Review: Kate Winslet can't stop 'A Little Chaos' from living up to its title

Review: Kate Winslet can't stop 'A Little Chaos' from living up to its title

HitFix
C+
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At least Stanley Tucci is doing his thing, right?

TORONTO — “Titanic” was a seminal moment in Kate Winslet’s career, but she made it clear even during the film's Oscar run and in the years following that it was a more grueling experience than she ever expected. In the years since she’s avoided anything that came close to those shooting conditions, when she spent weeks in water tanks and wading through water. That is until her new period drama, “A Little Chaos,” which screened for the press at the 2014 Toronto Film Festival Wednesday before its Saturday night premiere.

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5 things we learned from Anna Kendrick about 'The Last 5 Years' (and 'Into the Woods')

5 things we learned from Anna Kendrick about 'The Last 5 Years' (and 'Into the Woods')

Meryl plus Tracy plus Christine equals heaven

TORONTO — Anna Kendrick is giving me a look that says, “We are so not doing that again.”

For the second time in two weeks, I’ve now stood up from an interview and mistakenly deleted the audio file.* Unlike Jon Stewart in Telluride, however, I have now mentioned this to Kendrick in some bizarre attempt for sympathy (or, perhaps, trying to laugh it off to myself). In any event, she needn’t have worried. She’s got a busy day ahead of her without me in the mix and this is where those veteran reporter skills come in handy now and then. A mad dash to the next venue and you jot down as much as you can remember. In this case, sadly, without the funny quotes.

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Review: Jennifer Aniston's impressively raw performance tells her critics to eat 'Cake'

Review: Jennifer Aniston's impressively raw performance tells her critics to eat 'Cake'

HitFix
B+
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Daniel Barnz's latest starts off bumpy but finds itself in the end

TORONTO — Chances are that anyone who saw Daniel Barnz's "Phoebe in Wonderland" at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival has been wondering if we'd ever see "that" talented director again. In the years since, he tried to jump on the YA wagon with the misfire "Beastly" and got terribly lost in the studio world with 2012's "Won't Back Down." He may still be a little rough around the edges, but the Barnz who showed so much promise with "Phoebe" is back with the new drama "Cake," which premiered Monday at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. And as much as "Cake" is something of a comeback for Barnz, it's really on most people's radar for being a rare dramatic turn for Jennifer Aniston, and she doesn't disappoint.

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Review: Julianne Moore is shattering in wonderfully restrained 'Still Alice'

Review: Julianne Moore is shattering in wonderfully restrained 'Still Alice'

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A-
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A Monday afternoon surprise from Toronto

TORONTO — Julianne Moore has already had quite a year. In May, she surprised many by taking the Best Actress honor at the Cannes Film Festival for David Cronenberg’s “Map to the Stars.” On Monday night, “Still Alice” premiered at the 2014 Toronto Film Festival and it may feature one of the finest performances of her already illustrious career.

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Review: Impressive 'Beyond the Lights' proves Gina Prince-Bythewood isn't working enough

Review: Impressive 'Beyond the Lights' proves Gina Prince-Bythewood isn't working enough

HitFix
B+
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Gugu Mbatha-Raw proves she's the next big thing

TORONTO — Hollywood has long embraced the trope of the suffering superstar. You know the story, don’t you? A talented but misunderstood singer or actor struggles with the downside of living in the spotlight. Often there is a parent trying to live dreams through his or her child’s adult career. There might even be a hero who will appear from outside the creative world to protect the artist from the perils of fame and fortune. Yes, this is a narrative idea that has been explored countless times in movies and TV shows. It’s also the very simple logline for the new Relativity Media drama "Beyond the Lights." Thanks to the masterful direction of Gina Prince-Bythewood, however, the film shatters these cliché origins and turns into an unexpectedly electric and moving romantic drama.

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Review: Eddie Redmayne is remarkable as Stephen Hawking in ‘Theory of Everything’

Review: Eddie Redmayne is remarkable as Stephen Hawking in ‘Theory of Everything’

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A moving biopic worthy of the 20th Century scientific icon

TORONTO — Actors who undergo extreme physical transformations for dramatic roles often are overpraised for their performances. That will never be the case for Eddie Redmayne’s remarkable depiction of Stephen Hawking in the new Focus Features drama "The Theory of Everything."

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Review: Chris Rock's 'Top Five' is simply a comedy smash

Review: Chris Rock's 'Top Five' is simply a comedy smash

HitFix
A
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Let the buzz begin

TORONTO — If you were to look over Chris Rock's lengthy and impressive career you might think he peaked with HBO's "The Chris Rock Show." Or perhaps it was his string of Emmy-winning standup specials including 2008's "Kill the Messenger." Or perhaps it was as the producer and co-creator of the critically acclaimed TV series "Everybody Hates Chris." Well, happily, at the ripe young age of 49, Rock has hit a career high with his new film "Top Five," which debuted at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival Saturday night.

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Review: Ansel Elgort shines brightest in 'Men, Women & Children'

Review: Ansel Elgort shines brightest in 'Men, Women & Children'

HitFix
B-
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Jason Reitman's new drama is intriguing but falls flat

TORONTO — Do you remember saying hello to people on the sidewalk? Whispering in a friend’s ear? Or perhaps you recall the art of purposefully ignoring someone in the hallway when you were in school? Thanks to the advent of smartphones, those key human interactions are slowly becoming extinct. During one of the first few scenes in Jason Reitman’s “Men, Women & Children,” which premiered today at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, the camera slowly moves above a large High School corridor. Not only are the students walking heads down glued to their phones, but so are their teachers. It’s a stark reminder of how much has changed in our day-to-day world this century and a smart framing point for the audience. The question is whether Reitman has anything else to really say about it or if the screenplay's framework will let him.

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Review: Bill Murray is a force of nature in charming 'St. Vincent'

Review: Bill Murray is a force of nature in charming 'St. Vincent'

HitFix
B+
Readers
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You will forgive Melissa McCarthy for 'Tammy' after this one

TORONTO — You may find this hard to believe, but the last time the world was treated to a movie with Bill Murray in a leading role was 2005’s “Broken Flowers.” The legendary comedic actor has kept busy since then in supporting roles, but much to his fans' chagrin, he hasn’t really been at the center of the action. That has all changed with the new comedy “St. Vincent,” which debuted at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival on Friday night.

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Robert Downey Jr.'s 'The Judge' opens Toronto as the spotlight turns to Robert Duvall

Robert Downey Jr.'s 'The Judge' opens Toronto as the spotlight turns to Robert Duvall

Are there any awards chances for TIFF's opening night premiere?

TORONTO — The 39th annual Toronto International Film Festival kicked off Thursday night and its opening night film, "The Judge," brought some major star power. TIFF is known as being a red carpet festival (they seem to even be openly hyping it up this year) and nothing is better than Robert Downey Jr., one of the biggest stars in the world, posing for the paparazzi outside the massive Roy Thomson Hall.

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