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Film Reviews New movies in theatres this week: Midsommar’s summer horror, the fresh visions of The Last Black Man in America and don’t forget Spider-Man

Csaba Aknay/Courtesy of A24

Midsommar

  • Directed by Ari Aster
  • Written by Ari Aster
  • Starring Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor and Will Poulter
  • Classification R
  • 140 minutes

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For all its pretensions of psychological depth about the nature of trauma and the dilapidated shape of a crumbling relationship, Aster’s interests lie elsewhere. Like Toni Collette’s miniaturist in Hereditary, Aster is ultimately more concerned with rigorously art directing and painstakingly presenting his story. In this respect, Midsommar is no doubt remarkable. (Opened July 3)

Peter Prato/Courtesy of A24

The Last Black Man in San Francisco

  • Directed by Joe Talbot
  • Written by Joe Talbot and Rob Richert
  • Starring Jimmie Fails, Jonathan Majors and Danny Glover
  • Classification 14A
  • 121 minutes

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Does anyone trust the Sundance film festival any more? In the past few years, so many films have premiered at the top of the mountain to almost unbelievable hype (The Birth of a Nation, Patti Cake$, this year’s Late Night), only to crash on the climb back down to earth. It was with that skepticism that I walked into The Last Black Man in San Francisco, the feature directorial debut of Joe Talbot and a darling of this past January’s Sundance, where it won the award for best director and a special jury prize for “creative collaboration.” Either Talbot’s work is the exception to the high-altitude-hype Sundance rule, or it marks some sort of turning point for the festival. Whatever the case, the drama is an endlessly inventive and devastating work, a lyrical ode to a city that has turned its back on its most devoted citizens. (Opened July 5 in Toronto)

Courtesy of TIFF

The Fireflies Are Gone

  • Directed by Sébastien Pilote
  • Written by Sébastien Pilote
  • Starring Karelle Tremblay and Pierre-Luc Brillant
  • Classification PG
  • 96 minutes

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The director’s previous films, most notably 2011′s The Salesman, are fuelled by a sensitive curiosity for the lives of the unremarkable – those confined by circumstances both within and beyond their control. The Fireflies are Gone is no exception, possessing an enormous amount of empathy, but never blindly. (Opened July 5 in Toronto)

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Courtesy of Mongrel Media

Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am

  • Directed by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders
  • Classification PG
  • 120 minutes

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In 2019, Toni Morrison requires no introduction. As one of the most groundbreaking cultural icons of the 20th century, the Nobel Prize-winner’s body of work is a testament to her role in establishing the historically neglected pillar of black lived experiences in the American literary canon. Arriving on the heels of her 88th birthday and after its premiere at Sundance, The Pieces I Am is intimately inspired by the uniquely nuanced and uncompromising approach to storytelling she pioneered. (Opened July 5 in Toronto and opens July 12 in Montreal)

Jay Maidment/The Associated Press

Spider-Man: Far from Home

  • Directed by Jon Watts
  • Written by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers
  • Starring Tom Holland, Zendaya and Jake Gyllenhaal
  • Classification PG
  • 129 minutes

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If you only see one Spider-Man film this year … go stream Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. But if you only see two Spider-Man films this year … well, I mostly loathed Avengers: Endgame, but the brief moments featuring Spidey himself were zippy. So: If you only see three Spider-Man films this year … then yeah, go watch Spider-Man: Far from Home. (Opened July 2)

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