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Amazing Grace

Courtesy of Elevation Pictures

  • Directed by: Alan Elliott and Sydney Pollack
  • Featuring: Aretha Franklin and Rev. James Cleveland
  • Classification: G; 87 minutes

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Shot over two days and capturing two performances at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles in 1972, Amazing Grace – all music, no narration – stars Aretha Franklin singing gospel and was filmed by Sydney Pollack. Both of them never lived to see the wide release of the movie.

Missing Link

Annapurna Pictures / Courtesy of Elevation Pictures

  • Written and directed by Chris Butler
  • Featuring the voices of Hugh Jackman, Zach Galifianakis and Zoe Saldana
  • Classification G; 95 minutes

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Although it might sound like a lost web address to today’s computer-savvy youth, Missing Link is a delightful and polished stop-motion adventure-comedy and droll comment on colonialism.

The Brink

Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

  • Directed by: Alison Klayman
  • Featuring: Steve Bannon
  • Classification: 14A; 93 minutes

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With The Brink, a shrewdly edited documentary from filmmaker Alison Klayman, we are shown the downfall year of Steve Bannon, the former Trump-team strategist who says his mission is to “convert as many people as possible to the populist cause.”

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The Best of Enemies

Astute Films

  • Written and directed by: Robin Bissell
  • Starring: Sam Rockwell and Taraji P. Henson
  • Classification: PG; 133 minutes

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Where Green Book had Mahershala Ali playing an ultra-patient black man tasked with teaching white family man Viggo Mortensen a base amount of tolerance in the American South circa 1962, The Best of Enemies has Taraji P. Henson playing an ultra-patient black woman tasked with teaching white family man Sam Rockwell a base amount of tolerance in the American South circa 1971.

Her Smell

Courtesy of TIFF

  • Written and directed by Alex Ross Perry
  • Starring Elisabeth Moss
  • Classification R; 134 minutes

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The bafflingly unbalanced Her Smell by American auteur director Alex Ross Perry stars the always excellent Elisabeth Moss in a tour de force performance as the toxic punk rocker Becky Something.

Little

Photo Credit: Eli Joshua Adé/Un/Universal Pictures

  • Directed by Tina Gordon
  • Written by Tracy Oliver and Tina Gordon
  • Starring Marsai Martin, Issa Rae and Regina Hall
  • Classification PG; 109 minutes

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Like Bo Burnham’s terrific Eighth Grade, Tina Gordon’s Little concentrates on early-teen culture, but unlike Burnham’s nuanced film, the loudly keening Little is soulless, out for chuckles and dependent on people being mean to each other for its prodigious pep.

Mary Magdalene

See-Saw Films

  • Directed by: Garth Davis
  • Written by: Helen Edmundson and Philippa Goslett
  • Starring: Rooney Mara, Joaquin Phoenix and Chiwetel Ejiofor
  • Classification: 14A; 120 minutes

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You don’t have to be a biblical scholar to see how director Garth Davis failed to generate the kind of response that Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ or Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ engendered. Most of Mary Magdalene is as flat and dry as the deserts of Judea.

Stockholm

Entertainment One

  • Written and directed by: Robert Budreau
  • Starring: Ethan Hawke, Noomi Rapace, Mark Strong
  • Classification: PG; 92 minutes

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Working from an old New Yorker article about the real-life 1973 Stockholm bank robbery in which the captives sided with their captor – thus coining the term “Stockholm syndrome” – Canadian writer-director Robert Budreau’s Stockholm serves up tension, a handful of chuckles, little psychological insight and a Kodachrome vision of Swedish life in the seventies.

The Tempest

David Hou/Stratford Festival

  • Written by: William Shakespeare
  • Directed by: Antoni Cimolino and Barry Avrich
  • Starring: Martha Henry
  • Classification: NA; 120 minutes

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At their simplest, the Stratford Festival’s films record a theatrical event. However, by the time you are sitting through a second half of more amusing clowning and elaborate costuming yet no unifying idea, The Tempest mainly feels like the record of a lost opportunity.

Girls of the Sun

Maneki Films

  • Directed by Eva Husson
  • Written by Eva Husson and Jacques Akchoti
  • Starring Emmanuelle Bercot and Golshifteh Farahani
  • Classification NA; 115 minutes

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Girls of the Sun, about a French war correspondent and the Kurdish women fighting the Islamic State, has the worthy intention of telling the story of the women’s battalions in Kurdistan, but it’s formulaic and melodramatic.

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Hellboy

Mark Rogers/Courtesy of VVS

  • Directed by Neil Marshall
  • Written by Andrew Cosby
  • Starring David Harbour, Milla Jovovich and Ian McShane
  • Classification R; 120 minutes

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What did we do as a society to deserve 2019’s Hellboy remount? the punishing two hours of this year’s clunkiest and most nonsensical comic-book movie is like Deadpool without the irony, originality or star power.

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