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Archive for July, 2012

Midnight Son DVD

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Midnight Son (2011)

Starring – Zak Kilberg, Maya Parish, Jo D. Jonz and Tracey Walter

Written and Directed by Scott Leberecht

Last October heading into the Toronto After Dark Film Festival I remember looking at the lineup and seeing the title Midnight Son slotted into the last slot on Sunday of the fest. Not knowing much about this film I watched the trailer online and was not blown away, in fact it was a little underwhelming. Despite this I decided to take a chance on the film based on the programmer’s recommendations and the film did not disappoint. Mongrel Media’s recent release of the film on DVD allows me to happily revisit what was my most pleasant surprise of TAD 2011.

Jacob (Kilberg) is not your typical 24 year old male. Working as a night security officer in an office building, Jacob has become a creature of the night not…

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The Watch Review

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The Watch

Starring: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade, Will Forte and Billy Crudup.  

Written by Jared Stern, Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen.

Directed by Akiva Schaffer

The film originally known as Neighbourhood Watch (it was shortened to The Watch after the Trayvon Martin incident earlier this year and had all of its bullet-ridden original advertising pulled) finally arrives in theaters from Fox this week. Perhaps being extra cautious due to the circumstances surrounding the Martin incident back in February, The Watch enters theaters with a lot less advertising and fanfare than you would expect from a film with this kind of star power. But can the combined comedic chops of Stiller, Vaughn, Hill, Ayoade (director of last year’s brilliant Submarine) and Forte along with director, and one-third of the comedy troop of The Lonely Island, Akiva Schaffer, deliver the comedy of the year?

Evan (Stiller) seems…

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Joffrey: Mavericks of AM Dance

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Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance

Written and Directed by Bob Hercules

Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino were the two visionaries behind the creation and innovation of the Joffrey Ballet. Narrated by Mandy Patinkin, Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance tells the history behind the Joffrey Ballet and the story of these two men. Through archival footage and interviews (both men have passed on) director Hercules attempts to lay out the history of the influential ballet company.

Co-founded in 1956, the then titled “The Robert Joffrey Ballet” was a touring company of six dancers traversing the US in a borrowed station wagon with Joffey choreographing and Arpino as lead male dancer. Eventually Arpino would move into the choreography role himself as the company grew in size and talent. The to men started a school of dance where they insisted on classical ballet proficiency but would then add many other contemporary styles into…

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Shinsedai Fest Wrap

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Shinsedai Cinema Festival 2012

Shinsedai’s fourth year came with a change in venue from the Japan Canadian Cultural Center (JCCC for short) up in the north part of the city down to the heart of Toronto’s west end at the Revue Cinema (just off the Bloor/Danforth subway line at Dundas West station). The move provided record attendance for the fest and a flexibility to program films that previously had been unavailable for Chris Magee and Jasper Sharp, such as the Pink double-bill.

This year’s line-up proved to be strong in diversity, showcasing many different elements of independent Japanese cinema. Opening night gave us the engaging Ringing in their Ears, while the second night brought a couple of bizarre entries in Ghost Cat and the Mysterious Shamisen, and Zero Man vs The Half Virgin. On day three I caught most of the Yubari Fanta shorts with the fascinating Student…

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UFC 143

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DVD Review UFC 143

Diaz vs Condit

February 4th, 2012. Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas Nevada

We here at Entertainment Maven, in our attempt to bring you informed reviews of theatrical releases, home entertainment and special events, have decided that it’s time to acknowledge one of the largest growing forms of entertainment in the world. Of course what I am talking about is Mixed Martial Arts, and in particular the UFC. Now we will not be getting into live event coverage, there are plenty of avenues which cover the live events as they happen or shortly after, and while we do cover events we have decided they will be film related only at this time. So why are we going to be reviewing UFC DVDs?  Because there are only a handful of sites out there doing reviews of the actual DVD releases from UFC. Many fans can’t afford to…

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Shinsedai Tentsuki

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Shinsedai Film Festival 2012 (Toronto)


Starring: Taku Manabe, Natsumi Seto, Ryuzaburo Hattori and Akaji Maro

Written by Masafumi Yamada and Takeshi Miyamoto

Directed by Masafumi Yamada

Tentsuki is a strange little film. Clearly inspired by the likes of David Lynch and the more obscure works of Takeshi Miike, Yamada’s Tentsuki takes place in a rural part of Japan that is inhabited by the quirkiest of characters and scenarios. But is there enough of a cohesive plot to carry the film forward?

Noburo (Manabe) is having quite the string of bad luck. After losing his job when his boss closes the company and runs away during the night, Noburo goes back to the company office and breaks in as he now needs a place to live. Shortly after breaking in Noboru receives some visitors in the form of the local Yakuza looking for their payout. Seeing Noburo in the office…

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Shinsedai – End of Night

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Shinsedai Film Festival 2012 (Toronto)

End of the Night

Starring Kuniaki Nakamura, Nami Komiyama, Masayuki Shionoya

Written and Directed by Daisuke Miyazaki

When it came time for Daisuke Miyazaki to make his directorial debut, after directing second unit for director Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Tokyo Sonata, he decided to look to the past. Inspired by the rich history of yakuza/hit man films from Japan, especially the works of the great Takeshi Kitano, Miyazaki has created a hit man saga of his own.

Hit man Tamegoro (Shionoya) is sent to kill a young couple. After performing the deed Tamegoro discovers a young baby in a crib. After calling his mother, Tamegoro decides to bring the baby home and raise him as his own. We flash forward to the now teenaged Akira out on his first assignment with his “father” Tamegoro in which they are assigned to take out a family, much like his…

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Shinsedai – Zero Man vs

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Shinsedai Film Festival 2012 (Toronto)

Zero Man vs. the Half-Virgin

Starring Chihiro Itakura, Miho Hoshino, Hiroshi Yamamoto, Hideo Tsubota, Don Brown and Sakichi Sato

Written and Directed by Sakichi Sato

Preceeded by Dark on Dark

Directed by Makato Ohtake

Sakichi Sato is a master of oddball cinema. The mastermind behind the scripts for Takeshi Miike’s Ichi the Killer and Gozu and writer/director of his own Tokyo Zombie; Sakichi has shown that no subject is too taboo or bizarre for him to tackle. So naturally a story where a policeman can see numbers on people’s foreheads, but only when his is sporting a full erection, is something that should surprise none of Sato’s fans.

First some words on the odd and entertaining short film Dark on Dark. The film starts a simple scheme, as a man and enormously endowed woman gain money by charging money to men who subsequently have one…

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Shinsedai – Ringing in their Ears

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Shinsedai Cinema Festival 2012 (Toronto)

Ringing in their Ears

Starring – Fumi Nikaido, Kurumi Morishita, Tatsuya Sakamoto and Shinsei Kamattechan

Written and Directed by Yu Irie

The group Shinsei Kamattechan has become a formidable force to be dealt with in the Korean music scene its inception in 2007. Composed of members Noko (lead singer, guitar and keyboards, who also happens to be a shut-in), Mono (keyboards and guitar), Misako (Drums), and Chibagin (Bass), Shinsei grew a rabid fan-base by way of online videos and message boards as they are completely internet driven, including webcasting their live shows. Inspired by their story director Irie has crafted a fictional story set in the world of the band.

The characters of Ringing in their Ears are comprised of a single mom and her son. The mom works two jobs, cleaner by day/exotic dancer by night, to support herself and her young son. Her…

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The Collapsed DVD

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The Collapsed DVD review

Starring – John Fantasia, Steve Vieira, Anna Ross and Lise Moule

Written by Justin McConnell and Kevin Hutchinson

Directed by Justin McConnell

The world of low budget genre films seems proliferated by three different types of films, zombie films, one room/house supernatural thrillers, and apocalyptic end of the world set pieces. With so many out there it truly is difficult to make something original and enticing for fans of the genre. Canadian Filmmaker Justin McConnell brings us his take on the apocalypse with The Collapsed, released on DVD from Anchor Bay entertainment.

The Collapsed is the story of a family after a mysterious infection has turned most of the world against each other. Trying to stay together and lie low while cannibals/murders roam the streets the Weaver family, consisting of Father Scott (Fantasia), Son Aaron (Vieira), Mother Emily (Moule) and Daughter Rebecca (Ross), decide to head…

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Shut Up and Play the Hits

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Bloor Cinema Limited Engagement July 18th and 19th only

Shut up and Play the Hits (2012)

Starring LCD Soundsystem

Directed by Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern

So you’re in your mid-thirties and you decide it’s a great time to completely self-produce and release an album under the name LCD Soundsystem. It receives critical acclaim and now you’re making a “cover” band out of friends and other musicians to go out on tour with. Years later the band is about to make you and the band massive stars as it is on the cusp of a breakthrough on the charts, yet you decide it’s time to call it quits and end the band. Some call it masochism, others a crippling fear of success, but you are resolute. And you’re going to hold the funeral, a massive last concert, in the most historic venue in New York Madison Square Gardens…

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TKFF Oldboy

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Toronto Korean Film Festival 2012

Oldboy (2003)

Starring – Choi Min-sik, Yu Ji-tae, Kang Hye-jeong, Ji Dae-han and Kim Byeong-ok

Written by Hwang Jo-hyun, Lim Chun-hyeong, Lim Joon-hyung and Park Chan-wook (based on the Manga by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi)

Directed by Park Chan-wook

Now the undeniable creative leader of the Korean film movement of the last decade is by far and away Park Chan-wook. Starting with 2000’s JSA: Joint Security Area director Chan-wook has delivered diverse and ground-breaking films like the three films that make up the Vengeance Trilogy (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance), I’m a Cyborg, but that’s OK, and Thirst. Even though the Toronto Korean Film Festival wrapped over a week ago, I would like to use the background of the TKFF to talk about one of my favorite Korean films of all time, Old Boy.

Oh Dae-su (Min-sik) has always…

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Fat Kid Rules

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Projection Booth (Toronto)

Fat Kid Rules the World

Starring – Jacob Wysocki, Matt O’Leary, Dylan Arnold, Lili Simmons, and Billy Campbell

Written by Michael M.B. Galvin and Peter Speakman

Directed by Matthew Lillard

I must admit that I haven’t been the biggest fan of Matthew Lillard’s acting career. His career defining role may be as Shaggy in the Scooby Doo films (one good, one awful), but he has also impressed with his great turn as a punk rocker Stevo in SLC Punk and the iconic role of Stu in Scream.  Aside from that there hasn’t been a lot to commend, but perhaps that’s because he hadn’t found his true calling yet.

Fat Kid Rules the World introduces us to Troy Billings (Wysocki), the titular Fat Kid of the title, a depressed overweight teen who invisibly walks the halls at school as he’s ignored at every turn. Troy is depressed and…

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TAD Summer Screening VHS

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Toronto After Dark Summer Screenings 2012


Directed by Adam Wingard, Ti West, David Bruckner, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, and Radio Silence

Horror anthology films are usually a hit and miss affair. Classic anthologies like Creepshow and the more recent Trick ‘r Treat have proven that they can be made very well without missing a step, but those were both made with one person steering the ship. Usually multiple directors means that one or two parts fall short. These films work when the good considerably outweighs the bad, but does V/H/S fall into this category?

We start off with our wrapping story (Directed by Wingard) where we have a group of guys performing random acts of violence and destruction. After they finish destroying some homes, one of them talks about making some money by breaking into a house to steal a videotape. Upon breaking into the house the group discovers…

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TKFF Fest Wrap

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TKFF 2012


The first ever Toronto Korean Film Festival wrapped on July 1st after a nine-day run in its first year. The highlights of the festival were the films of course, closing with the latter two entries of the famed Vengeance Trilogy from Park Chan-wook, Oldboy and Symapthy for Lady Vengeance on 35mm film prints, highlighting some of the best that Korean Cinema has to offer. Of course there were ups and downs, as with any fest going through its first iterations, growing pains if you will, and the TKFF is no exception.

First off, while I was not present for the opening gala which I did hear run late, there seemed to be some disorganization with lineups and showtimes as for the first weekend not one film started at its designated start time. Now while this is not a rarity in film festival land, the fact that we…

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TKFF Sympathy Lady Vengeance

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Toronto Korean Film Festival 2012

Sympathy for Lady Vengeance

Starring – Lee Yeong-ae, Choi Min-sik, Kwon Yea-yeong and Kim See-hoo

Written by Park Chan-wook and Jeoung Seo-gyeong

Directed by Park Chan-wook

Now the undeniable creative leader of the Korean film movement of the last decade is by far and away Park Chan-wook. Starting with 2000’s JSA: Joint Security Area, director Chan-wook has delivered diverse and ground-breaking films like the three films that make up the Vengeance Trilogy (Sympathy for Mr Vengeance, Oldboy and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance), I’m a Cyborg but that’s OK, and Thirst. Even though the Toronto Korean Film Festival wrapped over a week ago, I would like to use the background of the TKFF to talk about my two favorite Korean films of all time, Old Boy and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance.

Lady Vengeance starts with the release of Lee Geum-ja, after 13 1/2 years in prison…

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Shinsedai Preview

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Shinsedai 2012 Festival Preview

Shinsedai Film Festival July 12-15th 2012 (Toronto)

The Revue Cinema – 400 Roncesvalles Ave (Just south of Dundas West TTC station)

In Japanese the phrase Shinsedai stands for “new generation” and it is this declaration that festival creators/programmers Chris Magee and Jasper Sharp live by when setting this festival in motion. Dedicated to bringing the newest in independent Japanese films to Toronto film fans, Shinsedai’s 4th year of programming starts this Thursday bringing an eclectic mix of titles for fans to discover. Like my TKFF preview I will give you my 5 reasons for making sure not to miss this year’s fest.

5. Location, Location, Location

After toiling its wares out in Richmond Hill at the JCCC for the last 3 years, Shinsedai will finally make its debut in the west end of Toronto at the Revue Cinema. The Revue’s location, a mere minute…

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Unfinished spaces

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Unfinished Spaces (2011)

Starring: Vittorio Garatti, Roberto Gottardi and Ricardo Porro

Directed by Benjamin Murray and  Alysa Nahmias

The Cuban National Schools of Art was an ambitious project born of the Cuba Revolution and the imagination of its leader Fidel Castro. Years later they were abandoned, deemed frivolous and unnecessary by the Cuban government, so they were left in an unfinished state even though classes were already underway and continued to take place for decades to follow as the buildings decayed around them.

In 1961, shortly after driving Bautista out of office, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, while out and about in Havana, decide to stop in at the most luxurious of Golf courses in the city to participate in a round of “the game of the idle rich”.  While failing to fall in love with the Sport, Castro did fall in love with the land and asked Che what…

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Savages (2012)

Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson, Blake Lively, Salma Hayek, Benicio Del Toro, Emile Hirsch and John Travolta

Written by Shane Salerno, Don Winlsow and Oliver Stone

Directed by Oliver Stone

After 2010’s disappointing Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps director Oliver Stone returns to familiar territory with Savages, the tale of a couple of small-time drug dealers fighting the Mexican cartels. Stone hasn’t been back into the drug trade since his infamous scripts for Brian De Palma’s Scarface and Alan Parker’s Midnight Express and has not directed anything as violent as Savages since Natural Born Killers. Unfortunately Savages does not come close to the mastery of any of those films.

We start the story with a voice-over narration from the character simply known as O (Lively) as she sets into place the specifics of the script and establishes that she will be our narrator throughout the film. She introduces…

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Amazing Spider Man

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The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Starring – Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Irrfan Khan, Campbell Scott, Embeth Davidtz, Chris Zylka with Sally Field and Martin Sheen

Written by James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves based on the comic by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee

Directed by Marc Webb

The Amazing Spider-Man, the newest release from Sony Pictures, is a film born of Hollywood legalities. When Spider-Man 4, with Director Sam Raimi and original stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst, was shut down due to the studio and Raimi not agreeing on the direction of the script and Maguire’s refusal to participate without Raimi, Sony decided to reboot the series as opposed to recasting a sequel with a new Peter Parker. If Sony had opted not to reboot the series then, as part of their original deal with Marvel studios, the film rights for Spider-man would have reverted back…

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Town of Runners

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Town of Runners (2012)

Directed by Jerry Rothwell

In the small rural Ethiopian town of Bekoji the sport of running has become a religion. Known for turning out Olympic caliber distance runners, runners from Bekoji have produced 8 Olympic Gold Medals, 32 World Championships and have broken 10 world records in the last 20 years. Its runners have also swept the four distances races, male and female, at the Beijing Olympics. Director Jerry Rothwell takes us into this sleepy little town obsessed with running, through the eyes and voices of a handful of its natives to tell us the story behind the success.

Our story focuses on three young people from the town of Bekoji. Biruk is our link to the ever developing town as he explains the impact the upcoming paved roadways will have on the town and his grandmother’s little shop, a kiosk on the side of the…

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5 Broken Cameras

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5 Broken Cameras

Starring – Emad Burnat

Written by Guy Davidi

Directed by Guy Davidi and Emad Burnat

A brilliant premise is behind the filmmaker Guy Davidi’s 5 Broken Cameras. He used footage from said cameras collected over the span of 5 years by Emad Burnat around his village to tell a griping story of defiance and tyranny. He then had the man who shot the footage narrate the goings on all while telling the story of his young family and how they cope with growing up in this war-torn backdrop.

Emad is a villager in the Palestinian village of Bil’in. When his fourth son is born, Gibreel, Emad comes in the possession of his first video camera. Meanwhile the Israeli army has started to encroach on the village’s land and build a barrier to keep the villagers at bay while they illegally build new housing on the these lands…

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Summer Preview 2

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The Amazing Spider-Man (July 3rd)

So we are already getting a reboot of the Spider-Man franchise, a move Sony has made to ensure that the web slinger’s movie rights don’t revert back to Marvel’s control. But I must admit, with every new trailer that hits the web I actually become more interested in seeing this.

Savages (July 6th)

Oliver Stone directing a film about 2 drug dealers on a Mickey and Mallory sized killing spree to get back their mutual girlfriend? Sign me up!

The Queen of Versailles (July 6th Limited)

The Hot Docs 2012 hit, and one of our own Dave Voigt’s faves of the fest, makes it to theaters in a limited run. Seek it out.

Ice Age: Continental Drift (July 13th)

Well at least Scrat is fun.


Seth McFarlane, creator of Family Guy, makes his feature directorial debut…

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