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Thursday, Sep 15, 2011
Although in some ways a seductive feminist study of sex, power, and commerce -- for Binoche is writing this article for money, we cannot forget -- the overall impression by film's end is one of bewilderment rather than contemplation.

ELLES
Director: Malgorzata Szumowska
Cast: Juliette Binoche, Joanna Kulig, Anaïs Demoustier
Country: France / Poland / Germany


Juliette Binoche plays a top-flight investigative reporter for Elle magazine who has been tasked with an article on students who turn to prostitution to pay their bills. To that end, she has interviewed a pair of young women (one a working class social climber and the other a Polish immigrant) and is now sitting at her desk reflecting on what they have told her, what they have been through, and the ways their stories conflict with her own feminist assumptions about sex work.


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Thursday, Sep 15, 2011
Todd Solondz (Happiness, Life During Wartime) understands tackiness on a deeper level than just about everyone else in the business besides John Waters.

DARK HORSE
Director: Todd Solondz
Cast: Justin Bartha, Selma Blair, Mia Farrow, Jordan Gelber, Donna Murphy, Christopher Walken
Country: USA


Todd Solondz (Happiness, Life During Wartime) understands tackiness on a deeper level than just about everyone else in the business besides John Waters. Fascinated by the weirdos, geeks and screw-ups among us (and the weird geeky screw-up inside each of us), at his best Solondz can put his audience in a place where we are laughing at characters not just because they are ridiculous, but because we feel like we’ve been there too, somehow. At his worst, and he is at his worst a lot of the time in this picture, Solondz has us merely sneering at his characters, mocking them for their foibles, and cheering on their failures.


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Thursday, Sep 15, 2011
This quiet little tour de force about a troubled young boy has bewitched the critics at this year's Festival.

THE KID WITH A BIKE
Director: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardennes
Cast: Cecile de France, Thomas Doret, Jeremie Renier, Fabrizio Rongione, Egon Di Mateo
Country: Belgium / France / Italy


This quiet little tour de force about a troubled young boy has bewitched the critics at this year’s Festival. It is one of those movies one overhears talk of while in line for a screening, the critic using words like “classic” and “masterpiece” and “genius”. Recalling such top-shelfers as 400 Blows with its unflinching but nuanced treatment of childhood psychology and emotional distress, The Kid With a Bike portrays a world that feels eminently lived in, and true to the messiness of experience.


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Thursday, Sep 15, 2011
Take This Waltz is set in Polley's native Toronto and it makes wide use of that city's funky west end for its locations and local musicians for its score (a real treat for this Torontonian).

TAKE THIS WALTZ
Director: Sarah Polley
Cast: Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Luke Kirby, Sarah Silverman
Country: Canada


Margot (Michelle Williams) is happily married to a funny, warm, and all-around good man (Seth Rogan). But, she is also falling in love with the dark, mysterious bohemian painter (Luke Kirby) who lives across the street. Sarah Polley’s sophomore film asks of its audience a tricky question: Can you empathize with Margot or not? If you do, Margot’s two hours of agonizing over the decision to leave her husband or not will feel powerfully affecting and gorgeously realised. But, if you decide early on—as many in the press and industry audience around me did—that Margot is a fickle and selfish fool, you are in for a long slog. Happily, I found myself in the former camp, and was able to settle in for what is a heartbreaking, sexy, and witty ride through the fun house of emotional turmoil.


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Wednesday, Sep 14, 2011
Documentaries made by non-documentarians can be exhilarating since, new to the form, the filmmakers tend to break old rules and push into interesting territory. But they can also wind up looking something like Pearl Jam Twenty.

PEARL JAM TWENTY
Director: Cameron Crowe
Cast: Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, Mike McCready, Eddie Vedder, Matt Cameron, Chris Cornell, Kurt Cobain, Neil Young
Country: USA
 
Documentaries made by non-documentarians can be exhilarating since, new to the form, the filmmakers tend to break old rules and push into interesting territory. But they can also wind up looking something like Pearl Jam Twenty. Confusing (even to this follower of the group), scattered, and unaccountably incomplete (one longtime member of the band is never even mentioned aloud!), this one is for fans only.


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