Tuesday, 28 February 2012

DVD Releases for February 28, 2012

Time to take a look at a selection of DVD releases for Tuesday February 28, 2012!

  • Bounty Hunters Action packed and totally awesome flick with wrestling & fitness star Trish Stratus who stars as a part of a trio of bounty hunters who work together to catch the baddies who skipped bail. So much fun (this film is also known as Bail Enforcers).
  • Sympathy for Delicious Feature film directorial debut from Mark Ruffalo, this drama centres on a wheelchair ridden DJ who suddenly has the power to 'lay on hands' but can not heal himself. Stars Christopher Thornton, Orlando Bloom, Juliette Lewis and Mark Ruffalo.
  • Mandrill I can't wait to see this action flick starring Marko Zaror and from director Ernesto Díaz Espinoza who brought us Mirageman & Kiltro. I'm so up for more! Mandrill is out on DVD this week (it came out on BluRay last week).
  • War of the Arrows (podcast review) South Korean historical action film that is arrow-centric, and that's a strong trend of late and I absolutely recommend checking this one out, fabulous action, great art direction and a compelling story.
  • Hugo Only 2 days from it's 5-time winning Oscar glory feels like perfect time for the film to hit DVD and I can't help but be ridiculously excited as it was one of our loved 2011 Book to Film Selections to boot.
  • Beauty Day Documentary from Jay Cheel centred on on local broadcast Ralph Zavadil aka Cap'n Video, who looks like he'll do just about any stunt there is (not currently available on Amazon.com).
  • Marécages / Wetlands This drama is yet another title from the 2011 Canada's Top Ten to hit DVD; stars Pascale Bussières, Gabriel Maillé, Luc Picard and is the feature film directorial debut from Guy Édoin (not currently available on Amazon.com.
  • Gamin A Velo / The Kid with a Bike This sweet looking drama follows a young boy and an unlikely friendship with a hairdresser, from writers/director duo of Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne (not currently available on Amazon.com).
  • Sea Wolf / Le loup de mer psychological thriller at sea, based on the Jack London novel and starring Sebastian Koch, Tim Roth and Neve Campbell (not currently available on Amazon.com).
  • Rabies /Kalevet Twisted horror film from Israel set in the woods, following a brother/sister pair and with a strong, survivalist tone; stars Lior Ashkenazi, Danny Geva, directed by Aharon Keshales & Navot Papushado.
  • Wolftown It's the first I've heard of this one but with a premise described as "Kyle, a shy college student finds himself and three of his friends trapped in an old western ghost town by a pack of ferocious wolves and has to overcome his personal fears to confront the wolves and lead his friends to safety.", I know I want to see it.
  • Klitschko sport documentary following brother boxers Vitali & Wladimir Klitschko. I really want to see this one (not currently available on Amazon.com).
  • Insight Paranormal-centric horror about a nurse who after a accidentstarts to remember another persons memories, stars Natalie Zea, Sean Patrick Flanery, Christopher Lloyd & Adam Baldwin.
  • Inkubus It's a week of a lot of random horror movies, like this demon in a police station flick starring Robert Englund, Williams Forsythe and Jonathan Silverman.
  • Johnny English Reborn Rowan Atkinson, Rosamund Pike and Dominic West star in this spy-spoof comedy sequel to Johnny English.
Titles on Amazon.ca(Canada):


Titles on Amazon.com (US):

Monday, 27 February 2012

84th Academy Award Winners

The Oscars have come and gone for another year, and Billy Crystal hosted a very quick and to the point show that had the running them of embracing the art, memory and celebrating film. I actually quite liked the montages of people talking about film and considering the 2 lead nominee films (Hugo & The Artists) are films that celebrate film I can understand why they went with the memory focus. As it turns out, folks seemed to fully embrace those films and both Hugo and The Artist took home 5 awards each and The Artist won both Best Picture and Best Director. The only other multiple winner was The Iron Lady which actually won 2/2 with Make Up and Best Actress (Meryl Streep) giving it a 100% success rate from nominations to winners. All other winning films took home 1 award each.

That's the wrap up and number crunching and all the winners are below, but first here are some memorable moments and thoughts that chronological popped up in my head while watching the show....
  • Cinematography first ? Wha? What happened to supporting actor/actress? ...that's usually first! Just when I think I've got the patterns down they switch them up!
  • Awesome moment: Octavia Spencer getting a standing ovation when accepting her award for Actress in a Supporting Role for The Help
  • I loved how editors Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall kept their speech short and sweet noted "Yep, we're editors" and left the stage post-thanks for their win for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
  • Sad moment of realizing Drive didn't win it's 1 possible award.
  • Cirque du Soliel interpretation of what it's like to go to the movies 1 time only performance, which I literally couldn't take my eyes off the screen although I'm sure it read better live.
  • Pretty funny intro with Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey Jr. present the Oscar for documentary all genuine and 'real like' with RDJ saying they were doing a film or role of "The Presentor"
  • The Documentary (Feature) team of TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas who won for Undefeated got a bleep, a music swell and their audio cut out! WOW. And they were the only ones that did.
  • Emma Stone being ridiculously cute presenting for the first time.
  • Jason Isaacs talking about Harry Potter and the creation of the world in the intros for both Make Up and Visual Effects, he spoke with such passion it literally brought tears to my eyes.
  • Christopher Plummer and his delight acceptance speech for "Beginners"
  • "Thank you to my parents for never telling me to get a real job" - Bret McKenzie, during his acceptance speech for Best Original Song for Man or Muppet, from The Muppets (and the OMG moment of realizing he's Bret from Flight of the Conchords)
  • I loved father/daughter team acceptance speech for The Shore for Short Film (Live Action) Terry George and Oorlagh George, where the father says he doesn't have to wait for a wedding to tell the world how wonderful his daughter is.
  • Woody Allen was the only winner not in attendance (won Best Original Screenplay for Midnight in Paris).
  • I had a moment of panic when we were a healthy ways in but still no shorts awarded, but they finally did present live action, animated and documentary one after another after another, awarded by the cast of Bridesmaids.
  • "You understand something that you didn't understand before, about life" - Edward Norton
  • I really thought Demián Bichir from A Better Life was going to cry from Natalie Portman's introduction of him for Best Actor.
  • And wow again and complete GRRR moment for the end-reveal of The Artist (in at least 2 ways) with the Best Actor lead in speech. Sigh. Why do they do that?
  • "You are unreasonable good" Colin Firth describing Meryl Streep.
  • Standing Ovation for Meryl Streep.
  • Sad realization that The Tree of Life goes home with no awards.
  • And it ends with in an unusual yet even split of 5 awards for both Hugo & The Artist.
84th Academy Awards Winners
In the order in which they were presented


Cinematography

"Hugo" Robert Richardson

Art Direction
"Hugo" Production Design: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo

Costume Design
"The Artist" Mark Bridges

Makeup
"The Iron Lady" Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland

Foreign Language Film
"A Separation" Iran

Actress in a Supporting Role
Octavia Spencer in "The Help"

Film Editing
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall

Sound Editing
"Hugo" Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty

Sound Mixing
"Hugo" Tom Fleischman and John Midgley

Documentary (Feature)
"Undefeated" TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas

Animated Feature Film
"Rango" Gore Verbinski

Visual Effects
"Hugo" Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning

Actor in a Supporting Role
Christopher Plummer in "Beginners"

Music (Original Score)
"The Artist" Ludovic Bource

Music (Original Song)
"Man or Muppet" from "The Muppets" Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
"The Descendants" Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash

Writing (Original Screenplay)
"Midnight in Paris" Written by Woody Allen

Short Film (Live Action)
"The Shore" Terry George and Oorlagh George

Documentary (Short Subject)
"Saving Face" Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy

Short Film (Animated)
"The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore" William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg

Directing
"The Artist" Michel Hazanavicius

Actor in a Leading Role
Jean Dujardin in "The Artist"

Actress in a Leading Role
Meryl Streep in "The Iron Lady"

Best Picture
"The Artist" Thomas Langmann, Producer

The 84th Academy Awards were presented on Sunday February 26, 2012 .

Sunday, 26 February 2012

27th Annual Spirit Awards Winners

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I actually didn't watch the Spirit Awards this year but I was still very excited to hear the winners!

The 27th Annual Spirit Awards Winners are....

BEST FEATURE (Award given to the producer)
THE ARTIST - Producer: Thomas Langmann

BEST DIRECTOR
MICHEL HAZANAVICIUS - The Artist

BEST SCREENPLAY
ALEXANDER PAYNE, NAT FAXON & JIM RASH - The Descendants

BEST FIRST FEATURE (Award given to the director and producer)
MARGIN CALL - DIRECTOR: J.C. Chandor; PRODUCERS: Robert Ogden Barnum, Michael Benaroya, Neal Dodson, Joe Jenckes, Corey Moosa, Zachary Quinto

BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY
WILL REISER - 50/50

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD
Award given to the best feature made for under $500,000; award given to the writer, director, and producer
PARIAH - WRITER/DIRECTOR: Dee Rees; PRODUCER: Nekisa Cooper

BEST FEMALE LEAD
MICHELLE WILLIAMS - My Week with Marilyn

BEST MALE LEAD
JEAN DUJARDIN - The Artist

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
SHAILENE WOODLEY - The Descendants

BEST SUPPORTING MALE
CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER - Beginners

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
GUILLAUME SCHIFFMAN - The Artist

BEST DOCUMENTARY Award given to the dir ector and producer
THE INTERRUPTERS - DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: Steve James; PRODUCER: Alex Kotlowitz

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM Award given to the director
A SEPARATION (Iran) DIRECTOR: Asghar Farhadi

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD Award given to one film’s director, casting director, and its ensemble cast
MARGIN CALL
DIRECTOR: J.C. Chandor; CASTING DIRECTORS: Tiffany Little Canfield, Bernard Telsey
ENSEMBLE CAST: Penn Badgley, Simon Baker, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Mary McDonnell, Demi Moore, Zachary Quinto, Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci

PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD
SOPHIA LIN producer of TAKE SHELTER

SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
MARK JACKSON director of WITHOUT

TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD
HEATHER COURTNEY director of WHERE SOLDIERS COME FROM

JAMESON FIND YOUR AUDIENCE AWARD
Alysa Nahmias and Benjamin Murray

The Spirit Awards
ceremony took place on February 25, 2012.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Film Fan Fridays for Friday February 24, 2012

Hello Film Fans and Fanatics!

Welcome to Film Fan Fridays for Friday February 24, 2012! It is a busy week for film fans with not only having The Oscars this weekend (see my handy three different detailed Oscar lists: detailed list by category, a film list with detailed nominations by film, and a simple film list with # of nominations), but we also have 12 new films hitting theatres and five of those are Canadian or Canadian co-pros! Busy times, and great choices.

In limited release this week we have 7 films in releases including 4 Canadian releases starting with Doppelgänger Paul (Or A Film About How Much I Hate Myself) (see podcast review here) which is really funny, intelligent dark comedy that not only got me laughing but also had me thinking about interesting ideas about identity, artistic ownership, and of course doppelgängers. We also have Snow, a documentary style film following a woman who comes to Canada after a tsunami, Donovan's Echo starring Danny Glover and Bruce Greenwood and the 3D animated film The Prodigies 3D with a gaming feel but also teens-on-revenge theme which looks pretty interesting and I'm surprized it's only opening in 1 theatres. More limited releases this week include Rampart, a 1999 Los Angeles set film following a renegade veteran cop played by Woody Harrelson, biography documentary Shalem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness and The Flowers of War starring Christian Bale as a man who pretends to be a priest in 1937 Nanjing.

In wide release this week we have 5 releases including the Canadian co-pro Hockey film Goon which follows a player whose literally there to be a fight instigator and this one got tons of press yesterday about the controversy to take down these posters with Jay Baruchel for Goon here in Toronto. It got people talking about a Canadian film so... there is that :) Also out in wide relases we have Gone starring Amanda Seyfried as a non-often believed survivor who is up against all odds to save her own sister from the man she escaped from, Act of Valor which is going with a real-feel being based on real events, but still narrative film about SEALs, CIA and terrorists. Also out in wide releases is Tyler Perry's Good Deeds and Jennifer Aniston/Paul Rudd comedy Wanderlust.

Have a great Oscar weekend! I'll be live-tweeting & Facebook-ing throughout the show, so come & say Hi or follow along for winner (and pretty dress) updates.

Edit: 2 late adds that I missed the first time round: Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya & Jodi Breakers. I look carefully for the Bollywood films, but sometimes they miss the first pass. I'm happy I found them in the listings!

Shannon

Festival Watch

Reel Artists Film Festival
February 23 - 26, 2012 at TIFF Lightbox in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Toronto Human Rights Watch Film Festival
February 26 - March 9, 2012 at TIFF Lightbox in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Friday February 24, 2012 Releases

Act of Valor
Dir: Mike McCoy & Scott Waugh - feature film directorial debuts
Cast: Alex Veadov, Roselyn Sanchez, Nestor Serrano
USA
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

Donovan's Echo
Dir: Jim Cliffe - feature film directorial debut
Cast: Danny Glover, Bruce Greenwood, Natasha Calis, Sonja Bennett
Canada
Limited Release
Official Film Site & Trailer, IMDb Page

Doppelgänger Paul (Or A Film About How Much I Hate Myself)
Dir: Kris Elgstrand and Dylan Akio Smith (The Cabin Movie)
Cast: Brad Dryborough, Tygh Runyan, Ben Cotton, Matty Finochio

Canada
Limited Release
Official Film Site & Trailer, IMDb Page

The Flowers of War
Dir: Zhang Yimou (House of the Flying Daggers, Curse of the Golden Flower / Man cheng jin dai huang jin jia)
Cast: Christian Bale, Ni Ni, Zhang Xinyi
China/Hong Kong
Limited Release
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer


Gone
Dir: Heitor Dhalia (Adrift, Drained)
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Jennifer Carpenter, Daniel Sunjata, Wes Bentley
USA
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer


Tyler Perry's Good Deeds
Dir: Tyler Perry (I Can Do Bad All By Myself, My Did I Get Married?)
Cast: Tyler Perry, Thandie Newton, Brian White, Gabrielle Union, Eddie Cibrian
USA
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

Goon
Dir: Michael Dowse (Fubar, Fubar II)
Cast: Seann William Scott, Jay Baruchel, Alison Pill, Liev Schreiber, Marc-André Grondin, Eugene Levy
Canada/USA
Official Film Site, IMDb Page
, Trailer

The Prodigies 3D
Dir: Antoine Charreyron
Voices: Jeffrey Evan Thomas, Lauren Ashley Carter, Moon Dailly
UK/Canada/Belgium/India/Luxembourg/France
Limited Release
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

Rampart
Dir: Oren Moverman (The Messenger)
Cast: Woody Harrelson, Ben Foster, Sigourney Weaver
USA
Limited Release
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

Shalem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness
Writer/Dir: Joseph Dorman (Arguing the World)
Documentary
USA
Limited Release
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

Snow
Writer/Dir: Rohan Fernando (Trudeau's Other Children)
Cast: Sobaz Benjamin, Himaly Fernando, Mohan Fernando

Canada/China
Limited Release
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

Wanderlust
Dir: David Wain (Role Models)
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Paul Rudd, Malik Ackerman
USA
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

**please note this list of releases reflects first run film released in Toronto, Ontario, Canada as of February 24, 2012**

Movie Moxie Podcast 62: The Secret World of Arrietty,Doppelgänger Paul and Sequels x 2

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This week on the Movie Moxie Podcast Shannon shares spoiler free reviews of recent releases The Secret of Arrietty, Doppelgänger Paul (Or A Film About How Much I Hate Myself), Journey 2: Mysterious Island, Ghost Rider: The Spirit of Vengeance plus chats about the experiential nature of watching the trailers in the theatre. The reviews keep coming with triple awesome DVD reviews of Café de flore, Chalet Girl and London Boulevard plus chats live chatting plans of The Oscars on this weekend.


0:00 - 0:30 Intro
0:30 - 7:50 News
7:50 - 13:15 The Secret of Arrietty
13:15 - 19:25 Doppelgänger Paul (Or A Film About How Much I Hate Myself)
19:25 - 23:10 Trailer Talk: The Hobbit
23:10 - 27:25 Journey 2: Mysterious Island
27:25 - 35:55 Ghost Rider: The Spirit of Vengeance
35:55 - 41:10 DVD Review: Café de flore
41:10 - 42:55 DVD Review: Chalet Girl
42:55 - 48:10 DVD Review: London Boulevard
48:10 - 50:30 More DVD Releases for Feb 22, 2012
50:30 - 52:24 Outro


Movie Moxie Podcast - A 100% spoiler-free film review podcast
You can also subscribe to the Movie Moxie Podcast here:
Subscribe through iTunes here.

I'll be back next week to chat Oscar results and whatever new films come my way! It will be a mysterious week.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Book to Film Club Film: The Secret World of Arrietty

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Book to Film Club February Film Selection: The Secret World of Arrietty

Our first official* film of the 2012 Book to Film Club is the February film selection is The Secret World of Arrietty based on The Borrowers by Mary Norton, and it is many firsts for us. It's our first animated film, our first major title change from book to film and our first Japanese film (although in the UK, Australia & North America it's been voiced in English). The book it's based on is a children's fantasy novel about tiny people that live in the floorboards of the houses of humans and borrow little things like sugar and such but need to remain unseen by human eyes.

I was so excited to hear about this film as it was an early-in-the-year-releases adaptation which mean we would have something to read and set the year off right. I actually saw the trailer for it before I even anything else about it, and so from that I always had sense of what it was about. The book The Borrowers is the first in the series, however the film is an adaptation of just the first novel which was nice as we only read the first book. The film adaptation into The Secret World of Arrietty, an animated film from Japan from Studio Ghibli, directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi and was released on February 17, 2012.

The film has been known by other names including Kari-gurashi no Arietti in Japan, Arriety the Borrower in the UK and Arriety in Australia, and has had different voice casts in different areas. The voice cast for North American version includes Bridgit Mendler, David Henrie, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler and Carol Burnett. I really enjoyed the portrayal of the characters, the story, the gorgeous animations and also seeing a particularly adventurous young, female protagonist.

Here are some things to ponder when thinking, writing and/or journaling about the film:
  • Did you enjoy the film?
  • Was the film what you expected from reading the book?
  • How did you feel about the tone of the film?
  • Were the characters what you expected?
  • Did you enjoy the animation?
  • Which version did you see?
  • Were there characters, moments or ideas you liked better in the book? If so, what were they?
  • What was your favourite thing about the book?
  • Were there characters, moments or ideas you liked better in the film? If so, what were they?
  • What was your favourite thing about the film?
  • Was there anything you understood more after seeing the film?
  • Was there anything you felt was missing from the film?
  • Did the film capture the spirit of the book?
  • Who would you recommend the book to?
  • Who would you recommend the film too?
  • Are you happy you read the book before seeing the film?
  • Would you recommend people read the book before seeing the film?
  • What was the impact of reading the book before seeing the film?
The Movie Moxie Book to Film Club is going strong here in 2012, and we are currently reading The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien in anticipated for it's December (Part 1) 2012 release. You can join in the fun at any time. For title announcements, Book to Film Club news and monthly selections you can sign up for email updates here.

*we also had The Woman in Black earlier this month, although it was technically part of the 2011 Book to film Club

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

DVD Releases for February 21, 2012

Time to take a look at a selection of DVD releases for Tuesday February 21, 2012!

  • Café de Flore Canadian film from Jean-Marc Vallée (C.R.A.Z.Y., The Young Victoria) and the top nominee for this years Genie Awards with 13 nominations including best film, director, writing and 3 acting awards and it truly deserves it. One of the most beautiful, heartfelt and creative films I've seen in a long time and a film that truly understands the magic of human nature and love (not currently available on Amazon.com).
  • Chalet Girl Really cute romantic comedy following an ex-snowboarder girl who takes up the not-her-type-of-dream-job being a chalet girl. Great across the tracks/coming of age story starring Felicity Jones, Ed Westwick, Billy Nighy and Brooke Shields.
  • London Boulevard A very interesting crime drama following a recently released criminal that's not very interested in crime, based on the book of the same name by Ken Bruen; stars Colin Farrell, Keira Knightley, David Thewlis & Ray Winstone.
  • Durham County Season 3 I love the surreal feel to this Ontario set crime drama series, and if you are new to it you can dive right in with the Durham County Season 1-3 Set (not currently available on Amazon.com).
  • Martha Marcy May Marlene I'm really kicking myself that I didn't see this one theatrically last year, as it looks like such a fascinated strong female protagonist driven film and that would be solo as they appear to be all facets of 1 person. Can't wait to see it.
  • The Fades: Season One BBC brings supernatural horror series with a post apocalyptic flavour as it follows a young man who was an interesting connection with his dreams and the even being able to see the dead while waking. This one is totally up my alley.
  • Underbelly - Season 1 - War On The Streets I totally want to see this one; and Australian crime drama set in 1995 (Not currently available on Amazon.com)
  • More TV to enjoy with Nurse Jackie having it's Season 3 DVD releases and Weeds with Season 7; where does the time go?
  • Honey 2 I had no idea that there was a sequel to Honey, which is one of the few dance films I've not seen. This sequel stars Katerina Graham (Vampire Diaries) and is definitely on my radar
  • Retreat psychological thriller/virus film starring Cillian Murphy Thandie Newton and Jamie Bell adds to the every growing list of films I want to see!
  • Puss in Boots Really cute looking animated film with Antonio Banderas voicing the adventurous title characters who looks like he has a unique, and enthusiastic approach to adventure. I like!
  • The Way family drama about walking El camino de Santiago, starring Martin Sheen and Deborah Kara Unger; directed by Emilio Estevez.

Titles on Amazon.ca(Canada):


Titles on Amazon.com (US):

Friday, 17 February 2012

Film Fan Fridays for Friday February 17, 2012

Hello Film Fans and Fanatics!

Welcome to Film Fan Fridays for Friday February 17, 2012! It's another week of exciting release here in Toronto and I'm excited because it's also our 2nd week in a row of Book to Film Club releases as last week we had The Woman in Black (see podcast review here) and this week we have The Secret World of Arrietty / Kari-gurashi no Arietti based on The Borrowers by Mary Norton. But before we get to the super big films, let's have a look at our limited release titles.

This week in limited release this week we have a whole slew of interesting films including Puppet, which really caught my eye as it's a documentary on puppeteering that looks like it takes head on both the love and criticism of the craft. And seriously, I had no idea there was criticism of it, I mean.. really? Who doesn't like puppets? Puppets are awesome. Another film that was already on my radar and now excited to see in release is the Love (2012), a Taiwan/China co-pro that's a really sweet looking romantic comedy which I actually saw the trailer for earlier this year in the theatre when I went to The Viral Factor. I love how many international films we have the opportunity to see here in Toronto, and that continues even mre with this weeks releases of highly acclaimed and Oscar-nominated WWII biopic film In Darkness, South Korean romantic comedy Dancing Queen and Bollywood film Ekk Deewana Tha.

In wide release this week we have our first of the 2012 Book to Film Club releases with The Secret World of Arrietty / Kari-gurashi no Arietti based on the kids book The Borrowers and the film version is from Japan, although it's re-voiced here with North American actors which will be interesting to see, and hear! I'm really looking forward to it and I really enjoyed the book. We also have Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, which my first instinct is just to rag on it as I didn't like the first one (and I don't think I was alone in that), but when I honestly take in my own reaction to the trailer to this new one, I have to admit it looks like fun, although it also does look like a frighteningly close possibly pseudo sequel to Drive Angry. Last up for wide releases is This Means War which has some special screening releases for Valentine's Day, but 'officially' opens today.

Have a great weekend!

Shannon

Festival Watch

Reel Artists Film Festival
February 22 - 26, 2012 at TIFF Lightbox in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Friday February 17, 2012 Releases

Dancing Queen
Dir: Lee Suk-Hoon
Cast: Hwang Jung-min, Um Jung-Hwa, Jung Sung-Hwa, Ra Mi-Ran
South Korea
Limited Release
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

Ekk Deewana Tha
Dir: Gautham Menon
Cast: Prateik Babbar, Amy Jackson, Sachin Khedekar
India
Limited Release
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
Dir: Brian Taylor & Mark Neveldine (Gamer, Crank)
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Violante Placido, Ciaran Hinds, Idris Elba, Fergus Riordan, Anthony Stewart Head
USA/United Arab Emirates
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

In Darkness
Dir: Agnieszka Holland (Julie Walking Home, The Secret Garden (1993))
Cast: Robert Wieckiewicz, Benno Fürmann, Agnieszka Grochowska
Poland/Germany/France/Canada
Limited Release
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

Love (2012)
Dir: Doze Niu (What on Earth Have I Done Wrong?!)
Cast: Wei Zhao, Mark Chao, Eddie Peng, Amber Kuo
Taiwan/China
Limited Release
Official Facebook Page, IMDb Page, Trailer

Puppet
Dir: David Soll
Documentary - feature film directorial debut
Canada/US
Limited Release
Official Film Site & Trailer, IMDb Page

The Secret World of Arrietty / Kari-gurashi no Arietti
Dir: Hiromasa Yonebayashi - feature film directorial debut
Cast: Bridgit Mendler, Amy Poehler, Carol Burnett, Will Arnett, David Henrie, Moises Arias
Japan
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

This Means War
Dir: McG (Terminator Salvation, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Charlie's Angels)
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, Til Schweiger
USA
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

**please note this list of releases reflects first run film released in Toronto, Ontario, Canada as of February 17, 2012**

Movie Moxie Podcast 61: The Woman in Black & Coriolanus

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On this weeks episode of the Movie Moxie Podcast it's time to get literary with chatting Book to Film Club selection of The Woman in Black as well as the Shakespearean adaptation of Coriolanus. I also catch up with 2 weeks of DVD releases including reviewing the African-set UK zombie film The Dead. Thank you for being patient with my week 'off' last week, thankfully things are less rocky and more happy this week! Yay!

0:00 - 3:50 Intro
3:50 - 12:20 The Woman in Black
12:20 - 24:20 Coriolanus
24:20 - 34:00 2 Weeks of DVD Release including review of The Dead
34:00 - 36:20 Upcoming Next Week
36:20 - 37:37 Outro
I'll be back next week to chat The Secret World of Arrietty and possible one or more of Chronicle, Journey 2 and/or Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.

Movie Moxie Podcast - A 100% spoiler-free film review podcast
You can also subscribe to the Movie Moxie Podcast here:
Subscribe through iTunes here.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The Dead (2011) DVD Review

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Image: Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment

Dirs: The Ford Brothers (Distant Shadow, Mainline Rush)
Cast: Rob Freeman, Prince David Oseia, David Dontoh
UK, 2011

Reason to see: Zombie film!

I love that there are so many zombie films that we can have ones of all different tones, shapes, sizes and settings. The Dead certainly takes a new bite into the genre taking a survivalist tone and unique setting against the beautiful landscape of Africa. It's amazing how it pairs the overwhelmingly vast location with the encroaching zombie presence; providing the audiences with the conflicting, powerful dynamic of nowhere to go and no way to get there. And direction and movement is key in The Dead as it also plays as a journey film, and at times a road movie where you never know who is going to come to cross paths. Except the zombies. There always seems to be more zombies. Working against the zombies we have Brian Murphy (Rob Freeman), a resourceful survivor whom persistently is encountering zombies which begs the question on whether or not he was lucky or unlucky to make it so far. We also have Sargent Daniel Dembele (Prince David Oseia); a father in search of his son among the anarchy with the undead who have arisen. I actually really enjoyed the characters of Murphy and Daniel, the challenges they faced, and again how the audience only gets pieces of their stories which allows for a welcome amount of mystery piquing curiosity of what drives them and what they are capable of, or likely to do, given the extreme circumstance then are put under.

That allowance to fill in the back stories is an interesting and re-occuring choice in The Dead, as it's pretty much a given that the audience will fill in the zombie blanks without relying on the film getting all explain-y. We know what zombies are, so they can instead use that time to create more atmosphere, zombie action and gorgeous visuals. And we get lots of all of those, the effects and gore pores off the screen. It's actually quite unnerving to have the spectacularly gorgeous visuals and setting against the horror of the zombies and gun fire & violence to survive against them. I completely wasn't expect that, and it does feel like a bit of social commentary which for fans of the genre know that social commentary does often go hand in hand with zombie. There was a very strong core to The Dead, and it really played the survivalist card with a strong sense of humanity even with all of the challenges faced. The pacing may be a bit slow for some more action-centric zombie fans, but the effects should keep any horror fan happy and they are gooey and bloody to boot. Personally, I absolutely fell in love with both the setting and the score, and could watch any scene that had the beautiful sky in the background over and over again. The DVD also features a really great audio commentary by The Ford Brothers who share many of the challenges they faced while filming, which really drives home just how hard it can be to make a film and the incredible things people can endure to get their work on screen to entertain us. It's a great extra to check out for a great new take on the genre. Overall, The Dead is a very interesting, and horrifically beautiful, addition to the zombie genre.

DVD Extras:
  • Audio Commentary with writer/producer/director Howard J Ford and writer/director of photography/co-director Jon Ford on the harshness of the locations, the challenges in making the film from financial to health to safety (of which there are many, and many of them were rather serious), different filming locations from The Sahara Desert to England, their cameos in the film, the importance and choice of the adventure tone to the film, casting the main characters and the oodles of zombie extras, shout outs to cast & crew, the juxtaposition of the horror against a beautiful landscape, intentional choices against what have become tropes of the genre, reactions from crowds at screenings, zombie films they love and the early 70's feel of the movie.
  • Behind-the-Scenes (5 minutes) includes juxtaposition of several filming set ups & shoots vs final result; the cast & zombies chilling out, some direction & make up application, one of the locations that had a major challenges in the film, all set to the beautiful score of the film.
  • Deleted Scene (1 scene, 2 minutes) interesting scene that eludes to the 'why this happened'; although the directors chat about the choice to include or not include the history of this in the film.
The Dead (2011) is available on DVD as of February 14, 2012. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it, but wanted to love it
I'll watch it again
I'd recommend it fans of zombie/survivalist films

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© Shannon Ridler, 2012

Sinners and Saints (DVD Review)

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Image Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment

Dir: William Kaufman (The Prodigy, The Hit List)
Cast: Johnny Strong, Kevin Phillips, Costas Mandylor, Louis Mandylor, Sean Patrick Flanery, Clifford "Method Man" Smith, Kit Coates, Bas Rutten, Tom Berenger, Jürgen Prochnow, Bas Rutten, Jolene Blalock
USA, 2012 (DVD Release)

Reason to see: Heard great things about it & I'm always up for a good action film.

Sinners and Saints takes on the tried and true action themes of cops, criminals the mystery of what keeps them apart and brings them together, along with challenge of or camaraderie between partners as well as drive, vengeance and a dash of sorrow. Although those are all things that are fun to watch, what really reeled me in what where it choose to stand apart and in that sense I thought it was a really gutsy action films on several levels. Sinners and Saints pushed the boundaries of intensity and ideas when it came to the brutality, which may not be my favourite thing personally, but it was a choice that work for the film. I loved how it went with a more realistic with work relationships with the cops, instead of over-the-top antagonism, conflict and shouting matches between character but rather when for respect, active listening and letting people do their work. I didn't realized how often I had come to expect to see disagreements, fighting, handing in the badge, etc. in cop films which made this a refreshing change of pace. There was way more enough conflict to go around to give us a bit of a breather and not have it at the cop shop.

In terms of the action, Sinners and Saints is volatile, explosive and doesn't hold back. You could feel the heat and intensity of the New Orleans setting that serves as an urban war zone of destruction. If you are a fan of gun fights heavy action films, this is definitely one for you as there are lots of bullets flying around and is pretty bloody to boot. We also get some nice car action and fighting scenes too, which I quite enjoyed and many involve the extensive supporting cast full of many familiar faces to enjoy. It leans very heavy on the brutal side of things, especially where torture is involved, so keep that in mind if it's not what you normally go for. But, what drew me in and kept me in was the fantastic and understated performance of Johnny Strong as Sean, I seriously want to see more of him. He completely held the film together and provided not only a believable physical performance but also gave us a character with a strong emotional resonance of someone who has gone through a very trying time. I'm mystified that we haven't seen more of him, but I hope we get to see much more of him in the future.

Warning: Torture

DVD Extras:
  • Sinners and Saints Behind-the-Scenes (3 minutes) behind the scenes, prop training, rehearsal of gun work & fight choreography of action sequences and film clips. Heavy focus on the action here with lots of footage of the guns fights, chase sequences and car stunt scenes.
  • Deleted Scenes (7 scenes, 7 minutes) scenes establishing Ganz family life and Sean connecting to their family, increasing tension scenes between both the cops and criminals, and a few scenes that are bookends between action-centric scenes.
Sinners and Saints is available on DVD as of January 10, 2012. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com

Shannon's Overall View:
I really enjoyed it
I'll watch it again
I strongly recommend it fans of harsh action films

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© Shannon Ridler, 2012

First Squad: The Moment of Truth (DVD Review)

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Image Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment

Dir: Yoshiharu Ashino - film directorial debut
Voices: Various as there are 3 audio versions available
Russia/Japan/Canada, 2009

Reason to see: It has me at 'supernatural warriors'

Wow, First Squad: The Moment of Truth was very different than I expected starting from before I even got to watch it! There are not one, not two, but three different language options from English Audio, Japanese audio with English subtitles or Russian Audio with English subtitles. What a plethora of choices! I pondered which to pick for quite a while but ending going with Russian with English subtitles as it is following the Russian Army.

Normally I stay far, far away from war films because I find them too upsetting. That being said, I thought I could stretch my comfort zone with First Squad: The Moment of Truth as it goes a very different route for a war film being Manga style animated and follows a 14 year old psychic girl to take on the German occult forces. Yep, supernatural battle of Germans vs Russians travelling though different realms/consciousnesses to duke it out through the power of supernatural spirited and gifted people was definitely up my alley. Not only is the film a total awesome genre-twister, it's completely gorgeous visually which is a great combination because it engages you on multiple levels. I actually love that combination, the pure enjoyment of the visual spectacle as well as engaging with the brilliant ideas and the beautiful place where the two meet. I also found it quite amazing how they worked in a subtle, sweet romantic thread of the story amisdt the war torn setting, battles and bizarre between time and space and consiousness. But maybe that's exactly the kind of time where you need to have some romance to get you through!

I loved the concept, I loved the characters and I adored the visuals; the only thing I if left out was ... more. It was very short and did have an introductory to the idea & world feel to it. But if that was the hook, it totally hooked me. And I hope First Squad: The Moment of Truth was only the first hook as I would love to see more.

DVD Extras:
No Extras

First Squad: The Moment of Truth is available on DVD as of January 17, 2012. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it, but I wanted more First Squad!
I'll watch it again
I'd recommend it animated film fans, supernatural film fans & fantasy film fans

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© Shannon Ridler, 2012

The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom (DVD Review)

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Writer/Dir: Tara Johns - feature film directorial debut
Cast: Macha Grenon, Julia Stone, Gil Bellows, Rebecca Croll, Trevor Hayes and the voice of Dolly Parton
Canada, 2011

Reason to see: Canadian & coming of age film is a yes/yes for me!

I’ve been aching to see The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom ever since it released here in Toronto almost a year ago, as I’ve realized I love the genre and we’ve had a really great run of young coming of age films recent that truly speak to and of the experience of young girls and women. It’s so refreshing to see moments of young girls depicted with an true, emotional resonance. The awkward stages of life, the changing wave of friendships during puberty, the realness of life and how the whole world of emotions that surface with fierce intensity at a time that can often be shown as just fun and games. Those of us that go through it know better, and it’s shown bravely in The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom.

I adored this film. It’s a Canadian film set in the early 1970’s about a girl who thinks Dolly Parton could be her mom. It really has the very young coming of age vibe perfectly, and I love when films get that right (see also Grown Up Movie Star). There is always a kitsch appeal for films set in the 60s and 70s and even now in the 80s and it’s lovely to see them get the time period so well in an earnest in true sense over flamboyant flavour appeal. The film actually makes interesting commentary on style and changing of the times in a way I’ve not seen before, which was very impressive.

The emotional journey of young protagonist Elizabeth (Julia Stone) is where the film really hits home, her struggle, her searching and her creating her possible past to make sense of her present self is a beautiful and often heart breaking story to see. She’s a great character, both unique and accessible, whom we live with and thrugh during the film. I loved many of the characters in the film, including her Phil (Gil Bellows in another fantastic performance) and Marion (Macha Grenon completely wowed me), and I especially loved the Stella (Rebecca Croll), the free-thinking, feminist hairdresser/friends mom who lives across the street. Who couldn’t love Stella? We all need a Stella in our lives, she was fantastic.

The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom was a complete treat. I’ve really come to cherish seeing young female protagonist stories, especially when they are journey film like this with have strong acting and interesting characters. It felt so real. Beautiful & daring, I highly recommend it.

DVD Extras:
Trailer

The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom is available on DVD as of January 24, 2012. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com

Shannon's Overall View:
I loved it
I'll watch it again
I highly recommend it

Return to Film Reviews or see more DVD Reviews

Also see my review of The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom on Episode 59 of the Movie Moxie Podcast:
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© Shannon Ridler, 2012

2-Headed Shark Attack (DVD Review)

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Dir: Christopher Ray (Almighty Thor, Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus)
Cast: Charlie O'Connell, Brooke Hogan, Gerald Webb, Ashley Bissing, Carmen Electra
USA, 2012 (DVD Release)

Reason to see: Shark Movie! B-Movie! I'm in!

Oh my goodness, 2-Headed Shark Attack was a lot of fun. I have a weird love of shark films that I don’t actually understand, but hey … we don’t need to understand the why of the things we enjoy. The not needing to understand is a good primer to work with and gauge you likely enjoyment of 2-Headed Shark Attack, because it quite literally is about a 2 Headed Shark attacking nouns of all kinds (people, places & things), as often as it can. As you can imagine from the idea it is quite ridiculous, but it’s ridiculous in a good way, running with the crazy concept and setting up for lots of 2-for-1 chomping action.

2-Headed Shark Attack follows a lot of the ear marks of great B Movies and it gets away with more gore and nudity being a DVD over a TV film. The acting isn’t great, but for a B Movie it doesn’t have to but, although the scenarios and effects definitely are good B Movie standby quality. The logic, location and scenarios are just as ridiculous as you want them to be for a fun B movie and at times it went even more crazy that I could have imagined. I loved that they really went with the spirit of the crazy premise as almost self-explanatory and didn’t try to pull the ‘let’s tell the science of it’ card. In terms of tone though, I wish that it would have gone either a little bit more campy or serious to continue to give it that over the top or ironic/self-awareness feel. There is definitely self awareness with some of the actors though, as I would even go as far to say at times there was more prancing than acting. However, given the water locale and sunbeam theme, this is often expected and it could easily be that is a strong draw for the audience. I do have to give them credit that we did get some gender balance as we had at least had 1 super-buff guy and 1 very strong willed woman that did balance things out a bit more than many beach films. In fact, I was quite taken with Kate (Brooke Hogan), who was very action-oriented, stepped up and took charge really diving into the thick of things. Oh man, that wasn't even meant to be a pun. Overall, I did enjoy watching 2-Headed Shark Attack and I definitely recommend it for any B movie fan.

2-Headed Shark Attack is available on DVD as of January 31, 2012. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'll watch it again
I'd definitely recommend it to B-movie fans & shark film fans

Return to Film Reviews or see more DVD Reviews

Also check out my review of 2-Headed Shark Attack on Episode 60 of the Movie Moxie Podcast.
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AND! my guest co-hosting on The Saturday B-Movie Reel to chat about 2-Headed Shark Attack on an edition of 'Could B Syfy' with host Kevin Bachelder and fellow co-host & shark film enthusiast Jeff Long from The B-Movie Shelf:


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