant film can make you realize you’re watching something special, something that will be deposited into your memory bank with a very high interest rate. In Miguel Gomes’ third feature film, "Tabu," this moment comes while you’re still getting comfortable in your seat. A film-within-a-film begins proceedings, in which we are introduced to an ‘intrepid explorer’ who, heartbroken over the one he lost, commits suicide and gets eaten by a crocodile. Then something strange happens, the narrator says: this crocodile adopts the melancholic state of the explorer and, as the film comes to a close, spends his time with the ghost of the explorer’s lost ladyfriend. Welcome to movie magic.

TIFF Review: 'Imogene' Is A Big-Screen Sitcom, But Elevated By Kristen Wiig & Annette Bening

  • By Christopher Schobert
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  • September 9, 2012 9:30 AM
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  • 9 Comments
"Imogene" finds Kristen Wiig in victory lap mode, and that suits her just fine. Perhaps the most likable comedic actress to come down the pike since Diane Keaton threw on a Civil War-era vest and floppy hat, Wiig finds herself, post-"Bridesmaids," in rarified company. She is a beloved, in-demand actress and comedienne, and a star who has something Kristen Stewart and Angelina Jolie would maim for: likability.

TIFF Review: Chest-Beating LAPD Cop Drama 'End Of Watch' Is Clichéd & Monotonous

  • By Simon Abrams
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  • September 8, 2012 10:46 PM
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  • 5 Comments
Like "Harsh Times" before it, police drama "End of Watch" conflates realism with sensationalism. In fact, writer/director David Ayer sustains an abrasive tone throughout "End of Watch" in a number of ways. Firstly, Ayer gives his buddy cop drama a cheap kind of immediacy by having his macho, Alpha male Los Angeles cop protagonists film their lives as police officers. Button-sized cameras and hand-held digital cameras aren’t however just used by the police: both the local Mexican drug cartel members and the black gang-bangers that the 13th district cops have to keep an eye out for use cameras to document and valorize their activities too.

TIFF Review: 'Cloud Atlas' Is Bold, Messy & Disappointingly Unimaginative

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 8, 2012 10:07 PM
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  • 53 Comments
With The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer literally throwing a critic off the roof of a building to his death in the opening moments of the nearly three-hour "Cloud Atlas," it's clear that they aren't concerned in the slightest with how this ambitious effort will be received. And you certainly have to give the trio of directors some respect for their approach, which tag teams an all-star cast, gives them multiple roles and spreads the story across nearly a half dozen time periods. But for all their boldness in narrative approach, "Cloud Atlas" is also a mess, with an attempt to mix its various genres under a universal thematic banner that never quite coheres.

TIFF Review: Manic & Meta 'Seven Psychopaths' Both Exhausts & Delights

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 8, 2012 10:46 AM
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  • 14 Comments
It would seem that following the success of "In Bruges," writer/director Martin McDonagh went to Hollywood -- and didn't like the experience. A meta riff on making movies "Seven Psychopaths" is a sneering send-up of the industry that also revels in its action movie clichés. But if there is one thing certain about McDonagh's sophomore feature film, it's that it's bigger in every sense than his debut. Boasting lots of gunplay, a big extended cast of stars willing to play along and a less witty, broader sense of humor, McDonagh tries to have it both ways by playing to the cheap seats while pointing out how absurd it is at the same time.

TIFF Review: 'The Gatekeepers' Tells Story Of Israeli Security Services Through The 'Truth Of Their Own Voices'

  • By Nikola Grozdanovic
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  • September 8, 2012 9:30 AM
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  • 0 Comments
"The Gatekeepers"
It’s almost impossible to walk into "The Gatekeepers" without already feeling intrigued. Director Dror Moreh has taken care of that with the premise of his new documentary alone. Six ex-leaders of Israel’s top counterterrorism and security organization, Shin Bet, describe their experiences through a candid interview process. They answer (or at times cleverly avoid) tricky questions regarding their perspective on Shin Bet’s role, successes, failures and moral standing in the ongoing ravenous feud between Israel and Palestine. This is unprecedented stuff right here, on a topic that’s like a bus full of innocent people just waiting to explode. And as a film, it’s effective – for the most part.

TIFF Review: 'The Place Beyond The Pines' A Searing Tale Of Fathers, Sons & The Legacy Of Sins

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 7, 2012 10:16 PM
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  • 41 Comments
Of all the films arriving at TIFF this year, few are premiering under such an air of mystery as Derek Cianfrance's "The Place Beyond The Pines." With only a couple of official images, but no posters or trailers, the tone and scope of the movie remained under wraps. Following "Blue Valentine," would the film be a similarly intimate and narrowly focused story or something completely different? The answer is that "The Place Beyond The Pines" is an ambitious epic that is cut from some of the same thematic tissue as Cianfrance's previous film, but expands the scope into a wondrously widescreen tale of fathers, sons and the legacy of sins that are passed down through the generations.

TIFF Review: 'The Perks Of Being A Wallflower' A Touching, Fresh & Funny Take On Teenage Love & Life

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 7, 2012 4:04 PM
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  • 14 Comments
Teenagers have generally not been well served by the movies. Folks like Cameron Crowe, John Hughes and Judd Apatow aside, adolescent life is usually positioned around the goals of having sex, partying and getting into outlandish hijinks with little-to-no actual insight into how teenagers think or feel. In fact, it has been a long time since we've really had a movie that got it right, but delivering beyond expectations, "The Perks Of Being A Wallflower" is about as authentic as it gets, bringing a fresh, funny and moving look at the ups and downs of friendship and family in high school.

TIFF Review: 'Lore' Is An Evocative & Enigmatic Look At Post-WWII Moral & Emotional Fallout

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 7, 2012 3:03 PM
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  • 0 Comments
With her beautiful and expressive debut feature film "Somersault," writer/director Cate Shortland established herself as a filmmaker with a sharp and observant sense of the emotional complexities of young women. And now, eight years later, she returns with belated follow-up effort "Lore," another tale of a young woman not only navigating her burgeoning sexuality, but the emotional and moral fallout of post World War II Germany, all while she battles to keep her family together and alive as power in the country changes hands.

Venice Review: 'Passion' Has Flashes Of Classic Brian De Palma, But Often Feels Lackluster

  • By Jamie Dunn
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  • September 7, 2012 2:40 PM
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  • 15 Comments
Like the waves that lap the beach by the Palazzo del Cinema in Venice, Brian De Palma is reassuringly steadfast. Over the years his Movie Brat brethren Scorsese and Spielberg have adapted their respective styles to align with evolving audience tastes and advancing technology, embracing 3D and motion capture with their most recent works. Meanwhile, Terrence Malick, the other New Hollywood veteran competing for this year’s Golden Lion, experiments in increasingly radical filmmaking syntax with each passing movie. But De Palma is dogged: he continues to explore themes and techniques that have obsessed him since his ‘70s/’80s salad days of “Carrie” and “Body Double."

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