NOW Magazine

Opening this week

See expanded reviews at nowtoronto.com/movies.

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Spider-Man: Homecoming; 13 Minutes; Tickling Giants; Blood Hunter; Integral Man; From The Land Of The Moon; The Journey; Playing this week

SPider-maN: homeComiNg (Jon ñ

Watts) continues the smooth integratio­n of everyone’s favourite wall-crawler into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, giving Peter Parker (Tom Holland, perfect) a semi-mentor in Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark and an enemy in Michael Keaton’s high-flying thief, who uses tech harvested from the aliens who invaded New York in The Avengers. But mostly, it’s about a kid trying really hard to be a hero, and that’s where the Marvel machinery really serves the story. After almost a decade of these movies, there’s a sense of real danger and menace to this world. Where the previous Spider-Man movies always seemed obsessed with balancing the hero and the villain, this universe is filled with outsized threats, and maybe Tony isn’t wrong when he says Peter is out of his depth. Director Watts (Cop Car) places us firmly in Peter’s rabbity headspace, excitably zooming between high school awkwardnes­s and complex set pieces. The script is consistent and charming, with even the most incidental characters getting a moment to define themselves – though the high-altitude finale feels weirdly choppy. Still, this is the strongest Spider-Man movie in a long time, and easily the most joyful, thanks to a deft Michael Giacchino score and Watts’s refusal to burden us with another origin story. I had fun. You will too. 133 min. NNNN (Norman Wilner)

The JourNey (Nick Hamm) ñ

dramatizes the car ride between Ian Paisley (Timothy Spall) and Martin McGuinness (Colm Meaney) that led the rival leaders to the 2006 St. Andrews Agreement, which ended decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland. Their driver is a British agent (Freddie Highmore) charged with monitoring their conversati­on for Tony Blair (Toby Stephens) and an MI-5 expert (John Hurt, in one of his final screen performanc­es). The bulk of the film plays out as conversati­on, with McGuinness and Paisley taking one another’s measure and prodding at old wounds inflicted decades earlier. By framing it as a road movie, Hamm and screenwrit­er Colin Bateman undercut the potential stuffiness of the material and just let their actors play. Both leads are terrific, but the supporting players are great as well: Stephens is quietly wonderful in the corners as the equivocati­ng, self-serving Blair and Hurt matches him scene for scene as a profession­al cynic slowly rediscover­ing his sense of optimism. 95 min. NNNN (NW) from The laNd of The mooN (Nicole Garcia) follows the misadventu­res of a woman whose peculiar circumstan­ces and troubled psyche set her on course for disappoint­ment and frustratio­n—sentiments you’ll likely share once you arrive at this otherwise complex character study’s overly tidy finale. Raised in a Provençal village in the 1950s, Gabrielle (Marion Cotillard) is unhappily married off to a Catalan labourer and eventually sent to a Swiss sanatorium, where she falls perilously in love with a gravely ill veteran of the war in Indochina. Cotillard is fearless and captivatin­g. Director Nicole Garcia hews close to her actors while maintainin­g a scrupulous reserve. Unfortunat­ely the film’s last act becomes bogged down in a plot twist at once harrowing, overworked and a little silly, imposing a resolution that works against the film’s nuance. 121 min. Subtitled. NNN (José Teodoro) iNTegral maN (Joseph Clement) purports to be about the late mathematic­ian, musician and philanthro­pist Jim Stewart. But it’s more about the Rosedale house Stewart had built – called Integral House – than the man himself. A trained violinist, Stewart decided to pursue a career in math, eventually writing a series of textbooks that made him massively wealthy. He later used his home, complete with concert area, to hold fundraiser­s for organizati­ons. Director Joseph Clement captures the modernist house, designed by Howard Sutcliffe and Brigitte Shim, beautifull­y. It really does feel, as one per- son says, like you’re inside an instrument. But perhaps because of Stewart’s sudden illness and death, there are many gaps about the man himself, particular­ly around his queer activism. Concert footage of musicians like Measha Bruggergos­man and Blake Pouliot is fine, but this short doc resembles a sedate offering on HGTV. 63 min. NNN (Glenn Sumi) 13 miNuTeS (Oliver Hirschbieg­el) dramatizes the life of Georg Elser (Christian Friedel), a German artist who tried to kill Adolf Hitler with a homemade time bomb at a Munich rally in November 1939. (Eight people died, but the Führer was not among them, having left before the explosion.) The narrative cuts between Elser’s brutal interrogat­ion by German officers and the years leading up to the assassinat­ion attempt, over which the apolitical Elser witnessed the slow boil of Nazism and became radicalize­d. Screenwrit­ers Léonie-Claire and Fred Breinersdo­rfer draw the characters in broad strokes – this isn’t a movie with much time for moral ambiguity, so characters are either placid victims or sneering monsters – and Hirschbige­l executes the drama with minimal visual bombast, except for one ill-considered drug sequence. It’s fine, I guess, but if you’ve seen Hirschbieg­el’s previous examinatio­ns of German character, Das Experiment and Downfall, you know he’s capable of so much more. 114 min. Subtitled. NNN (NW) TiCkliNg giaNTS (Sara Taksler) looks at the unlikely media stardom of Bassem Youssef, a Cairo heart surgeon and massive Jon Stewart fan who reinvented himself during the Arab Spring as a political satirist on YouTube. That led to his own comedy program on Egyptian television: The Show, a Daily Show knockoff so shameless that it even replicated the design and colour scheme of Stewart’s set. Youssef’s material wasn’t exactly sophistica­ted, but the mere fact that he and his writers dared to make light of authoritar­ian leaders like Mohamed Morsi and Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was revolution­ary. Filmmaker Sara Taksler – a producer on the real Daily Show – tags along with The Show on its rollercoas­ter ride, and if Tickling Giants never digs as deep as it could, it’s still a fascinatin­g look at a culture just beginning to understand the power of sarcasm. 111 min. Some subtitles. NNN (NW) Blood huNTerS (Tricia Lee) takes a solid horror premise – after an overdose, a suburban mom (Lara Gilchrist) wakes up in an operating room, inexplicab­ly pregnant and surrounded by corpses – and winds up stretching it a little too thin. Director Lee and screenwrit­er Corey Brown aren’t without imaginatio­n or skill – their previous collaborat­ion, Silent Retreat, was an effective thriller brought down by a clunky ending – but they’re trying to tell their ambitious story on a limited budget and the result is clearly a cheaper, more compromise­d version of the movie they wanted to make. The more we learn about the mystery at the heart of Blood Hunters, the sillier it seems, and the small cast – which also includes Benjamin Arthur, Torri Higginson, Mark Taylor and Julian Richings – struggles to keep the energy up while walking down the same hallways over and over again, and Lee does her best to keep us from noticing that the light-averse monsters lurking in the shadows look an awful lot like dancers in leotards. And as supernatur­ally charged hospital thrillers go, Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski’s The Void did this sort of thing so much better earlier this year. 91 min. NN (NW)

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Tom Holland is perfect as the latest Spider-Man.
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