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Festivals

TORONTO – Imagine performing a scene without moving anything but your lips, eyes and maybe your neck.  And the neck can move, but just slightly. Everything else has to stay completely immobile.  That includes your hands and legs. No, you can’t even shift your weight an iota. Sounds easy, right? Test it out for a minute. Maybe five. Dare you to try 10 minutes. It’s O.K., we’ll wait. Harder than you thought, wasn’t it? Continue reading Andrew Garfield And Claire Foy ‘Breathe’ Deep For History [Review] at The Playlist.

There are fewer more charged, more disturbingly redolent images than that of a black man in shackles. And so when Australian director Warwick Thornton, winner of the Venice Special Jury Prize and the Toronto Platform Best Film opens his outback western with just such an image (after an enigmatic prologue of offscreen violence which is gradually explained) it’s like he is drawing a line in the sand — that reddish dust that turns the parched ground round here the color of old blood. Continue reading Superb Venice & TIFF-Winning Aussie Western ‘Sweet Country’ With Sam Neill [Review] at The Playlist.

You probably haven’t been thinking about libraries a lot recently, what with all the politics and genocide and hurricanes. But then, you may not have been thinking about the University of California, Berkeley, or London’s National Gallery or the northwestern Queens neighborhood of Jackson Heights much either, unless you’re one of the small but growing number of devoted fans of documentarian Frederick Wiseman. His run of late-period docu-epics “At Berkeley,” “National Gallery” and “In Jackson Heights” continued in Venice last week with the premiere of his latest, “Ex Libris: New York Public Library,” which is already out in limited release. Continue reading Frederick Wiseman’s Intensely Rewarding, Humane ‘Ex Libris: New York Public Library’ [Review] at The Playlist.

TORONTO – The ride has already begun for Guillermo del Toro and “The Shape of Water.”  A return to the prestige horror that del Toro broke through with “Pan’s Labyrinth,” “Shape” earned at raves at the Venice Film Festival before earning the adoration of the Academy members at the Telluride Film Festival a few days later.  The Mexican born filmmaker was relaxing in Los Angeles before heading to Toronto when he learned he needed to return to Venice for a jury honor.  Continue reading ‘The Shape of Water’: Guillermo del Toro Says Richard Jenkins’ Character Written For Ian McKellen [Interview] at The Playlist.

There are few directors that cinephiles continue to hold out hope that they have another great movie in them like Wim Wenders. Aside from documentaries like “The Salt Of The Earth” and “Pina,” it feels like an entire generation has passed since the German auteur, despite working a prolific clip, has delivered a truly great feature film. While major actors continue to line up and work for the filmmaker, recent efforts like “Every Thing Will Be Fine” and “The Beautiful Days Of Aranjuez” have failed to connect critically, and certainly haven’t commercially. Continue reading James McAvoy & Alicia Vikander Fall In Love In Wim Wenders’ ‘Submergence’ [TIFF Review] at The Playlist.

Chris (Jay Duplass) is finally coming home after twenty years in prison, and, as he tells his brother Ted (Ben Schwartz), “It’s weird.” He was still a teenager when he got caught up in a crime that spiraled out of control and ended up doing the time for his friends, who left him to take the rap alone. Even if the world has made a few technological and societal leaps in the decades he’s been away, the small town of Granite Falls, Washington hasn’t changed all that much. Continue reading Lynn Shelton and Jay Duplass Charm With ‘Outside In’ [TIFF Review] at The Playlist.

If you take the title of Jenna Bass’s new film, “High Fantasy,” at face value, you’ll probably picture a stoner comedy-cum-genre flick, a’la “Your Highness,” in which unlikely heroes are pitted against mythical dangers while stricken with a case of the stoned giggly-fits. To an extent, this characterization is fair: Bass does assemble of diverse troupe of characters, and she does set them on a quest of sorts, and she does incorporate a fantasy element in their travels after they all get roasted on weed, but the fundamental conflicts of “High Fantasy” are rooted in the real world, and those conflicts make the film feel all too familiar. Continue reading ‘High Fantasy’ Is An Artistic & Intimate Body Swap Drama [TIFF Review] at The Playlist.

Not many actresses have managed to rebrand as successfully as Gemma Arterton. Just a few years back, and she was known mostly for her short-lived stint as a Bond girl, and for standing around delivering exposition in bad blockbusters like “Clash Of The Titans” and “Prince Of Persia.” But since then, Arterton’s been able to show us what she’s really capable of. In the past few years, Arterton’s eschewed tentpoles for small, interesting indie movies in the U.S. Continue reading ‘The Escape’: Gemma Arterton Falls In Love In Paris [TIFF Exclusive Clip] at The Playlist.

A few times each year, students and teachers take a break from each other by filling class time with a movie. The curriculum of films rarely gets updated, but educators may want to consider “Woman Walks Ahead.” It’s the kind of smoothly rounded, edgeless historical drama that’s built for maximum appeal, with a broad perspective and an easy to digest tone. Well-crafted and ably told, this is a film that’s wholly respectable though not particularly memorable, but still manages to connect with its earnest good intentions and desire to please. Continue reading Jessica Chastain Leads The Path In A ‘Woman Walks Ahead’ [TIFF Review] at The Playlist.

In both author Charles Martin’s novel “The Mountain Between Us” and in director Hany Abu-Assad’s new big screen adaptation, the mountain is as literal as it is metaphorical. Martin’s story begins with a twin-engine charter plane crashing in the High Uintas Wilderness in Utah, killing the pilot and leaving two strangers stranded in the middle of nowhere, cut off from civilization and communication. The survivors are stuck on a steep peak, with nothing but hills and cliffs on the horizon. Continue reading Idris Elba & Kate Winslet Battle For Survival In ‘The Mountain Between Us’ [TIFF Review] at The Playlist.