POOR THINGS – Review by Susan Granger

I’m told that Yorgos Lanthimos’s films (Dogtooth, The Lobster, The Favourite) are an “acquired taste,” meaning that – at first viewing – they’re unpleasant but after being experienced repeatedly, they’re, perhaps, likeable and can be appreciated. Unfortunately, I have not found that to be true, particularly as it applies to his newest sci-fi dramedy Poor Things, a strange, surreal satire that won the Golden Lion in Venice and features Emma Stone’s graphic full-frontal nudity.. Adapting Scottish author/artist Alasdair Gray’s 1992 dementedly comic novel, screenwriter Tony McNamara focuses the late-Victorian-era story on the bizarre evolution of Bella Baxter (Stone), a suicidal pregnant woman reanimated by reclusive, facially-scarred mad-scientist Dr. Godwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe), who transplants into her cranial cavity the brain of the baby in her womb.

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POOR THINGS – Review by Diane Carson

Poor Things satirizes Victorian England through naïve Bella Baxter. Some directors enjoy pushing their films’ style and content beyond conventional formulas. That group includes Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos whose work includes The Lobster, The Favourite, and The Killing of a Sacred Deer. With his newest, Poor Things, Lanthimos has exceeded even his previous outlandish choices as Bella Baxter pursues a life of unregulated, hedonistic indulgence.

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POOR THINGS – Review by T.J. Callahan

Poor Things, a screenplay from the pen of Tony McNamara (Cruella, The Favourite), from a novel by Alasdair Gray, gets the Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster) treatment as he directs Emma Stone like you’ve never seen her before in this sci fi black comedy reanimated romance that can only be described as extraordinarily weird. One could look at Poor Things as a story of feminism. A depressed and kept woman breaks away to successfully take control of her life, but is her empowerment all done through a male perspective? This makes Poor Things, as odd as it is, the perfect discussion film.

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POOR THINGS – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

Poor Things, the latest film from provocative director Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite), is full of plenty of idiosyncrasies—par for the course from the Oscar nominee who crafted a romance (The Lobster) in a society where single people become animals should they fail to find a mate. Here, the scientist belches bubbles that float above the dining table, his house rife with animals spliced from different species, such as a duck with dog’s feet. The shots vary in composition and style, moving from scenes in black and white to those with a fish-eye lens and in hyper-saturated colors.

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GONZO GIRL (TIFF 2023) – Review by Leslie Combemale

As a directorial debut, Patricia Arquette could have done a lot worse than Gonzo Girl. Based on the book about the experiences of Cheryl Della Pietra’s as Hunter S. Thompson’s assistant in the mid-nineties, Arquette was the perfect age to understand the challenges of a women in the business world of the time. Arquette shows a facility with interesting shots and choosing below-the-line artists who will give life to a film’s vision, and choosing performers who will click, and make the best of their lines. She’ll do well in the future with a better script. She already knows how to bring out the best out of good actors working together.

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WEEK IN WOMEN: Patricia Arquette’s GONZO GIRL opens TIFF’s Discovery program – Brandy McDonnell reports

Gonzo Girl, Oscar-winning actor Patricia Arquette’s directorial debut, will be the opening film of the Discovery program of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. Four-time Oscar nominee Willem Dafoe and Camila Morrone star in Arquette’s Gonzo Girl, which is based on Cheryl Della Pietra’s semi-autobiographical novel chronicling her time as Hunter S. Thompson’s personal assistant.

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INSIDE – Review by Susan Granger

Inside features a high-end art thief who is trapped in an extravagant New York City penthouse …it’s a Master Class in acting but agony to watch. When Nemo (Willem Dafoe) inadvertently sets off the alarm system as he’s searching for a particular painting, he’s imprisoned in the huge, high-tech apartment he was burglarizing. Without food or water, his desperation grows. The apartment belongs to a Pritzker-prize-winning architect who is working in Kazakhstan on a project called the Tulip Tower. He never appears except in Nemo’s dreams and hallucinations

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RIVER – Review by Liz Braun

Mother was right — you really can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. It certainly works for River, a visually spectacular documentary about the earth’s waterways that delivers a powerful environmental message by leading with positive images. River introduces the absolute magnificence of the rivers of this world, seducing a viewer with remarkable footage and inspiring an appreciation of the natural world before bringing down the hammer.

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THE WILD ONE (Tribeca 2022) – Reviewed by Marilyn Ferdinand

If you don’t know who Jack Garfein is, you’re not alone. Garfein was one of the most influential movers in the acting profession—he discovered Steve McQueen, Bruce Dern, George Peppard, Ben Gazzara, Pat Hingle, and Albert Salmi. He also introduced Irish playwright Samuel Beckett to American audiences. But his uncompromising approach to telling the truth through art put him on the outs with the entertainment establishment. He made only two films, and retreated to stage directing and educating a whole new kind of movie actor.

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THE CARD COUNTER – Review by Susan Granger

When Paul Schrader’s The Card Counter opens with graphic shots of the torture chambers at Abu Ghraib prison, it immediately telegraphs that this drama will be more about brutality than blackjack. Haunted by memories of what he’s done, ascetic William Tillich is a disgraced former military ‘interrogator’ who uses the surname ‘Tell’ and roams the country living under the radar as part of the low-stakes casino circuit, never wanting to draw attention to himself as a big winner.

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