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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | instagram | letterboxd 

 

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Yes No Maybe So: CREED, SECRET IN THEIR EYES, STEVE JOBS

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Entries in Canada (23)

Sunday
Dec072014

Team FYC: Enemy for Production Design

Editor's Note: We're featuring individually chosen FYC's for various longshots in the Oscar race. We'll never repeat a film or a category so we hope you enjoy the variety of picks. And if you're lucky enough to be an AMPAS, HFPA, or Critics Group voter, take note! Here's Jason on Enemy.

Toronto is a city always standing in for other places; I grew up about two hours from it and I've visited many times (I love that I saw David Cronenberg's Crash, filmed in that city, on a downtown screen there since it wasn't playing anywhere closer to me) and I've always described the town as "New York City, but clean." It is a bit sterile, a lot cold (I refer you to Cronenberg again - where else could he possibly call home?), a bit personality-free. So what better place to set Denis Villenueve's Enemy, a dark nightmare of doubles, then?

Jose Saramago's novel The Double, on which the film is based, is of course set in Portugal but more importantly it spends big chunks carrying its characters off to the countryside; Enemy however never makes it out of downtown Toronto -- there is no "out of Toronto." The city seen from far above floats between the Great Lake on one side and tundra or mist or maybe just the edge of the known world on the other; meanwhile the streets are webbed with trolley-wires and the buildings all seem like computer renderings half-finished. We see people walking the streets but they have all the presence of the ghosts haunting The Matrix, and the expressways seem to endlessly circle around in a Truman Show like loop.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Nov282014

Amir's Thank Yous

Editor's Note: I asked Team Experience to tell us what they're thankful for this year during the holiday weekend. Here's Amir in the cinematic spirit.

Amir here. As a quick browse through the comments sections on my box office columns can attest, many readers of this website think that I'm the Grinch. It's hard to blame them but the truth is that, if we move away from the dross that Hollywood offers in thousands of theaters, I enjoy quite a healthy relationship with contemporary cinema. Here, for a change of mood, is a positive, complaint-free post.

I'm thankful...

For, first and foremost, TIFF as an organization in Toronto, especially their year-around programming of older films and for the festival that doesn’t just bring great cinema to the city, but great people, too. (If not for this festival, how else could I attract Nathaniel and Nick to town for shared screenings and dinner?) The experience of having all my favourite fellow writers here at home for a few days is what I cherish most about cinema every year.

For courageous filmmakers, this year more than ever, for films like The Look of Silence, Closed Curtain, Citizenfour and Silvered Water: Syria Self Portrait; and for our modern auteurs raising the bar for themselves even further with great works like The Immigrant, Under the Skin and The Grand Budapest Hotel.

For Jake Gyllenhaal challenging himself with interesting roles (and, let’s be honest, thankful that we get to look at him) and Marion Cotillard who delivers masterworks with such frequency that we forget how complicated her performances really are (and, let’s be honest, thankful that we get to look at her).

For the discoveries of Gugu MBatha-Raw and Adam Bakri. And Jenny Slate crossing the border to films with a remarkable debut and for Elisabeth Moss reproving her brilliance on the big screen this time.

For Xavier Dolan finally directing his first good film – oh, look, there I go again, being cynical – and for smart, intelligent films like The Strange Little Cat and A Most Wanted Man.

For, most of all, Nathaniel for keeping me around here and for Team Experience for making compiling all our polls really fun. And you too, readers! If you’ve made it this far, know that I’m really grateful that you’re reading!  

-Amir

 

Related: Nathaniel gives thanks, Jose gives thanks 

Sunday
Oct192014

Podcast Leftover Pt. 2

Here's part two of our long delayed festival wrap in which we discuss favorites, celebrity run-ins and hilarious Q&A anecdotes. Enjoy the conversation with Nick Davis, Nathaniel R, and special guests Angelo Muredda and Amir Soltani and continue it in the comments

Discussion includes but is not limited to:

  • It Follows
  • Felicity Jones, Mike Leigh, and Viggo Mortensen
  • Documentary greats from Silvered Water to The Look of Silence
  • Iran's Oscar Submission
  • Directors: Mike Leigh, Peter Strickland, Lav Diaz, Jessica Hausner, and Damian Chazelle

You can listen at the bottom of the post or download on iTunes tomorrow

Festival Leftovers. Pt 2

Friday
Sep052014

TIFF: Mommy = Xavier Dolan's Best

Nathaniel's adventures at TIFF. Day 1

Technically speaking day 2 has just ended and it was an incredible day with consistently great films and memorable offscreen moments. But one day at a time. Day 1's highlight was the Cannes holdover Mommy from Xavier Dolan.

It's attention-grabbing from its first frames with an unusual aspect ratio. Technically speaking it's a 1:1 but if that means nothing to you (I'm not an aspect ratio geek either) know that it's square. Since square is not our beloved and horizontally familiar widescreen, the image feels alarming vertical, more akin to a cel phone shape. This description helps convey the movie's undeniable modernity but it doesn't convey it's lush beauty. (I've heard Mommy knocked as 'the first instagram movie' but, hey, Emmanuel Lubeszki is on instagram so let's not knock it as a Beauty Delivery System.) 

Technical film geekery aside, know this: the screen can barely contain the movie's explosive feelings. Hell, the aspect ratio can't even contain this movie's explosive feelings in one of its own best and most atypically tender jokes. 

MORE...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Sep032014

Off to TIFF: Nathaniel's Journey Begins

For the curious among you this is my very tentative list of films on my very jam-packed schedule at TIFF. This will be the 10th anniversary of my very first trip to TIFF from which my fondest memory was sitting behind Gael García Bernal and Javier Bardem for the premiere of The Sea Inside (the fondness of the memory is due to the view, not the movie). I haven't been attending annually but perhaps last year's short trip was the start of a tradition?

This list is highly subject to change - there are always cancellations, late starts, pop ups which all throw off schedules, you can try to follow the critical buzz which will throw off the schedule, you can meet with friends for food and conversation which will throw off the schedule, and you can sleep which will throw off the morning screening schedule. It's a madcap journey: eye strain, memory loss, and international film culture await up north. Some of these films are scheduled because I'm dying to see them, others less so because they fit exactly into the proposed schedule at an opportune moment. I'm going to try to skip some "must sees" like Maps to the Stars, Clouds of Sils Maria and more but 'WHY?' you shout in anger? Here's why: ten or so mouthwatering titles from TIFF's abundance are part of the New York Film Festival and those screenings begin in NYC literally the day after TIFF wraps. 

on my tentative schedule
1001 GRAMS (Norwegian Romantic Drama)
BANG BANG BABY (Canadian Musical)
CHARLIE COUNTRY (Australian Drama)
CUB (Belgian Horror)
DUKTHAR (Pakistani Drama)
FAREWELL PARTY (Israeli Drama, Ophir Nominee)
FORCE MAJEURE (Swedish Oscar Submission)
FOXCATCHER (Channing Tatum in a singlet. I think other people and things are in it, too.)
THE GATE (Cambodian/French from the director of "Indochine")
THE GOLDEN ERA (Chinese epic starring Tang Wei from Lust, Caution)
A HARD DAY (South Korean drama)
IMITATION GAME (Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing breaks the enigma code)
IN HER PLACE (I already forgot what this one is)
KINGDOM OF DREAMS AND SADNESS (Documentary)
THE LAST FIVE YEARS (Musical)
LABYRINTH OF LIES (German Drama)
LIFE IN A FISHBOWL (Icelandic Oscar Probability)
A LITTLE CHAOS (Kate Winslet back in corsets. Whoooo)
LOS HONGOS (I already forgot what this one is)
MARGARITA WITH A STRAW (Indian, LGBT)
MISS JULIE (Jessica + Colin)
MOMMY (new Xavier Dolan) 
THE NEW GIRLFRIEND (new François Ozon)
OCTOBER GALE (from the director of "Cairo Time" starring Patty Clarkson again)
OUT OF NATURE (Norwegian Drama)
PHOENIX (German)
A PIGEON SAT ON A BRANCH REFLECTING ON ITS EXISTENCE (Swedish Oddity)
THE PROPHET (animated)
RED AMNESIA (Chinese Thriller)
RETURN TO ITHACA (from the director of "The Class")
THE RIOT CLUB (from the director of "An Education")
SCARLET INNOCENCE (I already forgot what this one is)
SHREW'S NEST (Spanish Thriller)
SONG OF THE SEA (from the filmmakers behind "The Secret of Kells")
STILL ALICE (indie Julianne Moore drama)
THEORY OF EVERYTHING (Eddie & Felicity court each other and Oscar)
TODAY (Iranian drama)
THE TRIBE (Ukranian Oscar Probability) 
WILD (Reese hikes toward Oscar #2?)
WILD TALES (Argentinian comedy) 

Anna Kendrick with the brilliant composer Jason Robert Brown ("The Last Five Years")

That's 40 films and I can guarantee I won't actually see that many and it's unwise to if you hope to remember any of them. But wish me luck in staying very roughly on track. Remember this: comments and retweets and shares are helpful fuel for those on the run from screening to screening. Follow Me on Twitter and Instagram if you want smaller and more frequent updates in addition to the reviews I'll be offering here.

What About the Blog? 
I'll try to get you one TIFF diary a day. Meanwhile the team has some fun stuff planned for you while I'm up North including more "back to school" pieces, a Team Top Ten and a mini fest celebrating the centennial of Robert Wise. 

Friday
Aug082014

Breaking: The Foreign Oscar Charts Have Arrived!

I've been chart happy this week as you can see. The Oscar charts were all updated two days ago. And now the Foreign Language Film Submission Charts - all three of 'em - are up. Have to be ready when September hits, you know!? The three foreign film submission charts are now up:

 

 

You can always access the Oscar charts from the pulldown menu on the navigation bar. (But you must know that already.) Only the first chart has a lot of information (read: speculation) since only one country has officially announced. That would be Hungary's tense critically lauded allegory White God. But the charts will grow. UPDATE: Turkey and Poland have all announced. We have a race!

For now let's talk about a few random countries and films that might come into play...

CANADA (7 nominations & 1 win)
Coming off his coronation of sorts at Cannes Xavier Dolan's Mommy seems like the most obvious choice but it's not the only choice. In fact, Xavier Dolan's Tom at the Farm is also eligible; that one is damn prolific. Canada has only submitted Dolan once with I Killed My Mother but they've had a strong string of contenders and actual nominees lately. Denys Arcand, Canada's favorite son when it comes to Oscar (4 submissions, 3 nominations, 1 win) also has a new film out called An Eye For Beauty so who knows. More Canadian features are coming - there's a whole sidebar at TIFF of course.

CZECH REPUBLIC (9 nominations & 3 wins)
They have several options but the one I'm most intrigued by is called Hany. Watch this trailer [NSFW]. I'll tell you why after you do...

It was shot in a one long continuous take a la Rope (well mostly) and Russian Ark! And considering that, it looks fairly complicated, well populated, lively and ambitious. I really want it to be their submission because a) that's cool and b) then we can compare it to Birdman which is reportedly edited to look like it was all shot in one take.

 

ISRAEL (10 nominations)
From 2007 through 2011 Israel was hot-hot-hot with foreign language branch voters securing four of its ten nominations. Israel is the most nominated country never to have won the Foreign prize (Mexico & Poland are also oft-nominated without a statue to show for it). The frontrunner for their submission this year appears to be Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem starring and co-directed by Israel's awesome movie star Ronit Elkabetz (of Late Marriage, Or, and The Band's Visit fame). But when the Ophir nominations are announced in a few days we'll know more about its competition. You have to score at the Ophir Awards to be their submission.

Any guesses as to what your favorite country is submitting this year?