TIFF HITS AND MISSES

There’s still a week un­til TIFF 2012 be­gins, but here’s a sneak peek at some of the big- buzz flicks, awards- bound en­tries, quiet sleep­ers... and a few you should prob­a­bly miss. Plus, NOW’s crit­ics re­veal what’s on their per­sonal must- see lists. And che

NOW Magazine - TIFF - - CONTENTS - By NOR­MAN WILNER, SUSAN G. COLE, GLENN SUMI, RAD­HEYAN SI­MON­PIL­LAI and PAUL ENNIS

Looper, Rust And Bone, The Ses­sions and Lau­rence, Any­ways are among the films to catch in our early re­view roundup

THURS­DAY, SEPT 6

THE END OF TIME MAST D: Peter Met­tler. Canada/ Switzer­land. 114 min. Sep 6, 9:15 pm TIFF Bell Light­box 1; Sep 8, 12:15 pm Yonge & Dundas 2 Rat­ing: NNN A decade after ex­plor­ing tran­scen­dence in Gambling, Gods & LSD, Met­tler re­turns with another con­cep­tual doc­u­men­tary, this one in­ves­ti­gat­ing the per­cep­tion of time.

It’s an in­trigu­ing no­tion, and for about 90 min­utes it’s spell­bind­ing. Met­tler vis­its CERN to ex­plore the con­cept of ce­les­tial time, a Hawai­ian lava flow to con­sider ge­o­log­i­cal time, Detroit to see the city’s re­cent fi­nan­cial col­lapse rep­re­sented phys­i­cally in aban­doned build­ings, and a Hindu fu­neral to show how hu­mans mark time. And then he over­stays his wel­come with a very long (and nar­ra­tively ques­tion­able) ex­per­i­men­tal se­quence that feels like a CG ver­sion of 2001’s Star Gate se­quence. Maybe he was try­ing to make me re­al­ize how slowly time passes when you’re bored. NW

LOOPER GALA D: Rian John­son w/ Joseph Gor­don- Le­vitt, Bruce Wil­lis. U. S. 118 min. Sep 6, 6: 30 pm Visa Screen­ing Room (El­gin); Sep 6, 8 pm Roy Thom­son Hall Rat­ing: NNNN Writer/di­rec­tor John­son does for time travel movies what he did for film noir in Brick, tak­ing the bones of a genre we know back­wards and for­wards – in this case lit­er­ally – and putting a fresh new skin around them.

It’s 2044, and dead- eyed Joe (Gor­don- Le­vitt) makes his liv­ing as a Looper, killing peo­ple sent back from 2074 so the fu­ture’s crim­i­nals won’t have bod­ies to hide. But when his fu­ture self ( Wil­lis) ar­rives and es­capes as­sas­si­na­tion, Young Joe finds him­self on the run from his em­ploy­ers, who are out to grab them both.

It gets much more com­pli­cated than that when Young Joe meets a sin­gle mother (Emily Blunt) and her son (Pierce Gagnon), but John­son keeps the pace fleet and the twists in­ge­nious. This is first- rate head-fizzing en­ter­tain­ment, with ex­cep­tional per­for­mances by Gor­don- Le­vitt, Blunt and Wil­lis – and Jeff Daniels and Gar­ret Dil­lahunt, too, come to think of it. NW

RUST AND BONE (DE ROUILLE ET D’OS) SP D: Jac­ques Audi­rad w/ Mar­ion Cotil­lard, Matthias Schoe­naerts. France/Bel­gium. 120 min. Sep 6, 9: 30 pm Visa Screen­ing Room (El­gin); Sep 7, noon Ry­er­son Rat­ing: NNNNN Au­di­ard fol­lows up A Prophet, his mas­ter­ful prison drama, with another mus­cu­lar film, this time a ro­mance.

A de- glammed Cotil­lard stars as Stéphanie, an orca trainer at a French Riviera amuse­ment park who, after los­ing her legs in a work­place ac­ci­dent, be­gins a beau­ti­fully awk­ward re­la­tion­ship with Ali (Bull­head’s Schoe­naerts), a blunt in­stru­ment of a man.

De­spite the Côte d’Azur set­ting and Katy Perry on the sound­track,

Au­di­ard’s el­e­gant film has a rougharound-the- edges aes­thetic and re­fuses to sen­sa­tion­al­ize its sub­ject. Some will dis­miss it be­cause of its hoary con­trivances, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing the gutwrench­ing cli­max, but they’re not giv­ing the bril­liant di­rec­tor his due.

His genre clichés are part of his greater ar­gu­ment about de­cep­tive ap­pear­ances, moral re­demp­ton and false hopes. RS

TABU

WL D: Miguel Gomes w/ Teresa Madruga, Laura Soveral. Por­tu­gal/Ger­many/Brazil/ France. 110 min. Sep 6, 6:15 pm TIFF Bell Light­box 1; Sep 8, 1 pm Jack­man Hall ( AGO) Rat­ing: NNN Por­tuguese writer/di­rec­tor and oc­ca­sional sur­re­al­ist Gomes (Our Beloved Month Of Au­gust) shows con­sid­er­able am­bi­tion in this bi­fur­cated black-and-white drama, which spends its first half in present- day Lis­bon, where a woman (Madruga) wor­ries about her el­derly neigh­bour ( Soveral), then jumps back half a cen­tury to tell the story of that neigh­bour’s life in Africa as a silent film nar­rated by her for­mer lover (Car­loto Cotta).

The prob­lem is that the sec­ond half doesn’t re­ally il­lu­mi­nate the first. In­stead of find­ing a way to knit the two to­gether, Gomes set­tles for a play­ful recre­ation of jun­gle- movie tropes and a cou­ple of nods to F.W. Mur­nau’s 1931 Tabu: A Story Of The South Seas and calls it a day. Great sound­track, though. NW

FRI­DAY, SEPT 7

ANNA KAREN­INA

SP D: Joe Wright w/ Keira Knight­ley, Aaron Tay­lor-John­son. UK. 130 min. Sep 7, 6 pm Visa Screen­ing Room (El­gin); Sep 8, 12:15 pm Is­abel Bader Rat­ing: NNN Wright tries to outdo Baz Luhrmann in this high- con­cept adap­ta­tion of Tol­stoy’s novel that sets much of its sprawl­ing ac­tion in an el­e­gant the­atre. This al­lows for swift scene changes (and must have kept costs down), and up to a point it makes sense the­mat­i­cally – stress­ing the ar­ti­fice of 19th- cen­tury Rus­sian so­ci­ety and the cul­ture of watch­ing and gossiping that ul­ti­mately dooms the af­fair be­tween mar­ried mom Anna (Knight­ley) and her lover, Vron­sky ( Tay­lor-John­son).

But the strat­egy isn’t used con­sis­tently, mix­ing the­atre in­te­ri­ors with ac­tual ex­te­rior lo­ca­tions (it was filmed partly in Rus­sia). And de­spite Tom Stop­pard’s clear screen­play, the ef­fect dis­tances us from the char­ac­ters.

Still, it’s a bold ap­proach, and the leads (along with Domh­nall Glee­son’s sym­pa­thetic Levin) are fine, although Jude Law steals the pic­ture with his pinched yet dig­ni­fied and hu­man por­trayal of Anna’s cuck­olded hus­band.

GS

PIC­TURE DAY

DISC D: Kate Melville w/ Ta­tiana Maslany, Spencer Van Wyck. Canada. 93 min. Sep 7, 9:45 pm Is­abel Bader; Sep 8, 3: 30 pm Yonge & Dundas 6; Sep 16, 6:45 pm TIFF Bell Light­box 4 Rat­ing: NNN See Ta­tiana Maslany cover story and re­view of the film, page 10.

PUSHER

VAN D: Luis Pri­eto w/ Richard Coyle, Bron­son Webb. UK. 87 min. Sep 7, 9 pm Bloor Hot Docs Cin­ema; Sep 9, noon Yonge & Dundas 10 Rat­ing: NNN This is ac­tu­ally the sec­ond Bri­tish re­make of Ni­co­las Wind­ing Refn’s 1996 break­out thriller about a mid- level coke dealer who finds him­self on the hook to a vi­cious mob­ster; an ear­lier Hindi ver­sion was pro­duced in 2010.

Coyle (Cou­pling) takes on the role of the in­creas­ingly pan­icked anti- hero, but Zlatko Buric (who was in all three of the orig­i­nal Dan­ish movies) reprises the role of the fa­therly heavy. It’s all hand- held cam­eras, crisp edit­ing and pound­ing mu­sic, and Coyle is fine – though he’s styled to play up his re­sem­blance to Andy Serkis, mak­ing one won­der how much more ef­fec­tive Serkis would have been in the role.

But as slick as di­rec­tor Pri­eto makes the pro­duc­tion, he never quite pulls it out from un­der Wind­ing Refn’s shadow. NW

SATUR­DAY, SEPT 8 AMOUR

MAST D: Michael Haneke w/

Em­manuelle Riva, Jean- Louis Trintig­nant. Aus­tria/France/Ger­many. 127 min. Sep 8, 6 pm Visa Screen­ing Room (El­gin); Sep 16, 9 am TIFF Bell Light­box 2 Rat­ing: NNNNN Aus­trian au­teur Haneke (Caché, The White Rib­bon) won his sec­ond Palme d’Or for this un­for­giv­ing tale of an ag­ing hus­band and wife (French screen leg­ends Trintig­nant and Riva) whose lives dis­in­te­grate into tor­ment after she’s par­a­lyzed by a stroke and he de­votes him­self to her care.

Turns out there’s no one bet­ter to chron­i­cle the tiny, cu­mu­la­tive mis­eries of old age than an emo­tional sadist, and Haneke can turn a sim­ple se­quence of a man mov­ing his par­a­lyzed wife from her bed to a chair into a nerve- shred­ding, heart- in­mouth aria of sus­pense. The di­rec­tor’s ap­proach is un­apolo­get­i­cally ma­nip­u­la­tive, but Trint­ing­nant and Riva invest ev­ery mo­ment with life and his­tory. I never want to see this movie again, but that’s tes­ta­ment to its power. NW

THE PERKS OF BE­ING A WALL­FLOWER

SP D: Stephen Ch­bosky w/ Lo­gan

Ler­man, Emma Wat­son. U. S. 103 min. Sep 8, 6:15 pm Ry­er­son; Sep 9, 3: 30 pm Yonge & Dundas 7 Rat­ing: NNNN Ch­bosky makes his di­rec­to­rial de­but with this adap­ta­tion of his 1999 young-adult novel about a teenager (Ler­man) just start­ing to come out of his shell after a trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ence, thanks mostly to the prod­ding of new school friends ( Wat­son, Ezra Miller).

It’s set in Pitts­burgh about 20 years ago, and Ch­bosky gets the pe­riod ab­so­lutely right. Not only are the clothes and fads ren­dered ac­cu­rately, but the movie nails the sense of iso­la­tion and con­fu­sion that ex­isted be­fore the in­ter­net al­lowed us to an­swer any ques­tion in a heart­beat. Ler­man’s with­drawn, inar­tic­u­late per­for­mance con­trasts nicely with

Wat­son and Miller’s ebul­lience, and his scenes with Paul Rudd (as a sym­pa­thetic English teacher) are won­der­ful.

This could have been pap. It’s any­thing but. NW

ROAD NORTH

( TIE POHJOISEEN)

CWC D: Mika Kau­ris­mäki w/

Vesa- Matti Loiri, Samuli Edel­mann. Fin­land. 110 min. Sep 8, 6 pm Yonge & Dundas 9; Sep 9, 12: 30 pm Yonge & Dundas 9; Sep 16, 9 am Yonge & Dundas 10 Rat­ing: NNNN An es­tranged, wastrel of a dad (Loiri) shows up drunk on the doorstep of his son (Edel­mann), an uptight, 40-some­thing con­cert pi­anist. The two em­bark on an on-the-fly road trip with life- chang­ing stops along the way.

You’ve been down this sort of road many times be­fore, but Kau­ris­mäki sur­prises with a sly jour­ney full of warmth, hu­mour and whimsy. Loiri’s jovial per­for­mance as the cun­ning fa­ther an­chors the film. He’s dif­fi­cult to trust, but like his son, you want to ride with him any­way. RS

THE SE­CRET DISCO REVO­LU­TION

DOC D: Jamie Kast­ner w/ Glo­ria Gaynor, the Vil­lage Peo­ple. Canada. 84 min. Sep 8, 9:45 pm Sco­tia­bank 3; Sep 13, 3 pm Bloor Hot Docs Cin­ema Rat­ing: NN If there was some­thing rev­o­lu­tion­ary about disco, it’s cer­tainly been kept se­cret from this film­maker. Kast­ner of­fers a his­tory of the ma­ligned mu­si­cal genre while tak­ing Hot Stuff au­thor Alice Echols’s po­si­tion that the disco move­ment was po­lit­i­cally lib­er­at­ing for the marginal­ized.

Stuffed with in­co­her­ent ar­gu­ments, a whole lot of spec­u­la­tion and sweep­ing state­ments that anger even the Vil­lage Peo­ple, the film is only re­deemed when Kast­ner fi­nally shares the au­di­ence’s frus­tra­tion. Like disco, the doc has lit­tle to of­fer, but Kast­ner dances around the sub­ject well. RS

WEST OF MEM­PHIS

MAV D: Amy Berg. 146 min. Sep 8,

2: 30 pm Ry­er­son Rat­ing: NNNN Just a year after Joe Ber­linger and Bruce Si­nof­sky brought Par­adise Lost 3: Pur­ga­tory to TIFF, another fea­ture doc­u­men­tary about Damien Echols, Ja­son Bald­win and Jesse Misskel­ley Jr., wrong­fully con­victed of the 1993 mur­ders of three eight-year- old chil­dren in West Mem­phis, Arkansas, might seem un­nec­es­sary – but the story of the West Mem­phis Three can never be ex­am­ined closely enough.

Berg’s nar­ra­tive doc is much more emotionally ac­ces­si­ble than the med­i­ta­tive Par­adise Lost films, with ap­pear­ances by celebrity sup­port­ers like Peter Jack­son and Fran Walsh (who pro­duced this film), Ed­die Ved­der, Johnny Depp and Natalie Maines.

The film or­ga­nizes two decades of in­ves­ti­ga­tion and ac­tivism into a com­pre­hen­sive two-and- half- hour nar­ra­tive, re- in­ter­view­ing key fig­ures from new an­gles and bol­ster­ing Ber­linger and Si­nof­sky’s the­sis that the case epit­o­mizes the hor­ri­bly flawed na­ture of the Arkansas jus­tice sys­tem, which would much rather aban­don an in­no­cent man on death row than re­open a closed case. NW

SUN­DAY, SEPT 9 A FEW HOURS OF SPRING

(QUELQUES HEURES DE PRIN­TEMPS) SP D: Stéphane Brizé w/ Vincent Lin­don, Hélène Vincent. France. 109 min. Sep 9, 9:45 pm TIFF Bell Light­box 2; Sep 11, 5 pm Yonge & Dundas 6 Rat­ing: NNN This finely mod­u­lated ex­am­i­na­tion of a work­ing- class mother- son re­la­tion­ship takes a sat­is­fy­ing turn once the son (Lin­don) dis­cov­ers that his in­de­pen­dent- minded mother ( Vincent) has opted for as­sisted sui­cide to deal with her ter­mi­nal can­cer. Ten­der­ness blos­soms amidst the grav­i­tas as the ex- con truck driver’s con­cen­trated gaze at his dy­ing mother melts away years of non- com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween two stub­born soli­tudes.

The mother’s ded­i­ca­tion to ful­fill­ing her de­sire to die with dig­nity makes a per­sua­sive case for a hu­mane way out, even if it means go­ing to Switzer­land to do it legally. Brize’s sen­si­tive di­rec­tion and com­pas­sion for his char­ac­ters en­able us to em­pathize with the plight of th­ese two inar­tic­u­late peo­ple. PE

THE SES­SIONS

SP D: Ben Lewin w/ John Hawkes,

He­len Hunt. U. S. 95 min. Sep 9, 2: 30 pm Visa Screen­ing Room (El­gin); Sep 11, 2: 30 pm Visa Screen­ing Room (El­gin); Sep 15, noon Ry­er­son Rat­ing: NNNN In a chal­leng­ing role that’s sure to get awards at­ten­tion, Hawkes ( Win­ter’s Bone, Martha Marcy May Marlene) plays Mark O’Brien, a real- life poet and jour­nal­ist who, be­cause of child­hood po­lio, spends most of his life in an iron lung or on a gur­ney.

The film re­counts his at­tempts in his late 30s to lose his vir­gin­ity with a sex sur­ro­gate named Ch­eryl (Hunt). The fact that he’s Catholic, and re­counts his ex­pe­ri­ences to his priest ( Wil­liam H. Macy), adds another fas­ci­nat­ing el­e­ment.

Di­rec­tor Lewin some­times strug­gles to find the right tone, but the story un­folds el­e­gantly, and he’s helped by a mag­nif­i­cent cast. Act­ing en­tirely with his head, Hawkes, his voice breathy and pitched high, finds a huge range of sub­tle emo­tion, and Hunt in­vests her character with depth and com­pas­sion even as she’s strug­gling with her own con­flicted emo­tions. GS

MON­DAY, SEPT 10 AN­TIVI­RAL

SP D: Bran­don Cro­nen­berg w/ Caleb Landry Jones, Sarah Gadon. Canada. 108 min. Sep 10, 9 pm Ry­er­son; Sep 12, 2:45 pm Bloor Hot Docs Cin­ema Rat­ing: NN In a world so fame- crazed that peo­ple pay to be in­fected with celebri­ties’ dis­eases, a black mar­ke­teer ( Jones) in­jects him­self with the blood of an ail­ing su­per­star (Gadon) and be­comes a pawn in a very deadly game.

Writer/di­rec­tor Cro­nen­berg has said he’s never seen any of his fa­ther, David’s, movies, so ap­par­ently they’re in his DNA. An­tivi­ral is ba­si­cally Video­drome with viruses in­stead of tu­mours, right down to the biome­chan­i­cal hal­lu­ci­na­tions and the cor­po­rate war sub­text.

But this ver­sion’s told so clin­i­cally that it might as well be her­met­i­cally sealed, and Jones’s character is never any­thing more than a scowl­ing, bug- eyed ci­pher. Gadon’s great as a shel­tered (and pos­si­bly gen­uinely in­no­cent) su­per­star, but she’s only in the film long enough to make us wish she’d stuck around longer. NW

BERBERIAN SOUND STU­DIO

VAN D: Peter Strick­land w/ Toby Jones, Cosimo Fusco. UK. 92 min. Sep 10, 6 pm Bloor Hot Docs Cin­ema; Sep 11, 2:45 pm Yonge & Dundas 3 Rat­ing: NNN Berberian Sound Stu­dio takes place almost en­tirely within the con­fines of the epony­mous Ital­ian record­ing fa­cil­ity where a re­pressed Bri­tish en­gi­neer ( Jones) has ar­rived to mix a bloody giallo called The Eques­trian Vor­tex.

Writer/di­rec­tor Strick­land sets the story in the mid-70s, right around the time Dario Ar­gento was fin­ish­ing up Sus­piria, and that film’s suf­fo­cat­ing, op­pres­sive sen­si­bil­ity is repli­cated here with lots of heavy breath­ing and shriek­ing (as looped by ac­tors in sound booths) and flesh- squelch­ing (as recre­ated by fo­ley artists stab­bing watermelons and smash­ing fruit).

As our twitchy hero be­gins to come apart un­der the stress of the job, the movie echoes his crum­bling state of mind by com­ing un­stuck in chronol­ogy and lan­guage – sort of. It evap­o­rates like a bad dream as soon as the lights come up, but the ex­pe­ri­ence is still worth hav­ing. NW

HYDE PARK ON HUD­SON

GALA D: Roger Michell w/ Bill Mur­ray, Laura Lin­ney. United King­dom. 95 min. Sep 10, 6: 30 pm Roy Thom­son Hall; Sep 11, 12: 30 pm Win­ter Gar­den Rat­ing: NN In 1939, George VI and El­iz­a­beth spent a week­end at Franklin D. Roo­sevelt’s es­tate in hopes of get­ting the pres­i­dent to pledge U. S. support in the com­ing war. Also present was FDR’s cousin (and oc­ca­sional lover) Daisy, whose di­aries pro­vide the fac­tual ba­sis for this shame­less King’s Speech wannabe.

Hyde Park On Hud­son is more con­cerned with his­tor­i­cal pageantry than with ac­tual drama, for­ever imag­in­ing the con­ver­sa­tions of its fa­mous char­ac­ters be­hind closed doors. Lin­ney’s Daisy serves as nar­ra­tor and au­di­ence sur­ro­gate, but the movie has no time for her, be­ing much more in­ter­ested in the scenes be­tween Mur­ray’s pa­ter­nal FDR and Sa­muel West’s in­se­cure George, which are clearly meant to echo the in­ter­play be­tween Ge­of­frey Rush and Colin Firth. Olivia Col­man gets to have a lit­tle fun as George’s wife, El­iz­a­beth; Mur­ray’s Rush­more co- star Olivia Wil­liams, as Eleanor Roo­sevelt, does not.

Ev­ery mo­ment seems cal­cu­lated to ap­peal to the main­stream

Amer­i­can au­di­ence that em­braced The King’s Speech. Why else would the English char­ac­ters use the term “stut­ter” in­stead of “stam­mer” in ref­er­ence to George’s speech im­ped­i­ment? NW

A LATE QUAR­TET

SP D: Yaron Zil­ber­man w/ Christo­pher Walken, Philip Seymour Hoff­man. U. S. 105 min. Sep 10, 6 pm Visa Screen­ing Room (El­gin); Sep 12, 5 pm Sco­tia­bank 4 Rat­ing: NNN When Peter ( Walken), leader of a fa­mous string quar­tet, sees signs in him­self of a de­gen­er­a­tive dis­ease and con­tem­plates re­tire­ment, jeal­ousy, am­bi­tion and life crises start rock­ing his col­lab­o­ra­tors (Hoff­man, Mark Ivanir and Cather­ine Keener).

There’s some great writ­ing in di­rec­tor Zil­ber­man and Seth Gross­man’s script on the topic of mu­sic – a speech about Peter’s en­counter with Pablo Casals is amaz­ing – and good per­for­mances by a great cast. But un­til the last scene, the film is emotionally slack, and no one ex­cept Walken is cred­i­ble as a string player, a ma­jor prob­lem with the edit­ing and coach­ing. SGC

TUES­DAY, SEPT 11 BURN IT UP DJASSA

(LE DJASSA A PRIS FEU)

DISC D: Lone­some Solo w/ Ab­doul

Karim Konaté, Mo­hamed Bamba. Ivory Coast/France. 70 min. Sep 11, 7 pm Jack­man Hall ( AGO); Sep 13, 10 pm Jack­man Hall ( AGO); Sep 14, 12:45 pm Sco­tia­bank 4 Rat­ing: NNNN Solo’s re­mark­able de­but is a gritty crime drama that holds a whole lot of prom­ise for raw Ivory Coast film­mak­ing. Konaté turns in a fiery per­for­mance as Tony, a street dweller with un­de­ni­able charisma and an itch for some­thing more than his le­git­i­mate job sell­ing cig­a­rettes can of­fer.

Solo di­rects with a re­al­ist’s pulse while fre­quently cut­ting to a young nar­ra­tor (Bamba) who tells a slightly skewed ver­sion of Tony’s story.

Solo’s like a ghetto myth­maker, turn­ing street life into art and tak­ing Africa’s oral sto­ry­telling tra­di­tions in a fresh di­rec­tion. RS

TOWER

DISC D: Kazik Radwanski w/ Derek Bog­art, Ni­cole Fair­bairn. Canada. 78 min. Sep 11, 10 pm TIFF Bell Light­box 3; Sep 12, 6:15 pm Yonge & Dundas 9 Rat­ing: NNN An ad­mirable fea­ture de­but by for­mer Ry­er­son stu­dent Radwanski, Tower is a tightly fo­cused but some­what hol­low character study that makes the most of a mi­crobud­get.

Hold­ing the film’s claus­tro­pho­bic close- ups through­out is Derek (Bog­art), a 34-year- old Toronto loner who shrugs off re­la­tion­ships just as he does goals and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. He’s a re­pel­lant per­son­al­ity not be­cause we see him do any­thing bad, but be­cause his ex­pres­sion and speech make you long for bet­ter company. Still, the ac­tor is a true dis­cov­ery, and his ex­cep­tion­ally nu­anced per­for­mance keeps Tower stand­ing de­spite its iffy foun­da­tion. RS

WED­NES­DAY, SEPT 12

RE­AL­ITY

SP D: Mat­teo Gar­rone w/ Aniello Arena, Loredana Simi­oli. Italy/France. 115 min. Sep 12, 6:45 pm TIFF Bell Light­box 1; Sep 13, 9: 30 pm Sco­tia­bank 3 Rat­ing: NN Hav­ing ex­plored the in­sid­i­ous reach of or­ga­nized crime in Go­mor­rah, di­rec­tor Gar­rone ex­am­ines the ef­fects of another cor­ro­sive so­cial dis­ease on Ital­ian so­ci­ety: the allure of re­al­ity tele­vi­sion.

An ex­tro­verted Neapoli­tan fish­mon­ger ( Arena) au­di­tions for a spot on the Ital­ian ver­sion of Big Brother and slowly be­comes ob­sessed with ap­pear­ing on the show. It’s a promis­ing idea, but Gar­rone ex­hausts his comic and satir­i­cal po­ten­tial after about an hour, leav­ing Re­al­ity wheez­ing tooth­lessly in a feed­back loop of ob­nox­ious be­hav­iour and in­creas­ingly ob­tuse plot­ting.

Chilean film­maker Pablo Lar­raín – who’s at TIFF this year with his po­lit­i­cal drama No – told ex­actly the same story in 2008’s Tony Manero with far more wit and bite. Seek that out in­stead. NW

SMASHED

CWC D: James Pon­soldt w/ Mary El­iz­a­beth Win­stead, Aaron Paul. U. S. 85 min. Sep 12, 6 pm Ry­er­son; Sep 13, 5 pm Yonge & Dundas 7 Rat­ing: NNN The mar­riage of two young drunks ( Win­stead, Paul) is tested when she de­cides to get sober and he doesn’t. Still work­ing the func­tion­ing-al­co­holic an­gle he played in Off The Black, di­rec­tor Pon­soldt has made a movie that feels as un­sta­ble as its pro­tag­o­nists; it wob­bles be­tween un­com­fort­able com­edy and shat­ter­ing drama, some­times in the same scene.

Win­stead’s vir­tu­ally un­rec­og­niz­able from her more com­posed turns in Scott Pilgrim and that Thing pre­quel, and Paul does a more so­lic­i­tous ver­sion of Break­ing Bad’s ru­ined Jesse Pinkman. But the pieces don’t quite snap to­gether the way they should. Pon­soldt can’t help un­der­lin­ing ev­ery Big Emo­tional Turn­ing Point, and while Nick Of­fer­man, Megan Mul­lally and Oc­tavia Spencer do their best to lend hu­man­ity to their sup­port­ing roles, the movie never sees them as any­thing more than plot de­vices. NW

THE SUI­CIDE SHOP

(LE MA­GASIN DES SUI­CIDES) SP D: Pa­trice Le­conte w/ Bernard Alane, Is­abelle Spade. France/Bel­gium/Canada. 79 min. Sep 12, 9 pm Ry­er­son; Sep 16, 12: 30 pm Sco­tia­bank 2 Rat­ing: NNN When sui­cide seems like the only way to go, the Tu­vache fam­ily business makes sure you go out with op­tions: poi­sons pack­aged like per­fumes, a hand­made sword for hara- kiri or a plas­tic bag and tape for the ho­bos who cant pay for more. That’s the mor­bidly amus­ing premise in The Sui­cide Shop, an an­i­mated com­edy that squeezes as much life out of its cen­tral gag as it can.

The flat mu­si­cal num­bers seem a dull ploy to pad out the run­ning time, but Le­conte com­pen­sates with old- school an­i­ma­tion that boasts visual wit and dry hu­mour. RS

THURS­DAY, SEPT 13

LAU­RENCE ANY­WAYS

SP D: Xavier Dolan w/ Melvil

Poupaud, Suzanne Clé­ment. Canada. 161 min. Sep 13, 9 pm Visa Screen­ing Room (El­gin); Sep 15, 9 am TIFF Bell Light­box 2 Rat­ing: NNNN A love re­la­tion­ship goes through wild ups and downs when Lau­rence (Poupaud) tran­si­tions from male to fe­male and his girl­friend (Clé­ment) tries to support her. Sat­u­rat­ing his colour pal­ette and adding mag­i­cal touches so that na­ture mir­rors the story’s pow­er­ful emo­tions, Dolan ( J’ai Tué Ma Mere) cre­ates a gor­geous, epic ro­mance that never loses its en­ergy de­spite the film’s length.

The per­for­mances are spec­tac­u­lar, es­pe­cially Clé­ment’s as a woman who desperately wants to be­lieve she can be part of the gen­der revo­lu­tion, and Nathalie Baye’s as Lau­rence’s deeply con­flicted mother. SGC

FRI­DAY, SEPT 14 BES­TI­AIRE

WL D: De­nis Côté. Canada/France. 72

min. Sep 14, 6: 30 pm TIFF Bell Light­box 3; Sep 16, 10 am TIFF Bell Light­box 4 Rat­ing: NNNN We look at an­i­mals. They may or may not look back. Côté’s ex­tra­or­di­nary med­i­ta­tion on the re­la­tion­ship be­tween man and beast (and even the cam­era) is sim­ply a se­ries of static shots that leave you think­ing.

Bes­ti­aire is not for ev­ery­one, since it de­mands a pa­tient au­di­ence will­ing to fill in the gaps be­tween Côté’s strik­ing com­po­si­tions and telling montage. Those who are game will be richly re­warded, while the rest will have a bet­ter time at Marineland. RS

RE­BELLE

(WAR WITCH) SP D: Kim Nguyen w/ Rachel Mwanza, Serge Kanyinda. Canada. 90 min. Sep 14, 9 pm Visa Screen­ing Room (El­gin); Sep 15, 3 pm TIFF Bell Light­box 2 Rat­ing: NNN For a film about child sol­diers in an un­named African coun­try, Re­belle shows sur­pris­ing re­straint.

Di­rec­tor Nguyen’s decision to look away from car­nage and avoid melo­drama may limit our en­gage­ment, but it’s the ad­mirable choice, mak­ing room for sen­si­tive and imag­i­na­tive film­mak­ing. Non-ac­tor Mwanza (a rev­e­la­tion) stars as 12-year- old Komona, a vil­lage girl ab­ducted by rebels, forced to kill her own par­ents and bap­tized the War Witch for her abil­ity to sense im­pend­ing dan­ger. Komona’s at­tempt to es­cape along with an in­fat­u­ated al­bino boy (Kanyinda) pro­vides a sweet, even whim­si­cal in­ter­lude from the hor­rors of war that seems too good to be true. RS

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