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The Irishman

Netflix

  • Directed by: Martin Scorsese
  • Written by Steven Zaillian
  • Starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino
  • Classification R; 210 minutes

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The Irishman is the film that Martin Scorsese has been working his whole life toward. Much like the director’s most popular work, this is a crime film, thrilling and visceral. But it represents something deeper, too. Weaving together several different timelines – but never enough that the narrative is confusing to follow – The Irishman follows the misdeeds of Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro), a real-life hit man for the Philadelphia mob who first cozies up to the head of the Bufalino crime family (Joe Pesci), and eventually becomes an enforcer for Teamsters chief Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino). (Opens Nov. 8 at the TIFF Lightbox in Toronto; Nov. 15 in Vancouver, Ottawa, and Montreal; Nov. 22 in Calgary and Edmonton; and Nov. 27 on Netflix)

Antigone

Courtesy of TIFF

  • Written and directed by Sophie Deraspe
  • Starring Nahéma Ricci
  • Classification G; 109 minutes

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With one brother dead and another threatened with deportation, Antigone orchestrates a plan to save her living brother by sacrificing her freedom and home in Canada. As adapted for the screen by writer-director Sophie Deraspe, Sophocles’ Theban play touches on issues of justice and morality within the Canadian justice system. Without question one of the great Canadian films of the past few years, Antigone takes a classic story and re-interprets it with fresh eyes. (Opens Nov. 8 in Montreal, and Dec. 6 at Toronto’s TIFF Lightbox)

Frankie

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

  • Directed by Ira Sachs
  • Written by Ira Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias
  • Starring Isabelle Huppert and Brendan Gleeson
  • Classification PG; 98 minutes

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Consummate New York filmmaker Ira Sachs takes his bittersweet art-house style on vacation to Portugal in Frankie. As holidays are wont to do, the idyllic locale and the abstraction from the daily routine paradoxically bring life choices into sharper relief. That’s even more the case when Isabelle Huppert is the matriarch and has assembled a group of extended family that is variously strained, estranged and, in some cases, strangers to one another. (Opens Nov. 8 in Toronto, Nov. 15 in Montreal)

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Doctor Sleep

Warner Bros. Pictures

  • Directed by Mike Flanagan
  • Written by Mike Flanagan, based on the novel by Stephen King
  • Starring Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson and Kyliegh Curran
  • Classification R; 151 minutes

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Too many ghosts haunt the halls of Doctor Sleep, and not just the malevolent spectres hiding inside the Overlook Hotel. Director Mike Flanagan’s sequel to The Shining is possessed by the spirits of not one but two famously stubborn men: Stephen King, who wrote Doctor Sleep as a decades-later follow-up to one of his most enduring stories, and Stanley Kubrick, who turned King’s original book into a visually stunning work of surreal horror. Which King himself happened to hate. (Opens Nov. 8)

Last Christmas

Universal Pictures

  • Directed by Paul Feig
  • Written by Emma Thompson and Bryony Kimmings
  • Starring Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding and Emma Thompson
  • Classification PG; 102 minutes

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Last Christmas does little to upend holiday-movie conventions – instead, everything on the turkey-season wish list is here, including a showdown at a family meal. Based on a story by Emma Thompson and husband Greg Wise and directed by Paul Feig (Spy, Bridesmaids), Last Christmas is a jukebox-musical holiday movie that’s named for (and loosely plotted around) one of the George Michael hits it deploys in key moments – sometimes instead of emotional texture, sometimes as punchline. (Opens Nov. 8)

Margaret Atwood: A Word after a Word after a Word is Power

Peter Bregg/White Pine Pictures

  • Directed by Nancy Lang and Peter Raymont
  • Classification N/A
  • 93 minutes

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Margaret Atwood: A Word after a Word after a Word is Power is the first authorized documentary in 35 years to chronicle the legacy and relevance of Canadian literary grand poobah Margaret Atwood. Filmmakers Nancy Lang and Peter Raymont were given considerable access to the writer, documenting her personal and professional engagements around the world. A Word is successful at relaying all the things Atwood is: literary rock star, enduring feminist, CanLit champion, inadvertent prophet, passionate birder, devoted mother, partner and friend. Yet it misses opportunities to present her in a way that’s less than fawning. (Opens Nov. 8)

Midway

Reiner Bajo/Courtesy of Elevation Pictures

  • Directed by Roland Emmerich
  • Written by Wes Tooke
  • Starring Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson and Woody Harrelson
  • Classification PG; 138 minutes

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Roland Emmerich, a disaster-porn fetishist of the highest degree (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow), surely had a good reason to revisit battles already widely dramatized (including in 1976′s Midway, starring Charlton Heston), but such internal justification is absent from the screen. Midway’s tale of straight-arrow heroism feels achingly familiar, throwing a lot of warm bodies and cold clichés into the chilly waters of the Pacific in the hope that something thrilling will float. (Opens Nov. 8)

Playing with Fire

Photo Credit: Doane Gregory/Paramount Pictures

  • Directed by Andy Fickman
  • Written by Dan Ewen and Matt Lieberman
  • Starring John Cena, Keegan-Michael Key and Judy Greer
  • Classification PG; 96 minutes

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Professional wrestler and actor John Cena is currently at the stage of his career where his roles are essentially, “muscular man who is funny." At least, this is what Andy Fickman’s Playing With Fire is trying to make you think. The film co-stars three other truly funny people – Keegan-Michael Key, John Leguizamo and Judy Greer – and it’s hard to wonder what the point was in even hiring these amazing actors alongside Cena. Why make him the star of a comedy when they are all right there? (Opens Nov. 8)

Also: What’s new and noteworthy to stream

Courtesy of TIFF

Barry Hertz offers a few streaming recommendations for this weekend, including documentaries The Elephant Queen on the new Apple TV+ and One Child Nation on Amazon Prime Video, plus the campy psychodrama The Love Witch on Kanopy.


This weekly guide was compiled by Lori Fazari, with reviews from Nathalie Atkinson, Sarah Hagi, Barry Hertz, Elianna Lev and Justine Smith.

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