The Calling (Jason Stone) is an intriguing, idiosyncratic take on the chilly police procedural. A nicely spiky Susan Sarandon plays a detective investigating a creepy murder in rural Fort Dundas, Ontario. Before long, she and her modest staff - including a new transfer from Toronto (Topher Grace, who's quietly terrific) - are convinced they're chasing a serial killer. Producer/screenwriter Scott Abramovitch, adapting a novel by Inger Ash Wolfe, is more interested in the characters than the situation, and director Stone fills his movie with a fantastic, engaged cast that also includes Ellen Burstyn (as Sarandon's mother), Gil Bellows, Kristin Booth and Donald Sutherland, not one of whom is just cashing a cheque. It's remarkable what a little care and attention can do for a genre picture. 108 min.
Rating: NNNN (NW)
Opens Aug 29 at Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
Life of Crime (Daniel Schechter) follows a pair of small-time Michigan crooks (John Hawkes, Yasiin Bey) who kidnap the wife (Jennifer Aniston) of a local developer (Tim Robbins) while he's off visiting his mistress (Isla Fisher), only to find their mark isn't particularly interested in getting her back. Complications develop, as does a curious connection between the hostage and one of her captors. Adapting Elmore Leonard's novel The Switch, writer/director Schechter gives the actors the room to deliver those lovely crisp speeches and poke-poke-poke insults the author uses to build tension on the page. The pacing of the picture itself is strangely slack, but Aniston and Hawkes are a pleasure to watch together and the soundtrack is great, even if it owes a little too much to Jackie Brown and Out Of Sight. 99 min.
Rating: NNN (NW)
Opens Aug 29 at Carlton Cinema. See here for times.
The Congress (Ari Folman) is exactly the movie director Folman wanted to make, but I can't imagine it's one anybody else will enjoy. Adapted from a story by Stanislaw Lem, it opens in the present day with Robin Wright playing a version of herself who's been struggling to find decent work and is now considering selling the rights to her likeness to a movie studio so she can "star" in computer-generated movies. But then the action leaps 20 years into the future - Wright appears at a meeting of the world's corporate leaders where attendees must inhale a chemical causing them to hallucinate that they're in a cartoon world - and The Congress explodes into animated anarchy, abandoning its themes of identity and personal agency as a square-jawed hero voiced by Jon Hamm drags the ‘toon Wright through a series of chases and shootouts. Once we're locked into that reality, Folman (Waltz With Bashir) plunges into a spectacular mess of competing ideas, vintage cartoon imagery and sci-fi pap, complete with a dystopian coda that makes things even messier. 123 min.
Rating: NN (NW)
Opens Aug 29 at Varsity. See here for times.
Lawrence & Holloman (Matthew Kowalchuk) is a handsome if not entirely successful adaptation of Morris Panych's absurdist play about the changes in fortune between a slick, deliriously happy Vancouver salesman (Ben Cotton) and an ineffectual, geeky clerk (Daniel Arnold). It's basically a take on the Book Of Job story, an examination of how people remain optimistic in the face of tragedy. Director Kowalchuk's script, co-written with star Arnold, plays with some ideas and then abruptly drops them. The drawn-out denouement is entirely unnecessary, since we've seen one character's fiendish behaviour already. But the two actors are lively, the film looks great, and some memorable moments rely on surprise special effects. 89 min.
Rating: NN (GS)
Opens Aug 29 at Royal. See here for times.
Swearnet (Warren P. Sonoda) stars the Trailer Park Boys actors as themselves. They're launching a web series that predictably involves profanity, dangling male genitalia and consumption of illegal substances, in a desperate attempt for laughs that never come. The filth of the series remains, but without likeable characters or even the suggestion of emotion, it all feels empty. Oddly, the cast member who doesn't embarrass himself is Tom Green, who can pull off meta-comedy with ease. 112 min.
Rating: N (Phil Brown)
Opens Aug 29 at 401 & Morningside, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Eglinton Town Centre, Queensway, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Yonge, SilverCity Yorkdale. See here for times.
As Above/So Below (John Erick Dowdle) is a horror flick about explorers finding hellish things in the catacombs beneath the streets of Paris. Screened after press time - see review Aug 29 at nowtoronto.com/movies. 93 min.
Opens Aug 29 at 401 & Morningside, Carlton Cinema, Cineplex Cinemas Empress Walk, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Eglinton Town Centre, Grande - Steeles, Queensway, Rainbow Market Square, Rainbow Woodbine, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Yonge, SilverCity Yorkdale. See here for times.
Doctor Who Season Premiere: Deep Breath (Ben Wheatley) is a high-def broadcast of the launch of the new series, starring Peter Capalbi as the Doctor. Includes an exclusive five-minute prequel scene and a 10-minute making of doc. 105 min.
Opens Aug 30 at Cineplex Cinemas Empress Walk, Coliseum Scarborough, Queensway, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Yonge, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
Ghostbusters (Ivan Reitman) is a 30th anniversary re-release of Ivan Reitman's comedy about a group of ragtag ghost-removers (Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis). 107 min.
Opens Aug 29 at Colossus, Eglinton Town Centre, Queensway. See here for times.