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Film Reviews Your guide to new films this week, including a meandering Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and the Canadian-made Astronaut

Killing Patient Zero

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  • Directed by Laurie Lynd
  • Classification N/A; 100 minutes

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Laurie Lynd’s Killing Patient Zero asks an essential question: Where does a dead man go to get his reputation back? After the ecstasy and freedom of the gay rights movement, the AIDS epidemic hit the community. Enter French-Canadian Gaëtan Dugas, who was wrongly vilified as patient zero. Lynd’s documentary restores Dugas to imperfect flesh and blood, which is achievement enough. (Opens July 26 in Toronto)

Astronaut

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  • Written and directed by Shelagh McLeod
  • Starring Richard Dreyfuss, Colm Feore, Krista Bridges, Graham Greene, Richie Lawrence and Lyriq Bent
  • Classification: PG; 97 minutes

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The quaint, sentimental new Canadian-made indie film Astronaut is a last-hurrah light comedy with moments of sky-searching philosophy. Richard Dreyfuss is Angus, a widowed, tuckered-out and retired civil engineer with a telescope and a space-travel dream. “Old people don’t go quietly,” Shelagh McLeod, the Vancouver-born actress-turned-filmmaker, says in her writer-director’s statement. “They fight to be heard.” (Opens in Toronto and Vancouver and available by video on demand on July 26)

The Stone Speakers

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  • Written and directed by Igor Drljaca
  • Classification N/A; 92 minutes

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The Bosnian-Canadian film director Igor Drljaca has a remarkable eye. In The Stone Speakers, cinematographer Amel Djikoli’s camera lingers with magnificent stillness on scenes of town and country in Bosnia-Herzegovina. It would be a great advertisement for the national tourist office, if it weren’t for the odd political undercurrents swirling just beneath the surface. The Stone Speakers features four places where, in the aftermath of the civil war of the 1990s, tourism is tinged with nationalism, fantasy and deceit. (Opens July 26 at the TIFF Lightbox in Toronto)

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Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood

Andrew Cooper/The Associated Press

  • Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino
  • Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie
  • Classification R; 161 minutes

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Why did Quentin Tarantino decide that Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood was the story he had to tell? Maybe the answer is simple indulgence. Of all Tarantino’s movies, this is the most Tarantino-iest – a winky, bloody and preposterous trip inside the filmmaker’s idea of what Hollywood used to be – or should be but never really was. His supreme talent has always been twined with an equal level of self-confidence. But there is little to be cocky about in Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood and much to be troubled by. (Opens July 26)

Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable

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  • Directed by Aaron Lieber
  • Starring Bethany Hamilton, Adam Dirks and Alana Blanchard
  • Classification G; 100 minutes

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Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable is a so-so surf documentary on a former teen prodigy who in 2003 lost her left arm to a 14-foot tiger shark. So why did she quickly return to wave-riding? The film’s simple answer is that she lives to be there: It’s her passion and her place of healing – “somewhere,” she says, “where I can just be me.” Why tell her story again? Other than keeping Hamilton’s name out there and giving her brand exposure, Unstoppable stops short of making a compelling case for itself. (Opens July 26)

And now streaming on Netflix...

The Great Hack

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Part thriller and part exposé, the visually stunning documentary The Great Hack is about data. Mostly it’s a resounding warning about how deeply precious your data is. There is still a lot to learn about Brexit and how Facebook was used to manipulate minds during the U.S. election of 2016, and those two political events are the focus of The Great Hack. The essential thread follows Professor David Carroll, of Parsons School of Design in New York, who wanted to find out what personal data of his was held by certain companies.

This guide was compiled by Sierra Bein, with reviews by Stephen Rodrick, Brad Wheeler, Kate Taylor, Barry Hertz and John Doyle.

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