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  • The Disaster Artist

    The Disaster Artist

    ★★★

    Brief profile of Franco written hastily during TIFF. Full Q&A, for anyone interested, right here: nationalpost.com/entertainment/movies/james-franco-imitates-life-imitates-art-in-the-disaster-artist

    James Franco is an old hand at imitation. When the actor played James Dean in the TV movie of the same name, in 2001, he became fanatical: he isolated himself from his loved ones, took up smoking, mimicked the mannerisms on-screen and off. It was method-acting madness, thespian lunacy. “I was obsessed,” Franco admits, a bit sheepishly. “There was even a Trivial Pursuit question…

  • Darkest Hour

    Darkest Hour

    ★★★

    “He speaks his memorable lines with a large, unhurried, and stately utterance in a blaze of light,” once wrote Isaiah Berlin. He wasn’t praising an actor on stage or in a film — although this account describes well Gary Oldman’s performance as Winston Churchill in the new biographical drama Darkest Hour. He was praising Churchill proper: a world-historical actor, an actor in the theatre of war. That vigour, Berlin felt, was “appropriate to a man who knows that his work…

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  • Suicide Squad

    Suicide Squad

    ½

    Something I’ve learned writing about the cinema professionally for a number of years is that there are bad movies and bad times at the movies, and the latter are considerably worse. Bad movies can be laugh riots, howlers, like shoddy horror pictures or inane science-fiction, to be indulged in or cackled through or suffered with glee. Bad movies are often likeable, or somehow charming, or else might endear themselves to you with personality or ambition, like, say, Southland Tales or…

  • La La Land

    La La Land

    ★★½

    My attention was seized, watching La La Land a second time — no longer in thrall to a flamboyance one can hardly help but find seductive — by a rather trifling detail. There’s a moment, easy to overlook amid the whirlwind of whip-pans, showtunes, and dance numbers, in which the anonymous patron of a Hollywood studio-lot coffee shop, technically uncredited but specified on IMDB as “Coffee Shop Customer #2”, approaches Mia (Emma Stone), the barista, and demands to know whether…