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    Philip Roth adaptation ‘The Humbling’ makes bland stabs at relevance

    In 2009, New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani referred to Philip Roth’s novella The Humbling as “an overstuffed short story, […] a slight, disposable work about an aging man’s efforts to grapple with time and loss and mortality, and the frustrations of getting old.” In 2015, that sentiment rings just as true of Barry Levinson’s adaptation of the same work. The Humbling runs too long, dawdles too much, makes hollow caricatures of its women, and muddles its intentions. Its most redeeming features are its performances; Al Pacino is in top form, with Greta Gerwig playfully keeping up. But neither can elevate this failed attempt at pathos above what it is: bland.

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    Andrea Dorfman’s ‘Heartbeat’ hits the right notes

    Heartbeat Written and directed by Andrea Dorfman Canada, 2014 The struggle to find oneself is painfully real. Such pilgrimages of discovery are made more difficult by uncertainty, anxiety, imposing friends, and lingering exes. You can find yourself stuck in a habit that isn’t quite unbearable, that teeters so near comfortable complacence that you don’t realize […]

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    TIFF 2014: Adam Driver dominates Noah Baumbach’s ‘While We’re Young’ and Saverio Costanzo’s ‘Hungry Hearts’

    Once again, Noah Baumbach’s taken to contemporary twenty-something culture. With Frances Ha he painted an apt portrait of a meandering young woman struggling to identify herself in a sea of expectation and pressure. Now, the gloves are off, as Baumbach zeroes in on the terrible and vaguely infectious character traits of the Me Generation. Narcissism and pretention are the order of the day, and we’re not talking about flippantly calling your ‘frenemy’ a narcissist: actual, clinical narcissism.

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    TIFF 2014: ‘Whiplash’ is expertly paced and fueled by exquisite tension

    Whiplash2014

    What began as a short film seeking funding at last year’s Sundance has come to fruition as one of 2014’s best films. A must-see at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, Damien Chazelle’s magnificent Whiplash offers stellar performances and a powerful, morally ambiguous plot. It concerns young Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) is in his first year at the top music institution in the country. Picked for one of the school’s most competitive bands by its relentless conductor, Terence Fletcher (J. K. Simmons), Andrew finds himself desperately fighting to prove his worth.

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    TIFF 14: ‘Shrew’s Nest’ and ‘Spring’ tackle the complex nature of femininity and love, in their own twisted ways

    Shrew's Nest 2014

    Over the years, TIFF’s Midnight Madness programme has lost some of its grit. Once upon a time, a film as bodacious as Shrew’s Nest would have graced its lineup. Now, the Vanguard programme seems to have stepped up to take its place. Where Madness highlights trendier, more easily digestible content, Vanguard takes on the more obscure. Sexy, gritty, dirty, and horrific, Vanguard’s content is far more outlandish than its older, now slightly more restrained, cousin. Odd when you consider both programmes are curated by the jovial horror fanatic Colin Geddes.

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    TIFF 2014: ‘Maps to the Stars’ is a huge disappointment

    Map to the Stars

    There’s something theatrical about this new version of Cronenberg. Not in the way we think of Stratford or Shaw. More like pseudo-artistic interpretive theatre that happens during one’s experimental phase in University. Maps to the Stars is a colossal disappointment, offering stilted performances, a disjointed and predominantly ineffectual script, and bewilderingly bad sound design. What appears on the surface to be an interesting dialogue on child stars, the vapid, all-consuming and destructive nature of celebrity, and the superficial nature of Los Angeles very quickly reveals itself to be something else altogether – the tired, lazy half-measures of an auteur riding on his own coattails.

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    Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ stands as the most remarkable film of the decade

    Ellar Coltrane as Mason Evans Jr. in Boyhood

    Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is an interesting exercise in whether or not artistic intent truly matters. The film is the story of a boy, his sister and his parents as they grow and meander through life over the course of twelve years. To watch it is to experience life unfolding before your eyes, while feeling the keen sensation that virtually nothing is happening.

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    ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ is the unmissable summer blockbuster of 2014

    Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    In 2011, the thought of rebooting Planet of the Apes seemed foolish. Then Rise of the Planet of the Apes came out, and blew audiences away. As a result, expectations were high for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the follow up to 2011’s successful venture. The results are remarkable, as Dawn offers not only a brilliant summer blockbuster, but also an emotionally powerful testimony to the nature of war and humility.

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    ‘Maleficent’ neuters an icon

    Michael Myers is terrifying because he’s an absolute. What exists behind the mask is confined to our imagination. As soon as Rob Zombie went behind the mask, and made Myers into a broken child, we lost a bit of the magic. The imagined terror of a crazed killer’s motivations were solidified, and suddenly he was less terrifying. Less interesting. The same is this true of Maleficent in Robert Stromberg’s directorial debut.

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    ‘A Million Ways to Die in the West’ has its shortcomings, but is far from a disaster

    a-million-ways-to-die-in-the-west-movie-wallpaper-2

    Seth MacFarlane has a dirty mind. He tells dirty jokes in occasionally clever, often crude ways, and without remorse. With Family Guy, he exhibits the full extent of his talents in thirty-minute stints to great effect. On the big screen, however, he may need someone to wrangle him in. While Ted (2012) was incredibly entertaining, it occasionally found itself slowing to a crawl. MacFarlane’s latest, A Million Ways to Die in the West, finds itself suffering a similar fate. Though highly entertaining, the film runs too long, leaves many of its characters in the lurch, and doesn’t give nearly enough screen time to its talented roster of actors.

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    BAFTA Announces 2011 Film Award Nominees

    The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) have announced their nominations for the 2011 BAFTA Awards (the British equivalent of the Oscars). There’s no real big surprises on the list. The Social Network has been dominating awards circles in North America but The King’s Speech is leading the BAFTAs with 14 nominations, including Best […]

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