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Takashi Miike’s ‘Blade of the Immortal’ slices and dices, but it could use a trim

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Takashi Miike’s been one of the biggest shock jockeys of Japanese cinema for eons. Ichi the Killer (2001) was a high-splatter mark for lovers of extreme gore, and Miike’s output has been an extraordinary arterial gusher. Blade of the Immortal is billed as Miike’s hundredth film, and while one could quibble (glancing over his Wikipedia bio, I count somewhere in the mid-nineties), the fact is the guy’s made an astonishing number of films. And he’s only fifty-seven!

Blade of the Immortal finds Miike plying his grisly gonzo in the service of a long-running samurai manga. Is the legendary director finally in danger of becoming a hack, or does his blood-slicked blade cut through one more time?

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‘Mudbound’ is a fascinating, moving film

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Mudbound is a fascinating, moving film from director Dee Rees. Set in the deep south during the forties, this adaptation of Hillary Jordan’s 2008 bestseller is deeply affecting but not without its own contradictions, a sprawling literary epic that feels somehow too contained.

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Road To Justice League: Long & Winding & Obstacle Filled

The road to the about-to-be-released Justice League film has been a long and winding one.

Long and winding and fraught with bumps and pitfalls and massive industry, cultural, commercial and familial obstacles.

Resiliently plowing through these numerous impediments, Warner Brothers has finally made good on a long-standing promise to showcase the greatest heroes of pop culture on the silver screen – the comic book visages of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg, the Justice League, together for the first time.

Sort of.

It’s actually not technically the first time the Justice League has been together on screen. There have actually been numerous iterations of the group over the years. But the road taken for this particular Justice League, is an interesting one indeed.

To get to here, let’s take a quick look back at there, and all the previously mentioned hazards that nearly conquered the world’s greatest superheroes.

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Tarkovsky’s Trance: TIFF Retro Explores the Work of an Austere Master

Just seven. Seven features over twenty-four years. That’s the sum of Andrei Tarkovsky’s output. Each one is a starkly entrancing masterpiece, evidencing a unique metaphysical vision. They’re about as far from easy films as you can get. They’re rich, nuanced and spare, and hugely influential in an oblique way. Art house giants like Lars von Trier and Terrence Malick owe a tremendous debt to Tarkovsky, and the existential science fiction of films like Stalker and Solaris casts a long, looming shadow into the present day.

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God’s Own Country

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Francis Lee’s debut feature God’s Own Country finds its soul in the rugged English countryside, bleak and affecting. Getting raves on the indie circuit, it’s a stark romance about a young farmer discovering his sexuality. But is it Brokeback UK, or is there more to it?

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The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

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Noah Baumbach knows families. Not feel-good crap or five-hankie manipulated drama. Baumbach families are a lot like the ones we share, with real awkwardness, back-handed affection and incidental trauma wound up together in the loving bonds of our flesh and blood. Despite its precious title, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) captures its titular extended clan with a disarmingly frank gaze. Debuting on Netflix today, it’s among Baumbach’s best films.

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TIFF Leans Into Blade Runner 2049 Hype with High Concept: The Films of Denis Villeneuve

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Next week, Blade Runner 2049 releases to immense hype, sans the original’s helmer Ridley Scott. That this is a good thing is almost undeniable, after Scott’s belaboured Alien sequels Prometheus and Alien: Covenant. Instead, fans will get a new replicant iteration, courtesy of French Canadian director Denis Villeneuve. That’s unequivocally awesome, cuz Villeneuve has been doing great work for awhile.

Showcasing Villeneuve’s talents is an easy win for TIFF, and they’re showing four key films from his modest filmography this week, starting tonight, Thursday, September 28th, with the inscrutable Maelström.

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‘Battle of the Sexes’: Game Comedy Can’t Find a Winning Formula

It’s incredible to think the real life Battle of the Sexes tennis match happened at all. Putting world number one woman tennis player Billie Jean King up against fifty-five-year-old former champ Bobby Riggs was a patently insane contest. But feminism was breaking new ground, sexism was rampant, and this circus sideshow became a cultural juggernaut. Their man vs. woman match is still the most watched tennis event ever, to this day. Does the movie Battle of the Sexes live up to its namesake, the wacko pinnacle of seventies gender wars? Or is it just a lot of racket?

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TIFF 2017: Beast

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Beast wasn’t in my original TIFF plans. Extremely limited press screenings forced me to blow up my schedule twice, but I saw the main things I wanted. Beast was a pick-up, from promising new filmmaker Michael Pearce. In the film, a woman is forced to defend her lover when he falls under suspicion for a series of brutal murders. While the film’s twists yank it a tad too far from the realm of believability, it’s a tense thriller and a quality debut.

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TIFF 2017: Zama

Zama, the long-anticipated return of Argentinian director-extraordinaire Lucrecia Martel, is an astonishing work of colonial examination and technical perfectionism.

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