'Cloud Atlas' to 'The Master': Recapping 23 Reviews from the 2012 Toronto Film Festival

2012 Toronto Film Festival Reviews

My time at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival has come to a close. The festival began on September 6 and over the course of nine days I saw 24 films and managed to turn in 23 reviews. The only film that has so far gone without a review is Don Coscarelli's John Dies at the End, of which I just haven't been able to crack, not exactly having any kind of feelings for it whatsoever outside of, "Yeah, that was a bats**t crazy movie."

Otherwise, it was a whirlwind of standing in line about an hour before each film, sitting in the dark with hundreds of others as several films enjoy their North American and world premieres. Moving from one film to the next and rushing back to the apartment to get all my thoughts down makes for a hectic way to spend your day, but once it's over you have a lot to look back upon. That's what I will do here.

Some of my reviews enjoyed a lot of conversation, my review (and first A+ of the year) for Silver Linings Playbook has 69 comments and counting. My review of The Impossible is just shy of 50 comments and several others managed to capture your attention. Hopefully I was able to get my thoughts across concisely and even when I disliked a film, gave you enough to determine if it might work for you even though it didn't work for me.

All that said, let's take a look back and if you missed any of my reviews they will all be linked to within this post.

Looper (B+)

Looper TIFF reviewThe fest kicked off with Looper, a film I was looking forward to seeing and I was largely impressed right out of the gate and in ways I wasn't entirely expecting.

It's a joy when a film delivers more than you're expecting. On the surface, Looper is a time travel film, but there is more at stake here than the space-time continuum and it's those larger future consequences that turn this raw thriller into an exhilarating feature.

Read My Review

Argo (B+)

Argo TIFF reviewPeople are buzzing about Argo with Roger Ebert coming out and already declaring it the Oscar Best Picture winner. Uh, not so fast Roger. Argo is a solid thriller that sags a little in the middle, but with no one having seen Lincoln, Les Miserables, Zero Dark Thirty, Life of Pi or Django Unchained yet, it is definitely premature to make such a declarative statement and if supporters aren't careful, the blowback could really hurt the film's Oscar chances rather than help.

Argo is an intense thriller with a finale that will have you clutching at your armrest and your heart beating faster as Ben Affleck once again proves he's a director that continues to deliver with each project he takes on.

Read My Review

Anna Karenina (D)

Anna Karenina TIFF reviewAnna Karenina was easily the most disappointing film at the fest for me. I love Joe Wright and was excited to see how his "largely in one location" drama would play out. The answer was, it played out poorly... for me at least. The film still has a lot of supporters and is probably looking at a Best Picture nomination and then some.

As a major fan of Joe Wright's work and particularly his talents as a filmmaker, it pains me to refer to Anna Karenina as a perfect example of directorial masturbation at its most damning.

Read My Review

Spring Breakers (C+)

Spring Breakers TIFF reviewSpring Breakers is a film that proves my point that grading movies means nothing. Yeah, looked at as a whole it deserves the C+, but it was one of the most memorable films of the fest compliments to the star attraction, James Franco, and his whacked out performance as Alien.

An off the wall rave of a movie that's probably best experienced while under the influence of some kind of hallucinogen, at least, that's what the outrageous character James Franco plays would probably suggest and he's the highlight of this ecstasy trip.

Read My Review

The Sessions (A)

The Sessions TIFF reviewI see a lot of Oscar prognosticators considering The Sessions too much of a comedy for Helen Hunt and John Hawkes to be considered in the lead actress and actor race at the Oscars. Gimme a break! This film may have its share of laughs, but both actors give two of the best performances I've seen this year and unless the Academy surprises me and nominates the leads from both Amour and Rust and Bone, I don't see how they can keep these two out.

Heartfelt and authentic, The Sessions is excellent and contains two of the very best performances of the year.

Read My Review

  • Chris

    This says you gave Anna Karenina a B, when you gave it a D actually.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Travis/ Travis

      I noticed that too

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      Oops, my mistake. Fixed.

  • Good Grief

    Thank you for your coverage, Brad. As always, you bring a great voice to reviewing moves and I have enjoyed your TIFF journey. You've upped my excitement for some and caused me to worry about others. Best of all, I was somewhat semi-maybe-possibly interested in "Aftershock" and now I know I'll avoid it like...well...a rape filled earthquake, I suppose.

  • The Dude

    No way Karenina gets a BP nom. 70% on RT with a weak average rating. Only films released late in the year can overcome that kind of start.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Travis/ Travis

      Agreed. I predict Costume and actress, and only Brad knows if the score is good enough to be nominated there

    • wq

      I think it'll be too experimental for the Academy's tastes but to dismiss the entire film when it hasn't even been released in the States and has had virtually no reviews by major U.S. critics is ridiculous.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/G-Man/ G-Man

    Awesome. Thanks for your hard work and commitment to your readers, Brad.

  • The Dude

    Agree on Silver Linings though. Was really not expecting much but it kinda blew me away. I kind of wish those characters had an HBO show so I could just hang with them for a little longer.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Elijah/ Elijah

    I was seriously counting the days until you reviewed The Master, I just needed that affirmation that the movie was at least really good. The Aftershock review was a nice touch and Silver Linings Playbook was nowhere on my radar so I can't wait to check it out. Overall really fun following your coverage! Can't wait to hear your conversation on it next episode.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Criterion10/ Criterion10

    Brad, great coverage for the festival. Reading your reviews was great, and there are many films I am now excited to see. Keep up the good work :)

  • Ariadne

    Seriously now...what's the deal with The Perks of Being a Wallfloer?A month ago i did not even know there was abook and now it has everyine talking about it!I also read reviews and everyone is raving sayi how terrific it is!And is weird that it has only 60% on RT ...then again RT only counted 10 reviews and i read more than 20 reviews talking about the movie!

    • http://www.twitter.com/GregDinskisk GregDinskisk

      Multiple things: 1.) RT scores mean nothing, since most film is subjective; 2.) If they were objective, look at the averages, Perks has a 7.8 average rating (looked it up) while Dredd, while it is at 91%, has a 6.8 average; 3.) I like the rule of three, I can't really say anything more, aside from maybe HI!

  • Beautifulm

    I think I liked Pines a bit more than you.
    Anna Karenina was ok, but I was also underwhelmed. The Reader had worst reviews and still made it in.
    I loved Silver Linings Playbook as well.
    Argo (which I actually saw in Chicago for free on Monday with Ben Affleck there) was really well made. I can see why Ebert says its a best picture winner.
    The Master (which I saw weeks ago) I'm still not sure if it is amazing or are people just saying that BC its P.T. Anderson.
    Thanks for your insight and reviews. I hope you had fun.

    • The Dude

      Pines was the best of the fest for me. Best film I've seen in a few years.

      • Beautifulm

        Yes, I agree. I really loved it.

  • http://cinemmaconfessions.blogspot.com Gautam

    Thanks Brad for your amazing coverage. Eagerly awaited all your reviews. Though I feel it wasn't not so great TIFF for you considering your below average ratings for so many movies.

  • KQ

    Brad you did a splendid job by writing the reviews and keeping us updated...indeed I enjoyed fully. Hats off to you :-)

    • KQ

      Thanks and keep it up.

  • Torryz

    Nice job Brad. Even though there were disappointments, I'm jealous that you got to see some great films.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/HarryFuertes/ Harry Fuertes

    I'd say the biggest disappointment was reading the review for The Impossible. I'm still excited because several critics really liked it, but I'm letting my excitement lower down. Oh well...at least The Master and Cloud Atlas delivered.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Adu/ Adu

    Brad, speaking of TIFF, your name showed up in this article, didn't know if you had read it. Thought you'd be interested :


  • http://timeforafilm.com Alex Thomas

    Thanks for the coverage Brad! Can't wait to see your A+'s in Siver Linings Playbook + Bad 25. I've seemed to really enjoy documentaries lately more so then other movies, interesting when it comes to discussing best movies of the year and including them in discussion.

    Glad I've already seen The Sessions, I also agree with you that The Master won't be deserving of such praise in months to come (although I haven't seen it yet).

  • Topy

    Nice lineup. TIFF 2012 looked way better than previous years

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/kieran/ Kieran Sturt

    Excellent coverage, Brad. When can we expect a new podcast?

  • Winchester

    I think you probably deserve that rest for a couple days. Been enjoyable to read your reviews and I have a few films now to add to the radar for myself.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Adrianocrowbar/ Adriano

    So not only you wrote reviews for (almost) every movie you saw, you also did a recap of your whole Toronto experience. That shows how much you care for this website, and for the readers. Thank you for that, Brad.

    (you missed the grade on "Great Expectations"!)

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Cordia/ Cordia

    Really enjoyed your coverage of TIFF, made me interested in some films more than i was before or some less than i was. seeing some of these movies in a couple weeks so i can see them for myself, but thanks for the reviews Brad

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Grissom/ Grissom

    What was your grade for Great Expectations?

  • http://hypethemovies.wordpress.com Jordan B.

    "We all know Great Expectations. We've read it in school and seen at least one adaptation if not several."

    The funny thing is, I've neither read (my only experience with Dickens in school was "A Christmas Carol") nor seen an adaptation of "Great Expectations," though I've heard that David Lean's film is quite good.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      Yes, start with Lean's adaptation.

  • http://www.scifiblock.com John D.

    I'm not entirely sold on wanting to see Silver Linings Playbook but it's hard to ignore an A+ rating, no matter how inconsequential scores might be. I feel like it's going to be another Moneyball, a movie that everyone says to see even if you don't like the particular sport in the subject but one that I'll ultimately not care about either way.

    Great recap, really looking forward to the next podcast.

  • G-Man

    Just a heads up to BB, the link to The Master review on this article links you back to this same summary.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      Thanks, fixed. I did this in the Toronto airport before flying back to Seattle and clearly missed a few details.

  • MajorFilmFan

    I absolutely Can't WAIT to see The Silver linings playbook. I adore Jennifer Lawrence, and this movie looks like her best performance ever, which, coming off playing Katniss in The Hunger Games is quite a feet. But Lawrence has the charm and charisma to win anyone over. And I predict a Best Actress Oscar nomination, and win for her.

    I also really can't wait to see Argo, The Master, Cloud Atlas, and Perks of Being a Wallflower.

  • Kimberlesk

    Thx for the recap, Brad. I actually missed some reviews and got to catch up!