Original-Cin TIFF Picks, Saturday, Sept. 9

By Jim Slotek, Liam Lacey and Karen Gordon

STRONGER (Gala Presentations)

Sat, Sep 9, 10:45 AM, Winter Garden Theatre

Director David Gordon Green has ranged from being an adventurous early critics’ darling (George Washington) to a champion of stoner goofs in the last decade (Pineapple Express, Your Highness). His latest, Stronger, is a straight-down-the-middle inspirational drama, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, as Boston Costco employee, Jeff Bauman, who lost his legs in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and became a kind of reluctant local hero. There are flavourful portraits of Bauman’s working-class family and friends, and some exploration of the contemporary hero/victim ambiguity, but this is well-done but predictable fare aimed at awards season.  Special mention should go to the very present Tatiana Maslany (the phenom star of TV’s Orphan Black), who brings an earthy authenticity as Jeff’s rock of a fiancé. - LL

Maslany and Gyllenhaal in Stronger

Maslany and Gyllenhaal in Stronger

MOLLY'S GAME (Special Presentations)

Friday, Sept. 8, Elgin. Saturday, Sept. 9, Elgin.

It's somehow hard to believe this is Aaron Sorkin's directorial debut, so familiar are we with his style via The West Wing and Steve Jobs-scripting (people talking fast while walking fast). And indeed, there's a lot of fast-talking in this true-life movie about a former elite skier (Jessica Chastain) who becomes a tabloid-and-FBI targeted "Princess" of high-stakes underground poker on both coasts. Although by necessity, there's also a lot of sitting down. Chastain handles the verbiage well, and is utterly believable as a principled poker princess in expensive dresses. Idris Elba gets some good lines in as her lawyer and the poker scenes are alternately funny and tense. (Although Kevin Costner is kind of along for the ride as her bullying dad). Best part: Michael Cera plays a nasty Hollywood heavy. For real. - JS

SUBURBICON (Special Presentations)

Saturday, Sept. 9 (6:30 p.m.). Princess Of Wales. Sunday, Sept. 10 (12 p.m.) Roy Thomson Hall.

George Clooney co-wrote with partner Grant Heslov based on a script by the Coen Brothers, and directs.  The result amounts to a mash up of a Coen style film noir combined with a comment on racism in America.   It’s 1959, Suburbicon is a development sold as the best of the American lifestyle.  Julianne Moore stars in dual roles as twin sisters, one a bubbly brunette, The other wheelchair bound and married to Matt Damon, as a tightly wound executive.  The couple has a pre-adolescent son. It’s all white picket fences and apple pie until a quiet black family moves into the neighborhood.  While that rocks the neighborhood a nasty home invasion rocks the Damon-Moore-Moore’s ordered life. When it comes to message, Clooney’s heart is in the right place,  but as a director he doesn't have the comic-noir knack of the Coens, and ultimately doesn’t bring the two storylines together. - KG

Moore and Damon in Suburbicon

Moore and Damon in Suburbicon

THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER (Special Presentations)

Sat, Sep 9, 9:00 PM, Elgin Theatre. Sun, Sep 10, 2017 (11:15 AM), Visa Screening Room at PoW

In the latest bleakly comic provocation from from Greek absurdist, Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, The Lobster), Colin Farrell stars as a self-satisfied and paunchy middle-aged cardiologist married to an beautiful opthamologist(Nicole Kidman), in a set-up that echoes Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut. In this case, the doctor’s unravelling is caused by his relationship with a 16-year-old boy, who changes from mysterious friend to stalker, to implacable enemy. The dialogue throughout, mixing non-sequiteurs, extreme literalism, painful banalities, suggest the theatre of Luigi Pirandello, is often laugh-out-loud funny and Farrell, as the obstinately foolish doctor is very entertaining though the increa.singly grotesqueand withdrawn denoument plot begins to feel like a lecture about magical thinking and security. (Liam Lacey) 

THE PRICE OF SUCCESS (Special Presentations)

Thursday, Sept. 7. (6 p.m.) Elgin. Saturday, Sept 9 (9:15 a.m.) TBLB 1. Saturday, Sept. 16. (12:15 p.m.) Scotia 1

Tahar Rahim stars as Brahim, one of the hottest comedians in France. He got there with his older brother Mourad (Roschdy Zem) as his manager.  It’s been a sweet ride for two kids of immigrant parents.  But when a more experienced manager approaches, Brahim has to decide where his loyalties lie. Director Teddy Lussi-Modeste directs from a script he co wrote with Rebecca Zlotowski.  The movie dips into melodrama, but Lussi-Modeste keeps the tone light and the brother’s relationship has a tenderness to it. - KG

THE RITUAL (Midnight Madness)

Fri, Sep 8, 1t 1:59 PM, Ryerson Theatre. Sun, Sep 10, 1:45 PM, Scotiabank 13

What starts out promisingly as a English version of Deliverance — in which four men go a hike in the Swedish highlands to test their mettle and honour the death of a friend — turns into adumb horror movie disappointingly quickly. While taking a short-cut, the men enter a forest full of dead animals, strange markings on trees and the kind of Swedish commune you really would not expect. Rafe Spall, as a macho bloke who fears his own weakness, is mostly carries the film though you wish he had more to work with. - LL

THE MOTIVE (Special Presentations)

Sat. Sept. 9 (6 p.m.) Scotia 1. Mon. Sept 11 (1:45 p.m.). Scotia 3. Fri. Sept. 15 (9:15 p.m.). Scotia 4

Estranged from his cheating wife, a popular novelist, Alvaro sets up in an apartment and - in an effort to create great literature himself - manipulates the lives of his fellow tenants to set up a crime drama. Manuel Martín Cuenca directs this lightly-dark comedy from from Javier Cercas' novel The Tenant and the Motive. The twist ending is a bit of a stretch, but Javier Gutiérrez  | gives Alvaro a disquietingly chill sociopathic performance with a frozen mild grin (reminiscent of Hannibal Lecter). - JS

THE CAPTAIN (Special Presentations)

Sat. Sept. 9 (3:15 p.m.) TBLB 1. Mon. Sept. 11 (4:15 p.m.) Scotia 10. Sat. Sept. 16 (3:30 p.m.). Scotia 14.

Taken from a true story, The Captain tells the tale of a German army deserter (Max Hubacher) at the end of WWII who, having escaped execution, happens upon a deserted Wehrmacht vehicle and a captain's uniform, which he dons. Once mistaken for a captain, he assembles a "platoon" of thugs and enters a camp where he willingly presides over mass-murders at the behest of on-site military (who are just waiting for someone to give them "official" orders to do so). A kind of "clothes make the man" meets Lord Of The Flies. It's compellingly directed in stark black-and-white by Robert Schwentke (The Time Traveler’s WifeRED, Insurgent) returning to his native land to work in German. - JS