Movie Meter: Tina Fey’s This is Where I Leave You is a Tremendous Waste of Comic Firepower

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1. The Conformist: A most welcome re-release of Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1970 classic about a cowardly Italian man in 1930′s Italy, who agrees to perform an assassination for the Fascist cause, even though the intended victim is his own former college professor. The film is known for its fiery political commentary—not for nothing does the film’s title suggest a complete weakness of moral character in the face of fashionable political movements—but also for its stunning production values, from the costumes and set design to the extraordinary cinematography by Vittorio Storaro. A chance to see the fully-restored version (the original U.S. print was cut by five crucial minutes) on the big screen is a huge treat for cinephiles everywhere. Playing at Ritz at the Bourse. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

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Overheard at the Toronto International Film Festival

I just returned from the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, which wrapped up this weekend with an awards ceremony awards and a host of final screenings. Instead of offering up individual reviews, I’ve collected a bevy of quotes I overheard at the festival that both capture the vibe of this year’s TIFF and offer a glimpse of what to keep an eye out for in theaters over the coming months.

The Reach

1. “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, I KEEEL YOU!” —Actor Michael Douglas, in Jean-Baptiste Léonetti’s imbecilic film The Reach, playing—get this—a rich, smug douchebag who goes big-game hunting with a young guide (Jeremy Irvine) who, after a bloody accident, winds up becomes the target of the hunting spree. This particular line, spoken as Douglas’ character is gleefully throwing lit sticks of dynamite at his quarry from the safety of his Mercedes Benz Batmobile-like supercruiser, is definitely not played for comedy, but it led the packed house of critics into howls of disbelieving laughter.

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5 New Films You Should Stream Right Now on Netflix: Killing Them Softly, An Officer and a Gentleman, Girlfight and More

Finally through the slog of (actually a pretty damn nice) summer and onto bigger and better things. If we can rip our attention away from the gridiron and Chip Kelly’s miraculous offense and those endless back-to-school sales, we can settle in for some pretty engaging stay-at-home entertainments.

All Is LostA well-to-do solo yachtsman tries to survive after the hull of his boat is pierced on the Indian Ocean. A nearly wordless film has Robert Redford struggling to keep body and soul together after a series of setbacks put him on the edge of survival. Filmmaker J.C. Chandor (whose previous film, the under-appreciated Margin Call, was anything but wordless) finds a way to tell his story in deceptively simple and deeply affecting tones. In a season of bombast and melodrama, this flick plays like a Zen koan dropped into a bath of brine.

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Movie Meter: Settle in for Eric Rohmer’s A Summer’s Tale

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A Summer’s Tale: You lucky people get to watch a veritable masterpiece from famed French auteur Eric Rohmer, originally from 1996, but finally being released now for the first time on American screens. The film, the third installment of his “Four Seasons” quadrilogy, is both extremely light on its feet and utterly captivating. The story concerns a young man (Melvil Poupaud) on the eve of his first professional job, who takes a seaside vacation and gets caught up in a complicated romantic triangle with his off-again/on-again girlfriend (Aurélia Nolin) and a young woman (Gwenaëlle Simon) he meets on the shore. Francophile cinema freaks are literally bouncing off the walls in ecstasy for a chance to finally see this treat on the big screen. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

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Movie Meter: Michael Fassbender’s Papier-Mâché Head and Lemurs Win the Weekend

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Frank: There aren’t many actors of Michael Fassbender’s stature who would consent to star in a film in which he would have to wear a giant, papier-mâché head for its entirety, but I guess we’re just lucky to have him. Lenny Abrahamson’s wickedly funny film, about a young man who dreams of being in a band sounds every bit as fun and outrageous as the late actor/comedian Chris Sievey’s “Frank Sidebottom,” upon whose giant head-wearing alter ego this production is based. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Island of Lemurs: Madagascar: Not, in fact, another sequel from the similarly named popular animated series. Actually, this live-action documentary from director David Douglas is an IMAX treat, following a real group of endangered lemurs as they struggle to stay alive in the almost alien world of Madagascar, their adopted home. Narrated by Morgan Freeman, naturally, the film—a 39-minute, G-rated mini-doc—sounds both fascinating and necessary, and would make for a pleasant family outing, especially if your kids are nature lovers. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 77%

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Movie Meter: The Giver Disappoints, Go for Land Ho! Instead

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Land Ho!: (One of two exclamation-point films this week! Go figure!) Former brothers-in-law (Earl Lynn Nelson and Paul Eenhoorn), now well-aged, travel to Iceland together in order to call-back their wild and freewheeling youth in everything from Reykjavik nightclubs to the alien terrain of the raw Icelandic outback. This American indie film, an unmitigated hit at this year’s Sundance, promises poignant laughs in the appropriately throwback style of the classic road-trip comedies of an earlier era. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75%

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Movie Meter: Into the Storm Won’t Blow You Away, But It’s a Damn Fun Ride

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Into the Storm: Okay, so it’s another cataclysmic twister flick, but the CGI is impressively disconcerting, the cast is, er, amiable enough, and for those of us who like seeing a charcoal sky with thick, ominous clouds churning like whipping cream, there’s plenty of spectacle hear to admire. Don’t go expecting anything deeply moving, or essential, but for what it is, it gets the job done reasonably well. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 10%

More trailers and reviews after the jump

5 New Films You Should Stream Right Now on Netflix: Entire “Rocky” Catalog Available in August

So it has come to this, would-be blockbuster summer: You’ve spent all your big shells, the heavy casings. X-Men: Days of Future Past, Sex Tape, Godzilla, 22 Jump Street all lie spent and useless at your feet. With one last gasp (Guardians of the Galaxy, which is actually a whole bunch of fun) or two, we’ll be done with you at last and can look forward to movies actually intended for adults. But for now, here’s some good stuff you can go ahead and watch at home to tide you over.

Nymphomaniac: Volume 1: A young woman retells her story of a lifetime of intense sexual gratification to a man who rescues her from the street. Lars von Trier is the kind of director you either enjoy being challenged by or dismiss as a pretentious, sadistic boor. This film, which stars Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stacy Martin, Shia LaBeouf, and Stellan Skarsgard, features some of his signature agent provocateur material — a young woman with a serious daddy fetish having indiscriminate sex with a great deal of men in a variety of ways—but cuts it with many intellectual discourses on subjects ranging from fly-casting to obscure religious orders.

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Movie Meter: Guardians of the Galaxy Will Obliterate the Weekend Box Office—And Rightfully So

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Guardians of the Galaxy: Consider the summer movie season saved. What sounds like an unlikely sort of superhero action flick—seriously, two of the heroes in question are a giant, walking plant, and a feisty, weapons-expert raccoon (voiced by Philly’s Bradley Cooper)—in the hands of director James Gunn becomes more fun than you might believe. It’s equal parts funny, touching, and exhilarating in a most unexpected way. Scoff if you must, but you’ll be hearing a great deal about this one in the next couple weeks. A summer blockbuster triumph. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

Get On Up: The Godfather of Soul gets the full bio-pic treatment at last, but can you imagine the number of auditions they had to go through to find a suitable James Brown? In the end, director Tate Taylor went with Chadwick Boseman (fresh off his turn as Jackie Robinson in 42), who has the unenviable task of trying to bring the energy and fearsome showmanship of the hardest-working man in show business. From the sound of things, the producers have gotten a lot of things right. Expect great things from Boseman amidst an absolutely devastating soundtrack. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%

Code Black: You want a breathlessly interesting way to access the health care debate in this country? Ryan McGarry’s enthralling documentary about L.A. County’s fabled emergency room—one of the first in the country to utilize what would now be considered standard emergency care—follows the trials and tribulations of the dedicated doctors and interns of the hospital’s trauma bay, having to make life-saving decisions on the fly on a regular basis, even as their badly injured patients, by nature of their immediate need, bypass the existing health-care system in order to get care. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

WAIT FOR DVD

Alive Inside: A documentary about the power of music to overcome mental deterioration, this Sundance audience winner from director Michael Rossato-Bennett sounds like it crams a good deal of uplift in its short-running time (the film clocks in at 75 minutes.) It follows Dan Cohen, a social worker, as he criss-crosses the country speaking the gospel of music as a healing restorer of identity, memory and self to those afflicted souls in need of some kind of cognitive therapy. Rotten Tomatoes Score: 65%

SKIP IT

Magic in the Moonlight: A colossal misfire from Woody Allen, and a crashing bore to boot. Allen has assembled yet another top-notch cast—including Colin Firth and Emma Stone—and shoots in yet another picturesque part of Western Europe (this being the South of France.) But his script is so half-finished and shoddy, the whole enterprise collapses. The story involves a magician (Firth), who loves debunking self-described soothsayers and oracles as frauds, until he meets a fetching young woman (Stone), whom, to his shock, actually seems legit. I actually feel sorry for Firth, who is given the impossible task of trying to make his boorish character seem believable; and Stone, for having to fall in love as a result. Rotten Tomatoes Score:

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