Evil Dead (Fede Alvarez) honours the mission statement of Sam Raimi's gruesome original: to provide the ultimate experience in gruelling horror. The film chronicles the awful things that befall a quintet of young people who make the mistake of opening the Necronomicon Ex Mortis (roughly translated, "Book Of The Dead") at a remote cottage. This time, our victims have a bit more baggage, having assembled to help Mia (Jane Levy) kick a heroin habit - which cleverly allows them to dismiss her freaked-out warnings of something awful lurking in the woods. You'd think it'd be difficult to make an effective cabin-in-the-woods splatter movie just a year after The Cabin In The Woods supposedly put paid to that whole genre. But Alvarez establishes a tone of uncomfortable intensity and twists the sickening tension through one bravura effects sequence after another. And the ending is, well, splatteriffic. 90 min.
Rating: NNNN (NW)
Opens Apr 5 at 401 & Morningside, Carlton Cinema, Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Grande - Steeles, Grande - Yonge, Queensway, Rainbow Market Square, Rainbow Promenade, Rainbow Woodbine, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Yonge, SilverCity Yorkdale. See here for times.
Love, Marilyn (Liz Garbus) is loosely based on the recent discovery of two boxes of Monroe's journal entries, letters and poems, published in the 2010 book Fragments. Director Garbus hits the usual points in the star's life and career, padding the high-end A&E-style bio with readings from the journals - and documents by other well-known figures (Capote, Steinem, Mailer) - by a who's who of the acting world. This conceit is gimmicky at times, but there's some great archival footage - including sessions in New York's famed Actor's Studio - and candid new interviews with Monroe's close friends, like Amy Greene. Some of the writings reveal a woman who was more complex than her public persona would suggest. Most affecting is Marisa Tomei's heart-stopping reading of a prescient passage where the star considers jumping off a bridge, then changes her mind because she finds all bridges beautiful. And of course Monroe's enduring magic comes through in every clip and photo. 107 min.
Rating: NNN (GS)
Opens Apr 5 at TIFF Bell Lightbox. See here for times.
A Place at the Table (Kristi Jacobson, Lori Silverbush) explores the gross discrepancies between the well fed and the barely fed in what is ostensibly the world's wealthiest nation. Incorporating astute, occasionally famous talking heads and sympathetic yet finally anecdotal case studies, co-directors Jacobson and Silverbush make it abundantly clear that U.S. agricultural policies indulge in corporate welfare at the expense of public health. But these appalling revelations are presented in a staid, informative manner. There seems to be a resistance to naming names, to pointing fingers at obvious culprits. The cumulative effect is one of facts over friction, as dull and nourishing as a plate of overcooked, unseasoned veggies, making this journeyman-like effort simultaneously a must-see and not much of a movie 84 min.
Rating: NNN (Jose Teodoro)
Opens Apr 5 at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. See here for times.
The Sapphires (Wayne Blair) is Australia's bid to remake The Commitments - and U.S. distributor Harvey Weinstein's bid for a sprightly audience-friendly art house hit. Based on the true story of a quartet of Aboriginal cousins who entertained U.S. troops in Vietnam as a soul act, it's Good Morning, Vietnam with actual singing instead of a DJ making jokes and spinning records. Which isn't to say that this calculated button-pusher isn't entertaining, or that Chris O'Dowd doesn't give a fine performance as the floundering expat who becomes the girls' manager and strikes romantic sparks with their most driven member (Deborah Mailman). But it's all very predictable, and the attempts to parallel Australian racial issues with America's civil rights upheaval are particularly tin-eared. 99 min.
Rating: NNN (NW)
Opens Apr 5 at Varsity. See here for times.
Hit ‘n Strum (Kirk Caouette) is hard to account for. Did writer/director Caouette snap awake from some boring dream, muttering, "I have to tell this super-banal story"? It wastes little time setting up its heavy-handed premise. While distractedly driving to work in her luxury sedan, Stephanie (Michelle Harrison) runs over Mike (Caouette), a homeless busker, kicking off a give-and-take in which Mike gets some free lunches and Stephanie learns how true and beautiful the world is via her contact with a hard-strummin' outsider. Though homelessness is a real problem in Vancouver, Caouette seem to regard the dispossessed as bohemian vagabonds. It'd almost be offensive if weren't so miserably naive. 91 min.
Rating: N (JS)
Opens Apr 5 at Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
Jurassic Park: An IMAX 3D Experience (Steven Spielberg) is a 3D re-release of Spielberg's sci-fi thriller blockbuster about cloned dinosaurs. Screened after press time - see review April 5 at nowtoronto.com/movies. 127 min.
Opens Apr 5 at 401 & Morningside, Beach Cinemas, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Grande - Steeles, Grande - Yonge, Queensway, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Mississauga, SilverCity Yonge, SilverCity Yorkdale. See here for times.
The Metropolitan Opera: Rigoletto Encore is a high def performance from the Met of Michael Mayer's new production of the tragic Verdi opera, set in Las Vegas in the 1960s. 211 min.
Opens Apr 6 at Beach Cinemas, Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Eglinton Town Centre, Grande - Yonge, Queensway, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Yonge. See here for times.