Looper (Rian Johnson) lets writer/director Johnson do for time travel movies what he did for film noir with Brick, taking the bones of a genre we know backwards and forwards - in this case, literally - and putting a fresh new skin around them. It's 2044, and dead-eyed Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) makes his living as a Looper, killing people sent back from 2074 by the future's criminals so they won't have bodies to hide. But when his future self (Bruce Willis) arrives and escapes assassination, Young Joe finds himself on the run from his employers, who are out to grab them both. It gets much more complicated than that when Young Joe meets a single mother (Emily Blunt) and her son (Pierce Gagnon), but Johnson keeps the pace fleet and the twists ingenious. This is first-rate head-fizzing entertainment, with exceptional performances all round. 118 min.
Rating: NNNN (NW)
Opens Sep 28 at 401 & Morningside, Beach Cinemas, Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Empire Theatres at Empress Walk, Grande - Steeles, Humber Cinema, Queensway, Rainbow Market Square, Rainbow Promenade, Rainbow Woodbine, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Yonge, SilverCity Yorkdale, Varsity. See here for times.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky) could have been pap; it's anything but. Novelist Chbosky adapts his 1999 young-adult tale about a teenager (Logan Lerman) just starting to come out of his shell after a traumatic experience, thanks mostly to the prodding of new school friends (Emma Watson, Ezra Miller). It's set in Pittsburgh about 20 years ago, and Chbosky gets the period absolutely right; not only are the clothes and fads rendered accurately, but the movie nails the sense of isolation and confusion that existed before the internet allowed us to answer any question in a heartbeat. Lerman's withdrawn, hesitant performance contrasts nicely with Watson and Miller's ebullience, and his scenes with Paul Rudd (as a sympathetic English teacher) are wonderful. 103 min.
Rating: NNNN (NW)
Opens Sep 28 at Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
Pitch Perfect (Jason Moore) is a delightful new comedy set in the world of college a cappella squads, finding the buoyant joy in talented young people filtering pop hits through upbeat arrangements and celebrating the invention that drives artists to screw around with existing works. Alt-minded Beca (Anna Kendrick) joins the Barden Bellas, who've covered the same power ballads for so long that even the judges have learned to tune them out. Naturally, Beca helps the Bellas to develop a new mashup style, pitting her against the traditionally minded leader (Anna Camp) even as the Bellas face off against slicker acts like the all-male Treble Makers, who've recruited Beca's would-be boyfriend (Skylar Astin). 30 Rock writer Kay Cannon has turned Mickey Rapkin's non-fiction book into a pop funhouse filled with great throwaway lines and seriously twisted running gags. You'll come out singing. 112 min.
Rating: NNNN (NW)
Opens Sep 28 at Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Queensway, SilverCity Mississauga, SilverCity Yonge, SilverCity Yorkdale, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
The Tempest: Encore Performance (Des McNuff) captures much of the heart of the director's stage version of Shakespeare's last play for the Stratford Festival. Maybe not surprisingly, what it loses is the magic of the theatre. Christopher Plummer rightly anchors the production verbally and emotionally as Prospero, the aged duke of Milan who, through his wizardry, has the chance to take revenge on those who banished him from his kingdom. Plummer shares the stage with a number of other strong performers, and the camera's close-ups reveal much that you can't see in the theatre unless you're in the front row. The opening storm is fully believable, not just because of the festival's stage machinery but also because of the rocking, dipping camera work. What doesn't work are the surprising moments of supernatural flight and the sudden disappearance and reappearance of characters who seem to have shot instantaneously from one side of the theatre to the other. 130 min.
Rating: NNNN (JK)
Opens Sep 27 at Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Grande - Yonge, Queensway, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Yonge. See here for times.
Won't Back Down (Daniel Barnz) exploits its do-gooder intentions to carelessly attack teachers' unions that protect bad apples and school boards more invested in bureaucracy than education. Maggie Gyllenhaal stars as an Erin Brockovich-like single mom who stands up against the rotten education her dyslexic daughter's been receiving. She enlists Viola Davis's idealistic teacher to take over their inner-city school (which oddly doesn't have that many black students). The film feels written by a committee that sticks to the textbook on inspirational movie clichés, calculating every scene to trigger tears or fist-pumping. The formula only works because inspirational actors guide it: Gyllenhaal's endearing, and Davis delivers another master class in acting, creating dimensions for her poorly written character with every facial twitch and agonizing breakdown. 121 min.
Rating: NNN (RS)
Opens Sep 28 at 401 & Morningside, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Grande - Steeles, Grande - Yonge, Interchange 30, Queensway, Rainbow Woodbine, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Yonge. See here for times.
Arbitrage (Nicholas Jarecki) feels not only out of touch, but totally clueless. It tells you that rich people can get away with things just because they're rich. After movies like Inside Job and Margin Call, this should not come as a surprise. Richard Gere plays a Manhattan super-capitalist who's about to close The Biggest Deal Of His Career with the help of a few teensy misstatements about his company's financial status. He's also lying to his wife (Susan Sarandon) and daughter (Brit Marling) about his solvency and keeping his mistress (Laetitia Casta) in the dark about some other stuff. The twist is that the movie presents him as its hero, instead of the shiftless, manipulative bastard he actually is. There's nothing wrong with a filmmaker liking his character and wanting to protect him, but even Oliver Stone figured out Gordon Gekko was an asshole. 100 min.
Rating: NN (NW)
Opens Sep 28 at Grande - Yonge, Queensway, Varsity. See here for times.
Hotel Transylvania (Genndy Tartakovsky) turns overlord of the night Dracula into an overprotective father - nightmarishly so. In present-day Transylvania, Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) throws a 118th birthday party for his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) at his monsters-only hotel. He's lied to her about the outside world to keep (you could argue entrap) her within the castle. When a backpacker (Andy Samberg) stumbles upon the hotel, he shakes things up by falling for Mavis. First-time director Tartakovsky sustains the manic energy with a rotating cast of ghoulishly cute creatures, generating some laughs. But Hotel feels creepy for the wrong reasons: essentially holding his daughter captive, Dracula isn't merely ancient but conservatively old-fashioned. 91 min.
Rating: NN (Kiva Reardon)
Opens Sep 28 at 401 & Morningside, Beach Cinemas, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Grande - Steeles, Grande - Yonge, Humber Cinema, Queensway, Rainbow Market Square, Rainbow Promenade, Rainbow Woodbine, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Mississauga, SilverCity Yonge, SilverCity Yorkdale, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
Vulgaria (Pang Ho-Cheung) stars Chapman To as a schlock Hong Kong film producer whose life is in a shambles. His ex-wife, a lawyer, wants to keep him from his young daughter, and he's giving in to all the ridiculous demands from his film's next investor, a Guangxi gangster (Ronald Cheng) who has a thing for strange food and bestiality. There are a couple of amusing scenes - one involving an erotic film star named Popping Candy, the other set in a gambling den. But the remainder of this self-indulgent, episodic and misogynistic pic will leave you scratching your head. A box office hit in Hong Kong, the humour won't translate to Western audiences. Subtitled. 92 min.
Rating: NN (GS)
Opens Sep 28 at Eglinton Town Centre, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
The Beatles - Magical Mystery Tour is a restoration of the little-seen psychedelic film featuring the Fab Four, with new interviews and footage.
Opens Oct 1 at Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
La Sylphide - Bolshoi Ballet Live is a broadcast of the romantic ballet about the love between a mortal and a magic sylph, from the famous Russian company.
Opens Sep 30 at Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Grande - Yonge, Queensway, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Yonge. See here for times.