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Barney's Version Review


Very Good
Based on the novel by Mordecai Richler, this film traces some 35 years in the life of its central character. More observational than plot-driven, its real strengths lie in performances that vividly draw out everyday emotions.

Barney Panofsky (Giamatti) has had an event-filled life that not many people quite understand. His first marriage to Clara (Lefevre) in 1970s Rome was short, but his second back home in Montreal (to Driver) was even briefer, as he met wife No 3, Miriam (Pike), at the reception. His later years are haunted by a detective (Addy) who's determined to prove that Barney killed his best friend (Speedman) back in the 80s. And then there's his feisty dad (Dustin Hoffman), smart kids (Jake Hoffman and Hopkins) and a too-friendly neighbour (Greenwood).

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Robert Lantos and Paul Giamatti Monday 10th January 2011 Robert Lantos, Paul Giamatti and Robin Bronk at a special preview of Barney's Version part of Creative Coalition's Spotlight Initiative Screening Series - Arrivals New York City, USA

Paul Giamatti and Robert Lantos
Paul Giamatti and Robert Lantos

Robert Lantos and AFI - Producer Robert Lantos Hollywood, California - AFI Fest 2010 Centerpiece Gala Screening of Barney's Version held at the Egyptian Theatre Saturday 6th November 2010

Robert Lantos and Afi
Robert Lantos, Afi and Dustin Hoffman
Robert Lantos and Afi

Robert Lantos Sunday 12th September 2010 Robert Lantos attends the ET Canada party during the 35th Toronto International Film Festival. Toronto, Canada

Robert Lantos

Robert Lantos Sunday 12th September 2010 The 35th Toronto International Film Festival - 'Barney's Version' premiere arrival at the Roy Thomson Hall. Toronto, Canada

Robert Lantos

Eastern Promises Review


Excellent
We're in London and the streets look like they are owned and operated by Beelzebub himself. The ghosts of the KGB death squads loom in the distance, but the Russian crime syndicate's stranglehold over the hoods and alleys is as strong as ever. Out of one of these decrepit alleyways crawls a 14-year-old girl who walks into a pharmacy only moments before hemorrhaging from the baby girl inside her. Her death is announced at the same time as her daughter's birth. Welcome to the decaying London of David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises.

A master at the ancient art of phantom punching, Cronenberg's examination of the Russian mafia's sex trade, currently flourishing in London, doesn't hit you till you're a good quarter mile out of the theater, as you're still contemplating Viggo Mortensen's slicked-back hairdo. Like a cccwolf right before the hunt, Mortensen snarls and calmly stalks as Nikolai, the driver for a sect of the elusive crime syndicate Vory V Zakone, a specter that arose from the ashes of Stalin's work camps. Nikolai works for Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl) and Semyon's volatile son Kirill (Vincent Cassel), taking care of their transportation and their criminal refuse. When Nikolai snaps off the fingers of a corpse, he asks Kirill and his business associate Azim (Mina E. Mina) to leave... but the audience is allowed to stay.

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Ararat Review


Good
Life must be a nonstop party at the old Egoyan homestead. Our pal Atom comes home, tired from a long day's work, sits down for dinner with his wife Arsinée Khanjian, and finally they retire to the living room... where they get to discuss Armenia at length.

Atom Egoyan, the avant-garde Canadian filmmaker born in Egypt to Armenian parents, has a chip on his shoulder the size of the Great White North. And that chip is Armenia. Obviously harboring a deep guilt for his living high on the hog in the West while his ancestors were massacred in the motherland, Egoyan never misses a chance to revisit Armenia as a theme in his films -- even if, say, it's a movie about a strip club and a dead girl (Exotica). And invariably Egoyan casts his wife Khanjian as an Armenian of some sort, always taking the time to let us know she's Armenian with the subtext that she should be pitied.

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Existenz Review


Excellent
Well, Cronenberg is back, and after a couple of misfires like Crash, M. Butterfly, and well, pretty much the last ten years of his oeuvre, he's got a solid flick with eXistenZ. In fact, I'd say it's his best work since 1983's Videodrome.

The story is straight outta modern/near-future pop culture: Using a "bioport," you can jack your body and mind into an immersive game world--a world served up by a handheld bio-engineered creature called a "game pod" that is essentially a blood-pulsing Nintendo. There are no computers in the film: just the mutated organisms that are Cronenberg's trademark. And oh does he put them to good use.

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Black Robe Review


Very Good
A Jesuit in a black robe travels to remote 1600s Canada, trying to reach a mission to the Huron tribe deep in the wintry Quebec country. Guided by Algonquins and encountering troublesome Iroquois, our hero as the brush which is used to paint a nuanced picture of historical time few people know very much about. Though the film tends to wander in its latter half, the stunning winter sets and excellent score generally transcend its weaknesses.

Being Julia Review


Very Good
When you have a performance as fresh and audacious as this one from a movie star who doesn't average a film a year, it makes you wonder why we see so little of her. But here she is, Annette Bening (Open Range, The Grifters), wowing us with her patented delicious verve in the form of stage naughtiness -- a portrayal that should go on more than one Best Actress list for the year 2004.

As the great Julia Lambert, the toast of the London stage in the early '30s, she's struck by a premonition of fading vitality at the grand age of forty. Worries of it bring her close to a breakdown as she begins to desperately search for other stimuli to give her life meaning. She carries on a dialogue with her muse, Jimmy Langton (Michael Gambon), her dead drama coach that she summons up as an imagined presence to tell her when she's going well or going astray.

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Stardom Review


Weak
Nothing could better use a solid send-up than the beyond egomaniacal fashion model "industry," a self-obsessed, navel-gazing enterprise of nonsensical characters if ever there has been one. French Canadian director Denys Arcand (best known for Jesus of Montreal) has created some biting social commentaries in the past, but Stardom is far from a masterpiece.

Stardom tells the story of an unknown female hockey player named Tina (Jessica Paré) who finds celebrity in the modeling biz when a happenstance candid photo of her on the ice becomes all the rage. Soon enough she's an up-and-comer in Montreal, jetting off to Europe for photo shoots and parties, and indulging in the usual trappings of the supermodel race.

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Men With Brooms Review


Good
In the litany of movies about the sport of curling, Men with Brooms stands out as one of the best, if not the best ever!

Okay, there are no other movies about curling (to my knowledge), and this film is short of spectacular, but it's amusing enough to merit a peek. It's certainly Leslie Nielsen's best work in many years.

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Exotica Review


Essential
Exotica is a new dramatic thriller from Canadian director Atom Egoyan, who brings us this fascinating glimpse into the life of Francis Brown (Bruce Greenwood), a Canadian tax auditor whose life intertwines with a his brother and niece, an exotic animal smuggler, and, most importantly, the denizens of a strip joint called Exotica.

The action in Exotica jumps from one character to another, from location to location, and back into Brown's past occasionally, teasing the viewer with bits of information about how these people's lives are eventually going to gel into a cohesive story. As the story progresses, there are plenty of blanks left for the viewer to fill in as the action springs around. The seamless editing makes this seem natural, albeit a bit overdone at times, but eventually it all comes together to make perfect sense in the end.

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Where The Truth Lies Review


OK
Where the Truth Lies casts such a uniquely seductive spell that it takes a good long while before you figure out that it's not, for the most part, very good. The film is a mystery, of sorts, but one in which you grow gradually more suspicious of the filmmakers, rather than any of the characters.

Adapting a novel by Rupert Holmes, writer-director Atom Egoyan (Ararat) guides the story of a reporter in the '70s digging for dirt on a defunct '50s comedy team Lanny and Vince (Kevin Bacon and Colin Firth, respectively). In doing so, he has created a fusion of noir mystery and showbiz tell-all, which explains why it's interesting even when it's not making much sense, and also why all of the women in both of the movie's eras look like femmes fatale.

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Robert Lantos

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Robert Lantos Movies

Barney's Version Movie Review

Barney's Version Movie Review

Based on the novel by Mordecai Richler, this film traces some 35 years in the...

Eastern Promises Movie Review

Eastern Promises Movie Review

We're in London and the streets look like they are owned and operated by Beelzebub...

Ararat Movie Review

Ararat Movie Review

Life must be a nonstop party at the old Egoyan homestead. Our pal Atom...

Existenz Movie Review

Existenz Movie Review

Well, Cronenberg is back, and after a couple of misfires like Crash, M. Butterfly, and...

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Being Julia Movie Review

Being Julia Movie Review

When you have a performance as fresh and audacious as this one from a movie...

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