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Shadow

Courtesy of TIFF

  • Directed by Zhang Yimou
  • Written by Zhang Yimou and Li Wei
  • Starring Deng Chao, Zheng Kai and Guan Xiaotong
  • Classification 14A; 116 minutes

rating

3 out of 4 stars

Shadow, Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou’s latest, recalls his best and most exhilarating work, combining the nuanced emotional beats of his breakthrough 1991 drama Raise the Red Lantern with the visual inventiveness of his early-aughts martial-arts epics House of Flying Daggers and Hero. Just as with the narrative meat of those latter films, Shadow’s plot is messy and not truly worth untangling – just know that it takes place sometime in the third century, and focuses on the court of the Pei Kingdom, which is filthy with deception. (Opens May 10 at the TIFF Lightbox in Toronto)

Non-Fiction

Courtesy of TIFF

  • Written and directed by Olivier Assayas
  • Starring Guillaume Canet, Vincent Macaigne and Juliette Binoche
  • Classification R; 108 minutes

rating

2.5 out of 4 stars

Non-Fiction’s characters spend most of the film fretting about the online world, especially “blogs” and “e-books,” as if they were radically new inventions and not concepts that are roughly two decades old. Perhaps this naive tech-phobia can be chalked up to French auteur Olivier Assayas’s own aversion to the online world, but the trickle-down effect into the film is slightly embarrassing. (Opens May 10 at the TIFF Lightbox in Toronto)

Pokémon: Detective Pikachu

Warner Bros.

  • Directed by Rob Letterman
  • Written by Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit, Rob Letterman and Derek Connolly
  • Starring Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith and Bill Nighy
  • Classification PG; 104 minutes

rating

2.5 out of 4 stars

Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is unrelentingly weird. It’s also breezily watchable, if slightly insubstantial beyond its strangeness. The closest touchstone to the new film is 1988’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit, where a live-action version of L.A. played host to a regular-looking Bob Hoskins as well as Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse. Here, Justice Smith replaces Hoskins, and a computer-generated Pikachu and hundreds of other Pokémon replace the 2D animated ’toons. (Opens May 10)

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Poms

KYLEBONOKAPLAN/Entertainment One

  • Directed by Zara Hayes
  • Written by Shane Atkinson and Zara Hayes
  • Starring Diane Keaton, Pam Grier and Jacki Weaver
  • Classification PG; 100 minutes

rating

2.5 out of 4 stars

Opening just in time for Mother’s Day, Poms stars Diane Keaton, Pam Grier, Rhea Perlman and Jacki Weaver form a cheerleading squad in their straitlaced retirement community. Poms has spirit (yes, it does) and eventually delivers on the promise of its premise. But it also has one of the worst sympathy-baiting cancer plots in history and a godawful script where every defining character choice gets decided on a whim. (Opens May 10)

The White Crow

Larry Horicks/Sony Pictures Classics / Mongel Media

  • Directed by Ralph Fiennes
  • Written by David Hare
  • Starring Oleg Ivenko, Adèle Exarchopoulos and Ralph Fiennes
  • Classification 14A; 127 minutes

rating

2.5 out of 4 stars

The White Crow, a biopic of Rudolf Nureyev, one of the most important dancers of the 20th-century, is Ralph Fiennes’s third directorial effort. It’s a perplexing movie, the kind of adaptation that’s easy to damn with faint praise; it’s effective, coherent and watchable. (Opens May 10 in Toronto and Vancouver, May 17 in Montreal)

Tolkien

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

  • Directed by Dome Karukoski
  • Written by David Gleeson and Stephen Beresford
  • Starring Nicholas Hoult, Lily Collins and Harry Gilby
  • Classification PG; 112 minutes

rating

2 out of 4 stars

Stately, handsome and ferociously romantic, Tolkien is the new biopic of British high-fantasy writer J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of Middle-Earth novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings – books about fellowship as much as they are about fantasy. Tolkien, from the Finnish director Dome Karukoski, stays true to the theme, for better or for worse. (Opens May 10)

The Hustle

Christian Black/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.

  • Directed by Chris Addison
  • Written by Stanley Shapiro, Paul Henning, Dale Launer and Jac Schaeffer
  • Starring Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson
  • Classification PG; 94 minutes

rating

1.5 out of 4 stars

Director Chris Addison’s buddy comedy The Hustle, starring Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson, sets high expectations for a smart and cutting movie about two rival con artists. But instead, it’s a story that hinges heavily on gags about Wilson’s looks while failing to give Hathaway’s character any backstory whatsoever. (Opens May 10)

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