6/22/2017

"That's, Like, the Biggest Shark I've Ever Seen."


47 Meters Down
(USA, 89 min.)
Dir. Johannes Roberts; Writ. Johannes Roberts, Ernest Riera
Starring: Mandy Moore, Claire Holt
Mandy Moore Claire Holt
Claire Holt and Mandy Moore star in 47 Meters Down.
VVS Films
The cautious tourists always have the craziest vacations. Linda (Goldie Hawn) plays it safe and doesn’t talk to strangers during her Ecuadorian nightmare, but she gets kidnapped and terrorized by the cartel. Susan (Cate Blanchett) drinks Diet Coke without ice to avoid germs in Morocco, yet a renegade bullet nips her whilst she naps on a tour bus. Darlene (Kate Beckinsale) hesitantly agrees with her friend Alice (Claire Danes) to swap Hawaii for Thailand and (whoops) finds herself spending more time in jail than on the beach. Rose (Kate Winslet) follows her mother’s orders until she rebels and finds love on a cruise ship until (whomp whomp) the boat sinks. Lonely Planet doesn’t prepare tourists for plot twists.


6/18/2017

Contest: Win a Digital Download of '100 Streets' Starring Idris Elba and Gemma Arteton!


Idris Elba, the Internet’s favourite candidate for the next James Bond, teams up with former Bond girl Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace) for the new indie thriller 100 Streets. This tense multi-narrative film stars the two suave Brits in an acclaimed ensemble cast that includes Tom Cullen (Downton Abbey), Franz Drameh (Attack the Block) and Ken Stott (The Hobbit). 100 Streets comes to iTunes on Tuesday, June 20 from Pacific Northwest Pictures and lucky readers have the chance to win a free digital download of the film. Enter the trivia below for your chance to win!

6/12/2017

Rachel Getting Harried


My Cousin Rachel
(UK/USA, 106 min.)
Written and directed by Roger Michell
Starring: Sam Claflin, Rachel Weisz, Iain Glenn, Holliday Grainger
Rachel Weisz My Cousin Rachel.
  Photo by Nicola Dove / Fox Searchlight Pictures
Dead wives and Daphne du Maurier go together like cake and ice cream. The haunting prose of the popular author is at its best in Rebecca, the story of the nameless second Mrs. de Winter living in the shadow of her husband’s widow, Rebecca. It’s a hypnotic Gothic story, but also perhaps the best example of a film being better than the book. Alfred Hitchcock’s spellbinding psychological thriller and ghost story is an eerie production that gets inside the head of its jittery protagonist (Joan Fontaine) as she braves the high bar set by her predecessor, survives the husband (Laurence Olivier) who might have killed Rebecca, and unravels under the presence of the loony housekeeper Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson). Death and widows brew in a similar tempest in My Cousin Rachel, albeit without the weirdly sexual storm cloud of Mrs. Danvers.


6/04/2017

'It's Only the End of the World' Leads Quebec's Prix Iris Winners


Léa Seydoux in Xavier Dolan's It's Only the End of the World
Photo by Shane Laverdière, Sons of Manual
Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only the End of the World ended its award streak on another high note by winning five awards at Quebec’s Prix Iris (formerly known as the Jutra Awards), the province’s top ceremony honouring the best in Quebecois cinema. World won five prizes including Best Film, Director, Casting, and Cinematography. Dolan made an impressive haul with the film despite meeting a rocky reception that still leaves World without American distribution. Before the Iris ceremony, World won the Grand Prix at Cannes, six Canadian Screen Awards including Best Film and Best Director, three French Cesars including Best Director and it served as Canada’s Oscar submission where it made the shortlist. Dolan previously won four Jutras for Mommy and two for his breakthrough I Killed My Mother.


6/01/2017

Mungiu Comes Back from Detention


Graduation (Bacalaureat)
(Romania/Belgium/France, 128 min.)
Written and directed by Cristian Mungiu
Starring: Adrian Titieni, Maria-Victoria Dragus, Lia Bugnar, Vlad Ivanov, Malina Manovici, Petre Ciubotaru
Cristian Mungiu is back from detention. The Romanian auteur who won Cannes’ Palme d’Or winner and drew notice to the Romanian new wave with 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days returns with a film that mostly delivers on the promise of his 2007 breakthrough. The long takes are back in tried and tested form following a tediously slow slump with his much-lauded-but-excruciatingly-tedious Beyondthe Hills. This taut psychological drama displays carefully rehearsed restraint as Mungiu creates a complex moral fable out of one family’s despair.

5/23/2017

Why Commit to 'The Lovers'?


The Lovers
(USA, 94 min.)
Written and directed by Azazel Jacobs
Starring: Debra Winger, Tracy Letts, Melora Walters, Aidan Gillen
Debra Winger and Tracy Letts in The Lovers.
Robb Rosenfeld. Courtesy Mongrel Media
There’s little reason to commit to The Lovers. It’s a shame that this intimate two-hander blunders since it’s an admirable effort on many fronts. The Lovers casts Debra Winger (remember her?) and Tracy Letts (Indignation) in refreshingly substantial roles as Mary and Michael, a married couple for whom passion’s long stalled. It might have set Sundance ablaze had it starred H&M models in skinny jeans—or given the audience at least one character to root for by the end.


5/19/2017

The Commune: In Good Company


The Commune (Kollektivit)
(Denmark/Sweden, 111 min.)
Dir. Thomas Vinterberg, Writ. Thomas Vinterberg, Tobias Lindholm
Starring: Ulrich Thomson, Trine Dyrholm, Martha Sofie Wallstrøm Hansen, Helene Reingaard Neumann, Fares, Magnus Millang
Trine Dyrholm in The Commune
Courtesy Pacific Northwest Pictures
After hitting a career-high with his sumptuously sensitive adaptation of Far From the Madding Crowd (one of this blog's favourite films of 2015), Danish director Thomas Vinterberg heads home with The Commune. It’s a true homecoming in several ways for the director who, along with Danish enfant terrible Lars Von Trier, is one of the names behind the stripped-back, no frills Dogme 95 style. Far from the Madding Crowd might be as far from the chastity of the Dogme school as a filmmaker can get (aside from Marvel movies), but Vinterberg finds higher ground after the bigger project. The Commune draws upon Vinterberg’s childhood experience of growing up in a commune and the filmmaker interrogates his relationships with women in this excellent period drama/love triangle that adapts the filmmaker’s unique voice to the accessible sheen of mid-sized prestige pics like Madding. It’s one of the year’s best and most surprising films.


5/16/2017

Contest! Win Run of Engagement Passes to See 'The Commune' in Toronto!

Danish auteur Thomas Vinterberg (Far from the Madding Crowd) returns with the acclaimed drama The Commune. The film tells a bittersweet tale of a family that decides to explore alternative living when Anna (Trine Dyrholm, who won a well-deserved Best Actress prize at Berlin last year) suggests communal residence as remedy to their big empty house. The Commune opens Friday, May 19 in Toronto at TIFF Bell Lightbox from Pacific Northwest Pictures and in the spirit of communal cinema, we have run of engagement passes to see the film! Answer the trivia below for your chance to win!

5/09/2017

Hot Docs 2017: Festival Wrap-Up and Picks for 'Best of the Fest'

Step - My pick for 'Best of the fest' at Hot Docs 2017
Courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures
That’s a wrap for Hot Docs! Another festival is in the can. There’s a simplicity to covering Hot Docs that can’t be beat in Toronto and perhaps that’s purely the relaxed attitude of the documentary crowd. Complete coverage may be found over at the POV Hot Docs hub and while we’ve been busier than ever cranking out two issues back to back before Hot Docs, it’s nice to be back here at Cinemablographer after six weeks of winter. Big thanks to the programmers, staff, volunteers, publicists, and filmmakers for another good festival.

3/24/2017

Wilson: American Blowhard


Wilson
(USA, 94 min.)
Dir. Craig Johnson, Writ. Daniel Clowes
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, Judy Greer, Isabella Amara, Cheryl Hines

Laura Dern as Pippi and Woody Harrelson as Wilson in Wilson.
Photo by Wilson Webb / Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Wilson is a man from another era. He isn’t one for cell phones and he has an utter disdain for the Internet. Real communication, to Wilson, is that old-school person-to-person stuff. That’s too bad because Wilson really isn’t much of a people person.


3/15/2017

The Claws Come Out


Catfight
(USA, 96 min.)
Written and directed by Onur Tukel
Starring: Sandra Oh, Anne Heche
The spirit of Russ Meyer endures in Catfight. Sandra Oh and Anne Heche face off in the mother of all catfights in this utter bonkers black comedy from Onur Tukel. Catfight doesn’t offer buxom babe sexploitation in the vein of Faster, Pussycat, but this darkly funny girl-on-girl action nevertheless delivers a thrill by empowering women through violence. Catfight is both a guilty pleasure and a frisky social satire.


3/12/2017

Canadian Screen Award Winners (In Progress)

Best Picture
It's Only the End of the World

Best Director
Xavier Dolan, It's Only the End of the World

Best Actress
Tatiana Maslany, The Other Half

Best Actor
Stephan James, Race

Best Supporting Actress
Molly Parker, Weirdos (woohoo!)

Best Supporting Actor
Vincent Cassel, It's Only the End of the World

Best Adapted Screenplay
Xavier Dolan, It's Only the End of the World

Best Original Screenplay
Daniel MacIvor, Weirdos

Best Cinematography
André Turpin, It's Only the End of the World

Best Film Editing
Richard Comeau, Two Lovers and a Bear 

Best Costumes
Patricia McNeil, Nelly

Best Art Direction/Production Design
Emanuel Frechette, Two Lovers and a Bear

Best Music - Original Score
Born to Be Blue

Best Music - Original Song
Born to Be Blue, "Could Have Been"

Best Documentary Feature
I am the Blues

Best Editing in a Documentary Feature
Dave De Carlo, Giants of Africa

Best Cinematography in a Documentary Feature
John Price, I am the Blues

Best Animated Short
Blind Vaysha

Best Live Action Short
Mutants

Best Documentary Short
this river

Best Overall Sound
Race

Best Sound Editing
Race

Best Visual Effects
Race

Best Make-up
Maina Militza and Denis Vidal, It's Only the End of the World

Best First Feature
Old Stone, Johnny Ma












3/10/2017

Canadian Screen Awards Preview: Who Should Win on Sunday?

Xavier Dolan on the shoot of It's Only the End of the World
Shane Laerdière, Sons of Manual
And we’re back! After catching our breath following that doozy of a finale to the Oscars, it’s time for Canada’s own award show: the Canadian Screen Awards. The nickname of “The Candies” doesn’t seem to have caught on despite the noble effort to make the moniker stick, so we’ll just keep on running with The Screenies as an abbrev’d name.

2/27/2017

Oscars Recap: Now That's What I Call an Ending!

Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty with the Best Actress envelope.
How’s that for an ending? A relatively ho-hum Oscar ceremony became a wild night after Best Picture presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway received the envelope for Best Actress and incorrectly gave the prize to La La Land. Moonlight, however, ultimately won in the biggest Oscar upset since Crash. The Hollywood Reporter has the full rundown on the snafu. What a night to remember!

2/25/2017

Oscar Party Playlist

Sandra Huller belts out some Whitney Houston in Toni Erdmann
Sony Pictures Classics
Ballots printed ☑
Popcorn popped ☑
Bubbly on ice ☑
Oscar noms prepared ☑


2/24/2017

Oscars Predictions: Final Round - Another Day of Sun

Ryan Gosling in Oscar's next Best Picture winner, La La Land
It’s the final few hours of award season! This year has ample speculation that the circus in the land of Lady Liberty will inspire the Oscars to get political. At the very least, a few of the speeches are bound to be good TV.

Contest! Win Passes to See 'Bitter Harvest'!


Canadian director George Mendeluk returns with the sweeping historical drama Bitter Harvest. Starring Max Irons, Samantha Barks, and Terrence Stamp, Bitter Harvest dramatizes the fight of rural Ukrainians standing up to the devastating campaign launched by Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union. Bitter Harvest opens in theatres March 3 from D Films and we have run of engagement passes to see the film in theatres! Answer the trivia below for your chance to win!

2/22/2017

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner: Royal Wedding


A United Kingdom
(UK/USA, 110 min.)
Dir. Amma Asante, Writ. Guy Hibbert
Starring: David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike, Jack Davenport, Tom Felton, Lady Edith
David Oyelowo as Seretse Khama and Rosamund Pike as Ruth Williams in A United Kingdom.
Photo by Stanislav Honzik, courtesy Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.
The newspapers call Ruth Williams “The White Queen” as they flash on the screen in A United Kingdom. These headlines don’t serve as compliments. They are slurs.


2/20/2017

Watch Oscar Nominee 'Blind Vaysha'

Courtesy of the NFB
In the spirit of the category, let's keep this short and sweet: watch the Oscar-nominated and Canadian Screen Award-nominated Blind Vaysha for free thanks to the NFB!


2/19/2017

TIFF Next Wave Review: '1:54'


1:54
(Canada, 105 min.)
Written and directed by Yan England, Writ.
Starring: Antoine Olivier Pilon, Sophie Nélisse, Lou-Pascal Tremblay, David Boutin, Patrice Godin, Robert Naylor, Anthony Therrien, Guillaume Gauthier
Les Films Séville
Mommy star Antoine Olivier Pilon delivers another strong and bold performance with his turn as Tim, a shy and closeted teen in 1:54. The young actor delivers on the promise and the high bar set by his award-winning turn in the Xavier Dolan drama. 1:54 is another entry in the queer Quebec canon as Pilon’s character wrestles with his identity while struggling with a two-fold loss: his best friend and unrequited love, Francis (Robert Naylor). As both a coming of age/coming out of the closet film and study in contemporary cyberbullying, this relevant teen-set drama is a mature snapshot of the challenges facing contemporary youths.

2/16/2017

Memo to the Academy: For Your Consideration


Time for the Academy to consider worthy nominees! Pictured: Amy Adams in Arrival
The ballots are in the mail as the race enters the final stretch! Best Picture seems like a done deal for La La Land, and that’s just fine by me, but this season offered one surprise after another beginning with the Golden Globe win for Moonlight just after Aaron Taylor-Johnson snuck past favourite Mahersala Ali that same night. Isabelle Huppert knocked out Natalie Portman at the Globes, then Denzel Washington and Hidden Figures shook up the SAG Awards before Dev Patel and Lion roared at the BAFTAs. With the exception of Best Supporting Actress—Viola Davis has that in the bag for her work in Fences—some races might be closer than we think. On that note, it’s time to send the annual memo to the Academy to vote with their heads—and hearts—for a few contenders that deserve the gold.

2/15/2017

TIFF Next Wave Review: 'Before the Streets'


Before the Streets (Avant les rues)
(Canada, 97 min.)
Written and directed by Chloé Leriche
Starring: Rykko Bellemarre, Kwena Bellemare-Boivin, Jacques Newashish, Martin Dubreuil
Every year as of late, the Canadian Academy nominates a completely random movie for Best Picture that flew under the radars of most of us covering the Canadian film beat. Demons barely saw life until it was a Canada’s Top Ten pick, Cast No Shadow invited a collective “huh?” when it scored four nominations, and the ever-confounding call for Maïna despite the film not screening at any qualifying festival can, for better or for worse, draw attention to a film that squeaked by us. (Or flagrantly chose to cheat the system, in the latter case.)


2/10/2017

Oscar Live Action Shorts Highlight Connection and Inclusion


La Femme et le TGV
Shorts HC
The five films in this year’s pack of Oscar-nominated live action shorts are a lengthy bunch. They’re good, mind you, but with four of ’em each coming in at nearly half an hour, the full programme is akin to binge-watching a few weeks’ worth of a sitcom, except that only two of them are comedies.

2/09/2017

Oscar Animated Shorts: Canuck Nominees Lead Field


Blind Vaysha.
Courtesy of the NFB.
Canada goes for gold in this year’s Oscar race for Best Animated Short. Two of the five nominees are Canuck cartoons and they’re easily the most unique films of the bunch. Let’s build to the best, though, and save the homegrown talent for last.

2/08/2017

Contest! Win 'The Edge of Seventeen' on Blu-ray!


Fall in love all over again with one of last year’s hidden gems, The Edge of Seventeen. (Read the Cinemablographer interview with the Edge of Seventeen team here.) This refreshing comedy from newcomer Kelly Fremon Craig and producer James L. Brooks boasts a never better Hailee Steinfeld in a performance that earned her a Golden Globe nomination. The Edge of Seventeen is coming soon to home video from VVS Films and Cinemablographer has Blu-rays to give away to luck readers! Answer the trivia below for your chance to win!

It's Miller Time for Asghar Farhadi


The Salesman (Forushande)
(Iran/France, 125 min.)
Written and directed by Asghar Farhadi
Starring: Shahab Hosseini, Taraneh Alidoosti
Shahab Hosseini & Taraneh Alidoosti in The Salesman directed by Asghar Farhadi
Elevation Pictures
It's Miller Time for Asghar Farhadi. The Oscar winning director of A Separation returns with this sparse parable that draws upon the beloved American play Death of a Salesman. Opening in theatres with the news that Farhadi won’t be attending the Oscars due to President Trump’s outrageous Muslim ban, this nominee for Best Foreign Language Film benefits from hitting screens when viewers must be willing to open themselves up when the powers that be are closing borders to entire pockets of the world. This demanding and at times painfully slow film asks a lot of a viewer to disentangle Farhadi's play with Miller's text. The Salesman might be an exercise in patience, but it is also a necessary essay on compassion.


2/06/2017

Less is More in 'The Red Turtle'


The Red Turtle
(France/Belgium/Japan, 80 min.)
Dir. Michael Dudok de Wit, Writ. Michael Dudok de Wit, Pascal Ferran
Sony Pictures Classics
The Red Turtle is a masterful example of how less can be more. This Academy Award nominee for Best Animated Feature and new Studio Ghibli film—the first international co-production from the Japanese animation empire—takes a very simple story and delivers it with breathtaking modesty. Director Michael Dudok de Wit unfurls a timeless fable in which a young man finds himself shipwrecked and stranded on an island—and nary a word of dialogue aside from a “Hey!” and a mumble here or there. Without anyone to help him until a large mythical red turtle comes ashore, the man is left to survive without so much as a volleyball named Wilson. The Red Turtle is storytelling in its purest and most basic form.


2/02/2017

If Men Are From Mars...


The Space Between Us
(USA, 120 min.)
Dir. Peter Chelsom, Writ. Allan Loeb
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Britt Robertson, Carla Gugino, Gary Oldman
Britt Robertson and Asa Butterfield star in The Space Between Us.
VVS Films
Interplanetary romance is a claim that few can make, no matter how alien one’s ex-lover might be. If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, then a relationship between a Martian and an Earthling isn’t too farfetched. There’s less space between the red dot in the sky and the blue one, compared to the red and the yellow.


2/01/2017

What Were They Smoking?


Bad Seeds (Les mauvaises herbes)
(Canada, 105 min.)
Dir. Louis Bélanger, Writ. Louis Bélanger, Alexis Martin
Starring: Alexis Martin, Gilles Renaud, Emmanuelle Lussier Martinez
 
Alexis Martin in Les mauvaises herbes.
Les Films Séville
Screenie voters, roll up your ballots and toke a fatty. Some members of the Academy must have been blintzed while casting their votes their year. What were they smoking?


1/29/2017

SAG Awards Tonight: Will Win/Should Win

Trevonte Rhodes and André Holland in Moonlight.
Elevation Pictures
The Oscar race for Best Picture is almost a done deal at this point following last night's La La Land win at the Producer's Guild of America Awards. While a PGA isn't the surest sign of Oscar victory (The Big Short won last year), it shows that this season's frontrunner plays well on the only other awards body that uses the same ranked preference ballot that the Academy employs for Best Picture. If someone wants to shake things up, it's now or never.


1/25/2017

'It's Only the End of the World' Lands 6 César Noms

Photo by Shane Laverdière, Sons of Manual
Xavier Dolan's It's Only the End of the World might have missed out at the Oscars, but it landed six nominations at France's César Awards, the European country's equivalent to the little golden man. Dolan's film, which was Canada's submission for Best Foreign Language Film in this year's Academy Awards race, earned a César nom in the foreign film category, as well as two nods for Dolan in the categories of Best Director and Best Editing. The film also landed nominations for actors Gaspar Ulliel (Best Actor), Nathalie Baye (Best Supporting Actress), and Best Supporting Actor (Vincent Cassel). The film lead the total number of film nominees for this year's Canadian Screen Awards announced earlier this week.


1/24/2017

Oscar Nominations!

Oscar nominations! A big day for Canada with well-deserved nominations for Denis Villeneuve (Best Director, Arrival), Ryan Gosling (Best Actor, La La Land), Patrice Vermette and Paul Hotte (Best Production Design, Arrival), and in a nomination that's long overdue, Theodore Ushev (Best Animated Short, Blind Vaysha). Canada's It's Only the End of the World didn't make the cut for Best Foreign Language Film, but it made it further in the race than anticipated. The nominees in that category are a strong bunch with heavy favourite Toni Erdmann leading the pack and dark horse Tanna passing most pundits' expectations.

1/19/2017

Oscars Round 4 - Here Come the Nominations!

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in La La Land, an Entertainment One release.
Photo by Dale Robinette
The ballots are in and accountants are busy! The Oscar nominations come out Tuesday morning without the usual fanfare of woohoos! in the room. Not only is the Academy keeping the press announcement press and publicist free, but the inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the USA leaves the Oscar nominations at the end of a very dire news cycle. It's times like this one in which a feel-good film like La La Land stands poised to sweep.

1/18/2017

How Do You Say 'Get Off My Lawn!' in Swedish?


A Man Called Ove
(Sweden, 116 min.)
Written and directed by Hannes Holm
Starring: Rolf Lassgård
Music Box Films

What’s the Swedish translation for “Get off my lawn?” A Man Called Ove (pronounced Ové) transport Clint Eastwood’s crusty old man from Gran Torino to a peculiar little Nordic community. The only real difference between Ove (played by Rolf Lassgård) and Eastwood’s Walt Kowalski is a shotgun. But Ove will undoubtedly pack some heat in the inevitable American remake of this hugely popular Swedish hit.


Contest: Win Tickets to See 'The Space Between Us' in Select Cities!


Asa Butterfield and Britt Robertson play star-crossed lovers in The Space Between Us, a new interplanetary adventure that’s The Fault in Our Stars meets The Martian. The Space Between Us opens February 3rd from VVS Films and Cinemablographer has tickets to give away in select cities! Answer the trivia below for your chance to win tickets!


1/17/2017

Canadian Screen Award Nominations


It's Only the End of the World  / eOne Films
Xavier Dolan's It's Only the End of the World leads the pack of this year's Canadian Screen Award nominations, which were announced via a Facebook live stream. (Sorry for the delay. Day turned crazy mid announcement.) Overall, these nominations are a bit of the good, the pleasantly surprising, some films that I haven't even heard of, and the totally outrageous. In other words, it's par for the course with an award show.


1/15/2017

Canada's Top Ten Review: 'Old Stone'

Old Stone (Lao Shi)
(Canada/China, 80 min.)
Written and directed by Johnny Ma
Starring: Chen Gang, Zhang Zebin
Zeitgeist Films / Films We Like
Programmers, critics, and random dudes in festival audiences liken Old Stone to a fusion of flavours. It might be a neorealist film that becomes a noir in one programmer’s notes, a hardboiled Kafkaesque detective story in a writer’s review, or a Greek tragedy crossed with a Russian novel in the eyes of a gushing fan. No matter the palette or the crossbreed of cuisines, though, there’s a universal flavour to the mixed grill that Johnny Ma cooks in Old Stone. This moral fable meets 1990s Hong Kong action flick is an intense, provocative, and extremely promising first feature. Perhaps the essence of a young chef reinventing a traditional recipe gives Old Stone its refreshing bite.

1/13/2017

'It's Always About the Mother'

20th Century Women
(USA, 118 min.)
Written and directed by Mike Mills
Starring: Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig, Elle Fanning, Lucas Jade Zumann, Billy Crudup
Annette Bening and Lucas Jade Zumann in 20th Century Women.
Elevation Pictures

“What about you?” asks Julie (Elle Fanning) to Dorothea (Annette Bening). “It’s always about the mother.”

“Ok. Jesus, uh… yeah,” replies Dorothea, dumbstruck, baffled, and caught slightly off guard.


1/12/2017

A Comedy of Bad Manners

Sieranevada
(Romania, 176 min.)
Written and directed by Cristi Puiu
Starring: Mimi Branescu, Judith State, Bogdan Dumitrache, Dana Dogaru, Sorin Medeleni, Ana Ciontea, Rolando Matsangos, Catalina Moga, Marin Grigore, Tatiana Iekel, Marian Râlea, Ioana Craciunescu, Llona Brezoianu, Simona Ghia, Valer Dellakeza, Andi Vasluianu, Mara Elena Andrei, Petra Kurtela
Courtesy of TIFF
Sieranevada is the best three-hour Romanian funereal comedy ever made. It might be the only three-hour Romanian funereal comedy ever made, but the film deserves to wear this title with morbid pride.


1/10/2017

The Gospel According to Marty

Silence
(USA, 161 min.)
Dir. Martin Scorsese, Writ. Jay Cocks, Martin Scorsese
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Issei Ogata, Liam Neeson, Ciarán Hinds, Yôsuke Kubozuka
Martin Scorsese’s Silence is a cinematic meditation. This slow and pensive film is one of the director’s finest artistic achievements as he breathtakingly recreates 1600’s Japan to depict the persecution of Catholics and the priests who fight for the faithful. Silence patiently immerses the viewers in the profound crisis of faith of Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and the film is a departure for Scorsese, even by the standards with which one judges the side of his oeuvre that favours historical dramas over gangster flicks. More in the vein of The Age of Innocence than Kundun, Silence is a film to admire from a distance. It doesn’t invite an immediate Hallelujah!, but it’s one of the deeper considerations of faith on film in some time. Its holy waters take some time to tread.


'Hello Destroyer', 'The Stairs' Top Vancouver and Toronto Awards

Hello Destroyer
It's a homegrown affair for the Vancouver Film Critics Circle as Kevan Funk's Hello Destroyer topped the Canadian prizes doled out by the BC crowd. Destroyer won the top prizes for Best Canadian Feature and Best Director. Fellow nominee and Canada's Top Ten pick Werewolf took the prize for Best First Film by a Canadian Director for Nova Scotia's Ashley McKenzie--a bit of a back handed compliment since Destroyer is also Funk's debut feature. Vancouver production Window Horses took the prize for Best Screenplay, while, in the night's best call, Molly Parker scooped the award for Best Supporting Actress for her flat-out brilliant performance in Bruce McDonald's Weirdos. Canuck Oscar bid It's Only the End of the World didn't even land a nomination, which means it got diddly from the nation's most prominent critics between Vancouver and Toronto.


Blu-ray Review: 'A War'

A War (Krigen)
(Denmark, 115 min.)
Written and directed by Tobias Lindholm
Starring:  Pilou Asbaek, Alex Høgh Andersen, Tuva Novotny, Søren Malling
Courtesy VVS Films

Canuck Oscar completists may now cross all the titles off the list of last year’s nominees! A War, Denmark’s nominee in the Best Foreign Language Film category, finally gets released in the Great White North after the intricacies off independent distribution deals kept it off the screens during last year’s race. That absence is a shame, for while A War might not have had much of a chance of toppling shoo-in/winner Son of Saul, it’s a smart, timely, and compelling film that deserves an audience.


1/06/2017

Golden Globes this Weekend: Who Will Win/Should Win?


Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) in La La Land.
  Photo by  Dale Robinette / an Entertainment One release.
Is it Globe time already? A look at the will wins and should wins of this weekend’s big show before Oscar ballots go back to the Academy.


1/05/2017

Crack Open 'A Monster Calls'

A Monster Calls
(USA/Spain/UK, 108 min.)
Dir. J.A. Bayona, Writ. Patrick Ness
Starring: Lewis MacDougall, Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver, Toby Kebbell, Liam Neeson
Story time is one of the best experiences children can share with their parents. Curling up with a good book, spending time together, and passing along advice through the power of the imagination is an essential part of growing up. As one watches Connor (Lewis MacDougall) learn valuable life lessons through tales of spells and magic, one can’t help but recall fond memories with mom and dad in which trips to faraway places made one feel safe and sound.


1/03/2017

'Moonlight' Leads Online Film Critics Society Award Winners

Naomie Harris in Moonlight.
Courtesy Elevation Pictures.
Barry Jenkins' Moonlight is the big winner at this year's awards dished out by the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS). Moonlight takes four awards including Best Film and Best Director. The Online Film Critics Society’s Governing Committee said, “We’d like to congratulate all involved with Moonlight for the power and humanity of this extraordinary film. Topical and relevant, it is a timely reminder of that which unites us being greater than that which divides us.” Other winners include Natalie Portman for Jackie (this blog's pick for best performance and best film of 2016) and Eric Heisserer for his screenplay for Arrival, directed by Canuck Denis Villeneuve.

The OFCS, of which I am a member, is the largest and longest-running international organisation devoted to promoting the diversity and quality of voices in online film criticism.