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Toronto International Film Festival 2013 The Double and Enemy

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Toronto International Film Festival 2013: The Double and Enemy
Toronto International Film Festival 2013: The Double and Enemy

There were plenty of Jesse Eisenbergs and Jake Gyllenhaals and doppelganger-centered film adaptations to go around at Toronto. Richard Ayoade’s The Double, loosely based on the Fyodor Dostoevsky novella, pits Eisenberg against Eisenberg, his Mark Zuckerberg smartass squaring off against his Michael Cera nebbish. Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy, adapted from José Saramago’s The Double, features a double dose of Gyllenhaal as a disheveled history professor and a cocky actor, exact replicas of each other, right down to birthmarks and scars. Both films are unsurprisingly about male anxiety, a subject that can now be firmly deemed a preoccupation for Ayoade, whose Submarine explored similar territory.

On Trend The Year of Beyoncé

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On Trend: The Year of Beyoncé

Columbia Records

On Trend: The Year of Beyoncé

If you’ve walked through New York City lately (or, in all likelihood, any major city), you’ve probably been unable to escape Beyoncé’s face. It’s on the posters still pushing her heavily-rotated HBO doc, Life Is But a Dream; it’s on Pepsi ads that first emerged for her Super Bowl halftime show, sponsored by the soda; it’s on promos for Love Songs, the Destiny’s Child compilation album released earlier this year; and it’s on the cover of the March issue of Vogue, which unapologetically declares that the “Queen B” “rules the world.” Written by Jason Gay, the Vogue article, like the HBO film, isn’t especially revealing, and it feels as if it were shaped, to some degree, within the diva’s control, right down to the closing sentence that wholesomely acknowledges the promise embodied by Blue Ivy Carter, Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s one-year-old daughter. The story—which, in a rarity for Vogue, includes a straight-on shot of its subject smiling—registers as one more part of the carefully calibrated Beyoncé machine, which is programmed to put forth an image as sexy and glamorous as it is untarnished and accessible. Such is not to say, necessarily, that Gay’s article rings false, but that it, like the artist herself, carries a constant aura of choreographed perfection, which, now, in the wake of marriage, childbirth, and continuing endorsements from the First Family, is tinged with a new layer of human transparency. Perhaps that layer was always there, and is just now more apparent. In any case, of the many affirmations made within the commendatory Vogue spread, one that leaps off the page is already clear to anyone with eyes: This year, “Beyoncé will be in your life like she’s never been before.”

Oscar 2012 Winner Predictions Editing

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Oscar 2012 Winner Predictions: Editing
Oscar 2012 Winner Predictions: Editing

When it comes to film editing, dubbed by so many as “the invisible art,” marveling at how rhythmically one shot feeds another is hardly sufficient in predicting an Oscar winner. If it were that simple, Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall, who linked motorbike zooms to serial-killer string-ups and helped The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo feel like half of its 158 minutes, would take this trophy in a walk. That’s just what the Fincher-backing duo did last year, for their equally riveting chop job on The Social Network. But Fincher’s latest is hardly a contender like his zeitgeist-y Zuckerberg epic, leaving it a tased and tatted victim of the politics of this race. If you’re not a Bourne Ultimatum or a Black Hawk Down or a Matrix, firing more dizzying, whiz-bang splices at the audience than obstacles in a first-person shooter, you’d best be a Best Picture frontrunner.

Toronto International Film Festival 2011: Moneyball and Chicken with Plums

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Toronto International Film Festival 2011: Moneyball and Chicken with Plums

Columbia Pictures

Toronto International Film Festival 2011: Moneyball and Chicken with Plums

Despite being about as concerned with baseball management as Sports Night was with sports broadcasting, Moneyball still confronts co-writer Aaron Sorkin with a milieu in which he has trouble being putatively witty. (Brad Pitt, as the famously statistics-oriented general manager of the Oakland A’s Billy Beane, at one point hurls a locker-room fixture and listens to it wobble to rest in the corner. “You hear that?” he asks his indolent team. “That’s what losing sounds like!”) Granted, Sorkin’s not the sole auteur of the genre exercise, per se; both director Bennett Miller and second screenwriter Steven Zaillian are ensconced enough in specific iterations of the generic for us to glean their influence. What’s modestly fun to watch, though, is how clearly Sorkin sublimates the rushed, narrative itinerancy of his usually peppy dialogue almost entirely within character motivation.