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Box-Office: ‘No Good Deed’ Goes Unpunished At #1, ‘Guardians’ Is The First Film To Cross $300 Million At Home

4 hours ago

“Critics don’t matter,” the refrain often goes, but the truth of the matter is it's a little bit more complicated than that. Audiences use critics selectively as guides. So when a critical consensus says Michael Bay’s latest “Transformers” isn’t worth seeing, well audiences tend to go regardless. But sharp drop off attendance suggests audiences were at least aware of the narrative.. And then there’s of course the times when critics tell you a movie is incredible, perhaps “Guardians Of The Galaxy,” “Boyhood” or “Dawn of The Planet Of The Apes” and audiences come out in droves. Perhaps they were going to attend regardless, but where it really matters is those films that audiences are feeling pretty unsure about already. They might read their favorite sites, see mixed reviews and then decide to stay home. This year’s poor box-office, the worst in a decade or more, »

- Rodrigo Perez

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Tiff Review: Benoît Jacquot's 'Three Hearts' Starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Chiara Mastroianni & Catherine Deneuve

7 hours ago

The word "melodrama" tends to be used a pejorative these days, and that's because there are few movies or TV shows that execute the specifics of the genre well. When it works, an accomplished melodrama allows the audience to fully invest in the emotional lives of its characters, even if the plot machinations are manipulative or don't hold up under close scrutiny. It's a genre powered by performance and atmosphere, and it requires committed work by the actors, an assured hand on tone by the director and a script that can allow suspension of disbelief to stretch but not break. And while it's not perfect, and though at times you can see rigging of the structure, Benoît Jacquot's "Three Hearts" is an imperfect but still satisfying melodrama about love at first sight, the cruelty of fate and passion that never fades. The film kicks with a "Before Sunrise" like prologue. »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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'The Imitation Game' Wins Tiff People's Choice Award; Watch 40-Minute Press Conference For The Film

10 hours ago

Ten day of movies (and movies and movies and movies) are now over, with the Toronto International Film Festival closing things off today with its annual awards brunch. And as always, it's the People's Choice Award that can see the Oscar fortunes of a movie start glowing, and set a path for the months to come. And this year, Tiff ticket buyers voted with their ticket stubs for "The Imitation Game" (read our review) for the big prize. While this is obviously a big win for The Weinstein Company, who spent seven million dollars snapping up the rights early this year, it'll be interesting to see how this shapes the conversation in the Toronto versus Telluride "premiere" battle. While the Benedict Cumberbatch starring film got its World Premiere in Colorado, the win here will undoubtedly be the lede in any Oscar talk. So does it really matter that it screened elsewhere first? »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Tiff Review: ‘Elephant Song' Starring Xavier Dolan, Bruce Greenwood & Catherine Keener

13 September 2014 3:25 PM, PDT

Directing and releasing five films across the last four years, with the three of them premiering at Cannes, and another at Venice, you might understand why Xavier Dolan might not have time to return phone calls. And give the limited stateside distribution of his films, it might also be easy to forget that in addition to writing and directing, Dolan is also a pretty good actor, having appeared in three of his features (“I Killed My Mother,” “Heartbeats” and “Tom At The Farm”). He’s a charismatic and playful screen presence, and when Charles Binamé called with a role in his two-hander “Elephant Song,” Dolan’s attraction to the part seems obvious. It’s a scenery-chewing, spotlight ready role, and he nimbly makes the most of it. Unfortunately, the film around Dolan’s performance is as static and restrained, as he is energetic and loose. Based on the play by award-winning playwright Nicolas Billon, »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Review: 'No Good Deed' Starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson

13 September 2014 2:50 PM, PDT

At some point earlier this week Screen Gems, the low-budget genre arm of Sony Pictures, sent out an email saying that press screenings for their upcoming home invasion thriller "No Good Deed" had been shuttered because the twist ending was so seismic that they didn't want members of the press seeing it early and then spilling the beans. (There had been a handful of screenings in anticipation of junket interviews; presumably these same journalists were not reviewing.) According to this official statement, the studio wasn't hiding the movie because it was lousy, they were concealing it in an effort to preserve its shock value. Of course, this was utter hogwash. Not only did the "twist" they had been endlessly hyping come across as a limp afterthought, but also the movie itself is a gruelingly unpleasant slog. "No Good Deed" deserves to be punished. At the beginning of "No Good Deed, »

- Drew Taylor

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Tiff Review: Hal Hartley's 'Ned Rifle' Starring Liam Aiken, Aubrey Plaza, Martin Donovan, Parker Posey & More

13 September 2014 11:37 AM, PDT

By this point, you're either a Hal Hartley devotee, or you're not. The fiercely independent filmmaker established his unique voice on films like "Trust," "Flirt," and "The Unbelievable Truth," and forged an offbeat indie genre unto himself (though it’s never been in vogue). And for most of his career, Hartley’s stayed far away from the studio system (2001's underrated "No Such Thing" being an exception). In 1997, the filmmaker arguably reached the peak of his critical acclaim with "Henry Fool," walking away from the Cannes Film Festival with a Best Screenplay award. It was perhaps the sharpest, most hilarious representation of the filmmaker's distinctly offbeat aesthetics—his deadpan tone, the arch theatrically heightened mise en scene—and he wasn't done with those characters and that world. Nine years later he returned with the sequel "Fay Grim," a far less successful effort (though one that's actually underrated). And eight »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Tiff Review: ‘X + Y’ Starring Asa Butterfield, Rafe Spall & Sally Hawkins

13 September 2014 6:36 AM, PDT

There’s something impossibly charming about Morgan Matthews’ “ X+Y,” his debut as a fictional feature-length narrative director. Much like the film’s core message and encompassing theme, this charm doesn’t come with an equation that leads to an easy solution, which only amplifies our satisfaction that much more. We do know, however, where the charm doesn’t come from; James Graham’s screenplay, full of simplistic formulas designed to turn on the waterworks and dip the picture in sweet, sentimental, syrup until it begins to slightly shrivel up from all the glop. With the scales of sappiness too unbalanced, “X+Y” is prevented from entering the higher echelons of family dramas explored from a child’s perspective. It’s no “About A Boy” or “Hugo,” but it still manages to rise well above the likes of “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”and defy expectations. Math prodigy Nathan (Edward Baker-Close) is a special boy. »

- Nikola Grozdanovic

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Tiff Review: Chris Evans' Directorial Debut 'Before We Go' Co-Starring Alice Eve

13 September 2014 6:05 AM, PDT

The plight of the actor-turned-director is an unpredictable one. The desire to tell your own story, direct and write or star in it (or sometimes take on all of those roles) is a attractive lure, and can turn out very well. But as Ryan Gosling learned at Cannes earlier this year with "Lost River," ambition, if not matched by execution, can come at a steep critical cost. So credit to Chris Evans for keeping his goals modest with his directorial debut "Before We Go," but unfortunately he can't clear the low bar he sets for himself with this strained romantic drama that struggles desperately to be engaging, charming or relatable. Things kick off with a pretty decent meet cute: in a rush to grab the last train to Boston from Grand Central Station, Brooke (Alice Eve) drops and breaks her cell in front of busking jazz musician Nick (Chris Evans »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Ang Lee Circles Iraq War Satire 'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk'

12 September 2014 2:44 PM, PDT

We're coming up on two years since Ang Lee swept away audiences and critics with this 3D adaptation the best-selling "Life Of Pi." He walked away with a Best Director Oscar for his efforts, and has fallen in love with the three-dimensional format, with his next picture supposed to be a 3D take on the Thrilla in Manila, the legendary match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. But apparently, that project might be on hold as the budget is worked out, potentially giving Lee time to sneak in a smaller movie first. And thus, The Wrap reports that the filmmaker is the frontrunner to direct the Iraq War satire, "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk." Written by Ben Fountain, the National Book Award Finalist was adapted by Simon Beaufoy ("Slumdog Millionaire," "127 Hours") and apparently has the stuff awards season trophies are made of. Here's a brief Amazon synopsis: A razor-sharp »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Watch: Spike Jonze Directed Video For Karen O's "Ooo" Starring Elle Fanning

12 September 2014 2:18 PM, PDT

Well, here's a little treat to take you into the weekend. With Karen O writing the soundtrack for Spike Jonze's "Where The Wild Things Are," and collaborating with the filmmaker on the sweet and small "The Moon Song" for "Her," the director has turned around and given her a small gift in the form a music video. Shot off-the-cuff at the New York Metropolitan Opera House during rehearsals for the play Jonze is doing for the Opening Ceremony for Fashion Week, the filmmaker put the camera on Elle Fanning and captured this footage during a ten minute break. The song, "Ooo" from Karen O's solo record Crush Songs, is heard in the background as Fanning dances her way to the main stage. It's light, playful stuff and works quite nicely. Check it out below. »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Interview: ‘Honeymoon’ Director Leigh Janiak Talks Relationships, Whippets & Michael Haneke As Horror Inspiration

12 September 2014 1:51 PM, PDT

With her feature debut, “Honeymoon," co-writer/director Leigh Janiak uncovers a unique corner of a location that passed cliché years ago, and places two characters in the center who draw your empathy rather than mock it. It’s in the performances—Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway as a newlywed couple—and Janiak’s approach, a quietly disturbing, subjective look at a bizarre event that divides the pair on their weekend cabin retreat. That emotional subjectivity is what elevates the film (co-written with Phil Graziadei) from its horror counterparts, focusing in on, as our B+ review from SXSW states, “how much of your own identity you have to give up when you are in a long-term relationship.” When we talked to Janiak recently in Los Angeles, she explained how staying rooted in Treadaway’s Pov shaped the film. “It becomes a very different movie if you're inside the person who's decaying and changing, »

- Charlie Schmidlin

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Tiff Review: ‘Boychoir’ Starring Dustin Hoffman, Kathy Bates, Debra Winger & Josh Lucas

12 September 2014 1:29 PM, PDT

Screenwriter Ben Ripley has followed up his time-traveling thriller “Source Code” in a most unpredictable way. From an adrenaline-fueled terrorist atmosphere to the private confines of a boy’s choir school, Ripley’s rather plainly titled “Boychoir” bursts with harmony and euphoric melody thanks to a group of supernaturally talented boys. Unfortunately, Ripley’s talents for thrills don’t transition well into a coming-of-age story, unadventurous direction by François Girard provides no support, and the film’s voice is broken before it hits any soulful heights. Garrett Wareing plays Stet, a troubled junior whose attitude towards schoolwork and schoolmates is augmented by scorn and violent outbursts. Since he’s one of the brighter kids in his choir class, however, Stet follows the endless list of protagonists whose mischievous behavior is partly caused by being surrounded by inferiority. He comes home to a barely conscious, neglectful, boozing mother and proceeds to dump. »

- Nikola Grozdanovic

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TV News: Mark Wahlberg Brings 'Shooter' To TNT, Bret Easton Ellis & James van der Beek Team For 'Post Empire' & More

12 September 2014 12:55 PM, PDT

As the producer of "In Treatment," "Boardwalk Empire" and "Entourage," Mark Wahlberg knows what it takes to be successful on the small screen. And now, he's taking one of his own movies and developing it for a brand new series. His forgotten about 2007 action thriller "Shooter," directed by Antoine Fuqua, is now being turned into an episodic drama for TNT. No word yet on the plot details, but we presume they won't be too far off from the movie about a U.S. Marine Scout sniper who gets framed up for murder and has to go on the run. [Deadline] The unlikely trio of James van der Beek, Bret Easton Ellis and Roger Avary are back together. They upended the "Dawson's Creek" star's image with the 2002 effort "The Rules Of Attraction," and now they're headed together to the U.K. for "Post Empire." The dark comedy will follow "an American Bernie Madoff type in the U. »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Tiff Review: Chilean Mistaken Identity Psychological Thriller ‘I Am Not Lorena’

12 September 2014 12:07 PM, PDT

“In a digital age…” Love in a digital age. Dating in a digital age. Sex in a digital age. You are going to see a lot of movies about exploring [X] in a digital age. But if we’re not careful, films about the Internet, social media and modern technology are going to come across as surface and obvious. (See Jason Reitman’s latest misfire “Men, Women & Children," or the indie “The Heart Machine,” which is actually quite decent little movie thanks to its cast, but says very little about relationships in the digital age beyond what you already know: the Internet, apps, etc. complicate life.) So in this film, centered around the sinister corners of the modern information age, identity is slippery and malleable, but not self-made. An identity thriller with would-be Kafkaesque overtones that are often too slight and even turgid, Chilean film "I Am Not Lorena" takes some interesting ideas about identity, »

- Rodrigo Perez

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Rooney Mara & Dane DeHaan Team For 1920s Musical 'Ziggy'

12 September 2014 11:17 AM, PDT

It seems we're in a mini-musical renaissance of sorts. "God Help The Girl" premiered at Sundance and opened recently, "Begin Again" rolled into theaters this summer, Anna Kendrick belted it out in "The Last Five Years" (review here) at Tiff and this holiday season "Annie" will do it blockbuster style. And now another project is on the horizon with two rising young stars looking prove their singing chops. Rooney Mara and Dane DeHaan will lead "Ziggy," in what sounds like a "The Great Gatsby"-esque production. Indeed, Diesel Schwarze—apparently a protegé of Baz Luhrmann—is writing and directing the 1920s set musical about a hunchback (DeHaan) who falls in love with a media mogul (Mara) who is engaged to someone else. What? Anyway, like Luhrmann's F. Scott Fitzgerald adaptation, this movie will eschew music from the era, with producer/musician/Grammy nominee Alex Da Kid (Rihanna, Imagine Dragons and Nicki Minaj are. »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Tiff: Trailer And 2 Clips For Feel Good Family Film 'Paper Planes' Starring Sam Worthington

12 September 2014 10:46 AM, PDT

He might not have made major headlines, but Sam Worthington has been in a handful of movies playing the Toronto International Film Festival this year. He antagonized Brit Marling in "The Keeping Room" (review here), comforted Jennifer Aniston in "Cake" (review here) and now helps a kid fly (metaphorically) in the family film "Paper Planes." Directed by Robert Connolly ("Underground: The Julian Assange Story"), the film tells the sweet story of an eleven year-old kid who works to get into the National Paper Plane Championships. All the familiar family movie markers are here, from the chubby sidekick to the shitty mean kid, and this is clearly made for a specific demographic and will probably do the job its supposed to (no surprise, this is screening in the Tiff Kids section of the program). No U.S. distro for this one yet, but the film has its final public screening at »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Watch: First Trailer For ‘Effie Gray’ Starring Dakota Fanning, Emma Thompson, Tom Sturridge & Greg Wise

12 September 2014 10:05 AM, PDT

Yes, it was delayed, but don’t say damaged goods quite yet. The period drama “Effie Gray” was completed 18 months ago, but the movie got bogged down in legal disputes, with two separate writers (Eve Pomerance and Gregory Murphy, who both wrote plays and existing screenplays on the subject) claiming the film leans too liberally on their existing works. With those disputes resolved in the late summer, “Effie Gray” is finally moving forward. The movie centers on love triangle and Victorian-age scandal between an art critic (Greg Wise), his wife (Dakota Fanning) and Pre-Raphaelite artist John Everett Millais (Tom Sturridge). The cast also includes Emma Thompson, David Suchet, Robbie Coltrane and Julie Walters. Directed by Richard Laxton (who helmed the "Burton and Taylor" TV movie, but fortunately not the one starring Lindsay Lohan), no exact U.S. date has been set yet (though ScreenDaily recently said November), but "Effie Gray” opens in U. »

- Edward Davis

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Watch: Shailene Woodley Gets Nsfw In 2 Clips From 'White Bird In A Blizzard' Plus New Pics

12 September 2014 9:44 AM, PDT

Shailene Woodley can afford to take risks. The actress first earned attention in Alexander Payne's "The Descendants," kept the buzz going with a tender turn in "The Spectacular Now" and proved she could sell tickets at the box office with the double whammy of "Divergent" and "The Fault In Our Stars" this year. So yes, the actress has been afforded some flexibility in her career choices, and coming up next is Gregg Araki's "White Bird In A Blizzard." The drama co-stars Eva Green, Shiloh Fernandez, Gabourey Sidibe, Christopher Meloni and more, and follows a seventeen year-old girl whose life starts spinning out of control when her mother disappears. It's a dream-like movie (read our review), heavy on style and atmosphere, but also comes with a sharp, distinct tone. And you can see them in these two clips, which find Woodley and Green going head-to-head. "White Bird In A Blizzard »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Watch: 3 Clips For Aussie Horror 'The Babadook'

12 September 2014 9:17 AM, PDT

We’re still weeks away from the spooky month of October, but that shouldn’t stop us from taking a peek—from behind our hands, of course—at the scary Sundance hit “The Babadook.” If last month’s trailer wasn’t enough to get the heart pumping, some new clips and poster will get you checking under your bed tonight. Directed by Jennifer Kent, the Kickstarted film stars Essie Davis (Baz Luhrmann’s “Australia”) and Noah Wiseman as a mother and son who are tormented by the Babadook, a terrifying creature from a children’s book found in their home. We caught the film back in Sundance—read our B+ review here—and were very impressed, calling the film “a smart, respectful horror that puts character and emotional issues first, yet never at the cost of a delightful and haunting fright.” It’s a welcome respite from the deluge of »

- Cain Rodriguez

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Tiff Review: 'Big Game' Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Ray Stevenson, Jim Broadbent And More

12 September 2014 9:00 AM, PDT

Early on in "Big Game," someone is spectacularly blown up by a surface-to-air missile. It's a key moment, with Jalmari Helander's ("Rare Exports") exceedingly dumb film seemingly taking the position that for the next (barely) ninety minutes it's going to be a knowingly insipid and campy genre throwback. Unfortunately, that's only the case in fits and starts. Blending a variety of tropes—from Spielberg-ian coming-of-age films, to lunkheaded shoot-me-ups of the '80s and '90s, to the ridiculous loglines of the Cannon Films catalog—"Big Game" attempts to both replicate those styles while also sending them up, but doesn't have assured grasp on tone to make it work. The film—which surprisingly managed to get a decent cast for this kind of thing—finds Samuel L. Jackson playing the unpopular President of the United States, William Moore. His poll numbers are tanking, and he's earned the resentment of »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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