The Dark Knight Rises
First Position (Bess Kargman) is a nail-biting doc that follows a handful of aspiring ballet dancers competing in the prestigious Youth America Grand Prix, which awards international attention and lucrative scholarships to some of the world-class winners. Director Kargman has found a good range of subjects, from Rebecca, a pampered Barbie lookalike, and Aran, whose parents have uprooted the family to support his dance, to dirt-poor Colombian immigrant Joan Sebastian and the adopted Michaela, whose parents were killed in Sierra Leone's civil war. Along the way, the doc takes a frank look at costs, job opportunities, body issues, injuries and gender. There's lots of great dance, plus a bit of unexpected humour thanks to one adorable 10-year-old who balks at his stage mom. Some subtitles. 90 min.
Rating: NNNN (GS)
Opens Jul 20 at TIFF Bell Lightbox. See here for times.
Vito (Jeffrey Schwarz) documents the life of Vito Russo, who died from AIDS-related illness in 1990 but left behind an enormous legacy, not only as a pioneering gay and AIDS activist, but also as the author of the seminal book The Celluloid Closet, about the history of gays and lesbians in cinema. Schwarz's impressive doc touches on all of this, using archival footage to provide a front-line perspective on pre-Stonewall bathhouse raids, homophobic mainstream journalism and how New York City's queer community fractured in the 70s and then banded together when the terrifying and mysterious AIDS epidemic hit urban centres. Besides the articulate and impassioned Russo, the interviews and footage include Larry Kramer, Armistead Maupin, Lily Tomlin (one story about her run-in with Time Magazine is worth the price of admission) and Bette Midler, who once unified an out-of-control queer rally with style and chutzpah. Essential viewing for LGBT and other activists. 93 min.
Rating: NNNN (GS)
Opens Jul 20 at Carlton Cinema. See here for times.
The Dark Knight Rises (Christopher Nolan) is less a movie than a colossus, an unstoppable force crashing into your summer, bent on destroying all challengers. Everything's inflated for spectacle, with the simplest of dialogue scenes thrumming with nervous energy, and filmed with large-format IMAX cameras wherever possible for added bombast. But where Nolan's first two Bat-films felt nimble and restless, The Dark Knight Rises is encumbered by its own self-importance (and its unwieldy allegory for the Occupy movement). When he concentrates on the action - a thrilling mid-air prisoner extraction, the villain Bane's assault on Gotham's financial heart, a massive climax that plays out on more levels than Inception - Nolan is in total control. And he can deliver a final flourish like nobody else. The last 30 seconds very nearly had me on my feet cheering. It's just all the stuff in the middle that needs pruning. 164 min.
Rating: NNN (NW)
Opens Jul 20 at 401 & Morningside, Beach Cinemas, 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, Varsity. See here for times.
Moving Day stars Will Sasso as Clyde, the lovable schlep who, alongside an alcoholic foreman (Gabriel Hogan) and a wisecracking ex-con (Charles Q. Murphy), works for disreputable moving company owner Victor Garber. Clyde has ambitions beyond being a moving man but appears be going nowhere fast. Even with a too pat ending, this film has an endearing quality - director Clattenburg created the Trailer Park Boys TV series and directed both TPB movies, so he knows his losers - aided and abetted by appealing leads Sasso and Murphy and a lovingly selected Canuck indie soundtrack. 87 min.
Rating: NNN (SGC)
Opens Jul 20 at Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
Trishna (Michael Winterbottom) transplants Thomas Hardy's Tess Of The D'Urbervilles to modern India, a bold move that doesn't fully pay off. Trishna (Freida Pinto) is a beautiful village girl lured by Jay (Riz Ahmed), the underachieving son of a property developer, to work for him at one of his father's resorts in Jaipur and then become his lover. The lack of an Angel Clare figure - the third point in the Tess triangle - means there's less tension in the narrative, resulting in a meandering second half and no sense of tragedy. The colourful, vibrant locations add lots of texture, as does Shigeru Umebayashi's Indo-influenced score. Pinto, meanwhile, looks radiant throughout, though her frustratingly passive character makes it hard to sympathize with her suffering. Some subtitles. 117 min.
Rating: NN (GS)
Opens Jul 20 at Grande - Yonge, Varsity. See here for times.