Guns Akimbo Review

“You like this?!” asks Daniel Radcliffe’s Miles to a covert camera live streaming his misfortunate adventures as he fights for his life. It’s a breaking point for him as a character in Guns Akimbo, and he launches into quite the screed about the cowardice of the viewers who cheer on imperiling people from behind the remove of their screen but could never face a similar situation in their own lives. In a smarter movie, Miles might also be addressing us, the audience, with his impassioned rant. After all, haven’t we, too, been watching his plight voyeuristically and getting a kick out of his misery?

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best of TIFF 2019

Another Toronto International Film Festival is drawing to a close, and what a wonderful year it was. This was my fourth year attending the festival, and I have to say, there wasn’t a single movie I saw this year that I outright disliked. There were titles I loved more than others, but out of the many movies I caught at the fest, I’d honestly say all are worth seeing. Below, I’ve put together a best of TIFF 2019 round-up to highlight some specific films you’re not going to want to miss whenever they find their way to theaters.

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pain and glory review

Filmmakers – especially those who auteurs who shape the story of their respective films – often draw on personal experiences. It’s a time-honored tradition, with Federico Fellini’s 8 ½ being perhaps the most famous, respectable example. Pedro Almodovar‘s Pain and Glory is yet another prime instance, and there are times when watching the film that one wonders if it’s all too personal – turning the audience into true voyeurs, peering into the furthest recesses of another person’s heart and soul. In many ways, this is Almodovar’s most “normal” movie, but it’s also one of his best, a lovely, tender work of art that finds beauty in personal pain.

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uncut gems review

The Safdie Brothers love to make movies about down-and-out folks making one terrible choice after another. These movies are endurance tests of a sort – narratives that ask: “How long can you put up with what the main character is putting up with?” Uncut Gems, the latest descent into poor choices from the filmmakers, pushes the situation to the limit, setting Adam Sandler on a journey from one terrible idea to the next. On one hand, it’s a treat to watch Sandler break out of his endless stream of bargain-basement Netflix comedies to try something like this. On the other hand, by the time the journey ends, you might want to watch one of those terrible comedies just to cleanse your palate.

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dolemite is my name review

As the saying goes, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Eddie Murphy was never really “gone” in the literal sense, but the once megastar comedian had a serious drop-off, quality-wise, over the years. It got to the point where a new Eddie Murphy movie was so rare as to be non-existent. Every now and then, the actor would appear in something heralded as his “comeback” – see his wonderful supporting turn in Dreamgirls. But nothing truly clicked. Now, things might be about to change for the better. Because Murphy is front and center in the laugh-out-loud crowd-pleaser Dolemite Is My Name, and it’s an absolute joy to have him back.

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ford v ferrari review

Ford v Ferrari is an old-school Hollywood drama – the type that is in short supply these days. It has movie stars! It has an uplifting, all-American message! It has timely needle-drops that make you perk-up and say, “Hey, I love that song!” We need more movies like this, especially these days – when multiplexes are overrun with franchises and superheroes. But that doesn’t excuse how dull long stretches of James Mangold‘s racing pic are. Whenever the film hits the track, it’s exciting as hell. But as soon as the cars are parked, all the life runs out of this thing like gas from a leaking tank.

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synchronic review

Note: it is nearly impossible to talk about this film without giving away some small spoilers, so be warned. 

Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, the filmmakers behind ResolutionSpring, and The Endless, have assembled a unique, familiar series of films that all deal with the same theme: time. The persistence of it, the lack of understanding of it, and the potential ability to control it. They’re so focused on the subject that you might call it an obsession at this point. The duo’s latest, Synchronic, takes that obsession to a whole new level. It’s their biggest, most ambitious movie yet.

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joker review

“He’s a lonely forgotten man desperate to prove that he’s alive.” That’s the tagline of Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, but it might as well serve as a rallying cry for Todd Phillips‘s Joker, a violent, nihilistic horror film masquerading as both a character drama and a comic book movie. Realizing that it’s next to impossible to get a studio-backed character piece greenlit, Phillips has decided to use the Joker as a gateway drug, giving him a chance to more or less remake Taxi Driver for a whole new generation of moviegoers – the ones who’ve grown up on a steady diet of superhero movies. Joaquin Phoenix‘s Arthur Fleck is that lonely forgotten man – a mentally unstable loser just aching for acceptance. He says he wants to be a standup comedian, but what he really wants is attention. And he’s willing to kill to get it.

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color out of space interview

After crafting cult genre curiosities like Hardware and Dust Devil, South African filmmaker Richard Stanley was presented with the opportunity to break into Hollywood productions with a big adaptation of The Island of Dr. Moreau starring Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer. But things didn’t turn out as planned, and Stanely found himself fired by the production – a saga chronicled in the documentary Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau. Stanley then stepped away from feature film directing for over 20 years.

Now, Stanley makes his return with Color Out of Space, a big, weird adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s tale of terror The Colour Out of Space. The project finds Stanley working with Nicolas Cage and Joely Richardson, and the three were on hand at the Toronto International Film Festival where the film had its world premiere. Stanley, Cage, and Richardson spoke with /Film about what makes this particular Lovecraft adaptation so special.

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marriage story review

It begins with kindness. Through a series of charming montages, we watch – and listen – as married couple Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) list off the things they love about each other – the types of quirks, in-jokes, and eccentricities that two people who have lived together for some time grow so familiar with over time. The type of personality traits that might seem baffling or even annoying to outsiders, but can be utterly lovely when they’re performed by someone you’ve given your heart and soul to. It’s a sweet, romantic start – and it’s something of a huge fake-out. Because despite their laundry list of compliments for one another, Charlie and Nicole’s marriage is over, and we’re about to watch things get ugly.

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