The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Peter Jackson) is fan service on a gargantuan scale, as director Jackson returns to the world of The Lord Of The Rings to cram in every last conversation, song and footnote in J.R.R. Tolkien's text. This is good news to diehards who can't wait to see the texture of Smaug's scales and hear an assortment of Dwarvish laments; those of us who never really felt the pull of Middle-earth will find it a very, very long journey indeed - at least for the first hour or so. But once the adventure is finally underway and Martin Freeman's meek hero starts to come into his own, Jackson digs in and delivers an appropriately epic companion piece to his earlier trilogy. And dear lord, the things Andy Serkis has done with Gollum. One caution: the high-frame rate 3D makes the makeup and CG look terrible, and plays hell with Jackson's signature swooping camera. Stick with good old 2D. Some subtitles. 169 min.
Rating: NNN (NW)
Opens Dec 14 at 401 & Morningside, Beach Cinemas, Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Empire Theatres at Empress Walk, Grande - Steeles, Humber Cinema, Queensway, Rainbow Market Square, Rainbow Promenade, Rainbow Woodbine, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Yonge, SilverCity Yorkdale. See here for times.
Meet the Fokkens (Gabrielle Provaas, Rob Schröder) tracks the 69-year-old twin Fokken sisters, sex workers for over 40 years in Amsterdam's red light district, who joke, argue and reminisce. Originally pimped out by their husbands, Martine and Louise freed themselves and opened their own brothel but were soon pushed out of the business by the "sex bosses" - their term - and became just another pair of working girls advertising their wares along the strip. Louise has retired, but Martine, a budding painter, continues to turn tricks, some of which are filmed in ways that emphasize the tedium. The inevitable tracking shot of the district's prostitutes beckoning potential clients manages to avoid clichés, and the film will disabuse you of the idea that sex work is for young women only. Elderly sex workers actually have a stable client base. Essential viewing for those looking for authentic representations of a misrepresented profession. Subtitled. 80 min.
Rating: NNN (SGC)
Opens Dec 14 at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. See here for times.
Hyde Park on Hudson (Roger Michell) is a shameless King's Speech wannabe based on a later period in George VI's reign: in 1939, the monarch and his queen spent a weekend at Franklin D. Roosevelt's estate in the hopes of getting the president to pledge U.S. support in the coming war. Also present was FDR's cousin (and occasional hand-job provider) Daisy, whose diaries provide the factual basis for this silly political fantasy. It's more concerned with historical pageantry than actual drama, forever imagining conversations between Bill Murray's paternal FDR and Samuel West's insecure George that are clearly meant to echo the interplay between Geoffrey Rush and Colin Firth. Every moment is calculated to appeal to the mainstream American audience that embraced The King's Speech; why else would the English characters use the term "stutter" instead of "stammer"? Seriously, that's just insulting. 96 min.
Rating: NN (NW)
Opens Dec 14 at Grande - Yonge, Varsity. See here for times.
The Guilt Trip (Anne Fletcher) is a mother-son road movie starring Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen. Screened after press time - see review December 18 at nowtoronto.com/movies. 96 min.
Opens Dec 19 at 401 & Morningside, Canada Square, Carlton Cinema, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Grande - Yonge, Queensway, Rainbow Promenade, Rainbow Woodbine, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
The Metropolitan Opera: Aida is a live high def broadcast from the Met of Verdi's grand opera, starring Liudmyla Monastyrska, Roberto Alagna and Olga Borodina. 234 min.
Opens Dec 15 at Beach Cinemas, Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Eglinton Town Centre, Grande - Yonge, Queensway, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Mississauga, SilverCity Yonge. See here for times.
Monsters, Inc. 3D (Pete Docter) is a new 3D conversion of Docter's lively and fun 2001 animated film about childhood fears. 92 min.
Opens Dec 19 at 401 & Morningside, Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Empire Theatres at Empress Walk, Grande - Steeles, Queensway, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Mississauga, SilverCity Yonge, SilverCity Yorkdale, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
The Nutcracker - Royal Opera House Live is a high def broadcast of Peter Wright's classic production of the seasonal ballet, recorded live at London's Covent Garden. 130 min.
Opens Dec 13 at Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Grande - Yonge, Queensway, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Yonge. See here for times.