Friday, March 29, 2013

HRWFF Review: Camp 14: Total Control Zone

There are currently over 200,000 people in labour camps in North Korea. Citizens can end up in a labour camp for any number of reasons including: violent acts, misdemeanor offences for openly opposing the government. Some unfortunate prisoners have ended up in a camp for mistakenly rolling a cigarette with a newspaper that happened to contain the image of the President. No one is released from Camp 14, the only way out is death or escape. The main character in Camp 14: Total Control Zone did not end up in a camp through any of the previously mentioned ways, he was born there.

In his opening conversation, Shin Dong-Huyk discusses the nightmares he has every night due to his ordeal at Camp 14. He is exhausted all of the time and aims to rest without his thoughts returning to camp. In the past he refused to do an interview about his time at the camp, but many years later has finally decided to do so. He describes his first memory of the camp, at four years-old, going to see a public execution of another prisoner. It was mandatory for prisoners to attend executions unless they were working in the mines. The executions were always proceeded by a declaration that the selected prisoner either did not work hard, or follow orders, and that is why they must be killed.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Adventures in Podcasting: As You Watch #28

On the latest episode of the As You Watch podcast, I chatted with hosts Joe and Vern about the 2006 Academy Award winner Little Miss Sunshine. The film inspired us to share our three favorite dramatic performances from comedians. Lastly, I displayed my complete lack of knowledge when it comes to "film quotes" in the shows trivia game. You can give the episode a listen below:

The Choice

William Fichtner
10 Examples:

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Blind Spot: Les Diaboliques

It is rare to find a film that can keep audiences guessing up to the very last frame. This is especially true when the film features a twist that requires the audience to suspend their level of disbelief even more than normal. Yet somehow Henri-Georges Clouzot’s 1955 classic, Les Diaboliques, manages to pull it off masterfully. In fact, Clouzot is so confident in the film’s ability to pull the rug out from under the audience that he even advises viewers not to reveal the secret to those who have not yet seen the film.

Despite being nearly sixty years-old, one still feels the need to uphold Les Diaboliques’ no spoiler advice. The pleasure of the film is not only in trying to figure out the mystery, but also watching the main characters try to decipher the mystery as well. Clouzot’s film revolves around the turbulent relationship between Christina Delassalle (Véra Clouzot) and her husband Michel (Paul Merurisse). The couple run an all boys boarding school that Christina inherited from her affluent family. Although it is Christina that keeps the couple afloat financially, it is Michel who holds all the power. As the headmaster at the school, Michel rules with an iron fist. He exudes an arrogance that instills fear in both his students and his staff.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Comix Asylum

Earlier this year I mentioned that I had written a few articles for a magazine that would be launching this year. I was recently advised that the magazine, Comix Asylum, officially hits iTunes today. Comix Asylum is an interactive magazine for the iPad that focuses on comics, movies, television and all thing pulp culture. I wrote a piece for the inaugural issue that focuses on Marvel’s cinematic history. The irony is that I do not even own an iPad...I guess I will need to change that soon. Aside from my article, there is also a great piece on the upcoming Man of Steel film written by Matt Brown of Mamo! podcast fame. So please make a point to give the magazine a look, it is available in both the U.S. and Canadian iTunes store. Lastly, be sure to “Like” Comix Asylum on Facebook, as I hear there will be various contests in the near future.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Hot Docs Announces 2013 Line Up


Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival announced its full film line-up for the upcoming 20th edition, April 25 - May 5, at a press conference this morning at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema in Toronto. From 2,386 film submissions, this year’s slate will present 205 titles from 43 countries in 11 screening programs.

"This year’s festival is about looking back and celebrating our 20th anniversary, and also looking forward,” says Hot Docs director of programming Charlotte Cook. “This year we are celebrating, big ideas, innovation and the future. We will have many new and exciting experiences at the festival to give back to the local, and filmmaking, community that have supported us for two decades. This festival is for them."

In addition to the opening night World premiere of Shawney Cohen’s THE MANOR, a first-time filmmaker’s intimate tragi-comic family portrait, other notable films in the Special Presentations program include: Gus Holwerda’s THE UNBELIEVERS, which follows renowned scientists Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss advancing the importance of science and reason; AJ Schnack’s CAUCUS, a behind-the-scenes look at the 2012 Iowa Caucus; Malcom Ingram’s CONTINENTAL, a stylish portrait of the legendary NYC gay bathhouse; Lucy Walker’s THE CRASH REEL, a high adrenaline look at snowboarder Kevin Pearce’s fighting for his life; Penny Lane’s OUR NIXON, a revealing look at one of the most controversial presidencies in US history; Marta Cunningham’s VALENTINE ROAD, depicting a heartbreaking tragedy in which at an eighth-grader fatally shoots his LGBTQ classmate; and Raoul Peck’s FATAL ASSISTANCE, a portrayal of the failure and corruption behind international aid post-disaster.

Adventures in Podcasting: Lambcast #158: Identity

The Lambcast’s Movie of the Month series has had some pleasantly surprising selection since its inception. Films like Band of Outsiders, Children of Men, and Last Year at Marienbad come to mind. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for this month’s film, Identity. For my personal thoughts on the film, as well as the thoughts of the rest of the panel (Justin, Kristen, Jay, and Dylan), be sure to listen to the episode below:

Monday, March 18, 2013

In Conversation: 2001: A Space Odyssey

Recently my wife and I had the privilege of seeing Stanley Kubrick’s science fiction classic 2001: A Space Odyssey on the big screen in 70mm. Considering that my wife had not seen the film before, I thought it would be interesting to get her take on the whole experience. Needless to say it was a rather lively discussion on the ride home.

Courtney: You had never seen a Stanley Kubrick film before. I believe your exact response was “who is Kubrick?” So what made you want to see this particular film?

Dee: Well, it is one of those classics that everyone needs to see. I figured I might as well see it on the big screen.

Courtney: It was definitely the big! Frankly, I thought the film looked glorious in 70mm. It has been probably a good fifteen years since I last watched the film. So it felt like I was watching it again for the first time. Having said that, 2001 is not an easy film to get what were your initial reactions to the film?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The 11th Annual Regent Park Film Festival – Call For Submissions is Now Open!

The Regent Park Film Festival is Toronto’s only free-of-charge, multi-cultural, film festival dedicated to showcasing the best local and international film and video works. The stories we celebrate resonate with the inner city, community-driven, trans-national, transient context of Regent Park, as well as with other similar communities in Toronto, across Canada and all over the world. We encourage local, national and international participation.

The Regent Park Film Festival is in its 11th year of connecting community and film to present a unique festival experience for audiences and filmmakers alike. All activities at the Regent Park Film Festival are free-of-charge; we provide free childcare and pay artist fees.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I Was Wrong: The Duplass Brothers

Jeff, Who Lives at Home

If life is truly made up of a series of small moments, then Mark and Jay Duplass, aka the Duplass Brothers, have a far better grasp on life then one would think. It took me a while to come to this realization of course. Though many have heralded them as one of the highlights of the current independent cinema movement, I must admit that I was not convinced at first. Part of the problem may have been the fact that I jumped into their canon right in the middle, instead of starting with the works that brought them acclaim.

I remember feeling a sense of disappointment when I first watched Cyrus. The story about a young man using manipulation to sabotage the relationship between his mother and her boyfriend just did not grab me the way it seemed to grab most. Though I liked the overall casting, which featured the likes of John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei, Jonah Hill and Catherine Keener, I found the character of Cyrus to be increasingly annoying in that Problem Child 2 kind of way. The situations that arouse between the characters did not ring true for me. The bitter taste of Cyrus lingered for a while and made me question what people even saw in the the Duplass Brothers. Were they merely one of those directors, similar to The FP’s Jason Trost, who somehow managed to strike lightening in a bottle at a film festival? Perhaps they were just one of those directors I was not meant to get.

Monday, March 11, 2013

I Have Scene It Before

Last month all 11 films were identified. Here is this month’s selection of film scenes. How many can you identify?


Thursday, March 07, 2013

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

T24 Project Screening Tomorrow Night!

The 2013 edition of the T24 Project, organized by the Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival, will be screening on Thursday, March 7 at the Rainbow Cinemas Market Square. The T24 Project consists of nine teams setting out to make a short film with only 24 hours to do so. Each team was given an essay-based challenge question about the city's tensions on the modern and the retro, using parallels of architectural aesthetics and contemporary cinematic experiences as inspiration for their films. Out of nine teams, eight produced a film with six of them doing so within the 24 hour limit.

Here are the list of shorts screening in the program:

Monday, March 04, 2013

The Face of Black Cinema

Tyler Perry's For Colored Girls

A few weeks ago, my wife had commented that she found it amusing that a local channel, which specializes in both religious and elderly programming, was celebrating Black History month by showing the works of Tyler Perry. The idea of Perry being the face of Black History month on the channel seemed rather ridiculous to my wife. This was not because she dislikes Tyler Perry, in fact she is far more favourable to his films than I am, but it forced her question “isn’t there anyone else?” The weird thing is that it made perfect sense to me why the station would make Tyler Perry their poster child for black cinema.

Like it or not, Perry is an auteur whose unique voice has made him a commercial powerhouse at the box-office. Outside of Steven Soderbergh and Woody Allen, you would be hard press to find a director who has produced more content than Perry. Since 2006 he has released a staggering twelve films, which is close to two films a year. However, my wife’s question has bounced around my head like a cement brick of late. Who are the voices besides Perry that are currently offering examples of the black experience on film? Furthermore, what have I done to seek out those distinct voices?

Friday, March 01, 2013

California Solo

The damaged rock star is a familiar archetype in cinema and one we rarely seem to get tired off. There is something fascinating about watching someone, who was once idolized by many, hit rock bottom. Is it our sick desire to see those who have achieved more than us fall from grace? Or is it the fact that they are the most relatable, dare we say human, when they are confronting the deep sadness that reside within us all. Confronting one’s demons is a prevalent theme in Marshall Lewy’s intimate drama, California Solo.

Lewy’s film revolves around a former Britpunk rocker, Lachlan MacAldonich (Robert Carlyle), who now works on a farm. When he is not busy driving into the city to sell the farm’s produce, Lachlan spends his time recording podcasts about famous deceased musicians. Despite trying to live a simple life, Lachlan is not without his vices. He frequently tries to erase the pain of the past by drowns his sorrows in alcohol. Unfortunately, his life begins to spiral out of control when he is arrested for driving under the influence and the threat of deportation surfaces.