How to Survive a Plague (David France) chronicles the New York-based AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power's arduous nine-year struggle to have drugs produced and made available to treat an epidemic that began with a 100 per cent fatality rate. Director France draws upon an incredible wealth of archival material. From Act Up's formation in 1987, camcorders documented every development. And because Act Up's visibility increased so rapidly (putting a giant condom on Jesse Helms's house didn't hurt, and neither did scattering the ashes of those who died of AIDS on the White House lawn), there's plenty of TV footage. Immensely moving and historically important, the film offers a model of startlingly effective activism from which we still have much to learn. 107 min.
Rating: NNNN (José Teodoro)
Opens Nov 2 at TIFF Bell Lightbox. See here for times.
Midnight's Children (Deepa Mehta) takes a while to rev up, but this adaptation of Salman Rushdie's novel turns into an absorbing story with a strong emotional core. On the day of India's independence from the British, two babies - one wealthy, one poor - are swapped at birth, but their lives remain inextricably bound. The sweeping story is as much about India's and Pakistan's histories and civil wars as it is about the yearning for political power, wealth and love. Satya Bhabha is excellent as Saleem, the man born poor but brought up rich, and Seema Biswas shines (as usual) as the woman responsible for switching the babies. The extensive voice-over - delivered here by screenwriter Rushdie - works thanks to the sharp writing. Yes, the movie's long, but as he did with Mehta's Water, cinematographer Giles Nuttgens ensures you're always looking at something beautiful.Some subtitles. 148 min.
Rating: NNNN (SGC)
Opens Nov 2 at Grande - Yonge, Queensway, Varsity. See here for times.
We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists (Brian Knappenberger) is a nimble, multi-faceted look at the rise of leaderless global protest organizations in the last decade or so - bands of tech-savvy activists like Anonymous, WikiLeaks, and LulzSec. Enabled by the web's connectivity and (mostly) protected by its anonymity, the hacktivists are a fluid and effective force, though, as Knappenberger points out, their inevitably self-righteous world view means they keep splintering apart as some members seize upon a new cause. Knappenberger sees hacktivism as a general positive - restoring the net to a convulsing Egypt during the Arab Spring, for example - but also shows the personal cost of armchair action, as when a Nebraska man finds himself facing federal prison time for helping take down the Church of Scientology's website in 2008. This explains all those people in Guy Fawkes masks lining up in front of the organization's offices on Yonge Street. Some subtitles. 93 min.
Rating: NNNN (NW)
Opens Nov 2 at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. See here for times.
Wreck-It Ralph (Rich Moore) is basically a coin-op version of Shrek in which the eponymous video game heavy upends his comfortable but unfulfilling existence when he leaves his Donkey Kong knock-off to find out what it feels like to be a good guy. Director Moore has the same fondness for video games that Toy Story's John Lasseter has for kids' playsets. And John C. Reilly is perfectly cast as the ogre-like Ralph, forever being shown up by the plucky, endlessly optimistic Fix-It Felix Jr. (Jack McBrayer). The movie's structure is loose and lumpy, surging ahead when Ralph ventures into the hell of a Halo-style first-person shooter and dragging when he reaches a candyland racing game where he has to help a misfit girl (Sarah Silverman) become a princess. The slow pace lets Reilly and Silverman have some lovely scenes together, even as we're restless for the plot to pick up again. Once it does, though, Wreck-It Ralph is an awfully satisfying ride. 93 min.
Rating: NNN (NW)
Opens Nov 2 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.
Flight (Robert Zemeckis) is the director's first live-action film after a 12-year sojourn in the land of motion-capture animation. For good or ill, the man who made Forrest Gump and Cast Away hasn't missed a step; Flight is as visually accomplished as anything Zemeckis made in the 90s, and just as heavy-handed. Denzel Washington stars as a hard-drinking, harder-drugging commercial pilot whose intoxication doesn't stop him from landing a crippled plane with minimal casualties, but proves a massive problem in the investigation that follows the crash. Zemeckis uses Washington's snappish persona brilliantly - the actor's tics now seem like a desperate man's attempts to deflect and evade - but the drama is rendered thuddingly obvious through soundtrack choices that make sure we can't miss each new metaphor or plot point. 139 min.
Rating: NN (NW)
Opens Nov 2 at 401 & Morningside, Beach Cinemas, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Grande - Yonge, Queensway, Rainbow Market Square, Rainbow Woodbine, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Yonge, SilverCity Yorkdale, Varsity. See here for times.
Manborg (Steven Kostanski) is another 80s throwback, a genre that's become a groan-worthy cliché. In a post-apocalyptic future where hell has literally taken over the earth, a man turned cyborg (Matthew Kennedy) must battle demons led by Count Draculon. Director Kostanski (a makeup artist by trade) does a fine job emulating the music, claymation and Commodore-era computer graphics of VHS movies that boasted "computer graphics" instead of CG. The few decent gags, scattered between references to everything from Terminator to Mortal Kombat, might fill a fake trailer. 68 min.
Rating: NN (RS)
Opens Nov 2 at Royal. See here for times.
The Last Gladiators - Bare Knuckles Theatrical Tour (Alex Gibney) looks at the NHL's most feared enforcers and explores the career of Chris "Knuckles" Nilan, directed by Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Gibney. 90 min.
Opens Nov 5 at Colossus, Queensway, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
The Man With the Iron Fists (RZA) is a martial arts film about a blacksmith (director/co-writer RZA) who must defend his village against invaders, with Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu. No press screening - see review November 5 at nowtoronto.com/movies. 96 min.
Opens Nov 2 at 401 & Morningside, Carlton Cinema, Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Empire Theatres at Empress Walk, Grande - Steeles, Interchange 30, Queensway, Rainbow Market Square, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Yonge, SilverCity Yorkdale, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
My Uncle Rafael (Marc Fusco) is a comedy about a TV producer who convinces his Armenian uncle to star in a reality show. 102 min.
Opens Nov 2 at Grande - Yonge. See here for times.
NT Live: Timon of Athens is a live broadcast from London's National Theatre of Shakespeare's moral drama, starring Simon Russell Beale in the title role. 180 min.
Opens Nov 1 at Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Grande - Yonge, Queensway, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Yonge. See here for times.