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Entries in TIFF (62)

Friday
Aug292014

Political Filmmakers & Cute Dogs: A Conversation with Nick Davis

Amir here, to share with you a podcast conversation about my favorite film of 2014. I first watched Jafar Panahi’s Closed Curtain at the Toronto Film Festival almost a full year ago. It was my last film of the festival and I debated long and hard if a late night slot after ten gruelling days of film-watching was a smart idea. Eventually I opted to give my all to the festival. Boy, am I glad I did.

Panahi has been slapped with a 6-year house arrest and a 20-year filmmaking ban in Iran on charges of political dissent but has since twice broken the ban in three years. His first attempt, This Is Not a Film, was a heated, frustrated attempt at circumventing the ban with a DIY documentary made in the confines of his living room, shot partly on an iPhone and reportedly snuck out of Iran on a USB stick in a cake! It made my top ten list in 2011 but Closed Curtain is one giant leap for Panahi toward imposing even more creative authority on his craft under the tightest of limitations.

In this meta-cinematic experiment, Panahi tells us the story of an author who hides himself and his incredibly adorable dog in a seaside villa in northern Iran to overcome a bad case of writer’s block. The world of the film becomes increasingly mysterious and the narrative structure shattered. It can be interpreted in a variety of ways, making the film a challenging experience and a very funny one, too.

I can’t sing its praises enough, which is why I decided to devote an entire episode of my podcast on Iranian films – Hello Cinema, co-hosted with Tina Hassannia – to this gem. We also had a special guest with whom The Film Experience readers are quite familiar. Nick Davis joined us to talk about the film, but given his familiarity with Panahi’s career and Iranian cinema, our conversation went in many unexpected, interesting directions. We talk about the Toronto International Film Festival, the world’s cutest pet, and everything else in between. As you're all aware, Nick is an impossibly charming speaker, so we left this conversation unedited, with all the fun bits included! Have a listen here, and if you’re interested in Iranian cinema, subscribe on iTunes. The September episode of the show will be about Iranian films playing at this year's edition of TIFF.

Wednesday
Jul232014

TIFF Lineup 2014

There's been a snafu with my TIFF credentials so I'm currently in limbo. Therefore today's listing is not an 'OMG Look What Prezzies I Get in September' humble brag, merely today's listing. Which of these 46 films hitting Toronto (not a complete list) are you most excited for? If I do go to Toronto I may well use you readers as film-picking guide.

TIFF Lineup So Far 
100s more films to come
(If we've already covered the film somehow, it's linked up) 

I demand custody of... your Oscar!

Black and White (Mike Binder) - Kevin Costner reunites with his Upside of Anger helmer for a racial custody battle drama. Octavia Spencer co-stars
Breakup Buddies (Ning Hao) - a "raunchy romantic comedy" 
Cake (Daniel Branz) directs Jennifer Aniston and other stars in this drama about a depression support group 
Coming Home (Zhang Yimou) - Gong Li doesn't remember her husband, returned from mail, in this drama
Dearest (Peter Ho-sun Chan) 
The Dead Lands (Toa Frazer) a New Zealand action epic. You don't hear that every day.

40 more after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Feb022014

Links

Vidiocy Karina Longworth on the great Pauline Kael vs Meryl Streep wars
In Contention London Film Critics choose Cate Blanchett and Barkhad Abdi for honors (among others)
The Guardian on the Australian Oscars basically being one long party for The Great Gatsby (which won nearly every award it was up for)
Tom & Lorenzo what Cate Blanchett was wearing to that same event


Thompson on Hollywood TIFF is laying down the law with studios/filmmakers -- no more sloppy seconds due to Telluride "surprises"
Vulture how hot is Anna Kendrick? Improv class hot 

More on Philip Seymour Hoffman
TFE Amir already honored him here in case you missed it.
Kenneth in the (212) covering every major newspaper
Punch Drunk Critics told us that Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal for depression era creepy drama Ezekiel Moss...but this was the day before P.S. Hoffman died so who knows what will happen now. Sounds like a good project though
E Online tells that he hadn't yet finished filming his scenes for the two Hunger Games: Mockingjay films.


Slate strong piece positing that one particular scene in Boogie Nights made the actor a star
The Atlantic has a piece on PSH's talent that fascinated me. It's very well written but its thesis is EXACTLY the opposite about how I always felt about him as an actor, claiming that his greatest gift was understatement. I think he almost never understated anything... which is why he thrills people so much in big moments but also why I did not like his performance in Doubt at all (way too bold when that role needs exceptional restraint to cloud the issues, hence the title) and why my three favorite performances of his I consider very atypical because they have these lovely quiet non red-faced & screaming layers and subtle details. But it's a really good read. 

Thursday
Dec192013

Interview: Asghar Farhadi on Globe Nominee "The Past"

Amir and Asghar Farhadi @ TIFFAmir here, to share with you my fantastic experience of interviewing the director of The Past, A Separation and About Elly. About a decade ago, when Asghar Farhadi made his first feature film after years of successful theatre and TV work, even the most optimistic fan of Iranian cinema could not imagine his stratospheric rise to International Auteur status in such a short span of time. It is heart-warming for an industry that has only gained international prominence in the past two decades to see one of its sons holding an Oscar statue. Farhadi’s popularity comes at a critical point for Iranian cinema, when festival presence is not as regular as it was in the nineties and several major filmmakers have had their careers stalled for political reasons.*

Farhadi's follow up to the Academy Award-winning classic A Separation, The Past will be representing Iran in the Best Foreign Film Oscar competition and was just nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film. Farhadi's latest is a Paris-set melodrama starring two recognizable stars in The Artist's Berenice Bejo (Cannes Winner Best Actress) and Tahar Rahim as well as Iranian superstar Ali Mosaffa.** In the film, Bejo plays Marie, a French woman married to Ahmad (Mosaffa) who is in custody of their children after a breakup. When Ahmad receives a letter from his wife to return to Paris to finalize the divorce, he is confronted with Samir (Rahim), Marie’s new boyfriend, himself married with a son to a woman in a coma. And that’s just the beginning of the complications in this romantic triangle.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Nov122013

Long Live the New Flesh: David Cronenberg's Exhibition

It’s Amir here, reporting on a couple of films I saw at the David Cronenberg exhibition currently held at TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto. As the biggest Canadian director working in cinema today, the master of body horror is held in high esteem in national circles. This comprehensive tribute to his body of work is a tremendous showcase for a filmmaker whose work has done a major service to the Canadian film industry over the past three decades.  

Running alongside the exhibition that includes all things Cronenberg like film memorabilia, set props and a life-size mugwump, Long Live the Flesh also hosts screenings of the director’s films with lectures and Q&A sessions. I had the chance to attend two of these events: a screening of Naked Lunch introduced by David Cronenberg and his longtime producing partner Jeremy Thomas (Oscar winner for The Last Emperor) and my first big screen experience with his seminal science fiction film, The Fly, which was followed by a Q&A with the film’s Oscar-winning make-up artist Stephan Dupuis. Both conversations were illuminating though the films didn’t quite affect me in equal measure.

Naked Lunch, adapted from the William S. Burroughs novel of the same name, is one of the more personal projects in Cronenberg’s canon, born of his passion for the writer’s work. Cronenberg described the film as both a dream-come-true for allowing him the opportunity to adapt one of his personal favorite novels, but also one that made him extremely anxious as he felt the necessity to get the Burroughsian elements just right. Asked if adapting the supposedly unfilmable novel was a difficult task, Cronenberg referred to the project as one of the easiest screenplays he’s written for the way Burroughs’ prose and his dialogue transfers itself directly to the screen.

Click to read more ...