1990s' Action Stars: Aren't They Precious?

Precious Cargo
(USA, 90 min.)
Dir. Max Adams, Writ. Max Adams and Paul Seetachitt
Starring: Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Bruce Willis, Claire Forlani, Daniel Bernhardt, Nick Loeb, Lydia Hull, John Brotherton, Tyler J. Olson, Sammi Barber, Jenna Kelly
Courtesy of VVS Films

Bruce Willis is in an odd place in his career. He isn’t quite in Liam Neeson territory, since the clunky action movies he makes aren’t nearly as undignified steps down in his trajectory as Neeson’s are. Willis still plays the action star relatively well even though he’s pushing sixty and making Die Hard movies alongside RED 2. He’s getting up there, but nobody’s pushing him out of the ring just yet. 1990s action stars: aren't they precious?


Hot Docs Review: 'The League of Exotique Dancers'

The League of Exotique Dancers
(Canada, 90 min.)
Dir. Rama Rau
Programme: Special Presentations (World Premiere)

Canadian legend Judith Stein on stage at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend.
Courtesy of Hot Docs
Hot Docs puts on its best tassels and gets the party started with the saucy Opening Night premiere The League of Exotique Dancers. Boobs may sag and faces may wrinkle, but beauty never ages as the confident veteran burlesque dancers of this doc reveal. The women in this talking heads piece illuminate how they owned their bodies by shaking a leg for the masses and The League of Exotique Dancers friskily explains how feminism won its own battle against the male gaze by subverting it one tasselled breast at a time. This fun and sexy doc from Rama Rau (No Place to Hide: The Rehtaeh Parsons Story) starts the festival on an upbeat note.


Ottawa's Latin American Film Festival Starts Today

Colombia's Oscar nominee Embrace of the Serpent is a LAFF must-see.
Photo courtesy of Northern Banner Releasing
Ottawa’s Latin American Film Festival kicks off today and boasts a whopping 22 films from countries south of the border. One downside to moving away from Ottawa is missing out on some of the great festivals that were the backbone of this blog, especially events like this one that offer hard to find gems of world cinema, but Cinemablographer will nevertheless be at LAFF in spirit whilst shivering in the lines at Hot Docs! This year’s LAFF looks like a particularly hard one to miss, since the line-up offers a strong programme of Oscar contenders (including a terrific nominee), docs, co-productions, and other films that inspire one to cry Olé! Olé! Olé!


TIFF Spotlights Lagos, Nigeria in City to City Programme

Nigerian zombie flick Ojuju was a recent hit on the festival circuit.
Lagos, Nigeria is TIFF's 2016 destination for its annual spotlight of national cinema in the Festival’s City to City programme. Lagos marks the programme's first trip to Africa in its eight years of stamping Toronto’s passports. The selection adds to the Festival’s effort to showcase diverse stories from around the world and, while presumably in the works for a while, gives audiences, critics, and especially industry types the chance to discover and foster new talents in the wake of the growing outcries for more inclusive hiring efforts before and behind the camera.


Blu-ray Review: 'The Benefactor'

The Benefactor
(USA, 93 min.)
Written and directed by Andrew Renzi
Starring: Richard Gere, Dakota Fanning, Theo James, Cheryl Hines, Dylan Baker, Clarke Peters
Courtesy of VVS Films
It’s almost criminal that Richard Gere’s performance in The Benefactor probably won’t see as large an audience as it deserves, but as the film bypasses Canuck theatres and heads straight to video, the actor’s superior work might ultimately benefit from a more modest reach. Gere’s turn in The Benefactor ranks up there with his recent performances in Chicago, Arbitrage, and The Hoax (which should have at least netted him an Oscar nom, but earned him bupkis), although the film itself is simply good, not great. A big flashy release might have brought a tepid response, yet moviegoers in search of hidden gems will undoubtedly appreciate stumbling upon this promising first dramatic feature from writer/director Andrew Renzi. The Benefactor boasts an impressive ensemble headlined by one of Hollywood’s top stars at his best.


Between Boyhood and Adulthood

Everybody Wants Some!
(USA, 117 min.)
Written and directed by Richard Linklater
Starring: Blake Jenner, Juston Street, Ryan Guzman, Tyler Hoechlin, Zoey Deutch, J. Quinton Johnson, Temple Baker, Will Brittain
Richard Linklater continues to chart the growth of America’s men with Everybody Wants Some, his youthful, easy-going, and thoroughly enjoyable film that follows the career peak of Boyhood. Linklater considers Everybody Wants Some a “spiritual sequel” to his 1993 stoner comedy Dazed and Confused, but it shares a special affinity with this decade-spanning drama and many other films within his body of work. This fun comedy looks at overgrown boys—manchildren, really—as Linklater’s camera follows Jake (Blake Jenner) through his final days before college as he heads onto campus as one of the new pitchers for the college’s baseball team. As Jake moves into the testosterone-fuelled boarding house reserved strictly for ballplayers, Everybody Wants Some humorously deconstructs the male ethos and jock mentality as Linklater mines the minds of aimless American men.


'Robin' Delivers a Master Class in Acting

Robin and Mark and Richard III
(Canada, 54 min.)
Dir. Martha Burns, Susan Coyle
Mark McKinney and Robin Phillips in Robin and Mark and Richard III.
Courtesy of the Bloor Cinema.

Canadian Shakespeare movies are rare, if not non-existent, yet the diversity of the Canuck landscape seems perfectly suited as a stage for epic tragedies in the Rocky Mountains, sheep-shearing comedies in the prairies, and tempestuous romances on the shores of the Atlantic. The scant bit of Shakespeare on Canadian screens makes the new doc Robin and Mark and Richard III a welcome addition to a relatively overlooked necessity of the Canadian arts scene. Shakespeare is strong on Canuck stages, be the spirit Bard be alive at Stratford or in an all-First Nations King Lear at the NAC. This doc profiles late director, actor, filmmaker, and teacher Robin Phillips and the legacy he leaves in Canadian drama. The spirit of Shakespeare is alive and well in this fun and intimate master class in acting.


Watch: Al Pacino and Josh Duhamel in an Exclusive Clip from 'Misconduct'

Josh Duhamel and Al Pacino star in Misconduct.
Photo courtesy of VVS Films
Al Pacino and Josh Duhamel debate a man's worth in this exclusive clip from Misconduct. The actors go head-to-head in this new thriller from director Shintaro Shimosawa as Duhamel plays an ambitious lawyer working in the firm run by Pacino's ruthless partner. Misconduct also stars Canada's Malin Akerman in boiled bunny mode and Anthony Hopkins as the mark of Duhamel's case. You'll have to catch Misconduct on home video to see Pacino and Hopkins in their first film together, but in the meantime, here's a quick peek at the film. Unfortunately, Cinemablographer won't be raffling off any $68 000 pens as swag.


Deadline Approaches for OIAF Submissions!

Lordy, lordy! Look who's 40! Ottawa's top dog on the film festival front celebrates a major milestone this year and wants your film to join the party!


Ordinary Supermen

American Hero
(USA, 86 min.)
Written and directed by Nick Love
Starring: Stephen Dorff, Eddie Griffin
Stephen Dorff and Eddie Griffin in American Hero.
Search Engine Films

Superheroes don't seems all that interesting anymore after the colossal letdown of Batman v.Superman, so audiences might find a thrill in the adventures of ordinary supermen. American Hero tells the story of an average Joe named Melvin, played by Stephen Dorff, who rises to the challenge and does extraordinary things to better his community. It helps that Melvin, a deadbeat/lowlife/drug addict, has telekinetic powers and can do some of the snazzy tricks that caped crusaders may perform on the streets of Gotham or Metropolis. Transfer these skills to the streets of New Orleans post Hurricane Katrina and one finds a very different kind of justice.


Contest: Win a Digital Download of 'American Hero'!

Writer/director Nick Love (The Sweeney) leaps to the world of black comedy in the offbeat flick American Hero starring Stephen Dorff stars alongside Eddie Griffin. American Hero hits Video-On-Demand on April 15 and Blu-ray/DVD on April 19 from Search Engine Films, and lucky readers may win a digital download of the film. Answer the trivia below for your chance to win a copy!


Contest: Win 'Misconduct' on Blu-ray!

Hollywood legends Anthony Hopkins and Al Pacino appear in the same scene for the first time! The Oscar winners both join the cast of the new thriller Misconduct alongside Josh Duhamel, Malin Akerman, Byung-hun Lee, Julia Stiles, and Alice Eve. Misconduct hits Video-On-Demand and Digital HD on April 12 and Blu-ray/DVD on April 19 from VVS Films, and lucky readers may win the film on Blu-ray. Answer the trivia below for your chance to win a copy!


'Sleeping Giant' Comes Home: Andrew Cividino Talks About His Award-Winning Festival Hit

Andrew Cividino with a Sleeping Giant audience at Karlovy Vary
Sleeping Giant marks an impressive leap for director Andrew Cividino as his first feature finally hits theatres after being one of last year’s biggest Canadian success stories from the festival circuit. It made waves at Cannes, won Cividino the prize for Best Canadian First Feature at TIFF, and continues to wow audiences beyond Canada and the Croisette. Sleeping Giant brings back characters from Cividino’s short film of the same name as three boys come of age during one warm, wild, and eye-opening summer on the shores of Thunder Bay. The boys, played by Jackson Martin, Reece Moffett, and CanadianScreen Award winner Nick Serino give authentic down-to-earth performances in a film that brings comparisons to Stand By Me and Boyhood, and finally gives Canada a great coming-of-age tale to call its own.


Kill Henry Kill

Hardcore Henry
(Russia/USA, 95 min.)
Dir. Ilya Naishuller; Writ. Ilya Naishuller, Will Stewart
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Tim Roth, Haley Bennett, Danila Kozlovsky
Photo courtesy of VVS Films

Lock and load, geeks and gamers! Duck Hunt meets Run Lola Run in a unique and exhilarating action film from the audience’s point of view.Hardcore Henry offers 95-minutes of ridiculous nonstop violence, mayhem, and R-rated intensity for fans of any POV shooter game from Doom to GoldenEye to the original lark of hunting quackers. Hardcore Henry aims straight at the wild experience of action gaming and it hits right on target.


A Film with Vision

(Canada, 95 min.)
Dir. Sean Garrity, Writ. Jonas Chernick
Starring: Jonas Chernick, Joey King, Kevin Pollak, Emily Hampshire, Clé Bennett
Aurora (Joey King) can’t see her father. Jonah (Jonas Chernick) can’t see his daughter. Aurora experiences a rare form of degeneration in her young blinkers that erodes her eyesight. Jonah, on the other hand, fails to see Aurora through a veil of wilful blindness. (Less rare an affliction.) What the two lack in vision they come to share in perspective as Borealis takes the father and daughter on a considerately affecting road trip. The reward at the end of their journey is a remarkable sight.


Across the Line: From Actor to Star

Across the Line
(Canada, 86 min.)
Dir. Director X., Writ. Floyd Kane
Starring: Stefan James, Sarah Jeffrey, Shamier Anderson, Hugh Thompson, Lanette Ware, Jeremiah Sparks, Steven Love, Denis Theriault, Cara Ricketts
Some film directors begin their careers in short film, while other feature filmmakers have more musically inclined origins in the unsung sibling of short film, the music video. Music videos often inspire directors with a great visual sense (ex: Tarsem Singh, Michel Gondry), but they just as often create monsters with no real eye for cinema (ex: Michael Bay, McG). They sometimes even yield great directors like David Fincher or Jonathan Glazer. Canada’s mysteriously named Director X. (aka Julien Christian Lutz) is mostly famous as the director of Rihanna’s “Work” video featuring Drake at a Toronto jerk joint, but his feature dramatic debut Across the Line is as hot as a piece of jerk chicken.