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TIFF 2013: Second Batch of Capsule Reviews

September 7, 2013

By John Corrado

The Arbiter of TasteThe 38th edition of TIFF is in full swing, as we are right in the middle of the always hectic first weekend.  Although the weather was less than desirable earlier today and I got completely soaked standing in line, the movies were thankfully worth waiting for.

When the festival opened this past Thursday, I published reviews of Parkland, Devil’s Knot, Don Jon, The Dick Knost Show and When Jews Were Funny.  Below are my thoughts on three strikingly different but very worthwhile films that I was able to see over the last few days, arranged in order of when they first premiered at the festival.  My next set of capsule reviews will be coming on Monday.  You can get more information on all of the films playing at TIFF and purchase single tickets right here.  Enjoy!

Tim’s Vermeer:  The experience of watching art come alive is magical in Tim’s Vermeer, an enchanting and entertaining documentary from Penn & Teller.  After being introduced to the subject through a book, inventor Tim Jenieson became obsessed with proving the controversial theory that the paintings of Johannes Vermeer were created with the help of real images projected through a series of lenses, rather than from the artist’s own imagination.  His journey involves creating an accurate version of the room that the Dutch master would have used during the 17th century, and attempting to create his own version of the famous painting The Music Lesson.  I wouldn’t think of spoiling the results, which are astonishing to watch unfold as questions of how we define what constitutes art are frequently brought to the forefront.  The magician duo is the perfect pair to bring the subject of Tim’s Vermeer to the big screen, delivering a triumphant documentary that fascinates and plays well with a crowd.

Thursday, September 5th – 6:30 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

Friday, September 6th – 1:30 PM @ Scotiabank Theatre

12 Years a Slave:  Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a free man living with his family in New York, when he gets abducted and sold into slavery in the years before the Civil War.  Struggling to survive as he is faced with cruelty at the hands of plantation worker John Tibeats (Paul Dano) and abusive slave owner Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender), he also encounters unexpected kindness from a Canadian abolitionist named Bass (Brad Pitt).  Based on a true story, the incredibly talented director Steve McQueen does an excellent job of viscerally recreating this often brutal time in American history with 12 Years a Slave, which received multiple standing ovations.  Chiwetel Ejiofor is deeply affecting as he plays off the excellent ensemble cast, and the strong performances of this powerful drama are matched by striking cinematography, with certain shots reminiscent of Terrence Malick.  Expect the conversation around 12 Years a Slave to continue throughout awards season.

Friday, September 6th – 6:00 PM @ Princess of Wales

Saturday, September 7th – 11:30 AM @ Ryerson Theatre

Saturday, September 14th – 9:00 PM @ Visa Screening Room (Elgin)

Enough Said:  The divorced Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and the charming Albert (James Gandolfini) first met at a party.  The two find themselves falling for each other, but then she learns that her new friend Marianne (Catherine Keener) is actually his ex-wife, and she struggles to keep their relationship going as she constantly hears why his first marriage broke up.  Director Nicole Holofcenar has a gift for writing observational comedy mixed in with equally affecting quieter moments between the characters, and Enough Said is a fine showcase for her talents, including an amusingly awkward first date.  The cast does a good job making the screenplay feel natural as the late James Gandolfini lights up the screen in one of his final roles, providing a bittersweet quality to many of his scenes.  This is an enjoyable and nicely written romantic comedy, that is particularly worth seeing for another wonderful performance from James Gandolfini.

Saturday, September 7th – 2:30 PM @ Visa Screening Room (Elgin)

Sunday, September 8th – 10:00 AM @ Isabel Bader Theatre

Sunday, September 15th – 9:00 PM TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

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