Toronto After Dark – Half Way Through

Toronto After Dark

We are half way through the line up for Toronto After Dark and once again the festival has been a blast. While my reviews for the movies might not always be positive my review of the festival will be. Adam, Shelagh, Steven, Peter and all the rest who run TADFF do such a great job of making each and every fan feel welcome to the festival. The audience has such a good time with even the bad movies because they (we) are all fans. I often compare going to the festival as something like going to a concert and how much better the music seems to be because of everyone there.

I ended up skipping the initial opening part after the Opening Night Gala as I had flew in very early that day. Each day since I have gone out to the Pauper’s Pub (has amazing Wings) before the festival to just hang out and then caught the after party. It has great atmosphere and it is so easy to chat with press, industry, festival staff and most importantly the other fans.

The festival may be half over but the rest of the line up is looking pretty strong. If you are in or near Toronto you should come on out the festival. You won’t regret it.

Toronto After Dark: The Last Exorcism Review

The Last Exorcism

Director: Daniel Stamm (A Necessary Death, Off Hollywood and Vine)
Writers: Huck Botko, Andrew Gurland
Producers: Marc Abraham, Thomas Bliss, Eli Roth, Eric Newman
Starring: Patrick Fabian, Iris Bahr, Louis Herthum
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 87 min.


Toronto After Dark

Last night prior to watching The Last Exorcism I was commenting on how I needed to move a bit away from the comedic horrors a bit as the early part of Toronto After Dark was fairly top heavy. I was also chatting about how my previous visit to the festival had provided me with a few of my top 10 films for 2007 and I was not sure if this years line was going to provide me with a film strong enough to make the list. I am now eating my words. Walking out of the theatre I had a new horror movie to add to my list of all time favorites and since last night I have been thinking about the film and I am loving everything about it more and more.

The Last Exorcism is the story of a disillusioned Minister who after hearing about a death of a child during an exorcism has decided to tell the world through a documentary about how the whole exorcism thing is a setup and how it should be stopped. He wants to do one last exorcism for the documentary. He randomly picks a letter and heads off with the crew only to discover much more than he bargained for.

Would you like to know more…?

Review: Dolph Lundgren is the Killing Machine (a.k.a. Icarus)

Director: Dolph Lundgren
Screenplay: Raul Inglis
Producer: Kirk Shaw
Starring: Dolph Lundgren, Stefanie von Pfetten, Samantha Ferris, David Lewis, Lindsay Maxwell, Bo Svenson
Year: 2010
Country: USA/Canada
BBFC Certification: 18
Duration: 88 min

I was pretty stoked for this after Kurt posted the trailer for this straight to DVD/Blu Ray effort from director and star Dolph Lundgren. Unfortunately it’s not the sort of film that can live up to much hype and its lack of theatrical release is no crime against cinema. That’s not to say there isn’t anything to gain from Dolph Lundgren is the Killing Machine (yes that’s its full title), so please read on.

Would you like to know more…?

Final Criterion Cover Art for Some Fall/Winter Releases

 

…click any image below for a larger version…

 
 

ANTICHRIST
Criterion #542
November 9th on DVD & Blu-ray

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer, approved by director Lars von Trier and supervised by director of photography Anthony Dod Mantle (with DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
  • Audio commentary by von Trier and professor Murray Smith
  • Video interviews with von Trier and actors Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg
  • A collection of video pieces delving into the production of Antichrist, including interviews with von Trier and key members of his filmmaking team as well as behind-the-scenes footage
  • Chaos Reigns at the Cannes Film Festival 2009, a documentary on the film’s world premiere, plus press interviews with Dafoe and Gainsbourg
  • Three theatrical trailers
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Ian Christie

NIGHT OF THE HUNTER
Criterion # 541
November 16th on DVD and Blu-ray

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer (with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
  • Audio commentary featuring assistant director Terry Sanders, film critic F. X. Feeney, archivist Robert Gitt, and author Preston Neal Jones
  • Charles Laughton Directs “The Night of the Hunter,” a two-and-a-half-hour archival treasure trove of outtakes from the film
  • New documentary featuring interviews with producer Paul Gregory, Sanders, Jones, and author Jeffrey Couchman
  • New video interview with Simon Callow, author of Charles Laughton: A Difficult Actor
  • Clip from the The Ed Sullivan Show, in which cast members perform live a scene that was deleted from the film
  • Fifteen-minute episode of the BBC show Moving Pictures about the film
  • Archival interview with cinematographer Stanley Cortez
  • Gallery of sketches by author Davis Grubb
  • New video conversation between Gitt and film critic Leonard Maltin about Charles Laughton Directs “The Night of the Hunter”
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by critics Terrence Rafferty and Michael Sragow

THE DARJEELING LIMITED
Criterion #540
October 12th on DVD and Blu-ray

  • Anderson’s short film Hotel Chevalier (part one of The Darjeeling Limited), starring Natalie Portman, with commentary by Anderson
  • Audio commentary featuring Anderson and cowriters Jason Schwartzman and Roman Coppola
  • Behind-the-scenes documentary by Barry Braverman
  • Anderson and filmmaker James Ivory discussing the film’s music
  • Anderson’s American Express commercial
  • On-set footage shot by Coppola and actor Waris Ahluwalia
  • Audition footage, deleted and alternate scenes, and stills galleries
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • A booklet featuring an essay by critic Richard Brody and original illustrations by Eric Anderson

PATHS OF GLORY
Criterion #538
October 26th on DVD and Blu-ray

  • New audio commentary by critic Gary Giddins
  • Television interview from 1979 with star Kirk Douglas
  • New video interviews with Kubrick’s longtime executive producer Jan Harlan, Paths of Glory producer James B. Harris, and actress Christiane Kubrick
  • Excerpt from a French television program about real-life World War I executions similar to the events dramatized in Paths of Glory
  • Theatrical trailer
  • An essay by Kubrick scholar James Naremore

 
 
 
 


Modern Times
Criterion #543
November 16th DVD and Blu-ray

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • New audio commentary by Chaplin biographer David Robinson
  • Two new visual essays, by Chaplin historians John Bengtson and Jeffrey Vance
  • New program on the film’s visual and sound effects, with experts Craig Barron and Ben Burtt
  • Interview from 1992 with Modern Times music arranger David Raksin
  • Chaplin Today: “Modern Times” (2004), a half-hour program with filmmakers Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne
  • Two segments removed from the film
  • Three theatrical trailers
  • All at Sea (1933), a home movie by Alistair Cooke featuring Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, and Cooke, plus a new score by Donald Sosin and a new interview with Cooke’s daughter, Susan Cooke Kittredge
  • The Rink (1916), a Chaplin two-reeler highlighting his skill on wheels
  • For the First Time (1967), a Cuban documentary short about a projectionist who shows Modern Times to first-time moviegoers
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Saul Austerlitz and a piece by film scholar Lisa Stein that includes excerpts from Chaplin’s writing about his travels in 1931 and 1932

AMERICA LOST AND FOUND: THE BBS STORY [box set]
(Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, The Last Picture Show, The King of Marvin Gardens, Head, Drive He Said, A Safe Place)
Criterion #544
December 14th DVD and Blu-ray

Head

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer (with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-ray edition)
  • Audio commentary featuring Monkees Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, and Peter Tork
  • New video interview with director Bob Rafelson
  • New documentary about BBS, featuring critic David Thomson and historian Douglas Brinkley

Easy Rider

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer (with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
  • Audio commentary featuring director Dennis Hopper
  • Easy Rider: Shaking the Cage, a 1999 documentary featuring behind-the-scenes footage
  • Footage of Hopper and star Peter Fonda at Cannes in 1969
  • New video interview with BBS’s Steve Blauner

Five Easy Pieces

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer (with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
  • Audio commentary featuring director Bob Rafelson and interior designer Toby Rafelson
  • Soul Searching in Five Easy Pieces, a 2009 video piece in which Rafelson discusses the film
  • BBStory, a 2009 documentary
  • Excerpts from an audio recording of Rafelson at the American Film Institute in 1976

The Last Picture Show

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer (with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
  • Two audio commentaries, one featuring director Peter Bogdanovich and the other featuring Bogdanovich and actors Cybill Shepherd, Randy Quaid, Cloris Leachman, and Frank Marshall
  • Picture This, a 1990 documentary by George Hickenlooper
  • “The Last Picture Show”: A Look Back, an hour-long 1999 documentary
  • 2009 interview with Bogdanovich
  • Screen tests and location footage
  • Theatrical trailers

A Safe Place

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer (with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
  • Audio commentary featuring director Henry Jaglom
  • Henry Jaglom Finds “A Safe Place,” a 2009 video piece in which the director discusses the film
  • Notes on the New York Film Festival, a 1971 video piece featuring an interview conducted by critic Molly Haskell with directors Peter Bogdanovich and Jaglom about their films The Last Picture Show and A Safe Place
  • Deleted scenes
  • Screen tests
  • Theatrical trailer

Drive, He Said

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer (with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
  • A Cautionary Tale of Campus Revolution and Sexual Freedom, a 2009 video piece in which director Jack Nicholson discusses the experience of making this film
  • Theatrical trailer

King Of Marvin Gardens

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer (with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
  • Selected-scene audio commentary featuring director Bob Rafelson
  • Reflections of a Philosopher King, a 2009 documentary about the making of the film
  • Afterthoughts, a short 2002 documentary about the film, produced by Rafelson
  • Theatrical trailer

 
sources: Blu-ray.com, the playlist, Criterion.com, DVD beaver, the criterioncast

 

Toronto After Dark: Phobia 2 Review

Toronto After Dark
Phobia 2

Phobia, the Thai anthology from a few years back was a very pleasant surprise, four well produced tales of things that go bump in the night, more or less moulded on old twilight zone motifs, but with a distinctly modern Thai flavour. So it is rather nice to see with the sequel that not only has the production values improved, but the stories are across the board solid whilst keeping the spirit of the enterprise unchanged. In short, the collective of directors has successfully raised the bar. This is the film that Trick ‘R Treat should have been, a solid mixture of tones and organically connected stories interspersed with comedy grace notes.

First we start with Novice, a very snazzy Owl Creek Bridge story about a boy who has done some stupid things in his youth and joins a monastery. His own personal hell is set across the backdrop of an isolated monastery full of hungry ghosts. The exceptional sound design is present across the entire film but is really given a show case here as things go bump in the night and the director makes exceptional use of close-ups and strange temporal editing. Next we have Ward, which milks about as much as you can from a man lying in a hospital ward with an injured leg. In the bed next to him is an elderly comatose patient who receives a number of ominous and strange visitors during the day and has a habit of attacking every time at night. Like a good horror piece (call it the Jaws effect), it invites you feel anxious in any future visits you may have in any overnight ward. This is followed by, Backpackers; perhaps the weakest entry of the bunch, but as an unpredictable kitchen-sink entry that riffs on Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later it is certainly no slouch. A pair of Japanese backpackers get more than they bargained for when they get picked up by a greedy truck-driver (who already has an anxious passenger) and get the eventual look at his cargo. Salvage makes effective use of its location, a used car lot, to tell one of those vintage Edgar Allen Poe tales, taking the shysterism of the owner who buys smashed luxury sedans has them repaired them on the cheap and sells them as if they were single owner vehicles (‘grandma never drove it except to get groceries’) and spinning it into a little guilt and comeuppance in a rather vicious fashion.

The piece de resistance is from Team-Shutter (Banjong Pisanthanakun & Parkpoom Wongpoom) who bring back the foursome happy campers from Phobia I and have them working as crew members on the set of Alone 2. Rich in humour and scary to boot, they tackle horror conventions and twist endings in an effortlessly charming (even cute) way right to the breaking point. And yet the still play very very fair. Probably understanding that the camping segment in the first series was the show-stopper, they wisely place it at the end, and the series goes out on a bang!

I’m Still Here to Premiere at TIFF (with Trailer and lots more Special Presentations)

 

 

Another wave of TIFF announcements indicate that Casey Affleck’s gonzo moc-doc on his pal Joaquin Phoenix alleged rap career is showing up as a Special Presentation. Also, the remake of Let The Right One In, Let Me in, is also there. Many more TIFF titles are tucked under the seat along with the highly amusing (and portentous trailer for I’m Still Here)

Would you like to know more…?

Midnight Madness Line-up at TIFF

 

 

There are genre festivals, and then there is the Midnight Madness sidebar at TIFF. Curated with a good eye for upscale genre fare and often paying tribute to the masters, building its own set of alumni by inviting previous filmmakers back with new fims and lots of love for kinetic Asian cinema, the line-up for 2010 features John Carpenter’s The Ward, Dante Lam’s Fire of Conscience, Brad Anderson’s The Vanishing on 7th Street, Laurent Courtiaud’s Red Nights, James Gunn’s Super, Jim Mickle’s Stake Land, James Wan’s Insidious, Guy Moshe’s Bunraku, Wu Ershan’s The Butcher, The Chef and The Swordsman and of course Michael Dowse’s Fubar 2 is the opening film for Midnight Madness 2010.

All in all, this is an exciting line-up full of comforts and discoveries. More information and trailers to follow, but for now, click the above IMDB links as your information portal.

Would you like to know more…?

Bookmarks for Mid August

  • When should a director stop messing with a movie?
    “There are many kinds of re-cuts, created for different reasons, under different circumstances. Whether you consider a second or third or fourth cut valid (or superior) to the first depends on what you liked or disliked about the first cut, and the circumstances that produced that first cut, and what you think was gained or lost in revision.”
  • Lock & Load (Video)
    A video montage-essay on Cinema’s fetish with guns (mostly America, but look for a lot of Johnnie To and John Woo in there too.)
  • Mit Out Sound, Mit Out Solution
    Guy Maddin on Josef von Sternberg: “With this mild mea culpa, von Sternberg was done turning out his pockets. Every interview he did after that, until his death just a few days before Christmas of 1969, was a variation on the theme of “I could tell you the secret of my genius, but upon reflection, I prefer it remain a mystery for the ages.” He’s left it for us to work out, that dumpy, dapper rapscallion, but I can hardly blame him. A mystery as insoluble as this is a gift nearly as great as the films themselves.”
  • ‘Scott Pilgrim’ Versus Itself
    “I don’t want to be the guy arguing that a movie adaptation of a comic book doesn’t do justice to the original comic. I especially don’t want to be the one doing that about Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, because there have already been dark accusations about it being too fanboyish, and I am most definitely a fanboy for Scott Pilgrim the comic book. But the little things that bug me about the movie all ultimately feed into one big complaint: the wonderful treatment of female characters in the comic book gets lost in the transition to the big screen. It’s what happens when you make a big action-filled summer film. But it’s not good that this requires the female characters and their particular relationships to be swept under the rug. ”
  • Half a Century of Making Cars Into Stars
    “There was KITT, the modified Pontiac Firebird Trans Am that protected and talked to David Hasselhoff in the 1980s television series “Knight Rider.” There was the rebuilt and countrified 1921 jalopy that Jed Clampett drove — with Granny in a rocking chair behind him — from the Ozarks to Hollywood in the 1960s series “The Beverly Hillbillies.” And most notably there was the 1955 Lincoln Futura with the bubble top that Mr. Barris and his crew chopped and stretched into a sinister-looking shiny black-and-red crime fighting machine called the Batmobile “In the hall of fame of car customizers, George Barris is No. 1,””
  • Rene Laloux’s Fantastic Planet on Blu-Ray (U.K)
    “I hesitate to use the word ‘surreal’, because it has become so dulled by overuse as to become almost meaningless, but if there was an animated work that warranted such a label, it is this one. Be warned though – the drug-inspired and often highly sexualised designs complete with images of bare-breasted aliens will probably deter the more Victorian-minded from presenting this to their pre-teens as a Disney substitute. This is definitely one to be filed under the category of “adult art animation”.”

 

You can now take a look at RowThree’s bookmarks at any time of your choosing simply by clicking the “delicious” button in the upper right of the page. It looks remarkably similar to this:

DVD Review: The Festival Collection: Le confessionnal, Nô, La face cachée de la lune

The Festival Collection: Robert Lepage

Continuing with their release of festival favourites, Alliance truly outdo themselves with his collection of films from one of Canada’s leading (yet often overlooked) directors: Robert Lepage.

Known and recognized most widely for his stage work and with only five film titles to his credit, Lepage has often been referred to as a master of the transition, something which has been evident from his first film.

Lepage’s film debut, Le confessionnal (The Confessional), blends two story lines taking place in different time periods which are tied together beautifully to tell the mystery of a family’s past. One of the stories takes place in 1950s Quebec City where Alfred Hitchcock is directing I Confess while the second takes place in the early 90s with a man’s return to Quebec City for his father’s funeral. Aside from being an engaging and intricately built family drama and mystery, the film also captures old Quebec City and frames it against the modern, showing how dramatically the city has changed over the years.

In 1998’s (No), Lepage takes on the referendum. Setting his film during the October Crisis, the film once again strattles two stories. This time we have Michael, an FLQ sympathizer who, through his less than genius friends, ends up in the middle of some heavy FLQ action (which, in a hilarious series of events leads to the blowing up of his appartment) while his girl friend, an actress, is in Japan trying to decide whether to keep the baby (a baby she isn’t sure Michael is the father of) while trying not ruin her dinner with the visiting Canadian ambassador. It’s a witty, smart script full of great comedic moments delivered to perfection by a great group of actors.

Based on his play of the same title, Lepage’s final film La face cachée de la lune (The Far Side of the Moon) is a touching, sometimes comedic story of a man searching for meaning in his life. Starring Lepage himself in the lead role, this is the story of Philippe. Having just failed his Ph.D. dissertation for the second time, working a dead end job selling news paper subscriptions, dealing with the after affects of a failed marriage and the recent death of his mother, Philippe’s world seems to be falling apart until three incidents change his life completely. Set to the backdrop of the USSR/US space race of the 1960s, Lepage’s film is both humerous and poignant as well as beautifully directed-

Though it’s a shame that Lepage has, in the past few years, directed most of his efforts to the stage, his short filmography leaves behind a legacy of great Canadian films, films that manage to be both humerous and heartfelt while never speaking down to their audience.

Rating for the set: