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Reviews

‘Junkie’ comes up short on DVD

Junkie_Payoff_Horizontal_LoRes“Junkie” is a pitch black comedy about two heavily addicted, drug addled brothers, Danny (Daniel Louis Rivas) and Nicky (Robert LaSardo). When Danny decides he’s going clean, Nicky reacts aggressively, driving Danny from one insane experience to another. As Danny’s life spirals out of control he must fight tooth and nail to kick the habit and rescue himself from the personal hell Nicky has consigned him to, whilst simultaneously attempting to repair the deeply damaged relationships with his bizarre set of friends and family.

Junkie is a bit of a mess of a film doesn’t quite get cleaned up by the end. The film starts with a very inventive title sequence that is immediately negated by a story that plays like a very poor man’s take on David Fincher’s Fight Club. In fact the entire first half of the just over 80  (more…)


TIFF Free Screen: Cocksucker Blues

cocksuckerblues_01Cocksucker Blues

Invited to document the Stones’ US tour in support of their legendary album Exile on Main Street, Robert Frank forgoes the glamour on stage in favour of the everyday chaos of life in the wings, as the band and their assorted hangers-on (groupies, roadies and journalists) pursue various listless debaucheries to kill the boredom and homesickness of constant travel. Reportedly described by Mick Jagger as “a fucking good film … but if it shows in America we’ll never be allowed in the country again,” Cocksucker Blues remains one of the most raw and unfiltered accounts of life on tour ever recorded.

Director Robert Frank’s unflinching record of life on the road with the Rolling Stones remains one of the most notorious documentaries ever made, and one of the most impossible to see. A legal settlement with the band — who feared that their entourage’s onscreen antics could lead to public embarrassment and/or criminal prosecution — permits it to be screened only in very controlled circumstances (which makes this screening at the Lightbox a priceless rare event). Throughout the film though Jagger and Richards are very protected as whenever something illicit may happen, for example when Jagger goes to snort cocaine through a rolled dollar bill provided by Richards, the camera pans away to other action in the room.

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‘Jobs’ is not the biopic the man deserves

obs-movie-garage-horizontal-galleryJobs is the true story of a visionary who set out to change the world, and did. The film chronicles Steve Jobs (Ashton Kutcher) transformation of character from the enthusiasm and self-discovery of his youth, to the personal demons that clouded his vision, and finally to the ultimate triumphs of his later life. Jobs changed the way we see the world today through his relentless drive, passion, persistence, and the force of his will, and it is through these qualities that we draw inspiration from his life.

Jobs is a fluffy and ideal version of the story of Steve Jobs that barely scratches the surface of the Apple computers pioneer. Kutcher is actually making an effort here to do something more meaningful with his performance, but in the few instances where the film becomes serious it becomes more and more evident that he is completely lost and in way over his head. The script does Kutcher no favors either as it starts with the launch of the first Ipod then flashes back to the beginnings of Apple and covers the ground to when Jobs returns to Apple in the 90’s. During this time frame only the major points of the story are hit upon with increasingly little shown about his private life and nothing covered after the Ipod launch.

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TIFF brings Totoro and the magical world of Studio Ghibli to Toronto

My-Neighbor-totoroStarting this weekend at the TIFF Bell Lightbox and running through January 3rd with the retrospective program Spirited Away: The Films of Studio Ghibli. The expansive 18 film showcase covers the almost the entire lineup of Ghibli films and even boasts screenings of the rarely seen in Canada masterpiece Grave of the Firelflies. (more…)


‘Punk Syndrome’ and André Gregory at the Carlton this week

Editor`s note: This marks the debut of new contributor to the site David Edwards. Hope you guys like his insight and opinion as he continues to help us out at the FIX. Welcome aboard David!

This week at the Carlton (Dec 13th-19th 2013)

punk syndrome 01The Punk Syndrome

The Punk Syndrome is a cinéma vérité style documentary that follows a punk rock band from Finland made up of four men with mental disabilities and the blood, sweat, and tears that goes into the process of creating music. (more…)


‘Let the Fire Burn’ at the Carlton this week

let the fire bannerLet The Fire Burn

The documentary Let the Fire Burn uses entirely archival footage to re-examine the events of the battle between the city of Philadelphia and the pseudo religious group known as MOVE. This vastly under told story from American history resulted in a fire that ultimately claimed the lives of five children and six adults along with the destruction of sixty one homes.

On May 13, 1985, the municipal government of Philadelphia and an organization called MOVE collided in violent conflict — the result of more than ten years of simmering tensions that had already claimed the life of a police officer during a 1978 gun-battle. By 5pmon May 13, police had already fired over 10,000 rounds of ammunition into the fortified row home that contained children and adults. At this point, a helicopter was used to drop a bomb made from two pounds of C-4 military explosive onto the house. During the next hour, police, firefighters, and city officials looked on as the fire grew out of control

Let the Fire Burn (more…)


The Way Way Back is Way Way Damn Good (Blu-ray Review)

the-way-way-back-international-poster-02

2013 has proven to be a strong year for coming of age dramas with The Spectacular Now, The Kings of Summer and what proves to be the best of the bunch, The Way Way Back. The film from comedy veterans Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, Academy Award winners for their writing on The Descendants, is a heart wrenching and heart-warming story of an incredibly shy and downtrodden young teen finding his voice with the help of a slacker water park worker that may be the only true father figure he’s ever had.

The Way Way Back Blu-ray Review

Starring: Liam James, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Sam Rockwell, Alison Janney, AnnaSophia Robb, Maya Rudolph, Rob Corddry, Amanda Peet, Jim Rash and Nat Faxon.

Written and Directed by Jim Rash and Nat Faxon

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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

Follow me directly on twitter @moviejunkieto and by liking my Facebook page at Movie Junkie TO

 

Email me at moviejunkieto@gmail.com


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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Thor: The Dark World easily surpasses it’s predecessor

Thor-The-Dark-World-Chris-Hemsworth-Natalie-Portman-Tom-Hiddleston-quad-posterMarvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” continues the big-screen adventures of Thor (Chris Hemsworth) as he battles to save Earth and all the Nine Realms from a shadowy enemy that predates the universe itself.  In the aftermath of “Thor” and “Marvel’s The Avengers,” Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos. But an ancient race, the Dark Elves, led by the vengeful Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. To defeat an enemy that even Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor sets upon his most dangerous and personal journey yet, forced into an alliance with his treacherous brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to save not only his people and those he loves, but our universe itself.

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CONTEST! Win passes for ‘Alien Boy’ at the Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival

Alien-Boy-Still1-Portland-Mercury-Jamie-MarquezIts contest time here again at the FIX and here is the second of 2 contests for passes to films at the upcoming 21st edition of the Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival in Toronto!

Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival started in 1993, and has evolved and grown into one of the world’s leading festivals showcasing edgy, thought-provoking films, video, media installations, symposiums and panel discussions on Canadian and international perspectives of mental illness and addiction.

For further information, please visit us at www.rendezvouswithmadness.com

CONTEST! Win passes for ‘Sole Survivor’ at the Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival

survivor17n-2-webIts contest time here again at the FIX and here is the first of 2 contests for passes to films at the upcoming 21st edition of the Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival in Toronto!

Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival started in 1993, and has evolved and grown into one of the world’s leading festivals showcasing edgy, thought-provoking films, video, media installations, symposiums and panel discussions on Canadian and international perspectives of mental illness and addiction.
 For further information, please visit us at www.rendezvouswithmadness.com (more…)

Reel Asian 2013: Evangelion 3.0 (Dork Shelf)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON DORK SHELF

 

Evangelion-You-Can-Not-RedoEvangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo is the third of four films released in the Rebuild of Evangelion tetralogy. Fourteen years after the third impact, Shinji awakens to a world he does not recognize. His body has not aged a single day. Earth lies in ruins, and those he once fought valiantly to protect have cruelly turned against him. Trapped in a harrowing cycle of death and rebirth, Shinji continues to courageously battle the angels—even as the world spirals down towards what could be a tragic end.

Over the almost 20 years since its inception, the Evangelion story has become incredibly dense in its own mythology and Evangelion 3.0 is no different. The film takes no time for anyone new to the series to indoctrinate themselves in the story (making this almost unreviewable to anyone without a doctorate in Evangelion), and while this will no doubt please fans of the expansive universe, it’s made for absolutely no one other than die hards. The story is very much a bridge to the final sequence, jumping  around through scenarios and characters that add little clarifying context to the present story, or simply add subtext that will lead to the final film due later this year.   It’s visually stunning, though, as the mixture of classic animation style and computer generated environments works very well.

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Leto outshines McConaughey in ‘Dallas Buyer’s Club’

Dallas-Buyers-HeaderDallas Buyers Club

When Texan cowboy Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) is diagnosed with HIV, he is prescribed a highly toxic drug and given thirty days to live. Refusing to accept this death sentence, Woodroof taps into the world of underground pharmaceuticals and becomes a kingpin of an unapproved alternative treatment that is both restorative and life extending. His crash course of research reveals a lack of approved treatments and medications in the U.S., so Ron crosses the border into Mexico. There, he learns about alternative treatments and begins smuggling them into the U.S., challenging the medical and scientific community including his concerned physician, Dr. Eve Saks (Jennifer Garner). An outsider to the gay community, Ron finds an unlikely ally in fellow AIDS patient Rayon (Jared Leto), a transsexual who shares Ron’s lust for life. With a growing community of friends and clients, Ron fights for dignity, education, and acceptance.

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‘About Time’ delivers much more than expected

Originally Published at Entertainment Maven

about-time1New in theaters this weekend from Universal Pictures is the latest film from writer/director Richard Curtis, “About Time”. Curtis’ third stab behind the camera after the wildly successful “Love Actually” and the disappointing  “Pirate Radio” (aka The Boast that Rocked) plays like the majority of his scripts about many relationships and how they intersect, but at its core is a genuinely moving and convincing tale of love between and father and son.

About Time

Starring Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy, Lydia Wilson, Lindsay Duncan, Tom Hollander and Will Merrick.

Written and Directed by Richard Curtis

At the age of 21, Tim Lake (Gleeson) discovers he can travel in time after Tim’s father (Nighy) tells his son that the men in his family have always had the ability to do so. Tim can’t change history, but he can change what happens and has happened in his own life so he decides to make his world a better place, by getting a girlfriend. Moving from the Cornwall coast to London to train as a lawyer, Tim finally meets the beautiful but insecure Mary (Rachel McAdams). Tim quickly learns though that time travel has rules and implications as an unfortunate time-travel incident means he’s never met her at all. So they meet for the first time, again and again, until finally he wins her heart. But through trials, triumph and heartbreak, Tim realizes that life is harder and much more satisfying all on its own without time manipulation.

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Toronto After Dark 2013: The Battery (Examiner)

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Two former baseball players, catcher Ben (Jeremy Gardner) and pitcher Mickey (Adam Cronheim) cut an aimless path across a desolate New England. They stick to the back roads and forests to steer clear of the shambling corpses that patrol the once bustling cities and towns. Ben embraces an increasingly feral, lawless, and nomadic lifestyle while Mickey is unable to accept the harsh realities of the new world and longs for the creature comforts he once took for granted. When the men intercept a radio transmission from a seemingly thriving, protected community, Mickey will stop at nothing to find it, even though it is made perfectly clear that he is not welcome.

The Battery is so much more than just another low budget zombie film and is in fact one of the most refreshingly new takes on the subject matter to come out recently.  (more…)


Toronto After Dark 2013: Bounty Killer (Examiner)

Bounty KillerIt’s been 20 years since the corporations took over the world’s governments. Born from the ashes of the corporate wars, the Council of Nine rose as a new law and order. To avenge the corporations’ reckless destruction, the Council issues death warrants for all white collar criminals. Their hunters are known as Bounty Killers. From amateur savage to graceful assassin, the Bounty Killers now compete for body count, fame and a fat stack of cash. They’re ending the plague of corporate greed by exterminating the self-serving CEO and providing the survivors of the apocalypse with retribution. These are the new heroes.

Bounty Killer is a film that spills out all over the place with ideas and action, hoping the core idea at its center would hold the story together.  (more…)


Toronto After Dark 2013: Eega (Addicted)

EegaSudeep (Kiccha Sudeepa) is a high profile industrialist who gets whatever he wants and he has a special eye for beautiful women. To get them, he will not hesitate to do anything. That desire gets triggered when Sudeep sees Bindu (Samantha Prabhu), a micro artist who runs a non-profit organization. Bindu, however, has long flirted and been in love with Nani (played by Nani), who keeps following her everywhere. The story takes a turn when Sudeep discovers the pair is in love and in a rage he kills Nani. But 10 days later Nani is born again as ‘Eega’ (fly) and he vows to take his vengeance on Sudeep. (more…)


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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