Marley (Kevin Macdonald) can be compared to a massive joint - and not just because there's an obscene amount of ganja onscreen. Share it with a group while grooving to its tunes and everyone will come away with a different kind of high. Hardcore Bob Marley fans will be astonished by the documentary's depth and breadth, capturing the musician as both a fallible man and an untouchable legend. Those who only know a few Marley tunes will walk away enlightened about his music and its roots. Macdonald details Marley's life from childhood as the rejected son of a British naval officer to reggae icon whose lyrics are cited by every flannel-shirt wearing hippie. The film never lags despite its epic running time, entirely justified by its subject's complexity and influence. After all, Marley's not the kind of guy you can take in with just a few tokes. 145 min.
Rating: NNNN (RS)
Opens May 18 at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. See here for times.
The Corridor (Evan Kelly) is a moody Nova Scotia thriller about five friends who encounter inexplicable phenomena at a remote cabin. Director Kelly says he wasn't influenced by Stephen King, but it certainly feels like screenwriter Josh MacDonald thumbed through old copies of Dreamcatcher and The Tommyknockers. Or maybe there are only so many ways to handle the whole cabin-in-the-woods thing. This variation makes a point of constructing credible psychological motivations for most of its characters before all the weirdness starts. The weirdness itself is a little disappointing - when the horror stuff kicks in, it feels like someone's thrown a switch somewhere rather than a natural progression of the story - but at least we care about the people involved. 98 min.
Rating: NNN (NW)
Opens May 18 at Projection Booth. See here for times.
Turn Me On, Dammit! (Jannicke Jacobsen) follows sex-obsessed 15-year-old Alma, who fantasizes about everyone in her life and ends up as gossip fodder for her small Norwegian town after her school crush literally pokes her with his penis and denies it. It's classic 80s sex comedy, yet the filmmakers never revel in shock gags, instead crafting a mature and thoughtful story with humour derived from loving nostalgia. Alma's obsession is hardly unnatural. The director's gently comedic exploration of how particularly difficult that experience can be for a teenage girl is sweet and insightful. A delightful dirty gem the appeals to the secret pervert inside us all. Subtitled. 76 min.
Rating: NNN (Phil Brown)
Opens May 18 at TIFF Bell Lightbox. See here for times.
Bernie (Richard Linklater) is half true-crime documentary and half dramatic feature, recreating the story of Bernie Tiede (pronounced "tee-dee"), a beloved mortician in Carthage, East Texas, who did something very, very bad. Conceptually, it's involving for the first half-hour or so, with Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey as fictional versions of the characters, but director Linklater's structure means he's constantly stopping and starting, backing his film up over itself to act out the anecdote that's just been related to us. It probably sounded great in the pitch room, but as a movie, it's on the redundant side. 104 min.
Rating: NN (NW)
Opens May 18 at Varsity. See here for times.
The Samaritan (David Weaver) stars Samuel L. Jackson as Foley, a grifter just out of prison after a 25-year stretch. Naturally, he finds it harder than expected to stay out of trouble, especially once his dead partner's son (Luke Kirby) looks him up with an offer of a big score. Foley finds something like contentment in the arms of a junkie (Ruth Negga), but we can tell their happiness will be short-lived by the way the script rushes them into cozy domesticity. And then... well, things get really, really silly, as director Weaver and co-writer Elan Mastai twist The Samaritan in several different directions before settling for a professional but generic pulp thriller. It's nicely shot, and there are moments when Weaver gets the modern noir tone exactly right - like the scenes with Gil Bellows as a sympathetic bartender or Tom McCamus as a weary parole officer - but then he drags us back to the larger plot, where things seem a lot harder to believe. 93 min.
Rating: NN (NW)
Opens May 18 at Grande - Yonge, Interchange 30, SilverCity Mississauga, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
Virginia (Dustin Lance Black) is the ambitious but disappointing feature debut of Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk). In a small Christian tourist town, unhinged single mom Virginia (Jennifer Connelly) continues a fetish-based affair for years with Sheriff Tipton (Ed Harris). Tipton has political ambitions, and the affair could get in the way. In the meantime, her son's falling in love with Tipton's daughter, who may be his sister, and, oh yeah, Virginia has lung cancer. The acting is fine, the film looks decent, and Black's themes - he's also the screenwriter - are potentially very rich. But it's hard to care about any of the characters. The film's a mess. 116 min.
Rating: NN (SGC)
Opens May 18 at Carlton Cinema. See here for times.
What to Expect When You're Expecting (Kirk Jones) offers vignettes about the bumps on the road that a woman with a baby bump might encounter. The five couples' nine-month journeys to parenthood are so chopped up that the people become less fleshed-out characters than types. Still, some stories ring surprisingly true, particularly Cameron Diaz's control-freak and Elizabeth Banks's on-point depiction of a pregnancy from hell. The filmmakers neuter the emotional wreckage of a miscarriage with the standard pop-song-montage treatment, clearly trying to move on to the upbeat stuff as quickly as possible. That's the biggest problem with What To Expect. For all the wisdom it may impart, the film would rather resort to immature humour for kicks. Many of these gags are so forcibly contrived that the movie seems like it's going through labour to deliver them. 110 min.
Rating: NN (RS)
Opens May 18 at 401 & Morningside, Beach Cinemas, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Grande - Steeles, Grande - Yonge, Kennedy Commons 20, Queensway, Rainbow Market Square, Rainbow Promenade, Rainbow Woodbine, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Mississauga, SilverCity Yonge, SilverCity Yorkdale, Varsity, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
Barrymore (Érik Canuel) is a high-def broadcast of William Luce's play about the legendary actor John Barrymore, starring Canada's Christopher Plummer in the lead. 143 min.
Opens May 23 at Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Grande - Yonge, Queensway, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Yonge, Varsity. See here for times.
Battleship (Peter Berg) is a movie based on the popular game and, judging from the trailers, seems to involve explosions, international intrigue and an alien invasion. Liam Neeson, Alexander Skarsgård, Rihanna and Taylor Kitsch star. Screened after press time - see review May 18 at nowtoronto.com/movies. 131 min.
Opens May 18 at 401 & Morningside, Beach Cinemas, Carlton Cinema, Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Docks Lakeview Drive-In, 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. See here for times.
The Metropolitan Opera: Gotterdammerung Encore is a broadcast in high-def of the final opera in Wagner's Ring Cycle, directed by Canadian Robert Lepage. 385 min.
Opens May 19 at Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Grande - Yonge, Queensway, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Yonge. See here for times.
The Metropolitan Opera: Siegfried Encore is a high-def broadcast of the third opera in Wagner's Ring Cycle, directed by Canada's Robert Lepage. 360 min.
Opens May 17 at Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Grande - Yonge, Queensway, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Yonge. See here for times.