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Archive for April, 2013

Alex Winter uploads his thoughts on ‘Downloaded’ (Interview)

Downloaded_4.470x264 Alex


Alex Winter uploads his thoughts on ‘Downloaded

With his new documentary “Downloaded” having it’s Hot Docs debut tonight, Alex Winter has finally graduated from being Bill from “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” into a seriously talented documentarian with a sharp eye for story and humor. The film is a rousing crowd pleaser and one of the most sought after tickets from this year’s fest. I got to sit down with Mr. Winter for a brief Q&A about the film.

Movie Junkie TO (MJ) -Thanks for taking some timeout to speak with me today Alex. I got to see the film the other day and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the film. I was working in a music store when the Napster thing exploded so I had a very personal relationship to what I was seeing. What was your introduction to the story and how did you get involved in telling this story? (more…)

Napster is dissected in the new Doc ‘Downloaded’




Director: Alex Winter

In 1998, teenage hacker Shawn Fanning cracked the code that enabled peer-to-peer file sharing online. In 1999, he partnered with his friend and fellow teen Sean Parker (later of Facebook fame) to launch a little service known as Napster. The music-sharing website transformed not only the music industry, but technology as a whole. It sparked a revolution and became the touchstone of a new, digital generation. Filmmaker Alex Winter is granted near unlimited access to Fanning and his collaborators, as well as to a roster of famous musicians including (more…)

Hot Docs 2013: Mini Reviews Part 1


The time has finally arrived and Toronto yet again will bask in the documentary glow that the Hot Docs Film Festival radiates every year. This year will mark the 20th edition of the now legendary festival and features a very strong line up, perhaps one of the strongest of all of it’s editions. Here’s reviews of 4 of the festival’s films, with more to come.

The coverage on Examiner for Hot Docs 2103 (more…)

Hot Docs 2013 – Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer is a must see


Meet Pussy Riot, the feminist punk collective that’s openly challenging the Russian Orthodox Church and President Vladimir Putin. They became infamous for invading the altar of St. Christ Church in Moscow and shocking worshipers with a raunchy song about a sexual coupling between Putin and the church. Three members of the collective were sentenced to three years in a penal colony. Such harsh punishment for a little disorderly conduct served as a clear demonstration of the church’s influence on the state and the state’s influence on the judiciary and brought Pussy Riot global attention.

Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer

Directed by Maxim Pozdorovkin and Mike Lerner

Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer may turn out to be the most vital film playing this year at Hot Docs. The film is paced brilliantly (more…)

Hot Docs 2013: Dayani Cristal and Muscle Shoals


Hot Docs is upon us again! The 2013 edition marks the 20th edition and it looks to be one of the strongest lineups ever. Here is a couple of the films playing over the 11 days of the festival.

Who_Is_Dayani_Cristal_4.470x264 (more…)

‘Deadball’ rounds all the bases on DVD and Blu-ray

deadball (1)


New to Blu-ray and DVD from Well Go USAEntertainment and Sushi Typhoon studios is director Yudai Yamaguchi’s follow up to his 2003 cult hit “Battlefield Baseball”, Deadball. The further blood drenched misadventures of juvenile delinquent Jubeh, played again by Tak Sakaguchi, play as a higher budgeted remake of the first film, with a different opponent this time around, and features some of the more ingenious tongue in cheek sequences in the Sushi Typhoon history. So how does this trip to the baseball diamond compare to other Sushi Typhoon outing s?


Starring: Tak Sakaguchi, Mari Hoshino, Miho Ninagawa, Takamasa Suga

Written by KeitaTokaji

Directed Yudai Yamaguchi

Baseball prodigy Jubeh Yakyu (Sakaguchi) is the most feared and dangerous juvenile delinquent in all of Japan. After accidentally causing the death of his father with a super-powered, deadly fireball pitch, (more…)

‘Luv’ packs some heart in a familiar story



New to DVD from Indomina Releasing is the acclaimed sophomore drama from director Sheldon Candis that impressed many at last year’s Sundance Film FestivalLuv. The film stars a stellar cast of African American actors in this unique coming of story. Centered by a strong performance from 12 year old Rainey Jr will Luv deliver enough to warrant a purchase?


Starring: Common, Michael Rainey Jr,Danny GloverDennis Haysbert, Danny Glover, Charles S Dutton, Lonette McKee, Michael Kenneth Williams and Megan Good

Written by Justin Wilson and Sheldon Candis

Directed by Sheldon Candis

Woody (Rainey Jr.) lives with his grandmother (McKee) and longs for his family to be reunited. His charismatic Uncle Vincent (Common) has just returned home after eight (more…)

‘Wrong’ rolls into the Lightbox from ‘Rubber’ director Quentin Dupieux


wrong movie film posterStarting an exclusive run at the TIFF Bell Lightbox this weekend, infamous director and musician Quentin Dupieux, aka Mr Oizo, the director of the movie about a car tire on a killing spree ‘Rubber’, is back with his newest absurdist comedy ‘Wrong’. With Rubber being an extremely divisive film, and Dupieux’s penchant for the bizarre, Wrong is sure to not just be simple a story of a man trying to find his lost dog, but among the other distractions and flights of fancy from Dupieux it also is simply that story. But will the director’s latest opus be worthy of a trip down to the Lightbox for the experience?


Starring Jack Plotnick, Eric Judor, Alexis Dziena, William Fichtner, Steve Little and Regan Burns

Written and Directed by Quentin Dupieux

Wrong-JT (more…)

Terrence Malick returns and takes us ‘To The Wonder’


to_the_wonder_quadStarting at the Varsity Cineplex Odeon this week is the latest from prolific and polarizing filmmaker Terrence Malick, To The Wonder. After decades where Malick was silent and not producing film his recent efforts have come in bunches with To The Wonder and Tree of Life only a year apart and Malick currently working on 3 projects all due by end of year 2014. To The Wonder has Malick pondering love and faith, and the loss of both of them.

To The Wonder

Starring: Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko, Rachel McAdams, Javier Bardem

Written and Directed by Terrence Malick

Redbud_Day28 (412 of 381).CR2 (more…)

‘Oblivion’ feels very familiar, but looks stunning

oblivion-movie-directed by Joseph Kosinski



Starring: Tom CruiseAndrea RiseboroughOlga Kurylenko, Zoe BellMelissa Leo andMorgan Freeman

Written by Joseph Kosinski, Karl Gajdusek and Michael Arndt

Directed by Joseph Kosinski

New in theaters this week is the new Science Fiction action/thriller from the director ofTron: Legacy starring Tom Cruise, Oblivion. The first of many apocalyptic earth films to be unleashed in theaters this year, this summer’s After Earth and fall’s Snowpiercer still to come; Oblivion is a beautiful looking epic that despite a small cast is very grand in scale. The question is will the film be original enough to outshine its competition?

2077: Jack Harper (Cruise) serves as a security repairmen stationed on an evacuated Earth with his partner Victoria (Riseborough) (more…)

Toronto Jewish Film Festival: Mini Reviews



Starting April 11th on screens across Toronto is the 21 edition of the Toronto Jewish Film Festival (TJFF). The prestigious festival has been bringing the best and most diverse of Jewish cinema to the city for more than 2 decades and this year’s crop looks to do the same with gripping documentaries and inventive horror films marking the reviews over the next pages.

For more information about the festival, additional films playing and showtime/ticket (more…)

‘The Place Beyond the Pines’ falls short of the mark


place_beyond_the_pinesBlue Valentine” director Derek Cianfrance returns, with his lead actor from Valentine Ryan Gosling in tow, to brings us his vision of an epic crime saga that spans a generation with the much hyped film that debuted at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, The Place Beyond the Pines. Also bringing along Bradley Cooper and rising star Dane DeHaan this time around, director Cianfrance is attempting a much larger in scope and scale story with Place Beyond the Pines, but will the film have more intention and purpose behind the script, or be more about observation and character like Blue Valentine?

The Place Beyond the Pines

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Rose Byrne, Dane DeHaan, Emory Cohen, Ben Mendelsohn, Ray Liotta, Bruce Greenwood and Harris Yulin

Written by Derek Cianfrance, Ben Coccio and Darius Marder

Directed by Derek Cianfrance


‘Tormented 3D’ marks a return to form for Takashi Shimizu



Back in 2002, in the middle of the boom of the Japanese Horror (J-Horror for short) craze in North America that arrived after the release of “The Ring” remake, director Takashi Shimizureleased his blockbuster smash Ju-on: The Grudge. For a while Shimizu was on top of the genre with the Ju-on sequel and the American remakes that he directed himself. But ever since the lackluster results of the Grudge 2 American sequel, Shimizu has failed to recapture the acclaim he once had in North American with a string of disappointing films that have not connected with audiences. New to Blu-ray from Well Go USA Entertainment, Tormented aims to mark a return to form for Shimizu and re-establish his name as a leader in the genre.

Tormented 3D Blu-ray Review

Starring: Hikari Mitsushima, Takeru Shibuya, Tamaki Ogawa, Teruyuki Kagawa and Nao Ohmori

Written by Sôtarô Hayashi, Daisuke Hosaka and Takashi Shimizu

Directed by Takashi Shimizu

Daigo (Shibuya) doesn’t speak anymore, not since he killed that rabbit on the playground at school. (more…)

‘Hit N’ Strum’ is a swing and a miss

hit n strum


New in Toronto theaters this week, at the Cineplex Yonge & Dundas Cinemas, is the directorial debut from veteran Hollywood stuntman Kirk Caouette, Hit N’ Strum. The film, also written and starring Caouette, takes place on his native Canadian streets of Vancouver and features music expressly written and performed by Cauoette himself. After a successful run in Vancouver, Hit N’ Strum makes it Toronto theatrical debut looking to charm TO viewers as well.

Hit N’ Strum

Starring: Michelle Harrison, Kirk Caouette and Paul McGillion

Written and directed by Kirk Caouette

Worlds collide when Stephanie (Harrison) takes a wrong turn and runs down Mike (Caouette), a scruffy homeless street busker in Vancouver’s gritty Downtown Eastside. As Mike gets to his feet, Stephanie panics and speeds away from the scene. (more…)

Director Shane Carruth returns with ‘Upstream Color’


upstream-color-poster-29936_650x400Indie darling filmmaker Shane Carruth finally delivers his long awaited follow up to 2004’s surprise hit “Primer”, as the film starts an exclusive run at the Tiff Bell Lightbox April 12, Upstream Color. Upstream is a bolder and larger in scope. A more diverse effort from Carruth that will challenge even the most patient audience with its abstract metaphors and nonlinear story telling that is never broken down and explained for the viewer. This is the type of film that will have audiences in discussion for hours and days after, and will either be loved or vilified in the process.

Upstream Color

Starring: Amy Seimetz, Shane Carruth, Andrew Sensenig, Thiago Martins

Written and Directed by Shane Carruth

Upstream-Color-Still1-AmySeimetz-ShaneCarruth (more…)

Danny Boyle manages to get us in a ‘Trance’, but just barely



Trance Review

Starring: James McAvoyVincent CasselRosario Dawson

Written by Joe Ahearne, John Hodge

Directed by Danny Boyle

Director Danny Boyle takes a step back into the realm of the psychological crime thriller for the first time since his debut film “Shallow Grave” with his newest film set in the world of art crime, Trance. The film is the feature adaptation of writer Joe Ahearne’s television film from 2001 of the same name, with frequent Boyle writing collaborator Hodge helping out with script of this version of the story. With a stellar trio leading the film the only question that remains is how effective it is?

Simon (McAvoy) is a fine art auctioneer who gets mixed up with a gang led by Franck (more…)

‘Jurassic Park 3D’ brings the extinct back to the cineplex



Jurassic Park 3D Review

Starring: Sam Neil, Laura Dern, Richard AttenboroughJeff GoldblumAriana Richards, Joseph Mazzello, Bob Peck, Martin Ferrero, BD WongWayne Knight and Samuel L. Jackson

Written by David Koepp and Michael Crichton based on Crichton’s novel.

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Back in theaters 20 years after its initial release, and yes that statement may make you feel really old, is the landmark summer blockbuster from Steven Spielberg that changed how movie theaters were equipped for sound and racked up major box office dollars, Jurassic Park. Being retro fitted for 3D for this reissue, Jurassic Park still remains the most realistic film to depict dinosaurs on screen but the question is how does the 3D transfer effect the film’s visuals and does it add anything to the experience.

In case you need a refresher, Jurassic Park is the story of paleontologists Dr. Alan Grant (Neil) and Dr.  Ellie Sattler (Dern), who along with ‘Chaotician’ (more…)

The best movies you never saw: ‘Ghost Graduation’

ghost grad 2 wallpaper


Don’t worry if you are puzzled and scratching your head after reading the headline, most people in the general public outside of its native Spain have not heard of Ghost Graduation. This delightful comedy comes across as a blend of “Ghostbusters”, “ParaNorman” and “The Breakfast Club” and has charmed audiences worldwide. A hit at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, the programmers of TIFF brought the film back this year as part of the TIFF Next Wave festival back in February as well. So what is it about this film that has people raving?

Ghost Graduation (Promoción Fantasma)

Starring: Raúl Arévalo, Alexandra Jiménez, Javier Bódalo, Anna Castillo, Andrea Duro, Alex Maruny, Jaime Olias, Carlos Areces, Aura Garrido and Silvia Abril

Written by Cristóbal Garrido and Adolfo Valor

Directed by Javier Ruiz Caldera

The introverted Modesto (Arévalo) is an unsuccessful high school teacher who from an early age has been able to see ghosts. But (more…)