Quick Reviews

Quick TIFF Reviews: Prisoners (Dir. Denis Villeneuve)

Stuart Henderson | Posted 11.11.2013 | Canada
Stuart Henderson

2013-08-12-blog_spotlight_on_tiff_v01.jpg This film, Denis Villeneuve's first in English, demonstrates a stirring talent on the rise. The tension, the anxiety, and even the damp cool of the late November air are delivered to us through a heap of well-chosen images, daring shot construction, and carefully-managed set design.

Quick TIFF Reviews: Night Moves (Dir. Kelly Reichardt)

Stuart Henderson | Posted 11.10.2013 | Canada
Stuart Henderson

2013-08-12-blog_spotlight_on_tiff_v01.jpg Kelly Reichardt has made her career on the fringes of the Hollywood system, making complex, austere films on tiny budgets, and building up a reputation for a singular vision. But, with Night Moves, a generic take on the moral questions associated with terrorism, Reichardt's vision feels blinkered.

Quick TIFF Reviews: Gravity (Dir. Alfonso Cuarón)

Stuart Henderson | Posted 11.10.2013 | Canada
Stuart Henderson

2013-08-12-blog_spotlight_on_tiff_v01.jpg A quick-paced, hard-charging adrenaline ride of a movie, Gravity takes us into the heart of an infinite darkness and then leads us home. As exciting as it is technically virtuosic, it invites us to reconsider the possibilities of the "popcorn movie." Thank god for that.

Quick TIFF Reviews: Enough Said (Dir. Nicole Holofcener)

Stuart Henderson | Posted 11.10.2013 | Canada
Stuart Henderson

2013-08-12-blog_spotlight_on_tiff_v01.jpg Despite the utter unlikelihood of the plotting, everything about Enough Said feels lived in and true. Sparkling, light and yet awash in thoughtful insight into the particular challenges of new love in middle age, this was easily my favourite comedy of the festival so far.

Quick TIFF Reviews: R100 (Dir. Hitoshi Matsumoto)

Stuart Henderson | Posted 11.10.2013 | Canada
Stuart Henderson

2013-08-12-blog_spotlight_on_tiff_v01.jpg Like some psychedelic mash-up of Eyes Wide Shut, The Trial and Naked Lunch, R100 is by turns disgusting, hilarious, and tedious. For the most part the audience must surrender to the demented flow of the thing in order to have any fun.

Quick TIFF Reviews: 12 Years a Slave (Dir. Steve McQueen)

Stuart Henderson | Posted 11.09.2013 | Canada
Stuart Henderson

2013-08-12-blog_spotlight_on_tiff_v01.jpg Between long, punishing shots of brutal whippings, lynchings, hangings, and rape, and the pervasive repugnance of the situation more generally, Steve McQueen has mounted the most affecting film about American slavery that has ever been made. But, does that in and of itself recommend it?

TIFF Reviews: Closed Curtain

Stuart Henderson | Posted 11.08.2013 | Canada
Stuart Henderson

2013-08-12-blog_spotlight_on_tiff_v01.jpg A middle-aged man arrives at a seaside cottage. He closes the doors, hangs heavy black curtains over all of the windows, and then opens a duffle bag to reveal a little brown mutt. Soon thereafter, we learn that in his (unnamed) Islamic Republic, dogs have been banned. This is just the start of a thrilling, complex journey directed by infamous Iranian filmmaker, Jafar Panahi. It may be the biggest film I saw at TIFF.

Quick TIFF Reviews: The Fifth Estate (Dir: Bill Condon)

Stuart Henderson | Posted 11.08.2013 | Canada
Stuart Henderson

2013-08-12-blog_spotlight_on_tiff_v01.jpg So much for all the buzz around The Fifth Estate, Bill Condon's frustratingly flat dramatization of the formation, triumphs, and sundering of WikiLeaks, the anarchist information-sharing website. Relying on tight close-ups and lengthy speeches, there is a distinctly made-for-TV feel to the proceedings which even great performances couldn't have overcome. But sadly, the biggest misstep falls on the shoulders of Benedict Cumberbatch.

Quick TIFF Reviews: Young and Beautiful (Dir: Francois Ozon)

Stuart Henderson | Posted 11.08.2013 | Canada
Stuart Henderson

2013-08-12-blog_spotlight_on_tiff_v01.jpg Francois Ozon is interested in sex, and Young and Beautiful doesn't let him stray far from his favourite subject. However, his latest film -- a year in the life of a teenage prostitute -- is empty where it should be haunting, and baffling where it should be enigmatic, leading to a confusing misfire from an otherwise thoughtful director.