Cellar Door Film Festival Co-Presents 'Beetlejuice' with Centretown Movies!

Do you like movies in the park? Do you like things that go bump in the night? Then you’re in luck! The Cellar Door Film Festival (CDFF) co-presents the upcoming screening of Beetlejuice this weekend at the Centretown Movies Outdoor Film Festival. CDFF invites Ottawans to grab their lawn chairs and blankets and join them for Tim Burton's strange and unusual 1988 classic starring Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Winona Ryder and Michael Keaton. Beetlejuice screens in Dundonald Park on Saturday, August 2nd at approximately 9:00 PM. Admission is pay what you can. Hope to see you there!

Contest: Win Tickets to See 'The F Word' Across Canada!

“Friend,” “fudge,” “funny,” “fantastic,” “foxy,” and “film,” are all choice F-words, but the real F-word everyone loves is “free.” Yes, that’s right! The F Word is coming to town and we have free tickets to a sneak peek near you. The F Word, one of the most popular Canadian films from last year’s fall film festival circuit (it scored a spot on TIFF’s Canada’s Top Ten list and scooped a Canadian Screen Award for Best Adapted Screenplay earlier this year), is finally coming to theatres. The F Word opens August 22 from eOne Films, but if you want a chance to win tickets to an advance screening of The F Word in cities across Canada, answer the trivia below and enter to win!


'Noah': Faith in Chaos?

(USA, 138 min.)
Dir. Darren Aronofsky, Writ. Darren Aronofsky, Ari Handel
Starring: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Douglas Booth
There’s an old ruse in the adaptation crowd (mostly among the cranky folks in the English department who know diddly about film) that deviating from a book while transforming it into a film begets an act of heresy. Infidelity quips arise with folks decrying, “That’s not how it is in the book!” and some movies are shorted in the discussion. What happens, however, when said changes arise when adapting, well, The Good Book? Is it heresy of Biblical proportions when an author rewrites a sacred text, or is there something greater at play when one diverges from the source of all sources?


TIFF Announces Docs, Masters, Midnight Madness, and Vanguard Films

The Golden Era. Photo courtesy of TIFF
The Toronto International Film Festival adds to its international spectrum today with a very world cinema heavy announcement. Titles for the TIFF Docs, Masters, Midnight Madness, and Vanguard programmes were released today. They’re a diverse group of films to complement the range of international films announced last week. (An element I admittedly glossed over.) The documentary titles, which will comprise the bulk of my work this year as I’ll be covering for POV, features some especially good gets including new films from Lixin Fan, Joshua Oppenheimer, and Fred Wiseman, plus a film from Ethan Hawke. Included in the Masters section are many Cannes hits including Jean-Luc Godard’s Goodbye to Language, plus Leviathan, which many pundits pegged to win the Palme. The Masters section also features Ann Hui’s The Golden Era, which stars Lust, Caution’s Tang Wei.


A Love Story, Unplugged

Hard Drive
(Canada, 82 min.)
Written and directed by William D. MacGillivray
Starring: Douglas Smith, Megan Follows, Laura Slade Wiggins, Jerry Granelli
Laura Slade Wiggins and Douglas Smith as Debs and Ditch in Hard Drive.
  Photo credit Dan Callis
William D. MacGillivray goes searching for analogue love in a digital world with Hard Drive. Hard Drive, which marks the director’s return to narrative film since 1990’s Understanding Bliss, might not be as formally engaging his some of his previous films are, but it’s nevertheless an intriguing film from a thematic perspective. The digitally titled and digitally shot Hard Drive takes an unconventional approach to young love in this technologically saturated age. Ditch (Stage Fright’s Douglas Smith) doesn’t seem to have Facebook, a cell phone, or even an iPod. He doesn’t Instagram his food when he goes for Chinese with his mom, played by Megan Follows (aka Anne of Green Gables), and he listens to music on, wait for it, the old-fangled combination of a Walkman and a cassette tape. Downtown hipsters be damned, Ditch is the real deal!


Hoffman the Shark

A Most Wanted Man
(UK/USA/Germany, 121 min.)
Dir. Anton Corbijn, Writ. Andrew Bovell
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright, Willem Dafoe, Grigoriy Dobrygin, Nina Hoss, Daniel Brühl, Homayoun Ershadi
“His strength was a total immersion in the role and a lack of vanity,” recalls director Anton Corbijn while speaking of his experience working with the late Philip Seymour Hoffman on A Most Wanted Man. A Most Wanted Man, Hoffman’s final starring role and last completed film (although his final work in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay hits theatres this fall), displays Hoffman’s humble absorption in his work at its best. His engrossing turn as German spy Günther Bachmann in this adaptation of John le Carré’s A Most Wanted Man displays the kind of immersive character work that made Hoffman of one the best actors of his generation, if not the best.                                                


Call Me Biased, but I Was Totally on 'Her' Side...

Photo: Jens Ziehe
“He gives me that look…”
“What look?”
“That look that says, ‘Your life is trivial. You are so trivial.’”
-Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep), The Hours

Call be biased, but I was totally on her side the whole way through Him + Her. Maybe it’s the die-hard Streep fan in me, yet the chorus of Meryls makes a very compelling case in their twenty-three minutes of (seven) screentime. The Meryls, interestingly enough, don’t actually make a plea in a divorce case against a host of Jack Nicholsons as I originally thought they did—they don’t intentionally, anyways—but the malleability of this he said/she said piece is truly brilliant.


'The Judge' to Open TIFF

Photo courtesy of TIFF
Here’s a surprise! The Toronto International Film Festival announced the selection for its Opening Night film today and the film is a film that was already announced. David Dobkin’s The Judge, which appeared in Tuesday’s first wave of Galas and Special Presentation selections for the 2014 festival, will open TIFF on September 4th. Perhaps, as speculated earlier this week, the delay was simply a matter of technicalities. “The stars aligned and we are thrilled to announce that we will kick off the Festival with The Judge,” said Piers Handling, Director and CEO, TIFF in a statement released by the Festival. “David Dobkin has delivered a moving, textured story about family, duty and the way we remember our past. We couldn’t have asked for a better start to this year’s event.” TIFF Artistic Director Cameron Bailey added, “We always want to deliver for our audience and we can't think of a better way than kicking things off with The Judge. Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall are terrific in the film, and David Dobkin guides the entire cast to rich, satisfying performances.”

The Artistic Mind

Triptych (Triptyque)
(Canada, 95 min.)
Dir. Pedro Pires and Robert Lepage, Writ. Pedro Pires
Starring: Frédérike Bédard, Lise Castonguay, Hans Piesbergen
“The ultimate creator is the human brain and God is but one of his creations,” says Thomas (Hans Piesbergen) while recalling the mind-bending beauty of the Sistine Chapel in Triptych. Triptych, the latest film from Robert Lepage, is a brilliant meeting of artistic minds. Look only to the beautiful sequence in which Thomas, a brain surgeon, gazes up at the artistry of the Chapel’s ceiling and visualizes the image of a brain outlining the heavenly bodies of the paintwork. To conceptualize and to theorize art is to bring it to life, and to give life to oneself in the process. Triptych, needless to say, is a richly involving film.


What Film Could Be the TIFF Opener?

Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain in A Most Violent Year
One question was probably on the minds of most future TIFF-goers as yesterday’s programming announcement ended: What could that open night selection be? This omission is the only real blip in an otherwise strong announcement. (There are so many appealing titles from yesterday's picks that it’s hard to do a top five, although Wild, Ned Rifle, Maps to the Stars, The New Girlfriend, and The Riot Club are immediate standouts.) I thought that The Riot Club seemed like a good bet for opening night, for Lone Scherfig’s film opens in the UK just a week after the festival. The factors of an attractive period drama, a cast of popular young leads (who also appeal to the older ‘Downton Abbey’ fans in the crowd), and a Danish director let The Riot Club check all the boxes for Oscar potential, commercial appeal, and world cinema. Opening with a film by a female director is also a great way for the festival to tell the industry, “We’re listening.” The Riot Club, though, doesn’t have US distribution at the moment and that seems to have been a decent factor in getting high profile titles such as Looper and The Fifth Estate for opening night in previous years. Other TIFFers pegged Wild, The Good Lie, and This is Where I Leave You as possible gets—all good ideas, but incorrect guesses. One can presume that it’s some sort of technicality that’s holding up the decision/announcement, like logistics, release dates/distribution, or maybe even final cuts.


TIFF Announces First Galas and Special Presentations

This is Where I Leave You
The Toronto International Film Festival has announced the first wave of titles for #TIFF14 and it’s a very promising list! Among the Galas making their World Premieres at Roy Thompson Hall are Shawn Levy’s This is Where I Leave You, Lone Scherfig’s The Riot Club, and Alan Rickman’s A Little Chaos, which will be the festival’s Closing Night Film. (Curiously, the Festival didn`t name an Opening Night Film.) David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars is among the North American premiere Gala selections, although more Canadian films will be announced on August 6.  Maps is one of several films in the line-up directed by Canadian filmmakers. The others are The Good Lie and Wild from Philippe Falardeau and Jean-Marc Vallée--American titles, but they're among the festival's bigger gets.


Ottawa International Animation Festival Line-up Ranges from Local to Global

The Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF) announced today the line-up for the 2014 festival. In addition to the five features announced previously, the programme for OIAF ’14 has a healthy list of films that range from local to global. Two filmmakers will rep Ottawa’s animation scene amongst the competition. Mike Geiger’s film On the Subway is slated for a World Premiere in the Canadian Showcase while recent Algonquin College Grad Dougall Dawson’s The Pug appears in the Canadian Student Showcase. OIAF Artistic Director Chris Robinson noted the strength of Ottawa animation in the festival’s release, saying, “Whether we’re talking about Norman McLaren’s masterpiece, Neighbours (made in Rockcliffe Park) or John Kricfalusi’s ground breaking TV series, Ren and Stimpy (whose roots go back to his days at Brookfield High School), Ottawa’s animation history is long and diverse. It’s refreshing – and not all that surprising - to see contemporary local animators carrying forward this rich tradition.”