Film: Love & Mercy
Director: Bill Pohland
Review by Emma Cosgrove
Brian Wilson fronted one of the most iconic pop bands in history, but the extent to which he was plagued by addiction and mental health issues is not widely known. Love & Mercy is a biopic that gives viewers a glimpse into the turbulent life of the Beach Boys’ chief member, from his blossoming talent as a musician to his consequential downfall due to substance abuse in the early ‘70s, and resurgence in later years.
The film has an interesting plot structure, cutting back and forth between two key parts in Wilson’s life. Paul Dano plays a young Wilson in the ‘60s, while the role of his middle-aged self is given to John Cusack (and we all know that everything Cusack touches turns to gold).
Anyone interested in the intricacies of the music industry will find the early studio scenes compelling, while his downfall shines a spotlight on addictions and mental health awareness.
Director Bill Pohland has produced such award-winning films as The Tree of Life and Twelve Years a Slave, so we’re pretty confident Love & Mercy will be yet another masterpiece. Although the release date hasn’t yet been set, we know there will be one — Lions Gate Entertainment bought the North American rights for $3 million.
Film: Tokyo Tribe
Director: Sion Sono
Review by Julie Sullivan
Tokyo Tribe was Ryerson Theatre’s first Midnight Madness premiere on Sept. 4. Director Sion Sono — who also wrote the screenplay — was born in Toyokawa, Japan. Tokyo Tribe is his 14th film.
Being an avid lover of Japanese culture myself, the storyline sounded epic and action-packed with real appeal and potential, but for me the film didn’t live up to expectations. Set in a futuristic Tokyo, the city is divided into neighbourhoods, the crossing of which results in riots. The festival describes it as a “yazuka/street-gang/hip-hop musical epic,” The film stars real rappers and tattoo artists, lending it a measure of authenticity, and is in Japanese with English subtitles.
The plot and action scenes stayed true to traditional Japanese, but the English rapping was bad. The lyrics didn’t rhyme or flow, and barely made sense. It was repetitive and basic. A lot of the film’s impact was weakened by the lack of a grasp on the English language. In your first language, a full-length musical would be challenging — in a second language, it’s depreciative. I give them props for trying but the basic prose really detracted from the film for me.
I felt as though the references were few and more cultural research should have been conducted simply because the film was screening in North America for a North American audience. The fight scenes and the human furniture scenes were highlights for me. Tokyo Tribe was entertaining, but lacked sophistication.
Film: Men, Women & Children
Director: Jason Reitman
Review by Amanda Gilmore
Jason Reitman makes films about the human connection in our world.
In his newest film, Men, Women & Children, Reitman looks at relationships between people of different ages and how the Internet has affected those relationships.
The film touches upon dating websites, such as Ashley Madison, that let married people meet others to have affairs, and how those websites can be the cause of divorce. Another angle focuses on teenagers using the Internet. Due to the easy access to porn, one 15-year-old is unable to be sexually aroused without watching it, while one 16-year-old can only express who she truly is on a social media website due to her controlling mother.
This film does not bring anything different to the effects-of-the-Internet topic, but due to the touching performances of the amazing cast (Ansel Egort, Adam Sandler, Judy Greer, Jennifer Garner), it is worth a watch. Go see it October 3, when it’s set for wide release.
Film: The Sound and The Fury
Director: James Franco
Review by Amanda Gilmore
James Franco’s latest film behind the camera is a work of art.
Making an experimental film instead of a major Hollywood production, Franco was able to stay true to William Faulkner’s novel by jumping back and forth in time and hardly having any dialogue in the first half of the film.
For fans of the novel, this is a must-see for those who have not read Faulkner’s period piece of the Compson family, this is a film to see for the performances alone.
Franco playing the mentally challenged Benjy is captivatingly believable, Jacob Loeb’s take as the suicidal Quentin makes the audience relate to them in every way and Scott Haze as the eldest and angriest brother, Jason, is so terrifying you will shake.
Franco has made his mark as a director with this exceptional adaptation.
The Sound and the Fury debuted at the Venice Film Festival at the beginning of September and is set for wider release later this year.
Director: Dan Gilroy
Review by Amanda Gilmore
How far will Lou Bloom go to get paid? Farther than most people would.
Bloom, played outstandingly by Jake Gyllenhaal, is looking for a job with no luck, blaming the economy for his troubles. One night, he stumbles onto a crime scene and sees men with cameras filming to sells the footage to the news. That is when he buys himself a camera and becomes a nightcrawler.
Through the film, Bloom becomes obsessed with money and getting the perfect shot for the news network he sells his footage to. He goes as far as to move bodies at crime scenes if he gets there before the police do.
This film will put you on the edge of your seat and make you think about who is really in the wrong here. Is it Bloom, the photographer desperate for money? Is it the TV network that airs the footage? Or is it neither, both just trying to survive in a harsh economy? Decide for yourself October 31, when Nightcrawler is scheduled for wide release.
Director: Pat Mills
Review by Leah Hansen
Ryerson grad Pat Mills brings dysfunction and laughs to TIFF with his first feature-length film, Guidance.
David Gold (Mills) is a washed-up child actor, still living in the past and wondering what went wrong. He can barely manage to pay rent and struggles maintaining a relationship with his family. Everything seems to be going steadily downhill until Gold adopts the persona of a high school guidance counsellor and gets hired at the local school, giving very unconventional advice to the teenagers he identifies with so well.
Although the budget set for the film was nowhere near that of Hollywood production, you can hardly tell the difference. The screenplay is smooth and flows without a hitch, and the performances given are near-flawless. The difference makes itself known in editing and continuity issues. In one scene, Gold is rifling through his belongings outside his former apartment building, green trees in the background — in the next shot, the trees are bare. The voice-over seems overdone and unnecessary at times, distracting from the emotional power of some scenes. Despite this, the outlandishness of the story and the satisfying ending will keep you invested for the entire 83 minutes. For a first feature-length film, Guidance is a success, managing to be strange, endearing, relatable and unbelievable all at once.
Keep an eye out for its release date, which should be coming sometime in 2015 — after the premiere at TIFF, Mills sold the North American distribution rights.
Director: Bennett Miller
Review by Amanda Gilmore
Bennett Miller’s brilliantly-paced film will leave the audience floored by stunning performances.
The film is based on the true story of the relationship between millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carrell) and Olympic wrestlers Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) and Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo) from the time they meet to the 1988 Olympics. As the storyline progresses, we watch as their friendship becomes increasingly poisonous.
No one could have played du Pont like Carell. He finds the comedy in the drama and the drama in the comedy perfectly, but also gives the audience an uneasy feeling throughout. There is something not quite right with du Pont, and Carrell manages to channel this through the camera and onto the screen.
Tatum plays Schultz with hardly any dialogue and pure emotion through his actions. This is Tatum like audiences have never seen him before — he demands to be seen as a serious actor.
The power of the performances is expertly displayed by Miller, who chooses to leave all the camera tricks in the bag and stick with still frames that let the actors show their range.
Foxcatcher is a near-sure Oscar contender — watch for it in theatres Nov. 14.