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2019 TIFF Round Up

September 17, 2019

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It’s the third Tuesday in September, which means the dust has settled and the red carpets rolled up on another edition of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). As a Toronto local I look forward to this festival both excitedly and begrudgingly. It provides opportunities to get an early look at some of the year’s most buzzed about films, to experience the magic experience that is being part of a packed house wowed by a truly great film, and to see a bunch of smaller films that would otherwise pass under my radar or may never get released. But it also makes for long lineups, difficult to acquire tickets, and Torontonians complaining about the pedestrian-only Festival Street. Read more…

ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD (2019) review

September 16, 2019

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written by: Quentin Tarantino
produced by: Quentin Tarantino, Shannon McIntosh, David Heyman
directed by: Quentin Tarantino
rated: R (for language throughout, some strong graphic violence, drug use, and sexual references)
runtime: 161 min.
release date: July 26, 2019

 

“To my wife and all my sweethearts. May they never meet.”

 

For his ninth and—if the writer/director himself is to be believed—penultimate film, Quentin Tarantino brings us “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood.” The film is not so much a spiritual successor to Sergio Leone’s sprawling, epic films that began with the same five words, but rather a tribute to the films from the era in which it’s set, the late 60s. Specifically, the summer of 1969 when Hollywood “lost its innocence” thanks to a series of brutal murders, including star on the rise Sharon Tate. Read more…

Interview with ABI director Timothy Troy & screenwriter Dan McGuire

September 8, 2019

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director Timothy Troy (left) and screenwriter Dan McGuire (right) with their awards for “Abi”

 

Technology overtaking life as we know it has been a fear that writers have incorporated into their stories for some time now. The idea that something we rely on or use everyday for work or leisure to make life easier, working against us or replacing us has always been a plausibility. From traffic lights going haywire or elevators malfunctioning to Siri or Alexa backfiring on us, this idea of something man has created taking over has been an exhilarating, often horrifying, element in books, television and movies. It’s an element that’s front-and-center in the horror short film “Abi”, which finds director Timothy Troy and screenwriter Dan McGuire wasting no time getting to the threat of the story.
Read more…

CLASSICS: Tokyo Drifter (1966)

August 29, 2019

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written by: Kouhan Kawauchi (screenplay and story)
produced by: Tetsuro Nakagawa
directed by: Seijun Suzuki
rated: unrated
runtime: 82 min.
release date: April 10, 1966 (Japan), February 23, 1999 (U.S. via The Criterion Collection)

 

Among the most stylish directors in Japan in the 60s was Seijun Suzuki, and his 1966 classic “Tokyo Drifter” is among the most unique and, dare I even use this word, cool movies of the 60s. The framework of the film is relatively simple, a lethal assassin decides to get out of the game, but no matter what he does, he can’t escape the world of crime. Read more…

CLASSICS: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)

August 27, 2019

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written by: Jacques Demy
produced by: Mag Bodard
directed by: Jacques Demy
rated: unrated
runtime: 92 min.
release date: February 19, 1964 (France), December 16, 1964 (U.S.)

“People only die of love in movies.”

 

While not officially part of the French New Wave—that group of five film critics turned filmmakers who changed the language of cinema in the late 50s and early 60s—Jacques Demy certainly operated in that vein. His love of technicolor Hollywood classics doesn’t seem to mesh well with the stark emotional intimacy of the French New Wave, but he managed to straddle that line throughout his career, challenging the tight strictures of the movement.

Read more…

CLASSICS: The Color of Pomegranates (1969)

August 20, 2019

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written by: Sergei Parajanov, based on poems by Sayat Nova
directed by: Sergei Parajanov
rated: unrated
runtime: 79 min.
release date: October 1969 (Armenia) and October 1980 (U.S.)

 

“We sought asylum for our love, but the road led us out to the land of the dead.”

 

First things first, before we get started, I must inform you that “The Color of Pomegranates” is not for everyone. It is, however, for anyone that might want to reconsider the notion of what film can be. If you think that cinema exists to tell a multitude of stories in one specific way, that is with a cohesive narrative structure, you’re probably not going to think much of this film. If you’re open to the many possibilities of what a film can be, however, you’ll find much to love in these 79 brisk minutes. Read more…

Interview: THE NIGHTINGALE actress Aisling Franciosi

August 16, 2019

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Aisling Franciosi stars in “The Nightingale.” (photo: Deirdre Hayes)

 

I’m compelled to start off by mentioning that this interview contains spoilers for “The Nightingale” and it would be best to read it after you see it. If that doesn’t deter you, by all means, read on. On that note…if you see the latest film from Australian filmmaker Jennifer Kent (writer/director of “The Babadook”), you will have seen a very special albeit challenging film about the desperate need to hold on to the light during very dark days, something that’s sadly quite relatable. I emphasize “if” because “The Nightingale” will be undoubtedly be a challenge to take in – as witnessed firsthand this past May at the Music Box Theatre where the film screened as part of the Chicago Critics Film Festival, when I witnessed some viewers walk out of the film due to its harrowing and wrenching depiction of violence. That response is understandable, but it’s only after watching Kent’s film in full is it possible to understand that she is aiming at communicating much more than provocative images. Read more…