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Film of the year? For your consideration, we offer Parasite (Rating: A), Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s Cannes Palm d’Or winner, a dark comedy about a Korean family of grifters who insinuate themselves into the lives of a wealthy family. Compared to a slew of other films about rage at the one-percenters, says reviewer Jim Slotek, Parasite is “on another level, sure-handed and sly, with a moral compass that wavers as the tables turn.”
A decade after the zom-com, Zombieland, the cast – Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin – reunite in the loose, irreverent Zombieland: Double Tap (B), along with newcomer Zoey Deutch (Vampire Academy), who says Jim Slotek, “pretty much steals every scence she’s in.”
Netflix is better-known for standup specials for obscure comedians than Shakespeare, so it’s a welcome surprise to see the streaming service behind The King (B-minus), from director David Michôd and co-writer, actor Joel Edgerton. (B-minus).
Adapted from the Shakespeare linked “Henriad” plays, the film focuses on Prince Hal (Timothée Chalamet) who grows into the role of fifteenth-century warrior-king, Henry V. The film can be too effective in conveying the often boring slog of battle, says reviewer Karen Gordon, but this is a well-acted and thoughtful exploration of the reasons for war.
There’s also lots of fighting in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (C) which sees Angelina Jolie as the glamorous misunderstood “bad” fairy from Sleeping Beauty in an apocalyptic set-to with the fairy-hating human queen, Michelle Pfeiffer.
Spectacular costumes and set-pieces aside, says reviewer Liam Lacey, Disney’s traditional fairy tale charm seems to have been cursed by the financial success of the Marvel Universe formula.
The battles are mostly psycholosgical in By The Grace of God (B-plus) a Berlin film festival prize-winning docudrama by France’s Francois Ozon. It’s a slow-burn procedural and study of three men, whose childhoods were scarred by a sexually-abusive priest.
Confession and reconciliation are also the themes of writer-director Warren Sulatycky’s April In Autumn (C plus), starring Caitlyn Sponheimer as a woman returning from an Asian sojourn to do more soul-searching in Toronto, all in a melancholic key.
Have a great weekend.
By Karen GordonRead More
In the pantheon of scary movies with tool-or weapon-themed titles (Rope, Knife In The Water, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Saw, Hatchet, Driller Killer, Nail Gun Massacre) we may now add Harpoon (Rating: A+), a lost-at-sea drama with two young men and a woman whose yacht runs adrift along with the social niceties, all accompanied by a sardonic voice-over from Brett (Fleabag) Gelman..
Our reviewer Thom Ernst, who says even non-horror fans should check it out, says this is a film aligned with the black humour of Blood Simple or Shallow Grave than traditional horror.
Scary + Funny is a good recipe for The Addams Family (C-plus) cartoonist Charles Addams fictional family of macabre aristocrats, who were introduced in The New Yorker in 1938, before becoming a popular sixties’ sitcom. The current incarnation is an animated film aimed at kids, which says reviewer Jim Slotek, suggests the influence of Hotel Transylvania, upping the morality lessons and kid appeal at the expense of the “whimsical grimness” of the original.
Technical novelty is the main draw of Gemini Man (C-minus) an action film that features Will Smith as a government assassin who finds himself being hunted by a clone of himself, almost thirty years his junior. The gimmick here is that the young assassin, named Junior for easy identification, is an entirely digital creation, created from film clips of Smith from his early career. Reviewer Liam Lacey says that, while Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain) is a great director, Gemini Man suffers from a trite script and a high-frame rate and digital effects that emphasize its artificiality. The best part of the advance screening was a surprise visit by director, Ang Lee. Our Bonne Laufer Krebs has an interview with the director, who talked about what he calls his most ambitious and technically-challenging film to date.
Natailie Portman is an astronaut who goes to space and returns deflated in Lucy In The Sky (C) and a hot fling with another astronaut played by Jon Hamm can’t save her. Reviewer Kim Hughes reports that the ever-watchable Portman can’t make this study of a woman’s psychic unravelling compelling.
And this week through Oct. 20, Toronto has its annual Rendezvous With Madness festival, a multi-media event focusing on mental health and culture. We talk with chief programmer Geoff Pevere about his own recent diagnosis and the films that explore mental health issues from around the world.
Have a great Thanksgiving weekend.
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