The Invisible Woman
Stranger by the Lake (Alain Guiraudie) is a seductively stark thriller. Everything has been stripped down, including the characters, nearly all of them frequenters of a secluded nude beach and the adjoining woods used for cruising. Handsome, amiable Franck goes to the lake to sunbathe, chat, swim, have sex. One evening he witnesses a murder, but this doesn't appear to discourage him from returning the next day or even from flirting with the killer. Psychology or motives are not discussed. As in the fiction of Duras or Hitchcock, eros and death are entwined without rational explanation. Exquisitely crafted, sexually explicit without seeming lewd, Stranger By The Lake extends an invitation that's hard to refuse. Don't be afraid. Dip a toe in. The water's fine. Subtitled. 100 min.
Rating: NNNNN (Jose Teodoro)
Opens Jan 17 at TIFF Bell Lightbox. See here for times.
The Invisible Woman (Ralph Fiennes) seems like a safe project for a follow-up to 2011's Coriolanus. It's a conventional drama about the relationship between Charles Dickens (director Fiennes) and Nelly Ternan (Love Crazy's Felicity Jones), the young woman who became his mistress. But while all the trappings of the proper British period piece are in place, this is a much more experimental treatment of the story than you might expect, with a complex consideration of all the characters - including Dickens's wife, Catherine (Joanna Scanlan) - and an editorial style that lingers on uncomfortable silences and repressed impulses. Fiennes and Jones are terrific, but the actor/director gets excellent work out of pretty much everyone, including his English Patient co-star, Kristin Scott Thomas. 111 min.
Rating: NNNN (NW)
Opens Jan 17 at Varsity. See here for times.
The Square (Jehane Noujaim) is an exhilarating doc that follows three activists during the Cairo demonstrations that toppled Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak and their aftermath. Actor Khalid Abdalla (The Kite Runner); Magdy Ashour, a member of the Muslim brotherhood; and young Ahmed Hassan argue and organize as the protests expand. Aerial shots of the crowds at Tahrir Square are spectacular. Director Noujaim captures the complicated politics of the uprising: people from all leanings gather in the square, but everything changes in the run-up to the election, when the Muslim Brotherhood hijacks the campaign. The arguments, conversations and imaginings of the forward-looking activists are scintillating. There are harrowing moments - in a devastating sequence during the election campaign, an army tank bulldozes and kills a demonstrator - but nothing about the sexual violence women experienced in the square, which might have added another level of complexity. Still, Noujaim approaches a subject that is often simplified and reduced with uncommon nuance. Subtitled. 108 min.
Rating: NNNN (SGC)
Opens Jan 17 at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. See here for times.
Arctic Defenders (John Walker) visits Resolute Bay in Nunavut, where documentary filmmaker Walker (A Drummer's Dream) reconnects with the families he met there as a teenager in 1968. The result is a grim recounting of injustices visited upon the Inuit who were forcibly relocated there in the 50s by the government to bolster Canada's sovereignty in the Arctic and then virtually abandoned. But just as I thought its title was chosen out of sarcasm, Arctic Defenders reveals that those who ended up in Resolute Bay refused to simply wither away, instead establishing a community with a long memory and a bruised but unbroken sense of self-worth. If the movie gets a little strident in itemizing their entirely understandable grievances, well, they've earned the right to be heard. Some subtitles. 90 min.
Rating: NNN (NW)
Opens Jan 17 at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. See here for times.
Big Bad Wolves (Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado) was on screens in Israel while Prisoners was still in production, but it feels like a commentary on Denis Villeneuve's hot-button morality tale. A parent (Tzahi Grad) driven over the edge by the abduction of his daughter kidnaps the prime suspect (Rotem Keinan) and tortures him to get to the truth. The variation here is that the cop (Lior Ashkenazi) obsessed with the case is also chained up in the torture room, debating whether or not to assist the madman in his inquiries. Keshales and Papushado, who made the effective horror pastiche Rabies in 2010, are ultimately much more interested in depicting bloodshed than in considering its moral implications, and the plot goes off the rails fairly quickly. Subtitled. 110 min.
Rating: NN (NW)
Opens Jan 17 at Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
The Nut Job (Peter Lepeniotis) might be the new low point for CGI movies about anthropomorphized animals. The nonsensical plot interweaves a human bank heist and animal nut heist. Despite an impressive celebrity voice cast (including Will Arnett and Liam Neeson), this Canadian/South Korean co-production can't deliver the glossy production values of the Hollywood competition, never mind the heart and wit of a Pixar film. When a CGI Psy wanders into the end credits to perform Gangnam Style, it tells you how much time the filmmakers wasted making the movie and how desperate they were to pull in anything like entertainment. 83 min.
Rating: N (Phil Brown)
Opens Jan 17 at 401 & Morningside, Beach Cinemas, Cineplex Cinemas Empress Walk, Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Grande - Steeles, Humber Cinemas, Queensway, Rainbow Market Square, Rainbow Promenade, Rainbow Woodbine, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Yonge, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
Devil's Due (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett) is a horror flick about a young couple who might be carrying a demon baby. No press screening - see review January 20 at nowtoronto.com/movies. 89 min.
Opens Jan 17 at 401 & Morningside, Canada Square, Carlton Cinema, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Grande - Steeles, Queensway, Rainbow Woodbine, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Yorkdale. See here for times.
Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo (Hideaki Anno, Mahiro Maeda, Masayuki , Kazuya Tsurumaki) is an anime sequel, set 14 years after the previous installment, about saving humanity. 95 min.
Opens Jan 16 at Coliseum Scarborough, Courtney Park 16, Queensway, SilverCity Fairview, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (Kenneth Branagh) stars Chris Pine as the eponymous hero in this reboot of Tom Clancy's spy thriller franchise. Screened after press time - see review January 17 at nowtoronto.com/movies.
Opens Jan 17 at 401 & Morningside, Beach Cinemas, Carlton Cinema, Cineplex Cinemas Empress Walk, Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Grande - Steeles, Humber Cinemas, Queensway, Rainbow Market Square, Rainbow Woodbine, SilverCity Yonge, SilverCity Yorkdale, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
Ride Along (Tim Story) is an action comedy in which a security guard (Kevin Hart) joins his cop brother-in-law (Ice Cub) to patrol Atlanta for 24 hours. Screened after press time - see review January 17 at nowtoronto.com/movies. 100 min.
Opens Jan 17 at 401 & Morningside, Canada Square, Carlton Cinema, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Queensway, Rainbow Promenade, Rainbow Woodbine, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Mississauga, SilverCity Yorkdale. See here for times.