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.
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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.
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- Satellite Boy (Imaginative Review – Dork Shelf) (moviejunkieto.com)
- TIFF 2013: Like Father, Like Son (Dork Shelf) (moviejunkieto.com)
- Toronto After Dark 2013- Top 5 most anticipated! (moviejunkieto.com)
- Toronto After Dark 2013: Big Ass Spider (moviejunkieto.com)
- Indie phenom `The Dirties` makes its hometown debut (Review) (moviejunkieto.com)
A giant alien spider escapes from a military lab, inside a corpse, and embarks on a hellacious rampage of acid venom, digestion and property damage the likes of which the city of Los Angeles has never seen. When Major Braxton Tanner (Ray Wise) and his massive military strike fails, it is up to a team of scientists, the plucky Lieutenant Karly Brant (Kramer) and a clever exterminator (Grunberg) and his new sidekick Jose (Lombardo Boyar) to kill the creature before the city is destroyed.
Big Ass Spider is a film that has no pretense as to what film it wants to be. Light years ahead of films like Sharknado, Big Ass Spider derives it laughs from genuine fun writing and not just stunt casting and goofy one liners. The film features a strong lead performance from the affable Grunberg that is genuine and infectious. Matched in charm by Boyar’s Jose, the duo work extremely well with each other and quickly become the heart of the film. Even Ray Wise gets to have some fun here, and the final mid credit sequence works because of Wise alone.
Finally 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.
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 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.
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Starting at the Royal this week is the new coming of age story from Canadian filmmaker Dev Khanna and Degrassi graduate Raymond Ablack, Fondi ’91. Pretty early on the audience realizes that we are experiencing something spectacularly bad unspooling in front of our eyes. It’s sad that when we should be celebrating and forwarding Canadian cinema and film makers, director Khanna is Toronto based, that such a sloppy effort is around to help defend the stereotype that all film from Canada is bad.
Starring: Raymond Ablack, Mylène St-Sauveur, Serena Iansiti, Chris Pereira, Kyle Kirkpatrick, Thomas Wesson, Remo Girone
Written by André Bharti, Lenny Foreht, Dev Khanna, A. Sinha
Directed by Dev Khanna
Set against a background of lost innocence, youthful frivolity and dark moral themes, Fondi ‘91 follows the lustful adventures of a Jersey-based high school soccer team’s two week trip to Europe. Shot on location in Fondi, Italy, the team gets slaughtered during their on field (but not shown) matches as they are too caught up in scoring with the Italian ladies. (more…)
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…)
Starting April 11th on screens across Toronto is the 21 edition of the Toronto Jewish Film Festival (TJFF). The prestigious festival has been bringing the best and most diverse of Jewish cinema to the city for more than 2 decades and this year’s crop looks to do the same with gripping documentaries and inventive horror films marking the reviews over the next pages.
For more information about the festival, additional films playing and showtime/ticket (more…)
Starting on Jan 25, the TIFF Bell Lightbox will host an exclusive run of the animated tribute/biography of Yoshihiro Tastsumi that was a giant hit at this year’s Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival simply titled Tatsumi. The gloriously hand rendered 2D animated film tells the story of the master animator’s early life up to his founding and establishing of the ‘Gekiga Manifesto’ launching the Gekiga movement in Manga writing which adapted a more realistic and adult style of writing and animating. Along the way it adapts 5 of Tatsumi’s works into animated tales, showing the progression of his stories and the reason why creating a place for a more realistic style was needed.
Directed by Eric Khoo
Starting Jan 19, as part of the city wide Toronto ‘Spotlight Japan’ celebration, theTIFF Bell Lightbox begins a 3 month celebration of Japanese cinema also entitled ‘Spotlight Japan’. The collection includes 3 series and some other individual titles that spotlight classic and contemporary Japanese cinema. Running through April 17, TIFF will show individuals screenings of classic Japanese cinema broken into three series:
Tokyo Drifters: 100 Years of Nikkatsu
Celebrating the history of the legendary (more…)
Back in 1989 a horrendous attack in New York’s Iconic Central Park shocked New Yorkers and captivated people worldwide. The attack and the following investigation involving corruption, deceit and intrigue has become the stuff of legend. Documentarian master Ken Burns teams up with his daughter and son in-law to tell the story of the 5 teenagers convicted and jailed for the crime, and their journey to redemption, in “The Central Park 5”. Starting Christmas Day, The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema in Toronto begins an exclusive theatrical run of the film with additional screenings over the next 2 ½ weeks.
The Central Park Five
Written and Directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon
This month’s Doc Soup presentation from the venerable Hot Docs programmers is The House I Live In. The award winner from this year’s Sundance Film Festival makes its Toronto premiere with 3 showings at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, on Wednesday December 5th at 6:30 and 9:15 and Thursday the 6th at 6:45. The House I Live In is a detailed look at the war on drugs in the US, but from the other side of the coin.
The House I Live in
Written by Eugene Jarecki and Christopher St John
Directed by Eugene Jarecki
In America a war is raging, not just overseas but at home as well, costing countless lives, destroying families, and inflicting untold damage on future generations. For (more…)