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Reel Journeys: Sketches from the 2017 Camden International Film Festival

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Reel Journeys: Sketches from the 2017 Camden International Film Festival

BOGIE

Reel Journeys: Sketches from the 2017 Camden International Film Festival

Downtown Camden, Maine embodies a dream—derived from collective cultural osmosis—that one might have of northern towns as hubs of autumnal Americana. An atmospherically foggy view of the coast was my backyard for four days. Each morning after several good cups of coffee I made my way from the rear porch of the Hawthorne Inn down a slope dotted with chairs and a fire pit, crossing through a wooded area over to the neighboring amphitheater, where portions of Todd Field's In the Bedroom were shot. From there, I passed the library (featuring a tribute to Mark Robson's Peyton Place, which was also shot in Camden) over to the main strip of town, which is rich in 19th-century buildings housing a palm reader, an ice cream parlor, numerous gift shops, and a deli that serves a terrific lobster roll.

There are at least four bookstores within a quarter mile of the Hawthorne Inn. By contrast, the Virginia town where I live doesn't have any, and I spent most of my scant spare time in Camden at the Owl & Turtle Bookshop Café, which suggests a Hobbit's nook, as the stairs in the center of the shop wrap around the room, uniting the upper and lower floors in a cavernous pattern that turns the smallness of the place into a cozy, cuddled-up-with-hot-chocolate-on-a-Sunday-morning asset. Craig White, who co-owns the Owl & Turtle with his wife, Maggie, told me that the author Richard Russo lives close by and pops over to sign his books for fans. I felt like Dale Cooper in the first several episodes of the original Twin Peaks: exclamatory and ready to go native.

Isle of Dogs First Trailer: Wes Anderson’s Return to Stop-Motion Animation

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Isle of Dogs First Trailer: Wes Anderson’s Return to Stop-Motion Animation

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Isle of Dogs First Trailer: Wes Anderson’s Return to Stop-Motion Animation

“The Japanese archipelago, 20 years into the future,” intones the voice at the start of the delightful trailer for Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs, which sees the filmmaker returning to the world of stop-motion animation for the first time since 2009’s Fantastic Mr. Mox. Earlier this year, during a discussion about his carrer at ARTE Cinema, Anderson revealed that his follow-up to 2014’s The Grand Budapest Hotel was heavily inspired by the work of Akira Kurosawa, which is very much evident throughout the ornate trailer.

American Horror Story: Cult Recap Episode 3, “Neighbors from Hell”

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American Horror Story: Cult Recap: Episode 3, “Neighbors from Hell”
American Horror Story: Cult Recap: Episode 3, “Neighbors from Hell”

As a society, we’ve come to rely on rules to protect us and rights to give us a sense of power. If there’s a disturbance coming from the home next to our own, we know that there are authorities who we can alert. And if our government takes an action that we find undesirable, we can petition against it. Perhaps the biggest psychic trauma, then, experienced by many people in this country after Trump’s election to the presidency—a trauma that’s the focus of American Horror Story: Cult—is the realization that those rules and rights don’t feel as sacrosanct as we thought they were.

The Deuce Recap Season 1, Episode 2, “Show and Prove”

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The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 2, “Show and Prove”

Paul Schiraldi

The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 2, “Show and Prove”

Officer Chris Alston (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) issues the titular ultimatum of “Show and Prove,” the second episode of The Deuce, to hookers during a farcical street raid: Show a property voucher proving your residence or spend the night in a holding tank. Alston is nonchalant as he demands paperwork allowing him to plausibly overlook the block’s rampant prostitution, and arrest only hookers who don’t pretend to be merely half-nude loiterers. Like paper bags concealing liquor bottles, the vouchers provide a shroud of willful ignorance for the cops who tolerate squalor but not brazenness.

Toronto Film Review Louis C.K.’s I Love You, Daddy

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Toronto International Film Festival 2017: Louis C.K.’s I Love You, Daddy

The Orchard

Toronto International Film Festival 2017: Louis C.K.’s I Love You, Daddy

Louis C.K. loves a mess, and I Love You, Daddy, his first feature film as a director since 2001’s Pootie Tang, is exactly that. That’s not to say that each and every scene lacks purpose, but that chaos, mostly of the emotional sort, is C.K.’s preferred m.o. He’s certainly treading into hot-button territory throughout this often funny yet ultimately flimsy dark comedy about a flavor-of-the-month sitcom writer, Glen Topher (C.K.), whose spoiled 17-year-old daughter, China (Chloë Grace Moretz), takes up with 68-year-old Leslie Goodwin (John Malkovich), a film director who Glen worships, and also a known lech who’s equal parts Roman Polanski and Woody Allen.

Toronto Film Review Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool and Roman J. Israel, Esq.

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Toronto Film Review: Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool and Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Sony Pictures Classics

Toronto Film Review: Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool and Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Not all Oscar bait is created equal. Glenn Close trolling the Academy with 2011’s shameless Albert Nobbs isn’t in the same wheelhouse as her fellow always-a-bridesmaid Annette Bening, who actually seems, whatever the performance, like there are plenty of other motivators for her work beyond gold-plated statuettes. Make no mistake, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, in which Bening plays aging Hollywood icon Gloria Grahame, is a tailor-made awards showcase, but the actress doesn’t settle for mere look-at-me mimicry.

Bening nails Grahame’s hyperventilator’s voice and flighty demeanor, as well as the seemingly out-of-nowhere sultriness that, for example, Nicholas Ray (Grahame’s second husband) used to striking effect in the 1949 noir A Woman’s Secret. Yet Bening also gives you a full sense of Grahame’s often-tortured depths, be it the obsession with her looks (her upper lip being the prime offender) or the scandal she courted. A prime plot point here is her marriage to Ray’s stepson, Anthony, in 1960, which led to the waning of a film career that included such highlights as 1950’s In a Lonely Place and 1952’s The Bad and the Beautiful, for which she won a supporting actress Oscar.

Review: Björk Opens Up on New Single “The Gate”

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Review: Björk Opens Up on New Single “The Gate”
Review: Björk Opens Up on New Single “The Gate”

“The Gate,” the first single from Björk’s follow-up to 2015’s Vulnicura, was scheduled to premiere next week, but according to a post on the Icelandic artist’s Facebook page today, she was “too excited to wait” and took to Twitter to announce a “midnight treat.” (The bump might have been a preemptive move, as the track leaked online just a few hours later.)

Toronto Film Review Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water

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Toronto Film Review: Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Toronto Film Review: Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water

Guillermo del Toro is an ingenious crafter of dioramas, of which The Shape of Water, a Cold War-era drama tinged with elements of the paranormal, is no exception. Yet where Crimson Peak’s clutter of dilapidated, rotting luxury felt like the jumping-off point for the Mexican filmmaker’s imagination to run amok, here del Toro appears restrained by the concrete and steel of an underground research facility. The setting yields an inherent coldness that the film must work to overcome, and for the first time in his career, del Toro visibly struggles to reconcile his premise with its execution.

The film’s protagonist, Eliza (Sally Hawkins), is a mute woman who works as a cleaner in a classified government laboratory. Del Toro establishes her loneliness via montages of her daily routine that show her boiling eggs, swabbing floors, and, in the most obvious giveaway of her emotional state, vigorously masturbating each morning inside a bathtub. Limited in communication to signing with her co-worker, Zelda (Octavia Spencer), and neighbor, Giles (Richard Jenkins), Eliza largely keeps to herself, rarely making eye contact with superiors and expressing herself only in private.

American Horror Story: Cult Recap Episode 2, “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark”

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American Horror Story: Cult Recap: Episode 2, “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark”
American Horror Story: Cult Recap: Episode 2, “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark”

For better and worse, the horror on American Horror Story: Cult is all text and no subtext. Take the title of “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” which isn’t some abstract nod to our needing to face the fears lurking in the darkness of our lives, but a reference to the blackout that leaves Ally (Sarah Paulson) in a panic. The show isn’t content to simply talk about the red-meat hate speech of the right; it literally hangs it out in the open after Roger (Zack Ward), a bigoted sous-chef, is found affixed to a hook in the Butchery’s kitchen freezer.

Toronto Film Review Paul Schrader’s First Reformed

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Toronto Film Review: Paul Schrader’s First Reformed

TIFF

Toronto Film Review: Paul Schrader’s First Reformed

Everything Paul Schrader has done throughout his career has led him to First Reformed, potentially the finest entry in what my friend and former Slant contributor Jeremiah Kipp refers to as the writer-director’s “men in rooms” films. These include 1980’s American Gigolo, 1992’s Light Sleeper, and 2007’s The Walker, all woozy character studies of not-quite-alpha males drifting through impeccably maintained, utterly empty lives that are summarily upended. The spaces these men inhabit seem an extension of their preplanned existences. Look at the way, for example, Richard Gere’s high-end sex worker, Julian Kaye, in American Gigolo organizes his California apartment as if it were a sun-dappled monk’s cell, with Armani suits as his chaplain’s wardrobe and a luxury-linened bed as his altar.