• Review: The Wind Rises


    A little Japanese boy walks atop the wings of one of Giovanni Caproni’s impossible aircrafts. This dream would be the first of many. “The wind is rising! We must try to live!” A fitting way to start what seems to be master filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki’s final film. The Wind Rises is a sweeping, dream-like epic that chronicles the life of the infamous Jiro Horikoshi, chief engineer behind the Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter plane used prominently throughout World War II. Though there is little discussion of the forced labor Mitsubishi employed at the time, Miyazaki deftly blurs the lines between a beautiful dream and terrifying reality. The Wind Rises is truly masterful.

    The Wind Rises

    The film traces through much of Japan’s grief-stricken early 20th century. From the devastating Kanto earthquake of 1923, through the tuberculosis epidemic that swept Japan, to the onset of World War II. The pulsating earth as the Kanto earthquake ravages Tokyo is breathtaking, leaving the horrifying sight of flames engulfing a people and a culture etched in the audience’s mind. The escape from this horrifying reality is the lush landscape of Jiro’s dreams. Beautiful, sweeping canvases of the imagination, on which Miyazaki traces Jiro’s progression from the Little Japanese Boy with an uncontainable passion, to the man who would invent tools of destruction.

    In spite of what he created, at least according to this fictionalization of Jiro Horikoshi’s life, his single-minded compulsion for perfection, to carry out his dream, is absolutely stunning. We watch Jiro as a young boy, ambitious, with little time for a kid sister far more boisterous than himself. Translating an English aeronautics magazine word by word in his spare time, the seed is planted. He dreams of magnificent aircrafts alongside Caproni, and wakes with a feverish drive to create. As he grows older, he attends University, and takes a position working for Mitsubishi, where history would be made. Would you like to know more…?

  • Review: Takedown: The DNA of GSP



    Takedown: The DNA of GSP

    The UFC is a niche market. While it’s currently at the height of its popularity, it is still niche. Not everyone knows what it’s about, and not everyone cares. Most people look at it and think these are just a bunch of brutish boars, and deny it as a sport. But it is a sport, like any other, and it takes training. And that’s one of the beautiful things about this documentary. It brings the discipline to the foreground.

    Takedown: The DNA of GSP allows a niche market to appeal to a larger demographic. It doesn’t alienate, or pander, and it showcases the sportsmanship involved. Takedown keeps you at a fever pitch the entire time, and not just because of the fights or the score. It’s because of who GSP is. It’s about what he does, and how he does it; his training, his childhood, and his rise as a champion.

    The documentary follows the life and career of former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. From his youth as a scrawny kid, bullied and beaten in school in rural Quebec, he took to Karate to learn how to defend himself. He eventually ventures to New York to train with the best in the industry, with no money and while barely speaking English. Takedown takes you through his steady climb to victory, over his losses and mistakes, and takes a close look at what it takes to be a champion. It culminates with the March 2013 fight where St-Pierre defended his title against the ruthless Nick Diaz.

    Would you like to know more…?

  • Fantastic Mr. Fox is out on Criterion BLU


    While I got shut out today at Bay St. Video when I went to grab a copy (something about a flux in Canadian distributors) I shall be ordering it online, as I should have in the first place. Here are my kids wanting to remind you all that this Fantastic animated film is very, very, very re-watchable. (And, yes, it is shameless that I post this video so often in these parts…)

  • Trailer: The Husband


    We love Canadian genre-hopping director Bruce McDonald in the Third Row. From his road pictures to his rock documentaries for the CBC (and rock-mock-docs for the rest of us), to his slacker comedy to his semiotic take on the zombie subgenre, the prolific director keeps providing quality on all fronts. With The Husband, which premiered to some acclaim last year at the Toronto International Film festival, McDonald tackles the darkly comedic horror of the male ego and rage. The film stars Maxwell McCabe-Lokos with Stephen McHattie (yay!) and the wonderful August Diehl.

    Henry, is having a really bad year. His wife, Alyssa, a former teacher, is in jail for sleeping with a fourteen-year-old student, leaving Henry to raise their infant son alone. He loathes his ad agency job — and his co-workers even more. Moreover, the burden of single-parenting has essentially cut Henry off from his friends, leaving him to stew. Henry has kept a lid on things so far, but as Alyssa’s release looms, he finds it increasingly difficult to contain himself.

  • Trailer: Teenage


    This trailer came out earlier this week, but we somehow missed it. (Hat-tip to indiewire for the reminder.) A sharp and informative ‘Ken Burns-ish’ documentary from Matt Wolfe on the evolution of the ‘Teenage’ demographic – something that has only existed for about 100 years in human history, starting in the early 20th century – which changed the old model of ‘child, then adult’ by squeezing the phase of adolescence as culturally significant. Using non-teens such as Jenna Malone and Ben Whishaw as voice-over over archival photos and video, the film offers an very interesting bit of context as this part of life as something we take as ‘always-granted’ at this point.

    Teenage will get a limited theatrical release on March 14.

  • Cinecast Episode 341 – The Pleasure Port


    Perhaps the reboot of RoboCop (beware of SPOILERS!) isn’t quite as horrible and unnecessary as we all feared. Perhaps it’s chock full of good ideas updating its presence for the new millennium… or perhaps not. Matt Fabramble crosses international borders to join the Cinecast this week to discuss. We also Lynch the sci-fi fantasy cluster-feck that is Dune, in our ongoing 1984 project. “True Detective” keeps on trucking as well and continues to excel. Kurt and Andrew tackle the nature of time itself and the various dark dimensions swirling about humanity. The Watch List includes a whole lot of debauchery with sex masters and gigolos, hot Helen Hunt, crying on the inside and the best looking black and white film ever made. Oh, and apparently we’re not done hashing out LEGOgate. We’ve done it before and we’re destined to do it again. And again. And again. And over again.

    As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!



    Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

    DOWNLOAD mp3 | 116 MB
    if player is not working, try alternate player at bottom of this post

    Full show notes are under the seats…
    Would you like to know more…?

  • The Second Screen Movie is Here: “App”


    So 2013 was the year I started using a second screen to play video games. Grand Theft Auto and Assassin’s Creed both use secondary apps that you download to your phone for enhancing your game play experience. The latter is a great addition to the game by the way. The Wii U comes with a handheld touchscreen in which you interact with various games by looking down at a second screen in your lap. To be honest, if done correctly, I love this additional, interactive content… for video games. Not so sure about it with my movie experience.

    Yet that’s exactly what we’re getting with App, directed by Bobby Boermans. App is about a young psychology student who is drawn into the dark and fearful world of a diabolic and mysterious App that starts to terrorize her; distributing compromising photographs, videos and text messages about herself and delves deeper and deeper into her personal life, flawlessly exposing all of her deepest secrets.

    The kicker is that while the film is playing, you leave your mobile device on your lap and you’ll receive additional information about the film every time your device vibrates. What exactly that additional content is, is unknown to me at the moment, but I suppose it could be interesting in this case as the antagonist of the movie is actually a phone app. The app is called IRIS by the way (SIRI in reverse for you Apple fans).

    I’m willing to give the movie a try if it ever makes it into wide release. Like D-box and 3D and any other gimmick, the idea might be fun to try once, but I’m pretty sure I don’t want all movies to eventually go down this path. And I’m pretty sure they won’t. The theater constantly lighting up with cellular activity would be a real nuisance, even if I’m checking my phone too. Director Boermans said that “the notion of technology taking control of our lives is a concept that has always fascinated me. I’m a big technology addict myself…”. So in this case, a bunch of people sitting in a theater checking their phones is maybe a bit too meta?

    Have a look at the trailer below. Beyond the phone thing, the movie has to be good for anything to work at all. So what do you think? A brave new world in film-watching or a terrible idea?

  • “Penny Dreadful” Trailer


    Some time in the recent past, I mentioned that I may be forced to go see the inevitable shitstorm that is going to be the sequel to 300, simply for the need of a an Eva Green fix. Turns out I may get a much more pure fix simply by subscribing to Showtime.

    All of the creative stars are aligning for me to absolutely love this horror, mini-series starting up in May. Sam Mendes is executive producing and Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage) will be directing the first two episodes. And of course there is the aforementioned Eva Green factor.

    Some of literature’s most famously terrifying characters, including Dr. Frankenstein and his creature, Dorian Gray and iconic figures from the novel Dracula. become embroiled in Victorian London.

    The show will begin airing on Showtime on May 11th. Have a look at the trailer below and sound off with the creepy, gothic love.

  • The ‘Burbs @ 25


    I hope you have a plate of crushed brownies, some salt crackers and a can of sardines to celebrate Joe Dante’s wonderfully re-watchable The ‘Burbs turning 25 years old today. All I ask is somebody please give us a BluRay, the fact that one doesn’t exist anywhere, we might have called it in Southeast Asia, ‘Bad Karma.’

    If you look through the Rowthree achives, you’ll find so many references to this movie. It was a great homework assignment on the Cinecast (Where Joe Dante does an intro/bumper for us) as well as this Finite Focus entry and various little easter eggs here and there.

    Below is the director waxing philosophically about the film last year when it had a repertory screening at TIFF Lightbox in Toronto.

  • The TIFF Next Wave Film Festival: For No Eyes Only


    The TIFF Next Wave Film Festival is a small film festival run out of Toronto, and geared towards young adults ages fourteen to eighteen. The panel of judges who select the films are all up and coming filmmakers, film lovers, and critics in their own right. One of this year’s selections is a daring first feature film by 24-year-old German filmmaker Tali Barde. A reimaging of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, For No Eyes Only posits the computer screen as our voyeur’s tools. Thrusting its protagonist into a crime he should never have born witness to, For No Eyes Only forms an intelligent dialogue on the anxieties engulfing the world’s current generation of teenagers, as they miss out on the lessons of interpersonal relation as a result of a technological dependence that’s been there since birth.

    Sam Anders (Benedict Sieverding) is bored. Finding himself physically limited due to a broken leg – the result of a floor hockey injury – he’s stuck at home for most of his day, bored out of his wits. To ease the “pain” of his stagnant days, he decides to hack his school’s online blackboard, gaining access to every classmate’s webcams. “Welcome to Germany’s weirdest home videos,” he proclaims proudly, scanning multiple screens at once. It isn’t until he catches the classmate responsible for his broken limb, Aaron (Tali Barde), hiding what looks like a bloody knife that he realizes he may be looking a little too closely. Catching a glimpse of what no one was meant to see sends Sam into a frenzied hunt to find out the truth about Aaron, and what he may be hiding.

    For No Eyes Only

    Barde has created a remake of Hitchcock’s Rear Window with strong ties to contemporary anxieties about technological dependence, and the ramifications this has on today’s youth. Isolation, fear of communicating, anxieties about physical contact and approaching the opposite sex: all of the daily woes of adolescents, which are intelligently addressed under the new light of a digital age. Would you like to know more…?

  • Blu-Ray Review: John Dies at the End


    Director: Don Coscarelli
    Screenplay: Don Coscarelli
    Based on a Novel by: David Wong
    Starring: Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Paul Giamatti, Glynn Turman
    Producers: Brad Baruh, Don Coscarelli, Andy Meyers, Roman Perez
    Country: USA
    Running Time: 99 min
    Year: 2012
    BBFC Certificate: 18


    Adaptations of novels are a tricky business, especially when the source material is well loved. If something is changed the fans create an uproar but if nothing is changed it can make the film bloated and ineffective. On top of that the films are rarely judged on their own merits as critics are often familiar with the source material so comparisons are inevitable.

    Well, I’m afraid I’m going to be writing that kind of review for John Dies at the End, which is based on the cult novel by David Wong (whose real name is Jason Pargin). I made the classic mistake of reading this quite recently before watching the film. I’ve done this a couple of times before and regretted it. Never Let Me Go was a film I felt was very well made, but because I’d read it a couple of weeks before, it struggled to match up and the experience of watching it was too strange as my own vision of the story seemed so fresh in my mind. I read Cloud Atlas just before the film came out too, but that was a slightly different experience as I had some problems with the book. The film actually addressed these problems so in some ways was a great adaptation, but on a scene by scene basis the film was flawed so on a whole it still felt disappointing.

    Which brings me to John Dies at the End. I won’t try to explain the plot too much as it’s bat-shit crazy and the real ‘truth’ behind the madness isn’t explained until near the end. What I will say is that it’s the story of David (Chase Williamson), a loser whose life gets flipped upside down and ripped to shreds as he and his slacker friend John (Rob Mayes) come across a mind-expanding drug known as soy sauce. The ensuing chaos includes (among other things) a TV mystic/psychic who’s actually real, a demon made up of the contents of a freezer and a swarm of tiny insects that take over people’s bodies.

    Would you like to know more…?

  • Young Toronto Filmmakers On a Deadline – The 2014 T24 Project


    2014T24POSTERFounded by Henry Wong in 2009, the Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival is an excellent programme. A short film festival geared towards the young and talented filmmakers from our great city of Toronto. Part of the festival is the T24 Project, a 24 hour film challenge. For this year’s competition, the various teams were given a theme, rather than the usual prop, shot, or line of dialogue. This year, contestants were asked to redefine “the end”, and paint their picture of a post-apocalyptic world. A done to death theme left in the hands of Toronto’s cinephile youth should offer an original eye on the concept.

    Thirteen groups signed up, and only eight made the deadline. Those eight were the films shown at the final screening. Sadly, with only a few exceptions, it’s not talent, but timing, that made the cut.

    Certain pieces had very clear potential. Hinterland by Adrienne Knott is about the last man on Earth desperately searching for someone. Anyone. The prospect of eternal solitude is terrifying, and an incredibly risky theme given the limited time available for filming. Jacky Vuong’s The Drought places the apocalypse in a comedic realm, suggesting our end of days could come about simply by a global onset of diminished libidos. Stiffilis attempts to pull cyber obsession into the mix, with an infectious meme that brings about our eventual global collapse. Would you like to know more…?

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