Austrian auteur Michael Haneke’s Happy End may or may not be a sequel to his arresting masterpiece Amour, and the earlier Cache, but it is the latest example of Haneke’s supreme talents as a filmmaker. It appears to be a continuation, at the very least, of the Laurent family stories, heavy on psychological elements and tough truths, revealed and “hidden” in a style that intrigues and disturbs. Its elegance gives a gloss to the primal natures of the Laurents, unmasking things they – and we – may not want to face. Little Eva Laurent is sent to live with her aunt when her mother dies from poisoning; she and her grandfather bond over a dark secret as he considers carrying out another. It isn’t easy to watch because it reflects back at us, but it is engrossing and smart. Isabelle Huppert and Jean-Louis Trintignant co-star with the talented young Fantine Harduin.
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The sequel to the mighty, mighty Paddington, simply called Paddington 2 finds our favourite ready-for-rain toy bear entering the working world. It’s Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday and he wants to buy her a book on old London so she can imagine she is there. Unfortunately, the book is stolen and he’s the prime suspect. He’s arrested and sent to jail where the inmates have fun and eat cake. Meanwhile Paddington’s adoptive family battles the villain – an adorable Hugh Grant in disguise – in hopes of springing him in this lighthearted, really funny and clever all-ages comedy.
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The Commuter is another thriller set on a train starring Liam Neeson as an insurance agent forced into a potentially deadly situation by a beautiful stranger. He must find a certain fellow passenger “who doesn’t belong” before the train reaches the end of the line to collect $75k. He realises he’s been duped into a criminal conspiracy but has no choice. So here he is in a moving, confined space, racing at breakneck speed against the clock as the threat of death looms over him and everyone on board and in the periphery. I’d like to remind you that Liam Neeson at age 65 remains the king of action/revenge film so these fool criminals don’t know what they’ve unleashed. My advice is that if you see Liam Neeson on your train, plane, subway or any other conveyance, there will be trouble, but he will save you.
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Proud Mary Columbia/Sony was not screened for reviewers. Taraji P. Henson, Empire’s Cookie, stars as a retro assassin who bonds with a boy she meets on a job.
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My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman has finally launched on Netflix. The great bearded one hosts a limited series of hour long interviews “inaugurating” it with Barack Obama. Among the topics they discuss is being a cool dad, dancing onstage with Prince and daughter Sasha, and how “staying in the pocket” keeps his embarrassing “dad moves” in check. One of the most exciting TV events in a while brings together the king of late night and his heavy duty guest list of George Clooney, Malala Yousafzai, Jay-Z, Tina Fey and Howard Stern. Feels good to have Letterman back and as for him, well he’s had cabin fever.
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FX launched The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story this week, a fact-based limited series of nine episodes on a major story that shook us up a while back. Remember the iconic Italian designer murdered in front of his Miami home by spree killer in 1997? “Glee” star Darren Criss plays Andrew Cunanan who crossed the US killing six people and landed on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List well before he arrived in Miami. The series follows the designer, played by Edgar Ramirez, his rise to fame, his move to the US and his subsequent successes and Cunanan’s twisted journey into evil. Penelope Cruz plays the pragmatic Donatella Versace who carried on the family business and Ricky Martin is Gianni’s devoted lover. Three episodes in, I was frightened and couldn’t watch any more, it’s that chilling. To see a regular joe backpacker snow his victims, take their money and lives with charm, seduction and psychopathic zeal is unsettling. Ryan Murphy adapted the series from Maureen Orth’s Vulgar Favors.
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TIFF Bell Lightbox is hosting the Top Ten Canadian Films of 2017* Festival with the unveiling of the winners at public screenings, free events, discussions and special guests over ten days. The festival’s In Conversation With… series features among others, Alanis Obomsawin with her latest feature, Our People Will Be Healed, and Evan Rachel Wooddiscussing her psychological thriller Allure, shown at TIFF 17 as A Worthy Companion, the feature debut of Montreal-based photographers Carlos and Jason Sanchez. Two special screenings are scheduled, Phillip Borsos’ 1990 political saga Bethune: The Making of a Hero starring Donald Sutherland as beloved Canadian hero Dr. Norman and Daniel Cockburn’s TFCA Jay Scott Prize winner You Are Here (2010). The festival will tour Canada, stopping in Vancouver, Montreal, Regina, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Saskatoon.
Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival features, in alphabetical order:
Adventures in Public School – Kyle Rideout, the Opening Night Film.
Allure – Carlos Sanchez, Jason Sanchez
Ava – Sadaf Foroughi
Les Affamés – Robin Aubert
The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches – Simon Lavoie
Luk’Luk’I – Wayne Wapeemukwa
Never Steady, Never Still – Kathleen Hepburn
Our People Will Be Healed – Alanis Obomsawin
RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World – Catherine Bainbridge
Unarmed Verses – Charles Officer
Tickets are available at www.ttiff.net/seethenorth, by phone 416.599.TIFF and 1.888.599.8433 and at the Steve & Rashmi Gupta Box Office at TIFF Bell Lightbox from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET.
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