Archive for the ‘Upcoming movies’ Category

  • Hot Docs 2014: I Am Big Bird, The Condemned, and Watchers of the Sky.

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    Hot Docs 2014

    I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story

    Hot Docs 2014: I Am Big Bird - The Caroll Spinney Story

    Director: Chad Walker and Dave LaMattina

    Program: Special Presentations

    Run Time: 85 minutes

    From Bozo the Clown to Oscar the Grouch, Caroll Spinney has been enriching the lives of adults and children alike for nearly 45 years. At 80 years old, he is the last remaining member of the original Sesame Street puppeteers. With very little known about his private life, we’re given a rare and heartwarming look into the man behind the feathers. Through interviews, a host of home videos, and archival clips, we see both the man and his characters exposed. We are shown the various events that have shaped Spinney’s life – tragedy, a wonderful love story, and a near venture into space aboard the ill-fated Challenger. What’s left is a wonderful man, an artist and entertainer, and a legacy that has carried generations.

    An absolutely beautiful and captivating film, Chad Walker and Dave LaMattina have managed to allow us a glimpse at the very private life of one of the most beloved figures in children’s entertainment of the past century. We’re shown his complexity as a human being, and his natural embodiment of the dichotomy between Oscar and Big Bird. Touching interviews with family members affirm his dedication as a father, husband, and professional. Unwavering in his commitment to anything he undertook, he’s spent his life being all things to all people, and doing so with humour and humility.

    While the film is a treasure to watch, there’s a profound sadness that punctuates its joy. The legacy is ending, and he is the last of a different breed of human. While Big Bird will live on through the ages, the times have changed, and so too has the nature of entertainment. There’s an unshakable sensation that you’re watching a heartbreaking resignation, and anyone who grew up with Sesame Street or any of Jim Henson’s creations will surely feel nostalgic pangs that teeter on the edge of heartbreak. You will laugh, and you will cry, but most importantly you will remember a time when a big fuzzy bird taught you togetherness and unquestionable love. » Read the rest of the entry..

  • Hot Docs 2014: Doc of the Dead, The Nose, Divide in Concord, and More…

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    Hot Docs 2014

    Doc of the Dead

    Hot Docs 2014: Doc of the Dead Director: Alexandre Philippe Program: Nightvision Run Time: 82 minutes Campy, fun, and tongue in cheek, Alexandre Philippe’s Doc of the Dead surely entertains. Tracing the history of the zombie on and off the silver screen, he takes the audience through a rudimentary education of the genre. Through a series of talking head interviews with the likes of George A Romero, Simon Pegg, Bruce Campbell, Robert Kirkman, Max Brooks, and Sherman Howard, we’re shown how zombies came to be in popular culture, and the lengths to which people have become obsessed. Zombie walks, zombie obstacle courses, zombie weddings (officiated by none other than Campbell himself), shelters, weapons, clothing, toys, shows, comic books, and festivals, the world is screaming for “brains!” Zombies are so engrained in popular culture at this point, that there seems to be very little we don’t know. For those familiar with the genre, aficionados and horror gurus alike, they’ll find nothing new here. The layman, however, will take great interest in what Doc of the Dead has to offer. Even still, it teaches us very little in the way of new or groundbreaking information. What the film does provide is an unfortunately perfunctory look at the world’s obsession with zombie culture. While that portion of Doc is intriguing, and a little shocking, it’s at best the end third of the film, and we’re left with very little to sink our teeth into. The anecdotes and interviews are entertaining, nonetheless, but many will groan. They’ve been here before, and they recognize that tree. Ultimately, Doc of the Dead does little to whet the appetites of zombie lovers. Screenings: Saturday, April 26th at 11:59pm at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema Sunday, April 27th at 9:30pm at Hart House Theatre Saturday, May 3rd at 9:45pm at the Royal Cinema » Read the rest of the entry..

  • Hot Docs 2014: Opening Night and The First Day

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    Hot Docs 2014

    The 2014 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival is upon us. North America’s largest Documentary festival is about to take over Toronto, showcasing some of the best documentaries from around the globe at ten venues across our fair city. With over 200 wonderful feature length and short documentaries to choose from, you certainly won’t be disappointed.

    This year’s festival plays host to a series of diverse films, highlighting themes of love and relationships, addiction, crime, fashion, gender and sexuality, just to name a few. This year’s Made In program will turn its gaze towards Denmark, showcasing six films that exemplify the region’s outstanding contribution to non-fiction cinema. The Next program returns to the festival with an eye for the arts, creativity and pop culture, while new program Love, Factually celebrates love, passion, and matters of the heart.

    Hot Docs’ 21st year starts this Thursday, April 24th, with The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz, and continues until May 4th with a wide array of exceptional documentary film that simply must be seen. Don’t miss out, and be sure to grab your tickets fast. For a thorough breakdown of what’s coming this year, be sure to take a look at Bob Turnbull’s preview article on the festival. » Read the rest of the entry..

  • Review: Bears

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    Disney Nature's BearsNature is a beautiful thing. Vast and expansive, it is home to thousands of different species. As a child growing up, I was raised with a keen understanding and respect for nature. In spite of vague memories of Jean-Jacques Annaud’s The Bear, most of that education came from my parents. I spent many summers hiking in Algonquin Provincial Park from the age of two, and was taught that animals are not there for our entertainment. The elements and all those that inhabit the forest were beyond my control, and as such needed to be treated with the utmost respect.

    Disney Nature is attempting to bring this kind of education to children through their films. Thus far, they’ve brought us Earth, The Crimson Wing, Oceans, African Cats, Chimpanzee, and Wings of Life. Meryl Streep, Tim Allen, Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Stewart, Pierce Brosnan, James Earl Jones, and Ken Watanabe have narrated this wide array of nature documentaries for children. They’ve attracted a great deal of attention. What better way to educate kids about different species that pepper our planet? If their latest endeavor, Bears, narrated by John C. Reilly, is any indication, they should choose to stick to one side of the spectrum. Blurring the lines between documentary and fiction, Bears creates a problematic discourse around the very nature of nature itself, successfully creating a hyper-anthropomorphized depiction of a wild animal and dubbing it factual representation.

    Bears follows the first year in the life of two young Alaskan Brown Bears. Their mother attempts to protect them against the elements, starvation, and predators as they make their way to the salmon ponds in order to fatten up for their long winter hibernation. This would make for an interesting documentary on its own accord. With the ability and necessity for camera crews to acclimatize themselves to their subjects over the course of several weeks to months before filming, a great deal of outstanding footage is at their fingertips. However, the footage doesn’t speak for itself, and instead we’re given a fabricated narrative. » Read the rest of the entry..

  • Trailer: Gone Girl

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    David Fincher is back after a hiatus with TV (the first few episodes on House of Cards Season 1) with Gone Girl, the movie adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel of the same name. The film stars Ben Affleck as a man who becomes the prime suspect in a murder when his wife vanishes. The signature urine-yellow lighting, dwarfing the characters in architecture and media spaces are all present, but I am not alone in finding the musical choice here to undermine instead of underscore the mood. Your mileage may vary. You know my bum is in a cinema seat the moment this comes out, when the director finds himself in that Zodiac kind of mood.

    Further question, is the final shot of the trailer a spoiler, or a red herring? I’ve not read the book, but it seems a daring thing to do and an easy thing to play coy with the non-book readers. Please consider the question rhetorical and withhold spoilers.

  • Review: Captain America The Winter Soldier

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    Captain America: The Winter Soldier

    The Marvel universe has been beautifully brought to life, repeatedly. While some adaptations have been more successful than others, Captain America: The First Avenger pleased comic book fans, critics and laymen equally. The homegrown, wholesome as apple pie Americana vibe pulsed throughout the film’s two hour run time. The villain was the clear-cut Hydra, a Nazi-adjacent foe working towards omnipotence, against the earnest and eager ultra-hero, Steve Rogers. The dichotomy was simple, and straightforward. Captain America: The Winter Soldier takes that earnest do-gooder, and gives him a moving target. Though his hyper-moralistic stance is at times far too simplistic and idyllic, the sentiment remains solid and subversive.

    We find Capt. Rogers (Chris Evans) attempting to fit nicely into his daily life. An agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., he trains during the day, works when he’s called in, and does his duty to protect his people. Along the way, he absorbs some run of the mill peer pressure to get out of his cocoon, join the living, and give dating a shot. When a S.H.I.E.L.D. ship is taken hostage, Capt. Rogers and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) are sent aboard with a team to rescue the hostages, and reclaim their vessel.

    However, when Rogers discovers the Widow is on a separate set of orders, ultimately compromising the principle directive, he begins to question not only S.H.I.E.L.D.’s, but Nick Fury’s (Samuel L Jackson) motives as well. Confronting Fury as to his lack of trust in others, the onus is then put on the Captain to learn that universal trust isn’t always the best course of action. Sometimes those we place our deepest faith in are those with the most nefarious intentions.

    Enter Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), Fury’s boss, and the film’s newest prominent character. With Redford’s past participation in films like Three Days of the Condor and All the Presidents Men, his role in the film as resident turncoat comes as little surprise. For those unfamiliar with the comics, however, the depth of this treachery is shocking. We’re left with a sinking sensation of distrust, as NSA-level surveillance and military force merge to form a subversive nemesis. » Read the rest of the entry..

  • Trailer: Lucy

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    What if you combined La Femme Nikita, Crank and Limitless, with a dash of Her and made it a big shoot-em-up action fest? Well, it is just another day, in high-concept Luc Besson land. Lucy has pretty high pedigree though, considering there is American Superstar Scarlett Johansson in the eponymous lead role, Korean superstar Choi Min-sik as the principle villain, the ubiquitous Morgan Freeman on support and the Danish superstar Pilou Asbæk (A Hijacking, Spies & Glistrup) is tucked in there, somewhere, too.

    When a woman is used against her will as a drug mule, and the package implanted inside her starts leaking, she goes from sexy blonde tourist to deadly Black Widow, to all powerful Neo in about 90 minutes. Have we seen it all before? You Betcha. A girl has got to pay the bills, I guess – but take a look below.

    post-script: Remember that of the other two Scarlett movies opening this weekend, you should be checking out Jonathan Glazer’s Under The Skin over Marvel Hero-Unit #17.

  • Trailer: Palo Alto

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    Gorgeously rendered, and sweetly out of control, could Gia Coppola’s Palo Alto be the ‘teen tableaux’ movie for the 2010s that American Graffiti was for the 70s, Fast Times At Ridgemont High was for the 80s, Dazed & Confused was for the 90s and SuperBad was for the Aughts?

    Is sure looks that way. Have a gander below, and try not to think too hard that this was one of James Franco’s darn near fifty vanity projects of the past three years.

  • Trailer: Stress Position

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    This ultra-high-concept film is the feature debut of A.J. Bond, who creative soul who directed the cleverly weird time-travel short film Hirsute which we instantly loved after catching it at 2009 edition of The Toronto After Dark Film Festival. Stress Position nestles on the line between film experiment, documentary, torture-porn and pure anti-septic whiteness. The film involves a game between the director and his star David Amito, which has only three rules: 1. No severe pain 2. No permanent physical damage & 3. Nothing illegal.

    Inspired by a flippant remark about the torturous enhanced interrogation techniques used by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay’s personalized torture regimes aimed at breaking each other’s will, but without causing any severe physical pain. Set entirely in and around an avant garde torture chamber custom built in an isolated warehouse, the film captures the surprising trajectory of the experiment from both sides of the cell as the two friends play both victim and oppressor, not to mention actor and director.

    The acting here may not be any great thespian work, but the idea is at the heart of the matter. Furthermore, in full Gaspar Noe fashion (with a slight dash of Hitoshi Matsumoto’s criminally under-seen Symbol, the trailer is not for those who have any audio-visual sensitivities. You have been warned.

    Stress Position opens in Toronto on April 18th at Carlton Cinema in Toronto.

  • Trailer: Plastic

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    Plastic

    Sam and Fordy run a credit card fraud scheme to support their risky, expensive and fast lifestyle. When they steal from the wrong man, however, they find themselves threatened by heavier criminals (one of whom is familiar character actor Thomas Kretschmann) who are not playing around in white collar crime just for shits and giggles and beach vacations. With their life hanging in the balance, they double down to pull off a daring diamond heist to clear their debts.

    While the basic story idea seems familiar, that of overly-clever twenty-somethings getting into trouble way over their head with white collar crime, this one is directed by Julian Gilbey, who made the marvelously tense and very, very pretty A Lonely Place To Die. It opens in the UK in early May, not sure about any sort of release dates in North America, but it has Paramount distributing it, so that remains a strong possibility if the film sees any success in Britain.

  • Trailer: The Signal

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    The Signal

    Well, this one slipped my by last week, which is a shame because I am a huge fan and am a big booster of William Eubank’s gorgeous indie sci-fi flick Love (Review) which features a man trapped on the dying International Space Station while an unnamed apocalypse has devastated earth, and is scored entirely with Angels & Airwaves songs.

    His next film is called The Signal was very well received at The Sundance Film Festival in January. This gorgeous trailer which came out last week; better late than never here in the third row. Larry Fishburne is the big name in the project, but like Love, the real star is the drop-dead-gorgeous cinematography, and the heady science fiction conceits. When a character says “We’re not 100% certain with what we are dealing with here,” well that says it all. It’s beautiful and intriguing in the same way that Upstream Color was. Here’s hoping Eubank can hit that high watermark.


    Nick and Jonah are MIT freshmen with a passion for hacking. While driving cross-country through Nevada with Nick’s girlfriend, Hailey, they follow rival hacker Nomad’s clues to a location 180 miles away. After a terrifying confrontation with Nomad in the middle of the desert, the trio regain consciousness in captivity. Struggling to comprehend the true nature of their confinement, they discover they are part of a plot much larger than themselves.

  • Trailer: Sin City 2 (A Dame To Kill For)

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    It has been inching towards a decade since Robert Rodriguez’s no shades of grey comic book noir Sin City hit theatres. I recall the trailer for the 2005 film quite well, as it was cut with skill, verve, and rhythm. Here, the trailer for A Dame To Kill for, seems to only serve the purpose to remind us of the property and those few characters who survived (The Cop, The Stripper, Marv and apparently the dirty senator played by Powers Boothe) while introducing some fresh acting talent – Eva Green, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It’s not all that sexy or involving though, it’s just there.

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