• Review: Lost Heroes

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    LostHeroes

    Director: Will Pascoe
    Producer: Tony Wosk
    MPAA Rating: NR
    Running time: 107 min.


    Though the comic book isn’t selling as well as it did before the bubble on comic book speculation burst, the industry seems to be experiencing a resurgence. The movies, at least the Marvel ones, are performing well both in the box office and critically, and comic books seem to have entered the mainstream consciousness at a level we haven’t seen since World War II. But with the exception of Wolverine, the heroes and heroines we mostly see/read about are American and even he doesn’t quite fit the profile of truly “Made in Canada.”

    Anyone who knows anything about Canadian comics knows that over the years there have quite a few Canadian made and bred heroes. Captain Canuck is likely the most popular but there have been others, from the heroes of the old Canadian Whites to the recent Heroes of the North and Will Pascoe’s documentary Lost Heroes tracks both the heroes and their creators through the years.

    Beginning with the rise of Canadian comics during the war Pascoe, with the help of historians, collectors and creators, traverses the wilderness of Canadian superheroes, tracking the rise and fall of publishers and the heroes and heroines that came through the years. From Nelvana of the Northern Lights (the first female superhero, she beat Wonder Woman to the stands by a few months) to Alpha Flight, Lost Heroes does a fantastic job of not only shining a light on the forgotten heroes but also on the history of comics through the decades and the continued battle to create heroes and books that have a uniquely Canadian vision.

    Would you like to know more…?

  • Friday One Sheets: So Many Expendables

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    The ever expanding roster of soldiers of fortune in Sylvester Stallone’s Expendables franchise gets a handsome black and white photo shoot, and a trailer just in case you are not photo gallery’d to death. If there is ever a case of character-posters getting out of hand, I present it below, tucked under the seat. But I will give it this, the black and white, minimalist style here with the lighting equipment visible in the frame does impart the overkill-basics ethos of the series.

    Would you like to know more…?

  • Review: Dom Hemingway

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    Petty gangster, safecracker, loud mouth, loose cannon, thief, deadbeat dad, pint guzzling, word-smithing, cat killing, boorish thug Dom Hemingway is the type of guy you would have no tolerance for in real life, but generally gravitate towards on screen. Twelve years is a long time, but Dom did his time in silence to protect his betters, and after being set free of Her Majesty’s Pleasure (I’m assuming not for good behavior) attempts to pick up the pieces of his life. While on the inside, his wife died of cancer, his daughter grew up and had kids, his boss go very, very rich, and his only friend in the world, Dickie – a snappily attired Richard E. Grant with his hangdog face, shooting glasses and shrugged shoulders – remaining loyal. He is not out of the joint for 24 hours before he’s had group sex with high class hookers, violated the non-smoking law in the local pub, and filled his nostrils with coke on top of the smoke and beat the living hell out of the man who married (and buried) his wife while he was on the inside. All of this pent up rage and sexual bluster is of course Dom’s way of not processing the guilt of missing out on his daughter’s (and grandson’s) life.

    Like Eric Bana in Chopper, or Tom Hardy in Bronson, Jude Law gets to look really ugly with facial scars and yellowed, gold-capped teeth. He gets to act really crazy, and burn up the screen with monologues about the majesty his his mighty cock, even thought writer director Richard Shepard’s film is more of an amuse-bouche than anything else however. It aspires to dig into the psychology of a larger than life character, while indulging in all those larger than life aspects while Dom attempts to get his life of crime back on track. It breaks things up into ironically titled chapters to facilitate this. I confess, I am a sucker for films in which characters who manage a micro-moment of communication by a silent but loaded, wave of the hand, and this movie has that at one point. But there are also shenanigans. Pithy, violent, frankly, ridiculous shenanigans that put Dom Hemingway strictly in movie fantasy territory. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it’s just that the movie never quite manages to have its cake and eat it too.

    Would you like to know more…?

  • 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. Would you like to know more…?

  • Review: The Unknown Known

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    A snow globe shaking back and forth, little white flecks – snowflakes – swirl and obfuscate whatever is in the globe. Oh my what a loaded image. It is one of the chief ones Errol Morris employs in his lengthy interview with former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Another is an endless ocean of waves: a blank canvas or adrift in the endless wilderness? True to form, after 96 minutes of Rumsfeld speaking, I felt as if I learned nothing at all from what he was saying. A marvelous bit of form echoing content, although for the sake of learning from history, it can be a bit infuriating.

    Rumsfeld, very recognizable for doing so many podium PR sessions on TV for the better part of a decade, was (is?) a career politician from a young age and when these interviews were shot, he was hawking his memoir, Unknown & Known. He’s served as U.S. Secretary of Defense (twice), Congressman, White House Chief of Staff (and Dick Cheney’s boss), at one point was close to getting the Republican nomination to run for the Presidency. His second stint as Defense Secretary was during 21st Century America’s greatest foreign policy challenges, 9/11 and the War On Terror. He issued tens if not hundreds of thousands of memos, which he indeed calls snowflakes, and was an architect a lot of policy. He dictates many of those memos verbatim for the camera – a camera which almost desperately tries to keep up scanning the documents like a typewriter.

    UnknownKnown

    Would you like to know more…?

  • 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.

  • TCM Classic Film Fest 2014: A Preview

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    After missing last year’s TCM Classic Film Festival due to a minor thing like having a baby, I’ve been really excited to jump back in this year, and thankfully, I was able to secure a media credential to cover the fest despite taking a year off. My schedule will necessarily be a little less manic this year thanks to not wanting to completely abandon my husband and child for the weekend, but I hope to make it to enough things to make my coverage worthwhile.

    In the meantime, here’s a preview of the fest now that this year’s schedule has been released. Since the TCM Fest splits pretty well into time slots (aside from a few special events and extra-long movies), I figured I’d just go through each time slot and identify some best bets if you’re planning to attend. Passes are already sold out, but individual tickets will be sold on space-available basis before each screening.

    The overall theme this year is Families in the Movies: The Ties That Bind, which is a pretty broad theme, and indeed, you’ll find films about aging parents, fathers and daughters, single mothers, sisters, and dysfunctional families scattered throughout the festival along with the usual assortment of films considered Essential and Discoveries by the programmers (and Tributes and Special Presentations that have special guests or unique experiences attached to them).

    Thursday, April 10

    PRE-SLOT SPECIAL EVENTS

    TFF-HollywoodMuseum

    In addition to the films, the TCM Fest always has a lot of special events – panels, parties, exhibits, etc. These are generally all passholder-only, so no individual tickets are available. They run concurrently with movies throughout the weekend, but they start up earlier on Thursday. These first three are all before any films start playing, and are all for passholders only, so I’ll separate them out.

    2:00pm – Meet TCM (Egyptian Theatre) – From the program: “As TCM celebrates its 20th year, join TCM staffers as we share insight into the network, how it is produced and what is on the horizonas we look forward to the next 20 years.” TCM has done such a great job attracting fans as a brand, and even though I’ve never made it to one of these, I bet it’s fun to hear some behind the scenes info.

    3:30pm – Sons of Gods and Monsters (Hollywood Museum) – Makeup artist Rick Baker and director Joe Dante will be on hand to discuss the legacy of monsters in classic cinema, with moderation from TCM producer Scott McGee (who’s a great guy). Should be a great time.

    5:00pm – Welcome Party / TCM at 30 Exhibit (Club TCM @ Roosevelt) – Robert Osborne and several guest stars will welcome passholders to the festival and talk about their favorite classic movie moments. I’ve never been big on the parties at Club TCM, either, but this is one of the best chances to mix and meet and greet other film fans as well as famous classic era actors and actresses.

    Would you like to know more…?

  • Cinecast Episode 347 – Two Princes

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    Part II is here. We talked Vol I of Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac last week, we finish that conversation this week in all its glorious whippiness and lack of Udo Kier. Then 1984 is continued with Prince and The Revolution, not Lake Minnetonka, Clarence Williams III, First Avenue and laughing in the Purple Rain. But we’re still on a weekend hangover from the Frabramble wedding party so we keep it short with no Watch List. But next week will get crazy with Game of Thrones starting up and also Andrew hitting M-SPIFF.

    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 | 58 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…?

  • 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: The Drop

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    It’s tough to watch the trailer for The Drop and not feel pangs of sadness knowing that it’ll be the last time we see James Gandolfini in a new film. Beyond the sadness, their is definitely excitement though, because the movie looks great.

    Written by Dennis Lehane as an original screenplay (rather than an adaptation of his novels like Gone Baby Gone, Mystic River, and Shutter Island), the film follows the story of a loner bartender name Bob (played by Tom Hardy) and his cousin Marv (Gandolfini) as they get mixed up in a gangster’s money laundering and “the center of a robbery gone awry and entwined in an investigation that digs deep into the neighborhood’s past.”

    The Drop opens up in North America on September 19, 2014.

  • 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.

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