‘The Fabelmans’ TIFF Review: Steven Spielberg’s Bittersweet Ode to the Magic of Movies

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Over his long and incredibly prolific career, Steven Spielberg shows yet another side to his own filmmaking that only reaffirms his status as one of the greatest working American filmmakers. To a filmmaker like Steven Spielberg, merely watching the movies alone isn’t a magical experience, but the building blocks for making them are just as magical – and have shaped an entire world for him. But the greatest thrill about watching Spielberg taking his audience to his own childhood is that for those of us who have been watching his films for so long, he’s showing us where everything we loved about his works has come about, in a work that’s clearly an extension of himself in The Fabelmans.

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‘Decision to Leave’ TIFF Review: A Seductive, Erotic Mind Game from Park Chan-wook

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No one makes thrillers like Park Chan-wook does, whether you’re watching a film like Oldboy, Lady Vengeance, or The Handmaiden, they always feel like there’s much more going on beyond the usual mystery at hand. This is where now, with Decision to Leave, Park Chan-wook goes forth with making a film clearly echoing the films of Alfred Hitchcock and the like, and he shows himself to be the closest thing we have to a modern-day equivalent. Like The Handmaiden, it’s very evidently romantic, but also just deeply twisted in ways that tap into the darkest desires of those around you, to the point that the central mystery isn’t the entire thrill as much as it is the whole world that Park builds to surround it.

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‘The Whale’ TIFF Review: A Shattering Comeback for Brendan Fraser

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When you look at the premise for a film like The Whale, one can only imagine how this premise could be difficult to pull off successfully. In the hands of a filmmaker like Darren Aronofsky, much suspicions could be raised, but he manages to pull off what might be his most hopeful film thus far. Perhaps that’s not to say he doesn’t find himself potentially dragging his viewers back into a territory of simple misery porn when the central focus is Brendan Fraser’s character and his deathly obesity, yet the case being presented is far more thoughtful. And like Requiem for a Dream was for many, The Whale can be tough – but when Darren Aronofsky is at his best, he shows himself to be a wholly thoughtful filmmaker. This is where I find The Whale lands.

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‘Triangle of Sadness’ TIFF Review: Palme d’Or Winning Satire Comes Packaged Without Filter

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Ruben Östlund wins the Palme d’Or at Cannes again, following his first win with 2017’s The Square – and he certainly hasn’t gotten any less vicious ever since. With Triangle of Sadness, Östlund goes without being filtered, his satire feeling like it’s reached a new height, showing the lifestyles of the rich at their most vulnerable. It’s only the least of where all the riotously funny moments from Triangle of Sadness come about, but watching everything come together is where one could only get the feeling that it’s only playing out like a time bomb and as the audience, you’re waiting for everything to explode at some point or another. And the moment the explosion hits, it’s hard to look away from the chaos.

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‘Bros’ TIFF Review: Baby Steps First, but a Nice Leap for Mainstream Queer Representation

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Bros is a romantic comedy like most others you’ve seen in the past few decades, but what sets itself apart comes from how this is the first film released by a major studio to feature an almost entirely LGBTQ+ cast for a wide theatrical release. This is the one aspect about Bros that gets touted most, especially by its director Nicholas Stoller and co-writer/star Billy Eichner, but to a certain point you can clearly tell that this is something getting to Eichner’s own head. Yet there’s still much to love about how Eichner and company care about how they want this film to provide a voice for gay viewers within mainstream film, and on that end, Bros is very cute all around.

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E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial Review: A Gentle Giant

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What is there to say about a film that for many years was the highest grossing film ever? A film that is universally beloved? A film that has been covered and studied and dissected endlessly?

Well I saw E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial this week in IMAX so I’m going to try. But I’m not going to add much new to the discussion of a film that’s exactly correctly rated in our culture. It’s a timeless classic. And I have no issue with it.

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‘RRR’ Review: Radical, Revolutionary, and it comes highly Recommended

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Rise, Roar, Revolt: these are the three R’s that make up the acronymous title of S. S. Rajamouli’s RRR, a Telugu blockbuster now catching the eyes of viewers in the west. As the film made waves around said viewers, it’s hard to go ignore how people have been talking about the film compared to western blockbusters: but that also shuts out talking of this Tollywood (not Bollywood!) film on its own terms, where it’s just a great time all around. I certainly am not the first to admit my experience with Indian cinema happens to be very limited, but nonetheless I can’t help but be taken aback by the scale of RRR.

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‘Belfast’ Review: So Personal yet So Sterile

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Kenneth Branagh has established himself over the years as one of the most prolific Shakespearean actors – both on the screen and working behind the scenes. With Belfast, he opts to tell a story that should bring him closer to home, to how he saw his childhood in Ireland. While it’s easy enough to see that Branagh’s heart is in the right place when telling a movie about growing up during the Troubles, perhaps there’s something missing to supposedly meaningful revisiting of one’s own childhood. Branagh certainly is a well-meaning director, but the reminiscences of the past don’t really add up to all that much in return.

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‘West Side Story’ Review: The Perfect Reintroduction of a Classic Musical

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Over his decades long career, Steven Spielberg has made his very first musical. Nonetheless, Spielberg has also established that he had always wanted to try his hands at bringing a musical to the big screen with a second cinematic adaptation of West Side Story, following the 1961 film. It’d be easy enough to express skepticism to the need for a new West Side Story film, but Spielberg establishes that the material is a perfect match for him. Spielberg doesn’t work with creating a pastiche of the 1961 film as much as he does create a new screen life for one of Broadway’s most beloved musicals. In doing so, Spielberg has made what may be his best film in at least fifteen years.

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‘CODA’ Review: A Conceited Crowdpleaser Suppressing Its Deaf Voices

Author’s note: I am not deaf nor hard of hearing. That said, I also cannot help but find it a bit disheartening that many deaf critics are not also put front and center as this film continually makes waves during its awards season run right now unless their views of the film are uniformly positive.

To talk about CODA is to also cover one of the most important reasons why this movie has made waves: it features a primarily deaf cast playing deaf characters. It’s easy to see how this aspect has acquired the film a very favourable tide, but as much as this film has also grown on to become an audience favourite ever since it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, I cannot find myself on board with that same wavelength. Which is disappointing to say, especially as this was a film that I had wanted to like on the count of how important it is to see the representation for deaf or hard of hearing people, yet maybe it’s the means of wanting to become an audience favourite that ultimately sets this film back.

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