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Archive for September, 2013

TIFF 2013: Blue Ruin (Addicted)

blueruin_01Dwight is a scruffy vagrant who lives by the beach and scavenges for food in dumpsters. He sleeps in a rusty old car seemingly content to live outside the norms of the everyday hustle and bustle. His seemingly aimless existence is interrupted when he learns of a man’s release from prison. Dwight transforms overnight and his life purpose snaps into focus as he returns to his Virginia hometown to face his past.

Blue Ruin is anchored by an intrepid and highly skilled performance from Macon Blair. (more…)

Indie phenom `The Dirties` makes its hometown debut (Review)

TheDirtiesFinally making its hometown debut in Toronto at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival ‘Spotlight Screening’ tonight, an already sold out show, and then starting a theatrical run October 4th at the TIFF Bell Lightbox is the ground-breaking film “The Dirties”. The film is an insightful look at the effects of bullying on a fragile psyche and pulls no punches in its portrayal of a troubled teen losing his grip on the reality around him and the deadly results. The film does have a big fan in filmmaker Kevin Smith as he has picked it up for distribution on his Kevin Smith Movie Club label.

The Dirties

Starring: Matt Johnson and Owen Williams

Directed by Matt Johnson

We’ve all known (or been) someone like aspiring filmmaker Matt Johnson (played eponymously by Matt Johnson). A hyperactive teenage fanboy who’s every engagement with the world is filtered through incessant, intertwining references to movies, TV shows, comic books and other pop-culture ephemera. Armed with his ever-present video camera, Matt enrolls his best friend Owen (Owen Williams) to make a DIY comedy about their fantasized revenge on the school bullies who regularly victimize them. But after having their ultimate ‘vision’ of the film dashed, Owen soon begins to wonder if Matt is looking to make their revenge fantasy a reality.

the_dirties_reviewThe Dirties features a tight script, solid acting and steady camera that combined delivers a powerful and thought provoking experience. Johnson proves to be very capable in the acting/directing dual role, not afraid to show his character Matt in a very unflinching and sometimes unflattering way, Johnson manages to avoid the traps that so many ‘vanity’ projects fall prey to. Williams manages to deliver a believable performance as well, though the pair are really only playing themselves onscreen without much characterization. The film looks great with a realistic sense of scope and dynamic between the characters and the camera, more of a faux documentary than a found footage film, as Johnson wisely includes shots of the film being edited on his home computer to show that the footage has indeed been formed to play the way it does. The film also features one of the best ending credit sequences onscreen this year.

The Dirties is not perfect, some of the bullies in the film are mere cardboard cut-outs of what you’d expect and deliver some wooden performances, but it shines when it focuses on our leading duo of Matt and Owen. The ending sequence is shockingly straight forward inaction but heart wrenching in its final moments. The Dirties is the type of film that seeps in and stays with you awhile, a highly accomplished first feature from director Johnson that ends up being one of the most frank, honest and definitive works on the subject of school violence.

Till Next Time

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TIFF 2013: Like Father, Like Son (Dork Shelf)

Originally posted on DORK SHELF

Like Father, Like Son

Special Presentation

Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda

Like-Father-Like-SonRyota (Masaharu Fukuyama) and Midori Nonomiya (Machiko Ono) are a hard working professional couple who live with their only child, Keita, in a modern Tokyo high-rise. After the hospital delivers the shocking truth about their son being switched at birth, the Nonomiyas suddenly find their lives drastically altered. Their birth-son, Ryusei, is being raised by the easygoing Yudai (Lily Franky) and Yukari Saiki (Yoko Maki). In stark contrast to the Nonomiyas, the Saikis and their three children live in a modest apartment above the family’s appliance shop. Both couples are hesitant to force an abrupt emotional change on their families, but soon begin socializing, including swapping boys on weekends.

The winner of the Jury prize at Cannes this year, Like Father, Like Son is a thoughtful, methodical and serious examination of a concept usually played humorously. Fukuyama delivers a mesmerizing performance as the over-achieving Ryota, a father who while working to better his family’s situation has managed to distance himself from everyone around him. His work is nuanced and largely internalized, but displaying lots of confusion, doubt, and pain in his facial expressions.

The film does carry some pacing issues, and it takes a very long time to start getting to where it needs to go, but audience members that can stay with the film should leave very satisfied with a thoughtful and well-earned finale.

Till Next Time

Movie Junkie TO

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TIFF 2013: Don Jon (Addicted)

donjon_01Jon Martello Jr. (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a New Jersey bartender and womanizer. Yet, in spite of his ability to land sexual partners, Jon has a dirty secret: he’s hopelessly hooked on internet porn. For him, no real life bedmate, no matter how gorgeous or skilled, can compare to the endless parade of images he finds on the web. Even after what would seem an exhausting session in the sack, Jon still feels the call of his laptop. Jon’s routine seems fixed for life until he meets Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson). She’s a sassy Jersey girl who proves a rare challenge to his powers of seduction. But can he reveal to her his awkward addiction?

For his feature length directorial debutDon Jon(more…)

TIFF 2013: The Sacrament (Addicted)

sacrament_01Patrick (Kentucker Audley) is a fashion photographer. When his colleagues Sam (AJ Bowen) and Jake (Joe Swanberg), correspondents for Vice magazine, catch wind of a letter he received from his estranged sister Caroline (Amy Seimetz), they decide her story would be a great subject for a documentary. Caroline is living in what she refers to as a “sober” commune at an unnamed location outside the United States. While Patrick reunites with his sister, Sam and Jake investigate why members of the isolated community have followed a mysterious leader they call “Father” off American soil. Understandably skeptical at first, the guys slowly come around to the group’s utopian claims, until the cracks below the surface start to emerge.

In traditional Ti West form, The Sacrament  (more…)

TIFF 2013 Only Lovers Left Alive

"only lovers left alive"TIFF 2013: Only Lovers Left Alive

Adam (Tom Hiddleston) is a reclusive, yet brilliantly talented and desired, rock star whose only wish is to avoid his adoring fans and write and play his music. Eve (Tilda Swinton) is his lady belle, who leaves her closest friend, Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt), to travel halfway around the world to be with her lover and live in a ramshackle mansion-cum-recording studio on the outskirts of Detroit. Their reverie is troubled, not just by the fans who close in on and keep vigil outside Adam’s hideaway, but also by Eve’s irascible sister (Mia Wasikowska), who it seems perpetually stuck as a rambunctious and untameable teenager despite being just as old as the rest of the vampires she`s connected too.

Director Jim Jarmush uses the guise of the thousands year old vampires to tell a story dripped in decay and gothic sensibilities. Jarmush`s vampires are in no hurry to do anything, who would be after living thousands of years and seeing pretty much everything you could imagine, and in the case of Adam and Eve can spend hundreds of years apart yet remain deeply in love. The Detroit setting turns out to be a genius masterstroke in story telling as the near abandoned buildings and decrepit setting provide the perfect backdrop for the angst ridden Adam to wallow in. The film is packed with nods to historical people and places and infers that the group, including Hurt`s Christopher, have been manipulating art and culture since the time of Keats, Shelly and even Shakespeare.


 Equally a meditation of the lasting impact of art throughout history, Jarmush manages to get the most out of the majority of his talented cast. Wasikowska is lost and sadly ineffectual in her turn as the sister, yet her role is a brief and fleeting for the audience as what a hundred years must feel like for the rest of the characters. A brooding and creative piece, Only Lovers Left Alive is one of the biggest highlights of TIFF 2013.

Till Next Time

Movie Junkie TO

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CONTEST!! Win a copy of ‘Scandal Season 2’

scandalHello All! Its contest time again, this time around the fantastic people at Disney Home Entertainment have provided us with 5 copies of Scandal Season 2 to giveaway!

“Experience every breathless, jaw-dropping moment as Olivia Pope and her team of “gladiators in suits” turn up the heat and raise the stakes in “Scandal: The Complete Second Season.”

For Olivia Pope and Associates, cleaning up other people’s messes takes a shattering personal toll.  Season Two blows the lid off Quinn’s identity, exposes Huck’s dark past, and uncovers Olivia’s darkest secret – something so shocking and enormous that it threatens the entire nation. From boardrooms to bedrooms, relive all 22 episodes of the explosive second season of “Scandal” including exclusive, never-before-seen bonus features with this riveting 5-disc set.

 Bonus Features: A Closer Look: President Grant’s Assassination Attempt – Get an inside peek at how one of Season Two’s most pivotal scenes was shot (pun intended); Hanging with Huck – Spend the day with actor Guillermo Diaz and get to know the man behind the eclectic yet oddball character “Huck”; Extended Episode – Delve deeper into the drama with an episode featuring additional moments too revealing for broadcast television; Deleted Scenes – Discover more scandalous secrets through several never-before-seen moments from the hit series; Outtakes – Fans will laugh out loud at these funny, unseen moments from the set of “Scandal.”

We have copies to give away this time around, so this is how to enter folks. Let all your friends know 🙂

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Winners will be picked and notified via message on Facebook after the contest closing date of August 12th!

Hurry up and enter! Good Luck to all Contest Runs until Sept 16th 2013!

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TIFF 2013: Parkland

PARKLANDDallas. November 22, 1963. 12:38pm. Wounded President John F. Kennedy is rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital, where a frantic trauma team struggles in vain to save him. Precisely forty-eight hours later, the same personnel would attend to the President’s mortally wounded assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. Adapting Vincent Bugliosi’s acclaimed non-fiction book Four Days in November, first-time writer-director Peter Landesman gathers a star-studded cast (including Zac Efron, Paul Giamatti, and Academy Award-winners Billy Bob Thornton and Marcia Gay Harden) to deliver an ensemble based procedural drawn from the accounts of the medical staff, investigators, and ordinary citizens who witnessed the world-changing events first-hand.

You will not find anything new or integral to the JFK Assassination in Parkland, this is not that film. Instead it remains content to merely play out and display the actions of the bystanders of that act. The film in many regards just sits there as it does little to draw the audience into the proceedings, other than what the audience brings to it. The film also features a failed story thread involving the secret service agent who originally interview Oswald months before that either needs to be more fleshed out or excised all together as it just sits hanging through most of the film as an afterthought.


The film features some decent performances, Paul Giammati, James Badge Dale and Marcia Gay Harden are all great, and one terribly unconvincing and terribly dull performance from Zac Efron. Sadly Efron is front and center here as one of JFK’s surgeons and in the midst of the other more seasoned performers sticks out like a sore thumb. And it’s that thumb that nearly ruins the whole experience.

‘The Muppet Movie’ will dazzle all ages on Blu-ray

muppet movie bluNew to Blu-ray, for the ‘Nearly 35th Anniversary Edition’, from Disney is the timeless classic that cemented the legacy of the Jim Henson universe for most children of a generation, and the generations that they have influenced in the following decades, “The Muppet Movie”. The film remains just as vital and hilarious today as it did back then, and for most adults in their 30’s and 40’s, it is an instant time capsule back to their childhood heroes in action again.

The Muppet Movie Blu-ray Review

Starring: The Muppets

Written by Jerry Juhl and Jack Burns

Directed by James Frawley

After a fateful meeting with a big-time talent agent, Kermit the Frog heads for Hollywood dreaming of show biz. Along the way, Fozzie Bear, the Great Gonzo and the dazzling Miss Piggy join him in hopes of becoming film stars too. But all bets are off when Kermit falls into the clutches of Doc Hopper (Charles Durning), a fast-food mogul seeking to promote his French-fried frog-leg franchise.

muppet-movie-screenshot (more…)