Starting this weekend and running until the 20th of July is the latest retrospective series from TIFF’s cinematheque program, “Bitter/Sweet: The Joyous Cinema of Jacques Demy”. The classic and influential French director gets the full treatment here with a full retrospective of the director’s works along 3 films from his wife, Agnès Varda, and a sidebar series comprised of favorite films that inspired and enraptured Demy and helped form the basis for his own work. The series is entitled Bitter/Sweet because Demy ran the gamut of heart wrenching and breaking stories to the joyous and vibrant tributes to the Hollywood musicals he loved.
Jacques Demy Retrospective
Bitter/Sweet: The Joyous Cinema of Jacques Demy
June 27th – July 20th at the TIFF Bell Lightbox
The highlights from the series include the director’s first film “Lola” from 1961 which was shot in black in white , a stark contrast to the vibrant and oversaturation of color that became one of his trademarks, and shows the director starting to piece together his trademark style with characters spontaneously bursting into song along the way. Starring the stunning Anouk Aimée as Lola, a cabaret singer, the film hinted at what was to come with the music and iconic imagery infused into the film.
New to theaters from Disney/Pixar Studios this weekend is the long awaited follow up to the 2001 smash hit “Monsters Inc”, “Monsters University”. The prequel tale takes us back to the college days of our 2 heroes Mike Wazowski and James P Sullivan and shows us how they become friends and partners in the scaring business.
Featuring the voices of John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, Dave Foley, Sean Hayes, Joel Murray, Charlie Day, Alfred Molina, Tyler Labine, Nathan Fillion, Aubrey Plaza and Beth Behrs
Directed by Dan Scanlon
Ever since college-bound Mike Wazowski (Crystal) was a little monster, he has dreamed of becoming a Scarer—and he knows better than anyone that the best Scarers come from Monsters University. But during his first semester at MU, Mike’s plans are derailed when he crosses paths with hotshot James P. Sullivan, “Sulley” (Goodman), a natural-born Scarer. The pair’s out-of-control competitive spirit gets them both kicked out of the University’s elite Scare Program. To make matters worse, they realize they will have to work together, along with an odd bunch of misfit monsters, if they ever hope to make things right.
With Crystal and Goodman effortlessly slipping back into the characters of Mike and Sully, the biggest obstacle the film faces is trying to revive the charm and heart the original film had in bucket loads, and sadly it falls short. The setting of a University for a children’s film is an interesting choice as most of the target demographic have no idea what the impact of getting booted out of university would be. Despite this the film manages to work fairly well until the final act of the film where the Monsters universe created in the first film comes crashing down hard. A poor choice in story negates the rules of the universe that firmly exist in Monsters Inc, as well as changing the backstory of our two characters so that it no longer matches up. The film also discredits the beliefs of the film’s universe before the story that plays out in Monster’s Inc.
The newer characters add some spark to the story, but are fairly indistinguishable and forgettable in the long run. Having Buscemi return as Randal is a neat twist, but in the end one that is full of missed opportunities as Randal’s appearance becomes more sporadic as the film carries on. But what is missing here is Boo, the little girl from Monsters Inc, as there is nothing added here that comes close to adding the element of heart and engagement that she delivers in spades in the film’s predecessor. The ‘Scare Games’ provide some fun and entertaining settings and environments that are among the film’s highlights, but third act unravels all that goodwill very fast.
Much better than the other Pixar sequel audiences were subjected to recently with the abysmal Cars 2, Monsters University sadly does not manage to capture the same magic that made the first film a classic. But up until the 3rd act the film does pack enough laughs and funny sequences
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A horde of upper class, entitled, ne’er do well twenty somethings look to break into the home of Ethan Hawke and Lena Heady in the The Purge. The film attempts to unravel its twists and turns slowly, but things turn to predictable and familiar faster than the story moves, with underwhelming action sequences and any horror and tension getting lost in this uninspiring home invasion tale. (more…)
Here is the latest edition of Dead Air: The Liberal Dead Podcast where host Jeff Konopka and myself discuss everything related to The Purge, the new Ethan Hawke home invasion flick. The link is embedded below where you can stream online or downloaded it through multiple platforms to your MP3 device of choice.
Enjoy! It`s likely more fun than the movie itself!
Starting this weekend, and running through Aug 11th, the TIFF Bell Lightbox will be overrun by some of the greatest films and film luminaries that Chinese film has to offer. Dubbed ‘A Century ofChinese Cinema’, the extensive program features classic films and special events all focused around the history of Chinese film and its impact globally.
The Century of Chinese Cinema Series
The Golden Age program focuses on the films from 1930’s Shanghai and features TIFF Curator Noah Cowan hosting a night with the classic “Spring in a Small Town” and other classic films like “Crossroads” and “The Big Road”. A New China covers the period from the very late 40’s to the early 60’s and is highlighted by “The Love Eterne” and “The Winter”.
The writers behind comedy smashes “Pineapple Express” and “Superbad”, Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, are back with a big screen adaptation of the 2007 short “Jay and Seth vs the Apocalypse”, “This is the End”. Supersizing the cast and budget from the original short, Rogen and Goldberg have turned their directing debut into an ego skewering laugh fest that has many of the younger stars of Hollywood taking a shot at their own egos and reputation.
This is the End
Written and Directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg based on the short film “Jay and Seth vs the Apocalypse” by Jason Stone.
New to Blu-ray, in a 3D Blu-ray/Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, from VVS films is the latest attempt at rebooting the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series, this time by making a direct sequel to the 1974 original and ignoring all the sequels that came after, “Texas Chainsaw 3D”. After the rights for the series lapsed from Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes production company, after 2 very lackluster remakes, and back to the original rights holders, the concept behind Texas Chainsaw 3D was launched. The intentions were to reboot the series all over again and producing a string of follow-ups each year in same vein as the “Saw” films.
Texas Chainsaw 3D
Directed by John Luessenhop
Texas Chainsaw 3D continues the legendary story of the homicidal Sawyer family, picking up where Tobe Hooper’s 1974 horror classic left off in Newt, Texas. Decades later and hundreds of miles away from the original massacre, a young woman named Heather (more…)
Starting an exclusive run at the TIFF Bell Lightbox this week is the much anticipated follow up to the 2004 film “Somersault” from Australian director Cate Shortland, “Lore”. The gritty and unnerving tale has the children of Nazi Germany set to have face and deal with the influx of allied troops that are swarming into their now crumbling country. The story is grim and dense, but features a heck of a lead performance.
Starring: Saskia Rosendahl, Nele Trebs, André Frid, Mika Seidel, Kai Malina, Nick Holaschke and Ursina Lardi
Written by Cate Shortland and Robin Mukherjee
Directed by Cate Shortland
The year is 1945. After their SS Nazi parents are taken into Allied custody, five German children undertake a harrowing journey that exposes them to the reality and consequences of their parents’ actions. (more…)
New on Blu-ray from HBO Home Entertainment is the latest season from HBO’s smash hit supernatural series “True Blood” with the release of Season Five. The show has garnered fans and acclaim with its very adult and racy take on the world of Vampires, Werewolves, Shapeshifters, Witches and other supernatural phenomenon, but also takes hints and inspiration from other shows and movies to mix into its blend. But is this season worth your purchase money?
True Blood: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray Review
Starring: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley, Alexander Skarsgard, Chris Bauer, Nelsan Evans, Carrie Preston, Deborah Ann Woll, Kristen Bauer van Straten, Lauren Bowles, Joe Manganiello, Michael McMillan, Janina Gavankar, Denis O’Hare with Scott Foley, Valentina Cervi, Tina Majorino and Christopher Meloni
Created by Alan Ball
Starting this weekend and running through June 2nd is the 23rd edition of the Inside Out Film Festival in Toronto. Toronto’s LGBT film festival has grown to become one of the biggest and most attended film festivals in a city jammed packed with them. The festival this year features a diverse blend of narrative and documentary for audiences to enjoy, all hosted in the TIFF Bell Lightbox, many will cause discussion and debate while others strain to merely entertain. (more…)
Written by Jay Anthony White
Directed by David A. Armstrong
New on Blu-ray from VVS films is the latest spoof film from Marlon Wayans, A Haunted House. The film marks Marlon’s first solo foray into the spoof film world without any of the rest of the infamous Wayans clan involved. Also responsible for the script, with writing partner Alvarez, the success, or failure, of the project lies solely with Marlon this time around. So will Marlon be able to do it on his own?
A Haunted House
Written by Marlon Wayans and Rick Alvarez
Directed by Michael Tiddes