1/28/2015

The Digital Divide

Blackhat
(USA, 133 min.)
Dir. Michael Mann, Writ. Morgan Davis Foehl
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Viola Davis, Tang Wei, Leehom Wang, John Ortiz.

Michael Mann's 2004 crime thriller Collateral marks one of the most noteworthy artistic successes of the era in which filmmakers struggled to introduce digital technology into the world of the cinema. Collateral, marks the cusp of a time when the line between digital technology and high definition technology improved significantly, yet the film still stands as one of the most truly innovative aesthetic coups for digital filmmaking. Digital cinema, especially the digital cinema from the turn of the millennium, plain and simply looks cheap and crappy, but Collateral succeeds because Mann and his cinematographers Dion Beebe and Paul Cameron harness the low-res graininess of the inferior technology and use it as a perfect visual counterpart to the cold grittiness of the drama starring a steely Tom Cruise. Mann's films since Collateral all dabble in new tricks with digital by trying to find the same fusion point between form and content with varying degrees of success. Mann's latest film, Blackhat, offers another great example of the pros and cons of going digital. It's not exactly Collateral, but there's a fine mix of spectacularly great cinematography and some amazingly turgid digital disastrousness in this clunky techno-thriller.


1/26/2015

Cinemalinks: Weekly Reads (Sundance Edition!)

The Witch: "To the horror films of 2015, the gauntlet has been thrown down."
This week’s offering of Cinemalinks is the Sundance edition! Here’s a round-up of reviews from the folks enjoying the snow in Park City, with an emphasis on the Canadian films at the festival:


'Mommy', 'Tu dors Nicole' and Xavier Dolan Lead the Nominations for Quebec's Prix Jutra

Xavier Dolan and Suzanne Clément prepare for an intense scene in Mommy.
Photo: Shane Laverdière
A tight awards started in Quebec starting today. The nominations for the annual Prix Jutra, which honour the best in Québécois cinema, were announced today. Leading the pack with a whopping 10 nominations apiece are Mommy, Tu dors Nicole, and—get this—Xavier Dolan. (Mommy comes on strongest with an additional prize for top box office.) Dolan’s scored ten noms thanks to the strong presence of both Mommy and Tom at the Farm, netting multiple nominations for writing and directing, plus editing, costumes, and special prizes, although he missed out on acting nominations for both Tom and Miraculum, which could have actually made him the overall leader at the party. He’ll either have a very good night at the awards ceremony or cancel himself out and let Tu dors Nicole sweep the prizes.

1/25/2015

Listen to the Canadian Screen Award Nominees for Original Song

The Valley Below. Photo by Paul Chirka
Okay, so we’ve all listened to “Everything is Awesome” more times than is commonly reasonable and we have debated whether “Lost Stars” is better in the acoustic Keira Knightley version or the power ballad by Adam Levine, but now it’s time to listen to the playlist of Canuck contenders. The five songs nominated for Achievement in Music – Original Song at this year’s Canadian Screen Awards are an eclectic bunch. The five songs feature lyrics in English, French, and Hindi with some funky ditties and soulful ballads from films that mostly flew under the radar this year. No camp songs from Stage Fright, no musical numbers from Bang Bang Baby, and no tracks from Violent’s We Are the City (maybe next year?), and no Best Film nominees in the bunch. Good job seeking out these little films, voters! Have a listen and let us know which nominee gets your vote!

1/24/2015

Everybody's A Little Bit Racist

Dear White People
(USA, 108 min.)
Written and directed by Justin Simien
Starring: Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Kyle Gallner, Teyonah Parris, Brandon P. Bell, Dennis Haysbert
Once upon a time in my university days at Queen’s, my house on Aberdeen Street threw a party. There wasn’t a theme, just good old Halloween, and the party had a relatively chill mood with the usual mix of ironic dress-ups, scary ghouls, and slutty dresses paired with animal ears. Then some girl showed up painted completely black and wearing a dash of fluorescent and white shoes. “Oh no she didn’t!” everyone muttered into their red cups as they shifted awkwardly. It turns out that was dressed as a silhouette character from an iPod commercial. Oops.

SAG Preview: The Actors of 'Birdman', the Family of 'Boyhood', or the Guests of 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'?


"Why don't I have any self-respect?!"
"You're an actress, honey."
-Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
 
2015 marks this first year that Canadians can watch the Screen Actors Guild Awards live on television, rather than on the usual broadcast the day after. (Simultaneous substitution drives it off the American channels.) It’s a good year to be following the awards live, rather than on the Twitter, since the top prize from the actors probably won’t go to Oscar frontrunner Boyhood. If any film needs it’s Crash moment in which the largest branch of the Academy shows its support for a film driven by powerhouse performances, now’s the time to turn it.

1/23/2015

Watch the #CdnScreen15 Nominee 'Improvisation No. 1'

Woo hoo! Here's one category down on the Canadian Screen Awards ballot. Catch up on the shorts with a little help from Vimeo and watch the nominated animated short Improvisation No. 1: Cumulative Loops. This experimental film by Luigi Allemano is hypnotic, trippy, jazzy fun:

Starring Johnny Depp and His Snot Mop

Mortdecai
(USA, 106 min.)
Dir. David Koepp, Writ. Eric Aronson
Starring: Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Paul Bettany
Johnny Depp stars as 'Charlie Mortdecai' in Mortdecai. Photo: David Appleby
Mortdecai brings to the screen the Kyril Bonfiglioli’s cult novel Don’t Point That Thing at Me, the first of three books in a series featuring the bumbling art-dealer and part time rogue Charlie Mortdecai. Charlie Mortdecai is basically the result of a one-night stand between Jacques Clouseau and Johnny English, but with slightly better breeding and a significantly goofier mustache. Johnny Deep stars as the titular bon vivant, and he puts on his best(ish) English accent and worst facial hair for a spot of fun in this globetrotting art caper. Even silly, harmless, goofy films premised on mustaches jokes have limited mileage, though, and Mortdecai milks Depp’s snot mop for every laugh it can get and then some. Mortdecai misses by more than a whisker, but it’s not that bad as far as January releases go.

'Cake' And Eating It Too

Cake
(USA, 102 min.)
Dir. Daniel Barnz, Writ. Patrick Tobin
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Adriana Barraza, Anna Kendrick, Sam Worthington, Mamie Gummer, Felicity Huffman, Lucy Punch.
Last week’s Oscar nominations brought disappointing news for Jennifer Aniston and her fans when the former “Friends” star missed one of five Best Actress slots for which she had aggressively campaigned during the award season grind. She still has nominations from the Golden Globes, the Critics’ Choice, and the Screen Actors Guild, so no Oscar nomination doesn’t mean that Aniston can’t have her cake and eat it too. Going from the darkest horse of the race to the number one snub isn’t an easy feat and Oscar/film history might be kinder to Aniston’s turn in Cake since she missed out with the Academy. Enjoy Aniston’s work in Cake as a strong performance in its own right and not simply as another box to tick off on the Oscar cheat sheet. Cake showcases one heck of a performance from Aniston and it’s a testament to her range and skill alone that her film made it this far since debuting at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2014.

1/21/2015

Cinemalinks: Weekly Reads

Oscar champ: The fake baby in American Sniper
This week’s round-up includes takeaways from the highs and lows of last week’s Oscar nominations, news of Mommy’s upcoming USA release (opens in NY and LA on Friday), and the most hilarious fake baby that the Interweb has ever seen.


1/20/2015

CFI Screens Doc '50 Italians' on Jan. 27

Next Tuesday, January 27th, is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and this year marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. To commemorate the victims of the Holocaust, The Canadian Film Institute (CFI) in collaboration with the Embassy of Italy in Ottawa, invites Ottawans and local cinephiles to take in a complementary screening of the Italian documentary 50 Italians and learn more about this chapter of history. 50 Italians, a 2008 doc by Flaminia Lubin, will be presented  at Library and Archives Canada (395Wellington Street) at 8:00 pm.

Going South for Winter: Canadian Films at Sundance

The Amina Profile
It’s not cold enough in Canada, so some homegrown films are heading south of the border to heat things up. They’re going to Sundance, of course, the biggest fête of independent cinema and Paris Hilton sightings in North America. The Sundance line-up has a decent sprinkling of Canadian content with some dramatic features, docs, and a trio of shorts (Take Me, Hole, and Mynarski Death Plummet) in a variety of competition and non-competition programs alike. Here’s a rundown of some of the Canuck flicks doing Sundance:

1/19/2015

Four Grunts for 'Mr. Turner'

Mr. Turner
(UK, 150 min.)
Written and directed by Mike Leigh
Starring: Timothy Spall, Dorothy Atkinson, Marion Bailey, Paul Jesson, Lesley Manville, Ruth Sheen.

“The sun is God,” proclaims artist JMW Turner (Timothy Spall) with his dying breath in Mr. Turner. Mr. Turner, the biography of the great British painter from great British filmmaker Mike Leigh (Another Year), is an exquisitely unflattering portrait of a man who was capable of both poetic beauty and harsh cruelty. The man’s a mass of contradictions with his evocative ability to create capture landscapes and ships with awe-inspiring splendour whereas his view of humans is unbearably bleak. Leigh’s Mr. Turner epitomizes the world of warts-and-all biographies, and Leigh and Spall’s spectacularly unattractive portrait of this artist, his world, and his work is a stroke of greatness.


1/17/2015

'Murrican Sniper

American Sniper
(USA, 132 min.)
Dir. Clint Eastwood, Writ. Jason Hall
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller
Look no further than American Sniper for an example of a competently crafted film that shoots itself in the foot by failing to question its own politics. American Sniper, hereafter referred to as ’MURRICAN Sniper, is a disappointingly blunt and narrow project from director Clint Eastwood. Sniper carries all the signature prowess of an Eastwood film—it’s faultless from a technical point of view—but it’s ironically shortsighted for a film about a sniper. Subject Chris Kyle, played by a beefed-up Bradley Cooper, who also receives a producing credit, is reportedly the most lethal sniper in ’Murrica’s history with an estimated 160-odd kills to his name. Cooper is strong and Eastwood’s direction is precise, but Sniper backfires because it valorizes the ideology of the American War Machine in which masculinity defines itself by guns and violence while patriotism becomes a blanket excuse for death and destruction. There’s no denying that Kyle’s life features acts of heroism, but is American Sniper really the film that America needs right now? In short, no it isn’t.


1/15/2015

Yay for Everyone! Oscar Nominees React

Jean-Marc Vallee reviews a scene with Laura Dern while filming on location for Wild.
Stay positive. There's a lot to be happy about when it comes to today's Oscar nominations. The nominees react by sharing their enthusiasm (yay for Laura Dern!), talking up their peers (yay non-nominees!), name-dropping Canada (yay Emmanuel Lubezki) and dropping F-Bombs (yay Emma Stone!):

Oscar Nominations: Good News/Bad News with Odd Mix

Yay for Laura Dern!
Oscar brought the crazy this morning!  In one of the weirdest mornings since "... Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close..." the Academy brought lots of surprises. The good/news bad news is that were two notable omissions for every pleasant surprise. I'm happy regardless since Laura Dern finally got some love for Wild, edging out some stiff competition and getting the recognition that's largely eluded her this season. I'm sad that Jessica Chastain missed the cut, but Dern's in good company with Meryl Streep for Into the Woods and Patricia Arquette for Boyhood, although Streep's nom for Into the Woods (her whopping 19th Oscar nomination) means that for once I'm not actually rooting for Meryl Streep to win. I don't quite know how to handle this, but I'm sure my friends will breathe a sigh of relief at our annual Oscar party.

1/14/2015

'Scarehouse' is Twisted Fun

The Scarehouse
(Canada, 83 min.)
Written and directed by Gavin Michael Booth
Starring: Sarah Booth, Kimberley-Sue Murray, Katherine Barrell, Jennifer Miller, Teagan Vincze, Dani Barker, Brad Everett.
Girls go wild in The Scarehouse! This horror-comedy from writer/director/editor gives torture porn a good old catfight as jilted pledges Corey (Sarah Booth, who also gets a story credit) and Elaina (Kimberley-Sue Murray) devise an elaborate scheme of Jigsaw-justice in a Halloween spookhouse moonlighting as a party to get even with their former sorority sisters. Don’t let the synopsis or opening number, which sees some sexy co-eds throw pillows and bash each other with sex toys, fool you: The Scarehouse is fully aware of the gender politics at its core and it has lots of fun taking them to the extreme. The Scarehouse is sadistic satire and it’s a bloody hoot.

Contest! Win Tickets to see 'Black or White' in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver! (Contest Closed)

Contest time! Oscar winners Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer star in the upcoming film Black or White from director Mike Binder. Black or White opens in theatres January 30th from D Films, but if you live in Toronto, Vancouver, or Montreal and you want to see the film before it hits theatres, you are in luck! Answer the trivia below for your chance to win tickets to a sneak peek.


Oscar Predictions: Final Round - Let's All Go to Zubrowka!

Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Photo: Fox Searchlight
Let's all go to Zubrowka, shall we? I think that the members of the Society of the Crossed Keys, better known as Oscar voters, have been busy getting in touch and popping screeners with a dab of Eau de Panache and gobbling up courtesans au chocolat care of Mendl's and publicists working hard to keep the best movies in the mix. A lot of us thought that The Grand Budapest Hotel came out too early to be much more than a peripheral player in this year's Oscar race, but it's coming on strong with recognition at virtually every guild except the sound guys and it scored a Golden Globe on top of a landslide of BAFTA nominations and other critical kudos. Is The Grand Budapest Hotel the only film with a legitimate chance of besting Boyhood?


1/13/2015

Cinemalinks: Weekly Reads

Director Jean-Marc Vallee filming on location for Wild. Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Weekly reads – Oscars Edition! Catch up on some notable coverage of award season contenders, from the craft of the films to the politics behind the campaigns to take-aways from the gongs leading up to the Oscars, here’s some worthy reads on films in the hunt:

'Mommy' Leads 2015 Canadian Screen Award Nominations


Mommy leads the Canadian Screen Award nominations for film with 13, followed by Maps to the Stars with 11. Events will be celebrated with Canadian Screen Week, which runs in Toronto from Feb. 23 - Mar. 1 and the Academy invites fan to participate in the new Fanzone website. Nominations were deliberated by over 400 jurors in over 100 categories across film, TV, and digital media and announced by Cara Gee (Empire of Dirt) and Jared Keeso (Godzilla). The top nominated show (for the second year in a row) is "Orphan Black" with 13 nominations.


1/12/2015

It's not American Pie, It's Tortière

1987
(Canada, 105 min.)
Written and directed by Ricardo Trogi
Starring: Jean-Carl Boucher, Sandrine Bisson, Carlo Colangelo, Éléonore Lamothe.
1987. It’s the year that Claude Jutra died and when the Loonie was born. Montreal saw massive thunderstorms and dad rock flooded the airwaves. And it’s the year that Ricardo Trogi finally got laid at the age of eighteen.

'Monsoon' Wins People's Choice Award for Canada's Top Ten

Monsoon. Photo courtesy of TIFF.
Sturla Gunnarsson's Monsoon is the winner of the first-ever People's Choice Award for the Canada's Top Ten festival from the Toronto International Film Festival. Monsoon is a gorgeously shot exploration of weather patterns in India and the larger social, religious, and philosophical currents that follow the annual floods and rainfall. “I’m thrilled," said Gunnarsson. "Monsoon is probably the most personal film I’ve made, and it turns out to be a crowd-pleaser too.” Monsoon launched Canada's Top Ten at TIFF Bell Lightbox on Jan. 2. It opens in theatres Feb. 27.


Contest: Win Tickets to see 'A Most Violent Year' Across Canada! (CONTEST CLOSED)

The Oscar nominations come out Thursday and one of the films I’m rooting for across the board is J.C. Chandor’s A Most Violent Year starring Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain. A Most Violent Year, which made Cinemablographer’s list of the Top Ten Films of 2014, opens in Canada January 23rd from Elevation Pictures, but if you want a chance to see the film before it hits theatres, you are in luck! Answer the trivia below for your chance to win!

Golden Globes Recap: Third Time's a Charm for Tina and Amy

Well, Tina and Amy, it’s been swell. The third time’s the charm for the duo of Golden Globes hosts. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler got the show off to fun start by telling it like it is with a little sauce. A few roasts poked fun at the self-involvement of award season with a well-aimed shot at George Clooney gaining a lifetime achievement award over his wife Amal, who is a human rights lawyer. “Hollywood, Hollywood!” they chimed.


1/11/2015

The Big Smoke

Inherent Vice
(USA, 148 min.)
Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro, Katherine Waterston, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Jena Malone, Eric Roberts, Joanna Newsome
“You’re gonna wanna get good and fucked up before eating this shit,” says a waitress to Larry “Doc” Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) and his comrade Sauncho (Benicio Del Toro) at a seaside diner where they order weird trendy dishes and prepare for the daily munchies. Virtually everyone in Inherent Vice, both the novel by Thomas Pynchon and the adaptation by Paul Thomas Anderson, flows through the story on about five kinds of drugs. They babble and ramble in paranoid, drugged-out streams of consciousness, and everything blurs together like those feverishly crazy intoxicated conversations that inevitably happen when a party makes its way to the kitchen at 2 am and everyone’s high on something, even if it’s just good vibes. Few films manage to leave one with a hangover, and the headache of trying to remember Inherent Vice is half the fun: Just what the heck actually happens?


1/09/2015

Golden Globes Preview/Predictions: Will Frontrunners Prevail?

Selma
Here come the Globes! I’m looking forward to the silly, boozy, unpredictable Globes this weekend just to see if the Hollywood Foreign Press Association—that group of eighty-odd writers that hold the most influence in film and television—throws any curveballs. This back-loaded year has kept the critical awards somewhat skewed, so the Globes might be the first legitimately reliable forecast of the field from a group that’s seen all the contenders in this largely unpredictable season. Will frontrunners prevail or will some unexpected winners shake up the season? I think the former will happen.

Canadian Screen Awards 2015: Preview and Predictions

Antoine-Olivier Pilon in Mommy, the Canadian Screen Awards frontrunner.
I honestly haven’t a clue for how this year’s list of nominations could pan out for the 2015 Canadian Screen Awards when they're annouced on Jan. 13. Expect Mommy to dominate, as it should, and Tu Dors Nicole and Maps to the Stars will probably come on strong, but everything after that is mostly a question mark. That’s just fine with me, though, since Mommy, Maps, and Nicole are easily the strongest Canadian films of the year. It’s been an interesting two weeks for Canuck cinema with both the Vancouver film critics and the Toronto film critics chiming in, neither of which picked frontrunner Mommy as their choice for Best Canadian Film. They chose Tu Dors Nicole and Enemy, respectively, but their picks are influenced by many films from last year's CSA crop. Mommy still stands as the frontunner given its Cannes win, critical support, box office clout, and Canuck Oscar status. Every Canadian Oscar submission  has triumphed at the Genies/Canadian Screen Awards since Incendies started the run in 2010. Dolan's 2009 debut I Killed My Mother breaks the pattern, but expect Mommy to follow suit and steamroll the competition à la Incendies, Monsieur Lazhar, or Rebelle.

1/08/2015

'What Happens When a Man Stands Up and Says Enough is Enough?'

Selma
(USA, 128 min.)
Dir. Ava DuVernay, Writ. Paul Webb
Starring: David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tom Wilkinson, Common, Lorraine Toussaint, Wendell Pierce, Tessa Thompson, Tim Roth, Oprah Winfrey.
“What happens when a man stands up and says enough is enough?” asks Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (David Oyelowo, A Most Violent Year) as he leads the landmark voting rights march in Selma, a powerful dramatization of the Civil Rights trek from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. What happens, though, when a woman says enough is enough? Selma itself rings with a palpable relevancy as it brings filmmaker Ava DuVernay into the mainstream from the corners of American independent cinema in which she’s had notable success with small films such as Middle of Nowhere. Selma offers a resounding rallying cry of “enough is enough” from the onscreen Dr. King and from the director Miss DuVernay. Conversations are growing and growing about the necessity for more representation from female and minority voices behind the camera in Hollywood, and Selma couldn’t provide a better example for the necessity of diversity on both sides of the frame. DuVernay dramatizes this slice-of-history with a forcefully authentic voice.

Contest! Win Tickets to See 'Cake' Across Canada! (CONTEST CLOSED)

Good news, Oscar junkies! Here’s a chance to have your cake and eat it, too. Jennifer Aniston’s picking up steam for her performance in Cake and getting hot Oscar buzz after earning Best Actress nominations at the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, and the Critics Choice Awards. Cake opens in theatre on January 23rd from D Films, but if you want to attend a sneak peek of Cake, you are in luck! Answer the trivia below for your chance to win tickets!

1/07/2015

A Literary Kind of Love

Gemma Bovery
(France, 99 min.)
Dir. Anne Fontaine, Writ. Anne Fontaine, Pascal Bonitzer
Starring: Gemma Arterton, Fabrice Luchini, Jason Flemyng, Niels Schneider, Isabelle Candelier, Edith Scob, Elsa Zlyberstein.
Gemma Arterton and Fabrice Luchini © Jérôme Prébois / Albertine Productions
Ah, books. Isn’t nice to relish a classic work of literature and see the delicately crafted words fuse art and life? A great book lives on the mind of the reader, and the legacy of a masterwork couldn’t be more evident than in Anne Fontaine’s Gemma Bovery as bookworm baker Martin Joubert (played by In the House’s Fabrice Luchini) watches art imitate life in his quaint country town in Normandy. Joubert, endlessly enjoying flights of the imagination to escape the boredom of his humdrum life, finds himself in luck when some new neighbours move in across the street and the wife (Gemma Arterton) goes by the name of Gemma Bovery. Normandy, as Joubert explains, is where Flaubert wrote his literary landmark Madame Bovary, so the potential that a real life Emma Bovary lives nearby lands Joubert in the midst of a juicy page-turner.

Contest! Win Tickets to see 'Mortdecai' Across Canada! (CONTEST CLOSED)

Movember comes early as Johnny Depp busts out his best ’stache in Mortdecai! Depp stars in this fun caper alongside Ewan McGregor and Gwyneth Paltrow. Mortdecai opens in Canada on January 23rd from eOne Films, but if you want to attend one of the sneak peeks happening across Canada you are in luck! Answer the trivia below for your chance to win tickets!

Cinemalinks: Weekly Reads

Into the Woods
New resolution for the New Year: Share more work by fellow writers. I’ve always been meaning to do something like this, but in 2015, I’ll resolve to do more weekly round-ups of reading links!

Good reads for the week:


1/06/2015

Toronto Film Critics Honour 'Enemy', 'In Her Place'

Director Denis Villeneuve on the set of Enemy.
The Toronto Film Critics Association has added its vote to the Canuck contingent of award season! The group gave Denis Villeneuve's Enemy the Ted Rogers Award for Best Canadian Film tonight, which carries a cash prize of $100 000. (The largest purse in Canadian film, I believe.) The prize caps off an impressive awards run for Villeneuve's film, which won five Canadian Screen Awards last year, the DGC prize in the fall, and Best Director for Villeneuve last night at the Vancouver Film Critics Circle awards. Also nominated with Enemy were Xavier Dolan's Mommy and Michael Dowse's The F Word. Previous recipients of the award include Sarah Polley's Stories We Tell and Jennifer Baichwal's Watermark.

The Sins of the Father

Fall
(Canada, 83 min.)
Written and directed by Terrance Odette
Starring: Michael Murphy, Katie Boland, Wendy Crewson, Suzanne Clément
Michael Murphy as Father Sam, and Annabelle McGregor as Maysa, in Fall.
  Photo by Melissa Connors. Courtesy of Mongrel Media.
“Do you believe in heaven, Father?” asks Reza (Cas Anvar) to Father Sam (Michael Murphy) after the priest says a funeral for Reza’s late mother.
“It’s worse than that,” replies Father Sam. “I believe in the other place, too.”


Take a Risk on Something Else

The Beautiful Risk
(Canada, 90 min.)
Written and directed by Mark Penney
Starring: Shaun Benson, Elaine Gagnon
Digital is a war that film seems to be losing. It’s not necessarily a question of Quentin Tarantino versus Mike Leigh in which one great filmmaker fights to preserve the warmth and texture of 70mm film stock while the other auteur simply accepts and embraces the latest change in the industry. It’s also not a question of digital democracy, since the economy of digital cinema means that there are more voices that ever in the film scene. That’s never a bad thing when the lesser cost of shooting and distributing on digital means that films like I Put a Hit on You, The Animal Project, Cinemanovels, and other microbudget CanCon find life for innovative filmmakers to introduce less conventional works of art to fans seeking alternative to the mainstream. There’s more valuable work than ever before thanks to digital cinema; however, as with anything else in consumer culture like social media or fast food, one needs to filter out the noise a bit more actively to find the good stuff.


1/05/2015

'Tu Dors Nicole' Trumps 'Mommy' at Vancouver Film Critics Circle

Marc-André Grondin and Julianne Côté star in Stéphane Lafleur's Tu Dors Nicole.
Photo: Sara Mishara, Les Films Séville
Here's a surprise: the Vancouver Film Critics Circle announced their award winners tonight (via HitFix) and the top honours in their Canadian awards went to Stéphane Lafleur's Tu Dors Nicole! Even bigger among the upsets is the coup of Nicole star Julianne Côté in the Best Actress in a Canadian Film category over Mommy's Anne Dorval. Those are pretty big upsets over Canada's Oscar bid (and the performance of the year) considering that Mommy led the VFCC's Canuck nominations, but I'm also happy to see Tu Dors Nicole earn some love this season since it's still one of the best films of 2014, Canadian or otherwise.  Dolan's film still managed a handful of awards including one for Suzanne Clément while sleeper hit Violent, which gets its first crack at Toronto audiences during its Canada's Top Ten run this week, scooped BC honours. This award season is certainly the most unpredictable one we've had in a while and the Canadian front is no exception!

The full list of winners:

All's Fun in Love and War

I Put a Hit on You
(Canada, 78 min.)
Written and directed by Dane Clark & Linsey Stewart
Starring: Aaron Ashmore, Sara Canning
A person can get a lot of crazy stuff on the Internet: couches, TVs, roommates, hookers, gigs, and more. All sorts of helpful, if sketchy, conveniences are just a click away. In the age of online anonymity, that’s both great and terrifying. Some folks take it to the extreme with Casual Encounters and the like, but Craig’s List is a breeding ground for poor life choices as scorned lover Harper (Sarah Canning) learns when a booze-fuelled revenge session leads her to put a hit on her boyfriend Ray (Aaron Ashmore) in exchange for the wedding ring that he declined to accept.


1/04/2015

Tim Horton's: The Movie

Corner Gas: The Movie
(Canada, 87 min.)
Dir. David Storey; Writ. Brent Butt, Andrew Carr, Andrew Wreggitt
Starring: Brent Butt, Gabrielle Miller, Fred Ewaniuk, Eric Peterson, Janet Wright, Lorne Cardinal, Tara Spencer-Nairn, Nancy Robertson

An article in Maclean’s Magazine perfectly brews the crux of a debate that’s been percolating in Canada’s national consciousness ever since Burger King announced its acquisition of Tim Horton’s earlier this summer. The writer, Scott Feschuk, explains how the iconic beverage of Canadian quaintness isn’t something to be proud of. Tim Horton’s, largely seen as the working class everyperson’s coffee in the face of growing Starbucks culture, often brings an emotional connection that helps define Canadians as something simple and un-American. Tim Horton’s, Feschuk writes, “is not an anti-Starbucks choice that makes you a more relatable politician or a more authentic Canadian.” It’s bad, cheap coffee.

1/02/2015

Oscar Predictions: Round 5 - Which Actors Could Edge Out the Competition?

Timothy Spall as J.M.W. Turner.
Photo by Simon Mein, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics / Mongrel
Gold Derby recently posted a list of eight Oscar underdogs that could break into the race. (Included among them are potential nominees like Ralph Fiennes.) The acting races are especially tight this year (some of them, anyways) and there’s usually one random actor to make it through to the nominations without getting any love from the all-important trifecta of the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild, and the BFCA. (Don’t forget the BAFTAs nominations, too, which will be announced Jan. 9, just one day after polls close for the Oscar nominations.) 2014 was an aggressively back-loaded year, as we’ve discussed previously, and will break through the noise. Who, then, could be the real underdogs of the race and which nominees of Oscar's past offer precedents to give them hope?

1/01/2015

Welcoming 2015 with the Most Anticipated Films the Year!

Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdeen in Far from the Madding Crowd.
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Happy New Year! A new year means new movies and there’s a lot to look forward to in 2015. More Meryl, some impressive Canuck productions, and a few major adaptations provide more reasons that I’m looking forward to a new year. (Side note: when the heck are we getting the adaptation of Zoë Heller’s The Believers?) Here are Cinemablographer’s most anticipated films of 2015 in no particular order. Add the film you’re most looking forward to in the comments!