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Archive for October, 2013

Toronto After Dark 2013: Willow Creek (Dork Shelf)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON DORK SHELF

Willow-CreekStraying off California’sBigfoot Scenic Byway,” Jim (Bryce Johnson)—an avowed Sasquatch believer—and Kelly (Alexie Gilmore)—his less-than-convinced girlfriend—take in the surreal sights of Willow Creek. The tiny community is a stone’s throw from where the infamous Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot footage was shot in the 1960`s. After lunching on “Bigfoot burgers,” admiring comical murals and listening to balladeers celebrate the ‘squatch in song, the couple embark on an ill-advised venturing into the woods in search of the unknown. When they inevitably find themselves lost the beast of the forest quickly descends upon them.

Bobcat Goldthwait’s Willow Creek is quite the anomaly. The first half of the film is an almost excruciatingly paced examination of Bigfoot culture which features our leads wandering aimlessly performing interviews and filming first hand footage incessantly. No momentum is gained until the pair is in their tent, lost in the woods, and camped for the night. The following 19 minute steadicam shot (with only a single edit in the entire piece) is masterfully executed and directed, and it ranks among the tensest scenes of the year. The performances from Johnson and Gilmore sell the story perfectly here as their work is almost entirely ad libbed and totally believable.

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Toronto After Dark 2013: The Last Days on Mars (Dork Shelf)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT DORK SHELF

Last-days-on-mars_portrait_w858On the last day of the first manned mission to Mars, a crew member on Tantalus Base believes he’s made an astounding discovery – fossilized evidence of bacterial life. Unwilling to let the relief crew claim all the glory, he disobeys orders to pack up and goes out on an unauthorized expedition to collect further samples. But the routine excavation turns to disaster when the porous ground collapses, and he falls into a deep crevice and near certain death. And after yet another crew member vanishes, the survivors start to suspect that the life-form they have discovered is not yet dead.

Last Days on Mars is a great looking film that quickly devolves into “28 Weeks Later in space.” It begins with an incredibly slow pace that only picks up once the accident occurs, but it feels like an eternity to get there. Most of the talented cast are wasted in roles that barely give them anything to do, with Elias Koteas and Olivia Williams being the biggest examples, but Liev Schreiber manages to anchor the film with a strong leading performance that keeps things watchable.

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Toronto After Dark 2013: The Machine (Dork Shelf)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT DORK SHELF

The-Machine-Tribeca-Film-Festival-2013-movie-review-Caradog-James-uk-film-2-620xTwo computer programmers fall in love creating the first ever piece of self-aware artificial intelligence, designed to help humanity. But things go wrong when the MoD (the U.K. equivalent of the CIA who have been funding their research), decide to alter their breakthrough and teach it to become a robotic weapon.

The Machine benefits from some strong performances from leads Toby Stevens and Caity Lotz. The duo has an evident chemistry that crackles onscreen, especially after Lotz assumes her doppelgänger’s intelligent robot form. Playing the heavy of the piece, Denis Lawson does a very good job as a smarmy and greasy government official who never has anything but destruction on his mind. The film also features a strong look and style, matched with a scientifically intelligent script that sells the neo-futuristic world it takes place in. The pace is deliberate, but never lagging, managing to be enthralling from the outset.

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Toronto After Dark 2013: We Are What We Are (Dork Shelf)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT DORK SHELF

We-Are-What-We-AreRecently widowed father Frank Parker (Bill Sage) and his two teenage daughters try to keep their time-honored family tradition a secret from their increasingly suspicious small town neighbours in the wake of a torrential downpour. But as the evidence starts building, daughters Iris (Ambyr Childers) and Rose (Julia Garner) are forced to assume responsibilities beyond those of a typical family.

Director Jim Mickle returns to Toronto, after Mulberry Street opened the 2007 After Dark Festival and following a People’s Choice Award for his follow-up Stake Land at TIFF, with a brooding and character driven piece that features some excellent performances. Sage is fantastically eerie and manipulative as the patriarch of the family, looming like a dark shadow that refuses to let his girls see any literal and metaphorical daylight. Garner and Childers are perfectly cast as put upon teens who desperately want to know what life must be like for others not forced to conform to their family customs.

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CONTEST!! WIN African based charmer ‘OKA!’ on blu-ray

oka bluWell its contest time again here at the Fix and this time we have a little under the radar charmer up grabs! OKA! has landed on store shelves as of last week, Tuesday October 22nd, and thanks to the amazing folks at Well Go USA we have 3 copies to give away!

Based on the true story of Louis Sarno, an American ethnomusicologist who finds himself trying to record and preserve the music of the Bayaka pygmies, the thoughtful drama OKA!  debuts on Digital, Blu-ray and DVD October 22nd from Well Go USA Entertainment. 25 years ago, Sarno traveled from New Jersey to the forests of Central Africa to record the music of the Bayaka Pygmies. He fell in love with the people, their music, their lifestyle – and a local girl. Despite his failing health and the harsh realities of life in the village, he follows the Bayaka into the heart of the forest. Directed by Lavinia Currier (Passion in the DesertHeart of the Garden), the film stars Kris Marshall (Love ActuallyEasy Virtue), Isaach De Bankole (Casino RoyaleThe Diving Bell and the Butterfly), Will Yun Lee (The WolverineTotal Recall) and the Bayaka of Yandombe.

 Synopsis:

25 years ago, ethnomusicologist Louis Sarno traveled from New Jersey to the forests of Central Africa to record the music of the Bayaka Pygmies. Falling in love with a Bayaka girl and her forest lifestyle, he decided to stay. “OKA!” tells the adventure of his life in Africa with his adopted family. The Bayaka pygmies maintain a tenuous balance between their traditional forest existence and their increasing dependence on the Bantu villagers. Through the eyes of Larry, the tall, ungainly white man from New Jersey, who in spite of his failing liver accompanies the Bayaka on a journey into the heart of the forest, OKA! offers a unique glimpse into the music, humor, and spirit of the Bayaka people.

This film should charm music and cinema lovers alike with its true and vital story. We have 3 copies to give away this time around, and here’s how you enter to win!

Like the Movie Junkie TO Facebook Page HERE

Follow @moviejunkieto on Twitter Here

Like and Share the contest link on the top of the Movie Junkie TO Facebook Page. 

Winners will be picked and notified via message on Facebook after the contest closing date of  November 5th!

Hurry up and enter! Good Luck to all.

Movie Junkie TO


Musicwood (Reel Indie Film Fest – Dork Shelf)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT DORK SHELF

Musicwood

Musicwood

Musicwood examines the environmental impact that producing acoustic guitars has (focusing mainly on the State of Alaska, since it produces most of the sought after ‘Sitka Spruce’), and the attempt to merge concerned parties like Greenpeace and top guitar makers in the world to preserve those trees. The film follows along as world-famous guitar-makers travel into a primordial rain forest to negotiate with Native American loggers before it’s too late for acoustic guitars.

It’s a methodical examination the story of the Musicwood Coalition from multiple angles. While the attempt to unite all concerned parties under one entity is ideal in concept, actually achieving the ideal is much harder. While the film manages to convey this point effectively, it also includes other issues that occur along the way, like the rosewood from Madagascar that one guitar company is busted buying illegally, that can muddle the story instead of adding to it. While these excursions are brief, they do take its toll on the overall impact of message.

The importance of the story is undeniable. Musicwood manages to put a new spin and face to the cause of preserving our natural resources. It works, yet it could easily benefit from a little more focus. Acoustic musicians (Steve Earle, Kaki King, Yo La Tengo and many more) also provide insight from the musician’s standpoint and supply a moving soundtrack. The result is a complex and heartbreaking battle over natural resources, and a profound cultural conflict.

Till Next Time

Movie Junkie TO

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Satellite Boy (Imaginative Review – Dork Shelf)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT DORK SHELF

Satellite-BoySatellite Boy

Abandoned as a boy and living with his grandfather, young Pete spends his days dreaming of his mother’s return and getting into all kinds of mischief with his best friend, Kalmain. Not a fan of his grandfather’s outdated ways, Pete bides his time until one day the land he lives on with his grandfather is bought by a mining company. Fearful that his mother will never find her way back to him, Pete and Kalmain undertake an arduous and dangerous bike journey across the western Australian Outback in the hopes of convincing the mining company to change its mind. (more…)