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TIFF 2013: Third Batch of Capsule Reviews

September 9, 2013

By John Corrado

The Hashtag AddictWe have just gotten through the crazy busy first weekend of the Toronto International Film Festival, and there are already several films that I have a feeling are going to be talked about for a while.  When the festival opened on Thursday, I shared my thoughts on Parkland, Devil’s Knot, Don Jon, The Dick Knost Show and When Jews Were Funny.  This past Saturday, I published reviews of Tim’s Vermeer, 12 Years a Slave and Enough Said.

Below are my thoughts on four more films that I’ve had the privilege to see, arranged in order of when they first played at the festival.  Read on to find out which one of them gets called a masterpiece, and come back for my next set of capsule reviews this Saturday.  As always, you can get more information on all of the films playing at TIFF and purchase single tickets right here.  Enjoy!

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom:  Following Nelson Mandela (Idris Elba) from the protests he staged against the colour barriers of apartheid in South Africa, to his conviction and eventual release from prison which led to a successful political career, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is a thorough biopic of an inspiring man.  We are also shown his relationship with Winnie Mandela (Naomie Harris), and her own struggles for equality in the divided nation.  Although the film runs a little long at a lengthy 152 minutes and certain beats of the narrative feel rushed, the intentions of director Justin Chadwick are admirable and the reality of the story allows for some compelling scenes.  A strong performance from Idris Elba dominates this timely biopic, which ends on an inspirational note.  For those interested in the life of this admirable political figure, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom provides a good overview of his career and prominent achievements.

Saturday, September 7th – 6:00 PM @ Roy Thomson Hall

Sunday, September 8th – 12:00 PM @ Princess of Wales

Friday, September 13th – 5:30 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

Gravity:  After a storm of debris destroys their shuttle, Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and astronaut Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) are stranded in the middle of space, with supplies dwindling and hope slowly slipping away into the vast darkness.  I could write any number of superlatives about the intensely personal Gravity, and the film would deserve every one of them.  Sandra Bullock delivers a stunning performance as a woman without much to live for who finds herself struggling to survive, and George Clooney compliments her with an excellent supporting role.  Directed by the visionary Alfonso Cuarón, the camera floats freely around the characters, adding a jaw dropping feeling of weightlessness to the continuous long shots that make up the film.  At 91 minutes, Gravity is a tightly wound experience that holds us in suspense right up until the unforgettable final scene, a profoundly emotional moment that closes the film on a perfect note.  This is a groundbreaking, breathtaking and deeply moving masterpiece that won’t soon be forgotten.

Sunday, September 8th – 6:30 PM @ Princess of Wales

Monday, September 9th – 3:00 PM @ Princess of Wales

Wednesday, September 11th – 9:00 PM @ Scotiabank Theatre

Sunday, September 15th – 12:00 PM @ Ryerson Theatre

Rush:  The rivalry between drivers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) that braced the 1976 Formula One season is brought to the screen in the captivatingly mature Rush, one of the best movies of the year.  Their jealous rivalry is fascinating to watch both on and off the track, leading up to some genuinely emotional scenes between the two interesting characters.  Chris Hemsworth delivers some of the best work of his career, and Daniel Brühl is excellent in a memorable role that deserves serious awards recognition.  The racing scenes are shot in a riveting way, delivering constant suspense regardless of whether or not you know the outcome of the true story.  Director Ron Howard is at the top of his game with Rush, delivering compelling entertainment with gripping racing scenes and excellent acting from Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl.

Sunday, September 8th – 9:30 PM @ Roy Thomson Hall

Monday, September 9th – 12:00 PM @ Ryerson Theatre

McCanick:  Eugene McCanick (David Morse) is a tough cop just trying to get through his birthday, when he gets the news that Simon Weeks (Cory Monteith) has been released from prison, a street kid who he put away for murder seven years before.  Determined to track him down, with his vengeance driven by a personal vendetta, we see the events of the day unfold alongside flashbacks of what actually happened in the past.  As the story starts out with multiple cliches, the fractured narrative is sometimes needlessly confusing and doesn’t hold up well to close scrutiny, leading up to some ludicrous plot twists that don’t do the fine actors any favours.  But director Josh C. Waller does allow a fair bit of tension to build up throughout McCanick, thanks to the good performances from David Morse and Cory Monteith, who completed the film before his tragic death in July.

Monday, September 9th – 7:15 PM @ Scotiabank Theatre

Tuesday, September 10th – 10:15 PM @ Isabel Bader Theatre

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