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!
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!
(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?
|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.
(Canada, 82 min.)
Written and directed by William D. MacGillivray
Starring: Douglas Smith, Megan Follows, Laura Slade Wiggins, Jerry Granelli
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!
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.
|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.
|Photo courtesy of TIFF|
(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.
|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.
|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.
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.”
(South Korea/USA/France/Czech Republic, 126 min.)
Dir. Bong Joon Ho, Writ. Bong Joon-Ho, Kelly Masterson
Starring: Chris Evans, Kang-ho Song, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, Ah-sung Ko, with John Hurt and Ed Harris.
“My friend, you suffer from the misplaced optimism of the doomed,” sneers a haughty Mason (Tilda Swinton) to Curtis (Chris Evans), the hero leading the masses from steerage to first class in Snowpiercer. Swinton’s snivelling elitist and Evans’s compelling leader help make Snowpiercer one of the more provocative, not to mention entertaining, depictions of contemporary economic and ecological battlefields as ideologies clash within the confines of the heavily segregated train. South Korean director Bong Joon Ho (Mother) conducts a world cinema thrill-ride en route to the end of humanity, for the spectacular production design and foreboding darkness make Snowpiercer one of the stronger destinations for alternative fare this summer. Snowpiercer, aside from some choppy bumps in the ride, is an exhilarating first class ticket.
(Australia, 103 min.)
Dir. David Michôd, Writ. David Michôd, Story by Joel Edgerton and David Michôd
Starring: Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson, Scoot McNairy, Tawanda Manyimo, David Field
Chalk up The Rover under the list of 2014’s disappointments. This sophomore feature by Animal Kingdom’s David Michôd is as technically accomplished as his debut feature is, but audiences looking for another helping of exhilarating Australian cinema are in for a letdown. The Rover looks and feels great n its creation of a present-day dystopia, yet the unrelenting bleakness and pensiveness of Michôd’s vision has little payoff. More dull than thought-provoking and more a musing than a meditation, The Rover is a tragically empty wanderer.
|Big Drive is one of several NFB shorts playing at the Rideau Hall Movie Nights|
The inaugural Rideau Hall Movie Nights will now include shorts! The Office of the Secretary to the Governor General, in good old moviegoing fashion, announced today that a selection of short films from the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) will precede the feature film screenings on August 17 and 19. The shorts are a range of contemporary films and Canadian classics.
Ottawa’s reputation as Film Challenge City continues with the inaugural Ottawa edition of the 48 Hour Film Project. The 48 Film Project, though, is a global film challenge that dares filmmakers throughout the world to conceive, shoot, and complete a short film within forty-eight hours. Winners from each city move on to the big Filmapalooza event, which happens in Hollywood this year! Ten finalists then move on to a special screening at Cannes! Going from The Mayfair to Hollywood to Cannes is a pretty exciting trip!
(USA/France, 127 min.)
Dir. Guillaume Canet, Writ. Guillaume Canet, James Gray
Starring: Clive Owen, Billy Crudup, Marion Cotillard, Mila Kunis, James Caan, Lily Taylor, Zoe Saldana, Matthias Schoenaerts
Blood Ties is a total gong show of terrible acting. It’s shocking to see so many stars turn in so many unwatchable performances. Something must have been in the water on the set of Blood Ties because the members of the usually reliable ensemble all deliver turns that are shockingly terrible. Even Marion Cotillard doesn’t come off well in this review. What happened?
|Anne Dorval in Mommy. Photo: Les Films Seville|
|Michael Moore interviews 'The Bunny Lady' in Roger & Me|
(USA, 118 min.)
Dir. Steve James
Feat. Roger Ebert, Chaz Ebert.
“Two thumbs up.” It’s a term so iconic and synonymous with film criticism that Siskel and Ebert had the term trademarked to prevent fraudulent doubling. The legacy of Siskel and Ebert is apparent on nearly every page of the web, for Facebook pages, YouTube links, and whatnot use enthusiastic thumb emoticons to note approval. Anyone can express himself or herself in clear terms.
Written and directed by Ric Groen
Starring: Brennan Martin, Faye Rowland, Eric de Niverville, Ryan L. Palmer, Vincent Valentino, Jurgen Vollrath
Gasp! Nazis in the 613? That can’t be!
No, it’s not the Harper government reigning in a new era of fascism in the new Ottawa flick Scarecrow Club by Ric Groen. It’s the good old-fashioned Nazis, ideological descendants of Hitler, who win a surprise victory in the Ontario provincial election. Democracy uproots itself as Canucks across the country are thrown into a titter as unfathomable Canadian flags are raised with a swastika branded smack in the centre of the maple leaf. Oh, Canada—whatever will we do?
|Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs in Rhymes for Young Ghouls|
Dallas Buyers Club, Café de flore), and it looks beautiful. Wild is based on the popular memoir by Cheryl Strayed (which was recommended in this year's Summer 'Movie Reads' list) and is adapted by Nick Hornby (An Education). Reese Witherspoon (Mud) stars as Cheryl Strayed and her performance looks every bit as compelling as early word rumors it to be (see the Summer 'Movie Reads' list for Strayed's own words on Witherspoon's performance) . Wild opens in theatres December 5th, but I'm crossing my fingers for a premiere at TIFF.
Before the Winter Chill (Avant l’hiver)
(France/Luxembourg, 103 min.)
Written and directed by Philippe Claudel
Starring: Daniel Auteuil, Kristin Scott Thomas, Leïla Bekhti, Richard Berry.
It’s tragic to think that French Kristin Scott Thomas movies are an endangered species. Strangely, though, one can’t help but keep the great ex-pat British actress in mind, and her revelation this year that she “cannot endure another film,” while watching Before the Winter Chill (Avant l’hiver), her latest collaboration with writer/director Philippe Claudel. Chill is a good film by any measure and Miss Scott Thomas is very fine in an underwritten role as “the wife” Lucie, but that’s exactly the problem. If one considers that Mr. Claudel is the same talent who penned and directed 2008’s I’ve Loved You So You Long, a devastating drama in which Miss Scott Thomas gives the performance of her career, then Before the Winter Chill is bound to disappoint. It’s a quietly serviceable marital drama, but one that just cries to have more meat and gusto, especially when there is so much subtly fragile coldness, mystery, disappointment, and despair percolating in Lucie’s eyes whenever she’s on screen.
I Origins. I Origins opens in Toronto and Vancouver on July 25th from Fox Searchlight Pictures, but if you want to attend a sneak peek in those cities, you are in luck! Answer the trivia below to enter!
|Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl Strayed in Wild.|
eOne Films, so if you want run of engagement passes to see Earth to Echo, answer the trivia below for your chance to win!
(UK/USA, 86 min.)
Written and directed by Steven Knight
Starring: Tom Hardy
Locke features a concept that works much better with Robert Redford on a boat. If All is Lost plays like a bravura solo act in which a seasoned sailor proves himself a master of the high seas, then Locke is a disappointingly gimmicky ruse in which an emerging star struggles to exceed the star vehicle. Tom Hardy fires on all cylinders as he spends eighty-odd minutes behind the wheel of a car in Locke, but this one man show chugs to the finish line. Locke’s solo act runs on fumes despite the driver’s best efforts.
(USA, 120 min.)
Dir. James Gray, Writ. James Gray, Rick Menello
Starring: Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries sheWith silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”-“The New Colossus,” Emma Lazarus.
The Immigrant is in the midst of a theatrical run that opened in town of the Fourth of July. Independence Day seems like an ironically fitting day to amplify the resonance of this beautiful yet bleak picture from writer/director James Gray. The film begins and ends on Ellis Island in 1921, and this haunting tragedy gives a startling urgent tale of the fallacy of the American dream.
(USA, 104 min.)
Written and directed by John Carney
Starring: Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Hailee Steinfeld, Adam Levine, James Corden, Catherine Keener.
I’ll finally concede that there is something lacking in Anna Karenina: it’s a shame that Keira Knightley doesn’t sing. It turns out that the versatile Miss Knightley has a hidden talent. She has a lovely mellow coffee shop rock voice, and it’s a beautiful lead for the harmony of Begin Again.
|Estonia's Lisa Limone and Maroc Orange: a Rapid Love Story|
Screening in the OIAF Feature Animation programme are:
(USA, 84 min.)
Dir. Gillian Robespierre, Writ. Gillian Robespierre, Karen Main, Elizabeth Holm
Starring: Jenny Slate, Jake Lacy, Gaby Hoffman, Gabe Liedeman, Richard Kind, Polly Draper.
“There’s nothing on but romantic comedies,” says Max (Jake Lacy) whilst flipping through the movie listings during a sweet moment with Donna (Jenny Slate). Donna replies that she doesn’t really care for rom-coms. “I can’t relate to them,” she says.
The Fault in Our Stars
(USA, 126 min.)
Dir. Josh Boone, Writ. Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Laura Dern, Nat Wolff, Sam Trammell, Willem Dafoe.
Critics and audiences everywhere proclaim The Fault in Our Stars a bona fide tearjerker. It’s the Love Story for a generation, says solid word of mouth as friends, writers, and everyone under the starry sky give stories of masses of teens flocking to the box office for this YA cancer weepie based on the bestselling novel by John Green. Having a good cry seems like a refreshing departure from a stream of catatonic dystopian pics cluttering the adolescent movie market, though, so good on The Fault in Our Stars for getting young audiences in tune with their emotions.
|Molly Parker and William Hurt in Rare Birds|
Happy Canada Day! In celebration of July 1st, here are some Canadian film recommendations to enjoy if you happy to get rained in and can’t make it to the fireworks!