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  • Can You Ever Forgive Me?

    Can You Ever Forgive Me?

    ★★★★

    Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant are excellent in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, a drama about real-life literary fraudster Lee Israel, who forged letters from famous writers. Israel is economically-desperate, so her choices come largely from necessity-meets-opportunity, at least, to start with. But once she makes the first successful forgery there is the sense that she's also doing it simply to have people read her largely ignored writing. It's outright said at one point that people only want her…

  • A Star Is Born

    A Star Is Born

    ★★★★½

    Everyone kept saying how good this new version of A Star Is Born is. Maybe I was skeptical: could Gaga be as good an actress as the reviews indicated? Could Bradley Cooper be a decent director? Could a fourth incarnation of the same film have anything to offer? Having never seen a previous A Star Is Born, I'm particularly in the dark about that last one and how this film compares to its predecessors. Regardless, none of the hype could…

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  • Long Time Running

    Long Time Running

    ★★★★½

    This review is part of a series based on the films of the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.

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    The country wasn't ready to say goodbye to Gord Downie. For 30 years he and his bandmates in The Tragically Hip have been soundtracking Canadian parties, BBQs, makeout sessions, and everything between. But when his cancer diagnosis was made public in early 2016, that's what Canada was forced to do. In a way it felt like the band's summer tour, their…

  • Whiplash

    Whiplash

    ★★★★½

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Damien Chazelle's Whiplash is a blistering, edgy film, an exercise in contrasts. For all the minimalism of its plotting, there are surprising narrative turns. For the plainness of its settings there is a maelstrom of cinematic techniques. And despite the sense that the movie has a happy ending, there is dark subtext to the notion that its protagonist has weathered a storm.

    Miles Teller plays Andrew, a young conservatory jazz drummer whose aspirations are nothing less than to be legendary.…