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ASSASSINATION NATION

Rated R/ 107 Minutes
Directed by: Sam Levinson
Cast: Odessa Young, Suki Waterhouse

Showtimes

  • Sunday, September 23:  (12:45), 3:00, 5:30, 8:00
  • Monday, September 24-Thursday, September 27:  (5:30), 8:00

High school senior Lily and her group of friends live in a haze of texts, posts, selfies and chats just like the rest of the world. So, when an anonymous hacker starts posting details from the private lives of everyone in their small town, the result is absolute madness leaving Lily and her friends questioning whether they'll live through the night.

Assassination Nation is bloody, funny and thought-provoking

★★★ 1/2

Bruce Demara / Toronto Star

Think of Assassination Nation as a modern fable — a wild, blood-soaked fable. Billed as a satire, it has an unexpected plausibility where social norms and niceties have been cast aside and people feel free to vent and act upon their vilest impulses. 

Director Sam Levinson, who wrote the screenplay, displays an interesting visual style throughout as he juggles a range of characters and subplots. At the centre of it all is Lily (Odessa Young) and her three BFFs. When the finger gets pointed at them, things get really hairy. But within the script, there are serious gems of wisdom that we can actually use in the Digital Age, foremost among them that privacy really is dead and we’d better get used to it. 

The film is well-paced, darkly funny and the suspense builds splendidly. Like any decent fable, there’s a moral to the story, at a time in America when morality — or being a moral person — is under fire like never before. 

So go for the action, suspense and black comedy, and come away knowing that there are real lessons to be learned that we ignore at our peril.

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NOW PLAYING AT THE HI-POINTE BACKLOT

WHITE BOY RICK

Rated R/ 110 Minutes
Directed by: Yann Demange
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Richie Merritt, Jennifer Jason Leigh

Showtimes

  • Sunday, September 23:  (4:30), 7:00
  • Monday, September 24-Thursday, September 27:  7:00

Set in 1980s Detroit at the height of the crack epidemic and the War on Drugs, WHITE BOY RICK is based on the moving true story of a blue-collar father and his teenage son, Rick Wershe, who became an undercover police informant and later a drug dealer, before he was abandoned by his handlers and sentenced to life in prison.

White Boy Rick weaves a dark, tragic tale of misspent youth

★★★ 1/2

Bruce Demara /Toronto Star

In White Boy Rick, director Yann Demange does a fine job recreating the spirit of the times — the big cars, VCRs, etc. — and creating a powerful sense of place in Detroit, a fading metropolis of rundown housing and mean streets. Aptly, it always seems to be snowing or raining. It’s based on a true story, and there’s clearly an agenda in the subtext as federal and local police forces come down hard, using whatever means (or pawns) that come to hand.

Matthew McConaughey is flat-out brilliant as Rick Sr., a failure as a father and provider who nonetheless has dreams of the big score and inculcates those ideas into his son, telling him they are “lions” in a world of lambs. Once again, the consequences are dire. McConaughey captures this flawed, larger than life character with dexterity. But it is Richie Merritt as young Rick who is a genuine revelation here, capturing the essence of his character — indolent but loyal and loving — with a performance that is subtle, textured and wholly believable. There’s some supporting work, including Bel Powley as older sister Dawn, whose struggle to return to the human fold is heart-rending, and Jennifer Jason Leigh as a canny federal agent buffeted by forces way above her pay grade. Eddie Marsan is a delight in the smallish role of Art Derrick, a well-connected drug kingpin living life large. The outcome for young Rick is as tragic as it is inevitable. 

White Boy Rick is the best kind of cautionary tale, rooted in painful truths and rendered by the filmmaker with care and authenticity.

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