THE ELECTRIC LIFE OF LOUIS WAIN (TIFF2021) – Review by Leslie Combemale

If you have cats in your home as part of your family, you have Louis Wain to thank. He was the 19th century illustrator of cat images and he introduced Victorian London to the wonder and joy of cats. A socially inept, eccentric soul, Wain created paintings and sketches of anthropomorphized felines, though many of his images were of his beloved pet cat Peter. In Will Sharp’s The Electric Life of Louis Wain Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role, along with Andrea Riseborough as one of his five sisters, and Claire Foy as his beloved Emily. The film is charming, sad, has great performances, and is visually sumptuous, with some of the best costuming and makeup you’ll see this year. It has such undeniable heart, you’ll be sure to forgive it being a little overly sentimental.

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THE COURIER – Review by Diane Carson

British director Dominic Cooke opens The Courier with on-screen titles announcing that by 1960 the United States/Soviet Union nuclear arms race had intensified with imminent destruction threatening. With the Cuban missile crisis as the historical backdrop, this cloak-and-dagger story, based on true events, unfolds with suspense and revelations regarding the CIA, Britain’s MI6, and a Russian traitor.

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1917 – Review by Susan Granger

What’s extraordinary about Sam Mendes’ epic W.W.I film is that it follows the harrowing journey of two young British infantryman in one seemingly continuous shot. On April 6, 1917, when phone lines have been cut on the Hindenberg Line in France, Lance Corporal Blake is summoned to deliver an important directive preventing a planned advance to the front because the Germans have set an ambush.

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THE CURRENT WAR – Review by Susan Granger

Beginning in 1880, engineer/inventor Thomas Edison and industrialist George Westinghouse embarked on a race to electrify America. Edison utilized direct current (DC), which – while it had distance limitations – was “safer,” but more expensive, while Westinghouse, working with his visionary Serbian partner Nikolai Tesla, favored alternating current (AC), which had a longer range and was less costly.

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WEEK IN WOMEN: Campion to direct Moss in POWER OF THE DOG – Brandy McDonnell reports

Oscar winner Jane Campion and two-time Golden Globe winner Elisabeth Moss will reunite in the new film, The Power of the Dog. Moss and Academy Award nominee Benedict Cumberbatch will star in the film, an adaptation of the Thomas Savage novel. Campion will direct from a script she adapted, with See-Saw Films’ in-house sales arm, Cross City Films, The movie will go into pre-production at the end of the year.

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DR SEUSS’ THE GRINCH – Review by Brandy McDonnell

Oscar nominee Benedict Cumberbatch voices the titular curmudgeon with less of the sinister intensity of his Smaug or Shere Khan and more the “generic American” derision of his Dr. Strange (thankfully, he doesn’t mangle another Oklahoma accent ala “August: Osage County”; my deep and abiding love of Cumberbatch’s work can only take so much terrible drawling).

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, Nov. 24-30: THE IMITATION GAME

Opening Nov. 28, AWFJ’s Movie of the Week is The Imitation Game, the compelling real-life story of how mathematical genius Alan Turing (played to perfection by Benedict Cumberbatch) and a team of numerologist cracked the Nazi’s Enigma code, bringing an early end to World War II. Read on…

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