Olympus Has Fallen
The Croods (Chris Sanders, Kirk De Micco) proves that even the familiar and cliché can be reformulated into something remarkably smart, fun and endearing. The animated romp about a cave-dwellling family trying to stick together while Pangaea begins to break apart works the same template that inspired the last derivative Ice Age movie. The filmmakers crib elements from the evolution of animated movies but also make an effort to develop their characters beyond stereotypes. The talented voice cast (including Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone and Catherine Keener) make the most of a screenplay fertile with gags, and acclaimed cinematographer Roger Deakins, serving as a consultant, contributes to the visual feast of textured colours, light and shadow. This is an animated film that truly has something for everybody. It actually made me want to tell the loud kids in the theatre to shut up so I could enjoy the movie, too. 92 min.
Rating: NNNN (RS)
Opens Mar 22 at 401 & Morningside, Beach Cinemas, Carlton Cinema, Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Grande - Steeles, Grande - Yonge, Humber Cinemas, Queensway, Rainbow Market Square, Rainbow Promenade, Rainbow Woodbine, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Yonge, SilverCity Yorkdale, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
From Up on Poppy Hill (Goro Miyazaki) is an atmospheric, poignant movie about family secrets, love and coming to terms with the past. In early 1960s Tokyo, hardworking student Umi meets Shun, a charismatic student who runs the school's newspaper. The two get involved in the historic building's cleanup and resurrection and discover they have quite a few things in common. Despite a touch of melodrama in the film's final reel, the story is absorbing, and the most memorable moments rely on silence and restraint. There are also fascinating glimpses of both the changing role of women and encroaching industrialization. Satoshi Takebe's jaunty score adds lots of charm, the voice work is characterful, and the animation is gorgeous, although Western viewers might find it distracting that the movie's big corporate tycoon looks a lot like Ronald Reagan. In dubbed and subtitled versions. 91 min.
Rating: NNNN (GS)
Opens Mar 22 at TIFF Bell Lightbox. See here for times.
New World (Park Hoon-jeong) is a cat-and-mouse Korean thriller following the efforts of an undercover cop (Lee Jung-jae) to stay hidden within a massive criminal organization when the death of its leader triggers a bloody war of succession. Director Park, who wrote I Saw The Devil, combines elements of Infernal Affairs and the Election films to keep the loyalties ambiguous and the tension simmering, and the action scenes are terrific. Lee's affected calm contrasts nicely with his mobster friend's (Hwang Jun-min) explosive temper and his police handler's (Oldboy's Choi Min-sik) dead-eyed delivery. If the film has a flaw, it's that Park doesn't quite know when to stop piling up his subplots. But hey, it worked in The Godfather. Subtitled. 134 min.
Rating: NNNN (NW)
Opens Mar 22 at Grande - Yonge, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
Admission (Paul Weitz) starts out as a Tina Fey romantic comedy, then awkwardly turns into something else. The 30 Rock creator and star plays a Princeton admissions officer whose carefully ordered life falls apart when she's contacted by a schoolteacher (Paul Rudd) recommending his prize student (Nat Wolff), who may also be the child she gave up for adoption 18 years earlier. It becomes clear that director Weitz wants to tell a more meaningful story but can't quite pull it off. Like In Good Company, his 2004 workplace comedy that turned into a searching, not totally articulate drama about corporate friendships, Admission tries to straddle the broad demands of the rom-com and the weightier themes of Jean Hanff Korelitz's novel. I'm entirely fine with movies that want to be something more than formula, but it's difficult to swing for depth when your movie includes a scene where characters get covered in cow placenta. 107 min.
Rating: NNN (NW)
Opens Mar 22 at 401 & Morningside, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Grande - Steeles, Grande - Yonge, Queensway, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Mississauga, SilverCity Yonge, SilverCity Yorkdale, Varsity, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
Olympus Has Fallen (Antoine Fuqua) takes the Die Hard playbook and runs it step by step, transplanting the action beats of John McTiernan's 1988 action classic into a White House held captive by North Korean terrorists, with one ex-Secret Service agent (Gerard Butler) trying to spring the president (Aaron Eckhart) and his fellow hostages. It delivers in the most basic sense, but you wonder what a director with a sense of play might have done with the material. Fuqua (Training Day, Shooter) is a blunt nihilist who thinks watching bit players bleed out counts as character development. Some subtitles. 119 min.
Rating: NNN (NW)
Opens Mar 22 at 401 & Morningside, Beach Cinemas, Carlton Cinema, Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Grande - Steeles, Grande - Yonge, Humber Cinemas, Queensway, Rainbow Market Square, Rainbow Promenade, Rainbow Woodbine, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Mississauga, SilverCity Yonge, SilverCity Yorkdale. See here for times.
Yossi (Eytan Fox) feels like an anachronism, but it still packs an emotional punch. A decade after the tragic events of Fox's gay war romance Yossi & Jagger, the eponymous character (Ohad Knoller) is now a pudgy, overworked Tel Aviv cardiologist living alone and lonely in his mid-30s. His co-workers suspect he might be gay and try to connect, but he remains closed. That is, until he runs into someone associated with the dead Jagger. This soon kick-starts a literal and symbolic journey of self-discovery in which he meets a young, handsome and openly gay IDF officer (Oz Zehavi) who tries to bring him out of his shell. It's a familiar story, but it still works, and Knoller immerses himself in his miserable character. Some details about queer body image and self-confidence ring painfully true, and the ending (sorry, no spoilers) ought to provoke discussions. Subtitled. 84 min.
Rating: NNN (GS)
Opens Mar 22 at TIFF Bell Lightbox. See here for times.
Home Again (Sudz Sutherland) follows the travails of three people - one (Tatyana Ali) from Toronto (Tatyana Ali), one from New York (Lyriq Bent) and another from London (Stephan James) - deported back to their native Jamaica for various legal infractions. It's an ambitious project about an interesting subject, but director and co-writer Sutherland doesn't have the budget pull it off; Home Again looks cheap and feels ragged, with no sense of how much time has passed from one scene to the next, and the characters are resolutely one-dimensional. Ali gives her character a bruised dignity that gets her through endless scenes of humiliation, and Bent makes the most of his scenes opposite singer Fefe Dobson, who plays the one unambiguously good woman in all of Kingston. But it's not enough. Some subtitles. 101 min.
Rating: NN (NW)
Opens Mar 22 at 401 & Morningside, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
InAPPropriate Comedy (Vince Offer) is a comedy about a computer tablet full of offensive apps. Screened after press time - see review March 26 at nowtoronto.com/movies. 84 min.
Opens Mar 22 at Colossus, Eglinton Town Centre, Scotiabank Theatre. See here for times.
The Metropolitan Opera: Maria Stuarda Encore is a high-def broadcast from the Met of Donizetti's historical opera, starring mezzo Joyce DiDonato in the title role. Subtitled. 200 min.
Opens Mar 23 at Beach Cinemas, Coliseum Scarborough, Grande - Yonge, Queensway, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Yonge. See here for times.
National Theatre Live: People is a live broadcast from the UK's National Theatre of Alan Bennett's comedy about a misanthropic woman (Frances de la Tour) who holds an attic sale. 170 min.
Opens Mar 21 at Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Grande - Yonge, Queensway, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Yonge. See here for times.