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#TIFF14 Reviews: The Theory of Everything, Whiplash and The Imitation Game

September 9, 2014

By John Corrado

#TIFF14 Poster

We have made it through the first weekend of TIFF, which means that now we can get to some of the films that have already played other festivals, including Sundance award winner Whiplash and Telluride standout The Imitation Game.  These are just two of the three movies that I’m profiling this time around.

The third one is The Theory of Everything, which had its world premiere on Sunday evening, immediately drawing Oscar buzz for the performances.  These were some of the most anticipated films going into the festival, and I’m happy to report that they don’t disappoint.

Now I normally don’t ask for autographs, but director Damien Chazelle and actors J. K. Simmons and Miles Teller stuck around to meet fans after this afternoon’s screening of Whiplash, and were nice enough to sign my ticket.  I also got pictures taken with both J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller, which was really cool.

I will be busy until the end of the festival with a bunch more movies still to be seen, so please come back tomorrow night for my thoughts on Out of Nature, Good Kill, Seymour: An Introduction and ’71.  Enjoy!

The Theory of Everything: Director James Marsh has assembled a beautifully filmed and very respectful biopic with The Theory of Everything, charting the life of renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) from his time as a student in 1963, to the publication of his groundbreaking bestseller A Brief History of Time.  The film is also primarily a love story between him and his first wife Jane (Felicity Jones), who helped him through his challenges with grace and quiet strength, as his life was changed by a heartbreaking diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease.  With a fine screenplay that offers some thoughtful ideas about science versus religion, The Theory of Everything is a poignant and also inspiring film that is elevated by the excellent cast.  Eddie Redmayne gives an outstanding performance that is matched by a stunning physical transformation, perfectly embodying both the striking intelligence and surprising humour of the man he is representing.

Sunday, September 7th – 6:00 PM @ Princess of Wales
Monday, September 8th – 3:00 PM @ Princess of Wales

Whiplash: After earning acclaim at both Sundance and Cannes, director Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash comes to TIFF with plenty of accolades already behind it, and emerges as one of the absolute best films at the festival.  Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) is a young jazz drummer who dreams of being one of the greats, even if it means enduring the shocking abuse dished out by his teacher Terrence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), who sees no problem with pushing his students over the edge in the name of success.  Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons delver two of the best performances of their respective careers, masterfully portraying the increasingly tense and volatile relationship between this abrasive teacher and his shy student.  With stunning camerawork and brilliant editing, this is a gripping drama that plays with the intensity of a thriller.  One of the best music films since All That Jazz in 1979, Whiplash is an energizing and emotionally powerful experience that reaches a stunning crescendo.  Wow.

Monday, September 8th – 3:15 PM @ Ryerson Theatre
Tuesday, September 9th – 12:15 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox Cinema 1

The Imitation Game: Benedict Cumberbatch delivers possibly the best work of his career so far in director Morten Tyldum’s handsomely produced biopic The Imitation Game.  At the height of World War II, British forces enlisted the help of mathematician Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) to help crack Enigma, a code being used by the Germans to send coordinates of their upcoming attacks.  Leading a group of intellectuals, including sole female Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley) who was the closest match to his own fierce intelligence, Alan Turing created a machine that helped them win the war.  From his walk to the way he clenches his hands, Benedict Cumberbatch gives a captivating performance that draws us into the mind of this brilliant but socially awkward man, who was tragically persecuted for his closeted homosexuality.  Although the final images are marked with sadness, The Imitation Game is also inspirational, celebrating his remarkable achievements.  This is an engaging, intelligently written and emotionally affective biopic, that comes alive thanks to the magnetic leading performance.

Tuesday, September 9th – 6:00 PM @ Princess of Wales
Wednesday, September 10th – 3:00 PM @ Princess of Wales
Thursday, September 11th – 10:00 PM @ Princess of Wales

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