Mixed Nuts

Jason Jones Terence StampIt’s the first Friday after TIFF, and you can feel the industry not quite knowing what to do. There’s the awards bait of Prisoners, the light comedy of Austenland, and a whole lot of clearing-house activity from various smaller distributors. Shall we go through the list?

The Art of the Steal: Look, I’ve interviewed Jonathan Sobol and he’s very personable, but he makes terrible, half-assed movies and someone needs to make him stop. Jay Baruchel gets some solid laughs, though, and Terence Stamp and Jason Jones are pretty great in it. But still.

Austenland: Keri Russell does the rom-com thing as a woman whose obsession with Pride and Prejudice leads her, quite understandably, to a Jane Austen theme park. Kiva eviscerates it most tastefully.

Cutie and the Boxer: Glenn is delighted by this Japanese documentary about aging avant-garde artist Ushio Shinohara, his wife Noriko and their complicated relationship — one of several Hot Docs titles opening today, as you’ll see.

Good Ol’ Freda: Ryan White’s documentary about Freda Kelly, the young woman who ran the Beatles’ fan club, was the one movie I wanted most to catch at Hot Docs earlier this year — but I couldn’t make the timing work, so Susan reviewed it. Now it’s back at the Bloor for a limited run; let’s all catch up to it, shall we?

My Lucky Star: Dennie Gordon, director of such timeless American classics as Joe Dirt and the Olsen Twins comedy New York Minute, goes to Hong Kong to make a spy comedy with Zhang Ziyi. Rad goes to see it, is left in obvious pain.

Nothing Left to Fear: Slash produces a horror movie, but if he can’t even win John over, what’s the point?

Our Man in Tehran: Clearly produced in response to Argo, this Canadian documentary about the same historical events garnered exactly no buzz at TIFF — though Andy says it’s perfectly cromulent. So I guess that’s good.

Prisoners: Denis Villeneuve’s major-studio debut is basically a very long and increasingly ridiculous television procedural, but Hugh Jackman’s terrific as a father who goes way, way over the edge in an attempt to find his missing daughter.

Salinger: Glenn was spitting nails over Shane Salerno’s heavily promoted (and, it seems, heavily self-promotional) look at the life of the reclusive author when it was squeezed into TIFF at the last minute. He’s no happier about it now.

A Single Shot: Sam Rockwell’s fantastic performance is reason enough to see this otherwise derivative backwoods thriller. But only if you like Sam Rockwell, I guess.

The Short Game: A documentary on the high-pressure world of children’s golf.  Yes, really. John has issues with it, quite understandably.

Unclaimed: After its ecstatic reception at Hot Docs, it gives me no pleasure to call bullshit on Michael Jorgensen’s feel-good tale of a Vietnam vet trying to prove a doddering Vietnamese man is a former American POW … but yeah, it’s bullshit.

Also, there’s a new IMAX 3D version of The Wizard of Oz opening for a limited run today. It is a stupid idea and I’m not interested.

Also also, I talked to Mireille Enos about her work on World War Z for MSN Movies last week. Perhaps you’d be interested in reading that.

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