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film review

Also opening: Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell, worth watching for Paul Walter Hauser’s performance as the Atlanta security guard wrongly suspected of the deadly 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing

The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open

Experimental Forest Films

  • Written and directed by Elle-Maija Tailfeathers and Kathleen Hepburn
  • Starring Elle-Maija Tailfeathers and Violet Nelson
  • Classification 14A; 105 minutes

Rating:

4 out of 4 stars

There is an immediately beautiful moment in Elle-Maija Tailfeathers and Kathleen Hepburn’s new film, The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open, where the lead character Rosie (Violet Nelson) sits at rest, in a state of anxious calm, listening to Joni Mitchell’s Little Green. She is in the home of Áila (Elle-MaijaTailfeathers), a woman who had encountered Rosie barefoot in the rain, standing still, pregnant and bruised, just across the street from the shouts and violence of her abusive partner in East Vancouver. (Opens Dec. 13 in Toronto)

The Twentieth Century

Voyelles Films

  • Written and directed by Matthew Rankin
  • Starring Dan Beirne, Sean Cullen and Sarianne Cormier
  • Classification N/A; 90 minutes

Rating:

4 out of 4 stars

At the turn of the century, the young William Lyon Mackenzie King battles his controlling mother, a crisis of nationalism and his own repressive urges to fornicate with footwear in a desperate bid to become prime minister of Canada. Matthew Rankin’s hilarious and unbridled debut The Twentieth Century is a national treasure, boasting incredible cinematic compositions and stylized set pieces, while delivering a magnificent burn of Canadian identity politics and manhood. (Opens Dec. 13 in Toronto, Dec. 20 in Montreal, and Jan. 11 in Winnipeg)

6 Underground

Christian Black/Netflix

  • Directed by Michael Bay
  • Written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick
  • Starring Ryan Reynolds, Mélanie Laurent and Dave Franco
  • Classification R; 127 minutes

Rating:

3.5 out of 4 stars

6 Underground, Michael Bay’s first film away from the traditional studio system and his best action movie in more than a decade, is a riotous and gleefully delirious assault on the senses. It is vulgar. It is absurd. And it is completely enthralling. Starring Ryan Reynolds, the tale of rogue agents trotting around the globe wiping out dictators and installing their own regimes is peak Bay, in the best possible sense. (Available to stream on Netflix starting Dec. 13)

Jumanji: The Next Level

Frank Masi/Sony Pictures

  • Directed by Jake Kasdan
  • Written by Jake Kasdan, Jeff Pinkner and Scott Rosenberg
  • Starring Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan
  • Classification PG; 123 minutes

Rating:

3 out of 4 stars

Jumanji: The Next Level reunites the cast from Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle back together. While conceptually, it’s the same movie (they have three lives to beat Jumanji or they are trapped in the game), the circumstances are different enough that it doesn’t feel like too much of a cheap attempt at a sequel. The Next Level works precisely for the same reasons why Welcome to the Jungle did. It’s never boring, it’s genuinely funny in a way that’s family friendly but still clever, and the cast’s chemistry is outstanding – it just works. (Opens Dec. 13)

My Thesis Film: A Thesis Film by Erik Anderson

1st of july films

  • Written and directed by Erik Anderson
  • Starring Erik Anderson, Juan Arce and Noah Reid
  • Classification 14A; 233 minutes

Rating:

3 out of 4 stars

A warning comes affixed to the opening of Erik Anderson’s bluntly titled My Thesis Film: A Thesis Film by Erik Anderson: “This film was made entirely without the support of the Canadian film industry.” Anderson’s three-chapter-plus-prologue epic is a frequently challenging, often hilarious, sporadically frustrating and consistently furious attack on a cinematic landscape that its director views as stagnant. This film is angry – seething in its irritability, really – but it is also inventive, tenacious and fearless. (Opens Dec. 13 at Dollar Cinéma in Montreal)

Richard Jewell

Claire Folger/Warner Bros.

  • Directed by Clint Eastwood
  • Written by Billy Ray
  • Starring Paul Walter Hauser, Sam Rockwell and Kathy Bates
  • Classification R; 129 minutes

Rating:

3 out of 4 stars

As Richard Jewell, the Atlanta security guard who was wrongly suspected of being responsible for the deadly 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing, Paul Walter Hauser is a fully realized personification of stunted male inadequacy and thwarted expectations. With his tightly controlled physicality and deeply sincere line readings, Hauser nails all these contradictory elements and impulses. Actually, he might be the only reason to seek out Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell – its quick construction and sour conceit reek of the director’s worst latter-day tendencies. (Opens Dec. 13)

Kingsway

Carkner Films

  • Written and directed by Bruce Sweeney
  • Starring Jeff Gladstone, Colleen Rennison and Gabrielle Rose
  • Classification N/A; 98 minutes

Rating:

2.5 out of 4 stars

Bruce Sweeney’s eighth feature Kingsway concerns the love and sex lives of three neurotic members of the Horvat family living in Vancouver who decide what they want from relationships after the youngest child, Matt, discovers his cruel wife is having an affair. Unfortunately, the film gets lost in the myopia of Matt’s cuckledom, sidelining the far more interesting mother-daughter duo. (Opens Dec. 13)

Also: What’s new and noteworthy to stream

Earthquake Bird is a psychological drama.Murray Close

Three streaming films to keep on your radar this weekend: Marriage Story on Netflix, The Breadwinner on CBC Gem and Long Shot on Amazon Prime Video. Read Barry Hertz’s reviews of the films here.


This weekly guide was compiled by Lori Fazari, with reviews from Sarah-Tai Black, Sarah Hagi, Barry Hertz and Chandler Levack.