Contest: Win 'A Perfect Day' on DVD!

An all star cast featuring Academy Award winners Tim Robbins and Benicio Del Toro teams up for the rugged dramedy A Perfect Day. A Perfect Day comes to home video on Tuesday, August 30 from Pacific Northwest Pictures, and Cinemablographer has DVDs of the film to give away. Answer the trivia below for your chance to win a DVD of A Perfect Day!

Whiskey-Soaked Noir

Manhattan Night
(USA, 113 min.)
Written and directed by Brian DeCubellis
Starring: Adrien Brody, Yvonne Strahovski, Campbell Scott, Jennifer Beals, with Linda Lavin and Steven Berkoff
Yvonne Strahovski and Adrien Brody in Manhattan Night.
Pacific Northwest Pictures.

New York. Present day.

The streets are dark and the women are deadly. Back in the day, a guy knew when he was a mark and he knew who was makin' him.


Bleak Swan

A Tale of Love and Darkness
(Israel/USA, 95 min.)
Written and directed by Natalie Portman
Starring: Natalie Portman, Amir Tessler, Gilad Kihana
Natalie Portman makes her feature directorial debut with the austere historical drama A Tale of Love and Darkness. This film shows ample promise for Portman as a director after testing her chops with a segment in the anthology film New York, I Love You. It’s a work of great passion and dedication. The Jerusalem-born Portman adapts the story of Amos Oz (Amir Tessler), a young man who witnesses the changes in Israel following the Second World War and as the British Mandate for Palestine widens the historic rift as the Jewish people win their own nation state. The subject matter alone is vast and ambitious for a first feature for anyone. The film is as far removed from a vanity project that a starlet like Portman can direct, as it is barren and bleak, but there’s no denying that this film is ultimately a star vehicle for a very talented actress.


The Snowball Effect

In Order of Disappearance
(Norway/Sweden, 116 min.)
Dir. Hans Peter Moland, Writ. Kim Fupz Aakeson
Starring: Stellan Skarsgård, Bruno Ganz, Pål Sverre Hagen
Stellan Skarsgård in In Order of Disappearance.
 Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.

“Instead of justice, I only got retaliation and escalation of violence in return,” says director Hans Peter Moland on his experiences with revenge. “So if you can’t have justice, you may as well have some fun.”


Contest: Win Tickets to See 'The Wild Life' Across Canada!

Robin Crusoe embarks on a new animated adventure in The Wild Life. The Wild Life is a hilarious new film about the relationship between humans, animals and smart, savage kitty cats. The Wild Life opens in theatres September 9 from eOne Films, but lucky readers across Canada have a chance to attend a sneak peek. Answer the trivia below for your chance to win tickets!


It's Only the End of the Summer: Taking Stock of Canada's Oscar Contenders Pre-TIFF

Xavier Dolan with Marion Cotillard and Nathalie Baye on the shoot for It's Only the End of the World.
eOne Films.
It’s already the end of the summer, so let’s do the annual Canada/TIFF/Oscars debate. Only five countries have submitted as of publication, the most high profile and surprising of which is Romania's pick of Sieranevada over Cannes Best Director winner Graduation.

Here’s the first question: Where are all the Canadian films this year? 2016 feels like a drought. There are far too many movies these days, but few of the films making to Canadian screens are Canadian.  


Contest: Win Tickets to See 'Southside with You' in Toronto!

Before POTUS and FLOTUS there was Barack and Michelle. Experience the love story of the young Obamas in the acclaimed drama Southside with You. Southside with You opens in theatres on Friday, August 26 from eOne Films, but lucky readers in Toronto have a chance to attend a sneak peek. Answer the trivia below for your chance to win tickets!


One Hell of Movie

Hell or High Water
(USA, 102 min.)
Dir. David Mackenzie, Writ. Taylor Sheridan
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Gil Birmingham, Katy Mixon, Dale Dickey
Ben Foster and Chris Pine star in Hell or High Water.
VVS Films.

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan returns with another intense, visceral, and potent crime drama with Hell or High Water. This crime drama is one lean, mean flick. Don’t go in expecting the adrenaline-pumping and heart-palpitating breathlessness of Sicario, though, since Hell or High Water takes an older man’s view of the world as grizzled old Sheriff Marcus (Jeff Bridges) looks at the decline of the American south as he nears retirement. The film, like the wise sheriff, is pensive and contemplative with its holster at the ready. Hell or High Water presents a parched America that is no country for old men and the divide between wrongdoers and victims is something that an ornery sheriff can no longer see with a fine line. It’s one hell of a movie.

Capsule Reviews: 'Endorphine', 'Tallulah', 'Sausage Party'

Capsule catch-up, as it's now TIFF email season.

(Canada, 84 min.)
Dir. André Turpin, Writ. Valérie Beauregard-Champagne, André Turpin, Robert Morin. Jonah Hill
Starring: Sophie Nélisse, Mylène MacKay, Lise Roy, Monia Chokri
Sophie Nélisse in Endorphine.
Photo by José Deshaies / Les Films Séville

André Turpin is one of the best cinematographers in Canada. Just look at Mommy, Incendies, Tom at the Farm and other recent efforts. He knows the art of composition and builds dramatic depth and tension by setting up a shot and using camera movement to exploit cinematic space to its full potential. He doesn’t shoot his latest feature directorial effort Endorphine, but the film looks fantastic as it envisions a dark, labyrinthine, and speculative world that exists in the grey area between Enemy, Inception, and Upstream Color.


'The Fault Lines of America': David Mackenzie Talks 'Hell or High Water'

Director David Mackenzie and actor Ben Foster on the shoot of Hell or High Water.
VVS Films.
The studios are bringing out the big guns this summer, but all their tent poles seem to be backfiring. Hell or High Water, however, hits theatres after premiering in the Un Certain Regard competition at Cannes earlier this year and offers a fresh alternative to summer fair with its rugged tale of outlaws and lawmen played by Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges, and Gil Birmingham. This smart and exhilarating picture directed by David Mackenzie (Starred Up) and written by Taylor Sheridan (Sicario) ruminates on a contemporary USA in which the landscape looks much greyer than it did in the pioneering days. The film envisions a gritty, hardened America through resonant themes and authentic performances, which are note perfect from Bridges’ award-calibre turn as an aging sheriff to the smallest parts of the ensemble cast.


Zoom, Zoom!

(Canada/Brazil, 96 min.)
Dir. Pedro Morelli, Writ. Matt Hansen
Starring: Gael García Bernal, Alison Pill, Maria Ximenes, Jason Priestley, Don McKellar, Tyler Labine 
Alison Pill in Zoom.
Elevation Pictures

“Zoom, zoom!” Like the kid in those catchy old Mazda commercials suggests, two zooms are better than one. Zoom, the new animation hybrid from Rhombus Media, offers three levels of zooms and kicks the film up a gear as it revs through these layers. This ambitious meta-movie is an intricate time loop that navigates multiple universes of fiction and storytelling. It’s a mind-bending, globe-hopping head-trip that puts audiences in the panels of a metaphysical comic book to explore the far-flung limits of reality.


Passion and Rage

(USA, 110 min.)
Written and directed by James Schamus
Starring: Logan Lerman, Sarah Gadon, Tracy Letts, Linda Emond, Danny Burstein
Logan Lerman and Sarah Gadon star in Indignation.
Elevation Pictures.

James Schamus makes a film just as well as he puts one out there. The former co-President of Focus Features and producer/executive producer of films such as Brokeback Mountain and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon has ample experience with screenwriting and his work on The Ice Storm reverberates in this similarly themed story of disaffected young Americans. Instead of drafting some words for Ang Lee to helm, though, Schamus offers his feature directorial debut with Indignation and it’s a taut, expertly crafted drama driven by story, character, and a quartet of powerhouse performances.

Win a Free iTunes Download of 'Lolo'!

Julie Delpy (Wiener-Dog, Before Midnight) returns to the director’s seat in Lolo. Delpy stars in this snappy new comedy about an unconventional love story and the demon child that threatens happily ever after. Lolo comes to home video on Tuesday, August 19 from Pacific Northwest Pictures, and lucky readers across Canada have a chance to win a free iTunes download Answer the trivia below for your chance to win!


It's Not Over Until the Iron Lady Sings

Florence Foster Jenkins
(UK, 110 min.)
Dir. Stephen Frears, Writ. Nicholas Martin
Starring: Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg 
Meryl Streep in Florence Foster Jenkins.
Photo courtesy of eOne Films
Meryl Streep’s career as a performer began with opera. One wouldn’t know it from the caterwauling she does in Florence Foster Jenkins, but the hilariously heartfelt screeching as the notoriously bad singer highlights how Meryl Streep is simply marvelous in this role. As chronicled in Michael Schulman’s wonderful book Her Again: Becoming Meryl Streep, the twelve-year-old Streep underwent lessons with soprano and vocal coach Estelle Liebling, just around the corner from Carnegie Hall where Florence Foster Jenkins enjoys a riotous climax. She learned how to breathe properly and stretch the full register of her vocal chords, while Liebling emphasised the meaning of the text to her students and the importance of covering the full range of the vocal register. It didn’t last, though, for four years later, Meryl recognised her limitations and quit.

TIFF Announces Platform Competition, Includes 2 Canadian Films

Those Who Make Revolution Only Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves.
Courtesy of TIFF.
TIFF has announced the twelve films that will compete in the new Platform programme! Platform boasts its second year as TIFF's competitive sidebar in which hot directors are boosted up to the next level. This year's line-up is a hot dozen that includes a strong Canadian component. Zacharias Kunuk’s Maliglutit spotlights Inuit cinema, although he seems far too established for this selection after his Atanarjuat was named the best Canadian film of all time in a poll by TIFF, while Mathieu Denis and Simon Lavoie’s Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves sounds quite promising. I'm a big fan of Denis' debut Corbo, so this selection sounds exactly like the sort of spotlight for an up-and-comer that the programme aims to serve.