Monday, 31 May 2010

Worldwide Short Film Festival 2010 Preview

"THE END IS NEAR" is the catch phrase for the 16th year of the Worldwide Short Film Festival, and I love it. One of the things I always say about shorts is that if you don't like it, it won't be long before it's over, but that is rarely the case with this festival as they have such strong & interesting programming that I can't wait to see this years films. I also love that their website url is www.shorterisbetter.com. Yay for all us short people! It is better! The festival opens tomorrow night with the Opening Gala program: Award Winners From Around the World, including the fantastic Canadian short Runaway.

Ladies in the house! Two of the programs I'm really looking forward to this year are the Lunafest touring program showcasing short films by, for, about women. Keeping the same vein, there is also the Swedish omnibus program DORIS, from the Doris network which was founded to encourage and empower female filmmakers. If these are your style, you probably also want to check out Official Selection 11: Not Just From Venus which features an "eclectic group of unforgettable heroines". I'm sold!

One of the programs I always look forward to every year is SciFi Out There. Keeping it crazy there are also the Midnight Mania programs: Creepy and Freaky. Scary stuff!

From the weird to the big wigs, the Celebrity Shorts program brings familiar names and faces to the short and sweet. Twilight fans will be delighted to hear that this year's program includes the short The Summer House starring none other than Robert Pattinson pre-Twilight. More big wigs include Crispin Glover and John C. Reilly in Drunk History: Tesla & Edison, Don Cheadle and Will Ferrell in Drunk History: Douglass & Lincoln and the voices of Meryl Streep and Forest Whitaker in Higglety Pigglety Pop! or There Must be More to Life.

You can also travel around the world, or rather have the world come to you - short and sweetly through several of this years programs. The country focus this year turns the Spotlight on Poland (Part I, Part 2 and Platige Image), check out the grades for the Film School Spotlight: Centro de Capacitacion Cinematografica in Mexico, and head over the pond with onedotzero: New British Talent '09.

Looking for laughs? Several programs should fit the bill with from Laughter Without Borders to Alternative Comedy Showcase to family-friendly Shorts for Shorties: The Great Chase. The musically inclined have interesting selections to choose from including When All is Said and Sung and Scene Not Herd: Music Videos.

All there is so much more. Check out the schedule and click through on the program name to find out more. So much more.

That is just a section of the programs. For more information, check out the Worldwide Short Film Festival website, Program Descriptions, Film Schedule, Symposium Details, Location Information, Box Office Information or Purchase Tickets online.

You can also find the festival on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.

The Worldwide Short Film Festival runs from June 1-6, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

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Dir: Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Mona Lisa Smile, Pushing Tin)
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley, Richard Coyle, Toby Kebbell, Alfred Molina, Steve Toussaint, Ronald Pickup
USA, 2010

Seen: May 28, 2010 at the Rainbow

Reason to see: I'm still on the whole Sword & Sandals kick from the marathon earlier this year. Plus, always interested to see Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton and Ben Kingsley in anything they are involved in.

I've been looking forward to Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time from before I even saw previews for it, but back when it was announced that Jake Gyllenhaal was cast in it. I didn't even realize it was based on a video game, and once I saw a trailer the the whole 'based on a video game' became mute - the film obviously had it's own story with a backdrop of a beautiful and fantastical world.

After seeing trailer many times over, I thought I had a good sense of what the film was about, but turns out - totally not the case. The trailer shows us the world but leaves lots of the story and characters to be discovered as you actually watch the film. What a though! I loved that. This also meant that watching it I didn't necessarily know what was going to happen next. I think I even gasped in surprize at one point, which was.. slightly embarrassing I'll admit, but still was a nice to have the story unfold before my eyes without knowing exactly what was going to happen. Kudos to the film for that.

The film has a great adventurous spirit to it, and Jake Gyllenhaal as Dustan does a great job embodying that spirit with a surprizing physical combination of stealth and agility (aka parkour), making him a bit of a bruiser as well as being someone who can sneak around. It's also a character that is easy to love, being someone true of heart and also a bit of a troublemaker.

The film is primarily an adventure film, but it still packs in a lot of action. It's refreshing that it's not overly bloody but rather carefully and creatively crafted giving us brains & brawn to pack a lot of bang for the buck. True sword & sandals here with deserts, swords, lots of fighting, an epic tale and interesting characters.

Speaking of characters, one of the things I'm always wary in adventure films of this kind is whether or not there will be any gender crap. I'll give this film that it's a lot better than most as Gemma Arterton's character Tamina is not only feisty, but also brave, cunning and (gasp!) her character is not particularly interested in a romance or relationship. That being said - it isn't perfect and I did end up feeling like it was so close to being great but was ever so slighted. It's no where near as overt as something like The Princess and the Frog (which the gender crap in there drove me bonkers) but, it is Disney so don't actually expect it to be progressive. I hope they get there one day. This was more of a side step than one back of forward, and I'll be happy if they decide to move forward. That being said, I thought Gemma Arterton does a great job, and look forward to seeing her in more films.

Overall, it's a lot of fun. I'm hoping there will be more adventure films like this to enjoy with interesting stories and characters with creative action in a beautiful, rich world. Fun times.

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'll buy it
I recommend it to adventure film fans

8 minutes of preshow including 3 commercials and 3 previews: The Last Airbender, Tron: Legacy and The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Return to Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2010

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Sex and the City 2

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Writer/Dir: Michael Patrick King (Sex and the City)
Cast: Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Chris Noth, David Eigenberg, Evan Handler, Willie Garson, Mario Cantone, John Corbett
USA, 2010

Seen: May 27, 2010 at the AMC

Reason to see: I recently watched & enjoyed the first film, but honestly I thought I would check it out as it came in #2 as the Most Anticipated May Release on the Poll!

The ladies are back to the big screen after the success of the 2008 Sex and the City film, a continuation of the TV series set lovingly in New York. All four ladies are back from our love-focused protagonist Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker), to workaholic Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) to the traditional Charlotte (Kristin Davis) to the ever lovely and sex-centric Samantha (Kim Cattrall), the ladies lunch, chat, ponder and continue to grow through life and their relationships.

One of the things I love about the film is how transparent it is in so many areas that films can shy away from or try to deny. This don't deny their ages, stages of life, or the fact that the 'current economic climate' sucks if you are into being a big spender. One of the strengths of the series and the films is that they stay true to the characters as they Carrie On with life. They do get older. Things change. Priorities shift. And sometimes - that sucks. And sometimes, it doesn't. Though all of it, the women have their friendship to see them through the ups, downs and go arounds.

It's so refreshing to see a relationship film that isn't overly romantic, but still realistic and oddly earnest. It still has romance, but the focus really is the relationships. The things you worry about when you feel you shouldn't - but you do. Mistakes. Worry. Things you don't want to explain, and fumble through when you try. Honest reactions you don't want to see. In that sense, it's so freaking real.

Whenever I watch any incarnation of Sex and the City, I always expect to feel like I should pick out whom I'm most like, or who I think the women in my life are like - but in truth I think a lot of use are a little bit of each of them. That makes it even more fun to see and recognize moments and nod along saying "I would *so* do that!" or recognize reactions and know exactly who in your life would pull a Samantha.

Overall, it's really a film for it's fans. If you liked the series and the first film, it should be a shoe in that you'll enjoy this one as well. Glitz, glam, fashion and funny truths - I'm always up for more time with these fantastic women.

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'll watch it again
Easy recommendation here - it's no question for Sex and the City fans.

17 minutes of preshow including 3 commercials and 6 previews: Going the Distance, Life s We Know It, Charlie St. Cloud, You Again, Eat Pray Love and The Kids are Alright

Return to Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2010

Inside Out 2010 Coverage

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Pre-Festival Coverage:
Festival Preview

Film Reviews:
And Then Lola Came
Assume Nothing
Eyes Wide Open / Einaym Pkuhot
Joan Rivers - A Piece of Work (from Hot Docs 2010)
Man Who Loved Yngve, The
Owls, The
Prima Donna: The Story of Rufus Wainwright's Debut Opera
Regretters
Secret Diary of Miss Ann Lister, The
Strella: A Woman's Way
Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls
Undertow / Contracorriente
We are the Mods

Post-Festival Coverage:
Awards

The Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film and Video Festival 2010 ran from May 20-30, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Inside Out 2010: Awards

Juries have deliberated and audience ballots have been counted. Here are the results! The 2010 Inside Out Awards are:

Canadian Jury Awards:

Entertainment Partners Canada/ Canada Film Capitol Award for Best Canadian Feature
Mark by Mike Hoolboom

Colin Campbell Award for Best Canadian Short
Our Compass by Tess Vo

Best Up-and-Coming Toronto Film or Video Maker Award presented by Charles Street Video
Chris by Don Bapst

International Jury Award:

Bill Sherwood Award for Best First Feature
Plan B by Marco Berger, Argentina 2009

Audience Awards:

RBC Royal Bank Award for Best Feature Film or Video
The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister by James Kent, UK 2010

Elle Flanders Award for Best Documentary Film or Video
Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls by Leanne Pooley, New Zealand 2009

Mikey/Schmikey Award for Best Short Film or Video
The Armoire by Jamie Travis, Canada 2009

The Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film and Video Festival 2010 ran from May 20-30, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Poll Results: Prince of Persia opens this week... what's your favourite Jake Gyllenhall film?

You've had your say and the votes are in, you what's your favourite Jake Gyllenhall film comes in with a mini-sweep tie between Brokeback Mountain and Donnie Darko, both getting an impressive 37%. Trailing at at 12% is The Day After Tomorrow (my pick, hehe), than another tie at 6% between Zodiac & Bubble Boy (as Other). Left in the dust is Brothers & Jarhead at 0%.

I'm actually surprized Zodiac didn't place a bit higher. Mind you, I'm also surprized I never reviewed Brokeback Mountain! Very interesting all around. Thanks for voting!

37% - Tie: Brokeback Mountain & Donnie Darko
12% - Day After Tomorrow, The
6% - Tie: Zodiac & Other (Bubble Boy)
0% - Tie: Brothers & Jarhead

Before the Dawn: A Twilight Podcast - Episode 53: News to May 28, 2010




Before the Dawn: A Twilight Podcast - Episode 53 is up!

Lots to discuss this week as we get closer to the release of Eclipse, and it's a fun week over at Before the Dawn: A Twilight Podcast, as Marina & I chat about recent Twi-news including oodles and oodles of images, lots of soundtrack news, a few funny spoofs and as always updates on work of the cast & crew.

Next week is our Eclipse book discussion! So if you want to read along be sure to have it up to date and read when you swing by and check out the June 7th, 2010 podcast. Or - just listen is as we'll let you know out thoughts on revisiting the book and what we are looking forward to with the film.

Check it out over at Before the Dawn.

Film Reviews - Columbia

Undertow / Contracorriente *

*indicates co-production

Back to Countries List

Film Reviews - Peru

Fire On the Amazon
Undertow / Contracorriente *

*indicates co-production

Back to Countries List

Film Reviews - Israel

Dolphin Boy
Eyes Wide Open / Einaym Pkuhot

*indicates co-production

Back to Countries List

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Monthly Reading Check-in: April & May 2010

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Reading. Gotta love it. Hmm, love it so much that I feel like I should have said 'got to' not gotta because it's more of a real word and all that. But, gotta feels right. Anyhow, I've been doing a lot of reading this year and in February and March wrote about progress of the Lord of the Rings readalong with Fellowship & The Two Towers. The book for April was Return of the King and I barely read any of it, which means I didn't write about it. But I did read a lot of books for the 2010 Book to Film Challenge (10/20 read!) along with books not on the challenge but still film related. So, just because I feel off one readalong train doesn't mean I should stop sharing what I've been reading - so here are my thoughts of what I've been reading for the past 2 months.

2010 Book to Film Challenge Books:

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Oh. My. Goodness. Getting through Wuthering Heights was a huge challenge. The version I had was only 300 pages, but it felt like 1,000. The majority of the time I had no clue what was going one, who was narrating, when or where it was. No clue. I literally read every word on all the pages, but didn't understand it until I read a summary afterwards and than a cascade of light bulbs lit up bridging the story together. The inspiration to read it in the first place was remembering that it's mentioned in Eclipse, and that I skipped over those passages the first time I read that - plus the fact that it's just 'one of those' books you have to read. Retrospectively I can how it's viewed as a tragic love story, but there was a lot of tragedy and almost no love, and very little time with the central characters actually present at the same time. Although I didn't enjoy reading it all that much, I did end up with a sense of triumph for actually getting through it!

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer (re-read)
Reason to read this one should be clear with the upcoming film adaptation of Eclipse hitting theatres June 30, 2010 so I wanted to refresh my memory of the book and holy noodle, I didn't remember that much from my first read back in winter 2008. I only retrained pretty much the love triangle aspect of it and nothing else. The re-read has me more confident in David Slade (Hard Candy, 30 Days of Night) as the director choice, and I was so surprized the number of times I had to give kudos for Edward in this one. Being a big fan of Jacob - it was tough to admit that! Bella has a bit of a rough ride in this one, but I think she stands pretty strong here. It's really strange thinking "Oh, I know they kept that because I've seen the images" because a fair amount of pics have been release (see here and here) along with the trailer, it's pretty clear to see what's being kept and what's not. I'm still so shocked how little we've seen on Victoria in the imagery that's out there. I'm hoping they don't have Riley steal the thunder there, as awesome as Xavier Samuel (The Loved Ones, Newcastle) is, I really want to see Victoria. If you want to hear more about my impressions of the book, check out Before the Dawn: A Twilight Podcast next Monday June 7, 2010 where Marina & I will discuss the book in detail.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J. K. Rowling (re-read)
The majority of what's left on my 2010 Book to Film Challenge are Harry Potter books. I'm re-reading the entire series in anticipation of the release of the film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (out Nov19, 2010). Last year I watched all the films, but this is the first time I've re-read the books and it absolutely amazes me with this one how much it was literally translated in to the film version Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. It's actually a really good reminder on how difficult that is, but also when you consider a 200ish page kids book was almost verbatim translated into a 2hr+ film, that with anything longer, or adult, stuff will be edited out. I did really enjoy reading the book and revisiting the magical world. And the book has more Neville. And everything is better with more Neville.

MAX by James Patterson
Fifth and final book in the Maximum Ride series (although there is a FANG book out, not sure how that places in the chronology), and I love these crazy avian-human hybrid group of misfit kids with their fearless leader being the teenage girl, Max. Like the third and fourth book, it feels a little 'message-y' but, in my opinion, it's not a 'bad' message so I don't really mind. I also just love how fast and frantic these books are, I usually finishing them in 1-2 days. They remind me of that weird lemon sorbet stuff I remember having at a chichi French restaurant once, that cleanses the palette between course. They totally do this - they cleanse the palette and leave you ready for more.

General Reading
These are on my list, but are (shock!) still film related and interesting so I'm sharing!

Fallen by Lauren Kate
This one it's a little big of a challenge to talk about without spoiler so I'm going to be brief. Young adult, paranormal-esque romance, female protagonist (Luce) gets sent to reform school and meets someone who feels so familiar. It's a solid read, I enjoyed the characters and the imagery which was quite beautiful. It's been picked up by Disney for a film adaptation, and I'm not surprized as could make a really great film. I did have a bit of a grrr moment though because I thought it was stand alone book, but it isn't. Part II is anticipated to be out this summer, and I'll happily read more of the world but I'm also trying not to get into more series - they seem never ending these days! Actually it looks like it's going to be a 4-book series. We'll see.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
I had hoped to read this one before the film
Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief came out, but alas no luck there. Turns out - that's okay! The book has more than enough interesting in it that it's worth a read on it's own. It's a modern interpretation of a What If? scenario of if Greek Gods where still around and kicking up some trouble here and there on Earth. Like the film, I really enjoyed the creative interpretations of abilities, strengths and weaknesses. It's clever, cute and pretty fun. Although doesn't look that likely that we'll get more films in the series, I'm highly looking forward to continuing the 5 book series to see what adventures and trouble Percy gets into. Update: According to Wikipedia an adaptation of the second book The Sea of Monsters is in the works for a film to be released in 2012.

Titles For Consideration to Add to the 'To Be Read' list:

Let The Right One In / Let Me In by
John Ajvide Lindqvis
After seeing the images of the upcoming film, I think I'm going to have to read the book. As much as I want to look down my nose at this one as the original Swedish film Let the Right One In / Låt den rätte komma in is so great it doesn't need an English remake, I reconsidered after realize that the upcoming film is an adaptation of the original book by John Ajvide Lindqvis rather than the Swedish film. Even so - those stills show a very strong resemblance to the film. Anyhow, have a bit to decide, Let Me In hits theatres in October 2010.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
A veterinary student leaves his studies to join a travelling circus. If that wasn't enough to sell me, the film adaptation (set for a release 2011), will be directed by Francis Lawrence (
Constantine), starring Robert Pattinson (Twilight), Reese Witherspoon, Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) and Hal Holbrook (Into the Wild). Um, yeah - I'll be reading that.

Update on The Tempest: a release date has been set for the film version in the works from director Julie Taymor (Across the Universe) starring Helen Mirren: Dec 10, 2010. Same day as Chronicles of Narnia:
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Because it's so late in the year it's likely going to be one of the last books I get to this year. With The Tempest I'm considering throwing a reading party to actually read the play aloud instead of reading it on my own. Not sure though, we'll see.

Regular updates of my reading over at GoodReads, feel free to friend me!

Titles on Amazon.ca(Canada):


Titles on Amazon.com (US):



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Friday, 28 May 2010

Film Fan Fridays for Friday May 28, 2010

Hello Film Fans and Fanatics!

Welcome to Film Fan Fridays for Friday May 28, 2010! It's a bit of a quiet week for in terms of volume of releases with only 5 films hitting the screens this week but considering two of them are Sex and the City 2 and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time I have a feeling it will be a busy week at the theatres!

In limited release this week we have Micmacs / Micmacs à tire-larigot, the latest film from Jean-Pierre Jeunet who brought us Amelie, City of the Lost Children and Delicatessen. Second and final limited release of the week is the Academy Award nominated film Ajami, which was nominated for Foreign Language film.

In wide release this week we have Kites: The Remix, a 90 minute remixed version of the Bollywood film Kites which full 140 version came out just last week. Next up is Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, the adventure film starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Gemma Arterton that is based on the video game of the same name. Last up is yesterdays midweek release of Sex and the City 2 with Carrie & the girls are back to continue their adventures and escapades, and it's a lot of fun.

Also this week is the official opening of the new Toronto theatre: The Toronto Underground. They are starting off with their opening weekend with fantastic screenings choices ranging from Rumble in the Bronx to The Runaways to The White Ribbon. See more info at their Facebook Page and website.

Have a great weekend!

Shannon

Festival Watch

Inside Out
20th Annual Toronto Lesbian and Gay Film and Video Festival
Continues until May 30, 2010 in various locations in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

June 1 - 6, 2010 at various locations in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Thursday May 27, 2010 Releases

Sex and the City 2
Writer/Dir: Michael Patrick King (Sex and the City)
Cast: Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Chris Noth, John Corbett
USA
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

Friday May 28, 2010 Releases

Ajami
Writers/Dirs: Scandar Copti & Yaron Shani - feature film directorial debuts
Cast: Shahir Kabaha, Ibrahim Frege, Fouad Habash, Youssef Sahwani, Ranin Karim, Eran Naim, Scandar Copti
Germany/Israel
Limited Release
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

Kites: The Remix
Dir: Anurag Basu (Life in Metro, Gangster)
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Barbara Mori, Kabir Bedi, Kangana Ranaut, Nick Brown
India
Official Film Site & Trailer, IMDb Page

Micmacs / Micmacs à tire-larigot
Dir:
Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie, City of the Lost Children, Delicatessen)
Cast: Dany Boon, André Dussollier, Omar Sy, Dominique Pinon, Marie-Julie Baup, Yolande Moreau
France
Limited Release
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Dir: Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Mona Lisa Smile, Pushing Tin)
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley, Alfred Molina
USA
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

**please note this list of releases reflects first run film released in Toronto, Ontario, Canada as of May 28, 2010**

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Micmacs / Micmacs à tire-larigot

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Dominique Pinon, Marie-Julie Baup, Yolande Moreau, Dany Boon, Jean-Pierre Dussollier, and Omar Sy, Courtesy of E1 Entertainment

Dir: Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amélie, City of the Lost Children, Delicatessen)
Cast: Dany Boon, André Dussollier, Omar Sy, Dominique Pinon, Marie-Julie Baup, Yolande Moreau
France, 2010

Reason to see: Jean-Pierre Jeunet films are always a yes for me

I'm always excited t see a Jean-Pierre Jeunet film from seeing and being won over by Delicatessen way back in the days of Paradise Theatre here in Toronto. Then after seeing the whimsical and beautiful Amélie I knew I'd be fan of his work for life. In his latest, Micmacs / Micmacs à tire-larigot, we return to a darker setting amongst literal scavengers and a plot seeped in revenge.

Dany Boon stars as Bazil, a film fan and performer who hasn't had the best of luck and the opportunities before seem to align perfectly with avenging in response. It's a film that you really don't need to know that much going into it as you really want to let the plot unfold before you. It's filled with creative imagery, setting and performances that come alive on the screen, literally.

One huge treat of the film is the fantastic ensemble cast, including the always incredible Dominique Pinon, whom all are quirky-yet-talented and make up a literal band of misfits. I do wish we although we had gotten to know them a little better in the film, as they do play important roles but mostly serve unique functions making that quirkiness feel oddly perfectly functional. That functionalness plays perfectly into the films plot and tone which at many times fits a heist film of a group of characters meeting an objective covertly and against the odds.

It feels like a bit of an easy out to say that Micmacs / Micmacs à tire-larigot feels like if you took the whimsy of Amélie and set it in a more Delicatessen decorated world, but it would also be a very true and apt description. I didn't expect it to be centred in today's world as in general it feels pretty timeless, but it certainly is commenting on current issues. But, it's darkly whimsical nature and fantastically expressive performances easily made it well worth seeing and enjoyable.

See also: Micmacs / Micmacs à tire-larigot DVD Review

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'll watch it again
I'd recommend it fans of films with a whimsical and comical nature

Return to Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2010

Splice Stills

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Adrien Brody & Sarah Polley as Clive & Elsa, Courtesy of E1 Entertainment

I've been looking forward to Splice since first hearing about it last fall. It's the latest film from Cube director Vincenzo Natali, stars Sarah Polley & Adrien Brody, and has got that sci-fi/horror 'something has gone wrong' feel all over it. I've actually avoided most of the info out there on it, knowing that it's a film I'd see and wanting to be go in with a pretty clean slate. After seeing imagery and trailers - I would recommend trying to avoid them if you'll prefer going in blind. Thankfully, these images I think really give you a sense of the films tone and style without too much information.

I'm thrilled to see that it's getting a wide release, although I'll admit I was shocked to see the trailer for the film in front of Clash of the Titans (2010) last month! But, that was mostly because I've been trying to avoid the trailer. I'll admit that I kind of hid behind my hands while it was on.

Splice hits theatres next week on Friday June 4, 2010. See more information at the Official Film Site & Trailer and IMDb Page.


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Sarah Polley in Splice, Courtesy of E1 Entertainment

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Adrien Brody in Splice, Courtesy of E1 Entertainment

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

An American Werewolf in London

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Dir: John Landis (The Blues Brothers, Trading Places, Coming to America)
Cast: David Kessler, Jenny Agutter, Griffin Dunne, John Woodvine, Frank Oz
UK/USA, 1981

Seen: When I was way to young to watch it! Plus several times since then including May 21, 2010 on DVD

Reason to Watch & Review: For The Wolfathon *

The Wolfathon has been filled with new-to-me films so far, but An American Werewolf in London brings us to one of the more generally seen werewolf films, and it's one I have strong memories of. For me, my strongest memory of the film is it literally scaring the crap out of me. I'm shocked to think it's not on my Scariest Films of All Time list. I think I left it off the list because I thought (correctly) that I just saw it when I was inappropriately young, like younger than 10 years old, and also (incorrectly) that it wouldn't be scary as an adult. My bad there - it's still totally scary.

The amazing thing about An American Werewolf in London is that it excels on so many levels, although the acting isn't really one of them. It's not awful, but it feels intentionally obvious at times and somehow this really works for the film I'd even say that future horror films try to capture the same charm, and not not that many succeed. The story is firmly centred in traditional werewolf film lore a la The Wolf Man (1941), but brings great new flavours to the mix, namely fantastic effects and cheeky comedy. These are the two things that really set it apart, make it memorable and they both really hold the test of time over the years.

I completely expected not to be freaked out by it this time round, therefore was completely taken aback by when I almost spilled my bowl of popcorn during some of the freaky bits. It's goes all out on the scary front. The effects amazingly hold up even though it's from almost 30 years ago, and they use lots of different effects used throughout the film. It was a little more violent than I remember, and although it does have pop scares it doesn't rely on them and it's they actually work. It also uses not just frightening images but also freaky ideas and uncomfortable situations to make it even more visceral. But, because it often pairs this with comedy, you get relief and moments to laugh at throughout the film as well. They also use the soundtrack to their advantage, by using pretty much any song of that has 'moon' in the title, and places them perfectly in the film.

It's a total must-see for if you like horror or werewolf films as it uniquely incorporates the lore into every aspect of the film. I'd even go as far to say that anyone who can stand the gore and violence should see it, especially film fan. The comedy element, along with how it points out the ridiculousness of film devices, makes it a true gem.

Warnings: gore, violence, frightening images & situations

Shannon's Overall View:
I loved it, but it still scares me!
I'll buy it
I'd recommend it as all horror fans, especially fans of gory horror or horror comedy

Return to Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2010

* The Wolfathon is a marathon exploring werewolf films in anticipation of the 2010 release of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Variety Weekend - Shrek, Street Dance 3D & Robin Hood at the Canadian, North American, UK & Australian Box Offices May 21, 2010 Weekend

Shrek Forever After debuts strong in Canada & North America coming in #1 this weekend and in the top 5 for highest grossing weekends of the year so far. MacGruber debuts at #5 in Canada and #6 in North America, Kites at #8 in Canada and #10 in North America. I think Kites is the only film to be released this week that hit all the charts!

UK #1 is Street Dance 3D, a UK film that opened this weekend there and opens throughout Europe in the next few weeks. Sadly no North American release dates yet for Street Dance 3D, although we are getting a 3D dance film here in August with Step-Up 3D. To add to (at least my) jealously of the UK getting a dance film we haven't got here, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time opened on May 21, 2010 (a whole week ahead!) and debuts at #2. More new releases include Kites debuting at #5 and The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans at #9.

In Australia, Robin Hood (2010) takes top honours for the second week in a row, and the comedy The Kings of Mykonos: Wog Boy 2, an Australia/Greece co-production, comes in second on the charts. The Back-Up Plan debuts at #4, A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) at #5, Harry Brown at #7, Kites at #9 and Food, Inc at #20.

Top 20 Movies in Canada for the May 21, 2010 weekend
1. Shrek Forever After *
2. Iron Man 2
3. Robin Hood (2010)
4. Letters to Juliet
5. MacGruber *
6. Date Night
7. How to Train Your Dragon
8. Kites *
9. She's Out of My League
10. A Nightmare on Elm Street
11. The Back-up Plan
12. Just Wright
13. Green Zone
14. Shutter Island
15. Furry Vengeance
16. Avatar
17. The Trotsky
18. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
19. Hot Tub Time Machine
20. Clash of the Titans (2010)

Top 20 Movies in North America for the May 21, 2010 weekend
1. Shrek Forever After *
2. Iron Man 2
3. Robin Hood (2010)
4. Letters to Juliet
5. Just Wright
6. MacGruber *
7. Date Night
8. A Nightmare on Elm Street
9. How to Train Your Dragon
10. Kites *
11. The Back-up Plan
12. Babies
13. Death at a Funeral
14. Furry Vengeance
15. Alice in Wonderland
16. The Secret in Their Eyes
17. City Island
18. Clash of the Titans (2010)
19. Oceans
20. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Top 10 Movies in the UK for the May 21, 2010 weekend
1. StreetDance 3D *
2. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time *
3. Robin Hood (2010)
4. Iron Man 2
5. Kites *
6. Four Lions
7. A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
8. Hot Tub Time Machine
9. The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans *
10. The Back-up Plan

Top 20 Movies in Australia for the May 20 - 24 2010 weekend
1. Robin Hood (2010)
2. The Kings of Mykonos: Wog Boy 2
3. Iron Man 2
4. The Back-up Plan
5. A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
6. Letters to Juliet
7. Harry Brown
8. I Love You Too
9. Kites
10. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
11. Hot Tub Time Machine
12. How to Train Your Dragon
13. Date Night
14. The Concert
15. Avatar
16. Beneath Hill 60
17. New York, I Love You
18. Soul Kitchen
19. Kick-Ass
20. Food, Inc

* indicates opening weekend in noted location

Source: Canada & North America info, UK info, Australia Info

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Week (Month) in Film Vlog for (all of) May 25, 2010





Theatrical Releases: Harry Brown, Robin Hood (2010), Letters to Juliet, The Trotsky, A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) and Gunless
The Wolfathon: She-Wolf of London, Bad Moon, Wolfen

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Inside Out 2010: Yngve, Lola & Assume Nothing

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Above: The Man Who Loved Yngve

The Man Who Loved Yngve
Dir: Stian Kristiansen
Cast: Arthur Berning, Ole Christoffer Ertvaag, Ida Elise Broch, Rolf Kristian Larsen
Norway

Teen angst runs high in The Man Who Loved Yngve, set in Norway circa the fall of the Berlin Wall. The film is centred on Jarle (Rolf Kristian Larsen), who miraculously seems to have the best it can get as when it comes to the 80's, plays in a synth-pop band and is going out with Katrine (Ida Elise Broch), who is the best girlfriend. Everything breaks loose when there is a new boy in town, Yngve (Ole Christoffer Ertvaag) and suddenly life seems to take on a whole new level of angst for Jarle. Beautifully shot and with strong performances by the young cast, we are treated to a fascinated coming of age story that is sure to resonate. The soundtrack is a great combination of reminiscent 80's power tunes along with more subtle choices, and of course - the band in the film as well. It's an emotional roller coaster ranging from sensitive to sweet to tragic all in one. Very impressive.

The Man Who Loved Yngve screens at Inside Out on:
Wednesday May 26, 2010 at 7:30pm at the ROM

Assume Nothing
Dir: Kirsty MacDonald
Documentary
New Zealand

Absolutely beautiful documentary showcasing portraits on 5 gender-variant artists from photographer Rebecca Swan's book Assume Nothing. From interviews, photo shoots and stills we are presented with discussions on gender identity as the film creates and showcases imagery and language to reflect back non-binary gender presentations. I loved the openness of the film and that it not only discussed but also defined, presented and created imagery and celebrated words that crossed over from the gulf of the limited thinking. It walk the walk and talks the talk, as well as being beautiful from start to finish.

Assume Nothing screens at Inside Out on:
Friday May 28, 2010 at 5:15pm at the ROM

And Then Came Lola
Dir: Ellen Seilder
Cast: Ashleigh Sumner, Jill Bennett, Cathy DeBuono, Jessica Graham, Candy Tolentino, Angelyna Martinez
USA

Ashleigh Sumner stars as Lola, a woman on a simple quest at the request of her girlfriend Casey (Jill Bennett) to deliver a package. Except, it's not so simple. Is it ever that simple? It's a story we see more than once as the film is structured a la Run Lola Run / Lola Rennt, with each incarnation presenting new problems and roadblocks, but the fun here is that it's also used as a not just running-through-the-motions, but also running-though-the-relationship with discussions of inadvertent self-discovery along the way. I enjoyed the creative spin on the structure and also that a variety of styles were used from animation to stills along with the live action. The highlight of the film was definitely Ashleigh Sumner who absolutely shines as Lola, she's got brilliant comedic timing and delivery that had me in stitches.

And Then Came Lola screens at Inside Out on:
Saturday May 29, 2010 at 9:30pm at the ROM

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Above: And Then Came Lola

For more information, check out the Inside Out website, Film Schedule, Festival Planner, Online Box Office, Ticket Availability, Box Office Information, Venue Information and Party Information.

The Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film and Video Festival 2010 runs from May 20-30, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

DVD Releases For May 25, 2010

It's a very interesting day for DVD Releases, lots of variety across genre and format. Let's have a look at what's coming to DVD on May 25, 2010.

First up I'm thrilled to see the beautiful Vietnamese film Owl and the Sparrow /Cú và chim se sẻ out on DVD, it's a sensitive telling of unlikely friendships & relationships. Staying touching, we also have the drama/romance Dear John, adapted from the Nicholas Sparks novel and starring Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried and it really is rather touching. Keeping the book theme, we have The Road based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy, and is a post-apocalyptic journey starring Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee (Let Me In). Next up is the totally trippy Someone's Knocking at the Door that I'm not sure how to describe other than seriously messed.

The week we also see the small screen out on DVD with True Blood Season 2 hitting the shelves - and just in time if you need to catch up with Sookie, Bill & the vampires friends, er... well other vampires, before Season 3 starts on June 13, 2010. From a different kind of small screen, we see the release of The Guild Season 3, a wildly popular web-series created by Felicia Day which follows the adventures of a MMORPG Guild.

Criterion release of note for the week is the 1939 western Stagecoach, directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne. Interesting Blu-Ray of the week include Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible Sing-a-long Blog (a 3-part webisodes series) and more western goodness, this time of the spaghetti variety, with the release of Sergio Corbucci's Django, starring Franco Nero.

Also in release this week is The Informant along with horror selections The Final Destination in 3-D (amazon.ca only) and The Collector.

Titles on Amazon.ca(Canada):


Titles on Amazon.com (US):

Monday, 24 May 2010

Why I Write Spoiler-Free Film Reviews with No Love "LOST"

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Me on the fateful day of watching the pilot episode of "LOST". Photo credit: my sister Jamie

Sunday May 23, 2010 was the perfect day to write this. Why, you ask? Because it was a day I kept Tweetdeck & Twitter closed, I didn't log on to Facebook, and when I inadvertently checked IMDb and Zap2it I closed them and quickly vowed to stay away from them for the rest of the day. Why did I do that with sites & services that I use every day? I wasn't having an internet free day, but self-imposed social media and tv/film blackout as it was the night of the last episode ever of "LOST". And I was determined to get to that last episode of the epic 6 season journey without any spoilers.

This post is 100% spoiler-free, by the way.

I was a latecomer to "LOST". I remember when it started and everyone was all yakkity yak about it but it didn't hold any appeal to me. I even saw 2 episodes of season two with my sister Suzie way back when and we spent more time talking and explaining the freaking show than actually watching it - it was way too much to understand coming in late. Then, last April during my sister Jamie's reno she shared the secret that she and her husband were watching it on DVD. And then she shared the first episode with me. Then the second. Then lent me the DVDs, which I burned through watching the series unfold as I knitted into the wee hours of the night. I was hooked.

I was in love with "LOST". But, I had to keep it a secret. I was seasons behind everyone for months so I had to keep it under wraps. One image or comment could give something away from seasons ahead. More than once I ran away from my TV if they played a commercial and I literally stapled pages together in Entertainment Weekly if they had a story on the show. Any kernel of information could shatter a house of cards being perfectly and purposefully built in front of my very eyes. I didn't want to hear theories, explanations, definitions, casting.... nothing. I wanted to watch it unfold and see the story as it was meant to be told.

But, now I can let that go and share my love of the show. I can scream it, I can shout it. I LOVE YOU "LOST"! I really do. Do you want to know why?

Yes, this post will continue to be 100% spoiler-free.

I love "LOST" for its great storytelling. For keeping us guessing, even when we didn't know we would be guessing. I love "LOST" for providing us with a multicultural, dynamic and talented cast. I love "LOST" because it has characters to love, characters to hate and characters we hate to love & love to hate. I love "LOST" for being consistent. Yes, consistent - I now that sounds boring but it ain't! I love "LOST" for being gusty. For being more than a little zany.

So, why the heck am I writing about "LOST" on Movie Moxie? It's TV not film, right? True. But, one of the reason I love "LOST" so dearly is because it is one of the only things I've seen in recent history where people actively try to be spoiler-free. They know how good the show is, and don't want to ruin the experience for others. This is something I work on and strive for with every review I write and every post I make. It's not easy, but I'm committed to it and I think it's worth it. From my very first film reviews of In The Heat of the Night I wrote "Although I thought I would end up posting movie reviews that included spoilers I just can't do it for this film". That day I wrote more reviews for Ong-Bak & Night Watch / Nochnoi Dozor, and I still didn't do spoilers. After a while I realized never wanted to do spoilers. Ever. It's been 4 years and over 600 film reviews later, and I've stuck with being spoiler-free the whole way.

Why spoiler-free? Well, I've never had a film experience enhanced by having the film spoiled to me. Never. I've also never heard someone say "I'm so glad I knew the ending/twist/reveal." either. But I have had and heard people talk about having a film spoiled for them, and it's not fun or nice. I've certainly never heard of it encouraging someone to see a film, and isn't that what talking about film or reading reviews is all about? I review films with this objective in mind: that from the perspective of the reader, they will be able to determine whether or not they'd want to see the film. It can certainly still be a challenge, as it was just last week writing a review of Harry Brown. But it's still worth it - because lo and behold one of the commenters mentioned having that film spoiled to them somewhere else along the way.

I go to great lengths to try and avoid this. Last year was a huge challenge on that front and I literally ran from a friend who was going to tell me an anecdote about Star Trek less then 2 hours before I made it to see the film without knowing anything about it. I ran. I apologized for it later, and the story wouldn't have been a spoiler, but I wasn't willing to chance it.

I can understand why people want to share the details of things they are excited about or feel strongly for. Discussing a film in depth is after all one of the funnest parts of being a film fan. But remember back to that moment when you saw a big reveal? The beauty of that moment was all the build up and careful maneuvering to get you there. Let us get there too, so we can have that moment.

The good news is, you can talk about films without giving too much away. It's a completely learnable skill. To start simply, ask the person if they've seen the film. If they have - go nuts. If not, try mentioning what you liked about it thematically, instead of specifically. Compare it to another film perhaps, in terms of style or pacing. What was the spirit of what you enjoyed about it, or hated it? The setting (other than occasion SciFi film) is usually safe to share. Character descriptions can be safe too, as long as you talk about them from the perspective of the character at the beginning film (if it's linear narrative). You can talk about how the film made you feel or if you'd like to see it again. You can say what the perfect setting would be to see it, or if who you saw it with and if you agreed with your opinion of it or not. Also, who might like it and why? It's about context, not content. And don't be afraid to put a hold on the conversation if you think it's going too far. You can always decided to chat about it again once everyone has seen the film.

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"LOST" in 6 Seasons brought me 3 Sweaters, countless teas, many tears and many memories

Before the Dawn: Episode 52 - Vampire Diaries Season 1 Discussion





Before the Dawn: A Twilight Podcast - Episode 52 is up!

This week on Before the Dawn: A Twilight Podcast, it's a bit of a love in as Marina & I discuss the first season of the CW show The Vampire Diaries.

Remember that we'll be discussing the book Eclipse on the June 7th, 2010 podcast so if you are planning on re-reading it before the film, you still have a could weeks to get that reading in!

Check it out over at Before the Dawn.

Poll Results: Summer Movie Season Looks...

Wow, the poll results for how you think the Summer Movie Season Looks turn a turn from looking like people thought it was pretty dismal to Awesome! ending up being in the lead with 34%, and then Sub-par coming in a close second at 26%. I actually have lots of films I'm looking forward to seeing this summer, so lets hope that it not only looks but also will be awesome!

34% - Awesome!
26% - Sub-par
17% - Tie: Pretty Solid & Okay
4% - Good

Thanks for voting!

Friday, 21 May 2010

Inside Out 2010: Topp Twins, Regretters & Mods

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Above: Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls

Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls
Dir: Leanne Pooley
Documentary
New Zealand

I remember hearing the buzz for Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls after it played at TIFF'09 and it was across-the-board praise, so I was thrilled to see that it's playing here at Inside Out. The praise was so good that I couldn't help but be curious to look into the film more, and turns out its a documentary on the lesbian, yodeling, twin sister singing act Lynda and Jools Topp. It's certainly the only doc I've seen centred on lesbian, yodeling, singing, twin sisters, and that might be a god thing as it sets the bar so high I don't think film could stand up to the competition. Not that the sisters would mind, they are genuinely 100% good-natured, fun-loving, filled with joy people that speak up and out on issues from equal rights to the environment. It's so refreshing to see them take these issues head on with a positive spin to things, and equally spend time making the world a better place and making everyone feel comfortable and welcome in it. All the praise fr the film is bang on and well-deserved for this spirited and inspiring documentary. Did I mention the yodeling? It's awesome too.

See also: The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls DVD Review

Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls screens at Inside Out on:
Saturday May 22, 2010 at 7:30pm at the ROM

We Are the Mods
Dir: E.E. Cassidy
Cast: Melia Renee, Mary Elise Hayden, Lance Drake
USA

I'm always up for a good coming of age film, and the ironic thing here is that is not what I expected from We Are the Mods at all, thinking it would be focus primarily on mod culture. Mods and mod culture are ever present and important, but I found this to truly a story between aspiring photographer Sadie (Melia Renee) and her new friend and mod Nico (Mary Elise Hayden). It was fun to watch the relationship grow and develop just as Sadie's mod-ness grows throughout the film, which allows for fun opportunities for art direction, costuming and make-up. There are strong nods to films like Blow-Up (vlog review), which I'd only seen recently and be curious to the experience of seeing this without being aware of that contextually. It's certainly not necessary as the film hold strongly on it's own two feet and the Sadie & Nico's journey keeps us guessing, interested and curious throughout.

We Are the Mods screens at Inside Out on:
Friday May 21, 2010 at 9:45pm at the ROM

Regretters
Dir: Marcus Lindeen
Documentary
Sweden

I'll admit that I was a little leery going into Regretters, worried that a documentary centred on 2 male-born transsexuals in different stages of transition back to male would be hard to watch or sad or depression. Thankfully, Regretters is none of these things. It's an amazingly open discussion between Mikael and Orlando on their experiences through the processes, from their thoughts to feelings to even regrets. But, the amazing thing is that it's such a free and open discussion that even when they discuss the harder times or disagree there is a warmth of wisdom that cushions the hurt and embraces it instead of denying or rejecting it. Absolutely stellar filmmaking here, providing enlightened, frank and beautiful portraits to share with the audience. It's a must-see.

Regretters screens at Inside Out on:
Sunday May 23, 2010 at 5:30pm at the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

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Above: Regretters

For more information, check out the Inside Out website, Film Schedule, Festival Planner, Online Box Office, Ticket Availability, Box Office Information, Venue Information and Party Information.

The Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film and Video Festival 2010 runs from May 20-30, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
All content on Movie Moxie is written by Shannon Ridler, © 2006 - 2012