Like its protagonist, Brad’s Status sheepishly apologizes for its existence

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For most of cinematic history, rich white male filmmakers who wanted to explore their discontents onscreen simply did so, without considering whether such a tale might constitute little more than highly privileged whining. Some still forge blithely ahead, of course, but others are beginning to wrestle with the…

Jim Carrey wouldn't let Spike Jonze direct the Ace Ventura sequel

The two Ace Ventura movies aren’t remembered particularly fondly these days beyond how much fun it is to say “do not go in there” when exiting a room, but 1995's Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls could’ve almost been a bit cooler than what we ended up with. That’s because famously hip dude Spike Jonze made a pitch to…

Documentary Strong Island tells a painful yet painfully ubiquitous tale

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Issue-oriented documentaries rarely pay much attention to aesthetics, so it’s invigorating, in an odd way, to see one that marries impressive form to so-so content. Yance Ford spent many years as the producer of PBS’ acclaimed doc series POV, and has likely seen as much nonfiction filmmaking as anyone alive. He’s…

Jake Gyllenhaal’s Boston Marathon bombing film isn’t too bad, and other surprises at Toronto

Unless you spend most of your festival rolling the dice on first features and movies by largely unknown filmmakers, TIFF can be a lot like a weeklong version of that expectations-versus-reality scene from (500) Days Of Summer: Over and over again, you walk into a theater with a certain expectation, only to be…

Mike Myers to appear in Bohemian Rhapsody, which is pretty funny

Just after dropping out of the Del Close biopic when the movie lost its funding, Mike Myers has lined up another gig in a different biopic. According to Deadline, he’s “negotiating” for a role in Bohemian Rhapsody, Bryan Singer’s movie about Freddie Mercury and Queen. We don’t know who Myers will be playing, but…

Boardwalk Empire's Jack Huston joins Martin Scorsese's The Irishman

According to Deadline, Jack Huston has joined the cast of Martin Scorsese’s new Netflix mob movie The Irishman. That makes this a Boardwalk Empire reunion of sorts, as Huston played Richard Harrow on that series and Scorsese was one of its executive producers, but The Irishman is also just a big excuse for everybody…

After whitewashing controversy, Daniel Dae Kim steps in to replace Ed Skrein in Hellboy

In a perfect convergence of two separate news events from this summer, former Hawaii Five-O star Daniel Dae Kim is in talks to replace Ed Skrein in the Hellboy reboot. Kim, who is Korean-American, left CBS’ Hawaii Five-O back in July along with co-star Grace Park because the network wouldn’t pay them the same amount…

Frances McDormand takes on Woody Harrelson in new gabfest from the director of In Bruges

I’ve said it once (or many times) before but it bears repeating: Festival reactions cannot be trusted. Not completely, anyway. For as much as critics like to write with empirical authority, forming an opinion during the multi-day multi-movie binge of a Sundance or a Cannes or a TIFF is basically shooting from the hip.…

Rian Johnson gave Joseph Gordon-Levitt a cameo in Star Wars: The Last Jedi

For Star Wars: The Force Awakens, director J.J. Abrams pretty gave a cameo to every famous person who asked for one, going so far as to make his old Felicity buddy Greg Grunberg an ace X-Wing pilot with multiple lines and a surprisingly extensive backstory. It make sense, then, that Star Wars: The Last Jedi director…

See the changes Disney made to Lilo & Stitch after 9/11

The events of September 11, 2001 reverberated across every corner of the world. That included the film industry, which not only began pumping out darker, bleaker films in response to the times, but also began reconsidering what was appropriate in terms of entertainment. One of the films of the era affected most by the…

The tone poem Dayveon comes of age in rural Arkansas

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Voice-over in movies is so lame so often, even or especially when it’s supposed to function as an attention-grabber, that a genuinely distinctive voice-over track can produce an immediate and powerful reaction—exactly the kind of hook that the technique usually aspires to. Such is the case with Dayveon. Opening on a…

Weekend Box Office: It scores the biggest horror opening of all time

The House That Freddy Built is now counting its Pennywises, as It—co-produced by New Line Cinema, Brett Ratner’s Ratpac Entertainment, and Warner Bros.—easily shot to the top of the domestic box-office charts with a $123 million opening weekend. That’s a new record for a horror movie, more than doubling previous…

It’s Battle Of The Sexes vs. The Current War as historic feuds face off in Toronto

Our full-length review of Mother! (Grade: B+) will come later; suffice it to say that it’s the most irrational piece of filmmaking that Darren Aronofsky has produced since his black-and-white debut, Pi. So instead, I’ll start with the dumbest movie I’ve seen at TIFF so far, a nasty Z-grade exploitation flick by Ryûhei…

Fifty Shades Freed teaser has wedding vows and gunfights

Up until now, the Fifty Shades series has been about presenting people who seem to be “good” or “bad” and making them darker/lighter. The bad boy who has a sex room reveals himself to have a kind heart, and the good girl who seems naïve and innocent is totally cool with hanging out in a sex room. In this teaser for…

Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird soars into the upper echelons of coming-of-age cinema

Every time I watch Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha (at this point, the number has to have climbed into double digits), I become more convinced that it’s one of the great comedies of the 21st century, not to mention one of the great films, period, about postgraduate life. Suddenly, I’m now also convinced that calling it…

Toronto delivers a real B-movie about killing pets, not one of those retro self-aware throwbacks

It’s late on Friday, and as I hurry into the theater, I can see a man in a black tux and sneakers speaking before a film, though I only catch the last words of his introduction, spoken in an unmistakable Finnish accent: “…we are all animals.” This is all very film-fest-ish, and probably not a good sign. But the movie, …

Joseph Kahn’s smart-ass rap satire Bodied holds court at Midnight Madness

“Probably assume everything is a gun metaphor.” The opener to the Midnight Madness program at this year’s TIFF, Joseph Kahn’s Bodied (Grade: B) is loosely a battle-rap All About Eve, but it’s so thickly packed with technical and verbal dazzle that whatever biting point it might have had to make ends up completely…

Charlie Sheen blusters his way through a 9/11 to forget

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Several big-ticket Hollywood movies based on real-life tragedies have imagined what it would be like if a fictional romance-novel plot were taking place amid all the disaster. Befitting its smaller scope and enormous tedium, 9/11 imagines what it would be like if a bad Off-Off-Broadway play were taking place amid the…

At Toronto, two wildly different movies root for the little guy

The ironic constant of Aki Kaurismäki’s morality plays about glum, greasy-haired, sub-proletarian Finns is the theme of change and fresh starts that preoccupies their stoically quirky creator; even though The Other Side Of Hope (Grade: B-) is the first Kaurismäki movie to be made in Finland since 2006’s Lights In The…

Start Halloween early by becoming the freaky eye man from Pan's Labyrinth

The Pale Man, that eyeball-palmed goofball from 2006's Pan’s Labyrinth, may be a character meant to stand in for any number of cultural evils, but he’s also a great guy to dress up as if you want to stand out from all the sexy Steve Bannons and hot Scaramuccis sure to be haunting the streets this Halloween.

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