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Maclean's Magazine  Canada's national current affairs and news magazine. Watch our YouTube videos:

“What Is Democracy?” is Winnipeg born Astra Taylor’s timely exploration into the philosophical concept of democracy. Taylor’s traces its path through history: from Plato in Ancient Greece to Renaissance Europe, to civil rights and voter fraud in current times. Everyone from children, teachers, doctors, philosophers, and former prime ministers offer accessible insight into this weighty topic. With a rise in fear due to far-right demagogues around the world, this film helps remind us democracy has always been a struggle throughout history. Taylor (author of the book “The People’s Platform” and political organizer during Occupy Wallstreet) invites the viewer to step back from the sound bites of social media and enter a contemplative space for 90 minutes to consider something we hold dear but many of us take for granted.
#WhatIsDemocracy #AstraTaylor #Winnipeg #Athens #Plato #Greece #Renaissance #CivilRights #VoterFraud #Democracy #ThePeoplesPlatform #OccupyWallStreet #TIFF18 #Toronto Photograph and Video by @j3ffharris

Loosely inspired by true events, “Museo” is the story of an amateur heist from Mexico City’s National Museum of Anthropology. This comedy/drama/thriller is the super stylish second release from director Alonso Ruizpalacios. Gael García Bernal stars as Juan, a likeable guy in his thirties, living at home and struggling to start a veterinary career (much to the disappointment of his father). Juan ropes his best friend Benjamin (Leonardo Ortizgris) into a wacky amateur plan to steal priceless Mayan artifacts over Christmas, when museum security has their guard down. Much to his surprise they succeed at the robbery, he stores the treasures in his bedroom while his unsuspecting family watches the evening news in dismay. However, Juan didn’t think through how he would unload his bounty, as no self-respecting collector would buy famous pieces from a museum. Juan and Benjamin embark on a quest around Mexico to find a dodgy enough buyer for the precious antiquities. García Bernal displays the same ebullient vitality he had in 2001’s “Y Tu Mamá También”, and explains his youthful secrets to the audience at the Winter Garden Theatre.
#Museo #MexicoCity #NationalMuseumOfAnthropology #AlonsoRuizpalacios #GaelGarcíaBernal #MayanArtifacts #Christmas #Robbery #RoadTrip #YTuMamáTambién #WinterGardenTheatre #TIFF18 #Toronto Photograph and Video by @j3ffharris

“Mouthpiece” is the adaption of an award-winning play by Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava. The play, which had a successful run at Toronto’s Buddies In Bad Times theatre in 2016, centred on a monologue of young woman lying in a bathtub. The film version, directed by Patricia Rozema, fleshes out the scenery and includes a larger cast. Sparked after the sudden death of her mother Elaine, 20-something Cassandra needs to write a eulogy for her. Cassandra recalls what a nurturing, classy woman Elaine was in contrast to the more liberated daughter she has become. Her inner dialogue highlights the complex opposing emotions many women face on a daily basis. Should she live tactfully silent with regression or be more rebellious and stand up for progress? It’s a timely play that recently caught the attention of Jodie Foster. Foster loved the play so much she flew the team down to Los Angeles for a private performance for her friends and family. Amy and Norah even brought the bathtub down along with them.
#Mouthpiece #AmyNostbakken #NorahSadava #BuddiesInBadTimes #PatriciaRozema #Bathtub #JodieFoster #LosAngeles #TIFF18 #Toronto Photograph and Video by @j3ffharris

Hungarian director László Nemes won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2016 for his debut feature “Son Of Saul”. His second film, the gorgeous “Sunset”, shot in 35mm, takes place in Budapest in pre-World War 1910, a time just before chaos. The story is about a young milliner Írisz Leiter (Juli Jakab) who was orphaned at an early age. She is eager to work at a legendary hat store that belonged to her late parents. The new owner of this elegant department store turns her away, causing her to go on a quest to uncover the troubling secrets to her family’s past. Nemes said that the film is about “a civilization at its crossroads.” The film’s impeccable historical detail and authentic high fashion wardrobe are masterful. “Sunset” was awarded the Fipresci Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival and has officially been submitted to represent Hungary at the 2019 Academy Awards.
#Sunset #Hungary #LászlóNemes #AcademyAwards #BestForeignLanguageFilm #SonOfSaul #35mm #Budapest #JuliJakab #Fipresci #VeniceFilmFestival #TIFF18 #Toronto Photograph by @j3ffharris

“Through Black Spruce” is a Don McKellar-directed adaptation of Joseph Boyden's 2008 novel. It tells the story of a search for a Cree woman (Suzanne) who went missing during a trip down to Toronto. Annie (Tanaya Beatty) follows her sister’s tracks to the big city, and ends up having an affair with a photographer who knew Suzanne. Shortly after things begin to fall apart and Annie finds her own safety at risk. While fictional, the story shines a light on the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women, and the challenges that face isolated communities like Attawapiskat. Many of the actors have first-hand experience to these tragedies, and Producer/Actor Tina Keeper worked hard to make sure everyone felt safe. McKellar fell in love with Northern Ontario while shooting up there, in disbelief that tidal rivers, seals, and whales are part of the province. The fact that Moosonee has no roads posed some unique (not to mention muddy) continuity challenges for the director.
#ThroughBlackSpruce #DonMcKellar #JosephBoyden #TanayaBeatty #TinaKeeper #Cree #MissingAndAboriginalWomen #NorthernOntario #MooseFactory #Moosonee #PolarBearExpress #Seals #Whales #MuddyWaters #GoodnightAttawapiskat #TIFF18 #Toronto Photograph and Videos by @j3ffharris

Nicole Kidman plays an unraveling LAPD detective in “Destroyer”. She's haunted by her past life working undercover in a gang of criminals. Her character, Erin Bell, was part of a bank robbery with a disastrous outcome that continues to affect her present day life. Bell has become an alcoholic, and her substance abuse is threatening her job (a murder investigation) and wrecking havoc on her relationship with her daughter. The film was shot out of sequence, which presented some acting challenges for Kidman. Her partner, played by Sebastian Stan, recalls how they prepped for working together to build their chemistry immediately on day one.

#Destroyer #LAPD #Undercover #Alcoholic #ErinBell #NicoleKidman #SebastianStan #TatianaMaslany #TIFF18 #Toronto Photograph and Video by @j3ffharris

“Meeting Gorbachev” is a compelling documentary by Werner Herzog and André Singer, illuminating the true nature of Mikhail Gorbachev over a series of intimate conversations. It chronicles his rise in the Communist party, his leadership in the Soviet Union, and challenges he met along the way -- including the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the introduction of democracy. Gorbachev is particularly outspoken about his commitment to world peace and denuclearization, and wonders if the current world leadership has learned the lessons of the Cold War. Herzog uncovers an entertaining archive of news clips and propaganda to intersperse throughout, including a clip of terminally ill Chernenko propped up like a puppet attempting to “vote” in his hospital room disguised as a polling station. Despite being frail (and currently hospitalized himself), the 87-year-old Gorbachev exudes grace, wisdom, and good humour, which stands in stark contrast to present day politicians. The retired leader ended up giving more time then initially promised (about 4.5 hours over three interviews). This rapport enabled Herzog to ask deep philosophical questions including “What should be written on your tombstone?” #MeetingGorbachev #Documentary #WernerHerzog #AndréSinger #MichaelGorbachev #SovietUnion #Chernenko #Chernobyl #Russia #BackInTheUSSR #TIFF18 #Toronto Photograph by @jaimehogge and Videos by @j3ffharris

Based on true events, “The Grizzlies” is an endearing story about the impact that lacrosse made on the struggling town of Kugluktuk. Back in 1998, this Inuit town (a two-hour flight north of Yellowknife) had one of the highest suicide rates in North America. First-time teacher Russ Sheppard is shocked by the challenges facing the community and introduces a lacrosse program at the local high school, despite resistance from the town. The sport slowly takes hold, due to Inuits' love of sportsmanship and traditional games. It becomes a vital outlet for the youth, who are growing up surrounded by alcoholism, poverty, and abuse. The film was over ten years in the making, and involved mostly Nunavut-based actors. Producer Stacey Aglok MacDonald (now based in Iqaluit) grew up in Kugluktuk, and brought authenticity to the story as a consultant. She describes the adventure of attending TIFF, and the novelty of eating out at restaurants (something that doesn’t exist up in Kugluktuk!) “TheGrizzlies” #Kugluktuk #Inuit # Nunavut #Iqaluit #Suicide #Lacrosse #NationalSport #HighSchool #StaceyAglokMacDonald #TIFF18 #Toronto Photograph and Video by @j3ffharris

“A Star Is Born”, the classic Hollywood rags to riches story, is Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut. Lady Gaga follows in the footsteps of Janet Gaynor, Judy Garland, and Barbra Streisand who starred in the 1937, 1954, and 1976 versions respectively. A Best Actress Oscar nomination for Lady Gaga is almost certain if early reviews are any indication. Her raw performance lives up to the hype and Bradley Cooper doesn’t disappoint either. Lukas Nelson (Willie Nelson’s son, and Neil Young’s collaborator) bonded with Cooper over their mutual love for Neil Young. Nelson helped get Cooper’s musicianship up to a professional level, and he wrote some of the music for the soundtrack. Rounding out this dramatic cast are two high profile comedians: Andrew Dice Clay and Dave Chapelle (who at the Q&A, teasingly offered to fund Cooper’s next project). #BradleyCooper #LadyGaga #SamElliott #AnthonyRamos #LukasNelson #DaveChappelle #AStarIsBorn #JudyGarland #BarbraStreisand #AcademyAwards #Hype #NeilYoung #WillieNelson #AndrewDiceClay #TIFF18 #Toronto Photograph and Videos by @j3ffharris

Luis Ortega is considered one of Argentina’s more original directorial voices. His latest film “El Ángel” had its North American premiere at TIFF. It’s loosely based on an infamous Argentinian serial killer (Carlos Robledo Puch) nicknamed “Death Angel”. Ortega wanted an angelic actor, which he found in Lorenzo Ferro, cast for his cherubic curly hair and blue eyes. At an early age Puch was able to get away with petty criminal activity, because no one ever predicted someone so innocent looking would be stealing the way he did. Puch’s fascination with seeing how much trouble he could get away with gradually grew: until ultimately in his late teens he committed a series of murders. The real life Puch has been locked up since the early 1970s… but this story of a young man unable to grasp the permanent consequences of his actions is as compelling to watch as ever.
#LuisOrtega #Argentina #ElAngel #CarlosRobledoPuch #DeathAngel #LorenzoFerro #CherubRock #TIFF18 #Toronto Photograph by @j3ffharris

“Mid90s” is Academy Award nominated Jonah Hill’s directorial debut. Set in Los Angeles in 1995, it’s a nostalgic coming of age story about an eclectic assortment of teen skateboarders. Hill took inspiration from Larry Clark’s “Kids”, and like Clark, Hill mostly used non-actors for maximum authenticity. Martin Scorsese helped Hill by watching an early cut, and over a lunch at his house they were able to clarify some themes of the film. Despite to this day having never met Hill in person, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross completed the soundtrack for the film and collaborated with Hill entirely over Skype. One of the unexpected perks to making a period film for Hill was that cell phones were not allowed on set. He felt that this lead to a deeper chemistry among the cast, encouraging more face to face conversations on set.

#JonahHill #SunnySuljic #Mid90s #Skateboarding #MartinScorsese #TrentReznor #AtticusRoss #Skype #Toronto #TIFF18 Video by @j3ffharris

This October, 40 years after the original “Halloween” movie, comes the 11th sequel (also called “Halloween”). It’s a fantastic addition to the franchise skillfully directed by David Gordon Green, with a clever screenplay by Danny McBride. Jamie Lee Curtis returns as the traumatized but resolute Laurie Strode, ready to bring down escaped serial killer Michael Myers once and for all. Original director (and composer) John Carpenter provides a chilling soundtrack for the film with his tinkling, trance-like piano motif. Audience members at the Winter Garden Theatre were on the edge of their seats, including a few that came dressed in costume. Jamie Lee Curtis isn’t so sure which is scarier: her film or real life!
#Halloween #DavidGordonGreen #JamieLeeCurtis #JudyGreer #AndiMatichak #DannyMcBride #JohnCarpenter #MichaelMyers #TiffNoir #Horror #WinterGardenTheatre #Toronto #TIFF18 Photograph and Video by @j3ffharris

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