’12 Years a Slave’ to ‘Gravity’: Recapping 26 Reviews from the 2013 Toronto Film Festival

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2013 Toronto Film Festival Review Recap

After nine days in Toronto for the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, I finally arrived home in Seattle late in the evening on Friday, September 13, and have been trying to catch up ever since. I still have one review to write for Hayao Miyazaki‘s The Wind Rises, but managed to post 26 reviews from the festival and just below is a recap of all 26 with my teaser for each review, the grade and a few words to sort of put a capper on the festival as we now move full steam ahead into Oscar season.

Speaking of Oscar season, following this recap I’m going to be going straight into work on updating my Oscar predictions. There is a lot of moving and shuffling that needs to be done after not only the Toronto, but Telluride and Venice Film Festivals and with the New York Film Festival right around the corner.

Exciting times folks… Exciting times…

Kill Your Darlings (D+)

Kill Your Darlings TIFF reviewI caught Kill Your Darlings in Seattle before heading out to the festival and it was disappointing in many ways, but mostly because it just didn’t know what it wanted to be. It still features some solid performances from the likes of Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg and Dane DeHaan as Lucien Carr along with some great production design setting the period, but overall it’s a rather messy little film that adds up to very little.

Kill Your Darlings runs into an identity crisis, unsure of what it is and wants to be. Perhaps this is intentional as a result of its subject matter, but in the end it felt like a movie that never found its footing.

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Don Jon (C+)

Don Jon TIFF reviewThis was a tough one to review, it features a lot of laughs and is a nice little movie, but by the end it doesn’t really leave you with much more than a small satisfaction. This is largely due to a bit of a curve ball the third act throws at the audience as a character that didn’t seem to be playing much of a role in the narrative suddenly takes it over and in ways that don’t seem entirely believable.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s feature debut serves as a decent coming out party, but Don Jon has some issues that hold it back from being much, much better.

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The Fifth Estate (D)

The Fifth Estate TIFF reviewThis was the absolute first nightmare of the festival and had it not been for Benedict Cumberbatch‘s performance as Julian Assange, The Fifth Estate would have been another “F” review from me. If director Bill Condon was attempting to make a commercial for WikiLeaks or a speed typing seminar then he succeeded, but if this was meant to be some sort of dramatic account of the WikiLeaks story, he accomplished little more than making a Twitter feed adaptation of headlines only with zero meat on the bone.

Bill Condon’s Wikileaks movie, The Fifth Estate, is so focused on headlines, globe-trotting and keyboard mashing that it forgets to tell an actual story… you know, with characters…

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Blue is the Warmest Color (B+)

Blue is the Warmest Color TIFF reviewThis was the only film I regretted missing at the Cannes Film Festival and was determined to make up for it while in Toronto. I said all I really wanted to say about it in my review, but if I could say something else, I’d comment on the title, Blue is the Warmest Color. In France it will be titled La vie d’Adèle after the graphic novel from which it is based, which essentially translates to “The Life of Adele”. You can come up with some reason for changing the title in domestic markets, perhaps because Blue is the Warmest Color sounds so much more mysterious, but I really can’t say it means much of anything at all in the long run.

There’s no doubt most of the attention Blue is the Warmest Color will receive will either have to do with its Palme d’Or win, the performances of its two leads or its explicit sex scenes, but once you get beyond the talking points there’s a lot more to see.

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The Invisible Woman (C+)

The Invisible Woman TIFF reviewWhile not a perfect film, The Invisible Woman has a lot to like, largely a great performance from Felicity Jones in the title role. Had Ralph Fiennes decided to be a little more adventurous in the telling of the story it could have been an even better film overall.

Ralph Fiennes’ sophomore directorial effort, The Invisible Woman, offers an intriguing story and great performances, but is told in the most traditional of ways, which sets it back.

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