The Oxbow Cure (Yonah Lewis, Calvin Thomas) tells the story of a woman suffering from an unspecified affliction who decides to spend a winter alone at her Oxbow Lake cottage. Except she's not quite alone. She spots a figure wandering the wilderness that may not be quite human. It's flesh looks dark and oily. It walks as though on cloven hooves, or like it's suffering from lower back pain. Is it a monster, an emaciated, snowbound swamp thing? Or the woman's double? Incorporating elements of science fiction and body horror, Lewis and Thomas' second feature balances its seductive and abundant mysteries with a potent sense of place and character. Toronto author and actor Claudia Dey grounds this deeply enigmatic story with a central performance of emotional precision. 79 min.
Rating: NNNN (Jose Teodoro)
Opens Aug 23 at TIFF Bell Lightbox. See here for times.
The World's End (Edgar Wright) completes Wright and co-writer/star Simon Pegg's unofficial trilogy begun with Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz by following five old friends (Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman and Eddie Marsan) who reunite at 40 to recreate the epic pub crawl they began - but never finished - as teenagers. But just as the old gang isn't what it used to be, neither is their sleepy village of Newton Haven, and the nature of the threat raises the stakes well beyond the personal. Pegg is terrific as the dissolute, barely functional alcoholic determined to recapture his former glory at any cost, and his co-stars (particularly Frost and Marsan) do a fine job of hinting at decades-old wounds just waiting to reopen. Funny and moving, it's a fitting bookend to Shaun, though this time the ending doesn't quite land as well as it could. 109 min.
Rating: NNNN (NW)
Opens Aug 23 at 401 & Morningside, Beach Cinemas, Carlton Cinema, Cineplex Cinemas Empress Walk, Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Docks Lakeview Drive-In, Eglinton Town Centre, Grande - Steeles, Queensway, Rainbow Market Square, SilverCity Mississauga, SilverCity Yonge, SilverCity Yorkdale, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
You're Next (Adam Wingard) is the product of talented horror-fans-turned-filmmakers who understand exactly how the genre works and what their audience craves. Through a darkly comedic tale of a bickering family reunion interrupted by home-invading masked murderers, Wingard and co. deftly combine tones, toy with conventions, drizzle out gore and deliver shriek-inducing jump scares. 94 min.
Rating: NNNN (Phil Brown)
Opens Aug 23 at 401 & Morningside, Cineplex Cinemas Empress Walk, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Docks Lakeview Drive-In, Eglinton Town Centre, Grande - Steeles, Queensway, Rainbow Woodbine, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Yonge, SilverCity Yorkdale. See here for times.
The Grandmaster (Wong Kar-wai) is almost half an hour shorter than the version that premiered in Berlin, and something's definitely off. It's clumsy in a way Wong's films never are. Tony Leung (a frequent collaborator of Wong's) plays Chinese martial artist Ip Man, who famously refused to collaborate with Japanese invaders in the 1930s, yet in the 50s, while teaching in Hong Kong, was shut out of his homeland when China closed its borders. The domestic version scatters that information in text screens between beautifully photographed fight sequences and occasional longing looks between Ip and Gong Er (Zhang Ziyi), a northern martial artist and doctor who makes an instant emotional connection with Ip but can't act on it. You might want to seek out the Chinese Blu-ray instead. Subtitled. 106 min.
Rating: NNN (NW)
Opens Aug 23 at Varsity. See here for times.
I Give It a Year (Dan Mazer) may not be particularly successful as a romantic comedy, but it's a fascinating experiment in genre subversion with a lot of solid laughs. Writer/director Mazer puts his pretty people (Rose Byrne, Rafe Spall) together in the first two minutes, flashing forward to his heroes sitting with the worst marriage counsellor in England (Olivia Colman), crabbing about the disaster their union has become. Each of the actors gets at least one unexpected, explosive comic moment - even Byrne, who usually gets stuck playing straight women. Spall is pleasantly hapless, Colman's offhandedly hilarious, and Stephen Merchant brings such good-natured enthusiasm to the tired role of the husband's vulgar best friend that his line readings eventually won me over. 97 min.
Rating: NNN (NW)
Opens Aug 23 at Carlton Cinema. See here for times.
Prince Avalanche (David Gordon Green) is supposed to be a return to indie form for the writer/director of George Washington and All The Real Girls after studio jobs like Pineapple Express, Your Highness and The Sitter, but the calculation is all too evident and he fails to make much of an effort. Relocating the Icelandic drama Either Way to 1988 Texas, he casts Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch as road workers squabbling their way through a summer of street painting. The pair are good enough to hold the screen as their characters have endless existential arguments and poke their way along the road, but Green never finds a way to make those conversations interesting; it's just an empty cycle of resentment and posturing, with the balance shifting back and forth until someone calls the other a name or throws a punch. 93 min.
Rating: NN (NW)
Opens Aug 23 at Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
Closed Circuit (John Crowley) is a crime thriller starring Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall as lawyers (and former lovers) who get caught up in an international terrorism plot. 95 min.
Opens Aug 28 at Cineplex Cinemas Empress Walk, Coliseum Mississauga, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Queensway, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Mississauga, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
National Theatre Live: The Audience Encore is a high-def broadcast of Peter Morgan's play chronicling Queen Elizabeth II's (Helen Mirren) private meetings with Britain's prime ministers over six decades. 180 min.
Opens Aug 22 at Cineplex Cinemas Empress Walk, Coliseum Scarborough, Queensway, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.