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Film Reviews New movies in theatres and on Netflix and VOD, from the nightmare fuel of Aladdin to four-star feminist comedy Booksmart

Booksmart

Annapurna Pictures / Courtesy of Entertainment One

  • Directed by Olivia Wilde
  • Written by Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins and Katie Silberman
  • Starring Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein
  • Classification: R; 102 minutes

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Booksmart is the kind of feel-good teen movie that young women plan their sleepovers around. Although its “nerdy misfit high-schoolers seek darkness and transformation at an epic party the night before graduation” premise is a time-tested formula, the film, directed in a stunning debut by actress Olivia Wilde, feels totally original and new. (Opens May 24)

Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind

Cole Burston/The Canadian Press

  • Directed by Joan Tosoni and Martha Kehoe
  • Starring Gordon Lightfoot, Murray McLauchlan, Sylvia Tyson and Ian Tyson
  • Classification: PG; 90 minutes

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What’s left to say about Gordon Lightfoot, the Early Morning Rain balladeer and stoic Canadian who has weathered decades of examination? Plenty, but the new biodoc Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind doesn’t dig too deep into the darker crevices of the man’s life. Instead we get an entertaining but superficial and laudatory overview of one of this country’s greatest singer-songwriters. (Opens May 24)

Aladdin

Walt Disney Studios

  • Directed by Guy Ritchie
  • Written by Guy Ritchie and John August
  • Starring Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott and Will Smith
  • Classification: PG; 128 minutes

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Pure nightmare fuel. Those were the only words to conjure when first laying eyes upon Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin, a sorta-live-action resurrection of Disney’s 1992 animated blockbuster. Ritchie’s new version of Aladdin’s famed Genie is scary, but shockingly, the rest of the film is not nearly as hideous. (Opens May 24)

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All Is True

Sony Pictures Classics /Mongrel Media

  • Directed by Kenneth Branagh
  • Written by Ben Elton
  • Starring Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench and Ian McKellen
  • Classification: PG; 101 minutes

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All Is True is Kenneth Branagh’s stab at filling in the blanks of Shakespeare’s retirement, about which there is little officially known. Branagh and screenwriter Ben Elton take a few good guesses – mostly revolving around Shakespeare’s grief over the death of his young son, Hamnet, and his troubled relationship with his older wife Anne Hathaway (Judi Dench) – but the drama they concoct is so obvious and tedious that the man himself would never, ever touch it. (Opens May 24 in Toronto and Vancouver, and June 7 in Montreal)

Brightburn

Courtesy of Sony Pictures/Screen Gems

  • Directed by David Yarovesky
  • Written by Brian Gunn and Mark Gunn
  • Starring Elizabeth Banks, David Denman and Jackson A. Dunn
  • Classification: R; 91 minutes

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As much as it might like to consider itself innovative, Brightburn is not the entertainment world’s first attempt at imagining: “What if Superman … but evil?” So what do Brightburn co-writers (and cousins) Brian and Mark Gunn and director David Yarovesky bring to the superpowered party? A whole lot of blood. The trio’s update on Clark Kent’s upbringing is supremely violent: faster than a speeding bullet in its desire to gross you out, and able to leap tall questions of logic at a single bound. (Opens May 24)

The Perfection

Courtesy of Netflix

  • Directed by Richard Shepard
  • Written by Richard Shepard, Eric C. Charmelo and Nicole Snyder
  • Starring Allison Williams, Logan Browning and Steven Weber
  • Classification: N/A; 90 minutes

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Early reviews pegged Richard Shepard’s thriller as intense, unpredictable and especially brutal in its violence. Netflix acquired worldwide distribution rights immediately, likely hoping the film’s intensity would so rivet subscribers that they’d passively binge whatever content was queued into their feeds immediately afterward. That may very well happen, but not due to any sort of entrancing filmmaking – most everyone who watches The Perfection will instead be staring at the screen slack-jawed, dumbfounded at the gory silliness they endured. (Begins streaming May 24 on Netflix)

I Am Going to Break Your Heart

  • Directed by Annie Bradley and Jim Morrison
  • Starring Chantal Kreviazuk and Raine Maida
  • Classification: PG; 90 minutes

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The press release on the unfortunate documentary I Am Going to Break Your Heart describes the late-1990s union of musicians Chantal Kreviazuk and Raine Maida as a romance between Canada’s “beautiful young rock royalty.” Only a couple who believed that nonsense would be so self-absorbed as to think anyone would be interested in watching a documentary about their recent marital discord. And maybe people would be interested, if the film wasn’t so hackneyed and confusingly structured. (Opens May 24, the same day as its digital and VOD release)

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