Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Docs to Rock You! 26 Documentary Titles added to TIFF 08 Line up!

Today we have 26 more titles announced for the Toronto International Film Festival 2008 and it's all about getting real. Documentaries are the focus of the day and there sure are many to discuss from a wide range of subjects and locations from near and far. I used to shy away from documentaries but after seeing a fair few at TIFF in 2007 and attending Hot Docs in 2008 my eyes were opened to a fascinating new way to see the world around us. Here are some of the films that caught my eye, followed by the complete list of films by program.

Fashionistas, get out your red dresses to salute Valentino: The Last Emperor a celebration of Valentino and all things fashion. Interested in seeing more icons? It Might Get Loud by David Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth) spends time with electric guitar players Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White. Score.

Looking for inspiration? Check out the World Premiere of Yes Madam, Sir (dir: Megan Doneman) which tells the story of Karin Bedi, India's first woman police officer - talk about breaking the ice. How about getting to see a Canadian eco-warrior on a pirate-like voyage? At the Edge of the World with Paul Watson and his Sea Shepherd volunteers share their adventures on sea.

Documentary films about gaming seem to find there way into a lot of festivals these days, and as a gamer myself I'm always keen to check them out and I'm not alone. Just in the past while we've seen many types of gaming covered in film including classic arcade gaming with The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, MMORPGing (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) with Second Skin and even LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) with Darkon. Now we are getting old school with good 'ole D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) with The Dungeon Master. I'm so there. It's sure to be a BYOD (Bring Your Own Dice) event - mine are sparklie gold.

Another fascinating selection this year is The Real Shaolin which follows four students, two Chinese and two western, through a year of martial arts training at the Shaolin Temple. I know can't wait to see it!

For title skimmers and summary avoiders, please make note that focus American Swing is on swinging, not swing dancing. I don't think the two subjects have the same target audience.

Mavericks

A Time to Stir
Dir: Paul Cronin
USA
This 4 hour work in progress will be screened on the September 13, 2008 and will have a discussion with Mark Rudd (Students for a Democratic Society), Bill Sales (Student Afro-American Society) and Carolyn Eisenberg (Columbia University strike committe member from the student strike in 1968).

Special Presentations

Valentino: The Last Emperor
Dir: Matt Tyrnauer
USA

Youssou Ndour: I Bring What I Love
Dir: Chai Vasarhelyi
USA

Masters

Les Plages d'Agnès
Dir: Agnès Varda
France

Real to Reel

After the Race
Dir: Nikolaus Geyrhalter
Austria

American Swing
Dir: Matthew Kaufman
USA

At the Edge of the World
Dir: Dan Stone
USA

The Biggest Chinese Restaurant in the World
Dir: Weijun Chen
China

Blood Trail
Dir: Richard Parry
UK

Citizen Juling
Dirs: Ing K, Kraisak Choonhavan and Manit Sriwanichpoom
Thailand

The Dungeon Master
Dir: Keven McAlester
USA

Food, Inc.
Dir: Robert Kenner
USA

From Mother to Daughter
Dir: Andrea Zambelli
Italy

Harvard Beats Yale 29-29
Dir: Kevin Rafferty
USA

It Might Get Loud
Dir: David Guggenheim
USA

Killing Kasztner
Dir: Gaylen Ross
USA

More Than a Game
Dir: Kristopher Belman
USA

Peace Mission
Dir: Dorothee Wenner
Germany

The Real Shaolin
Dir: Alexander Sebastien Lee
China/USA

Sea Point Days
Dir: François Verster
South Africa

Shakespeare and Victor Hugo's Intimacies
Dir: Yulene Olaizola
Mexico

Soul Power
Dir: Jeffrey Levy-Hinte
USA

Unmistaken Child
Dir: Nati Baratz
Israel

Upstream Battle
Dir: Ben Kempas
Germany

Witch Hunt
Dirs: Dana Nachman and Don Hardy
USA

Yes Madam, Sir
Dir: Megan Doneman
Australia/India

The Toronto International Film Festival 2008 runs from September 4-13/08 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

My Week in Film

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A week of surprizes at the theatre this week was. First up I caught Tokyo Drifter at Cinematheque which is a wild 60's non-gangster gangster flick by Seijun Suzuki. I'd be lying if I said I 'got' it all, but I did enjoy it. Enigmatic protagonist, beautiful use of colour and a fantastic soundtrack which I wish I could get my hands on. It did have a fair amount of violence and gender stuff, but I wouldn't have expected otherwise with the theme and timeframe.

Next up are two happy surprizes with Mamma Mia! and Wall-E. Both were for outings for my birthday, neither were my choices, and both rocked! Mamma Mia! was fantastic, the story is endearing, the players are charismatic and it was lovely to see something shot on location. I haven't listened to ABBA in ages and I didn't see the theatrical production it is based on but I sure as heck enjoyed this. It made me laugh, it made me cry and it made me want to see it again. High chance this will make it on my top films of the year. Big thanks to Danette for inviting me to see it! The next surprize was really enjoying Wall-E (I got outvoted on re-watching Mongol or Son of Rambow, ah wells!) but it all worked out. Yes, I know - you all saw it and all loved it but did I listen? No. I sat back and said: Robots? Animated? Why would I like this? But oh how I did. Cute, witty and with bucketloads of social commentary this film raised my spirits and produced many a gigglefest. The animation was spectacular, and I'm not one to normally comment on that. Pixar has brought us another winner.

After the cuteness and giggles it was time to try and get a bit of a scare on with some supernatural fun. That brings us to Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer and X-Files: I Want to Believe. Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer was very close to what I expected it to be, a fun Canadian horror film. Monsters, flannel and campy fun. David Fox sneaks in there with a great performance as an old storyteller that no one wants to listen to, priceless. Next we have one of the films I was really looking forward to this summer X-Files: I Want to Believe. Has it been said already a million times that people wanted to believe in it? I really did. I was a big X-Files fan, albeit only for the first few seasons which is part of the reason I don't think I enjoyed it as much as I could have. But then again, it could have been made more accessible to the casual viewer. Overall I didn't find the story that interesting and to be honest it wasn't very logical and I can't say why without literally spoiling it. But, it was great to see Mulder and Scully back in action and it did encourage me to revisit the series which I am looking forward to.

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I got through a few older films this week as well including the 2004 version of Phantom of the Opera starring Emmy Rossum and Gerard Butler. The film looks spectacular with amazing sets & costumes and I did really enjoy the music from a nostalgic point of view as my sister Suzie loved it and I heard it many times when living at home. It's weird that it's a period piece yet also a 'rock opera' and sounds late 80's. It was pretty surreal to watch as I know the soundtrack off by heart from listening, singing and even playing the piano to the music but I had only see the stage production once therefore didn't remember the plot that. Overall I really enjoyed it and look forward to listening and seeing it again.

Last up for the week is the pirate film Against All Flags. This was recommended to me ages ago and I looked for it at the time but had no luck. Alas, then it turned up on Mpix. A fun adventure film with Anthony Quinn, Errol Flynn and Maureen O'Hara as 'Spitfire' a woman with her own boat and a temper to go with it! It was a perfect selection for a weekend afternoon.

Trailer watch: Nothing new and interesting popped up in the theatres this week, but never fear I did find an awesome trailer online for Chandni Chowk Goes to China thanks to Twitch.

What did you watch this week?

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Hulk Smash! Movie Moxie Smile! Maybe I should have growled instead, Grrr!!

Monday, 28 July 2008

Toronto Film Festivals September - December 2008

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The fall is quickly approaching, let's take a look at the festival season that will be quickly upon us here in Toronto as the biggest and brightest shine.

September

Toronto International Film Festival
September 4 - 13/08
The mecca of festivals in Toronto with big name films to genre favourites, celebrities, excitement and lineups galore. This is the biggie and in my heart of heart I will always think of it as the Festival of Festivals but now it is of course known at TIFF to the regulars. It is the one, the only Toronto International Film Festival.
See Movie Moxie TIFF Coverage: 2007, 2008

Toronto Urban Film Festival (TUFF)
September 5 - 12, 2008
Collection of 1 minute silent films that will be shown on the TTC

Student Shorts Film Festival
September 26 - 27/08
Festival is dedicated to showcasing post secondary institutions student films.

October

Indie Can Film Festival
October 1 - 5, 2008
Indie Can is a film festival that screens non-judged independent films

Toronto Japanese Short Film Festival
October 7 - 10, 2008

imagineNATIVE
October 15 - 19, 2008
Film + Media Arts Festival

Toronto After Dark Film Festival
October 17 - 24, 2008
This is easily one of the most exciting film festivals in Toronto with its celebration of horror, thriller, fantasy and genre films galore. The crowds are wild!
See Movie Moxie coverage for the 2007 festival

Est Docs
October 17 - 24, 2008
Estonian Documentary Film Festival

Planet in Focus
October 22 - 26, 2008
International Environmental Film & Video Festival

November

Toronto International Latin Film Festival
October 31 - November 8, 2008

Moving Image Film Festival

November 6 - 9, 2008

Brazilian Film Festival of Toronto
November 6 - 9, 2008

Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival
November 6 - 15, 2008
Films focusing on mental health and addiction

Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival
November 12 - 16, 2008
Excellent programming makes Reel Asian one of Toronto's best film festivals
See Movie Moxie coverage for the 2007 festival

European Film Festival
November 16 - 30, 2008

Mobifest
November 18-25, 2008
made-for-mobile-movies

aluCine
November 20 - 29, 2008
Toronto Latin Media Festival

December

No December listings as of yet.

Know of a festival not on the list? Email me at moviemoxie at gmail dot com, and I'll add it to the list!

Friday, 25 July 2008

Film Fan Fridays for Friday July 25, 2008!

Hello Film Fans and Fanatics!

Welcome to Film Fan Fridays for Friday July 25, 2008! It's the week of the colon with three titles feeling the need expressive punctuation : : : I can't say anything bad about that though, as I've been known to be an over punctutator myself!!!!

In limited release this week we start off with some dark Canadian films. It's been a while since we've had some monster madness but have no fear, Jack Brooks is here. With the tagline of "I used to be a plumber" Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer is sure to be humorous and horrific fun! We also have Just Buried which follows the story of a newly and unexpectedly appointed undertaker. If you are feeling like a period piece this week you have a few options, first up is Brideshead Revisited adapted from the novel by Evelyn Waugh. There is also The Last Mistress starring Asia Argento in the title role. Taking a look into more recent history, this weeks documentary is Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired.

In wide release this week we have just two releases. So far, the buzz has been quite hush hush in The X-Files: I Want to Believe. I hope the X-Files fans come out of the woodwork for this one, or perhaps like me they are avoiding the spoilers, trailers and the like. If you are looking for laughs and a Will Ferrell fan, I bet you are looking forward to this weeks comedy: Step Brothers.

Have a great weekend!

Shannon

Festival Watch

Masala!Mehndi!Masti!
South Asian Arts festival
July 25 - July 27, 2008, at Exhibition Place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Friday July 25, 2008 Releases

Brideshead Revisited
Dir: Julian Jarrold (Becoming Jane, Kinky Boots)
Cast: Matthew Good, Thomas Morrison, Anna Madeley, Emma Thompson, Michael Gambon
UK
Limited Release
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer
You get the gist of the film in the first half, and the second half feels very spoilerific

Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer
Director: Jon Knautz - feature film directorial debut
Cast: Trevor Matthews, Robert Englund, Rachel Skarsten
Canada
Limited Release
Official Film Site & Trailer, IMDb Page
Trailer spoiler free for first half

Just Buried
Writer/Dir: Chaz Thorne - feature film directorial debut
Cast: Jay Baruchel, Rose Byrne, Graham Greene
Canada
Limited Release
Telefilm Page, IMDb Page, Trailer
Trailer spoiler free until halfway point

The Last Mistress / Une vieille maîtresse
Dir: Catherine Breillat (Fat Girl, Anatomy of Hell)
Cast: Asia Argento, Fu'ad Ait Aattou, Roxane Mesquida, Claude Sarraute
France/Italy
Limited Release
Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer
Trailer spoiler free until halfway point

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired
Dir: Marina Zenovich
Documentary
USA/UK
Limited Release
HBO Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer
Trailer spoiler free

Step Brothers
Dir: Adam McKay (Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Anchorman)
Cast: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Mary Steenburgen, Richard Jenkins
USA
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer
Trailer spoiler free until half way point

The X-Files: I Want to Believe
Dir: Chris Carter
Cast: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson
USA/Canada
Official Film Site (autoplays trailer), IMDb Page, Trailer
Trailer is sight unseen, so watch at your own risk for spoilers!

**please note this list of releases reflects first run film released in Toronto, Ontario, Canada as of July 25, 2008**

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

TIFF 08 Midnight Madness Films Announced!

The day and time has finally come, the 2008 line up for the Midnight Madness programme at the Toronto International Film Festival has arrived! It is an action-packed, scarefest full of gloom, doom and horror beyond our wildest imaginations! The programme opens with a bang with JCVD a action/comedy where Jean-Claude Van Damme plays the central role mixing reality with fiction. The documentary this year is Not Quite Hollywood which explores 70's and 80's Australian genre films. Looking for Sci-Fi? Eden Log should be up your alley with has a beautiful monochromatic visual style. The closing night film will be martial arts mayhem with Chocolate, directed by Prachya Pinkaew (Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior, The Protector / Tom yum goong) and starring Jija Yanin as Zen, a woman who is ready to kick butt and take names. It looks like it is going to be one hell of a great year! Here is a line up of the 10 films this year:

JCVD
Dir: Mabrouk El Mechri
Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, François Damiens, Zinedine Soualem, Karim Belkhadra
France/Luxembourg/Belgium
Opening Night Midnight Madness Screening: Thursday September 4, 2008 at 11:59PM

Detroit Metal City
Toshio Lee
Cast: Kenichi Matsuyama, Rosa Kato, Yasuko Matsuyuki, Gene Simmons
Japan
Midnight Madness Screening: Friday September 5, 2008 at 11:59PM

Deadgirl
Dir: Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel
Cast: Shiloh Fernandez, Noah Segan, Michael Bowen, Candice Accola
USA
Midnight Madness Screening: Saturday September 6, 2008 at 11:59PM

Not Quite Hollywood
Dir: Mark Hartley
Documentary with Jamie Lee Curtis, Dennis Hopper, Stacy Keach, Quentin Tarantino, Brian Trenchard-Smith
USA/Australia
Midnight Madness Screening: Sunday September 7, 2008 at 11:59PM

Acolytes
Dir: Jon Hewitt
Cast: Joel Edgerton, Michael Dorman, Sebastian Gregory, Hanna Mangan-Lawrence, Joshua Payne
Australia
Midnight Madness Screening: Monday September 8, 2008 at 11:59PM

The Burrowers
Dir: J.T. Petty
Cast: William Mapother, Karl Geary, Doug Hutchison, Sean Patrick Thomas, Laura Leighton
USA
Midnight Madness Screening: Tuesday September 9, 2008 at 11:59PM

Martyrs
Dir: Pascal Laugier
Cast: Morjana Alaoui, Mylène Jampanoï, Catherine Begin, Robert Toupin
France/Canada
Midnight Madness Screening: Wednesday September 10, 2008 at 11:59PM

Eden Log
Dir: Franck Vestiel
Cast: Clovis Cornillac, Vimala Pons
France
Midnight Madness Screening: Thursday September 11, 2008 at 11:59PM

Sexykiller
Dir: Miguel Martí
Cast: Macarena Gomez, César Camino, Alejo Sauras, Angel de Andrés, Fernando Ramallo
Spain
Midnight Madness Screening: Friday September 12, 2008 at 11:59PM

Chocolate
Dir: Prachya Pinkaew
Cast: Jija Yanin, Hiroshi Abe, Pongpat Wachirabanjong, Ammara Siripong
Thailand
Closing Night Midnight Madness Screening: Saturday September 13, 2008 at 11:59PM

Additional screenings of the Midnight Madness Films will be released August 26, 2008.

The Toronto International Film Festival 2008 runs from September 4-13/08 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Q&A with Gordon Liu at Heroes of the East: screening

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Colin Geddes (left), Gordon Liu (centre)

After the screening of Heroes of the East / 中華丈夫 on Saturday July 19, 2008 Colin Geddes sat down with star of the film Gordon Liu for a Q&A much to the delight of the audience. Here are some of the stories Gordon Liu shared with us.

He never imagined that doing martial arts would lead to fame and fortune in the movie world, but that he did it for his health. He also pointed out that in the film there is no killing, the fight is to create a dialogue and understand each other.

His parents were against him doing kung fu, and his father imagined his son to live a traditional life graduating from school, and getting a steady job. He would learn kung fu by going out after dinner with his schoolbag, under the guise of doing school work. After three years, his parents figured it out what was really happening and his father was okay with the kung fu considering he was still getting passing grades.

In the film Heroes of the East / 中華丈夫, the drunken boxing master is actually the director Lau Kar-Leung who was also his teacher since day one and is like extended family. That is how he got into doing films, one day Lau Kar-Leung if he wanted to be in a movie. He has a lot of respect for Lau Kar-Leung and treats him as sifu and godfather.

An audience member asked which film was the funnest to make. Play the video for the response, including English translation:

video

Continuing about Quentin Tarantino, they really clicked and he found Quentin Tarantino to be very amusing and very respectful of culture. They both wore black suits on the set of Kill Bill Vol. 1.

Gordon Liu shared a piece of advice with the audience to sum up the Q&A period in reference to holding on to the glory days: "Don't look back, just look ahead"

The screening and the Q&A was a truly unique experience. Gordon Liu has a delightful presence and graciously accepted audience questions as well as our applause.

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The crowd at Innis for the screening

Heroes of the East Screening with Gordon Liu

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Heroes of the East / 中華丈夫

Seen: Saturday July 19, 2008 at Innis Town Hall, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Gordon Liu was in attendance for a Q&A after this film as well as an autograph session. The presentation of this classic kung fu film directed by Lau Kar-Leung was by Reel Asian, Kung Fu Fridays and Alliance Films/Dragon Dynasty.

What a fantastic event this screening was! Not only was the film great but the audience was lively and it was a treat to have Gordon Liu (36th Chamber of Shaolin, Kill Bill Vol 1 & 2) not only there for a Q&A but also in the audience during the film.

The film diplomatically shows the differences in style and intent between Chinese kung fu and Japanese martial arts initially through the persepective of a newlywed couple. This sets the stage to not only demonstrate multiple techniques but also to explore gender roles & dynamics, appropriate social behavious and cultural identity. As the film progresses the action sequences come to the forefront showcasing numerous styles and weaponry. The physicality of the actors is magnificent and entertaining. What brings the film to a higher level is that it always keeps to heart themes of fairness and cultural exchange. Inspiring and action-packed, this is one film not to be missed.

Shannon's Overall View:
I loved it
I'll buy it
I recommend it, especially to kung fu film fans

Return to Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2008

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Gordon Liu (centre), Colin Geddes (right)

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TIFF'08 - Short Cuts Canada, Canada Open Vault & Jury Members

More news on the Canadian front of TIFF'08 including Canadian Film Awards, Jury Members, Canada Open Vault selection and Short Cuts Canada programme titles.

TIFF Canadian Film Awards And 2008 Jury Members

City of Toronto Citytv Award for Best Canadian Feature Film. This award includes a cash prize of $30,000 to a Canadian filmmaker. The 2007 winner was Guy Maddin for My Winnipeg.

The Citytv Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film. This award includes a cash prize of $15,000 to a Canadian filmmaker for an exemplary first feature. The 2007 winner was Stéphane Lafleur for Continental, un film sans fusil.

Best Canadian Short includes a $10,000 cash prize. The 2007 winner was Chris Chong Chan Fui for Pool.

2008 Jury Members for feature films are: Sarah Polley, Ann Marie Fleming and Michael Burns (feature films) and for short films are: Min Sook Lee, Louise Archambault and a third jury member is tba.

Awards will be presented at the Festival's Awards Reception on Saturday, September 13, 2008.

The 2008 selection for Canadian Open Vault is a spectacular choice of a quintessentially Canadian film:

32 Short Films About Glenn Gould
Dir: François Girard (The Red Violin, Silk)
Cast: Colm Feore, Don McKellar, Gerry Quigley, David Hughes, Bruno Monsaingeon, Yehudi Menuhin, Peter Millard, Carlo Rota, Katya Ladan, Gale Garnett

The TIFF'08 announcement for the Short Cuts Canada programme brings 38 titles of short films to the festival for 2008. These films are eligible for the Award for Best Canadian Short Film which has a $10,000 cash prize.

Short Cuts Canada

106
Dir: Candice Day
6 minutes

The Amendment
Dir: Kevin Papatie
4 minutes

Baghdad Twist
Dir: Joe Balass
33 minutes

La Battue
Dir:Guy Édoin
19 minutes

Bedroom
Dir: Jordan Canning
16 minutes

Belonging
Dir: Elizabeth Lazebnik
5 minutes

The Catsitter
Dir: Tim Hamilton
10 minutes

Cattle Call
Dirs: Mike Maryniuk and Matthew Rankin
4 minutes

The Earring
Dirs: Nicholas Pye and Sheila Pye
8 minutes

Forty Men for the Yukon
Dir: Tony Massil
19 minutes

Gilles
Dir: Constant Mentzas
13 minutes

Green Door
Dir: Semi Chellas
13 minutes

Hers at Last
Dir: Helen Lee
18 minutes

How Are You?
Dirs: Martha Burns and Susan Coyne
18 minutes

Hungu
Dir: Nicolas Brault
9 minutes

Lobotomobile
Dir: Sara St. Onge
5 minutes

Machine with Wishbone
Dir: Randall Okita
6 minutes
See review for Machine with Wishbone here

Next Floor
Dir: Denis Villeneuve
12 minutes

Night Vision
Dir: Philip Barker
24 minutes

Noon
Dir: Dan Popa
6 minutes

Passage
Dir: Karl Lemieux
15 minutes

Passages
Dir: Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre
24 minutes

Pat's First Kiss
Dir: Pat Mills
4 minutes

Pierce, Crush, Escape: Notes on the Boreal
Dir: Susan Turcot
9 minutes

Princess Margaret Blvd.
Dir: Kazik Radwanski
13 minutes

Pudge
Dir: Annie Bradley
17 minutes

Rosa Rosa
Dir: Félix Dufour-Laperrière
8 minutes

Running (Heart, Mind, Body, Spirit)
Dir: Ann Marie Fleming
4 minutes

A Small Thing
Dir: Adam Garnet Jones
15 minutes

Spoiled
Dir: Sherry White
16 minutes

Sunday
Dir: Jamie M. Dagg
13 minutes

Synthesizer
Dir: Sarah Fortin
11 minutes

Uniform Material
Dir: Chris McCarroll
15 minutes

Us Chickens
Dir: Mark Van de Ven
20 minutes

Mon Nom est Victor Gazon
Dir: Patrick Gazé
10 minutes

The Workout
Dir: Sami Khan
11 minutes

What I've Lost
Dir: Duraid Munajim
11 minutes

Whitmore Park
Dir: Brian Stockton
9 minutes

The Toronto International Film Festival 2008 runs from September 4-13/08 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

My Week in Film

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Hellboy display at Silver Snail in Toronto

Amazing how quickly the time flies. It's just a few days later than I normally post My Week in Film and already reviews for Hellboy II: The Golden Army and The Wackness feel behind the times. Click through links for full reviews, overall I was mildly disappointed with both. Next up for current releases was The 4th Life (dir: François Miron) which was a hard to judge by the trailer if it would be a fun scary film or not. Although I felt The 4th Life used many interesting and stylish techniques bringing a colourful and sometimes hypnotic feel to the film, the storytelling style overcomplicated the relatively thin plot. I also felt that they made each and every character have something a little strange which seemed a bit much. The last new release I got out to see was the most hyped film of the year so far: The Dark Knight. I have to say that being in pretty full IMAX theatre at 8:30 on a Friday morning was quite the surreal experience. Overall, I didn't love the film but I didn't hate it, I did find it really long and that so much was pack in there. In fact, at times it was so fast you couldn't tell visually what was happening. If the audience was given some reaction time we would have no doubt collectively cheered or shivered durin gthe film. On thing for certain, the buzz on Heath Ledgers performance is spot on, he does a remarkable job.

Catching up with some older films, I watched The French Connection which I'm surprized I'd not seen before. Certain scenes were very familiar either from montages or knock offs, and it had some great chase scenes but it did feel like one whole chase scene. Add to that the surprizing strong, harsh language and terms that were a sign of the times and no longer (or ever) appropriate, there wasn't enough going on there in terms of enjoyment factor.

I've recently been toying with the idea of exploring romance films to see which ones I enjoy and which ones I don't as I tend to have a strong reaction either way. I picked up a few to try this out, they were: Fanny & Alexander, Sense & Sensibility and The Wedding Banquet. Now Fanny & Alexander isn't a straight up romance but more of a period drama but due to the large number of relationships going on I think it's fair to include it here. It is quite a striking film with brilliant art direction spanning numerous years and lifestyles, it also weaves the relationships of a complex community with impressive clarity. Overall, it was enjoyable although a little draining as it neared the 3 hr mark. Next up was an Ang Lee double bill of Sense & Sensibility and The Wedding Banquet. The cards were stacked against Sense & Sensibility from the get go, I'm not terribly fond of period pieces, the cover of the version I had showed one of the last frames of the films and after just watching Fanny & Alexander which I found oddly much more accessible this film just wasn't working for me. I did find it great to see Kate Winslet and it seems to be that the role she plays, the young woman in a period piece is like a rite of passage for women actors as they launch their careers. Last up in the romance department was The Wedding Banquet which was a lot more fun than either of it's competition. This Ang Lee film was a delightful and touching exploration in identity and family relationships. The most enjoyable of the bunch!

After being disappointed in a few films this week I needed some guaranteed winners, and boy did I get them. First was City of the Lost Children, directed by Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Delicatessen) and starring Ron Perlman, Dominique Pinon and an extremely strong performance by Judith Vittet as the young Miette. As I was sitting in the theatre watching this, I wondered to myself by I even go to widely released films. This film is art, from every physical artistic creation on set to the extraordinary surreal performance to the plot that holds it altogether. Some of the visuals and ideas were very creepy and at times frightening but they were also very fascinating. A gem of a film, I'm glad I finally got the chance to see it which can also be said for the next film: Akira Kurosawa's Ikiru. I can not say enough good about Kurosawa's work, every new film I see is like opening a present. This is one of the few films I've seen of his that isn't a samuri film but rather a drama about a civil servant and explores the importance of living life. A true masterpiece.

The last film I saw was Heroes of the East, which is a great kung fu film and the experience of seeing it was a joy as star Gordon Liu was in attendance at the screening and did a Q&A and autograph session. It was such a great experience I'm going to write about seperately.

Trailer watch: Happy surprize trailer of the week award goes to Star Wars: The Clone Wars. I'm a huge Star Wars fan but not the biggest animation fan so I was thrilled at how much I enjoyed seeing this trailer. Also, trailers have arrived for two films I mentioned last week, both Penélope Cruz and Patricia Clarkson: Elegy and Vicki Cristina Barcelona.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Trailer - pretty spoiler free, if very sensitive may want to stop watched 2/3rds of the way in.
Elegy - Trailer - trailer shows a lot of the film, you get the gist of the film by the 1/2 way point.
Vicki Cristina Barcelona - Trailer - trailer shows a lot of the film, you get the gist of the film by the 1/2 way point.

Up next week: Tokyo Drifter, Zigeunerweisen, Dr. No and From Russia With Love.

What did you watch this week?

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Friday, 18 July 2008

Five more titles added to TIFF'08 line up: Gala & Special Presentations

The latest batch of released film titles are overflowing with big name talent, adding glitz and glam to the Gala and Special Presentations line ups. Out of titles I'm most excited about the one that brings a little grit to the table, a western called Appaloosa directed by Ed Harris whom will star in the film alongside Viggo Mortensen, Renée Zellweger and Jeremy Irons. Yehaw!

Gala

Rachel Getting Married
Dir: Jonathan Demme
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt
USA

The Other Man
Dir: Richard Eyre
Cast: Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Antonio Banderas, Romola Garai
United Kingdom/USA

Special Presentations

Appaloosa
Dir: Ed Harris
Cast: Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen, Renée Zellweger, Jeremy Irons
USA

La Fille de Monaco
Dir: Anne Fontaine
Cast: Fabrice Luchini, Louise Bourgoin, Roschdy Zem
France

I've Loved You So Long / Il y a longtemps que je t'aime
Dir: Philippe Claudel
Cast: Kristin Scott Thomas, Elsa Zylberstein
France

The Toronto International Film Festival 2008 runs from September 4-13/08 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Film Fan Fridays for Friday July 18, 2008!

Hello Film Fans and Fanatics!

Welcome to Film Fan Fridays for Friday July 18, 2008! Well it feels like the heat of the summer has finally come out to play. The timing is fitting considering the hot ticket of the week, summer and year so far has finally arrived: The Dark Knight. But first, lets have a look at some films that are a little moreoff the beaten path.

In limited release this week we have three films and two of them are documentaries. Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson has a title that explains exactly what it's about and A Jihad for Love centres on gay, lesbian and transgender Muslims. Our third limited release is thankfully not a documentary considering it holds a rather extreme scenario and literal title: Stuck. If you have a strong stomach, you can watch the trailer noted below.

In wide release this week we have three release including animated film Space Chimps along with the stage to film adaptation of Mamma Mia! which I was suprized to see released the same weekend as the newest installment of the Batman series, The Dark Knight. Perhaps they have different target audiences. The Dark Knight is already receiving wide acclaim as well as Oscar buzz (which is pretty unheard of in July) and is showing in regular as well as IMAX theatres. Considering advance sales have been extremely strong, it looks like it may just be the film of the summer.

Have a great weekend!

Shannon

Special Screenings

Heroes of the East / 中華丈夫 on Saturday July 19, 2008 at 2:30 at Innis Town Hall, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Gordon Liu will be in attendance for a Q&A after this film as well as an autograph session. The presentation of the 1978 classic kung fu film directed by Lau Kar-Leung is by Reel Asian, Kung Fu Fridays and Alliance Films. This is a free screening, although rsvping is recommended.

Evening screenings of A Jihad for Love on July 18-22 at the Royal in Toronto will have Q&A with Parvez Sharma (Director/Producer), Sandi DuBowski (Producer) and Asif Kamal (Canadian Muslin Outreach Director).

Friday July 18, 2008 Releases

The Dark Knight
Dir: Christopher Nolan (Batman Begins, The Prestige, Mememto)
Cast: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman
USA
Official Film Site (autoplays trailer), IMDb Page, Trailer
Trailer is sight unseen, watch at your own risk of spoilers! Update: Trailer is spoiler free.

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
Writer/Dir: Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room)
Documentary
USA
Limited Release
Official Film Site (autoplays trailer), IMDb Page, Trailer
Trailer is spoiler free

A Jihad for Love
Writer/Dir: Parvez Sharma
Documentary on gay, lesbian and transgender Muslims
USA/UK/France/Germany/Australia
Limited Release
Official Film Site (autoplays sound), IMDb Page, Trailer on YouTube

Mamma Mia!
Dir: Phyllida Lloyd - feature film directorial debut
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård
UK/USA/Germany
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer
Trailer is spoiler free

Space Chimps
Dir: Kirk De Micco - feature film directorial debut
Voices: Andy Samberg, Cheryl Hines, Jeff Daniels, Patrick Warburton, Kristin Chenoweth
USA
Official Film Site (autoplays video), IMDb Page, Trailer
Trailer is spoiler free

Stuck
Dir: Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator, Fortress)
Cast: Mena Suvari, Stephen Rea, Russell Hornsby
Canada/USA/UK
Limited Release
No Official Film Site found, IMDb Page, Trailer on Bloody-Disgusting
You get the gist of the film by the halfway point, major spoilers at 3/4 of the way through. Trailer has graphic & disturbing images.

**please note this list of releases reflects first run film released in Toronto, Ontario, Canada as of July 18, 2008**

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

23 Canadian Feature Titles Added to TIFF'08 line up!

A wide array of Canadian films have been announced as a part of the TIFF'08 line up. Heavy hitters include Blindness (dir: Fernando Meirelles), Heaven and Earth (dir: Deepa Mehta), Fifty Dead Men Walking (Dir: Kari Skogland) and Pontypool (Dir: Bruce McDonald). The line up includes two English Canadian Premieres: Maman est chez le coiffeur (Dir: Léa Pool) and Un Été sans point ni coup sûr (Dir: Francis Leclerc).

I'm really looking forward to the documentary on the National Film Board of Canada and Canadian Film La Mémoire des anges (Dir: Luc Bourdon) as well as the Toronto focused multiple director film Toronto Stories (Dirs: Sook-Yin Lee, Sudz Sutherland, David Weaver, Aaron Woodley).

It's always exciting to see what the Canada First! programme brings, as it features filmmakers with their first festival appearance. This year is no exception starting off with a stop-motion animated feature Edison and Leo (Dir: Neil Burns). The programme also includes a selection of comedies with Control Alt Delete (Dir: Cameron Labine) and Cooper's Camera (Dir: Warren Sonada). The theme of love is explored in Only (Dirs: Ingrid Veninger and Simon Reynolds) and Nurse. Fighter. Boy (Dir: Charles Officer). For those looking for a more visceral experience we have the Real Time (Dir: Randall Cole) which plays out in real time and Down to the Dirt (Dir: Justin Simms).

See TIFF'08 press releases for more information on program specific line ups: Canada First!, Contemporary World Cinema, Gala & Special Presentations, Vanguard & Real to Reel

Canada First!

Before Tomorrow
Dirs: Marie-Hélène Cousineau and Madeline Ivalu
Canada

Control Alt Delete
Dir: Cameron Labine
Cast: Tyler Labine, Sonja Bennett
Canada

Cooper's Camera
Dir: Warren Sonada
Cast: Jason Jones, Samantha Bee, Peter Keleghan, Mike Beaver
Canada

Down to the Dirt
Dir: Justin Simms
Cast: Joel Thomas Hynes
Canada

Edison and Leo
Dir: Neil Burns
Cast: Powers Boothe, Carly Pope, Gregory Smith
Canada

Nurse. Fighter. Boy
Dir: Charles Officer
Cast: Karen LeBlanc, Daniel J. Gordon, Clark Johnson
Canada

Only
Dirs: Ingrid Veninger and Simon Reynolds
Cast: Jacob Switzer, Elena Hudgins Lyle
Canada

Real Time
Dir: Randall Cole
Cast: Randy Quaid, Jay Baruchel
Canada

When Life Was Good
Dir: Terry Miles
Cast: Kristine Cofsky
Canada

Contemporary World Cinema

Un Été sans point ni coup sûr

Dir: Francis Leclerc
Cast: Patrice Robitaille, Pier-Luc Funk, Jacinthe Laguë, Roy Dupuis
Canada

Lost Song
Dir: Rodrigue Jean
Cast: Suzie Leblanc, Patrick Goyette
Canada

Maman est chez le coiffeur
Dir: Léa Pool,
Cast: Marianne Fortier, Céline Bonnier
Canada

Mothers&Daughters
Dir: Carl Bessai
Cast: Tantoo Cardinal, Gabrielle Rose, Babz Chula
Canada

Toronto Stories
Dirs: Sook-Yin Lee, Sudz Sutherland, David Weaver, Aaron Woodley
Canada

Gala

Fifty Dead Men Walking

Dir: Kari Skogland
Cast: Jim Sturgess, Sir Ben Kingsley, Rose McGowan, Kevin Zegers
Canada/UK

One Week
Dir: Michael McGowan (Saint Ralph)
Cast: Joshua Jackson, Liane Balaban, Emm Gryner, Campbell Scott, Gord Downie
Canada

Real to Reel

Examined Life

Dir: Astra Taylor
Canada

La Mémoire des anges
Dir: Luc Bourdon
Canada
Documentary on the National Film Board of Canada and Canadian Film

Under Rich Earth
Dir: Malcolm Rogge
Canada

Special Presentations

Blindness
Dir: Fernando Meirelles
Cast: Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Alice Braga, Yusuke Iseya, Yoshino Kimura, Don McKellar, Maury Chaykin, Danny Glover, Gael García Bernal
Canada/Brazil/Japan

C'est pas moi, je le jure! / It's Not Me, I Swear!
Dir: Philippe Falardeau
Cast: Antoine L'Écuyer, Suzanne Clément, Daniel Brière, Catherine Faucher
Canada

Heaven on Earth
Dir: Deepa Mehta (Water)
Cast: Preity Zinta, Vansh Bhardwaj, Yanna McIntosh
Canada

Vanguard

Derrière moi
Dir: Rafaël Ouellet
Canada

Pontypool
Dir: Bruce McDonald
Cast: Stephen McHattie, Lisa Houle, Georgina Reilly
Canada

The Toronto International Film Festival 2008 runs from September 4-13/08 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Monday, 14 July 2008

The Wackness

Writer/Dir: Jonathan Levine (All the Boys Love Mandy Lane)
Cast: Josh Peck, Ben Kingsley, Olivia Thirlby, Famke Jamssen, Mary-Kate Olsen, Method Man, Jane Adams
USA, 2008

Seen: July 11, 2008 at the Varsity

Reason to see: The trailer was what got my interest and I'm the right 'vintage' for this period. If you do choose to watch the trailer, make know that after the halfway point it gets to big spoiler territory.

The Wackness, set in 1994 our not too distant past in the time of mixed tapes, pagers and 90210. This is where we meet Luke Shapiro, a drug dealer and a loner in New York City. When you add those two things together I found that it ends up with what should be a not overly likable or accessible character, however Josh Peck delivers wuch a fantastic and understated performance which makes Luke feel very real to us. The film does have some very sweet and emotional moments, as well some brutal truths which one would expect from a coming of age film. The cast is the strong point of the film, it is always a joy to see Ben Kingsley and I think he did a great job here, as did Olivia Thirlby as Stephanie she was perfect for the time period. Jane Adams gives a stand out performances as an eccentric customer and I also enjoyed Mary-Kate Olsen free spirited granola kid. This cast of characters weave in and out of Luke's life one summer and all of this to a kickin' soundtrack featuring A Tribe Called Quest, Notorious B.I.G and R. Kelly.

Although there were many interesting and a few great unconventional relationships I was put off by some of the gender terms and male focused viewpoint. Why is this you ask? Because it was completely believable and it came from characters that I had come to liked. Overall I have to say that I wished I liked the film more and I'm sure it will find it's audience out there, I just really wish that included me.

Shannon's Overall View:
I wanted to love it
I'd likely watch it again
I'd recommend if you like coming of age films, especially that focus on guys and/or for the 90's nostalgia factor

15 minutes of preshow including 10 commercial and 4 previews: Gonzo, Baghead, Brideshead Revisited and The X-Files: I Want to Believe

Return to Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2008

TIFF packages on sale July 14, 2008

We are getting closer and closer to TIFF 08 and today packages will go on sale via cash, debit and VISA. Three of the packages are already sold out: Daytime Lite as well as both the 6pm and 9pm Visa Screening Room Package at the Elgin.

I wrote about some of the different passes here, you can also click through to see the different types on the TIFF site: Regular Packages, Specialty Packages and Premium Packages.

Be sure to check here for full box office details on how, when and where you can purchase tickets.

Acolytes added to Midnight Madness line up

Inside Film has announced that the Australian thriller Acolytes will be included in the 2008 Midnight Madness Program at The Toronto International Film Festival. This is the first film I've heard included in this years program and Acolytes tagline as "Nothing stays buried forever" it promises to be engrossing to say the least! Acolytes will also be screened at the 57th Melbourne International Film Festival on August 1, 2008 and Brisbane International Film Festival on August 8, 2008.

Midnight Madness

Acolytes
Dir: by Jon Hewitt
Cast: Joel Edgerton, Michael Dorman

More on Acolytes: IMDb Page, MySpace Page

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Writer/Dir: Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Blade II, The Devil's Backbone, Chronos)
Cast: Ron Pearlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Luke Goss, Anna Walton, Jeffrey Tambor, Seth MacFarlane
USA, 2008

Seen: July 11., 2008 at the Varsity

Reason to see: Loved the first film

I was really looking forward to seeing Hellboy II: The Golden Army. In terms of wide releases for films this summer, the only other film that comes close in terms of excitement is X-Files I Want to Believe. That said, I wanted to believe in Hellboy II, but I found it fell short too many times. I was a huge fan of the first film with its quirky humour, charismatic performances and fascinating world in which it was set. Technically this sequel has all of those things but I just wasn't feeling the love. First off, I wanted more Hellboy! Although I loved some of the new characters and old favourites like Abe, Red gets far less screen time then you'd expect. I was also very surprized at how, shall we say, 'familiar' the back story was, to the point at which I was having trouble keeping the giggles in. I was disappointed with the choices made with the development of some of the characters, especially Liz. Overall, you have to give props to the fact that it was visually stunning and it did wrestles with interesting questions but I felt it lost a little heart.

Shannon's Overall View:
I didn't love it, but I wanted to
I'd watch it again and likely buy it
I'd recommend it as a fun action movie

12 minutes of preshow including zero commercials (yay!) and 5 previews: Star Wars: Clone Wars, Babylon AD, Eagle Eye, Death Race and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Return to Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2008

Friday, 11 July 2008

Holy Props Batman! Bat-Pod and Tumbler on tour pre-Dark Knight opening

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Back on June 30, 2008 Peter Sciretta of /film and Neil Miller of Film School Rejects both shared pictures of the Bat-Pod and Tumbler and news of the tour in anticipation for the upcoming release of The Dark Knight. Since then it has travelled to many cities and today it landed here in Toronto. Considering I had dinner mere blocks away from the event, I could not pass on the opportunity to check them out while they were parked outside the Scotiabank Theatre. I was impressed that they even had a little atmosphere going on with music playing to boot.

But enough talk, here are the pictures!

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Front View

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Shannon the Movie Moxie was there!

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Front View

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Back View

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It appears that everyone in the crowd had a camera!

Here are the remaining dates and cities for the tour:

Saturday July 12, 2008 Toronto
Bat-Pod and Bat Tumbler at the Eaton Centre

Sunday July 13, 2008 Niagara Falls, NY
Bat-Pod and Bat Tumbler at the Niagara Falls State Park

Monday July 14, 2008 New York City
Bat-Pod live on the Today Show
Bat-Pod and Bat Tumbler on the red carpet at AMC Lincoln Square IMAX

Wednesday July 16, 2008 Chicago
Bat-Pod and Bat Tumbler at the Navy Pier – Crystal Garden
Bat-Pod and Bat Tumbler at the Chris Nolan Gala Event at Navy Pier

Saturday July 18, 2008 Los Angeles
Bat-Pod all week at the Arclight Hollywood Theater/Cinerama Dome

TIFF 08 - More titles released in Gala, Special Presentations, Masters and Contemporary World Cinema

Seventeen new titles have been released for the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival for 2008. This brings the total films announced to 55 titles, with this round adding excitement to the following programs: 2 Masters and 11 Contemporary World Cinema titles (see announcement) along with 2 Galas and 7 Special Presentations (see announcement). It is thrilling to see that Wong Kar Wai's Ashes of Time Redux is included in the list along with numerous heavy hitters such as Guy Ritchie with RocknRolla, Ari Folman with Waltz with Bashir and Kiyoshi Kurosawa with Tokyo Sonata which won Un Certain Regard Jury Prize winner at Cannes 2008. Here is the complete list of new additions:

Contemporary World Cinema

33 Scenes from Life
Dir: Malgosia Szumowska
Germany/Poland

The Country Teacher
Dir: Bohdan Sláma
Czech Republic/Germany/France

Delta
Dir: Kornél Mundruczó
Hungary/Germany

Fear Me Not
Dir: Kristian Levring
Denmark

El Greco
Dir: Iannis Smaragdis
Greece/Spain/Hungary

Knitting
Dir: Yin Lichuan
China

My Mother, My Bride and I
Dir: Hans Steinbichler
Germany

The Narrows
Dir: François A. Velle
Cast: Kevin Zegers, Vincent D'Onofrio, Titus Welliver
USA

Pandora's Box
Dir:Yesim Ustaoglu
Turkey/France/Belgium/Germany

Teza
Dir: Haile Gerima
Germany/Ethiopia/France

White Night Wedding
Dir: Baltasar Kormakur
Iceland

Gala

The Duchess
Dir: Saul Dibb
Cast: Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Dominic Cooper, Hayley Atwell and Charlotte Rampling
United Kingdom

Secret Life of Bees
Dir: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Cast: Dakota Fanning, Hilarie Burton, Paul Bettany, Jennifer Hudson, Queen Latifah, Sophie Okonedo and Alicia Keys
USA

Masters

Everlasting Moments
Dir: Jan Troell
Denmark/Sweden

Tokyo Sonata
Dir: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Japan/The Netherlands/Hong Kong

Special Presentations

Ashes of Time Redux
Dir: Wong Kar-wai
Cast: Leslie Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Jacky Cheung
Hong Kong/China

Every Little Step
Dirs: James Stern and Adam Del Deo
Documentary on the 2006 Broadway revival of "A Chorus Line"
USA

Ghost Town
Dir: David Koepp
Cast: Rickey Gervais, Greg Kinnear, Téa Leoni,Billy Campbell, Kristen Wiig, Dana Ivey
USA

Happy-Go-Lucky
Dir: Mike Leigh
Cast: Sally Hawkins, Eddie Marsan
United Kingdom

Religulous
Dir: Larry Charles
Starring Bill Maher
USA

RocknRolla
Dir: Guy Ritchie
Cast: Gerard Butler, Tom Wilkinson, Thandie Newton, Chris Bridges, Jeremy Piven, Idris Elba
United Kingdom

Waltz with Bashir
Dir: Ari Folman
Israel/France/Germany

Film Fan Fridays for Friday July 11, 2008!

Hello Film Fans and Fanatics!

Welcome to Film Fan Fridays for Friday July 11, 2008! This week if full of films with the same person doing multiple roles filling both the writer and director chairs. The most prominent being Guillermo del Toro with the release of Hellboy II: The Golden Army. But I'm getting ahead of myself speaking of the wide releases.

In limited release this week we have the Canadian surreal thriller The 4th Life, which looks like quite the creepy tale. We also have the highly anticipated The Wackness, which is a bit of a festival sweetheart film and although I'm not ready to get nostalgic about a film set in 1994 yet, it seems to be the inevitable. It appears to be a coming of age story with a lot of shenanagans, all of this to a soundtrack that kicks butt including the likes of A Tribe Called Quest. Rounding out the limited releases including the Brazilian film Alice's House which shows the stagnant life of one woman who is ready to break free of the mould. We also have stunning Silent Light which explores forbidden love in a Mennonite setting.

In wide release this week the film I'm most looking forward to is Hellboy II: The Golden Army, I really enjoyed the first one for its quirky sense of humour and superhero fun. Let's hope they do it all again with the second film! Then we land into remake-o-rama-with-a-spin, Journey to the Centre of the Earth 3-D, official remake of the 1959 film and Meet Dave, which is not noted as a remake but the concept is a new take of films such as Innerspace or Fantastic Voyage.

Have a great weekend!

Shannon

Festival Watch

CaribbeanTales
Fokus Jamaica: A celebration of film and television from Jamaica
Continues until July 13, 2008 at various locations in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
See schedule here

Mississauga Independent Film Festival
July 10 - 13, 2008 at various locations in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

3D Fest
Numerous classic 3D films including: House of Wax 3-D, Jaws 3-D, Creature from the Black Lagoon 3-D and Dial M for Murder 3-D
July 11 - 17, 2008 at the Fox Theatre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Special Screenings

Ilsa, the Tigress of Siberia
Friday July 11, 2008 at 9:30PM at the Revue Cinema presented by Vagrancy Films (site has sound)

Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer
Thursday July 17, 2008 at 9:30PM at The Bloor, presented by Rue Morgue with Robert Englund in attendance
Director: Jon Knautz
Cast: Trevor Matthews, Robert Englund, Rachel Skarsten
Canada, 2007
See trailer here

Triage: Dr. James Orbinski's Humanitarian Dilemma

Continues until July 15, 2008 at the NFB Cinematheque
See details here

Outdoor screenings throughout the summer at Yonge and Dundas Square and Harbourfront Centre.

Advance Screenings: The Dark Knight has screenings around town at around on Thursday July 18, 2008 but the word is many of them are sold out. You can also check out The Bat-Pod and The Tumbler from The Dark Knight outside the Scotiabank Theatre on Friday July 11, 2008 and at the Eaton Centre on Saturday July 12, 2008

Friday July 11, 2008 Releases

The 4th Life

Dir: François Miron
Cast: Janet Lane, Andrea Sheldon
Canada
Limited Release
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer
Trailer looks pretty spoiler free

Alice's House / A Casa de Alice
Writer/Dir: Chico Teixeira (Carrego Comigo)
Cast: Carla Ribas, Zé Carlos Machado, Carlos Machado, Berta Zemel
Brazil
Limited Release
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer (select Trailer on left hand side)
You get the gist of the film 2/3rds of the way into the trailer

Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Writer/Dir: Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Blade II, The Devil's Backbone, Chronos)
Cast: Ron Pearlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Jeffrey Tambor
USA
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer
I have been avoiding trailers for this one as I will see it soon, watch at your own risk of spoilers!

Journey to the Centre of the Earth 3-D
Dir: Eric Brevig - feature film directorial debut
Cast: Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson, Anita Briem
USA
Official Film Site (autoplays Trailer), IMDb Page, Trailer
Trailer shows a lot, spoiler free until the half way point

Meet Dave
Dir: Brian Robbins (Norbit, The Shaggy Dog, The Perfect Score)
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Elizabeth Banks, Gabrielle Union, Scott Caan, Ed Melms, Kevin Hart
USA
Official, Film Site & Trailer, IMDb Page
Trailer is spoiler free

Silent Light / Stellet licht
Writer/Dir: Carlos Reygadas (Batttle in Heaven / Batalla en el cielo)
Cast: Cornelio Wall Fehr, Miriam Toews, Elizabeth Fehr, Jacobo Klassesn, Maria Pankratz
Mexico/France/Netherlands/Germany
Limited Release
Official Film Site & Trailer, IMDb Page
Trailer spoiler free

The Wackness
Writer/Dir: Jonathan Levine (All the Boys Love Mandy Lane)
Cast: Josh Peck, Ben Kingsley, Olivia Thirlby, Famke Jamssen, Mary-Kate Olsen, Method Man
USA
Limited Release
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer
Trailer spoiler free until halfway point

**please note this list of releases reflects first run film released in Toronto, Ontario, Canada as of July 11, 2008**

Thursday, 10 July 2008

My Week in Film

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The first film of My Week in Film was a complete delight. Seeing Fellini's 8 1/2 at Cinematheque Ontario as a part of their tribute to Marcello Mastroianni was a great way to start July. It's been over 10 years since I first saw a Fellini film, La Strada, which is one of my favourite films of all time. Thank goodness I decided to take Italian Film that year! 8 1/2 was fantastic, it ranged from logical to playful to meta to bizarre. It was full of life yet it addressed shying away from life, or more so people that you encounter in life. I enjoyed every single minute of this masterpiece.

I look forward to seeing more films at Cinematheque during the summer months, however the remaining films will be from the Japanese Classics selections. I'll be sure to tell you all about them!

Staying in black and white context but a completely different tone, I caught up with the classic horror film House on Haunted Hill (1959). It's a fantastic scary delight, this is exactly how I like my classic horror films with lots of tension, and air of mystery and an interesting story. The added bonus is the impeccable Vincent Price as the witty four times married millionaire. It's a short one at 74 minutes but every minute is good. It also includes the most believable ear-piercing scream I have every heard. Want to hear for yourself? You can check it out as House on Haunted Hill is part of the public domain and available for viewing here.

The next film was indeed a happy surprize, I had no idea how much I would like it: Stardust. I find it a little strange I didn't see it at the time of the release but when I look back I didn't sound overly enthused. Little did I know what a delightful, fun fantasy film this would be. Just when I was beginning to think I wasn't going to like any romances at all, this gem comes along and wins me over. Loved every minute of it, I highly recommend it to anyone who has an open mind as well as those that enjoy fantasy films.

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I got out to the theatre a fair amount this week and was thrilled to enjoy the touching and understated film Brick Lane. It's in limited release and I would say to get out and see it while you can! I also loved Hancock which seems to be getting a fair amount of negitave reviews. Hogwash to that I say, it's a heck of a fun film. Last up for theatre moments was Savage Grace which I wish I enjoyed more, the darkness and sadness of the film was quite predominate leaving me rather melancholy. Click through for full reviews of the films.

I caught a few semi-recent films with Atonement and 28 Weeks Later. Okay, I know I pick weird double bills. I quite enjoyed Atonement even though period pieces are not my thing. The art direction was gorgeous and the story engaging, I'm not surprized at the numerous nominations and wins it was granted. On the other end of the spectrum is 28 Weeks Later. I quite enjoyed the original although it's one of the films that I don't think I could watch again. The sequel really didn't have the same quality level storytelling that the first did and I ended up feeling like it barely held together.

Disappointment of the week: Ri fi fi. Apparently there is another film or presentation by the same name as the Criterion heist film as the copy I received was not the one I expected. Oh well, I'll keep looking for it!

Previews and trailer watch oddity: During the screening of Savage Grace, there were 2 previews with films that star both Penélope Cruz and Patricia Clarkson: Elegy and Vicki Cristina Barcelona. What are the chances? The only other trailer of note was the release of The Day the Earth Stood Still which I found oddly not like the original, showed way too much and overall underwhelming.

The Day the Earth Stood Still - Trailer - This trailer is pretty spoilerific, but the first half is spoiler free

Up next week: Hellboy II: The Golden Army, City of the Lost Children, Eraserhead, oodles of Fellini and much much more.

What did you watch this week?

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Found this on Dundas Street, between Bay and University.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Savage Grace

Dir: Tom Kalin (Swoon)
Cast: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Stephen Dillane, Elena Anaya, Hugh Dancy
France/Spain/USA, 2008

Seen: July 9, 2008 at Varsity

Reason to see: Compelling preview, looks pretty dark but interesting

Savage Grace follows the story of the Baekelands family, where Brooks is the heir of the Bakelite plastics fortune whom marries Barbara and together they have a son, Tony. The film is based on biographical book of the same name and is decidedly shocking, an undercurrent you pick up from the trailer. I have no problems with shocking, but I was surprized to find after looking at my ticket that the film was 18A as it appears to be a dark drama. Ratings aside, my main concern with the film was trying to figure out who they considered the main character. It feels like the main character should be the son Tony, played by Eddie Redmayne but I was always drawn to the strength of Julianne Moore's portrayal as Barbara whenever she was on the screen. I would have been happy if it was a double protagonist tale but instead like there were reminders throughout to pull the viewer back in line and tell us it was about Tony. This kept me far more occupied that I would have liked throughout the film.

The other big question for me was who is the audience for this film? It's very dark and has a few big taboos but overall I felt at a bit of a loss whom they were trying to reach. It was, unfortunately, not me.

Shannon's Overall View:
It made me think
I'm not sure I'd watch it again
I'd am at a loss at who to recommend it to

11 minutes of preshow including 9 commercial and 3 previews: Elegy, Angel and Vicki Cristina Barcelona

Return to Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2008
All content on Movie Moxie is written by Shannon Ridler, © 2006 - 2012