14 Film Reviews From TIFF 2016

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The Toronto International Festival kicked off on September 8 where, between the parties and galas, hopeful blockbusters like The Magnificent Seven made landfall while indies like Moonlight hoped to generate some awards season buzz. While buyers have been unusually cool this festival – only a handful of deals have been stuck thus far, like the Anne Hathaway-starrer Colossal being picked up by an undisclosed Chinese buyer – our resident film reviewer Dino-Ray Ramos hit the ground running, catching over a dozen screenings of some of this year’s most talked aboot titles at TIFF.


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Natalie Portman is Phenomenal in Pablo Larrain’s Finely Crafted Biopic Jackie

The Academy Award-winning actress is set for a wave of nominations with this astonishingly nuanced portrayal of the former First Lady. There have been many “Jackies” in and film, but none like Natalie Portman’s.

Read about Fox Searchlight’s acquisition of Jackie.


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Awards Bait Musical La La Land is an Enchanting Instant Classic

Damien Chazelle’s movie musical La La Land balances levity and humor with auteur-grade filmmaking for an incredibly enchanting movie-going experience that will put a twinkle in your eye and a spring in your step.


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The Belko Experiment is Violent Kill or Be Killed Mayhem at Its Best

Helmed by Wolf Creek director Greg McLean and written by Guardians of the Galaxy maestro James Gunn, the blood spattering thriller is a sick, twisted, and ridiculous joyride of murderous insanity.

Read about Orion and BH Tilt’s acquisition of The Belko Experiment.


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A Monster Calls Will Connect with Many, Leave Others Wanting More

In the J.A. Bayona-directed A Monster Calls, there’s a little boy and a gigantic talking tree, so it must be a Spielbergian good time, right? Well, not really. The word “monster” in the title may be misleading as this film isn’t as fantastical as one might think.


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Stunning Drama Moonlight Shines Light on the Journey of a Gay Black Man

The film festival hit transcends the typical gay narrative with a rich and poignant story that takes us on a gay black man’s journey of self-discovery, pain, as well as what it means to give and receive love.


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Lion Roars with Emotion, Gives More Reason for Inspiring Films About People of Color

From the trailer alone, Lion, a story about a man searching for his family after being tragically separated from them for 25 years, is poised to be a tearjerker. After attending the World Premiere at TIFF, I can guarantee that it is not only a tearjerker, but a film that will bring out everyone’s ugliest cry.


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Amy Adams Commands Compelling Sci-Fi Drama Arrival

The Oscar-nominated actor owns Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival, a finely executed and surprisingly stirring sci-fi pic that takes the typical alien invasion film in a refreshingly different direction.


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Ana Lily Amirpour’s Cannibal Fairytale The Bad Batch Needs More Bite

Amirpour’s follow up to A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night has provocative elements and a talented cast, but ends up being more shock and awe than anything else.


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Certain Women Paints A Stunning Triptych of the Female Experience

Intimate and told with incredible grace, the film further proves Kelly Reichardt’s uniquely naturalistic filmmaking skills with four subdued, yet compelling performances from four astonishing actors.


50805_AA_4609_v2F Amy Adams stars as Susan Morrow in Tom Ford’s NOCTURNAL ANIMALS, a Focus Features release Credit: Merrick Morton / Focus FeaturesTIFF

Nocturnal Animals is a Painfully Gorgeous Masterpiece

Tom Ford’s follow-up to A Single Man silences any doubts that the fashion designer-turned-filmmaker’s debut was a fluke. Nocturnal Animals fires on all cylinders when it comes to style, storytelling, and Ford’s vision – one that is becoming increasingly inimitable.


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American Pastoral Looks the Part, But is Uneven and Heavy-Handed

Making its world premiere at the Toronto International Festival, the drama based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning Philip Roth novel of the same name is ambitious but falls far from the hype surrounding it.


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Wild and Absurd Free Fire Shoots From the Hip with Crazy Wit

When you combine two clueless gangs and one major gun deal there’s a lot that could go wrong. And all of that is illustrated in Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire, a gunfight comedy that lights up the screen with one of the most epic — and ridiculous — gunfights ever.


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Loving Relies On Hope and Love, Not Hate, To Tell a Beautiful Story

Taking a different route from his fantastical and thrilling fare, director Jeff Nichols effortlessly grounds his latest film based on the struggles of the real-life interracial couple Richard and Mildred Loving with delicate care, subdued emotion, and powerful storytelling.


Denzel Washington stars in MGM and Columbia Pictures' THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN.TIFF

The Magnificent Seven Remake is a Generic Western With All-Star Gunslinging Action

With Denzel Washington leading the septet, this reboot has all the wares of a typical Western for nostalgia’s sake but leans heavily on its star power and explosive action to carry it through its 133-minute run time. It’s entertaining, but at the same time, mechanical.


Check out more films to keep your eye on from this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.

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