Weekend movies: Getting to the Nutcracker, Foxcatcher, The Last Impresario and more

A quick scan of new releases in theatres this week


Getting to the Nutcracker (Serene Meshel-Dillman) follows the lead-up to a production of the seasonal dance staple at the Marat Daukayev School of Ballet in L.A. The school has 400 students and is headed by artistic director Marat Daukayev, a former star of the Kirov Ballet, who passes on his rigorous technique, perfectionism and sound philosophy, his face and voice remaining expressionless as he instructs. What gives the film its heart are the kids’ passion and talent (a couple are extremely gifted). The adrenaline rush on performance night is palpable, and that footage is terrifically edited. The jaunty score throughout is, of course, intermingled with snatches of Tchaikovsky, which should get you in the holiday mood. Some subtitles. 98 min.

Rating: NNNN (GS)

Opens Nov 28 at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. See here for times.


Foxcatcher (Bennett Miller) finds director Miller returning to the chilly tone of his debut feature, Capote, for another tale of interpersonal tensions and murder, though this time the result isn’t quite as impressive. In 1987, Olympic gold medalist Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) was recruited by John du Pont (Steve Carell) to build a wrestling team that could win gold in the 1988 Seoul Games. It ended badly. The script divides itself awkwardly among three principals – Mark’s older brother David (Mark Ruffalo) also gets caught up in du Pont’s ambitions – and Miller drenches every scene in heavy portent. All three leads wear distracting prosthetics, which work against Tatum and Ruffalo’s naturalistic performances and make Carell’s precise, creepy turn as the self-absorbed, deluded du Pont seem far too obviously unhinged. It seems especially pointless when Vanessa Redgrave is right there, looking exactly like herself as du Pont’s imperious mother and showing how powerful an unadorned performance can be. 134 min.

Rating: NNN (NW)

Opens Nov 28 at Varsity, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.


The Last Impresario (Gracie Otto) is a bouncy ride through the life and work of English theatre producer Michael White, who brought Oh! Calcutta and The Rocky Horror Show to the London stage, was instrumental in the making of Monty Python And The Holy Grail and has had a hand in dozens of stage, screen and television productions over the years, making him a fixture on the party circuit and a friend to everyone from John Cleese to Naomi Watts. He’s basically the British version of Robert Evans, and Otto’s documentary is his The Kid Stays In The Picture – a testament to his wonderfulness that pulls back just enough so it never feels like full-on hagiography. The film’s packed with candid interviews with major stars who feel White gave them their big break, but most of the commentary comes from White himself, who refuses to discuss his obvious physical frailty but is otherwise remarkably forthcoming. It’s a fun, glamorous watch. 92 min.

Rating: NNN (NW)

Opens Nov 28 at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. See here for times.


Corner Gas: The Movie (David Storey) is a disappointing expansion to full-feature length of a lightly amusing half-hour TV sitcom. The tempest-in-a-teapot premise of the original gets ditched for a big story centred on the town’s imminent bankruptcy and destruction. The entire cast is back and generate some chuckles with wacky wordplay, logic lapses and town-saving schemes, but none of it comes close to the series’s moments of inspired daffiness. 95 min. NN (Andrew Dowler)

Opens Dec 3 at Colossus, Eglinton Town Centre, Queensway, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.


Heartbeat (Andrea Dorfman)

Opens Nov 28 at TIFF Bell Lightbox. See here for times.

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