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TIFF 2012: Five Capsule Reviews, including “Cloud Atlas”

September 15, 2012

By John C.

It’s hard to believe that we are already at the end of the 37th annual Toronto International Film Festival, but the last weekend of the eleven day fest is here and I’m back to share my thoughts on five more films from the last few days.

When the festival started, I published capsule reviews of Rust and Bone, Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story, Picture Day, End of Watch and My Awkward Sexual Adventure.  Last Sunday, I shared my thoughts on Hotel TransylvaniaFinding Nemo 3D, Silver Linings PlaybookThe Sessions and Greeting From Tim Buckley.  This past Wednesday came reviews of Thanks for Sharing, The Impossible, A Late Quartet, To the Wonder and Still.

To celebrate the final weekend, below are capsule reviews of much anticipated films like Argo and Cloud Atlas, the excellent documentary Love, Marilyn as well as my thoughts on Much Ado About Nothing and Mr. Pip.  The winner of the Blackberry People’s Choice Award will be announced early tomorrow afternoon and please come back on Monday for my final thoughts on the festival, including personal favourites.  As always, you can get more information on TIFF and purchase tickets right here.  If you haven’t already, there’s still one more day to find something to see at the festival.  Enjoy!

Argo:  Taking place in 1979, Argo is based on the true story of CIA agents Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) and Jack O’Donnell’s (Bryan Cranston) plan to rescue six Americans taking refuge at the home of the Canadian ambassador in Iran.  Their plan is to go in as a fake film crew pretending to shoot a science fiction movie, with the help of Hollywood big shots John Chambers (John Goodman) and Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin).  Ben Affleck’s third film as a director, Argo shares a fascinating true story, by making a version of the titular movie that was never actually made.  With excellent performances from the entire cast, the script by Chris Terrio is full of sharp dialogue and great attention is paid to the period details of the time.  Playing as a tribute to Hollywood with a very true story that could have easily been fiction, Argo is a tense and incredibly entertaining political thriller that is sure to be a crowdpleaser and deserves all of the attention it has received.

Friday, September 7th – 6:30 PM @ Roy Thomson Hall

Saturday, September 8th – 11:00 AM @ Visa Screening Room (Elgin)

Saturday, September 15th – 3:00 PM @ Visa Screening Room (Elgin)

Much Ado About Nothing:  Amidst the many months of post-production on his superhero triumph The Avengers, director Joss Whedon brought together a big group of his actor friends, including the charming Clark Gregg, to shoot a low budget version of William Shakespeare’s classic farce Much Ado About Nothing.  It was shot over twelve days at his private property.  Filmed in luscious black and white that further adds to the sometimes amusing juxtaposition of the original dialogue being delivered with cell phones and modern clothes, there are some nice directorial touches courtesy of Joss Whedon and a lot of the best moments come when things are seemingly played for self parody.  Although the film often feels more like an interesting experiment than an actual cinematic experience, Much Ado About Nothing is carried by the strength of the actors and their admirable ability to deliver the Shakespearian dialogue.

Saturday, September 8th – 2:30 PM @ Visa Screening Room (Elgin)

Sunday, September 9th – 12:30 PM @ Isabel Bader Theatre

Friday, September 14th – 11:00 AM @ Visa Screening Room (Elgin)

Cloud Atlas:  Many thought that David Mitchell’s 2004 novel Cloud Atlas would be unfilmable, but directors Andy and Lana Wachowski along with Tom Tykwer have proven them wrong with this epic adaptation.  With a top notch cast that includes Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving and Jim Sturgess among others, the film spans a thousand years as we watch the souls of the characters morph from heroes to villain and how one mistake or act of kindness ripples through generations.  The great cast of actors convincingly play multiple roles and the closing credits are sure to make you gasp as we realize just who played the many different characters with the help of stunning makeup.  At first we have to concentrate to see the connections between the stories, allowing the film to play almost like a mystery as it all brilliantly comes together and builds up to something deep and profoundly thought out.  A bold and ambitious piece of filmmaking, Cloud Atlas demands more than one viewing, asking the audience to pay attention but offering a hugely satisfying pay off in return.

Saturday, September 8th – 6:00 PM @ Princess of Wales

Sunday, September 9th – 11:30 AM @ Winter Garden Theatre

Saturday, September 15th – 11:00 AM @ Visa Screening Room (Elgin)

Mr. Pip:  The very kindhearted Mr. Watts (Hugh Laurie) is the only white man in the province of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea and is tasked with teaching the kids of the local village.  But his only teaching tool is an old copy of Charles Dickens’ great book Great Expectations, which becomes both the fascination and downfall of the village, when the young Matilda (Xzannjah) finds herself particularly transfixed by the novel.  Named for the lead in the classic novel, Mr. Pip provides some touching scenes as well as shocking bursts of implied violence as we watch the world of this village expand through the book.  The film ultimately feels a little too long with several plot points that seem rushed for those of us who haven’t read the source novel by Lloyd Jones, and it’s sometimes unclear what the message of the story is actually supposed to be, but Hugh Laurie is very good here and his performance warrants Mr. Pip a mild recommendation.

Sunday, September 9th – 3:30 PM Winter Garden Theatre

Monday, September 10th – 2:30 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox

Friday, September 14th – 2:45 PM @ Ryerson Theatre

Love, Marilyn:  There has been much speculation about Marilyn Monroe over the years, but Love, Marilyn could easily be remembered as one of the most quintessential films about her life.  Director Liz Garbus masterfully blends archival footage with numerous modern celebrities (including Elizabeth Banks, Viola Davis and even Lindsay Lohan) reading from beautifully written letters that Marilyn Monroe wrote during her career and were only recently discovered.  The documentary also shows us the relationship that she had with 20th Century Fox over the years, providing an insightful look at classic filmmaking.  This documentary would make a great double bill with last year’s excellent My Week with Marilyn, and is a must see for anyone interested in the life of the iconic actress.  Brilliantly edited and emotionally powerful, Love, Marilyn is a haunting look at the tortured soul behind the Hollywood icon.

Wednesday, September 12th – 9:30 PM @ Roy Thomson Hall

Thursday, September 13th – 12:00 PM @ The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

Sunday, September 16th – 9:00 AM @ The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

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