Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Something TIFF This Way Comes


The 2012 edition of TIFF is a little over a week away. I should have my festival schedule finalized by early next week. In the meantime, here are a few films playing at TIFF that have caught my eye.

Passion


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Blind Spot: Ran


Inspired by Shakespeare’s play King Lear, Akira Kurosawa’s Ran is an epic tragedy in every sense of the word. The film documents the slow destruction of the mighty Ichimonji clan. The head of the clan, commonly referred to as the Great Lord, is Hidetora (Tatsuya Nakadai), a man who brought his clan to prominence after 50 years of war. Now an old man, Hidetora considers it time to step aside and divide his land between his three sons Taro (Akira Terao), Jiro (Jinpachi Nezu), Saburo (Daisuke Ryû). Hidetora gives his throne to the eldest son, Taro, and castles to both Jiro and Saburo. Besides informing his sons that he plans to spend time at each of the sons homes, Hidetora instructs Jiro and Saburo to support Taro.

Taro and Jiro immediately flatter their father by praising the way he has ruled the land and acknowledging that no one can ever take his place. Saburo, on the other hand, thinks his father is making a huge mistake by dividing the land the way he did. Rebuking the idea of the brothers being able to work in unison, Saburo points out that Hidetora’s children were “weaned on strife and chaos.” Infuriated, and blinded by pride, Hidetora banishes Saburo and disavows any acknowledgement of having a third son. However, Hidetora is about to find out that there may actually be truth in Saburo’s words.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Blind Spot: Jules and Jim


In her final line of the film Jules and Jim, Jeanne Moreau’s Catherine tells dutiful Jules to “watch us well”. What follows next is deeply saddening, but far from unexpected for the audience. Despite the humorous start, François Truffaut's film had been slowly building to this inevitable gloomy point, yet it still hits the viewer in the gut. Like Jules, all we can do is watch the final piece of their once seemingly perfect world collapse. As is the case with all love triangles, there comes a moment when the harsh reality that it was doomed from the start sinks in.

The thing that makes Jules and Jim such a unique film is that it is not merely a tale of a love triangle on the brink of implosion, but a story about the depths of lifelong friendship. Adapted from the novel by Henri-Pierre Roche, the film documents the 25 year friendship of Jules and Jim. Jules (Oskar Werner) is an Austrian who cannot seem to find the right girl. His dates always seem to be flawed in some way or another. Jim (Henri Serre), who is French, on the other hand has no problems with women. Although they come from different backgrounds the two become fast friends after they meet in Paris in 1912.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Scene Stealer: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off


I love Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  I remember watching it as an adolescent and thinking that Ferris was really cool because he had a knack for getting away with everything.  The way he elaborately faked being sick to skip his ninth day of school had me wondering if I could pull off such a ruse myself.  To fool his parents into believing he is sick in bed, he puts a mannequin under the covers, outfits it with wire triggers so that it rolls over each time his bedroom door opens and has a tape recording of someone snoring playing for added effect. Ferris’ decoy works like a charm and he convinces his best buddy Cameron and his girlfriend Sloane to skip school with him.

Trying to lift the spirits of his friend, Cameron, Ferris plans a fun-filled and eventful day out in Chicago. They visit the Sears Tower, the Board of Trade, the Art Institute, con their way into lunch at a swanky restaurant and catch a game at Wrigley Field.  Even after all of that, Cameron declares that he doesn’t think he’s seen anything good all day.  Ferris is determined to show him something good. He leaps onto a float during Chicago’s Von Steuben Day parade, grabs a microphone and belts out The Beatles song
“Twist and Shout.”  The marching band backs him up, all of the parade participants and spectators dance and sing along with him and a pack of dancers emerge and launch into Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” choreography to the beat of the song.  At one point, the action cuts away from the parade to show Ferris’ father grooving to the music from his office which overlooks the parade route below.  It’s a wonderfully fun and memorable party scene in a classic 80s film with a truly one-of-a-kind title character who’s mantra is “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sharing the Blogging Love


Wondering what film lovers have been chatting about this week?

Here is Your Reading and Listening Schedule for Today:

9 am: Episode 117 of TUMP revisits the 90s comedy The Ref.

10 am: Episode 382 of the Film Junk podcast reviews The Expendables 2.

11 am Paul took in Le Havre.

12 pm: Tippi takes a look at how Greek Mythology is interpreted in film.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Raid Finds Redemption One Broken Bone at a Time


The Raid: Redemption has been called everything from a ground breaking piece of martial arts cinema to an exercise in gratuitous violence. Depending on your level of tolerance for onscreen violence, the film is both of these things. It is an exhibition of action in its most primal form. What elevates The Raid: Redemption over most of its action driven peers though is how masterfully it is all orchestrated.

The film opens with father to be, and rookie police officer, Rama (Iko Uwais) doing his daily exercise and prayer rituals. After kissing his pregnant wife goodbye, Rama heads offs to work. Unbeknownst to Rama, he is about to endure the most brutal day of his life. Rama is part of a SWAT team led by Sergeant Jaka (Joe Taslim) that has been instructed to infiltrate an apartment building where local drug lord Tama Rivadi (Ray Sahetapy) resides. Jaka’s team knows that the raid will be difficult as average civilians reside in the building along with Tama’s henchmen. However, even the SWAT team seems to underestimate just how dangerous Tama and his men really are.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Great Debate – Wayne’s World vs. Back to the Future


Welcome to the Great Debate, a new feature that asks you to argue for or against one of two opposing film-related elements.  You will make your case for why you think one element is better than the other.  Let the debate begin!

Best use of a song in a film

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Good, The Bland, and The Ugly: Tony Scott


The premise of this is simple: if someone, who knows little about the director/actor/etc. in question, asked you to select one film for each of the following three categories below what films would they be?:

1) The Good – A film they should seek out right away
2) The Bland – Not among the best, but still a film they should see.
3) The Ugly – If pressed for time, this is the one film that they should skip in order to squeeze in more hours for the top works.

Keeping this in mind, my three would be as follows:

Monday, August 20, 2012

Fondly Remembering Forrest Gump

It’s the film that spawned the oft-quoted lines “Life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you’re going to get” and “Stupid is as stupid does.”  At the time of the film’s release, I rued the fact that my name was Jenny because my co-workers would incessantly say “Me and Jenny is like peas and carrots.” Some of the lines in the film, silly though they may seem, might have suggested an equally silly film, but Robert Zemekis’ film is far from silly.  It’s touching, poignant, funny, heart-warming, sad and brilliant.  It’s a smart and thoughtful piece of storytelling with a truly remarkable lead character portrayed inspiringly by Tom Hanks.  

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Liebster Blog Award


 The Liebster Blog Award is making its rounds and our blog recently received three nominations to participate in it.  Since this blog-a-thon has had a healthy rotation, we’re going to take a slightly different approach.  First, we’d like to thank Anna at Defiant Success, Dave at KL5-Film and Andy at The Film Emporium for their nominations.  Anna, kudos to you for answering all 55 questions asked of you!  We’re going to focus on rules 1 and 2 only and mix and match the questions posed by Anna, Dave and Andy, and leave it at that since so many blogs have already received Liebster Award nominations. Here are the rules we followed:

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Essential Performances of the 90s: Russell Crowe vs. Emily Watson

Encore’s World of Film & TV is hosting an Essential Performances of the ‘90s Showdown, a tournament to decide the greatest performance of the '90s. Andrew, the mastermind behind this project, has 32 matchups pitting the best performances of that decade against one another. In order to give the voting public a little perspective on each performance, he has asked film bloggers to provide brief reasons in favour of each performance in a given matchup. Today I will look at the supporting roles by Russell Crowe in The Insider and Emily Watson in Breaking the Waves.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Essential Performances of the ‘90s: Robert Forster vs. Anna Paquin

Encore’s World of Film & TV is hosting an Essential Performances of the ‘90s Showdown, a tournament to decide the greatest performance of the '90s. Andrew, the mastermind behind this project, has 32 matchups pitting the best performances of that decade against one another. In order to give the voting public a little perspective on each performance, he has asked film bloggers to provide brief reasons in favour of each performance in a given matchup. Today I will look at the supporting roles by Robert Forster in Jackie Brown and Anna Paquin in The Piano.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Good, The Bland, and The Ugly: The Coen Brothers


The premise of this is simple: if someone, who knows little about the director/actor/etc. in question, asked you to select one film for each of the following three categories below what films would they be?:

1) The Good – A film they should seek out right away
2) The Bland – Not among the best, but still a film they should see.
3) The Ugly – If pressed for time, this is the one film that they should skip in order to squeeze in more hours for the top works.

Keeping this in mind, my three would be as follows:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bernie


Is Bernie Tiede a wolf in sheep’s clothing or is he merely a well-meaning individual who simply made one really bad decision? Depending on which residents of the small town in Carthage, Texas you ask, the answer will be vastly different. However, the one thing most people will agree on is the fact that Bernie Tiede was well loved by his community. Director Richard Linklater explores this seemingly unconditional love for Tiede in his latest film Bernie.

Based on an article by Skip Hollandsworth in Texas Monthly magazine entitle “Midnight in the Garden of East Texas,” Bernie chronicles the strange relationship between Bernie Tiede (Jack Black), an assistant funeral director, and Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine), a widower who took over the local bank that her deceased husband once owned. At first their friendship is nothing more than Tiede being a shoulder for Nugent to lean on after the death of her husband. As the pair get closer, Nugent is soon whisking Tiede on lavish trips all over the world. Considering that Bernie Tiede is known for being kind to widows in the community, most do not think twice about Tiede and Nugent’s lavish lifestyle. However, Nugent’s stockbroker, Lloyld Hombuckle (Richard Robichaux), and a local district attorney, Danny Buck Davidson (Matthew McConaughey), soon begin to question Bernie Tiede’s motives when the relationship between Tiede and Nugent takes an unexpected turn.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Talented Mr. Jenkins

I’ve been moved by the performances of Richard Jenkins.  There’s something so honest and real about the man.  His acting is so natural and effortless that you don’t see the acting.  He’s the Everyman able to portray any character with complete believability.  With over 70 films to his credit, Jenkins has portrayed everything from a gay FBI agent, to a dead mortician to a sexist father to a judge. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Sharing the Blogging Love


Wondering what bloggers have been chatting about this week?

Here is Your Reading and Listening Schedule for Today:

9 am: Can't Stop the Podcast explores Emma Thompson's work in Wit.

10 am: The Midnight Movie Club podcast discusses The Fifth Element.

11 am Gregory makes a case for both Raging Bull II and Michael Bay.

12 pm: Max is fortunate enough to be taking in the Rhode Island International Film Festival, here is Day 1 of his coverage.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Perpetual Chase of the Latest and Greatest Films

Vertigo tops them all

Last week Sight & Sound magazine unveiled their list of the Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time. The list, which is revised once each decade, was compiled from the ballots of eight hundred and forty six critics, programmers, academics and distributors. As to be expected with any list of this nature, there has been much debate amongst film lovers about the rankings of the films and the ones omitted all together. Some have hailed the list as the definitive list of important cinema works and others have chastised the list for its lack of more modern (i.e. post 1968) works. The fascinating thing about all of this is that when Sight & Sound polled directors, such as Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen and Quentin Tarantino, for the Directors Top Ten films, the consensus was different from Sight & Sound’s Top 50. Things get even more interesting when looking at each director’s individual top ten selections. While everyone seems to be debating which list is the most accurate, the only thing that came to mind for me when reviewing them was “geez, I now have even more films to add to my already extensive list of films to see.”

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The 80s Movie Library: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

One of the earliest movie memories I have is of watching E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.  It’s also the first movie I ever owned.  It reminds me so much of my childhood and I credit it with sparking in me a love for movies that has never waned.  The movie is simply one of a kind.  It’s filled with hope, innocence, humour and excitement.  As Roger Ebert aptly wrote, it is “a movie that you can grow up with and grow old with, and it won't let you down.”  He’s right.  I grew up watching the film over and over again, and whenever I watch it now as an adult, it resurrects those same childhood feelings it evoked when I first saw it because it stands the test of time. 


Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Monday, August 06, 2012

The on-screen pairings of Brad Pitt

A lot was made of Brad Pitt’s relationship with Angelina Jolie when they met and fell in love on the set of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the action film about two married assassins out to kill one another until they join forces to save each other’s lives.  I really liked the film and I think the on-screen pairing of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie was a big part of the appeal.  They had incredible chemistry and they smoldered on-screen.  Chemistry is important between actors in movies.  Otherwise you’re left feeling like the pieces just don’t fit together and that what you’ve just invested time in watching has been too obvious a charade.  Pitt has shared great chemistry with several other co-stars over the course of his career, some with whom he was romantically involved and others with whom he simply worked well alongside, and their chemistry made the films even better.  Here’s a look at a few of Pitt’s most memorable pairings:

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Scene Stealer: My Cousin Vinny

I think My Cousin Vinny is an underrated comedy.  The film about a fish out of water lawyer from Brooklyn trying his first big case in Alabama has many individual funny moments and some great acting performances.  Vincent Gambini (Joe Pesci) winds up in so many awkward moments thanks to his brash personality and his lack of legal experience.  He thinks that wearing a tight-knit black cotton shirt under a leather jacket with black slacks is appropriate courtroom attire.  He doesn’t know how to stand when the judge enters the courtroom and he knows nothing about trial procedure or strategy because he’s never tried a case before.


Saturday, August 04, 2012

Sharing the Blogging Love


Wondering what bloggers have been chatting about this week?

Here is Your Reading and Listening Schedule for Today:

9 am: Episode 28 of The Long and Late Movie Show dissects the film Margaret.

10 am: Episode 85 of the Reel Insight podcast looks at the career of Audrey Hepburn.

11 am Alex debuted his short film Earrings last weekend. I finally caught up with the film this week and highly recommend you give it a look.

12 pm: Andrew gives The Dark Knight Rises a perfect 10.

Friday, August 03, 2012

The Great Debate: The Sixth Sense vs. The Others


Welcome to The Great Debate, a feature that asks you to argue for or against one of two opposing film-related elements.  You will make your case for why you think one element is better than the other.  Please note that this week’s debate contains spoilers, so if you have not seen either film you may want to do so first.  Let the debate begin!

Best twist ending 

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

TIFF Announces Lineup for Midnight Madness, Vanguard, TIFF Kids and More.

John Dies at the End

What do Judge Dredd, a remake of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Pusher, Michel Gondry, Rob Zombie, and Finding Nemo 3D have in common? They will all be a part of TIFF this September. Yesterday the festival announced the films that will make up the Midnight Madness, Vanguard, TIFF Kids, TIFF Docs and City to City programmes. While the full list of films announced can be found on the TIFF website, here are a few of the titles from each program that caught my eye:


Midnight Madness

Aftershock Nicolás López, USA/Chile. World Premiere
In Chile, an American tourist’s vacation goes from good to great when he meets some beautiful women travellers. But when an earthquake ravages the underground nightclub they’re in, a fun night quickly turns to terror. Escaping to the surface is just the beginning as they face nightmarish chaos above ground. Starring Eli Roth and Selena Gomez.

Come Out and Play Makinov, Mexico. World Premiere
Beth and Francis vacation before the birth of their child. Francis insists on venturing to a more serene island, Beth hesitantly agrees. They set out to a beautiful island, but soon discover it’s mysteriously abandoned, and the only people on the island are children. Beth and Francis are left to uncover the mystery of the disappearances, and a day in paradise quickly turns into a struggle for survival. Cast includes Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Vinessa Shaw and Daniel Gimenez Cacho.