toronto movies

This Week in Film: Lawless, Hell and Back Again, All Balls Don't Bounce, Ashkenaz Festival, and what's new in DVD & BluRay

This Week in Film rounds up noteworthy new releases in theatres, as well as key DVD / Blu-Ray releases, festivals, and other cinema-related events happening in Toronto.


Lawless [opens Wednesday, August 29] (Rainbow Market Sq., Scotiabank)

John Hillcoat is most well-known as the director of the gothic Australian western The Proposition, and that's unlikely to change with this Cannes competitor (perhaps not coincidentally his most American film yet). Shia LaBeouf has been making headlines lately, after mouthing off about Steven Spielberg, denouncing the Hollywood system, and firmly siding with independent filmmaking (with a certain affinity for directors asking him to be naked, apparently). Which is all made stranger because he cited this film as an example of his new commitment to audacious and original projects. A Prohibition-era quasi-western, every one of Lawless' gestures - from the frank and excessive violence to the twangy, ophidian performance by Guy Pearce - is a flat and forced stab at grit for grits sake.

Hell and Back Again (Bloor Hot Docs Cinema)

The onslaught of war-themed films in recent years - especially documentaries - means that this next one may unfortunately be met by groans and snarky title reimaginations ("Not Another 'War is Hell' Documentary"). Blame James Cameron('s ex) again, folks. Coming to the Bloor more than a year after its well-received appearance at Hot Docs, Hell and Back Again takes the familiar soldier-gets-reacclimated-with-society-and-copes-with-gruesome-memories conceit, and, well, does pretty much exactly what one would expect it to do with it. But at least it does it well, and comes packaged with some pretty fair war footage.

Also in theatres this week:

  • The Apparition (Scotiabank)
  • Darwin (Bloor Hot Docs Cinema)
  • Easy Money (Carlton)
  • Farewell My Queen (Varsity)
  • Hit & Run (Carlton)
  • Premium Rush (Rainbow Market Sq., Scotiabank)
  • R2B: Return To Base (Cineplex Yonge & Dundas)
  • Robot & Frank (Varsity)
  • Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi (Cineplex Yonge & Dundas)


For recommendations on what to catch at Toronto's rep cinemas this week, check out This Week in Rep Cinema.


All Balls Don't Bounce Film Series: Knuckleball (Wednesday, August 29th at 6:30PM; Bloor Cinema)

All Balls Don't Bounce is an ongoing film series dedicated to sport-related documentaries (not only do all balls not bounce, but not all sports have balls, so don't be disappointed if they screen a film lacking sphericals). This upcoming screening is of the baseball-centric Knuckleball!, which interviews Tim Wakefield and R.A. Dickey to show how All Balls Don't Spin. The almost mythological knuckleball pitch has been characterized in baseball video games by erratic squiggles and dives as the ball heads for the plate. Never quite that fantastic in reality, it is nonetheless a highly unusual and rare tool that less than a hundred pitchers have mastered. This doc aims to both demystify and celebrate this unpredictable and quirky pitch. For tickets, click here.


Ashkenaz Festival (August 28 - September 3 at Harbourfront Centre)
Named after Noah's grandson, the Ashkenaz Festival - which occurs biennially - is celebrating its ninth event with an impressive array of Jewish music, film, art, and culture. What's most striking about this festival is how global and diverse it is, with artists and performers coming from Mexico to India to Australia to celebrate the global Jewish community. Starting next Tuesday at the Harbourfront Centre, they assembled quite an eclectic film selection, with the highlight being a presentation of Buster Keaton's all-time classic silent Sherlock Jr., with a live musical accompaniment by the Fern Lindzon Quartet. Almost all of the films are free; click here for the full schedule.


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