Few movies have the right ingredients to combine real-life events and genuine emotion without coming off like a sappy, made-for-TV movie. The recent Sundance hit The Sessions (formerly known as The Surrogate) has these skills firmly in place and a large part of that is due to its talented cast which includes John Hawkes, Helen Hunt and William H. Macy.
Acting icon Dustin Hoffman has made a new movie, and it’s something new for the 75-year-old thespian: it’s his first time in the director’s chair. The film is Quartet, a charming story of the drama and hilarity that ensue at a British retirement home for singers and musicians when egos collide and old flames are reignited.
The Place Beyond the Pines is a reunion of sorts for actor Ryan Gosling and writer-director Derek Cianfrance. They last worked together on the beautifully haunting romance Blue Valentine and audiences expecting that kind of magnetism from their new venture will be sorely disappointed. It’s a different experience with moments of brilliance but at times it’s also frustrating and wildly uneven.
This past Friday, the Toronto International Film Festival hosted the premiere of Imogene, the highly anticipated “feel-good dark comedy” from Kristen Wiig. Wiig served as both executive producer and leading lady for Imogene, heading up an all-star ensemble cast including Annette Bening, Matt Dillon, Christopher Fitzgerald, and of course, fandom’s favorite son Darren Criss, in his first feature film.
The last time Adam Sandler got his hands on an animated film the result was the abysmal Eight Crazy Nights. It was a movie so crude and unnecessary that even Sandler die-hards refused to show it some love. His return to the animation well is Hotel Transylvania and while it shares many traits of his live action work (crude humor, silly voices, a large cast of C-list friends) the end result is innocuous and nowhere near a Jack and Jill or Grown Ups level disaster.
Writer-director Martin McDonagh has received numerous accolades as a playwright but it wasn’t until his first theatrical feature In Bruges that he amassed a new following with film lovers. The direct and debonair style of that debut film surprised those who saw it, proving not only that Colin Farrell is a great actor when he wants to be but also introducing McDonagh as a force to be reckoned with in film.
There is no way to do the film version of Cloud Atlas justice in such a short and time-compressed review. This is a movie that spans almost three hours, six interconnecting storylines and enough ambitious storytelling to fill hours of debate and opinion.
Time travel has always been a popular device in science fiction storytelling and the new thriller Looper uses it to great effect. It lays out a future society in the year 2074 where bridging the gap between the past and present is possible but also highly illegal. Writer-director Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom) balances heavy ideas in his most accomplished feature to date but also manages to be complex without being alienating, the toughest nut to crack in time travel stories.
We’ve been hearing a lot of people lately comparing the trailer for Dredd to that of The Raid: Redemption, and rightfully so. The trailer for Dredd really played up aspects of the film that resembled The Raid almost to a tee, but what one has to realize is it’s not the filmmaker who makes the trailer, it’s some dude in marketing who’s like, “People like The Raid? Do that.”
This morning the lineup for the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival was announced, and it’s the best lineup in recent film festival memory.