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Purse First (feat. Helena Bonham Carter)

16 September 2017 10:00 AM, PDT

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- NATHANIEL R

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Open Thread

16 September 2017 7:32 AM, PDT

So... what have we missed while we've been away at Tiff? Today is travel day as Chris and Nathaniel depart Toronto so fill us in so we can catch up on the regular non-festival world. What movie or TV thing are you hearing the most about this past week? Are you eager for the Emmys tomorrow? What do we need to write about immediately that we haven't. Fill us in.

Regular programming resumes Monday along with some leftover Tiff bits like Call Me By Your Name, The Shape of Water, Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool and more. »

- NATHANIEL R

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Tiff: "Kings" and "I, Tonya"

15 September 2017 9:18 PM, PDT

Tiff wraps up Sunday and since we'd like the last few pieces to be positive let's get some negativity out of the way. Here are two films which yours truly did not respond well to. One is certain to be trashed by critics and the other, though trashy, is being widely praised. But they're both bad. »

- NATHANIEL R

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Tiff: McDormand Dominates in "Three Billboards..."

15 September 2017 3:30 PM, PDT

by Chris Feil

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri unfolds in typical fashion for writer/director Martin McDonagh: unspeakable violence provides a backdrop to profanity of everyday people. Here McDonagh provides us one of his most righteous heroes in Mildred Hayes, a mother grieving the brutal murder of her daughter and the local police’s inability to bring justice. Verbal fireworks and bloody consequence is to be expected. »

- Chris Feil

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First Look: Elizabeth Debicki as Virginia Woolf

15 September 2017 1:00 PM, PDT

by Murtada

click to embiggenHere’s our first look at Elizabeth Debicki as Virginia Woolf in Vita & Virginia, currently shooting in Ireland. The film will tell the story of the love affair between the noted author and socialite Vita Sackville-West (played by Gemma Arterton). Set in 1920s London, Vita & Virginia is the sophomore feature of director Chanya Button, following 2015 comedy drama Burn Burn Burn.

The clincher here though is the involvement of Dame Eileen Atkins, a Woolf scholar and the definitive authority on the famous writer »

- Murtada Elfadl

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Review: Darren Aronofsky's "mother!"

15 September 2017 9:30 AM, PDT

This review contains mild spoilers from the first half of the film since everything is essentially a spoiler given the cryptic promotions. The review was previously published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad. 

“Baby?” is the first line spoken in Darren Aronofsky’s new film mother!  but not its first image. The film begins with a defiant girl burning in a house consumed by fire. Javier Bardem collects a gem from the ashes. He places it on a shelf with other less brilliant but similar gems and we watch as the house restores itself from blackened ash. What to make of this rebirth… or is it a timelapse reversal of the destruction? Are we seeing the future or the past?

Cut to Jennifer Lawrence, waking up suddenly in bed. Where is her husband?

Baby?

While Lawrence is the star she’s a cypher-like presence in this particular film (new for her »

- NATHANIEL R

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Tiff: "Disaster" is James Franco's Best Performance

14 September 2017 8:31 PM, PDT

by Chris Feil

It takes a particular kind of cinematic appreciation to love bad movies. For some, there can be a special charm to misguided clunkers and turkeys of only the best intentions. There is a stark difference between laughing at something and laughing with something. The Room has been one of the more recent additions to the beloved trash cinema pantheon and stands as a fascinating psychological testament to its creator and star Tommy Wiseau. As told on the page by Wiseau’s costar and close friend Greg Sestero, the making of the film was as haphazard as you expect.

The risk of The Disaster Artist, adapted from Sestero’s book, is confusing the affection or morbid fascination of The Room’s fanbase for something mockingly mean-spirited. Luckily the film is built on love for its subject, as directed by James Franco who also stars as Wiseau »

- Chris Feil

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Tiff: Glenn Close is "The Wife"

14 September 2017 5:45 PM, PDT

our ongoing adventures at Tiff. An abdriged version of this review was originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad.

Film festivals nearly always provide curious dialogues between films that you weren't expecting. On the same day on the exact same screen at Tiff I managed to see two films about female writers and the male writers in their lives who take up all the oxygen (and praise) in the room. Who would have thought that a film about the origins of Frankenstein (just discussed) and a star vehicle for Glenn Close in Stockholm would have so much in common? 

The Wife (Björn Runge)

Joan Castleman (Glenn Close) is a longsuffering wife who would bristle at that very description. She's married to a famous novelist Joe Castleman (Jonathan Pryce) and their homophonic names are no coincidence. The silver-haired couple have been together for nearly half a century and are inseparable if not quite interchangeable. »

- NATHANIEL R

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Tiff Discovery: A Shirley Henderson Master Class and a Wild Argentinian Family

14 September 2017 3:58 PM, PDT

by Sean Donovan

The films featured in Tiff’s ‘Discovery’ section are sometimes given short shrift by the festival at large. Already arriving with the disadvantage of being announced last, and thereby with the least amount of time for anticipation to brew, these small modest productions (many of which are debut features for their directors) are easily buried underneath the hype of awards season giants and glitzy red carpets. If that’s the macro view of things, in micro the audiences that find their way to ‘Discovery’ films are incredibly eager and excited, anxious for the chance to look at films that may never find healthy distribution outside of festival spaces. Here are two of the absolute highlights of Tiff’s ‘Discovery’ program: »

- Sean Donovan

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Review: Brad's Status

14 September 2017 1:29 PM, PDT

by Murtada

Brad’s Status, the new film from Mike White (the creator of Enlightened and the writer of Chuck And Buck) is about a forty-something man’s emotional crisis. That information made me giddy with anticipation. Could White have come up with the male version of Amy Jellicoe in Ben Stiller’s Brad Sloan? Are we in for an emotional ride with a polarizing but endearing character with rough but compulsively watchable qualities?

Alas, no. If you were expecting all that, I’d say go in with tempered expectations »

- Murtada Elfadl

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Robert Altman Chosen for First-Ever AFI Retrospective

14 September 2017 9:37 AM, PDT

by Ilich Mejía

American director Robert Altman has been selected by the American Film Institute as the focus of AFI Fest's first annual retrospective showcasing the works of an accomplished filmmaker. AFI Fest will run, this year, from November 9 to 16. Each of those days will feature screenings and special discussions of Altman's best work. 

Even though Altman passed over ten years ago, his films are constantly remembered by film fanatics around the globe. His haunting 3 Women recently screened as part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center's retrospective of 1977. Other Altman classics include Julie Christie's bursting curls in McCabe & Mrs. Miller, the fiery politics of Nashville, and Downton Abbey predecesor Gosford Park.

What film are you most excited to see as part of this retrospective? Share your favorite Altman scenes and moments! »

- Ilich Mejia

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The hyped mysteriousness of "mother!" pre-release

14 September 2017 7:15 AM, PDT

Ongoing adventures at Tiff

During Oscar season awards journalists often receive little bits of swag in the mail, cupcakes when Jennifer Aniston was trying to get nominated for Cake, a lux coffee table book on Los Angeles when La La Land was in the race, a stuffed Olaf during the Frozen year. That sort of thing. My favorite mail came from the creative and memorable campaign for Black Swan. The first thing to arrive was a black envelope with no return address. Inside were three black and white feathers. That was it. No message, no card, no return address, no explanation. Creepy. By the time the season was in full swing and the movie was familiar a mirrored music box was the perfect curio to arrive.  »

- NATHANIEL R

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Tiff: "The Breadwinner" is a visual stunner

14 September 2017 5:17 AM, PDT

Our ongoing adventures at Tiff

One of the most exciting animation houses in the world is Ireland's Cartoon Saloon. In its early years its largely been a showcase for co-founder Tomm Moore who made Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea (both deservedly Oscar nominated). Now Nora Twomey, also a co-founder, steps into the director's chair for their third feature, another visual stunner. (If you haven't seen their films yet get to it. They're doing the consistently best non-Pixar derivative animation on earth now that Studio Ghibli has slowed way down.)

This time we depart Ireland for an adaptation of The BreadwinnerDeborah Ellis's bestseller about an Afghani girl who disguises herself as a boy to provide for her family when her father is imprisoned by the Taliban. Without a male relative to escort them around the city they're trapped in their home with no way to earn money or go shopping. »

- NATHANIEL R

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Tiff: Notes on Oscar hopefuls "Darkest Hour" and "Downsizing"

13 September 2017 7:00 PM, PDT

Detroit may have bombed but the letter "D" could still reign come Oscar time with Dunkirk, Darkest Hour, and Downsizing all potential Best Picture players. Though it can sometimes feel gross to discuss rich movies from an Oscar perspective before they've even been considered as films, it happens to us all this time of year and the films invite it with their slow rollouts from festival reviews that result in months of discussion and speculation before the public can buy tickets. In other words: Look what they made me us do!

Downsizing

After 'miniature masterpiece' style reviews at Venice the critics got considerably chillier with Alexander Payne's latest once it hit Telluride. Now the film is playing in Toronto and the reviews continue to be mixed. This could spell trouble for the film, but be patient. Initial reviews are only part of the Oscar equation »

- NATHANIEL R

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How Necessary is "American Horror Story: Cult"?

13 September 2017 4:30 PM, PDT

By Spencer Coile 

A Ryan Murphy production is anything but subtle. They rely on over-the-top scares, extravagant set pieces, and his usual band of actors (notably Sarah Paulson). American Horror Story: Cult is no exception. It begins with the bleakest opening imaginable, a night that will live in infamy: 2016 election night. As characters rejoice, cry, vent their frustrations, it felt as though Murphy was attempting to hone in on the social panic that swept the country in the wake of the election results. It was a bold opening, one that hit close to home. 

And then the rest of the episode happened. »

- Spencer Coile

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Tiff: Elle Fanning is "Mary Shelley"

13 September 2017 2:18 PM, PDT

Our ongoing adventures at Tiff

In the summer of 1816 legendary Romantic literary figures Mary Shelley (and stepsister Claire Clairmont), Percy Shelley, Lord Byron and Dr John Polidori were holed up in a Swiss estate and challenged each other to write scary ghost stories. From that fateful contest two famous works of horror emerged ("Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus" in 1818 and "The Vampyre" in 1819 -- neither of them actual ghost stories!). Ken Russell attacked this collision of authors with his trademark sexual abandon and visual insanity in Gothic (1986) and his wasn't the first or last film to stare with fascination at that morbid contest 201 years ago. We return to that summer for a good chunk of Haifaa al-Mansour's Mary Shelley but with far different intent.

Haifaa al-Mansour, the first Saudi female film director (she previously directed Wadjda) is more interested in the trailblazing of Mary Shelley (née Godwin) as a »

- NATHANIEL R

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Fine Old Souls

13 September 2017 10:00 AM, PDT

Jason from Mnpp here - I don't think it's necessary to give the full "Yes No Maybe So" treatment here for the just-released full trailer for Our Souls At Night because this movie stars real life legends Jane Fonda and Robert Redford together for the first time since The Electric Horseman in 1979 - not to mention marking exactly fifty years since they made Barefoot in the Park together »

- JA

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Soundtracking: "South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut"

13 September 2017 7:00 AM, PDT

Chris Feil's soundtrack series doesn't "Blame Canada" this week while he is at Tiff...

When Book of Mormon opened on Broadway, it was met with a fairly shocked response that Trey Parker and Matt Stone were able to create such an old-fashioned musical within their own foul-mouthed lexicon. It was as if people had quickly forgotten that they had already created a catchy and sweet musical on screen with South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut. And this was a few years before musicals would be cool at the movies again and a bit of a “gotcha” joke on their fanbase expecting simple crudeness, so maybe it’s easy to forget just how gutsy the South Park movie was. »

- Chris Feil

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"I'm Your #1 Fan..."

12 September 2017 7:00 PM, PDT

It defied already optimistic expectations last weekend, opening to mostly postive reviews and a staggering box office of $123m. Hot takes are afoot as to why It is such a mega hit, compared to the flopzilla of The Dark Tower. And amongst the good reviews was the adulation of one particular enfant terrible...

It is my favorite film this century. pic.twitter.com/86KqVKZFV3

Xavier Dolan (@XDolan) September 10, 2017

Did you succumb to the scares or were you not amused by the clown? Discuss.

Related: Our "It" Review »

- Seán McGovern

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Top Ten: Black Swan's Best Shots

12 September 2017 3:00 PM, PDT

by Ilich Mejía

Tfe is highly anticipating Darren Aronofsky's upcoming mother!. The film welcomes a reunion between Aronofsky and American cinematographer Matthew Libatique, shortly after they last collaborated on 2014's Noah and 2010's Black Swan. A lot of parrallels have already been drawn across the latter and mother!, including similarities between their cracked-doll posters and doesn't this bloody rug remind anyone of a certain mirror-sharded dress? 

To show how desparetely we can't wait to see what new images Aronofsky and Libatique will sear into our psyches when mother! premieres, we're going to look back and pick our ten favorite shots from Black Swan. Libatique's gorgeous, dark cinematography earned him his first Academy Award nomination. Presumably, the Academy was as impressed as we were by his interpretation of the film's theme's of duality and control. 

Let's dissect our favorite frames from the psychological drama after the jump »

- Ilich Mejia

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