The Imposter (Bart Layton) recreates the events that followed the disappearance of Texas teenager Nicholas Barclay, who vanished one night in 1993. Three years and four months later, his family was stunned to learn he'd resurfaced in Spain - speaking with a French accent. It's a bizarre, utterly fascinating story of faith, hope and deception, a documentary that takes the shifting perspectives and allegiances of Capturing The Friedmans and adds a level of stylization, mixing re-enactments with glimpses of archival video to keep us as unsteady as Barclay's family must have felt. It's a hell of a gamble, but it pays off brilliantly. I wouldn't dream of spoiling the story's various twists and turns, though obviously the title is a hint that you shouldn't take anything at face value. But Layton's structure is rooted in the sad truth that people in pain will believe almost anything if it leads them to the answer they desire, even if that means compounding one nightmare with another, as it did for the Barclays. And in Layton's compelling, seductive presentation, we can see exactly how it all happened. Some subtitles. 95 min. NNNNN (NW)
Opens Oct 12 at Varsity. See here for times.
Stories We Tell is a complex, fascinating inquiry into the nature of truth and memory and - and, inevitably, into Polley herself. Beginning as a remembrance of her mother, larger-than-life actor and casting agent Diane Polley (who died when Sarah was 11) but quickly revealing larger scope and a far more ambitious structure, Stories We Tell uses interviews with friends and family to create a sort of master narrative for the Polley family, with the marriage of Michael and Diane as its dramatic focus. But it gradually becomes clear that Sarah herself is the real subject, and it's thrilling to watch her use the documentary in her attempt to process the revelations that led her to make it in the first place. Given the themes that drove Away From Her and Take This Waltz, Stories We Tell seems like the movie Polley's been trying to make all along - a personally risky, stylistically assured engagement with persistent issues of family, loyalty, identity and cinema. And it works on every level. 108 min. NNNNN (NW)
Opens Oct 12 at Varsity. See here for times.
Argo (Ben Affleck) takes place at the height of the Iran hostage crisis of 1979-80, when CIA "exfiltration" expert Tony Mendez went to Tehran to rescue six American diplomats hiding out at the Canadian embassy, posing as a Canadian producer scouting locations for a non-existent Star Wars knock-off called Argo. Directing and starring as Mendez, Affleck spins the absurd true story into an engrossing espionage thriller that would be utterly ridiculous if the stakes weren't literally life-or-death. The characters are drawn crisply and without affectation, and I'd put money on his having done at least a couple of passes on Chris Terrio's script, which now sports the same mordant dialogue and fondness for dramatic contrast as Gone Baby Gone and The Town. Argo gets great mileage out of every scene in which the super-serious Washington players (among them Bryan Cranston, Zeljko Ivanek and Titus Welliver) bristle at the bullshit posturing of the Hollywood types (John Goodman, Alan Arkin) they've enlisted to give Mendez's project credibility. Some subtitles. 121 min. NNNN (NW)
Opens Oct 12 at 401 & Morningside, Beach Cinemas, Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Empire Theatres at Empress Walk, Grande - Steeles, Queensway, Rainbow Market Square, Rainbow Promenade, Rainbow Woodbine, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Yonge, SilverCity Yorkdale, Varsity. See here for times.
Keep the Lights On (Ira Sachs) is an uncompromising take on the tumultuous decade-long relationship between New York documentary filmmaker Erik (Thure Lindhardt) and literary lawyer Paul (Zachary Booth). After meeting on a phone-sex line - hey, it's 1998 - the two hook up, hit it off and soon become boyfriends. Then Paul's crack habit complicates things. It's a familiar story of love, lies and relapses, given added texture by the fact that it's loosely based on Sachs's own high-profile relationship with literary agent Bill Clegg. Making Erik a Danish émigré was a clever move, and Lindhardt's character, with his soft accent and fearful, sleep-deprived eyes, completely changes when he's with Paul. You can sense Erik's layers of pain when he wants to be with his lover even at the lowest point. The script, by Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias, takes a clear-eyed look at urban life, straight and gay, where friends, lovers and even colleagues are constantly negotiating how much they can live with and whether they should cut their losses and move on. 103 min. NNNN (GS)
Opens Oct 12 at TIFF Bell Lightbox. See here for times.
Herman's House (Angad Bhalla) is a well-meaning documentary that can't quite paper over the void at its core. Herman Wallace, a member of the Black Panthers, was in solitary confinement in Louisiana's Angola prison for 36 years after being convicted of killing a guard in 1972. He was moved to maximum security in 2008. In 2003, when New York artist Jackie Sumell asked Wallace what his dream house would look like, the result was a project dedicated to imagining and designing that space... along with a replica of the 6-by-9 cell in which Wallace actually passed his days. Necessity dictates that director Bhalla spends most of his time with Sumell, and as engaging a character as she is, the movie suffers from Wallace's absence; he's heard in a phone interview and glimpsed in a few old photos. We're supposed to feel that vacancy, of course, but Bhalla struggles with it more than he should. 81 min. NNN (NW)
Opens Oct 12 at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. See here for times.
Seven Psychopaths (Martin McDonagh) finds In Bruges writer/director McDonagh returning with this shaggy-dog comedy about a blocked Irish screenwriter (Colin Farrell) whose life becomes a raging sea when his best friend (Sam Rockwell) kidnaps the dog of an unhinged mobster (Woody Harrelson). The meta-trickery around which McDonagh builds the movie doesn't really pay off, so structurally Seven Psychopaths is kind of a mess. And casting Christopher Walken, so memorable in both True Romance and Pulp Fiction, doesn't do much to distance McDonagh from the "Tarantino-knock-off" cloud that shadowed In Bruges. But if you just enjoy it for what it is - an insubstantial but endearing goof on genre clichés, with knockout supporting turns by Walken, Harrelson and the always delightful Rockwell, it certainly has its moments. Some subtitles. 109 min. NNN (NW)
Opens Oct 12 at Canada Square, Carlton Cinema, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Grande - Yonge, Queensway, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Mississauga, SilverCity Yorkdale. See here for times.
Antiviral (Brandon Cronenberg) is set in a world so fame-crazed that people pay to be infected with celebrities' diseases. When a black marketeer (Caleb Landry Jones) injects himself with the blood of an ailing superstar (Sarah Gadon), he becomes a pawn in a very deadly game. Writer-director Cronenberg has said he's never seen any of his father, David's, movies, so apparently they're in his DNA. Antiviral is basically Videodrome with viruses instead of tumours, right down to the biomechanical hallucinations and the corporate war subtext. But this version's told so clinically, it might as well be hermetically sealed, and Jones's character is never more than a scowling, bug-eyed cipher. Gadon's great as a sheltered (and possibly genuinely innocent) superstar, but she's only in the film long enough to make us wish she'd stick around longer. 107 min. NN (NW)
Opens Oct 12 at Canada Square, Colossus, Eglinton Town Centre, Grande - Yonge, Queensway, Scotiabank Theatre, Varsity. See here for times.
Nobody Walks (Ry Russo-Young) explores the tensions that occur when a rising young artist (Juno's Olivia Thirlby) comes to stay with an older L.A. couple (Rosemarie De Witt, John Krasinski) - and quickly unbalances their marriage. She's not a bad person, just young and naive, which in Nobody Walks means "will dry-hump anyone who shows the slightest interest in her." And everything plays out exactly as you think it will. I can see why the actors were drawn to the project - there's so much emoting! - but Nobody Walks is one of those ensemble dramas that feels like it was a lot more interesting to work on than it is to watch. Some subtitles. 82 min. NN (NW)
Opens Oct 12 at TIFF Bell Lightbox. See here for times.
Sinister (Scott Derrickson) stars Ethan Hawke as a true crime writer who moves his adorable brood to a town where a gruesome murder took place. The kicker? The unsolved crime - the hanging of a whole family except for one child who remains missing - happened in their yard. That it takes his smart, capable wife (Juliet Rylance) a week to learn about this is just one boneheaded plot point. Another is the fact that Hawke's investigation into the deaths goes little beyond a trip to the attic, where he oh-so-conveniently finds home movies about this and other, possibly related, violent deaths. Sinister? More like stupid. Which is a shame, because the creepy stuff is eerily effective, and Hawke is believable as an obsessed writer. But without showing what motivates his character to study crime, and by staying within the claustrophobic confines of the house for most of the picture (no doubt a budgetary decision), the film misses opportunities to deliver real frights, not just head-scratches. 110 min. NN (GS)
Opens Oct 12 at 401 & Morningside, Carlton Cinema, Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Empire Theatres at Empress Walk, Grande - Steeles, Queensway, Rainbow Woodbine, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Yonge, SilverCity Yorkdale, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
Here Comes the Boom (Frank Coraci) is a half-assed comedy about a high school teacher who moonlights as an MMA fighter to raise money for his school. That means spending almost two hours watching Kevin James kick, punch, fall and repeat, looking for that moment to laugh. Far from being funny, this movie puts you in a chokehold while force-feeding you redundancy, lame gags and moments of faux inspiration. Unfortunately for this reviewer, there was no tapping out. James's layabout high school teacher had his educational mojo dry up long ago. Things change when he's motivated by an inspirational music teacher who's about to get fired unless money can be found, and apparently the only way to do that is to fight in the MMA. While the film talks about educating kids, it's bound to make audiences dumber. 105 min. N (RS)
Opens Oct 12 at 401 & Morningside, Carlton Cinema, Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Empire Theatres at Empress Walk, Grande - Steeles, Queensway, Rainbow Promenade, Rainbow Woodbine, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Mississauga, SilverCity Yonge, SilverCity Yorkdale, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
The Last Of The Haussmans - National Theatre Live is the broadcast of a new comedy by Stephen Beresford, about an anarchic but aging high society drop-out (Oscar nominee Julie Walters) who moves to the Devon coast with her family. 180 min.
Opens Oct 11 at Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Grande - Yonge, Queensway, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Yonge. See here for times.
Led Zeppelin: Celebration Day is a broadcast of the 2007 concert by the legendary band (their first headlining gig in 27 years) from London's O2 arena to honour their friend and Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun. 124 min.
Opens Oct 17 at Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Queensway, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Yonge, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
The Thieves (Choi Dong-hoon) is a Korean heist movie about trying to steal a $20 million diamond from a Macau casino. Screened after press time. 136 min.
Opens Oct 12 at Interchange 30. See here for times.