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Archive for November, 2013

The Coen Brothers bring their Tall Tales to the TIFF Bell Lightbox

carteblanche_1The enigmatic Coen Brothers are the subject of the latest retrospective from the programmer at TIFF as starting this weekend Joel & Ethan Coen:Tall Tales kicks off 4 weeks of Coen goodness at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.  A 10 film spotlight on the  theatrical films in the Coen Brother’s cannon, the retrospective kicks off with screening of Fargo, Miller’s Crossing, No Country for Old Men and Blood Simple over the opening weekend and snakes through the month of December with screenings of other Coen Classics.

Of the opening weekend, the can’t miss opportunity lies in the stunning debut film from the brothers, Blood Simple, which is a twist driven crime noir that set the indie film world ablaze and inspired a myriad of late 80’s early 90’s rip offs that never captured the energy and originality of the Coens debut. The film features strong performances from a cast of classic character actors like Dan Hedaya, John Getz and the legendary M. Emmet Walsh.  It’s also responsible for introducing the brothers, and the film world, to Joel soon to be wife and collaborator on many Coen films Francis McDormand.

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Love.net (Dork Shelf)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT DORK SHELF

Love.net_Love.net follows the parallel stories of character trying to change their lives via Internet dating sites in Bulgaria.  This film is about love at first (virtual) sight in all its forms – the inevitable, mystic and inexplicable love, as well as the superficial. The film tracks multiple couples trying to make their first forays into the online dating world, examining the possible dangers of underage users on sites, the anonymity of site clients, and the possibility that the person you are talking to may not be that unfamiliar. (more…)


Kuma (Dork Shelf)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON DORK SHELF

KumaFatma is a fiftysomething housewife with six children in Vienna, but she grew up in Turkey and clings stubbornly to the traditions and values of the old country. Ayse is 19, and married to Fatma’s son, Hasan. However, when the family takes Ayse to Vienna this is revealed as a charade… for Ayse is to be the kuma (second wife) of Fatma’s husband, Mustafa. (more…)


Alcan Highway (Dork Shelf)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON DORK SHELF

Alcan-HighwayHese is a 44 year-old Finnish man trying to solve the paradox of wanting to be constantly on the move and to find a home to settle down.  To this end, he plans to build a mobile home and find a place to turn off the engine for good.  He travels from Finland to Anchorage, Alaska, customizes a 60 year-old truck, throwing the body of an old Streamline trailer very awkwardly on the back, with his friends and drives to Vancouver Island to seek peace of mind.  At least, that’s the plan. (more…)


RWM 2013: Winter in the Blood (Dork Shelf)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT DORK SHELF

Winter-in-the-BloodVirgil First Raise (Chaske Spencer) wakes up in a ditch on the hardscrabble plains of Montana, hungover and badly beaten. He returns to his ranch on the reservation to find that his wife, Agnes (Julia Jones), has left him. Worse, she’s taken his beloved rifle. Virgil sets out to town find her— or perhaps just the gun— beginning a hi-line odyssey of inebriated and possibly imagined intrigues in town with the mysterious ‘Airplane Man’ (David Morse), a beautiful barmaid, and two dangerous Men in Suits. Virgil’s quest brings him face-to-face with his childhood memories of his beloved lost brother, Mose.

Twin directors Alex and Andrew Smith have attempted to create a film that is true to the spirit of James Welch’s 1974 novel about Native American life, but the film is just as meandering and disjointed as Virgil’s recollections. Narrated in voice over by an older Virgil and liberally jumping between young man Virgil and childhood, the film comes across aloof, keeping the audience at a distance the whole time, much like Virgil does with everyone else. David Morse’s Airplane Man (clearly his attempt at Hunter S Thompson) is uneven at best, and oddly a low point from an otherwise usually strong actor. The other myriad of characters that jump in and out of Virgil’s fever dream are never really developed beyond caricatures and sketches that aren’t all that interesting.

Winter in the Blood rests solely on the shoulders of Chaske Spencer, and while his performance is very strong, it’s not enough to anchor the sense of aimlessness that permeates the heart of the film.

Till Next Time

Movie Junkie TO

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Bette Davis conquers the Lightbox- the hard way.

babyjane_01Starting this weekend at the Tiff Bell Lightbox is the new retrospective on the films of Hollywood icon Bette Davis entitled The Hard Way: The Films of Bette Davis. The retrospective covers the entire gamut of Davis’ career and runs until Sunday December 8th.

This weekend featured some of the earlier films from the Davis cannon with Of Human Bondage, The Letter and the scathing behind the scenes Broadway drama that earned Davis Best Actress honors at the Cannes Film Festival in 1951, All About Eve. All About Eve is one of the career defining roles for Bette Davis, she carries the role of Margo Channing of with ease and responds to the manipulations and Anne Baxter’s conniving Eve Harrington aplomb. (more…)


Short Term 12 is much more than just one performance

ShortTerm12Grace (Brie Larson), a young supervising staff member of a foster care facility, looks after troubled teens and reckons with her own past alongside her co-worker and long-time boyfriend, Mason (John Gallagher Jr.). But when a young girl named Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever) is admitted Grace’s past comes rushing back on her like a tidal wave. Now Grace must find a way to reach out for help, the same way she instructs her charges, in order not to drown in a despair all her own.

There has been much said about the star-making and mesmerizing performance from Larson in Short Term 12, and all of it is very well deserved indeed as her performance is stunning, but not as much has been touted about her counterpart Gallagher Jr. Just as impressive as Larson is Gallagher Jr’s understated and brilliant turn as Grace’s long suffering and devoted boyfriend Mason. The patience and understanding Mason shows even in the midst of Grace pushing him away as hard as she can is earnest and inspiring and Gallager Jr is fantastic in role. The rest of the supporting cast is strong as well, the casting is perfect here as all of them are playing to their strengths, as Stephanie Beatriz from Brooklyn Nine-Nine plays the stoic and strong Jessica and Rami Malek (the Mummy from Night at the Museum) is the doe eyed newbie Nate that sticks out like a sore thumb.  Even the kids in the home put in some solid work with Keith Stanfield as Marcus becoming a real standout.

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