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Toronto International Film Festival: Fewer political movies, more literary adaptations

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Similar to “West of Memphis” in some ways is the documentary The Central Park Five, directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns (his daughter), and David McMahon (her husband), which is about five black and Latino teenagers (one of whom appeared in Toronto) who were falsely convicted in 1989 of brutally attacking and raping a white female jogger in New York’s Central Park.

The film is a study in citywide mob-mentality hysteria at the expense of reason. But if political films were on the downswing this year, that old standby, the literary adaptation, ranging from traditional to extra-crispy, was ascendant. The most straightforward in the bunch was Mike Newell’s Great Expectations, featuring Ralph Fiennes as grimy escaped convict Magwitch and Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham. It’s a respectable effort – there have been six previous film adaptations of Dickens’s masterpiece – but why bother when David Lean’s 1946 version is unbeatable?

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