JJ Abrams Star Wars

Sometimes the ripple effects of a big decision made in a Hollywood studio can be felt all over town. Case in point: when it was announced that writer/director/producer J.J. Abrams would be swooping back over to Disney and Lucasfilm to take over for the ousted Colin Trevorrow on Star Wars: Episode 9, that meant he was leaving his “home” studio of Paramount Pictures high and dry – and right at the point when they desperately need a hit.

According to a new report, the studio isn’t exactly thrilled that Disney poached one of their prized possessions, especially since this is the second time this has happened to them in the past few years. Hit the jump to find out about the JJ Abrams Star Wars Paramount situation.
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the shape of water red band trailer

Another Toronto International Film Festival has been resigned to the dust, and it is time for us to look back on it and remember all the great (and not so great) films we witnessed there.

Truth be told, this year’s fest was slightly less exciting than last – the films were good, and some were even fantastic, but overall they did not pack as much of a punch as I’d been hoping. Still, it’s hard to deny the thrill one gets from attending TIFF; day after day, you spend hours upon hours watching films with audiences who are genuinely excited to be there, unlike seeing a film at your local multiplex, where the crowd could care less. If you’re covering TIFF as press, you rise at dawn, make your way down to the Scotiabank Theatre and spend almost the entire day there. It can be exhausting and draining, but it’s also wonderful.

For the sake of completion, I’ve compiled links to all the /Film reviews (written by me and Marshall Shaffer) out of this year’s TIFF, as well as a blurb or two for films that did not receive a full review. Here is every movie we saw at TIFF 2017.

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What mother is really about

Leave it to Darren Aronofsky to lob a cinematic concussion grenade right in the middle of September. The writer/director’s latest film, mother!, is layer upon layer of allegory and metaphor, a movie that almost demands a long conversation afterwards to process what you’ve just seen. It’s earned a rare “F” Cinemascore, and Paramount even had to issue a statement defending their decision to release the film (read that here), which is a move that strikes me as crazier than anything that happens in the actual movie.

Aronofsky and his star Jennifer Lawrence have spoken about how they intended the movie to be about Mother Nature, and in a new interview, the filmmaker answers more questions about what mother! is really about. But do his intentions matter any more?
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mother! early reviews

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Darren Aronofsky’s mother!)

Darren Aronofsky’s talents extend beyond his gripping filmmaking, inspiring intense debate among those who watch the finished product. His latest film, mother!, is starting to inspire the loudest debate of all: those who have seen the film (whether or not they’ve walked out before it ended) are fiercely divided among those who love it and those who helped give it a CinemaScore of F this past weekend. Technically, a lot happens in mother!, but there’s not exactly a plot or character arcs on display (neither of which, of course, are necessary). The film does bear similarities to many of Aronofsky’s previous films, from Black Swan to Noah, but it’s still very singular. What else could you call a movie where a massive group of people devour a newborn baby?

Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself. To attempt to answer the question at the core of mother! — to wit, what the hell is this about? — it’s worth exploring the multiple allegories that present themselves throughout.

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mother spoilers

[This post contains SPOILERS about the new Darren Aronofsky movie mother! For a look at the film without major spoilers, please read Chris Evangelista’s review from the Toronto International Film Festival. mother! is in theaters today.]

A poet and his wife live in a peaceful, idyllic home, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. While the woman is happy, the man begins welcoming strangers into their home and sharing his belongings, until the cost to his wife becomes unspeakably high.

This is the plot of Darren Aronofsky’s mother! which can be interpreted in many ways, but seems most obviously to be an allegory about the creation of the world, as told in the Christian Bible. I found the movie to be provocative, bold, and original, even as its basic conceit began to wear on me during the course of its two-hour runtime. This is a movie that will polarize people and cause some to walk out of theaters.

It’s also unlike most things we’ll see in at the mulitplex this year and for that, I’m grateful (it is absolutely insane that Paramount, a major studio, is releasing this). Here are five things I found to be the most interesting about the film.
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Downsizing Trailer

After playing the Venice Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival this month, Alexander Payne‘s latest film Downsizing has debuted a full theatrical trailer, giving us a glimpse at the director’s first sci-fi film as only he can deliver.

Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig star in the film as a couple who decide to abandon their lives in the normal-sized world in the innovative and planet-saving “downsized” community of Leisureland, New Mexico, a society created in the future to deal with overpopulation of the world. Watch the first Downsizing trailer below to see what this new movie looks like. Read More »

mother!

Note: There are some minor spoilers here, because it’s almost impossible to talk about this movie without spoiling something.

Don’t you hate it when noisome houseguests won’t take a hint? In mother!, the latest film from Darren Aronofsky, the prospect of unwanted company becomes immensely sinister and leads to much more chaotic results.

Aronofsky is a filmmaker who gravitates towards stories about the destructive side of obsession, and here he takes that theme to the extreme and then takes it even further. But the twist here is that the story isn’t being told from the point of view of the obsessive, destructive individual, but rather from someone in his orbit.

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Suburbicon Review

It’s not often that one film attempts so many different things and manages to make none of them work, but gosh darn it, Suburbicon somehow makes such blundering seem easy. Director George Clooney packs a whole lot of ideas into his tale of the underbelly of 1950s suburbia, but they’re really bad, lazy ideas, which is a shame because Suburbicon has quite the pedigree.

The biggest problem with Suburbicon is that it’s really two different movies cobbled together. One movie is a dark, farcical Coen Brothers-style crime movie. Which makes sense, since the Coens have a writing credit on the film. But then there’s the other movie, one that deals with racism and white supremacy. This is an element of the film that absolutely none of the advertising even hints at, which is kind of strange.

You really shouldn’t hold a movie’s advertising against it, but the trailers for Suburbicon make it look like a wacky dark comedy about a family man in the 50s fighting back against his tormentors. That’s not even close to what this movie is about, and the fact that the trailers tried to sell it as that hints at a movie that folks don’t know how to sell.
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Suburbicon Trailer - Matt Damon

This fall brings a reteaming of filmmaking duo Joel & Ethan Coen and superstar George Clooney, but not in the capacity that we’re used to see them collaborate. Instead, Suburbicon sees the Coen brothers only writing the script, and George Clooney is directing without starring in the movie himself, which is something he’s never done before. Now a new Suburbicon trailer has arrived online featuring some praise following the film’s debut at the Venice Film Festival this past week. Read More »

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mother clip

Early buzz for Darren Aronofsky‘s horror thriller mother! has been largely positive since its Venice Film Festival debut earlier this week, even if many of the responses include a variation on “WTF?” along with their praise. Paramount has released some truly unsettling trailers for the Jennifer Lawrence/Javier Bardem vehicle so far, and now they’re at it again with a couple of new mother! clips that add to the movie’s turmoil bubbling just below the surface. Warning: there’s a small plot reveal lurking late in one of these, so if you’d rather go into this film relatively cold, it’s probably best to skip them altogether.
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