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#TIFF14 Reviews: Out of Nature, Good Kill, Seymour: An Introduction and ’71

September 10, 2014

By John Corrado

#TIFF14 Poster

Ethan Hawke gives a solid performance in Good Kill, and does impressive work behind the camera on the documentary Seymour: An Introduction, both of which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival this week.  They are also two of the four movies that I’m profiling today.

Ethan Hawke and Seymour Bernstein came on stage after this evening’s premiere of Seymour: An Introduction for an inspiring conversation with documentary programmer Thom Powers, which was definitely another highlight of the festival.  They touched on how their shared nervousness and anxiety around performing is very much a part of talent and success, and how every artist should pursue their passion throughout every aspect of their life.

The two also talked about how they immediately felt a connection as both “creators and recreators.”  They explained how they are creators through their respective writing and composing, but that they become recreators when bringing to life characters that other people have written or through performing classical compositions.

Although we are already past the halfway point of the festival, I’m looking forward to the films that I have scheduled over the next several days, so please come back tomorrow evening for my reviews of Love & Mercy, Infinitely Polar Bear and The Guest.  Enjoy!

Out of Nature: Fed up with his boring office job and quiet family life, Martin (Ole Giaever) takes a weekend to himself, hiking through the Norwegian wilderness often with only his thoughts to keep him company.  Ole Giaever also directs Out of Nature, telling a quiet and contemplative minimalistic story, that is mostly narrated through the inner dialogue of the main character.  Although relatively plotless and sometimes mundane, this is a uniquely told and always beautifully filmed study of isolation and loneliness, that comes alive through Ole Giaever’s good leading performance.

Saturday, September 6th – 7:45 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox Cinema 2
Tuesday, September 9th – 11:30 AM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox Cinema 4
Saturday, September 13th – 6:00 PM @ Scotiabank Theatre

Good Kill: Thomas Egan (Ethan Hawke) is an Air Force officer who now works as a drone pilot, locked in a bunker all day in the middle of the Nevada desert, firing unmanned missiles at people in Afghanistan, before going home to his wife (January Jones) and kids.  But he can only manage living this privileged suburban life for so long, before the trauma and guilt of his work catch up with him and take their toll on his personal life.  Director Andrew Niccol stages some suspenseful and exciting sequences in the control room, forcing the characters to confront the shaky morals of their actions, as the screenplay draws strong comparisons between video games and real life violence.  But unfortunately the domestic scenes aren’t equally gripping, with the subplot involving his increasingly estranged wife often veering into melodrama, especially at the end.  Thankfully Ethan Hawke sells the role every step of the way, turning in a compelling and nuanced performance that makes Good Kill worth seeing.

Tuesday, September 9th – 9:00 PM @ Ryerson Theatre
Wednesday, September 10th – 3:00 PM @ Ryerson Theatre

Seymour: An Introduction: After questioning the meaning behind his own art, Ethan Hawke met musician Seymour Bernstein several years ago at a crucial moment in his acting career, inspiring him to direct his first documentary Seymour: An Introduction.  An acclaimed classical pianist in New York who gave up performing publicly fifty years ago to focus on becoming a piano teacher and composer, Seymour Bernstein makes for a warm and wise subject who serves as our collective mentor throughout the film.  A deeply personal project for Ethan Hawke, who shows a deft hand behind the camera, Seymour: An Introduction is a very inspiring and often philosophical conversation piece about our desire to create art, and how music is our universal language.

Wednesday, September 10th – 7:00 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox Cinema 2
Thursday, September 11th – 4:45 PM @ Isabel Bader Theatre
Saturday, September 13th – 9:30 AM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox Cinema 2

’71: The set up for director Yann Demange’s ’71 is deceptively simple, giving way to a politically charged story wrought with tested morals.  The year is 1971, and after his troop is deployed to a small town in Belfast right on the border of the Protestant and Catholic conflicts, young soldier Gary Hook (Jack O’Connell) gets lost in the increasingly violent riots and has to find a way to survive the night.  The shaky camerawork is at times nauseating, but works to viscerally throw us right into the disorienting violence and conflict.  With solid leading work from Jack O’Connell, ’71 is a pretty good thriller that often effectively mixes quiet character drama and intensely gritty action.

Wednesday, September 10th – 7:00 PM @ Princess of Wales
Thursday, September 11th – 3:00 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox Cinema 1

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