|Still from Ep. 3 of True Detective and the poster for Rhymes for Young Ghouls|
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The Invisible Woman
(UK, 111 min.)
Dir. Ralph Fiennes, Writ Abi Morgan
Starring: Felicity Jones, Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas, Joanna Scanlan, Tom Hollander
|Felicity Jones as Nelly Ternan and Ralph Fiennes as Charles Dickens. |
Photo by David Appleby, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
It was first William Shakespeare, now it’s Charles Dickens. Ralph Fiennes sure is becoming a literary filmmaker, eh? The Victorian-era scribe fares a bit better than the Bard did thanks to Fiennes’ sophomore feature film The Invisible Woman. The Invisible Woman shows an impressive step up for Mr. Fiennes as far as the technical prowess of making a movie is concerned. (Chaotic cinematography and an off-kilter tempo were key faults in 2011's Coriolanus.) Fiennes still has a bit of work to do before he establishes himself an auteur in addition to being a very fine actor, but the back-to-back successes of Coriolanus and The Invisible Woman are steps in the right direction. All Mr. Fiennes needs to do is show as much improvement on film number three as he does with film number two and he could be the next great actor-director. The Ben Affleck of literary types, perhaps?
(Iran/France, 130 min.)
Written and directed by Asghar Farhadi
Starring: Bérénice Bejo, Tahar Rahim, Ali Mosaffa, Pauline Burlet, Sabrina Ouazani
2014 is barely a month old, but there is already a clear frontrunner for the title of “Most Disappointing Film of the Year”. That film, surprisingly, is Asghar Farhadi’s The Past. Folks were all a twitter when the Iranian film was left off the Academy’s shortlist for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar; however, the voters on the loony foreign film committees made the right choice. The Past isn’t a bad film by any means, but it never achieves the greatness or gravitas of Farhadi’s revelatory A Separation, which scooped the Academy Award two years ago. The Past is more of the same from Farhadi. It just lacks the punch and style that made A Separation a five-star masterwork.
My Prairie Home
(Canada, 77 min.)
Dir. Chelsea McMullan
Featuring: Rae Spoon
There’s this brilliant shot in Chelsea McMullan’s musical documentary My Prairie Home (a Canadian Screen Awards nominee for Best Documentary Feature) that frames the two bathrooms of a Greyhound bus station as the film’s subject, Rae Spoon, talks in voiceover. There’s a men’s room on one side of the frame and a ladies’ room on the other. Both doors are open and inviting (as inviting as a bus stop bathroom can be). In centre of the frame is another door, closed and locked, and Rae’s bags occupy the in-between space that spans from the men’s to the ladies’ room. From which door will Rae exit?
My Prairie Home, with this subtle eye for place and space, asks a question that Rae has been conveying all along in their songs and stories. Rae, a transgendered musician, prefers the gender-neutral pronoun “they”. As Rae takes McMullan on a bus ride across the Canadian Prairies and tells their story to Chelsea, they speak of how conventional society doesn’t really make space for people who identify outside the conventional definitions. A bathroom at the bus stop might seem like the most mundane thing on Earth, but as the shot holds on the bathroom doors and Rae talks about their life, My Prairie Home offers a poignant visual complement for Rae’s story and for those who don’t fit into arbitrary social constructs. (Oh, and Rae merges from the ladies’ room, but then switches it up by stepping out of a men’s room later on in their travels.)
(USA/Australia, 93 min.)
Dir. Stuart Beattie, Writ. Stuart Beattie, Kevin Grevioux
Starring: Adam Eckhart, Yvonne Strahovski, Miranda Otto, Bill Nighy, Jai Courtney, Kevin Grevioux
I, Frankenstein opens in theatres today and it is every bit the steaming pile of January release we hoped it would be! This film based on the graphic novel by Kevin Grevioux probably has Mary Shelley spinning in her grave, but audiences in search of cheesy special effects fare might enjoy the so-bad-it’s-good camp of this silly adventure. Herewith, to make the folly of I, Frankenstein far more enjoyable, are the rules for the I, Frankenstein Drinking Game. Pop on your 3D glasses and here we go!
Rules of the I, Frankenstein Drinking Game:
|Piers Handling, Director and CEO of TIFF|
Handling has been with the Toronto International FilmFestival since 1982 and has enjoyed the role of Director and CEO since 1994. The festival has strengthened the profiles for Canadian films and world cinema alike under Handling’s guidance. Handling also expanded TIFF’s reach and impact with the development of the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto, which turns the festival’s mission to transform the way people see the world through film into a year-long celebration of cinema.
Canadian Screen Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature, as well as the Vancouver Film Critics Circle prize for Best Canadian Documentary. (Don't neglect your CSA checklist whilst catching all the Oscar nominees!) My Prairie Home will be available on the NFB website and it will also be available below. Watch the trailer to get a sneak peek and then come back here to watch the film on the 26th!
Canadian Film Institute’s Bright Nights Baltic-Nordic Film Festival offers just the ticket for folks looking to warm up and enjoy a movie during the city’s annual winter celebration. CFI Executive Director Tom McSorley playfully referenced the 1965 Canadian film Winter Kept Us Warm during the festival’s launch earlier today, saying the festival would do just that as a respite from the frosty temperatures. 2014 marks the fourth edition of the CFI’s Bright Nights Film Festival, which is held in collaboration with the Embassies of the Baltic-Nordic nations and in partnership with Winterlude. The film festival runs February 1st to 12th during the January 31st to February 17th celebration of Winterlude.
(Egypt/USA, 108 min.)
Dir. Jehane Noujaim
Feat. Ahmed Hassan, Khalid Abdalla, Dina Abdulla, Magdy Abomazen, Aida Elkashef,
“As long as there is a camera, the revolution will continue,” says Ahmed Hassan, the chief revolutionary through whom the audience sees the citizen revolution in Jehane Noujaim’s documentary The Square. The Square, which received an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature after nabbing the People’s Choice Award for Documentary at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, is documentary filmmaking in top form. Ahmed champions the importance of the camera because he and his fellow revolutionaries including actor Khalid Abdalla of The Kite Runner fame, know that it is up to the citizens fighting for change to tell the story. The revolution sees the ousting of both Egyptian President Hosni Murubak and his successor Mohamed Morsi, but the citizens at the front lines keep a diary of the events as they unfold so that those responsible can be held accountable when order is restored. The Square is digital democracy at its finest.
Big Bad Wolves
(Israel, 110 min.)
Written and directed by Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado
Starring: Lior Ashkenazi, Rotem Keinan, Tzahi Grad
It’s a testament to Quentin Tarantino’s influence on the culture of cinephilia that Big Bad Wolves is garnering as much attention as it is. The film geek director dubbed this Israeli dark comedy the best film of 2013 during an appearance at the Busan International Film Festival last fall and Big Bad Wolves has ever since been a point of anticipation for cinephiles that have been reared on the school of Tarantino. Big Bad Wolves is another decent example of a piece of world cinema finding its way into the spotlight thanks to Tarantino’s encouragement, but one can’t help but wish that the director endorsed a better film. Big Bad Wolves is, likely many a film by Tarantino himself, stylish and ultra-violent. Big Bad Wolves, however, never really uses said violence to make a compelling point. This film by Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado huffs and puffs, but it will hardly blow your movie house down.
The Act of Killing
(Denmark/UK/Norway/Finland, 115 min.)
Dir. Joshua Oppenheimer, Co-Dir: Cristine Cynn, Anonymous
The Act of Killing is an extraordinary balancing act of truth and meta-fiction. Director Joshua Oppenheimer reconstructs an era of history by inviting Indonesian death squad leaders to re-enact the war crimes and mass killings for which they were responsible in the 1960s. The Act of Killing introduces viewers to Anwar Congo, a proud leader of the atrocities that resulted in a million deaths, and it lets him play the role of John Wayne, Marlon Brando, and other rugged leading men whom he idolized while cleaning up the country in a brutal performance.
|Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker in Lee Daniels The Butler|
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
(USA/Russia, 105 min.)
Dir. Kenneth Branagh, Writ. Adam Cozad, David Koepp
Starring: Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner, Kenneth Branagh
Russia probably has enough political nightmares to deal with in the days leading up to the Olympic Games in Sochi. Anti-gay laws, a Draconian President, and Pussy Riot are enough causes for controversy, but the unfortunate timing of the release of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit—it was pushed back when Paramount was stuck playing post-production ping pong with The Wolf ofWall Street—couldn’t be more awkward. Bruce Willis might as well yell, “Yippee-Ki-Yay, Mother Russia!” This generic rehash of the popular character Jack Ryan, now played by Chris Pine (aka Captain Kirk), is a relic of Cold War-era conflict cut-and-paste into a world of post-9/11 paranoia. Everything feels old and cold in this lumbering, xenophobic rehash. Jack Ryan is a shoddy reboot.
|Meryl Streep and Juliette Lewis in August: Osage County|
|From left: Sophie Deraspe, Danishka Esterhazy, Michelle Latimer, Ingrid Veninger, |
Mars Horodyski, Anais Granofsky. Photo: John Gundy
|Meryl Steep in August: Osage County|
|Jason Retiman's Labor Day, based on the novel by Joyce Maynard. |
Photo courtesy Paramount Pictures
|Jake Gyllenhaal and Melanie Laurent in Enemy|
The full list of film nominees is as follows:
Lone Survivor took the box office by storm this weekend. The Peter Berg-directed film scored the #1 spot by grossing an impressive $38.5 million. Were you among the crowds that turned up to see Lone Survivor over the weekend? If yes, Cinemablographer salutes you. If not, you are in luck! Click below to win run of engagement to see Lone Survivor, courtesy of eOne Films!
|Emma Thompson: the real winner of the Golden Globes|
(USA, 126 min.)
Written and directed by Spike Jonze
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara
Spike Jonze’s acclaimed film Her finally opened in theatres this weekend after months of hype and praise following its premiere at the New York Film Festival last fall. I don’t know what to make of this latest endeavour from the original mind of Mr. Jonze. In order to wrap my head my disappointment, I turned to the source of all reliable information, my smartphone, and asked my trusty new app, Samantha. What follows is a transcript of our conversation:
Louis Cyr: The Strongest Man in the World
(Canada, 131 min.)
Dir. Daniel Roby, Writ. Sylvain Guy
Starring: Antoine Bertrand, Rose-Maïté Erkoreka, Guillaume, Gilbert Sicotte, Gil Bellows, Elaine Gagnon.
Louis Cyr earned the title of “strongest man in the world” in during his impressive feats of the late 1800s and many of his records have yet to be broken. He was a man of burly brawn and Louis Cyr, the Canuck biopic that tells his story, leaves little doubt of his unparalleled strength. It’s not the strongest film in the world, but Louis Cyr is nevertheless a grand, stately heritage pic that is built as solidly as the man whose life it dramatizes.
|Amy Adams in American Hustle|
Here’s a rundown of how the Globes could (or should) turn:
|Jake Gyllenhaal in Enemy|
here.) This brutal yet inspiring true story starring Mark Wahlberg opens in Ottawa this Friday. If you want to attend a sneak peek before Lone Survivor hits theatres on January 10th, click below for your chance to enter!
(Canada, 80 min.)
Dir. Matt Johnson, Writ. Matt Johnson, Evan Morgan, Josh Boles (story)
Starring: Matt Johnson, Owen Williams, Krista Madison, Jay McCarrol
What are the most tired tales and conventions when it comes to teen-set cinema? I might have said bullying, school shootings, and found footage films, but then I saw The Dirties. The Dirties, Matt Johnson’s flat-out brilliant feature debut, shows that everything old can be new again in the conversational medium of cinema.
here.) Thanks to its stylish escapism and excellent all-star cast (including a scene-stealing Jennifer Lawrence, who made Cinemablographer’s list of the best performances of 2013), American Hustle is a front-runner going in to this week’s Golden Globe awards and next week’s Academy Award nominations. If you still need to check American Hustle off your Oscar checklist, you are in luck! Check below to enter to win Run of Engagement passes to see American Hustle in theatres!
Watch the Oscar-shortlisted Animated Films 'Hollow Land', 'Gloria Victoria' and 'Subconscious Password'
|Hollow Land. Photo courtesy of the NFB.|
Video after the jump:
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
(USA, 114 min.)
Dir. Ben Stiller, Writ. Steve Conrad
Starring: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Shirley MacLaine, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn, Sean Penn
Why do so many films and stories treat travel as a metaphor for personal growth? It’s an easy symbol, for one, to show a man evolve as he treks from Point A to Point B. Uncharted terrain, unknown waters, and foreign lands all present handy metaphors for taking a leap of faith. Ben Stiller’s adaptation of the short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, though, offers an unfortunate reminder that life can sometimes be better spent at home. This loud, schmaltzy, and inconsistent film rejoices in the thrill of escapism, but it’s hardly worth leaving the house to see on the big screen.
The Magic Ferret
(Canada, 11 min.)
Dir. Alison Parker, Writ. Scott and Paula Merrow
Starring: Jacob Tremblay, Beverley Elliott, Fred Ewaniuk, Lisa Durupt, Falcor the Ferret
Everyone’s raved about Ulysses the cat and Uggie the dog, so when will ferrets get their due credit? They look like furry little bandits, which might explain why they’ve given the spotlight to cuddly cats and slobbery dogs. The most memorable film ferret folks will have probably seen wasn’t even referred to by its proper name: remember that scene in the Coen Brothers’ The Big Lebowski where the German nihilists invade The Dude’s home and throw a marmot in the bathtub? Said marmot is actually a ferret. The Dudes who created Ulysses with such care didn’t give the waterlogged ferret the same love. (California laws also prevent folks from keeping ferrets as pets.)
|Aaron Paul, Toni Collette, Imogen Poots & Pierce Brosnan in A Long Way Down|