I Saw the Devil – Holy crap! Those were the exact words I said after viewing Jee-woon Kim’s intense Korean thriller I Saw the Devil. After his pregnant wife is murdered by a serial killer (played by Oldboy’s Min-sik Choi), secret agent Kim Soo-hyeon (Byung-hun Lee) hunts him down and, instead of killing him, begins to torture and haunt him in a game of a cat and mouse. I Saw the Devil is a slick, freaky, brilliantly done tale of revenge that is sure to become a cult hit (it’s already one of my favourite films of 2011). **** out of 5 stars. Opening in Toronto and Vancouver.
The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom – The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom follows 11-year-old Elizabeth (Julia Stone) as she discovers, quite by accident in her health class, that she’s adopted. When she can’t get any answers out of her parents (played by Gil Bellows and the amazing Macha Grenon), she sets out to meet who she believes is her real mom — country music superstar Dolly Parton. Writer-director Tara Johns has crafted a wonderful coming-of-age film that celebrates womanhood the way Parton herself did in the era the film depicts (it takes place in 1976). Kudos to Ms. Johns for making a movie women of all ages can enjoy and relate to while still being appealing to a male audience. **** out of 5 stars.
Amazon Falls – Life as an actress trying to make it in Los Angeles can be a long, depressing road, and as Jana (April Telek) finds out, if you don’t know when to get out, it can destroy you. Directed by Katrin Bowen, who started as a B-movie actress herself, Amazon Falls shows what it’s like working in the not-so-glamorous side of the film industry while trying to keep your integrity. It’s a dismal tale amplified by the amazing Telek who delivers a heart-ripping performance that will have all wannabe actors and actresses in tears by the end. *** out of 5 stars. Opening in Toronto.
Cosmonaut – Set in Rome in the late 50s to early 60s, Cosmonaut touches on the space race between Russia and the United States, communism, family issues, teenage love, and epilepsy. While there were a few elements of it I admired (Marianna Raschillà’s performance as the young protagonist Luciana was brilliant), overall I had a hard time connecting to it and didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped. I also found the 85 minute running time dragged and it felt like the film was well over two hours when it ended. ** out of 5 stars. Opening in Toronto.
Also opening this week is the alien comedy Paul (read our review here), the psychological thriller Limitless (read our review here), and the courtroom drama The Lincoln Lawyer, starring Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, and Ryan Phillippe.