VIFF 2010 Review: Snap

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Snap Movie Still

Irish director Carmel Winters has arrived and her debut feature, a demure little film titled Snap, is a marvellous achievement from a woman who clearly has a sense of the art of storytelling.

Adapted by Winters from a scene she wrote and later developed into a one woman show, her feature film debut is a further extension of the original idea which tackles issues of family and media, creating a fascinating document on how individuals act and interact both in front of the camera and behind closed doors.

Intricately built with layers of information revealed at every turn, Snap is a film taken in with little previous knowledge as part of its winning formula is the way in which the mystery unfolds, adding a new layer to the story with each passing scene. What at first appears to be a story of a mother dealing with the fallout of her son being charged with murder slowly morphs into a tale which extends much deeper than that, revealing a family history which is perhaps more damaging than any accusation thrown at the mother.

Irish actress Aisling O’Sullivan delivers a performance of intensity and raw emotion which shows her in varying degrees of emotion, each more powerful than the previous.

Winters makes the transition from stage to film successfully with powerful, fully rendered story which lives well beyond its running time and which marks her and cinematographer Kate McCullough (who shoots the feature in a variety of formats) as two women to watch. Snap is a brilliant debut.

See VIFF screening schedule for show times.

A Few More Gun Shots: True Grit Full Trailer

A few days ago I pooped my pants when Jonathan posted the teaser trailer for the newest Coen Brothers’ effort, the remake of True Grit; with The Dude himself taking on the role of Rooster Cogburn. It was beautifully haunting and definitely got the anticipatory juices flowing. But here we are just a few days later and already have a much longer, proper trailer with a lot more of… well, everything. The Coens’ story just gets better and better. Ignore any comments from RowThree contributor Mike Rot in the comment section below. This looks to be amazing.



VIFF 2010 Review: Fathers&Sons

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Two years ago Canadian director Carl Bessai introduced us to a little collaborative project with a number of local actresses. The result of his no budget experiment was the wildly successful Mothers&Daughters (review). A touching and charming film, Mothers&Daughters went on to win the People’s Choice Award for best Canadian feature and it spurred something else in Bessai: a follow-up.

Two years later, Bessai returns to Vancouver with Fathers&Sons. A bookend to Mothers&Daughters, the new film features the same collaboration and improvisation that made the original idea such a success and helping it along are an immensely talented group of actors including Ben Ratner, Jay Brazeau, Vincent Gale, Tyler Labine, Hrothgar Matthews, Tom Scholte and Blue Mankuma.

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Review: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Writer: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Producers: Simon Field, Keith Griffiths, Charles de Meaux, Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Starring: Thanapat Saisaymar, Jenjira Pongpas, Sakda Kaewbuadee, Natthakarn Aphaiwonk, Geerasak Kulhong
Year: 2010
Running time: 114 min.

After the tidy and at-times sterile spaces of 2006’s Syndromes and a Century, which has been recognized by many as the best film of the previous decade, Apichatpong Weerasethakul returned to the dark, mysterious depths of the jungles of Thailand for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. It is the latest in a series of works that are part of his Primitive project, which is centered around the town of Nabua in northeast Thailand where government soldiers tortured and killed farmers suspected of being communists between 1965 and the early 1980s. Through an installation piece, the short films Phantoms of Nabua and A Letter to Uncle Boonmee and the feature Uncle Boonmee, Weerasethakul has adressed the topics of memory, community and, in keeping with his ongoing interest in Buddhism, reincarnation.

Uncle Boonmee is inspired by the 1983 book A Man Who Can Recall His Past Lives by Buddhist abbot Phra Sripariyattiweti, who in turn based the book on the remembered experiences and reincarnations of a man named Boonmee. Along with elements from the book, Weerasethakul incorporated into the film memories of his own family (chiefly his father, who like the titular character, suffered from kidney failure) and bits of inspiration from old television shows and Thai comic books. The end result is yet another fantastically strange treat from one of the most original voices in contemporary Asian cinema.

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Film on TV: October 4-10

Sweet Smell of Success, playing on TCM on Sunday

Of special note this week is the tribute to Tony Curtis that TCM is running on Sunday; besides everything else that TCM does well, I’m always impressed by how quickly they clear off room on their schedule to memorialize classic Hollywood stars and directors upon their deaths. They’re running Operation Petticoat, Sweet Smell of Success, and The Defiant Ones, among other Curtis films. Also newly featured this week are a pair of early Tarantino-related films on IFC on Wednesday: his directorial debut Reservoir Dogs and From Dusk Till Dawn, which he penned. Also on Wednesday, TCM has a pair of films from Max Ophüls, including the delectable The Earrings of Madame de… And there are an extraordinary number of great films this week that we’ve featured before – I rarely bring attention to those up here, but do always keep a look out in case you’ve missed something earlier that you wanted to catch.

Monday, October 4

7:45am – TCM – Scaramouche
Stewart Granger was sort of a poor man’s Errol Flynn in his 1950s swashbucklers – never quite had Flynn’s panache, but hey, he tried. Scaramouche (from the novel by Rafael Sabatini, who also wrote Captain Blood and The Sea Hawk, which became Flynn vehicles) is one of his better films, and does boast the longest sword fight in cinema history. So there’s that.
1952 USA. Director: George Sidney. Starring: Stewart Granger, Janet Leigh, Eleanor Parker, Mel Ferrer.

9:45am – TCM – Kiss Me Kate
It’s hard to improve Shakespeare, but it usually works best to place his stories and words in a new context. Kiss Me Kate does just that by coupling a musical version of Taming of the Shrew with a backstage story that mirrors Shrew’s fighting protagonists. Great supporting work from Ann Miller, James Whitmore, Keenan Wynn, etc. helps out leads Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson considerably, as do Cole Porter’s songs.
1953 USA. Director: George Sidney. Starring: Howard Keel, Kathryn Grayson, Ann Miller, James Whitmore, Keenan Wynn.

10:00am – IFC – Paranoid Park
I go back and forth on whether I think Gus Van Sant is brilliant or a pretentious bore – maybe some of both. But I really quite liked the slow, oblique approach in this film about a wanna-be skateboarder kid who relishes hanging out with the bigger skateboarders at the titular skate park – but there’s a death not far from there, and it takes the rest of the movie to slowly reveal what exactly happened that one night near Paranoid Park. Gets by on mood and cinematography.
2007 USA Director: Gus Van Sant. Starring: Gabe Nevins, Daniel Lu, Jake Miller, Taylor Momsen, Lauren McKinney.
(repeats at 3:15pm)

11:00am – Sundance – Encounters at the End of the World
Werner Herzog has made the savage beauty of nature one of his themes throughout most of his fiction films, so perhaps it’s only natural that he has moved onto explicitly non-fiction explorations of some of nature’s most remote locales, in this case, Antarctica.2007 USA. Director: Werner Herzog.
(repeats at 4:40pm)

6:20pm – IFC – The Uusal Suspects
One of the earliest in the late 90s wave of “twist” films, and still one of the few that did it best. Spoiler warnings may not have been invented for The Usual Suspects, but it was certainly one of the films that popularized anti-spoiler sentiment (and the converse glee for spoiling, I suppose). Thanks to Christopher McQuarrie’s tight script and great acting turns, though, the film is about more than the twist, which is what makes it continue to be worthwhile over a decade and multiple viewings later.
1995 USA. Director: Bryan Singer. Starring: Stephen Baldwin, Gabriel Bryne, Benicio Del Toro, Kevin Pollack, Kevin Spacey, Chazz Palminteri, Pete Postlethwaite.
(repeats at 9:05am and 2:05pm on the 5th)

11:30pm – TCM – Touch of Evil
Likely the last great noir film, with Orson Welles directing and starring as the corpulent corrupt sheriff of a corrupt border town, and Charlton Heston as a cop trying to solve a case with little, no, or negative help from Welles. Throw in Marlene Dietrich in one of her last roles and a virtuoso opening tracking shot, and you’ve got one of the most memorable noirs ever.
1958 USA. Director: Orson Welles. Starring: Orson Welles, Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Marlene Dietrich, Joseph Calleia, Akim Tamiroff.
Must See

1:30am (5th) – TCM – I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang
Paul Muni plays an initially optimistic and energetic young man who struggles to find a job during the Depression. Eventually he ends up unwillingly involved in a robbery and sentenced to the chain gang. One of Warner Bros’ best “ripped from the headlines” socially conscious films – they did a lot of them in the 1930s.
1931 USA. Director: Mervyn LeRoy. Starring: Paul Muni, Glenda Farrell, Helen Vinson.

3:15am (5th) – TCM – Cool Hand Luke
One of Paul Newman’s most memorable films, with Newman playing a renegade prisoner on a Southern chain gang who refuses to do what he’s told, escaping time and time again only to be recaptured as the guards attempt to break him.
1967 USA. Director: Stuart Rosenberg. Starring: Paul Newman, George Kennedy, J.D. Cannon, Lou Antonio.

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Trailer: The Warrior’s Way

Had The Warrior’s Way been titled Cowboys & Ninjas, I suspect it would have made an interesting double-feature with the upcoming Cowboys & Aliens. When you have a movie about cowboys and ninjas fighting, the plot hardly matters – but it does star South Korean actor Jang Dong-gun (Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War), Geoffrey Rush, Danny Huston, and Kate Bosworth which may be enough to attract some people. Everything aside, it looks to be chock full of an absurd amount of bubble-gummy CGI and over-the-top action – something that will appeal to the younger hormone-fueled crowds when it hits theaters on December 3, 2010.

A Montage for a Month of Horror

Is it cliche by now to focus on horror movies during October? Wait, don’t answer that – because we don’t care. We love horror films here at RowThree (well, most of us do anyway) and so a good portion of the posts for the next 31 days will be devoted to just that.

So to kick things off, here’s a little video we created set to the tune of “Batcat” by the great band Mogwai…


Review: The Social Network

The Social Network Movie Poster

Director: David Fincher (Seven, Fight Club, Zodiac)
Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, Ben Mezrich (book)
Producers: Dana Brunetti, Ceán Chaffin, Michael De Luca, Scott Rudin
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Max Minghella, Josh Pence, Justin Timberlake, Joseph Mazzello, Rooney Mara
MPAA Rating: PG13
Running time: 121 min.

David Fincher’s The Social Network is an age old tale of what happens daily in the business world. The difference here is that involves one of the biggest brands in the world (valued at somewhere in the $25 billion ballpark), best friends (one of which is portrayed as socially inept) and the fact that this all happened before anyone involved turned 25.

The Social Network Movie StillThe one thing that we need to keep in mind while watching the film is that this is a work of fiction. The people involved know what happened but that’s about it. Regardless of how well researched Ben Mezrich’s book is (from which the talented Aaron Sorkin adapted the script), we can’t take it as the bible of what happened but we know the basics and they are that in 2004, Mark Zuckerberg and his partner Eduardo Saverin launched (they later dropped “the” from the name). Shortly after launching at Harvard, the site launched at other campuses before eventually going public and everyone and their grandmother having a facebook account. Along the way, Zuckerberg burned a few bridges, causing a few lawsuits (the film’s tag line accurately reads: “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies”) and facebook is still the biggest thing in the world. Ah, brand power overshadows much.

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