2012 Fall Film Festival Roundup: The Verdict on Films Screening at TIFF, Telluride, and Venice

  • Publish Date: September 17, 2012
  • Comments: ↓ 2 user comments

Another fall festival season is now in the books. Below, we recap the reactions from critics to the major films screening at this year's Telluride, Venice, and Toronto International Film Festivals, considered the most prestigious events of the season and the locales where many future Oscar nominees first debut. Note that only some of these films will actually surface in cinemas this year; for some, you'll have to wait until 2013 (though note that a few of the "tbd" titles will likely show up in at least a few theaters before the year is up in order to qualify for the Oscars).

Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master might have lost the Golden Lion in Venice (while still winning Best Director and Best Actor(s) awards), but it emerged as the most critically acclaimed film of the fall festival season. That film is not included below because it has already opened in theaters; find those reviews elsewhere on our site. Also excluded are films that first debuted at other major festivals earlier this year; you can find reviews for those films in our Cannes Recap and our Sundance Recap.

Anna Karenina Watch trailer
Directed by Joe Wright | U.S. release November 16, 2012

After a change of pace with the action film Hanna 65, director Joe Wright returns to the world of literary adaptations starring Keira Knightley (they previously collaborated on Pride & Prejudice 82 and Atonement 85) with this highly stylized take on Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel. But, for many critics, the success of Wright’s theatrical approach is debatable. The Playlist finds it “both fascinatingly theatrical and thrillingly cinematic” and Time labels the film “intelligently ecstatic,” but others had a more measured response. The Guardian admits it’s “not a total success, but it's a bold and creative response to the novel,” and the AV Club’s Noel Murray believes “Wright’s style gets in the way at times,” but he is excited that the director is “working to push aside the usually dry approach to literary adaptation in order to make something exciting and beautiful.” Total Film sees style over substance, with the overall effect “pulling the attention away from where it should be,” and Variety, while liking the film a bit more overall, concedes that it “feels unmistakably chilly.” THR might sum up the differing views best, calling the concept “arresting, mannered, gorgeous, stifling, surprising and facile.”

Argo Watch trailer
Directed by Ben Affleck | U.S. release October 12, 2012

Ben Affleck’s third film as director (following Gone Baby Gone 72 and The Town 74) is already generating deafening best picture buzz. The true story of the CIA’s plan to smuggle six U.S. embassy employees out of Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis as part of a fake movie crew thrilled many. Boxoffice Magazine finds it to be a “smart, crafty suspense-laden picture,” and, in its A- review, The Playlist calls it “a gripping nail-biter, superbly suspenseful and yet occasionally light on its toes.” Variety describes the film as “white-knuckle tense” and “unexpectedly comedic,” but The Guardian disagrees, finding very little “levity” in the film. The AV Club posits that “it’s the kind of intelligent, nuts-and-bolts thriller that Hollywood should make more regularly.” Eric Kohn at Indiewire enjoys the “nice calibration of performances and breezy pace that pulls you along with the increasingly risky stakes,” and THR echoes that sentiment, calling the film “a tight and tense political thriller sparked by unexpected humor.” Time provides a dissenting view, however, claiming “Affleck adds nothing new.”

At Any Price
Directed by Ramin Bahrani | U.S. release tbd

Ramin Bahrani has enjoyed the praise of critics for each of his first three films (Man Push Cart 71, Chop Shop 83, Goodbye Solo 89), so expectations were high for his latest, an Iowa farm-set drama about a family’s struggles with each other and the American Dream. At Any Price stars Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron as father and son, the first “name” actors to work with Bahrani. Unfortunately for the director, this looks to be his least loved film to date. In his “C” review, Noel Murray at the AV Club expresses his disappointment in seeing such a previously successful director produce such “a misfire,” describing the film as “an especially painful whiff.” The Guardian really doesn’t like Quaid’s performance in this “tragi-melodramatic soap opera,” but enjoys what Efron brings to the film. On the other hand, Quaid impresses THR’s David Rooney, who describes the film as an “accomplished... engrossingly serious-minded heartland drama, rich in moral ambiguity,” and in its positive review, Variety finds the “tense father-son dynamic feels believably rooted in a long history of resentments and misunderstandings.” Final word goes to the The Playlist and its haltingly positive review: “For all its flaws, we found the film powerful, engaging and, by the finale, moving.”

Directed by Neil Jordan | U.S. release tbd

Director Neil Jordan is no stranger to the vampire film, having directed 1994's Interview with the Vampire 59, but his return to genre lacks bite, according to many reviewers. Adapted from a play called A Vampire Story, Byzantium stars Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan as a mother-daughter vampire duo who pissed off the wrong vampires a few centuries ago, and those leads both earned praise from multiple critics, as did the film's visuals. As for the story, it has potential but fails to follow through; writes the Guardian in a two-star review typical of the overall reaction, "Byzantium starts to introduce issues that you'd seldom find in most vampire films, before cutting of the blood and leaving them to die." Variety agrees, calling Byzantium "a lethargic and uninspired take that aims to be something different, but ultimately isn't." A bigger crime is that it just isn't scary. THR's David Rooney calls the film "sluggish and lacking in bite," lamenting that "it has neither thrills nor suspense," while The Playlist's Kevin Jagernauth (in a "C-" review) deems it a "disappointingly bloodless" work that "often feels as gray and lifeless as the corpses in the film." Indiewire's Eric Kohn gives the film a better grade ("B") and admires the film's "intelligence and gravitas" while still admitting that it is "unquestionably a minor achievement" compared to Jordan's prior work.

Cloud Atlas Watch trailer
Directed by Tom Tykwer and Lana & Andy Wachowski | U.S. release October 26, 2012

It’s difficult to adapt what many believe to be unadaptable, but The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer set out to do just that when they decided to bring David Mitchell’s genre- and century-spanning novel Cloud Atlas to the big screen. If the critics are to be believed, they didn’t quite succeed. In fact, some reviewers called it an out-and-out failure. Karina Longworth of the LA Weekly is definitely not a fan, thanks to the film’s “abysmally inconsistent, tone-deaf execution.” Slant seconds that opinion and goes as far as claiming it to be one of the worst films ever, with “flat acting, shabby editing, and surprisingly uninspired design.... It collapses so intensely under the weight of its own inanity and pretension that nothing at all is left standing.” The Guardian is a bit kinder, stating, “It's hard to wholly condemn the directors' ambition - this is fast-paced and cleverly assembled,” but The Playlist disagrees, giving the film a “C- ” and concluding that it’s “too long by at least a half hour, and both dull and repetitive as it goes on.” THR is split, admitting it’s “not quite soaring into the heavens, but not exactly crash-landing either,” while Indiewire gives the the film a “B-” in reward for “the sense of ambition that pushes it forward.” The biggest fan is Peter Debruge of Variety, who enjoys the “intense three-hour mental workout rewarded with a big emotional payoff.”

The Company You Keep Watch trailer
Directed by Robert Redford | U.S. release tbd

It looks like Robert Redford’s latest directorial effort, the story of a '60s radical on the run from the law, will be his third straight film (following Lions for Lambs 47 and The Conspirator 55) to get a lukewarm critical (and box office?) reception. Scott Tobias of the AV Club laments that “an absurdly loaded cast—Nick Nolte, Julie Christie (the rumors are true), Terrence Howard, Richard Jenkins, Chris Cooper, Stephen Root, and Sam Elliott among them—is wasted on a journalist procedural that unfolds at quarter-speed.” Echoing Tobias’ “C-” with their own, The Playlist voices a similar complaint: “Even with so many talented actors involved, there’s nothing really galvanizing or particularly provocative about Redford’s latest.” Slant agrees as well, declaring that “there isn't much in the way of invention when it comes to its workmanlike direction.” On the more positive side are Variety, admitting that “in its stolid, old-fashioned way, it satisfies an appetite,” and THR’s David Rooney, who believes “Robert Redford does his most compelling work in some time as both actor and director.”

Frances Ha
Directed by Noah Baumbach | U.S. release tbd

This surprise, small budget, black-and white-collaboration between writer/director Noah Baumbach (Greenberg 76, The Squid and the Whale 82) and writer/star Greta Gerwig looks at the post-college life of Frances (Gerwig), an apprentice dancer fumbling though life in New York City. Critics unanimously embraced the film and showered both Gerwig and Baumbach with praise. THR calls the film “terrific” and “exhilarating,” adding, “This is unquestionably Gerwig’s defining performance to date.” Variety also praises the actress, writing, “Gerwig manages to just be, making her precisely the right young star to carry such a genial glimpse at a character who doesn't even seem to realize she's trying to find herself.” The Playlist believes the film to be “one of Baumbach’s most accessible and joyous works,” and Slant agrees, calling it “an unassumingly potent and rich film which represents a long-awaited return to peak form for Baumbach.” Noel Murray and Scott Tobias of the AV Club both give the film an “A-” with Murray celebrating the humor (“The movie is so, so funny”) and Tobias praising the “wonderful verve” of the “deft, uproarious comedy.” In his own “A-” review, Eric Kohn at Indiewire claims “the movie's aimlessness is its greatest strength,” while giving it four out of five stars is The Guardian, commenting, “Baumbach... gives these lives the full French new wave/mid-period Woody Allen treatment, conferring charm and substance on even their most mundane interaction.” IFC Films is currently in talks to acquire the film, with a theatrical release late this year a possibility.

Ginger & Rosa Watch trailer
Directed by Sally Potter | U.S. release tbd

Director Sally Potter announced her presence on the independent film scene with 1992’s daring Orlando, but the 20 years since have passed without another critical favorite. Her latest stars Elle Fanning, Alice Englert, Christina Hendricks, and Annette Bening in a coming of age story about the effect of the Cuban missile crisis on a teenage friendship. Indiewire finds the film to be “a viscerally charged work that foregrounds surface tensions and gripping performances... the filmmaker's most accessible and technically surefooted work to date.” THR’s Todd McCarthy praises the film as well, and thinks Elle Fanning is “simply extraordinary,” exhibiting “an amazing range.” The Guardian gives the film four out of five stars and calls Fanning “alarmingly good,” but Variety believes Fanning is stuck “in a project undeserving of her talents,” and the AV Club faults Potter for a film that “seems far more obvious and down-the-middle than it needs to be.”

Great Expectations
Directed by Mike Newell | U.S. release tbd

Mike Newell, whose last two films couldn’t be more different (Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time 50 and Love in the Time of Cholera 47) directs this latest adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic novel. THR gives a mildly positive review, praising the “vivid characterizations from Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter” and claiming “Newell makes a solid case for big-screen presentation with an assured version that’s no less entertaining for being quite conventional.” The Playlist agrees, giving the film a “B” despite “a stodgy staging of the original text that benefits from occasionally lively characterizations but very little in the way of effervescent freshness.” It’s that conventionality that others find fault with, as Variety claims “the vitality seems to have been largely drained from this rote retelling,” while The Guardian blames Newell as well as screenwriter David Nicholls, noting, “It takes a special type of talent to turn Great Expectations into a film quite this flat.”

Hyde Park on Hudson Watch trailer
Directed by Roger Michell | U.S. release December 7, 2012

Consensus seems to be that director Roger Michell (Notting Hill 66) has produced a middling drama about FDR’s personal life and the June 1939 visit of George VI and his wife (the subjects of the 2010 best picture winner The King’s Speech). Variety calls it a “frequently tacky tell-all” that is “elevated somewhat by the stunt casting of Bill Murray as FDR.” The Playlist gives the “largely harmless and tame, but also shallow and uninvolving” film a “C” grade, and Indiewire seconds that, claiming “The story comes across like a quest to turn history into entertainment, and as a result it lacks any lasting value.” While not giving it a strong endorsement, The Guardian believes it’s still “quite the charmer” despite all its flaws, while THR’s Todd McCarthy finds more to like including Murray’s “credible and very entertaining” performance as FDR.

Directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini | U.S. release tbd 2013

A fake suicide attempt lands Kristin Wiig’s Imogene back with her mother (Annette Bening) in this comedy from the filmmaking team of Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini. Unfortunately, they don’t return to the form of their first feature (American Splendor 90), instead producing something closer to their last film (The Extra Man 56). THR believes Imogene's strengths are “witty acting and sharp observation of the great New York/New Jersey divide” along with “intuitive casting,” but admits it still falls “on the disappointing side.” However, The Playlist has some love for the film, calling it “occasionally winning, a touch too sitcom-y, but often very funny.” Variety also has faint praise for the “shrewd comic instincts” of the film which save an “uneven, excessively quirky but ultimately ingratiating story.” The AV Club’s Scott Tobias, on the other hand, sees little to enjoy in this “limp pile of indie quirk,” but the harshest words come from Slant: “A dismal, D-grade sitcom stretched out to wafer-thin feature length.... This is where wit and comic timing go to die; every joke is dated, shopworn, and tiresomely bland.”

The Impossible Watch trailer
Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona | U.S. release December 21, 2012

The Impossible, Juan Antonio Bayona’s follow-up to 2007‘s The Orphanage 74, is a drama based around the tsunami of 2004 starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor. The film follows the true story of one family’s struggle to survive and reunite following the devastating natural disaster. Variety praises Bayona’s direction as “nothing short of masterly” and the film as “the most harrowing disaster movie in many a moon.” THR finds the film to be “one of the most emotionally realistic disaster movies in recent memory -- and certainly one of the most frightening,” and the AV Club’s Noel Murray writes, “The Impossible confirms that Bayona is a major talent, with a skill for shooting and constructing sequences that build tension masterfully.” Impressed by the combination of “physical scale and human emotion,” The Guardian gives the film four out of five stars, but Indiewire is a little less enamored, claiming the film “stumbles on its earnestness” even though it “never ceases to be a visual marvel.”

Looper Watch trailer
Directed by Rian Johnson | U.S. release September 28, 2012

Director Rian Johnson (Brick 72 and The Brothers Bloom 55) and stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis make the leap into time travel, telekinesis, and existential conundrums in Johnson's critic- and crowd-pleasing third film. Total Film declares it to be, “The best sci-fi movie since Moon. The best time-travel yarn since 12 Monkeys. And one of the best films of 2012.” Box Office Magazine adds to the comparative praise, claiming Looper to be “the coolest, most-confident sci-fi flick since 2006's Children of Men.” While not comparing it to another movie specifically, The Playlist praises the “frequently dazzling film, which may be one of the most original pieces of sci-fi to come down the pike in quite a while.” THR likes the “clever, entertaining science fiction thriller,” especially the ending, which is “very impressively worked out.” Variety appreciates that Johnson’s “giddy, geeky interest in science-fiction” allows for “multidimensional characters,” and, the AV Club’s Noel Murray also points to the “delightful little character turns” in a film with a “strong emotional core.” The Guardian likes the combination of a “dense film” with the pace of a “breathless ride,” but Indiewire feels the finish is “problematic” despite the “adrenaline rush.”

Much Ado About Nothing
Directed by Joss Whedon | U.S. release tbd

Joss Whedon follows his massive (in scale and box office returns) The Avengers 69 with this low-budget, black-and-white adaptation of Shakespeare’s comedy updated to a contemporary setting (it was filmed in his own Southern California home) but retaining the Bard’s language. The AV Club’s Noel Murray thinks it works, and his colleague Scott Tobias agrees, writing, “Whedon keeps the staging simple, but directs with great energy, ace timing, and a good feel for when some embellishing gesture might carry a scene across.” THR believes it’s “one of the funniest Shakespeare films in ages,” and Variety thinks “this nimble black-and-white rendition honors a classic text.” The Playlist agrees, calling the film “an utter joy, Whedon's most emotionally resonant and fully realized feature film to date.” The Guardian continues the praise for Whedon’s direction, noting his “keen ear for comedy, a no-nonsense approach to ditching the gags that don't work, a deft hand for slapstick and an eagerness to use it.” One dissenting view comes from Indiewire. In his “C+” review, Eric Kohn believes “the movie represents Whedon's least essential work, regardless of the material's inherent comedic inspiration.”

Passion Watch trailer
Directed by Brian De Palma | U.S. release tbd

Brian De Palma’s remake of Alain Corneau’s Love Crime 63 stars Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace as rival colleagues whose devious corporate games eventually escalate to murder. Admitting their abiding love of De Palma, the AV Club’s Noel Murray and Scott Tobias admit the first half is a bit of a slog but find the film’s second half filled with De Palma’s “operatic moves” and “one dazzling setpiece after another.” Slant is happy to see the “master of the erotic thriller is back on home turf, with all the luscious violence, sensationalistic flourishes, and base pleasures that has come to entail,” and Indiewire’s Eric Kohn takes pleasure in what is “a veritable De Palma remix, at once a classy suspense movie and an unquestionably silly affair.” The film doesn’t get as much love from Variety, whose Justin Chang sees “some modestly campy pleasures” without “the delirious trash-horror verve of De Palma's best work,” and the The Playlist agrees, noting, “What Passion is lacking is, ironically, some passion.”

The Perks of Being a Wallflower Watch trailer
Directed by Stephen Chbosky | U.S. release September 21, 2012

Stephen Chbosky directs this adaptation of his own critically acclaimed novel which focuses on the shy and unpopular Charlie (Logan Lerman) who finds friends in Sam (Emma Watson) and Patrick (Ezra Miller). THR describes the film as “a heartfelt but rather generic coming-of-age dramedy,” and Variety sees “a formula-hugging coming-of-age soaper” but enjoys the “memorable perfs from its trio of young talents.” The performances also work for Indiewire, which notes, “It has considerable charm and no small amount of poignancy thanks to the performances,” but The Guardian can only give two out of five stars to this “wholesome drama.” The Playlist has the most enthusiasm for this “fresh, funny and moving look at the ups and downs of friendship and family in high school,” believing it “successfully plumbs some very dark thematic developments, and navigates its way through humor and drama with ease.”

Directed by Ki-duk Kim | U.S. release tbd

This controversial Golden Lion winner at the Venice Film Festival (after The Master was stripped of the award due to a technicality) is Korean auteur Kim Ki-duk’s most accessible film since 2007’s Time 73, but it can still be an incredibly difficult watch. The story revolves around a sadistic debt collector who meets a woman claiming to be his long-lost mother. The Playlist finds the film “repetitive, bruising and grim, set in a scuzzy part of the world, full of even scuzzier people,” and the AV Club is even less of a fan, seeing the film as “a step backwards” for the director. There are, however, some reviewers who enjoyed it. THR claims that it is “violent but ultimately moving,” and Variety believes the film “offers up the director's vintage blend of cruelty, wit and moral complexity.” But the most praise comes from Indiewire’s Eric Kohn who gives the “curiously engaging and wickedly twisted tale of crime and punishment” an “A-.”

The Place Beyond the Pines
Directed by Derek Cianfrance | U.S. release tbd 2013

Derek Cianfrance’s follow-up to Blue Valentine 81 stars Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper as men whose decisions and families are destined to intertwine. Critics split on whether the director pulls off this more ambitious, generational story. Variety finds it “overlong and under-conceived,” and in his “C+” review Scott Tobias of the AV Club admits the director gets great performances from his cast, but unfortunately can’t resist falling into “self-seriousness, a tendency to underline the gravity of situations that don’t need the added emphasis.” THR enjoys Cianfrance’s “mastery of atmospherics and tone” but finds the film overall to be “uneven and perhaps overly ambitious” despite “moments of searing power.” The Guardian echoes that sentiment, calling it “ambitious and epic, perhaps to a fault,” but Indiewire believes the film succeeds despite threatening “to become too mopey and self-serious for its own good.” The highest praise comes from The Playlist in its “A” review; writes that publication's Kevin Jagernauth, “A brilliant, towering picture, The Place Beyond The Pines is a cinematic accomplishment of extraordinary grace and insight.”

Seven Psychopaths Watch trailer
Directed by Martin McDonagh | U.S. release October 12, 2012

Martin McDonagh re-teams with his In Bruges 67 star Colin Farrell in this winner of the People's Choice Award in the Midnight Madness section of the Toronto International Film Festival. The meta tale of writer's block and dognapping works for the AV Club, whose Noel Murray notes that it “can’t consistently maintain its highest highs, when the dialogue is popping and the plot is twisting. But when the movie is on, it’s super-on"; his colleague Scott Tobias praises the “wonderfully digressive” script and “excellent” casting. THR also believes, “If the overlong film slides into self-indulgence, the actors keep it buoyant.” Indiewire praises the script and its “plethora of one-liners,” and The Guardian finds the film “witty and inventive, cracklingly obscene” even if “it doesn't quite cohere.” Liking the film less is Variety, concluding, “Seven Psychopaths feels like either an older script knocking around the bottom of a drawer or a new one hastily tossed off between more ambitious projects,” and giving it a “C,” The Playlist finds even less to enjoy in a picture both “manic and exhausting.”

Silver Linings Playbook Watch trailer
Directed by David O. Russell | U.S. release November 21, 2012

A surprise winner of the TIFF People's Choice Award (voted on by festival audiences), David O. Russell’s return to comedy following 2010’s Oscar nominated drama The Fighter 79 is the tale of a former high school teacher played by Bradley Cooper, who, after being released from a mental institution, moves back in with his parents (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver) and strikes up a relationship with an odd, mentally unstable girl played by Jennifer Lawrence. Praise for the ensemble is unanimous, and Jennifer Lawrence gets the bulk of the kudos in what THR describes as “a film as odd as it is charming.” The Playlist finds Playbook “enormously entertaining” and Russell “at his most focused.” Indiewire also has love for the director’s “unexpectedly charming romcom that frequently dances... between cynicism and bittersweetness with largely winning results.” Variety believes it “boasts a level of charm, heart and formal sophistication increasingly rare among adult-driven studio comedies,” and the AV Club also sees a crowd-pleasing romantic comedy, but one that is “enormously funny and affecting.” Only The Guardian is slightly less enamored, labeling the film a “winsome, if patchy romantic comedy.”

Something in the Air
Directed by Olivier Assayas | U.S. release tbd

Olivier Assayas is widely regarded as one of the best filmmakers working today, but coming off the success of Summer Hours 84 and Carlos 94, expectations might have been a little too high for his latest drama, a semi-autobiographical look at young French activists in 1971 Paris. The Playlist gives the film a “B” but admits, “we had our fingers crossed for the picture to be Assayas’ crowning achievement, but it seems we’ll have to wait a little longer.” AV Club also gives the film a “B,” describing it as “an untamed vision, for better or worse.” The film is “made with the bittersweet clarity of hindsight and the assurance of a director in peak form,” according to Variety, and THR finds it to be “a beautifully crafted work and an acute evocation of its period both in look and attitude.” Slant notes the film is a “canny balance of nostalgia with hindsight” and “ends on a beautifully melancholic grace note.”

Spring Breakers
Directed by Harmony Korine | U.S. release March 5, 2013

The latest provocation from writer/director Harmony Korine is actually his most mainstream film to date. Disney stars wear bikinis, and James Franco dons cornrows for this visually arresting look at girls gone wild, wilder, and wildest. Variety finds it an “attractively fizzy” but “pretty toothless titillation by its writer-helmer's standards,” and THR concurs, opining, “It has hypnotic visual style and a dense, driving soundscape. But it’s also too monotonous and thematically empty to be seriously provocative.” The Playlist sees a “a fairly thin, pulpy crime tale, given more substance than it should have on paper thanks to some excellent filmmaking,” but the AV Club isn’t buying it: “Other than the calculated shock of teen pop idols going wild, Spring Breakers is hyperbolically stupid in the usual Korine fashion, relieved only by luscious day-glo visuals.” Indiewire thinks it has more to offer and its “greatest strength lies in Korine’s ability to present this toxic fantasy of youthful excess in terms that are simultaneously gorgeous and grotesque.” Trumpeting the film as “quite obviously the best film currently touring the festival circuit” is Slant. Also unable to praise the film enough is Karina Longworth of the LA Weekly, who calls it “surprisingly moody, savagely satiric and surreal.”

Stories We Tell Watch trailer
Directed by Sarah Polley | U.S. release tbd

Sarah Polley’s recently released Take this Waltz 68 wasn’t as beloved as her debut film, Away from Her 88, but her latest (and first documentary) earned very good reviews at screenings in Venice and Toronto. On the surface, the film is a documentary about her family, but it also has a mystery at its heart that will be hard to keep secret (though, if you want a spoiler, here's one from Polley herself). The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw loves the film, giving it five stars and writing, “Polley has created a portrait of a marriage that is full of enormous richness, tenderness and emotional complexity.” Eric Kohn at Indiewire gives the film the rare “A” admitting that “Polley is at heart a narrative filmmaker, and her account of the family's saga contains a sneakier approach that reveals multiple surprises as it glides along.” The Playlist is also a major supporter, claiming “fans of Polley’s work to date will be delighted by a documentary that serves simultaneously as a gripping mystery, a moving record of a family and a fascinating investigation into the nature of truth, memory, and the documentary form itself.” Variety calls the film “another delicate, surprising reflection on intimate relationship politics” from the talented director, who, according to THR “makes an audacious leap into autobiographical documentary.” The AV Club has some reservations about the “overplayed artsiness” but finds “a genuinely affecting film, about how people pursue personal happiness.”

Thanks for Sharing
Directed by Stuart Blumberg | U.S. release tbd 2013

Stuart Blumberg, the co-writer of The Kids Are All Right 86, makes his feature directorial debut with this look at the difficulties of sex addiction starring Mark Ruffalo, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim Robbins, Josh Gad, and pop star Pink. While undoubtedly going for a different tone than Shame, The Playlist finds it be an “unsatisfying tease” that is “never quite as deep or probing as it thinks it is,” but Ruffalo and Paltrow stand out, as they do for Indiewire's Jason Anderson, who enjoys their “flirty rapport.” THR is not as swayed by Paltrow, calling her “a major intrusion,” and believing the film, while funny, to be consisting of “too many pat developments to muster much depth.” For The Guardian, “there's a generous pinch of very funny lines” but not much else, and Variety finds “the romantic-comedy form... a strange choice for such a tale” even though it “means well and looks great.”

To the Wonder
Directed by Terrence Malick | U.S. release tbd

Yes, those were boos among the cheers. Dividing audiences once again (even more so than with last year’s The Tree of Life 85) but pleasing most critics, Terence Malick continues to stretch the conventions of narrative filmmaking with his latest, a love story starring Olga Kurylenko, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, and Javier Bardem. Malick’s first film set in contemporary times is one of his more minor ones, but it is not without its pleasures as Variety believes, “It's perhaps Malick's simplest, most relatable evocation yet of paradise lost.” The LA Weekly feels the modern setting serves the director well, writing, “Malick is able to circle his usual textual and visual themes and revitalize them.” The Playlist finds it to be “a beautiful, heartfelt and raw piece of work,” and Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian writes, “It is a bold and often beautiful movie, unfashionably and unironically concerned with love and God, and what will happen to us in the absence of either.” The AV Club’s Noel Murray also sees “a beautiful and rewarding film,” while Slant admits, “This may be a feather-light doodle, but it's a ravishingly beautiful one by a great artist in second gear.” Scott Tobias gives the film the same “B+” grade as his colleague, but acknowledges that he thinks it’s Malick’s worst film, even though he found it affecting in its attempt to “give expression to the ineffable and show us something beautiful, reminding us that we live in a world that's larger than ourselves and crafted by that invisible hand.” However, Todd McCarthy of THR was not convinced calling the film “an impressionistic mish-mash... drained of life and ideas rather than sustained by them.” Note that if you're the type of moviegoer who enjoys dialogue, this might not be the film for you.

Directed by Nick Cassavetes | U.S. release tbd

Nick Cassavetes eclectic directing resume includes She’s So Lovely, The Notebook 53 and Alpha Dog 53, but his latest, the story of Mary, a mentally unstable substitute teacher played by Heather Wahlquist, “is a step into crazy territory,” according to The Playlist, who also calls it his “most adventurous and fun-loving film.” Dramatizing his lead character’s fantasies through opera, animation, and musical numbers, the director, according to Indiewire, “renders a troubled subjectivity with striking creativity,” providing “an unhinged portrait of emotional turmoil with bold stabs at expressionistic representation at every turn.” While each stylistic choice isn’t successful, Variety admits to “a certain train-wreck fascination at points,” but THR can’t get onboard this “unsettling trip into a troubled woman's mind.” The LA Weekly’s Karina Longworth admits that the film “fails big and often.... But there's a certain magnetism to its inability to contain itself."

What do you think?

Which of these films are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments section below.

Comments (2)

  • Critic2012  

    Argo, The Place Beyond the Pines, The Impossible, Anna Karenina, and Much Ado About Nothing all sound great. But the ones to I CAN'T WAIT FOR are Silver Linings Playbook and Looper!!

  • khan2705  

    Excited for The Master, Amour, Frances Ha, To the Wonder, Argo and The Place Beyond the Pines.
    Excellent compilations of reactions and reviews in such details, Bravo!

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    2. GridironGuru : @JRath "Everyone wants the new Zelda. Everyone wants new Mario Carts or Marios or Starfox," Thing is, everybody... Read »
    3. SZJX : Glad to see that you're doing a summary of Switch reviews. This is something that the consumers need a lot but isn't... Read »
    4. MTC001 : Nintendo will, never again, create a home console that can compete with Sony or Microsoft, forget it. They tried with... Read »
  2. /feature/tv-renewal-scorecard-2016-2017-season Image
    2016-17 TV Season Scorecard
    June 2, 2016 - 10 comments
    1. asmanraj : There will be a second season of The Young Pope. Read »
  3. /feature/major-upcoming-video-game-release-dates-xbox-ps4-pc-switch Image
    Notable Video Game Releases: New and Upcoming
    March 20, 2017 - 6 comments
    1. Kaprawiec : Vamsi_Nalluri - Employee alert :P Lol dude either you are owner of UBI or youre high. Games You listed are all most... Read »
  4. /feature/25-best-ios-games Image
    Quarterly Report: The 25 Best iPhone/iPad Games
    December 31, 2016 - 6 comments
    1. geniece : i love this list greatttttttttttttttttt http://www.elkhbar.net/ Read »
  5. /feature/game-publisher-rankings-for-2014-releases Image
    Metacritic's 5th Annual Game Publisher Rankings
    January 27, 2015 - 12 comments
    1. chiefgeef : ##Skankhunt42## Read »
    2. chiefgeef : okay.. I'll be forward, before stumbling into this critic's review article, or...personal spew......whatever it is,... Read »
  6. /feature/tv-premiere-dates Image
    2017 Spring TV Premiere Calendar
    February 28, 2017 - 141 comments
    1. reneg : This might just be U.S., but Saving Hope season 5 premiere on ION 3/14, 12AM Source:... Read »