September 15, 2013

TIFF2013 Review Round Up: Hits, Misses, And What To Look Forward Too ( August: Osage County, The Fifth Estate, and Kill Your Darlings)

With the announcement of the winners for the 2013 Toronto Film Festival awards, we can now officially close what I feel has been a great 10 days of cinema.  Many films have risen (and fallen) with their critical reception. And with the New York Film Festival starting in a couple of weeks (more on that later) we can now start whispering about award season (notice I say whispering for the people who say it's too early for that kind of talk.) If you were on Twitter living vicariously through your Twitter followers who were lucky enough to see these films and/or hobnob with all your favorite peeps at parties and such, then you probably missed out on a few reviews. In case you're not sure how a film was received at the festival, here are a few reviews I've compiled to give you a tiny sense of what you might want to know. Also to find out what audience members had to say, just search the film's title followed by "TIFF" on Twitter....

August: Osage County

“The dialogue-heavy dramedy ... unfolds largely like a filmed play.  What are we supposed to come away from this experience thinking and feeling? I’m sure not sure that’s going to prove enough for most awards voters, particularly  in such a competitive year.”- Scott Feinberg from THR

“I don’t think I’d call ‘August: Osage County’ a bad film, but I’m damn sure I wouldn’t call it a great one,”- Drew McWeeny from Hitflix

"The film’s not a disaster, or a total dullard, in the way of too many recent filmed plays.... But 'August: Osage County' comes to life, to cinematic and dramatic life, only in fits and starts. And some of the questionable casting choices extend straight to the choice of director."- Michael Phillips from Chicago Tribune

“Letts is one of the most formidable talents around today, but in handling his screenplay with such kid gloves, Wells puts a passenger in the driver’s seat. The results are far from a car crash, but they do smack of the rubberneck, in which grande dames get down and dirty and we gawp politely from the stalls.”- Catherine Shoard from The Guardian

“The pinnacle of family dramas. So take that, ‘Ordinary People." - Kate Eberland from Film School Rejects

“Though the film doesn’t shed its inherent theatricality.... But it’s nonetheless an entertaining adaptation, delivering flavorful rewards in some sharp supporting turns that flank the central mother-daughter adversaries.”- David Rooney from THR

“With the unstoppable Streep in charge, it’s difficult for a viewer not to go along for the ride even if they’re a little uneasy [as I was] about the fact that the broad comedy sometimes swamps everything in its wake.”- Steve Pond from The Wrap 

The Fifth Estate

"... though it traffics in life and death and threats to the world's great institutions, [it] isn't always as gripping as a film whose main drama was who would get rich over letting "friends" share party pictures. Though it will attract attention at the box office, it is unlikely to appeal broadly to moviegoers who, one suspects, have never been as worked up about WikiLeaks as journalists and governments are."-John DeFore from THR

"... in adapting both a book on the affair by Guardian journalists David Leigh and Luke Harding, as well as tech activist Daniel Domscheit-Berg's account of working for Assange, 'The Fifth Estate' is a project in whose sources one can place considerable faith. Certainly, Condon does. At times it can feel he's risked coherence for chronology, giving us his own surfeit of data without offering sufficient kit with which we can sift it."- Catherine Shoard from The Guardian 
"Aiming to provide the kind of speculative personality portrait behind another sweeping digital-age change in communication that touches nearly everyone, a la 'The Social Network,' helmer Bill Condon and scenarist Josh Singer’s film must also stuff in a heavy load of global events, all in a hyperkinetic style aping today’s speed of information dispersal. Results can’t help but stimulate, but they’re also cluttered and overly frenetic, resulting in a narrative less informative, cogent and even emotionally engaging than Alex Gibney’s recent docu 'We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks.'"- Dennis Harvey from Variety
"... the movie’s style feels second-hand: an overeager, slightly shop-worn bombardment of finger-on-the-pulse pop-out graphics, representing the giddy proliferation of voices in the misinformation age by simply filling the screen with text."- Tom Robey from The Telegraph 
"With so many factors in play and Assange's fate still developing, the idea of an Assange biopic might seem premature. But that's the least problematic issue plaguing Bill Condon's 'The Fifth Estate,' an uneven, intermittently thoughtful but largely preachy overview of WikiLeaks' rising influence that has less of an issue determining Assange's character than it does with telling a compelling story."- Eric Kohn from IndieWire

Kill Your Darlings
"Krokidas has made a feature writing and directing debut that is certainly noteworthy, not least for attracting such an impressive cast. Radcliffe and DeHaan deserve special mention for clearly investing a great deal of heart in their performances, which really shows. My hunch, though, is that the film will meet a critical, commercial and awards fate similar to that of On the Road, a film that premiered at TIFF last year and deals with some of the same characters and subject matter: nice enough reviews, relatively little box office and no Oscar nominations. It's just not the Academy's cup of tea."- Scott Feinberg from THR
"Still, even if it doesn’t fully connect the dramatic dots, the film is impressively realized on a scene-by-scene basis. Scholarly inclined viewers may well quibble with the authenticity of the central performances, but there isn’t a single one that feels less than fully engaged. British thesp Radcliffe is every inch the bespectacled American nebbish one associates with Ginsberg, and DeHaan, so frighteningly charismatic in last year’s “Chronicle,” makes Lucien a simultaneously alluring and troubling figure."-Justin Chang from Variety 
"Kill Your Darlings is the first cinematic telling of the Lucien Carr story, already told in an early novel by Burroughs and Kerouac, suppressed by Carr during his lifetime. Just as central is Ginsberg’s coming of age. In a setting where youthful silliness meets ambition, Radcliffe gets the accent down, but he’s fine-featured compared to the fleshier Ginsberg, never reaching the point where it’s Ginsberg rather than Radcliffe that the audience is watching.  Radcliffe does persuade you that it was Carr’s courage, or his sheer abandon, plus his beauty, that helped transform the younger student from a shy New Jersey kid into a writer who shocked readers."- David D'Arcy from Screen Daily 

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