Topping this week is the Peter Jackson-produced, Amy Berg-directed "West of Memphis," which showcases the evidence that freed the West Memphis 3. There’s also the horror comedy "Hell Baby," by the creators of "Reno 911" and if all else fails you always have the latest from straight-to-DVD master "Uwe Boll."
1. 'West of Memphis'
This look at the wrongfully accused teens known as the West Memphis 3 produced by Peter Jackson and directed by Amy Berg (Oscar-nominated "Deliver Us From Evil") found itself in hot water when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012 as it was touching on a subject that had already been explored to high acclaim with the Joe Berlinger/Bruce Sinofsky "Paradise Lost" films. However, Berg’s look back on the case and its theory of who is really behind the murders of three 8-year-old kids is a welcomed companion to Berlinger/Sinofsky’s films. With a different feel and new information (not to mention the WM3’s release from prison on an Alford plea) the film is a compelling coda to the West Memphis 3 story.
Why Watch It: Whether you’ve seen the Paradise Lost films or not, this is a good stand alone on the subject.
2. 'Hell Baby'
From "Reno 911" creators Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon, the latest exorcism spoof finds the duo playing priests from the Vatican who travel to New Orleans to help a couple (Rob Corddry and Leslie Bibb) whose house is possessed. With some great cameos and over-the-top comedy bits, the film is a solid campy horror.
Why Watch It: Anything with Lennon and Garant involved puts a smile to our faces.
Were you disappointed that Matthew Fox was barely used in "World War Z"? Well, you’ll get more than enough of him in this look at a general’s investigation of Japanese Emperor Hirohito in the wake of World War II. Ordered by General MacArthur (played with scene chewing majesty by Tommy Lee Jones) to decide if the Emperor should be charged with war crimes, General Fellers (Fox) must go back to his past to find answers.
Why Watch It: Though dull at times, it’s fun to watch Jones play MacArthur.
4. 'Filly Brown'
Finding fans on the festival circuit, newcomer Gina Rodriguez dazzles as a Los Angeles Latina rapper who with her family struggling to pay the bills and her mom in prison, tries desperately to get a record deal in the hopes that becoming a star will make everything better. Of course, her wake up call will crash-land her back down to Earth.
Why Watch It: Part "8 Mile," part "Hustle & Flow," but with a lot more heart.
5. 'Assault On Wall Street'
In typical Uwe Boll fashion, an event like the financial crisis is only an excuse to develop another of his low-budget, action-packed thrill rides. And we thank him so much for it. In his latest, Dominic Purcell ("Prison Break") stars as a New Yorker who suddenly loses his job and all his investments when the crisis hits. So he comes up with the most level-headed solution: shoot up the banks that screwed him.
Why Watch It: If you’re in need of some gratuitous violence you’ve found the right movie.
OLDIES BUT GOODIES (TIFF Edition)
The 2013 Toronto International Film Festival titles have been announced. To celebrate the start of the fall movie season here’s a look back at some films that got their start at the fest.
Jason Reitman’s second feature film puts screenwriter Diablo Cody and star Ellen Page on the map with this witty and smart look at teenage pregnancy and coming-of-age (regardless the age). Cody would win an Oscar for her script with Reitman and Page earning nominations.
'Roger and Me'
Michael Moore’s debut film won TIFF’s People’s Choice Award when it premiered there in 1989. Showing you can infuse some comedy without loosing the effectiveness of a documentary film, Moore stands up for the Michigan working man as he pursues GM CEO Roger Smith about the disaster that happened to his hometown of flint after Smith closed his plants there.
Following a successful career directing theater in England, Sam Mendes jumped across the pond with his debut American Beauty in 1999 and completely changed how indie dramas would be made in the 2000s. With inventive dream sequences and powerhouse performances by Kevin Spacey and Annett Bening playing deflated suburbanites, the film would take home five Oscars, including Best Picture, and wins for Mendes and Spacey.
'The Fisher King'
One of the few works by Terry Gilliam that was appreciated by the mainstream, the film won TIFF’s People’s Choice Award in 1991 for its grimy yet touching look at a former radio DJ (Jeff Bridges) searching for redemption by trying to help the man whose life he ruined (Robin Williams) try to find love. Filled with imaginary knights, castles in the heart of Manhattan and the Holy Grail, this is one of the times when Gilliam’s wild imagination fits the content.