Rowthree Staff Summary of TIFF 2016

Our traditional round-up of impressions and reactions to the massive slate of Toronto International Film Festival has arrived in its ninth edition here in the third row. A always been the case, Row Three staff and contributors along with a few a regular reader or two provide a tiny capsule, a postcard if you will, of all the films that they saw at the festival, accompanied by an identifier-tag: [BEST], [LOVED], [LIKED], [DISLIKED], [DISAPPOINTED], [FELL ASLEEP], [WALKED OUT], [HATED] and [WORST].

Collectively we – Kurt Halfyard, Matt Brown, Bob Turnbull, Mike Rot, Ariel Fisher and Sean Kelly – saw a sizable chunk of the 300+ films shown at the festival. Hopefully this post can act as a ‘rough guide’ for films that will be finding distribution on some platform, whether on the big screen, or small internet enabled screen, in the next 18 months.
 
 

THE SHORT VERSION:

Personal BEST: MOONLIGHT [Mike Rot], [Ariel] & [Matt B.], MANCHESTER BY THE SEA [Bob], NOCTURNAL ANIMALS [Kurt], and LA LA LAND [Sean].

Personal WORST: Several folks were not willing to truly hate anything they saw this year (and that’s cool) but the low-lights were: THE DUELIST [Kurt], ONCE AGAIN [Bob], and DOG EAT DOG [Sean].
 
 
Other Consensus Picks: PATERSON, PERSONAL SHOPPER, CERTAIN WOMEN, AFTER THE STORM, RAW, LOVING and GRADUATION.
 
 
The ‘MASSIVE’ version is below. All our thoughts and impressions from offerings of the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival.

Would you like to know more…?

Critical Mess: Spoilers and Censure

Spoilers

The first rule of Tickled is you don’t talk about Tickled.

The second rule of Tickled …. YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT Tickled.

Such was my experience, and that of conceivably every other media outlet, in regards to this years Sundance and Hot Docs sensation. An outstanding documentary about the seedy underbelly of competitive endurance tickling, David Farrier and Dylan Reeve’s documentary is a superb investigative thriller.

But I can’t tell you why.

Let me start off by saying that this film truly is, without reproach, outstanding. It will leave you incredulous, baffled, and have you on the edge of your seat. It is insightful, intelligently constructed, and eye opening. The questions it answers seem to leave more questions bubbling below the surface – the sign of a successful documentary.

While some publications, such as The Hollywood Reporter, have opted to break down the film, plot point by plot point, publicists involved in its distribution have been diligently trying to put perhaps excessive boundaries on what gets written. I have been asked to write carefully, and to explicitly avoid talking about certain reveals. Meanwhile, suggestions were made that I reconsider my interview questions, the answers of which may reveal too much.

What this all comes down to is a major issue now plaguing media critics, columnists and other surveyors of cultural documents – **THE SPOILER**.

These publicists are doing incredible work trying to protect their product. If a review gets out revealing too much about the film, people may be less interested in seeing it. As with films like The Sixth Sense, for example, people were angry if the final plot twist was spoiled for them. Oft times, they then saw no point in even going to the theatre to see the film.

While something like this won’t do too much damage to a major Hollywood film, it could be a crippling blow for a small documentary out of New Zealand.

An article was published on May 5th by Matt Zoller Seitz on Vulture titled, Spoiler Alert: This Post Is About Spoiler Etiquette. Seitz raises several astute questions about the nature of spoiler culture: Why television shows and movies are somehow more delicate than, say, a sporting event, where the responsibility to avoid news of the game’s outcome, or a spectacular play, falls solely on the shoulders of the person consuming the media. In film and television, however, the responsibility falls on those who produce the criticism, the interviews, and the think-pieces. In other words: It is our fault, as critics, for doing our jobs.

Are there bits of information we should leave out of a piece in order to avoid spoiling rather large bits of the story? Absolutely. There always are. And, often times, that is very easy to do. However, it is becoming progressively more and more difficult to filter out what information is going to piss someone off. Our hands are tied, and it makes it incredibly difficult to do our jobs.

In the case of Tickled, there is so little I can talk about that I felt it more important to use the film as an opportunity to open a dialogue about spoiler culture.

Would you like to know more…?

88th Annual Academy Award Nominations [Oscars]

revenent-oscarnoms

Nominations for the 2016 Oscars have been announced and The Revenant is today’s big “winner” with 12 nominations including best director, actor, supporting actor and best motion picture. All of the other lucky contestants are posted below as well, including Mad Max: Fury Road garnering 10 nods.

See anything interesting or surprising? Anyone snubbed or is anything garnering undeserved attention?

The award winners will be announced on Sunday, FEBRUARY 28nd at 7pm ET live on ABC at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood.

 

TOTAL NOMINATIONS COUNT:
The Revenant 12
Mad Max: Fury Road 10
The Martian 7
Bridge of Spies 6
Carol 6
Spotlight 6
The Big Short 5
Star Wars: The Force Awakens 5
The Danish Girl 4
Room 4


 
 

BEST MOTION PICTURE:
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Brooklyn
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Room
Spotlight

DIRECTOR:
Adam McKay, The Big Short
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
Alejandro González Iñárritu, The Revenant
Lenny Abrahamson, Room
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight

ACTOR:
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Matt Damon, The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

ACTRESS:
Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

SUPPORTING ACTOR:
Christian Bale, The Big Short
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Sylvestor Stallone, Creed

SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Rooney Mara, Carol
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Would you like to know more…?

CASTcast 2015

cascast15-feat

The Cinematic Appreciation Society of Toronto returns for more drinking and merriment and incidental discussion on the highlights of 2015 in film. Dozens of film lovers in the Toronto area (including many contributors here at RowThree) submitted their top ten lists and the results were tallied into a consensus top ten.

Our hosts for this podcast gather around a round table (literally) and work their way through the list one at a time and spend a few minutes discussing the pros (and some cons) of each title. Though there was surprisingly little RowThree representation on the recording panel, our own Corey “Goon” Pierce contributes to the on-mic revelry.

Enjoy the listen!

Dave Voigt – In the Seats | @intheseats

Corey Pierce – Soundtrack of Your Life | @coreypierceart

Hillary Butler – Live for Films | @petdochill

Ryan McNeil – The Matinee@matinee_ca

Corey Atad – @coreyatad

Norman McGlashan – Flick Hunter | @mcstay12

Jorge Castillo – Prairie Dog Magazine | @jicastillo

Heidi Morales – Hye’s Musing | @HeidyMo

James McNally – CAST organizer, Toronto Screen Shots@toscreenshots

Rowthree Staff Summary of TIFF 2015

Welcome to our eighth annual Toronto International Film Festival wrap-up post. As has always been the case, regular Row Three contributors along with a few readers provide a tiny capsule, a postcard if you will, of all the films that they saw at the festival, accompanied by an identifier-tag: [BEST], [LOVED], [LIKED], [DISLIKED], [DISAPPOINTED], [FELL ASLEEP], [WALKED OUT], [HATED] and [WORST].

Collectively we – Kurt Halfyard, Matt Brown, Matthew Price, Ryan McNeil, Bob Turnbull, Mike Rot, Ariel Fisher and Sean Kelly – saw almost half of the 350 films shown at the festival and hopefully this post can act as a ‘rough guide’ for films that will be finding distribution on some platform, whether on the big screen, or small internet enabled screen, in the next 18 months.

THE SHORT VERSION:

Personal BEST: ARABIAN NIGHTS [Kurt] & [Matt B.], ANOMALISA [Mike Rot] & [Ryan], OUR LITTLE SISTER [Bob], SHERPA [Ariel], and THE SLEEPING GIANT [Sean].

Personal WORST: OFFICE [Kurt], HIGH-RISE [Mike], THE MISSING GIRL [Matt B.], THE WAVE [Bob], LACE CRATER [Ariel], LONDON ROAD [Sean], and THE LOBSTER* [Ryan].

Other Consensus Picks: LOUDER THAN BOMBS, THE MARTIAN, SICARIO, AN, DEMOLITION, VICTORIA, DHEEPAN, BEASTS OF NO NATION, GREEN ROOM, and EQUALS.

The ‘MASSIVE’ version is below. All our thoughts and impressions from the 2015 Edition of the Toronto International Film Festival.

Would you like to know more…?

Review: The Longest Ride

TheLongestRideStill1

Director: George Tillman Jr. (The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete, Faster, Notorious)
Writer: Craig Bolotin, Nicholas Sparks (novel)
Producers: Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey, Theresa Park, Nicholas Sparks
Starring: Britt Robertson, Scott Eastwood, Oona Chaplin, Jack Huston, Alan Alda
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 139 min.


Here’s the deal: you’ve seen this movie before. It’s not really like The Notebook but it’s as close to it as we’ve come in the adaptations of Nicholas Sparks novels since. Truth: Sparks knows how to weave a good, if predictable, romantic yarn and The Longest Ride is no different.

Britt Robertson and Scott Eastwood are the lovely couple this time around. She, Sophia, is a New Jersey daughter of immigrants studying art at the local college in one of the Carolinas while he, Luke, is a good ‘ole southern boy who spends his days professionally riding bulls. The pair meet at one of his events, there’s a spark and eventually they end up together though not before each is forced to confront their personal problems and put everything on the line for love. The end. Happily ever after. And yes, it is happily ever after. Sparks and Disney are the few bastions of happy endings left. Though Sparks’ usually come at the cost of a few extra tissues.

If, like me, you missed the memo, The Longest Ride also stars Alan Alda as Ira, a crotchety old man that is befriended by Sophia. He shares the story of the hardships and happiness of his relationship with his wife, a relationship he refers to as “the longest ride” and his story prompts Sophia to give Luke another go because, as we all know, true love is hard to find and can sometimes be difficult. I’m sure you can figure out how Ira’s story ends too but seriously, if your complaint about this movie is its predictability, you really need to get out more.

Would you like to know more…?

Review: The Sisterhood of Night

SisterhoodOfNightStill1

Director: Caryn Waechter
Writer: Marilyn Fu, Steven Millhauser (short story)
Producers: Elizabeth Cuthrell, Lydia Dean Pilcher
Starring: Georgie Henley, Kara Hayward, Willa Cuthrell-Tuttleman, Olivia DeJonge, Kal Penn, Laura Fraser
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 104 min.


The current crop of YA movies may be, for the most part, burning up the box office but the majority of them don’t feature regular, everyday kids dealing with regular, everyday problems. Yes, the messages are mostly positive but how likely is it that a girl will have to save the world from the grips of a power hungry leader with her bow and arrow?

The easy thing to do is chalk The Sisterhood of Night up to modern retelling of the Salem witch trials and it certainly is that but it’s also far more. Based on a short story from Pulitzer Prize winning author Steven Millhauser and adapted by Marilyn Fu, the story takes the concept of the witch trials and sets it in today’s highschool world complete with the perils of social media.

The grown-up Georgie Henley (of The Chronicles of Narnia fame) stars as Mary Warren, an artistic and largely independent teen girl who, after a couple of run ins with an attention hungry Emily Parris (Moonrise Kingdom’s Kara Hayward) decides to take a break from social media. She updates Facebook one last time and then turns her attention to real world connections. The teen soon befriends a pair of other girls and the trio begin the Sisterhood of Night, a by invitation-only club that sees girls getting together in the middle of the night in the woods and what they do there soon becomes the centre of a scandal.

Would you like to know more…?

2015 Oscar Winners

Welcome to part of the Third Row’s coverage of the 87th annual Academy Awards presentation! We’ll be here all night updating the winners live as they’re announced. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Surprises? Happy? Pissed? Confused? How was NPH?

*winners are marked in red

 
 

BEST MOTION PICTURE:
American Sniper
Birdman
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash

 

DIRECTOR:
Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

 

ACTOR:
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

 

ACTRESS:
Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

 
Would you like to know more…?

Movie Club Podcast #30: POPEYE and PUNCH DRUNK LOVE

The Movie Club and Row Three want to serve up a great big hug and a kiss for Valentine’s Day with two rather unconventional love stories. The first is Robert Altman’s uniquely weird live-action adaptation of Popeye cartoons. The second, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch Drunk Love, is a deconstruction of the Adam Sandler man-child character amongst many other things. Kurt Halfyard is joined by a number of Rowthree regulars Jim Laczkowski (who also runs The Director’s Club Podcast, Bob Turnbull (who is also caretaker for Eternal Sunshine of the Logical Mind), as well as the Mamo! Podcasts’s Matthew Price to discuss these two films at length. Andrew James produced and edited the episode. Join us if you like, it beats flowers and candy.

The streaming conversation as well as the downloadable audio podcast can be found at:

The Movie Club Site

 

 
 
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