Thursday, August 29, 2013

TIFF Approacheth

So I might have made a mistake.

I've got 20 films lined up to see for TIFF, and 11 days to see them. Works out to about 2 films a day, mostly after work. Here's hoping they're all amazing and not completely draining.

I mean, they seem to be an interesting bunch, even if there is no Von Trier this year.

Tim's Vermeer
Johannes Vermeer painted 150 years before cameras were invented, yet his works show incredibly accurate perspective and realism. There are theories floating that he used lenses and rudimentary camera techniques to create these paintings. They tend to fall short in a few places. Enter Penn & Teller to explore this in a documentary (with Teller directing). Their friend, Tim Jenison spends over a year to recreate Vermeer's techniques using these theories, and filling in the blanks himself. From recreating the pigments used to crafting his own lenses, Tim goes for authenticity.

Since I first heard about the theory of "Vermeer's Camera", I've been intrigued by these ideas. So this clearly had to be seen. Plus, Penn & Teller and world premiere.

Standing Aside, Watching
Something about the description of this film kept me coming back to it. A greek movie about a woman returning to her small town from the big city, and just trying to fit back in. Except that her townspeople are violent and wary and things get out of hand. Oh, and her name is Antigone.

Joe Hill's book of a man, who wakes up growing a pair of horns and finding everyone spilling their darkest desires to him, is now a movie. Starring Daniel Radcliffe and directed by Alexandre Aja. That was pretty much all I needed. I do fear the legion of Harry Potter fans that will be waiting to catch a glimpse of Radcliffe though.

Adapted Robert LePage play, so I think I'm largely seeing this so I can tell a friend, who's a huge fan of his, all about it. Although it does sound interesting as another film tying together multiple stories into one intersected tale. This time involving a schizophrenic bookseller, a brain surgeon with a tremor, and a jazz singer who might end up with temporary aphasia.

Only Lovers Left Alive
Jim Jarmusch film about a vampire rock star, his girlfriend, and her sister. I feel I've seen a good number of vampire rock star movies at TIFF. Or at least movies about vampires with rock stars in them. Whatever. Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska... good enough for me.

Heart of a Lion
Ah good, a Finnish movie. TIFF ain't TIFF for me without something from that general area in it. This time it's the, I assume, uplifting tale of a racist skinhead gang leader who falls in love with a waitress with a mixed-race son.

The Double
THIS is the movie I'm most excited about. Based on Dostoevsky's novella of the same name about a man whose live is being taken over by his doppelganger. Now, Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska are fine actors, but they aren't the reason I want to see this. Not even Wallace Shawn is the driving force. No, director/writer Richard Ayoade is. Most famous perhaps as Moss in The IT Crowd (where he's brilliant), or maybe less so as the only reason to see The Watch, he also directed one of the best episodes of Community - Critical Film Studies (Pulp Fiction/My Dinner with Andre). Now, combine that last bit with him directing Wallace Shawn, and I'm in.  It had better not suck.But then, even if it does, I'd still be stoked to hear a Q and A with him afterwards.

The F Word
More Daniel Radcliffe. I really should have added Kill Your Darlings just to complete this year's Radcliffe TIFF trilogy. Really, Zoe Kazan is more of an attraction here (go see Ruby Sparks if you haven't already). Now, I would have overlooked this one entirely (Romantic Comedy isn't my usual TIFF genre), but it's from Michael Dowse of Goon and Fubar fame (I'm just gonna ignore Take Me Home Tonight).

Fading Gigolo
Woody Allen plays John Turturro's pimp. Written and directred by Turturro. That's all I should have to write here.

Finding Vivian Maier
Maybe you read about the cache of over 100,000 photos found a couple years ago in the effects of a career nanny. As Vivian Maier was busy nannying, with spouse, children or apparently friends of her own, she was also taking pictures. Lots of pictures. Of everyday life while wandering around the cities she worked in. Self-taught, and very talented, these shots were almost lost. This is the movie about trying to find out more about this woman, 4 years after her death.

The Husband
Bruce McDonald's entry to this year's festival. After Pontypool and Trigger, he pretty much gets automatic placement on my picks (others would put him there for Hard Core Logo and The Tracey Fragments). The story of a father having a shitty year as his wife is in jail for sleeping with one of her students, and he's raising their infant son alone. Called "a kind of horror comedy about impotent male rage and the limits of compassion" in the TIFF description piques my interest, Stephen McHattie being in the cast only helps.

The Grand Seduction
Don McKellar is another one of those Canadian directors that gets an automatic entry on my list. He has this incredibly droll and deadpan sense of humour and humanity that makes its way into his films and roles. In this instance, he's remaking a French Canadian hit from 2003 about a small fishing village that tries to entice a big city doctor into living in their town so they can get a big manufacturing plant to set up nearby and give them jobs. And Gordon Pinsent's in it, so I think I'm legally required to watch this as a Canadian.

Jodorowsky's Dune
Just realized I have three documentaries this year. This one is about the Dune movie that was never made by Alejandro Jodorowsky. Using production storyboards and recollections, we are to learn about what would have been one hell of an ambitious project. It would have starred Mick Jagger, Orson Welles, and Salvador Dali, and would have been written by Dan O'Bannon, and designed by H.R. Giger, years before Alien would appear.

The Wind Rises
Possibly Miyazaki's last film, it spans the decades of life of Jiro Horikoshi, designer of the Japanese Zero Fighter. A bit of a departure in subject matter for the famed Japanese animator for sure.

Short Cuts Canada - Programme 5
It's been a few years since I've gone to a shorts programme at TIFF. But this has a Bruce Alcock piece in it (Impromptu), and his rendering of A Night at the Quinte Hotel remains one of my all-time favourite short films. The End of Pinky, and CRIME: Joe Loya - The Beirut Bandit also looked interesting. Rumour is An Extraordinary Person is one of the highlights of the entire short program, so this should be a good time. And as always with short films, if you don't like one, it won't last long.

A Chinese film about a chauffeur and the spoiled wife of his employer and the secrets they both have. It reads as a film that explores the Hong Kong/Mainland China divide, and Chinese class divisions. Most appealing to me though is that it's cinematographer is Christopher Doyle, best known for his films with Wong Kar-Wai. So it should at the very least be gorgeously shot.

A Japanese remake of Clint Eastwood's classic. How can one turn down the old Samurai in place of gunslingers concept? Having not actually seen the Eastwood version (what?? I know!), I get to go into this fresh.

All Is By My Side
A biopic of Jimi Hendrix on his way to stardom. Who doesn't love Hendrix? If it's you, then I'm sorry, but you're wrong. Starring André Benjamin as the iconic James Hendrix.

Witching & Bitching
My only Midnight Madness pick this year. I'm either getting old, or they moved a bunch of the more interesting stuff to the Vanguard and Wavelengths programmes. A Spanish film, that, well, here's a paragraph from the description:

"A group of buskers led by a Jesus Christ in silver body paint pull out machine guns and grab a massive haul from a Cash for Gold store. The heist is masterminded by José (Hugo Silva), a down-on-his-luck divorced dad who, due to his custody schedule, is forced to bring his eight-year-old son to the robbery."

This somehow leads to them dealing with a coven of soul-sucking witches in a dark forest or something. Look, just read that over again and don't question me.

Atilla Marcel
I finish the fest off with this one. Not through any planning, it just happened to fit there in the schedule. This is Sylvain Chomet's (The Triplets of Belleville, The Illusionist) first live action film, and that on it's own hooked me. Supposedly calling back to Buster Keaton and Jaques Tati, with a Wes Anderson colour palette, the general impression I get is this will be a bittersweet French comedy, which suits me just fine as a Sunday afternoon end to what will be a very long festival.

You got all the way down here? Impressive. But not as impressive as if I actually see them all. Interestingly, I don't think any of these have made the "Movies you must see at TIFF" lists I've read so far. Surely that's a good sign.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Movie Reviews

The Neverending Story

The tale of a literate boy who reads a book in an attic about some kid who loves his horse and a princess without a name. There's also a flying dog. Look, I've been watching this for 7 days straight, with only occasional pauses for pee breaks and food. At this point, I'm so tired that I can't remember which one I'm stopping for anymore. I can't remember what happened five seconds ago, let alone remembering what happened 5 seconds ago. Does this move ever finish? How does it all fit on this one VHS tape? It feels like I won't ever see the credits. I didn't think the title was literal. How could it be? But no... this story NEVER ENDS! It's just hour after hour of darkness. The Nothing takes over and then... nothing. Forever.

Oh fuck. The TV turned off a week ago. Forget I said anything.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

I don't know any clever August puns...

Should I worry that I haven’t seen ANY of the summer blockbusters? This used to be my FAVORITE time of year! But I guess with all the birthday traveling, I just haven’t had the time; but honestly, I do not have the inclination either. Superman… the giant robot thing…Wolverine…Eh… I guess I’ll wait for the DVDs. *Coco Shrugs*

The Chernobyl Diaries

I saw this movie a while ago, but when I scrolled through my past review recaps it wasn’t there. It’s a decent enough faux documentary horror flick. (Though, the premise, twenty-somethings decide to go on “an adventure tour” of a nuclear disaster site smacks of the hashtag #whitepeople.) I liked the end.


HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAAH Am I really going to review a Syfy movie starring Tara Reid and Ian Ziering called Sharknado? HAHAHAHAHAHA No.

The Revisionaries

This is a documentary about the 2010 Texas schoolboard process of updating the state’s public school textbooks. And yet, it wasn’t boring. Actually, at the point where the one guy makes a motion to “remove references to ‘hip-hop’ and replace them with ‘country and western music’ because *that* music doesn’t have a place in our schools,” I was laughing hysterically. Racism makes people insane, y’all. There was also a motion to remove the philosophies of Thomas Jefferson and insert President Obama’s middle name AND declare Ronald Reagan a national treasure. *IN TEXTBOOKS* Textbooks that students will learn from for the next decade. Oh, and I didn’t even write about the evolution “debate.” HAHAHA Spoiler… it did not go well for evolution. TAKE THAT DARWIN! WHO’S THE FITTEST NOW, BITCH? HAHAHAHHAAHHAAH Oh, Texas.

The Shawshank Redemption

“…hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” So, this entire movie is pretty much bullshit, amirite? I don’t understand why it’s so revered, I saw it once in college and promptly forgot about it, so I thought I’d missed something and decided to watch it again. Nope. It’s your standard prison fantasy. Though, I guess I don’t know anything about prison in the 50s, prisons that I got to know in the aughts are nothing like that. And Red would never have been paroled. Shrug.

Shadow of a Doubt

No clue why I rented this movie about a strange man who comes to stay with his sister’s family. It’s funny, I think Hitchcock suffers from his later successes, because I kept waiting for something terrible to happen, but nothing does till the very very end when there’s just no choice. So, I’d jump at every frame change or camera closeup and then be disappointed that nothing happened. It’s okay.


Yo, this is a creepy ass Korean vampire movie. I don’t know whose fault it is that I saw this, but I will find you and make you watch some creepy ass movie with creepy ass smiling vampires who stab people in the neck. And old stroke victim mothers who are out for revenge. Shudders. *Turns on all the lights*

The Last Stand

Oh man, Arnold Schwarzenegger, why can’t I quit you? You’re a liar, and a cheat and a Republican, and yet… I loved the last stand. There’s high speed chases and a helicopter attacks stuff and an old lady is all shooting people with a shotgun and Arnold is all “Ahm too old for dis shit” and then he like pulls the pin out of a grenade with his teeth! I can’t help it, I LIKE ASPLOSIONS!!!! *puts self on timeout*


This movie is so gotdamn pretentious. It’s like “Shadow of a Doubt” in that an uncle comes to live with his brother’s family after his brother dies, but it’s not like it because you’re just mostly rolling your eyes at the pretension. Jaysus. Terrible. Oh, it’s also like "Thirst" in that there’s a creepy ass chick stabbing people in the neck.

Won’t Back Down

Eh, I don’t think they meant to make a movie that celebrates union busting, but that’s what they did. It was alright, but the whole teacher teams up with dyslexic kid’s mom seemed contrived. I don’t care if it IS based on a real life story.

Ella Enchanted

I love me some Anne Hathaway. This movie about a girl cursed with obedience but who changes the world anyway, is a tad silly, but Anne Hathaway and Matt Damon’s famously dumped ex-girlfriend, Mia Driver? Minnie Driver? Something like that, are charming. The supporting cast is terrible. Though, it’s always nice to see Westley from “The Princess Bride.”

Gangster Squad

This movie was AWESOME! I don’t know why it didn’t get at least as much traction as LA Confidential – it has that same film noir vibe about it – except the plot made sense and didn’t put me to sleep after an hour. PLUS there are black people and Mexicans! Brava, Gangster Squad, Brava. Also, Ryan Gosling is shirtless. Oh hey, and he’s paired up with Emma Stone AGAIN… Hmm… note to self, keep an eye on that Emma Stone. Grr.

Identity Thief

This movie about Jason Bateman going to look for Mellissa McCarthy, who has stolen his identity, does all the right things to be a heartwarming comedy, but it just wasn’t heartwarming or particularly funny. This is definitely one of those movies where all the funny parts are in the trailer. I can’t quite put my finger on why it didn't work for me, but at the end I was just kinda like “Meh.”

A Good Day to Die Hard

Wooo! All the asplosions and “too old for this shit”ness of The Last Stand without having to feel all dirty about liking the lead. I’M IN! Also, there is a shocking double double cross! *slow claps* Keep on dying hard, Mr. Willis!