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Entries in Canada (35)

Monday
Sep122016

TIFF Quickies: A Monster Calls, Colossal, Santa & Andrés

Nathaniel R reporting from the Toronto Film Festival 


A Monster Calls (JA Bayona, USA/Spain)
This fable about grief and growing up will surely be someone's favorite movie. Alas, it isn't mine. A Monster Calls is a simple fantasy about a boy named Connor (Lewis MacDougall) whose mother (Felicity Jones) is dying of cancer. His grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) and father (Toby Kebell) attempt to console him but the only solace Connor can find is in visitations from a giant tree monster (voiced by Aslan... excuse me, Liam Neeson) who promises to tell the boy three stories in exchange for the boy's own. The film is somewhat moving and fantastically visual in its three animated stories within the movie; they're sensory overload mashups of computer generated imagery, watercolor fluidity, and bold color choices. In both its earthbound and magical moments, though, A Monster Calls is relentlessly gilding the lily. It's so concerned with putting its parables over that its' constantly explaining them and telling us how to feel about grief and loss. Still, Bayona's movie is always coming from a place of compassion and humanity which can be a godsend in the soulless landscape of CGI heavy movies. While the tech elements are strong, particularly sound and visual effects (though why does the creature look so much like Groot?),  it all comes down to the boy and his mother if you want the tears. MacDougall & Jones are beautifully cast as they both look and feel like mother & son. MacDougall, who made his debut as a Lost Boy in Pan last year, impressively carries the movie with something like ease while filling up all the unspoken spaces with heartbreak and fury about his impending loss. Felicity Jones half-gone feeling in her final scenes provides generous Oscar clipping. If only the movie had given the emotions more room to breathe and to speak for themselves. If trees can walk and talk, and demand that we listen, feelings deserve the same respect. Less CGI and scripted preaching, more intuitvie tears, please. [Animated Stories Within the Movie: B+ /Movie: C+ ]

Colossal (Dir. Nacho Vigalondo, Canada)
Finally a movie that Hathaway fans (*raises hand high and shamelessly*) and the "Hathahaters" can enjoy together. This oddball movie from Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo places Anne Hathaway at the center of a kaiju movie. Nope, she's not a scientist or a hero - believe it or not she's the kaiju. Yes, she's Colossal's rampaging beast destroying Seoul ... not figuratively but actually! She's also "Gloria" a drunk who gets thrown out of her boyfriend's apartment (Dan Stevens) and ends up returning to her hometown where she takes a job with a former friend (Jason Sudeikis) who still harbors a crush. When Gloria realizes she's unknowingly wreaking havoc all the way around the world she's even more freaked out by her self destruction and drunken blackouts. If that all sounds like it might work better as a midnight madness short, you could be right. Colossal starts brilliantly with a priceless perfectly-pitched prologue in South Korea with a little girl and her dolly. Though it's numerous twists have a kind of welcome insanity, the length of the thing, and particularly its deadly over-investment in the Jason Sudeikis character (to the detriment of Gloria's own emotional arc) undoes it. Lop off an entire half hour of this film's running time and it might just work as a delightfully weird and funny cult oddity but as it is Colossal is something of its own kaiju, an lumberingly awkward, self-destructive beast which keeps crushing the precious little movie its building. [Anne Hathaway's Willingness to Do This Project: A / Movie: C+]

Santa & Andrés (Dir. Carlos Lechuga, Cuba/Colombia)
Havana born director Carlos Lechuga takes aim at the disconnection of idealogies amongst Cubans in this 80s set drama about a homosexual writer deemed a dissident and the woman assigned to monitor him to keep him from contacting international press and delegates at a local political event. Initially this drama's slow burn doesn't seem to be paying off with a dull first half hour and lots of shots of Santa & Andrés warily staring at each other and barely speaking. But their eventual emotional, if not political, understanding is wonderfully portrayed by the actors and smartly delineated in the screenplay. What the patient filmmaking lacks in verve it makes up for in insight, with each painfully tentative kindness between them feeling like a precious miracle in a climate of hopelessness. B

Wednesday
Aug102016

Norma?

So should we wish Norma Shearer a happy 114th in heaven or not? 

As I was prepping an "on this day..." post I discovered that the internet does not agree on the birth date of The First Lady of MGM, Norma Shearer. TCM and IMDb say August 10th while Biography and Wikipedia say August 11th. Biography goes one further and even says there's disagreement on the year with 1900, 1902, and 1904 all cited which is perhaps why the Encyclopeida Brittanica doesn't give her a birthdate, just a month. Didn't Canada keep records at the turn of the century? 

Nobody agrees on anything about Norma, including her Best Actress win for The Divorcée (1930) which I was alarmed to realize some time ago is not always held in high regard despite her being utterly fabulous in the movie.  Gotta love those Pre-Code movies. We should probably do a mini-series on them at some point.

Whatever her actual birthday, TFE often feels festive about her. Three cheers to Norma this morning (your Old Hollywood fix since Judy by the Numbers, our beloved Wednesday morning pick me up, is delayed for the time being).

Friday
Jul222016

1977: The Best Animated Short nominees

Tim here. To celebrate the upcoming Supporting Actress Smackdown, 1977 is the year of the month here at the Film Experience. I'd like to take you back to a different Oscar competition from that year, the four-way race for Best Animated Short Film. It was one of the more interesting slates that category has ever seen, which I hasten to clarify isn't the same as calling it one of the best. But it makes for a pretty unique cross-section of the kind of animation being made in North America, with two nominees from the United States and two from Canada, ranging from a purely abstract experiment with the medium to a literal TV show.

We'll start off with the shortest of the nominees, an offbeat little gag called Jimmy the C (on YouTube – that unpleasant little watermark in the center goes away after a minute). In it, recently-inaugurated President Jimmy Carter waxes rhapsodic over his beloved home state by lip-singing to Ray Charles's "Georgia on My Mind", all through the magic of clay animation. I confess myself stumped: what the hell?...

Click to read more ...

Friday
May132016

Thank Link It's Friday

Vanity Fair meet Millicent Simmonds, a young deaf actress starring in Todd Haynes next film Wonderstruck
Film Independent if you are very rich and can afford $150+ to see a live screenplay reading, Hannah and Her Sisters is being performed tonight in Manhattan. Olivia Wilde directs an all star cast including: Bobby Cannavale, Rose Byrne, Uma Thurman, Michael Sheen, Maya Rudolph, and Salman Rushdie. (Love all those ladies but I'll save my pennies to see two fully staged Broadway shows on discount for that price. Jesus)
Oscars YouTube has released a bunch of conversational videos with the team behind Beauty & The Beast for its 25th Anniversary
Decider Joe Reid remembers gay romcom The Broken Hearts Club (2000)
The Film Stage interview with Terence Davies about Sunset Song (2016) now playing
Vulture why X-Men Apocalypse has so little buzz

 

Stage Buddy Nico Tortorella, of Younger fame, tests his comic chops out on stage in "Crude"
Nick's Flick Picks is revisiting the 1996 Cannes Festival, day by screening day. First up was Oscar nominees Ridicule (1996)
Film Forum (NYC) is screening several films based on the work of Noél Coward starting today including Design for Living, Bunny Lake is Missing, and Brief Encounter
Rolling Stone on a newly restored X rated Japanese anime from the 70s, Belladonna of Sadness
Talk House a comic strip review of a comic book movie (Civil War) - this is really fun
THR George Miller talks about his past Cannes jury stints (this next week he's leading the jury) and Oscar night for Mad Max Fury Road 
Interview Magazine unearths a Laura Dern interview from 1990. Great photos. 

Off Cinema
Monkey See lovely piece on reading to your children and the power of spoilers with a Star Wars slant
Madonnarama Madonna will be honoring the late Prince with a performance at the Billboard music awards on May 22nd
Vox on progressive US's citizens frequent threat to move to Canada -- hard to do!
Mic LGBT magazines have an unfortunate habit of lily white male covers, straight and gay. Here are 100 suggestions for LGBT people of color who'd look great on magazine covers. 

Body Positivity
This topic seems to be in the air right now -- and god knows who couldn't use it? -- so here are two good links on insecurities and self-discoveries  
Buzzfeed "Wrestling taught me how (not) to be a man"  
Towleroad "I am a Man..." is there strength in revealing our insecurities? Or just camarederie? 

This is Funny
I don't know who did it though I'd love to give credit -- maybe it's from here? -- but I LOL'ed 

More Captain America Funny: In related unexpectedly amusing news, the US Army confirms that it would indeed owe Steve Rogers 66 years of back pay after he was thawed out in Captain America: The First Avengers; Pajiba reveals a list of every "Chris" that is not part of the Marvel-verse; Over at Funny or Die, thanks to Tony Hale, Civil War Reenactments now mean a completely different thing...It's not a hobby it's a lifestyle!

Random News To Go
Godzilla 2 has been pushed back to 2019. Way to strike while the iron is hot, Warner Bros. Five years between movies? Strange.
• It's not official official yet but Lupita Nyong'o is reportedly in talks for Marvel's Black Panther, assumed to be the superhero's love interest
• We dreaded it and it's now official: Agent Carter, Marvel's most joyful current property (and they have so many now on TV and film) has been cancelled. In much happier news, The Real O'Neals (absolutely adorable and super funny - please tell me you're watching) has been renewed. Here's a bunch of other new cancellations and renewals.

Monday
Dec142015

Interview: Director Maxime Giroux on the Adult Romance of Canadian Oscar Submission 'Félix and Meira' 

Jose here. In the sensitive romance, Félix and Meira, Hadas Yaron and Martin Dubreuil, play the title characters, two lovers who bond through their loneliness, but must struggle with their very different backgrounds, and the fact that she’s married to someone else. An insightful look at Montreal’s Hasidic community, the film is peculiar for its restraint and might be one of the most memorable romantic films in recent years. Director Maxime Giroux paints a unique portrait of people seeking connections that go beyond typical “movie love”. I spoke to him about the film’s origins, casting his leading lady, and being in the race for Oscar.

JOSE: At the beginning of the year I spoke to Luzer Twersky who told me the film originally was supposed to be a comedy. How did you end up with such a subdued romantic drama instead?

MAXIME GIROUX:It’s funny, when we started to imagine the movie, I’d just made a dark movie and I wanted to make a comedy. The more we talked about this community and understood it, the more obvious it became it would be difficult to make a comedy, because people like Luzer for instance, who leave the community, have a hard time making that decision. A comedy about that would not have been easy to make.

JOSE: He said instead what you ended up with was making the movie that best captured the Hasidic experience.

MAXIME GIROUX: He would know that better than me, I never lived in that community (laughs).

More after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Dec132015

Toronto ♥ Tom Hardy, "Carol" and "Phoenix"

The Film Experience loves Toronto. Not only is it home to the best festival, TIFF, but it's also full of Canadians and our own Amir Soltani. On top of those two pluses, the Toronto Film Critics Association includes great critics like Calum Marsh, Bill Chambers and Angelo Murrada (the latter two have guested on "Smackdowns" right here!). The TFCA was established in 1997 and gave their first Best Film prize to Atom Egoyan's brilliant movie The Sweet Hereafter. This year double prizes for Carol, Ex Machina, and Phoenix and a prize for Tom Hardy for playing double as the twin Krays in Legend.

Best Film Carol
Best Director
Todd Haynes, Carol
Best Actress
Nina Hoss, Phoenix
Best Actor
Tom Hardy, Legend

This is the second year in a row that Tom Hardy has won TFCA's Best Actor prize. He took it last year for his solo act Locke. He really should attend their awards dinner as double-thanks. Or pop in on next year's live vote debate to put in his two cents about his successor.

Best Supporting Actress Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina
Best Supporting Actor
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Best Screenplay
The Big Short, adapted by Charles Randolph & Adam McKay from the non-fiction book
Best First Film
Ex Machina d. Alex Garland

Best Animated Film Shaun the Sheep Movie (Aardman) d. Mark Burton & Richard Starzak
Best Documentary Look of Silence d. Joshua Oppenheimer
Best Foreign Language Film Phoenix (Germany) d. Christian Petzold

Phoenix, one of the year's biggest foreign hits, took two prizes

The TFCA also hands out a Best Canadian Film prize but that one comes with nominations and is announced at their awards dinner. Here's hoping Closet Monster gets a nomination.