Agnieszka Holland was at the goEast Film Festival on April 30 to present her brand new film Spoor(Pokot). Here, Holland mixs genres to a subversive end, with her story concerning a retired engineer Janine Duszejko who is an amateur astrologist, vegetarian, and teacher with a great love of animals.
She regularly confronts the male establishment in the rural setting of the film, and fights their regular disregard of the laws concerning animal welfare. What unfolds is a murder mystery of sorts that resonates on many political, ecological, social, and existential levels. Beautifully shot and conceived w an excellent score from Antoni Komasa- Lazakiewicz, and Matthias Eklund, with healthy doses of black humour.
Based on a novel by Olga Tokarczuki called : Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead. I would highly recommend this flick….
what follows is a brief compendium of notes from the insightful talk by the director and moderators at the Caligari Filmbuhle in Wiesbaden on April 30
Footprints of the extinct thylacine
Spoor is any sign of a creature or trace by which the progress of someone or something may be followed. A spoor may include tracks, scents, scat, or broken foliage. Spoor is useful for discovering or surveying what types of animals live in an area, or in animal tracking.
Spoor won the Silver Bear at 2017 Berlinale- she graduated from FAMU in 71 studied w Milos Forman-worked with Wadja in Poland-She became part of the Polish New Wave, Moral Anxiety-81 left in exile-TV work includes: The Wire, Burning Bush, House Of Cards- book film is based on was written 9 years ago, premonition at end of book and film? Holland quoted “wadja-doing movies from the future”-
this is a bizarre mix of genres: anarchist,feminist,ecological,fairytale,thriller-difficult to finance-German financing was key-shot in Silesia near Wroclaw-Holland just back from Hong Kong FF, big interest in this film in Asia-subversive use of genre w unexpected uses and outcomes
-4 season long process, 2 years, 5 DOP, 2 directors,- who is the killer?,we don’t know until the end-she likes American directors Coen Brothers and Wes Anderson as they speak about issues yet still connect to an audience-
protest by right wing in Poland, criticize it as feminist film,fuck them! Poland, Hungary,Turkey, USA are all turning hard right taking away women’s rights and destroying the environment.-their enemy is ecology and women-they are angry, only Catholic, white, heterosexual men are important in Poland-environmental issues in film are linked to woman’s fight
-Holland is the role model for feminist cinema in Poland-she was accepted in an all male film world in the 70s because she was viewed as a masculine filmmaker w balls, but she took offence as she IS a different gender w a different point of view-
women were never represented at the same level in distribution, exihibition etc-Poland has several good women directors currently-
this film shows the anger in society that is growing, fire is anger both good and bad, freedom has released options-revenge story(django)-hunters are a metaphor to some extent
-good film creates a space for the audience to form their own conclusions from the structure the filmmaker has provided-
William Blake reference adds an existential element and is attached to the area the film is located…
Hello from Europe folks, hope you are all well. I arrived in Europe a couple weeks ago for some vacation time, and to check out a couple festivals. I arrived early on a cloudy morning at Schipol Airport, and hopped on the TGV to Brussels. After a good sleep, I checked out some cool sights in the city ,and stumbled across the Brussels Cinematek .
The museum was mostly closed, but my timing was good for a screening of a French Film from 1923 called: Visages d’enfants. The film was directed by Jacques Feyder and was screened as part for of their ongoing silent film series that shows restored 35mm prints at their original 18 fps speed. A rotating number of music specialists provide accompaniment.
“Faces of Children (French: Visages d’enfants) is a 1925 French-Swiss silent film directed by Jacques Feyder. It tells the story of a young boy whose mother has died and the resentments which develop when his father remarries. It was a notable example of film realism in the silent era, and its psychological drama was integrated with the natural landscapes of Switzerland where much of the film was made on location.”
Feyder was one of the main French film directors that developed the Poetic Realism style that began in the silent era. He went to Hollywood in 1929 and directed Greta Garbo in her last silent feature: The Kiss.
This was a fantastic screening, one of the best film experiences I have had in a long time, with an excellent live piano score. If you find yourselves in Belgique and are a lover of films do check out the Cinematek schedule in between seeing the sights:)
April 26 finds me in beautiful Wiesbaden, Germany for the beginning of the Goeast Film Festival. This is a long running and highly regarded yearly festival, that specializes in Central European Cinema. This years festival has highlights on woman directors, feminist films and woman’s representation in media, Czech Film Now, as well as films in competition in both the feature and documentary catagories.
I will be writing more in this in the next two weeks, as the festival is just swinging into top gear tomorrow ,and I have a full slate of 4 films to see at the Caligari Film Buhle to kick off my viewing, so stay tuned for more!
And speaking of festivals, a little later in my trip, from May 16-23 I am attending the 10 annual Krakow Film Music Festival. It will be a week of workshops and concerts featuring the likes of Giorgio Moroder, Howard Shore, Klaus Doldinger, and Abel Korniowski.
All taking place in the ultra modern convention centre and Tauron Arema, in the beautiful and medieval city of Krakow, Poland….again more on this at a later date
One additional note: my weekly 2 hour radio programme Soundtrack is still on the air. Guest host Robyn Edgar is filling in so keep listing for an eclectic mix of music from the cinema. The station can be found at 93.3-FM in the Hamilton(Canada) area, or check it out online on our brand new website: http://www.cfmu.ca
The show airs live from 10:00-12:00 est or download or stream a podcast at your leisure:)
“Deutschland 83 is an eight-episode German television series starring Jonas Nay as a 24-year-old native of East Germany who in 1983 is sent to the West as an undercover spy for the HVA, the foreign intelligence agency of the Stasi. The series premiered on 17 June 2015 on the SundanceTV channel in the United States, becoming the first German-language series to air on a US networkThe broadcast was in the original German, with English subtitles.It subsequently aired in Germany beginning in November 2015, and in the UK on Channel 4 beginning in January 2016.”
A very cool new series that was highly recommended to me by a good friend. I am half way through the series, after having to track it down on DVD release here in Canada. What a great view this has been so far, and having been a youth at the time this series is set I well remember the political climate of tension and fear that pervaded the western world, as well as ,of course, the music.The series uses source 80s new wave tunes to great effect. The theme song for the English language version is Peter Schillings 80s track Major Tom, but for the German series Blue Monday by New Order was used.
The show also has a very effective score from composer Reinhold Heil. He was one of the leading touring keyboard players in Germany in the 80s and wrote and played with the Nina Hagen Band as well as producing the 80s mega hit by Nena : 99 Luftballons.
Recently he has been concentrating more on scoring for film and television, starting out collaborating with Tom Twyker (Run Lola Run),and last year scored the TV Series: Berlin Station.
Deutschland 83 had mediocre ratings in Germany but did well in the U.K and the USA ; resulting in a renewal (and retitled “Deutschland 86”). Hopefully this will be followed by a third season, Deutschland 89, which would be set in the pivotal year of 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell.
The show was created by the husband and wife team of American novelist Anna Winger and German TV producer Joerg Winger Anna Winger said that they did extensive research with experts who were from both sides of Germany
Deutschland 83 has received a number of international and domestic awards including an International Emmy Award, a Peabody Award, Grimme Prize,The Golden Nymp, a Metropolis Award, two C21 Drama Award, a Golden Camera, the “Special Jury Award” of the Roma Fiction Fest,and Series Mania 2015 for Best World Series.
“The Greasy Strangler” is a 2016 American black comedy horror film directed by Jim Hosking and written by Jim Hosking and Toby Harvard. The film stars Michael St. Michaels, Sky Elobar, Elizabeth De Razzo, Gil Gex, Abdoulaye NGom, and Holland MacFallister. The Greasy Strangler premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival on January 22, 2016.The film was released on October 7, 2016, by FilmRise.
I was in attendance at the 2016 Fantasia Film Festival where this film was playing but couldn’t squeeze a screening in. And to be honest I was a bit sceptical of giving it a view. Recently however I came across the rather strange but cool score for the film by Andrew Hung,and as a result found the film available on ITunes.
So this time I gave the film a whirl, and quite enjoyed this gross out black comedy, but would say it definitely would not be to everyone’s taste:) I will say that the title aptly described the film in all its quirky, random ,and black moments.
I had quite a few laughs at the jokes and at the unbelievable strange occurrences that take place.
Critics were mixed on this tarnished gem but by the end of the film it had definitely left this reviewer all choked up…
“Pandora-(Hangul: 판도라; RR: Pandora) is a 2016 South Korean disaster film written and directed by Park Jung-woo, starring Kim Nam-Gil. The film was released in South Korea on December 7, 2016.
Jae-hyeok lives with his mother, his sister-in-law and nephew Min-jae in a small Korean town. He is dating Yeon-joo, while working at the local nuclear power plant. Meanwhile, Pyung-sub works at the same nuclear power plant. He is worried about the conditions there, but nobody in the government listens to him. An earthquake strikes the small town where Jae-hyeok lives and causes explosions at the nuclear power plant. The situation quickly spirals out of control, leading the entire nation to panic. To prevent another nuclear disaster, Jae-hyeok and his co-workers return to the nuclear power plant.”
Directed by Park Jung-woo this is a excellent and heart-string tugging Korean disaster flick. Park-woo is a successful screenwriter turned film director whose previous films include another disaster epidemic flick called: Deranged.
This time around the director starts off with a slow-burn story about the extended family of 30 something power plant worker,who is disgruntled with his job and longs to leave his small company-town far behind.
As well the bureaucracy of the political and industrial machinery that runs the nuclear power industry in modern day Korea, is well illustrated , and helps make this a well rounded message film as well as an entertaining and heartbreaking action movie.
This was the first Korean film to be pre-sold to Netflix and it is now streaming in 190 countries via the service.
One of numerous well executed films to come out of Korea, and to ride the wave of what could be described as a modern day renaissance of Asian cinema.
“The Lure-Some time in the 1980s, two mermaids, Golden and Silver (played by Michalina Olszańska and Marta Mazurek respectively), encounter a rock band relaxing and playing music on a beach in Poland. They accompany the band back to the nightclub where they regularly perform and begin playing gigs there, performing as strippers and backup singers. Their audiences are entranced by their singing and on-stage transformation. Silver falls in love with the guitarist Mietek (Jakub Gierszał), while Golden hungers for human prey.”
Director Agnieszka Smoczynska called the film a “coming-of-age story”, with echoes her own youth. The 80s Cabernet style Communist era club is similar to one her mother ran when she was a youth and where she entered teenage years.
But this is more than just an auto biographical reminiscence.
And again, I missed this at both Berlinale and Fantasia in 2016 so I had to wait for a local screening recently to check this film out. It’s a real genre bending, fantastical movie that reaches for it all, and maybe reaches a little too far to retain its focus.
But it’s one of the most inventive films I have seen in a long time, a 80s,Polish, mermaid,cannibal,musical. Quite the concept, and the music has a definite 80s feel, with some campy versions of popular Polish hits from the era adapted by the group(who also appear in the film) Ballady I Romanse.
“The director also wanted the film to be a retelling of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen, and developed her idea of mermaids from tales of the 14th–16th century that described them as the sisters of dragons, and hence made them part monstrous. She invented their need to feed on human hearts and that propensity to attack the larynx of their victims.
Smolenska likened the mermaids to immigrants, abused by the locals (used in the sex industry) on their way to their real goal—America. She added they represent innocence, yet their odour and slime recalled girls maturing, “they menstruate, they ovulate, their bodies start smelling and feeling different.”
The film played to mixed reviews in Poland, although it did win Best Debut Picture at the Gdynia Film Festival; and was generally well received by festivals and critics worldwide.
A visual tour de force, definitely worth a a viewing if you are looking for something a little bit different:)
Elle (French for “she” or “her”) “is a 2016 psychological thriller directed by Paul Verhoeven and written by David Birke, based on the novel Oh… by Philippe Djian. Djian’s novel was released in 2012 and received the Prix Interallié (National Literary Award). The film stars Isabelle Huppert as a businesswoman, Michèle Leblanc, who is raped in her home by an unknown assailant and plots revenge.
The film is Verhoeven’s first feature since 2006’s Black Book, and his first in the French language. It premiered in competition for the Palme d’Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival where it received critical acclaim.Elle won the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film and Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Foreign Language Film; it was also selected as the French entry for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, but was not nominated. At the 42nd César Awards, the film received eleven nominations.
Huppert’s performance was widely acclaimed, considered to be one of the finest of her career and she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. She also won several awards, including the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress, the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress, and the Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Actress.”
Wow a fantastic return to form for neglected filmmaker Paul Verhoeven. Originally conceived as a Hollywood production, Verhoeven and writer Dijan shopped the script around L.A.but were turned down by every major actress. So the pair turned to Europe and when financing came through Verhoeven was to have to rise to the challenge of working in an unfamiliar language: French.
However the turn of events seems to have been a good turn really.
With the aid of stellar actress Isabelle Huppert and a fine supporting cast, Verhoeven weaves Dijan’s story into an intricate neo-noir infused with unexpected developments and a strong flavour of black humour.
Complimented by a haunting score from Anne Dudley ,as well as inventive editing and cinematography, Elle turns out to be perhaps the best film of Verhoven’s career and a top work in the rather extensive credits of Isabelle Huppert.
So who needs Hollywood, really? As the Oscars proved once again…
Julieta “is a 2016 Spanish film written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar based on three short stories from the book Runaway by Alice Munro. The film marks Almodóvar’s 20th feature and stars Emma Suárez and Adriana Ugarte as older and younger versions of the film’s protagonist, Julieta, alongside Daniel Grao, Inma Cuesta, Darío Grandinetti, Michelle Jenner and Rossy de Palma.
The film opened on 8 April 2016 in Spain to generally positive reviews. It made its international debut at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, where it was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or, and was released across the world throughout the remainder of 2016. Julieta has grossed over $21 million worldwide.
It was selected by the Academia de las Artes y las Ciencias Cinematográficas de España as the Spanish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards, but did not make the shortlist. It was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language in addition to receiving 4 nominations for European Film Awards and 7 nominations for Goya Awards.”
This new flick left me pleasantly surprised. I will admit to not being the biggest fan of director Almodovar so I went into this screening as an aside really. But what unfolded was a wonderful film chronicling the life of Julieta, with all it’s trials and tribulations.
Based on the writings of Canadian author Alice Munro- this is a understated and engaging woman’s story(s) , with some nourish elements woven in . Women are at the focus of this film and its greatest strength.
Julieta is one of the best films Almodovar has directed , and another strong European feature that exists outside of the mainstream American industry
The Zookeepers Wife+Toni Erdmann= pedestrian filming in a rapid era
The Zookeeper’s Wife “is an upcoming 2017 British-American war drama film directed by Niki Caro and written by Angela Workman, based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Diane Ackerman. The film stars Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenbergh, Michael McElhatton and Daniel Brühl.
The film is scheduled to be released on March 31, 2017, by Focus Features.
A true story about the Warsaw Zoo keepers couple Jan and Antonina Żabiński, who saved many human and animal lives during World War II by hiding them in animal cages.”
I had a chance to see this at a preview screening at the TIFF Lightbox theatre in late January. Jessica Chastain is shooting a film in Toronto and was invited to screen the film and chat about it (and her career) . Unfortunately the audience was required to sign a non-disclosure agreement, but hopefully enough time has elapsed, for me to comment?
This was a big disappointment, based on a very interesting and real story from WWII Poland. Bland, predictable, simplistic filmmaking. And the Polish characters all spoke English in some strange faux-Eastern European accent which really took away from the screening.
Fans of the book may enjoy this but it’s a miss for me I am sorry to say.
Toni Erdmann is a “2016 German-Austrian comedy-drama film directed, written and co-produced by Maren Ade. It stars Peter Simonischek and Sandra Hüller.
The film, which premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, was named the best film of 2016 by Sight & Sound and other respected cinema magazines.
It has been nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards. It won five awards at the 29th European Film Awards: Best Film (a first for a film directed by a woman), Best Director, Best Screenwriter, Best Actor, and Best Actress. It also won the European Parliament LUX Prize.”
I was underwhelmed by this film- it had some very funny moments but seemed stilted and awkward to me. A 2 1/2 hour running time for a one note film is a little rich I would say as well:) Not much of a work of cinema, Toni Erdmann had a very plain and MOW look and feel to it… the German film from the previous year Phoenix, was a far superior film.
Really don’t get the accolades, did I miss something?
Anything to do with Trapped – The Killing Times’ best crime drama series of 2016 – and we’re all over it. That show’s creator, Baltasar Kormakur, has recently opened his own studio, RVK, in Reykjavik and he revealed at the Berlin Film Festival that his next project would be a supernatural thriller based around the […]
It’s been a busy summer and I am just getting ready to attend a few film atTIFF 2016.I’m catching 3 features this weekend, including a new Malaysian supernatural noir called: Interchange. I am also going to see a new film from Polish directing legend Andrzej Wajda called: Afterimage, as well as a Icelandic thriller called The Oath.
So thats this weekend and I have another bunch to get to next week as well:) SO more info to come…in the interim here are a few more notable films from the 20th Fanatasia Film Festival 2016.
All three showings had the directors present which was a real treat. Luckily I was able to catch up with two of the filmmakers that week and I have posted those here for you to check out at your leisure. I’ll let the interviews speak for themselves, and otherwise I will give over for this blog the fine reviewers from Fantasia;who did a great job writing about all the films for the on-line and print programme.
Embers-d. Claire Carre (USA-2016)
Two individuals wake up on a mattress in a shady room, clueless as to how they got there or why they suddenly find themselves in the company of a perfect stranger. To be honest, they don’t remember much of anything, not even their own names. Since the apocalypse, a strange affliction has deprived humanity of its memory. The last survivors wander aimlessly, gripped by a form of amnesia so strong as to make it impossible for them to remember what they did the previous day. There is some indication, however, that the two strangers are somehow connected. They’re both wearing identical blue ribbons on their arm, a hypothetical sign of a common past. Meanwhile, far away, a child trekking across the wastelands meets a curious scientist. Spared the rest of the world’s memory loss, a woman is getting ready to leave her protective bunker and ultimately lose what she holds dearest in the world.
Newcomer Claire Carré’s EMBERS is a rare treat. With a spare and appealing style, it uses science fiction to explore the foundations of human nature. With a precision worthy of José Saramago, Charles Spano and Carré’s script creates unnatural situations which one can quickly relate to, due to their uncanny sense of credibility. EMBERS manages to summon up laughs while maintaining a mysterious tone that will continue to grip you long after viewing. Carré’s true talent lies in her sensitive ability to create larger-than-life characters whose every word and gesture seem to carry a secret meaning. Having already presented her first feature at Slamdance, it’s seems like a safe bet to say that she will soon be recognized as one of the most promising new voices of American independent cinema. The magnificent EMBERS is a miraculous feat that is simply impossible to forget.
— Simon Laperrière
Everyone knows the tale of the Invisible Man, but have you heard the one about the slowly-turning-invisible-man? That’s just one twist making THE UNSEEN an unforgettable entry in this year’s Fantasia lineup. Aden Young, star of TV’s RECTIFY, plays Bob Langmore, a struggling mill worker in a small northern town. But barely making ends meet isn’t his biggest problem, as he’s also hiding the fact that he’s gradually going invisible. And Bob’s not simply fading away but disappearing in chunks, which makes him look like the victim of a hideous flesh-eating disease. When his ex-wife, Darlene (Camille Sullivan of THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE) asks him to visit his rebellious daughter Eva, he takes a driving job for a local drug dealer and returns to the city. Shortly after his arrival, Eva (Julia Sarah Stone, THE KILLING), goes missing and he suspects the teen has been taken because she shares his affliction. With the drug dealers threatening him and his condition worsening, Bob must find his daughter before they’re both gone for good.
A gritty thriller grounded in family drama with a streak of horror, THE UNSEEN is a future cult classic. It may be Geoff Redknap’s feature debut as writer-director, but his years of experience working in the makeup and special effects departments of features such as DEADPOOL, WATCHMEN, THE CABIN IN THE WOODS and both the FINAL DESTINATION and X-MEN series, plus TV shows including THE X-FILES, FEAR THE WALKING DEAD and MASTERS OF HORROR — shines through in this, ahem — must-see premiere.
— Dave Alexander
Shelly-d. Ali Abbasi (Denmark/Sweden 2016)
Elena is a broke single mother on the verge of a burnout, looking for a break from her daily obligations. A change of scenery would be welcomed, especially one involving a small country house far from the city. When she learns of a couple looking for a maid to take care of their forest dwelling, she jumps on this seemingly fortuitous opportunity. Upon arrival, Elena realizes that her employers have a somewhat unusual lifestyle. They don’t eat meat or use electricity, and they keep contact with the outside world to a minimum. With an unbreakable three-year contract, the young woman complies without complaint. At least she found the peace and quiet she’s been looking for. But her bosses have one more favour to ask of her. Unable to conceive, they want Elena to be their surrogate birth mother — for a handsome sum, of course. Flattered by her employers’ kindness and generosity, she accepts, unaware that her life has just capsized into unspeakable horror. Elena starts to notice signs suggesting that whatever it is she may be carrying inside her, it’s far from human.
What begins as an intimate, Bergmanesque drama slowly transforms into a modern gothic tale in SHELLEY, the brilliant atmospheric tour de force by Ali Abbasi. Reminiscent of ROSEMARY’S BABY, Abbasi’s film has a realism so convincing that the creeping transition into fantasy causes overwhelming anxiety. As the leading lady, Cosmina Stratan, winner of the Cannes best actress award for BEYOND THE HILLS, gives a gripping performance as a troubled woman succumbing to her darkest fears. It’s easily one of the most powerful productions of the 2016 lot.
— Simon Laperrière
Anthropoid-d. Sean Ellis-I took the commuter train into Toronto on the weekend ,and checked out a brand new Euro co-production,t hat just had its world premiere at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival on 1 July 2016.
Anthropoid stars:Cillian Murphy, Jamie Dornan, Toby Jones, and Charlotte Le Bon . It tells the story of Operation Anthropoid, the World War II assassination of Reinhard Heydrich by Exile Czechoslovak soldiers on 27 May 1942.
It’s an interesting story-line that I was somewhat familiar with,as it it has been the subject of previous feature film endeavours; including the 1943 Fritz Lang film: Hangmen Also Die! This featured the only Hollywood script by Bertolt Brecht, and I caught an archive screening of it at the 2013 Berlinale.
However, that version filmed during the war years couldn’t reveal the true details of the secret mission at the heart of the story, as it was still mostly classified. This modern re-telling doesn’t suffer from the same limitations however.
It does suffer however from a clear lack of a consistent directorial and visual vision, relying too extensively on basic,routine,and uninspired coverage shots + editing, especially in the early stages. The movie was shot on film, and I found the digital conversion I viewed in Toronto unusually grainy,and lacking in clarity at times.
The choice of English dialogue was unfortunate. I’m a bit of a purist,and prefer films in their native language. It lends much more authenticity. It was also strange when the Nazi characters were allowed to speak German.Then the German was translated into English, in certain scenes, so the Czech people could understand it? It was awkward and took away from the film.
Otherwise the sets and locations and lighting all top notch, and I really liked the supporting casts performances of Toby Jones and Anna Geislerová.
And the story is great, it just might have been better realized with a more authentic grounding in the Czech language and a more consistent visual style.
Hunt For The Wilder People-d.Taika Waititi-Closer to home,I dusted off the bicycle and headed to the homey confines of the Westdale Theatre, in Hamilton.There was a film screening that I had just missed at the Fantasia Film Festival, and I knew the director from his recent vampire-comedy: What We Do In The Shadows.
That film was released to critical acclaim in 2014.Director Waititi had been noticed even before this for his TV work , and was also nominated for an Academy Award for his 2004 short film Two Cars, One Night. His first feature films: Boy became the top grossing New Zealand film before the release of Hunt for the Wilder People.
Based on the book Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump,this film stars Sam Neill and Julian Dennison as a father figure and son who become caught in a manhunt.The film premiered In Competition at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival on 22 January 2016.
I knew little about this movie before viewing, and went mainly on my love of Waititi’s previous film.
What a nice film this is. Inventive,funny,quirky,poignant, and inappropriate.
All at the right times and in the right measures. With great performances and a wonderful cinematic view of the wilds of New Zealand; I would definitely recommend this flick.
Even if you have to just around to find it:)
Closet Monster-d.Stephen Dunn-Well it turned into a double-bill at The Westdale Theatre, as they had a brand new Canadian feature screening that had some buzz around it.
Closet Monster is drama written and directed by Stephen Dunn , and its Dunn’s debut feature.
It stars Connor Jessup as Oscar Madly, a creative and sexually confused teenager who retreats into a fantasy world to deal with his sense of isolation.The movie premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the award for Best Canadian Feature.
The film was shot on location and set in St. John’s, Newfoundland. This is a great feature to come out of the East Coast of Canada, dealing with topics of sexual identity, teenage angst, domestic violence, and artistic expression.
Those are is a lot of topics for any seasoned veteran to attempt; so it is even more impressive to see a 24 yr old filmmaker take on the challenge in his first feature.
I liked style of the film and it was helped along greatly by solid performances, good visual style, and a great 80’s inspired synth soundtrack from Todor Kobakov & Maya Postepski.
Actually the score may have been my favourite element of the film especially in the very cool and pivotal party scene.
Overall , this is a very ambitious and interesting film,although a few things didn’t add up for me.
The portrayal of the Father in the film seemed very uneven, and the use of artistic metaphor and symbolism was heavy handed at times. And I understood the use of the pet hamster as a escape for Madly from the harsher realities of his youth, but still…a talking hamster? Quibbles perhaps:)
Closet Monster is in limited release this summer in Canada ,but do try and catch this new flick from a rising star in Canadian indie film.
Operation Avalanche-d. Matt Johnson-a very cool flick ,and an interesting take on the entire faked moon landing conspiracy theory. I did see a recent comedy flick called Moonwalkers that mined this territory as well. But this film is a very different kettle of fish.
Following up on his first feature The Dirties with his partner Owen Williams ,this is a drama about CIA surveillance operatives who take it upon themselves to convince their higher ups to allow them to shoot a fake moon landing. Relying on old film stock, reams of archive footage from NASA, and touches of black humour and inventive story-telling; this is a great new Canadian feature .
Catch this is you can, and watch for a surprise appearance from Stanley Kubrick:)
Toro-d. Kike Maillo (Spain 2016)- I caught the North American Premiere of this film at Fantasia recently. This is a new Spanish crime thriller that is more than just action and suspense. It is really a story of loyalty, betrayal, and sacrifice-with a nice grounding in Catholic religious imagery.
From director Kike Mallo, Toro is his follow up film to the 2011 sci-fi film Eva. Here he tells the story of Toro , a street thug who informs his gangster boss that he is leaving the criminal life behind after one last job.
However, the job goes horribly wrong and Toro ends up on jail, but is now a new man. He has no interest in criminal life, only his lovely girlfriend and their future together.
But the past has a way of catching up to him upon his release on bail, and he must come to the aid of his remaining family and hope not to lose everything he dreams for the future.
This is a great story mixing comedy, action, and drama in a super realist style, with some un-nerving and shocking imagery at times, but perfectly keeping with the thematic motifs and imagery built up through the storyline.
The Priests-d. Jang Jae-hyun (South Korea-2016)-A Korean exorcist movie? Why not. Another in a strong string of movies featured at Fantasia from South Korea, The Priests is a crowd pleaser of a drama about the demonic possession of a young teenage girl in Seoul.
Coming to the rescue are burned-out outcast priest Father Kim (Kim Yoon-seok), who approaches tracking down and fighting demons to crime fighting. Making him the lead detective of sorts in this story.
And at his side is the newest in a long line of assistants,the very new and rebellious Deacon Choi (Kang Dong-won) ,who also stars in another great film at Fantasia: A Violent Prosecutor.
Together this unlikely pair must fight not only the powers of evil, but of the uncaring and untrustworthy beauracracuy of their own Church.
But they are a plucky pair and they have some aids at their disposal: a Bible, a tube of toothpaste, a Bach CD, and a piglet!
A very enjoyable horror film with some funny moments, keep your rosary beads close if you manage to catch a screening though:)
Americana-d. Zachary Shedd (USA 2016) This is a great new Neo-Noir feature which had its international premiere here in Montreal Sunday night. Writer-Director Zachary Shedd was present to lend some insight into the screening.
Alcoholic ex-editor Avery Wells (David Call) is drinking himself into a semi-stupor at his isolated cabin in the Nevada mountains. That’s until his longtime producer friend (Jack Davenport) shows up and drags him back to civilization.
As Avery dries out at his friends house, he realizes the real reason for his rescue. Avery’s actress sister (Kelli Garner) is starring in his friends latest production which has gone way over budget ,and is seemingly doomed to failure.
Can Avery save the film in he editing room, and stay sober enough to do it? Or will the sudden shooting of his sister turn him into a tragic sleuth;destined to follow clues that may be real or hallucinations. And lead to the same dead end he is all too familiar with in his own life.
This is a beautifully brooding character study, and noirish drama, wonderfully executed on numerous levels.
DOP: Justin Foster brings a wonderful eye to the San Fransisco Bay area,as well as the isolated cabin in the Nevada mountains.There is a wonderful scene of the lead character Avery talking to his estranged partner on the fog shrouded upper balcony of her San Francisco house.
Editor: Saela Davis does a great job of piecing the story together and Composer: Jeremy Turner has just the right modern sounds with echoes of crime films past to evoke the right mood for this film.
Watching Americana, I was reminded of some classic films, especially the great flick: The Lost Weekend;that featured Ray Milland as the alcoholic writer being chased by his addictions and demons.
And the isolated cabin had echoes of Robert Mitchum’s hideout in Out Of The Past, and Raymond Chandlers novel: Lady In The Lake.
But these were just some threads of motifs I recognized; this is a great original story work in the Neo-Noir genre. Well-written and directed by Zachary Shedd ,this is an impressive first film for Shedd , who had previously worked as a producer on: Hiding Your Smiling Faces and A Little Closer. I’ll leave you with a peak at the films teaser/trailer and a website link.
Oh, and another cool thing, this film was a direct result of a large kick-starter campaign:) The list of names of donors scrolled for quite a few moments…
I highly recommend this film. Americana tied with the Polish feature: Demon for my pick for top film at Fantasia Fest 2016. With Train To Busan close behind:)
I’ll be updating the blog over the rest of August with some more Fantasia films that I screened in Montreal, and I also hope to write a little in September about some movies from TIFF 2016 .. Stay tuned…