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Archive for June, 2012

TKFF Tale of 2 sisters

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Toronto Korean Film Festival 2012

A Tale of Two Sisters

Starring Kim Kap-su, Yum Jung-ah, Lim Su-jeong and Moon Guen-young

Written and Directed by Kim Jee-Woon

After bursting on to the scene back in the late nineties with The Quiet Family (1998) and the Foul King (2000), director Kim Jee-Woon’s first international success came with A Tale of Two Sisters in 2003. This film has personally been avoiding me for a while, despite the fact that I actually OWN a copy of the DVD and for some reason it’s never jumped to the top consideration for movies in the pile of other contenders. But thanks to TKFF I was able to see it not only on the theater screen at Innis but also on a beautiful 35mm print. And I have to tell you I’m so glad I waited.

A Tale of Two Sisters starts with the return of Soo-mi…

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TKFF 2012 – Save the Green Planet! Review (Kirk Haviland)

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Toronto Korean Film Festival 2012

Save the Green Planet!

Starring Shin Ha-kyun, Baek Yun-shik, Hwang Jeong-min and Lee Jae-yong

Written and Directed by Jang Joon-hwan

TIFF Midnight Madness veteran Save the Green Planet closes out Sci-Fi night at the inaugural TKFF. Jang Joon-hwan’s bizarre and surreal abduction black comedy has been garnering accolades for years on the festival circuit and seems to be the perfect companion for the opening film on Sci-Fi night, Invasion of Alien Bikini. Green planet also brings mental illness and possible delusion into the mix to further muddle the issue.

Lee Byeong-gu (Ha-kyun) is a troubled man who is convinced aliens live amongst us and that he is the only one who can protect us from the oncoming onslaught. After recruiting his spouse/girlfriend Su-ni (Jeong-min) into helping him, he drugs and kidnaps prominent businessman Kang Man-shik (Yun-shik), convinced he is really alien in disguise. Byeong-gu hypothesizes…

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TAD Summer Screenings 2012 – The Pact Review (Kirk Haviland)

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TAD Summer Screenings 2012

The Pact

Starring: Caity Lotz, Casper van Dien, Haley Hudson, Kathleen Rose Perkins and Agnes Bruckner

Written and Directed by Nicholas McCarthy


The second half of the first night of TAD’s summer screenings brought us the Sundance hit The Pact. Billed as a creepy supernatural house based horror, The Pact hits a lot of similar notes as this year’s Lovely Molly did. But while both films deliver strong performances from their female leads, does The Pact succeed where Lovely Molly faltered?

Nicole (Bruckner) is attempting to prepare for the funeral of her late estranged mother. Nicole is in her mother’s house as she calls her sister Annie (Lotz) for help, yet Annie wants absolutely nothing to do with the funeral or her mother’s house. Later while talking to her young daughter via laptop Nicole notices weird things occurring in the house that appear to…

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TAD Summer Screenings 2012 – Juan of the Dead Review (Kirk Haviland)

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Toronto After Dark

Juan of the Dead

Starring – Alexis Diaz de Villegas, Jorge Molina, Andrea Duro, Andros Perugorria, Jazz Vila and Eliecer Ramirez

Written and Directed by Alejandro Brugués

Back on September 2011, during an afternoon TIFF screening of all things, is when I was first introduced to Juan de los Muertos (Juan of the Dead). Juan is the first genre film to ever come out of Cuba and was developed with the support of the Cuban government. As you may have guessed by the title, Juan is most definitely a zombie comedy, and it’s one of the funniest that I’ve ever seen.

Juan (Diaz de Villegas) is a hustler living in Havana who is deliriously happy to simply play out his days exerting as little effort as he can as long as he’s stocked up on food and rum. His make-shift raft is where we are first introduced…

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TKFF Mother

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Toronto Korean Film Festival 2012


Starring – Kim Hae-ja, Won Bin, Jin Goo and Yoon Je-moon

Written by Park Eun-kyo and Bong Joon-ho

Directed by Bong Joon-ho

One of Korea’s new masters of cinema is the incomparable Bong Joon-ho. Starting with his breakthrough in 2003 Memories of Murder, a film I have yet to see but many consider to still be his best, then the international smash The Host in 2006, Joon-ho has shown range and courage as a filmmaker who is clearly not shy of breaking new ground with each film. 2009’s Cannes and TIFF critical smash hit Mother is no different, and the TKFF offers a unique chance to see Mother back on the big screen as part of its inaugural lineup.

Mother begins with a frazzled woman, the mother of the title (Hae-ja), as she walks towards the camera across a wheat field. Upon arriving at…

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TKFF Invasion of Alien

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Toronto Korean Film Festival 2012

Invasion of Alien Bikini

Starring Ha Eun-jung and Hong Young-geun.

Directed by O Yeong-du

TKFF’s Sci-fi night starts with the first true Korean Independent film of the festival, Invasion of Alien Bikini. Shot for only 15,000 dollars and using minimal locations, cast, and crew, Bikini is, at a brisk 75 minutes, a smaller, more intimate film rather than a sprawling Sci-fi epic.

Young-gun (Young-geun) is the self-proclaimed ‘City Protector’, a wannabe super hero, ala ‘Kick-Ass’, that goes around fighting crime after dark using his passable Muay Thai skills to protect the innocent and a obviously fake mustache to protect his identity. One night Young-gun overhears the cries of a young lady being chased by three men. After interceding on her behalf and beating up these men, and after they desperately attempt to tell him that she is not as she appears, Young-gun takes the young…

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Seeking a Friend for the End of the World Review (Kirk Haviland)

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Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)

Starring Steve Carell, Keira Knightley, Adam Brody, Connie Britton, Rob Corddry, Derek Luke and Martin Sheen

Written and Directed by Lorene Scafaria

For the second week in a row, this time coming from Entertainment One (eone), we get another piece of summer blockbuster counter programming that is a quirky oddball romantic comedy with a sci-fi twist. After last week’s time travel comedy Safety Not Guaranteed we get a film about the end of the world as it literally states in the title, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. Safety was a film that worked because it didn’t get buried under its own quirkiness, can Seeking do the same?

As the film opens we discover that the world will end in 21 days due to the last attempt at derailing an inbound meteor failing. We see Dodge…

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Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Review

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Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)

Starring Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rufus Sewell and Jimmi Simpson.

Written by Seth Grahame-Smith

Directed by Timur Bekmambetov

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is one of a line of mash-up books, including Grahame-Smith’s own Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which are currently extremely popular in the fiction world. Teaming up with Producer/Director Bekmambetov and Producer Tim Burton, and adapting his own book for the screen, Grahame-Smith brings the first of his two books to the theaters this summer with Abe Lincoln. With it’s over the top visuals and absurdist premise, will Abe Lincoln Vamp Hunter be among this year’s most fun excursions to the multiplex or will it be this year’s Jonah Hex?

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter traces the former president’s story back to when he was a child. We first meet Abraham as he interferes with the beating of a…

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Alps Review

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Alps (Alpeis)

Starring Aggeliki Papoulia, Ariane Lebed, Aris Servetalis, Johnny Vekris and Stavros Psyllakis

Written by Efthymis Filippou and Giorgos Lanthimos

Directed by Giorgos Lanthimos

Director Giorgos Lanthimos smashed onto the scene in 2009 with the Venice Film Festival award winning Dogtooth. Lanthimos returns with another surrealist dark comedy with Alps, which starts its engagement at TIFF’s Bell Lightbox this Friday June 22nd.

Alps is the story of four people who start a business venture where they take on the mannerisms and dialogue of the recently deceased in order to help people cope with loss of their loved ones. Consisting of a gymnast, her coach, a paramedic, and a nurse, the four dub themselves Alps because in their leader Mount Blanc’s opinion the Alps can never be mistaken for any other mountain range, but they are big enough to fill the space of any other mountain range. The…

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NXNE: My Father and the Man in Black Review

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NXNE 2102

My Father and the Man in Black

Starring Saul Holiff, Jonathan Holiff and Johnny Cash

Written and Directed by Jonathan Holiff

With the plethora of Johnny Cash documentaries and the biopic “Walk the Line” you would wonder if we really need another look at this music icon on film. But My Father and the Man in Black sets itself apart because it’s NOT a film about Johnny Cash but a film about Saul Holiff, Johnny Cash’s long-time manager, the director Jonathan Hollif’s estranged father who he had not talked to for the last 20 years of Saul’s life, leading up to his suicide in 2005. What we get, in the words of the director, is essentially a slickly produced home movie about the father he barely knew and the life he led that his sons knew next to nothing about.

We start with a re-enactment of Saul’s suicide…

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TKFF Preview

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Toronto Korean Film Festival 2012

5 Reasons you need to check out the TKFF

This month brings the launch of a new film festival for us residents of “Festival City” aka Toronto. The Toronto Korean Film Festival runs from June 22nd until July 1st over 9 days and aims to introduce those not familiar to some of the best of Korean film. For its inaugural event the staff of TKFF have decided to feature a best of Korean Cinema lineup, rather than just new undiscovered cinema, as an introduction for the non-indoctrinated and to offer a rare chance to see these films on a theater screen to those who have seen them before at home. That said, I will now tell you the 5 reasons why I will be in attendance.

5 – Korean Culture. The festival organizers are just as motivated to introduce people to Korean culture…

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NXNE: Irvine Welsh’s Exstacy Review

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NXNE 2012

Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy (2011)

Starring Adam Sinclair, Kristin Kreuk, Billy Boyd, Carlo Rota, Keram Malicki-Sanchez, Stephen McHattie and Dean McDermott

Written by Rob Heydon, Matt Maclennan, Paul McCafferty, Ben Tucker and Irvine Welsh (Based on Irvine Welsh`s novel)

Directed by Rob Heydon

Irvine Welsh became counter-culture hero when the movie based on his seminal novel Trainspotting was released back in 1996. With its no-nonsense, gritty, dirty and frighteningly realistic portrayal of a group of hooligan drug addicts in Scotland, Trainspotting became a critical and financial smash and launched the careers of Ewan Mcgregor and Robert Carlyle. Back with a new movie based on another of his best-selling novels and set in the underground rave scene of Scotland, the question is does director Heydon manage to craft a film near the brilliance of Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting? Or do we get a film that manages to miss the mark of…

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Safety Not Guaranteed Review

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Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

Starring Aubrey Plaza, Jake M. Johnson, Karan Soni and Mark Duplass

Written by Derek Connolly

Directed by Colin Trevorrow

Safety Not Guaranteed, the newest film from Alliance Films and produced by the Duplass Brothers, may end up being one of the hardest movies to categorize this year. Part Sci-fi time travel opus, part romantic comedy, part melodrama and all oddball quirky comedy, Safety rides a lot on the performances of its leads. But is it one of those films that can get buried under its own quirkiness?

We start off with Darius (Plaza) completely blowing a job interview for a job she clearly has no motivation to get, but since she is an unpaid intern at Seattle Magazine she really just wants the money. During a pitch meeting at the magazine Jeff (Johnson) pitches the idea of an article based on a strange classified ad he…

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Island President Review

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The Island President (2011)

Starring Mohamed Nasheed

Directed by Jon Shenk

The Island President is the story of the President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, and his fight to save his island nation from a natural disaster brought on by global warming.  It follows his history from activist to president, but spends most of its time focused on the first year of his presidency and his influence on the Copenhagen Climate Summit held in 2009. The film has a strong environmental message behind it, but is the film as strong as its message?

The film opens with President Nasheed explaining the situation and dire circumstances of global warming on his island nation. We segue into a brief history lesson of the Maldives and its former dictatorship-like rule under the brutal hand of Maumoon Gayoom. Gayoom ruled for 30 years unopposed, he was compared to the likes of a Mafia Don…

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Lovely Molly Review (Kirk Haviland)

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Lovely Molly (2011)

Starring Gretchen Lodge, Johnny Lewis and Alexandra Holden

Written by Eduardo Sanchez and Jamie Nash

Directed by Eduardo Sanchez

In 1999 Eduardo Sanchez practically invented the now booming “found-footage” style of filmmaking with his massively successful Blair Witch Project. Now he’s back with another supernatural thriller that, while using some of the found-footage style of filmmaking, uses a more linear style and documents the rapid descent into madness of its lead character.

Lovely Molly starts with a montage of the wedding of Molly (Lodge) and Tim (Lewis) and them moving into the family house. Shortly after this sequence we are witness to the first incident that happens. Through this we discover that the couple have been living there three months. Tim is a long-haul driver, gone for stretches at a time, and the house as it turns out was the scene of the demise of Molly’s father…

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Prometheus Review (Kirk Haviland)

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Prometheus (2012)

Starring Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Loan Marshall-Green, Sean Harris, Rafe Spall and Charlize Theron

Written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof

Directed by Ridley Scott

Much has been made over Ridley Scott’s return to Science Fiction, and more specifically to the universe he launched with 1979’s seminal sci-fi/horror masterpiece, Alien. Just as much hype has been made by Scott himself, downplaying the whole connection to the Alien franchise, and as it turns out, rightfully so. Prometheus is very heavy on the SCI part of the equation and very light on everything else as Scott goes completely cerebral for a film clearly inspired more by 2001: A Space Odyssey than his own Alien.

Prometheus begins with a sprawling montage of beautiful vistas and landscapes that we soon discover are not earth, but a foreign planet similar to our own. A very humanoid looking, extremely pale…

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Piranha 3DD Review (Kirk Haviland)

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Piranha 3DD (2012)

Starring Danielle Panabaker, Matt Bush, David Koechner, Chris Zylka, Christopher Lloyd, Gary Busey and Ving Rhames

Written by Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan and Joel Soisson

Directed by John Gulager

In 2010 director Alexandre Aja delivered a campy, fun-filled, bombastic remake of the 1978 film Piranha. The film has lived on as a guilty pleasure of many, including myself, with its no holds barred and severe tongue-in-cheek attitude. As Alliance films delivers a sequel this weekend the only question that remains is can they recreate the same mix of humor and campy horror again?

Piranha 3DD starts with a recap of the first film’s events, via a news report styled montage, which explains what has happened to Lake Victoria since the end of the first film. After a short diversion, in which Gary Busey delivers his two days of work on the film as a doomed hillbilly, we…

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Snow White and the Huntsman Review (Kirk Haviland)

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Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)

Starring Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin and Bob Hoskins

Written by Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock and Hossien Amini

Directed by Rupert Sanders

2012’s second reinvention of the classic Snow White tale, Snow White and the Huntsman, arrives in theaters this week hoping it can knock Will Smith out of the top slot. The movie unabashedly borrows from a multitude of sources, a more apt title may be Snow White and the Neverending Story of the Fellowship of the Chronicles of Narnia, but this is not necessarily something to be reviled as it produces a movie much better than my expectations.

We start with a Hemsworth narrated prologue in which we hear the origins of this version’s Snow White character. Snow White is a princess whose mother has passed away while she was still a child. Her father, the King, is…

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