I’m back! With more films to add to my list after Back Half Package selection day. I’m going to jump right into it:

SCARLET INNOCENCE (Yim Pil-Sung – South Korea) – September 4 – Ryerson Theatre – 6:00PM 

Photo from tiff.net

This actually wasn’t part of the package, as it is premiering on the first day of the festival! This is my second year only, and to have a film at the first day is a big deal. To have a featured City to City film selection makes it even better! (Loosely) Based on the Korean fairytale The Story of Simcheong, which has always been a father-daughter story, the director changed it to a story between two strangers, who fall in love and then later become adversaries. I’m excited for this.

GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE (Jean-Luc Godard – France) – September 10 – Ryerson Theatre – 6:00PM

Photo from tiff.net

Godard. 3-D. Winner of the Jury Prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. My interest in Godard stems from quite late introduction to his work during my graduate studies, specifically his work in the 60s. My desire to see this film definitely stems from that, and the fact that I am just curious to see exactly why it won the Jury Prize. 

SHELTER (Paul Bettany – USA) – September 12 – Elgin Theatre – 6:00PM

Photo from tiff.net

Two homeless people, one a drug addict, another with a dark, secretive paths. Even though they’re both living in the streets, they occupy two different worlds. This is Paul Bettany’s directorial debut, and it’s also his screenplay. It sounds rather cliche, but I’d like to give it a shot. There’s something quite human in this whole thing, and I want I’m definitely curious to see where it takes it all. 

99 HOMES (Ramin Bahrani – USA) – September 13 – Princess of Wales – 10:00PM

Photo from tiff.net

All about the foreclosure of houses in Florida. An unemployed construction worker has recently lost his family’s home and is forced to work with the very man that was the cause of it all to get it back. Desperate and rooted in reality, I cannot wait to see this film. So far, it’s my closing film of the festival.

So yes, so far, I have this 8 films on the docket, plus one more voucher to claim. I will use it to Rush films between the 9th to the 14th, and hopefully get something going for me. We’ll definitely see, as 8 films in the bag before the festival even started is definitely a big rise from last year. 

I’m going to try my luck on rushing PRIDE, THE IMITATION GAME and THE DROP. HECTOR AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS is coming out at the end of the month in regular theatres, and the film NOBLE that I’ve been waiting to be part of this festival gets a release this month as well (I hope it gets released in Canada). So after the festival, I’m back in regular theatres! 

I cannot wait for the festival to start! It’s been great already and I just got my tickets. I had to call for help twice, and both times the phone agents were fantastic. And the ones right at the box office were very pleasant as well when I picked up my tickets. It was fantastic customer service and I was very impress!

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Woah, it has been a while. 

My last review was for the second film that I saw at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, CAN A SONG SAVE YOUR LIFE, which has already been re-released worldwide as BEGIN AGAIN. Needless to say, it has been a year since I last did a review (for this site, at least). 

This year the idea is to use the 2014 Festival as a jumping point to start reviewing films again. I just got off the queue online and got 4 tickets, which is hey, 3 more tickets than my original plan last year. So far, on the docket:

THE DEAD LANDS (Tao Fraser – New Zealand) – September 5 – Bloor Hot Docs – 12:00PM

Photo from tiff.net

I’m very excited for this film. It’s about pre-colonial New Zeland about a Maori tribe where the son of a murdered chieftain is seeking revenge by learning ancient Maori martial arts, known as Mau rakau. This film is the very first one to ever feature this martial art. 

THE FACE OF AN ANGEL (Michael Winterbottom – United Kingdom) – September 6 – Elgin – 8:00PM

Photo from tiff.net

A film about the Amanda Knox murder trial. Except not really. Director Michael Winterbottom used the event as a jumping point for this film, and it’s fictional events. It’s definitely going to be interesting, because it’s a movie about a man wanting to make a movie about the event, and is conversing with a woman who has written a book about the event. It’s very meta, and It’s going to be an interesting ride.

AMERICAN HEIST (Sarik Andreasyan – USA) – September 11 – Princess of Wales – 7:00PM

Photo from tiff.net

Two brothers. Bank heist. Indie film. I am a sucker for films that have a brotherly bond. And to be honest, Adrien Brody. A combination of the two is always a good thing (see: The Brothers Bloom). I’m wondering if they can take the whole, two brothers with a dark past trope and give it a good spin that’ll keep me wanting more. 

BEFORE WE GO (Chris Evans – USA) – September 13 – Bloor Hot Docs – 12:15PM

Photo from tiff.net

NYC. Boston girl misses train home and means NY busker. Two strangers spending a night in the city that never sleeps, realizing that they may have just met the right one. One problem: the next train to Boston is coming, and there’s a husband waiting for the girl on the other end. This is Chris Evans directorial debut, and as someone who knows a lot of his work and how versatile he can be as an actor, I am definitely excited to see how he is as a director.

So yes, these are the first four films that I got my hands on, and I’ll be back soon after my selection window tomorrow for the Back Half Pack. I have six tickets, I hope there’s still some screenings left!

I’ll do my best to commit this time around, as this time around I have a full time job with a more fixed schedule. It’s time to discipline myself, watch all the films and write about them. It shouldn’t be so hard as I love films, and writing. We’ll see!

photoI am going to try very hard to say more than, “This film is absolutely fantastic, everyone should see it because it is wonderful, you have no idea,” because I definitely feel that way about this film, and that’s a very big deal to me.

Originally, this was not on my list at all. Actually, as you can see from photos, what was originally a 3-film plan, became a 5-film plan. Actually, even before that I only planned to see one film, but apparently, this is what film festivals are like. Anyway, this film wasn’t on my list because I personally avoided it because of Keira Knightley, for no reasons other than the fact that I do not like her acting.

I am glad that I gave it the benefit of the doubt, regardless of her presence.

To start, the film has a simple premise:

Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo and Catherine Keener star in this soul-stirring music industry drama about an undiscovered young singer and a washed-up producer. These lost souls meet, see something special in the other and ultimately make beautiful music together in this latest film from Once writer-director John Carney (from Tiff.net).

At first, it almost sounded cliche to me, and as someone who was not familiar with Carney’s work, I went in face first with no clue. In the end, going at it that way was the best thing ever.

The movie is about making beautiful music in the streets of New York. And I don’t mean being in New York and recording in a studio there, they actually made music on the streets and recorded an entire album. A love-story to New York that was beautiful, and whimsical and inspiring. The film was frank, witty and fantastic, and I fell in love with every single character, up to and including Greta (Knightley).

Photo by Andrew Schwartz

Photo by Andrew Schwartz

Greta is a wonderful character through and through. She was beautiful written and executed perfectly for the audience. She is poised without being stuck-up, and smart without being cocky. She writes songs for her own pleasure and hates seeing her face on the camera. She is shy, but confident, and loves her work. She is vulnerable, and real and everything that we all are when we are down on our luck, and how we are when things are finally looking up. She was cursed with a love for a guy (Adam Levine) who was too quick to draw, too much of a rockstar, and blessed with a best friend (James Corden) who is there for her through it all. Knightley and Corden’s on-screen BFFness was probably my favourite part of the whole thing. They had such wonderful rapport and chemistry, and Corden’s presence made Knightley so much more human and real than her former period-movie counterparts. In the end, with his initial help, and later on Dan’s (Ruffalo), Greta finds her place in a city where she felt lost and alone.

Dan, a washed-up producer that was recently fired by his partner (Mos Def) and was about to off himself, until he heard Greta’s song. This first encounter was a beautiful one. While everyone heard Greta’s song as something that was boring and whining, Dan heard something else entirely. His (drunken) mind completed the song, and you just have to see the film to see what I’m talking about when I say that it is magical. Yep, that’s definitely the word for it, magical. He is cantankerous, vulgar and fantastically smart, and when he first meets Greta, they bash heads, almost immediately. Like Greta, he is lost, cursed by love and forgotten by love, but it definitely gets better for him. He finds his roots back into what made him who he was, both in terms of who he is as a person and as a family man. His side of the story have such a realistic end, and it definitely makes me want to say that this is one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time.

The film is funny, quirky and real. I think those are the best three words I can associate with it. Regardless of the fact that there are big musicians in it playing, well, musicians, it still had such a everyday life feel to it that didn’t make it absurd. Like the film before this, I definitely recommend that everyone see CAN A SONG SAVE YOUR LIFE? when it gets a full release. Because why wouldn’t it? It’s bloody brilliant.

Q&A portion included John Carney, who is hilarious and brilliant. I laughed so hard the whole time, and he definitely said a lot of gold throughout.

“Adam Levine is so good looking, it’s fucking annoying.

“At the start, he was at Douche 2, and then four. By the end, he was on Deftcon Douche.” (On Adam Levine’s character’s beard progression of douchery.)

It was amazing because among the audience were the three songwriters of the film (which had mostly original songs), and Carney exclaimed, “These are the three assholes that are going to win the Oscar!” and I definitely agree. All the songs were fantastic, and the producers are such a delight to listen to. Now that I think about it, one of the songwriters laughed the loudest in the theater, and that’s just adorable. Also, there was a lot of Irish love in the room; Carney was feeling homesick.

So yes, definitely see the film. It’s worth it, and the best I’ve seen so far. Tomorrow I have a double feature of Under the Skin and Don Jon, so look out for reviews of those films!

IMG_2280Well, it’s been way too long.

This year I decided to do the Toronto International Film Festival for the first time, and let me just say, it is off to a fantastic start, and I’m here to tell you all about it.

Today I saw ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE by Jim Jarmusch, and starring Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Anton Yelchin, Mia Wosikowska and John Hurt.

This was really exciting for me because I’ve been waiting for this film since it was announced.

The film was fantastic. A perfect, beautiful and very different homage to the tirelessly beaten vampire lore in today’s pop culture.

It was definitely my kind of film, and very different from a lot of films I have seen in the past. It was my first Jim Jarmusch film, so I was unfamiliar with it. It took a couple of minutes to get used to the pacing, but by the end, it was just perfect, and I found myself just admiring how beautiful the film was on every level.

Adam and Eve, played by Hiddleston and Swinton respectively, were the perfect partnership. Not just because aesthetically, they are very beautiful people, but their nuances just fit, and I found myself falling in love with them as a whole, together. I can only hope that I will have the kind of love they had for each other in my own life one day.

Hiddleston’s character was so…layered. Beautiful, I think is the word I would use. As a whole, he was the representation of helplessness, of the frustration that comes from being human, even though he himself is an immortal vampire. He had bad days, he had good days. He loved, cherished and felt weak. He was strong, and he was vulnerable, and he was so very human on that regard. Adam was real, and tangible, and just absolutely fantastic.OnlyLoversLeftAlive

Eve was lovely, strong and compassionate. She loved, and loves deeply. She valued her husband, and adored and loved him in the way she does best: by being there for him. By giving him the space he needed, while always reminding him that she is always there upon his reach, and being there when he needed her the most. She was such a strong presence in his life, and together, they made perfection.

Aesthetically, Jarmusch showed this through their costumes. Ying and Yang, with Adam constantly in black, and Eve in white. They created harmony and balanced each other, while Eva (Wosikowska), Eve’s little sister and the bane of Adam’s existence, was the firey presence that set them aflame for a moment, before burning out and away from their lives, again. She was the spark that reminds them, from time to time, that no matter how hard, no matter how contemptuous they can be for everyone and everything, especially those fucking zombies (read: humans), they will always have each other. 

The film, I believe, was about the love these two characters have for each other, and how they exist in their world today. Eve in Tangier, Adam in Detroit, then together and away. They dealt with loneliness and death, and they conquered it. They overcame, and continue to overcome their vulnerabilities. They maybe vampires, but all of this, everything made them very much human amongst the sea of zombies. Not only does this film critique the world we live in, but it also invites the viewer to examine their own vulnerabilities, and their wants, needs and desires to feel, love and cherish.

A definite recommendation.

PS: Since this was at TIFF, it had a short Q&A session with Jim Jarmusch, Tom Hiddleston and Anton Yelchin. Such wonderful gentlemen, and Yelchin spoke about Detroit as if he left a part of his soul in it, my heart wrenched for him.

(I received an ARC of the novel from the author in exchange for my honest review.)

First, let me get this out: I have never read a erotica/romance novel in my life, and this was my first dose of it. To be honest, the only time I’ve ever encountered a romance novel was in 11th grade, when one of my classmates read a passage out loud, and we giggled like the school girls we actually were.

Anyways, I am glad that this was my introduction to the genre.

If there was one thing that I found consistently appealing about this novel is that it doesn’t take it too seriously. Obviously, it is serious, with a plot full of importance, and life-death scenarios, but it was also hilarious. Especially the dialogue. When I was first introduced to Cain through his interaction with the super-serious Jarrid, I knew I wanted more. Which brings me to the second thing I love: the Order. Now, I am a fan of anything that has gorgeous men in it, but these guys, as amazingly awesome and beautiful they all are, weren’t just that. They weren’t cardboard cutouts that had no depth. Every single of them was a unique piece of the ensemble that I wanted to know more about. I swear, every time Tanis was coming on and recalling some things, I was waiting for more intel about all of them. If there is one thing I want to happen in the rest of the series is that I want to know more about all the brothers. Especially Cain. I really, really like Cain.

Final thing that I liked, and I thought was really important about this novel was Ionie. As someone who consumes popular culture like the air she breathes, I am well aware of the lack of female characters in, well, everything really. At least, female characters that are well-written, smart, and non-stereotypical. Ionie, I am happy to note, is a strong, female character that didn’t leave me shaking my head in dismay. I like Ionie, which was a nice feeling, definitely, and I loved her spunk and her wit. She was smart without being annoying, and strong without being flawless. She was human, and she was great. I want to know more about her adventures with the Order. (Well, half-human, but you get what I mean!)

Overall, once I finally had the chance to sit down and read this book, I couldn’t put it down. I wanted to know what was going to happen next. I liked everyone, and I want to know more about everyone. Like Cain. As I said, I really like him. And Mason! I like Mason, too.

I’m definitely looking forward for more.

(Cross-posted at: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/539081308)

As always, I am a day late viewing this episode, but that’s alright. Before my viewing, I saw a bunch of mixed reviews when it came to the episode, and for once, I didn’t let it deter me. I knew nothing of what was going to happen, and I didn’t even know the title until I saw some tags on tumblr. So this episode? Totally new and refreshing for me.

I didn’t do a review of last week’s episode, ‘As Time Goes By.’ So, brief recap: In another time-travel episode, Sam and Dean meet their ancestor from their father’s side this time — Henry Winchester. As it turns out, the Winchester side of the bloodline had their own supernatural connections, which makes all the allusions to Cain and Abel, make a lot of sense now. The Winchesters are basically elite from the get-go, as the Men of Letters, and Dean and Sam were meant to be the successors. Instead, they become hunters, the more “primitive,” and Campbell counterpart of the whole operation. Long story short: this not only affirms the whole bloodline thing we’ve been hearing about for the last eight seasons, but it also gives another Sam is more like John, and Dean is more like Mary comparison, which made me really happy.

Anyways, this most recent episode is a somewhat continuation of this, where we find out about the Judah Initiative, which is another ancient group of do-gooders working with/for the Men of Letters. Basically, Hunters made of Rabbis during WWII. And the Thule Society, is the Nazi-counterpart and therefore bad guys. All in all, good, creative episode as a whole. (Obviously, Ben Edlund penned it.) It was very interesting, if not for the slight annoying queer-baiting at the beginning, and the constant ‘college girls = bimbos’ trope that the show tends to do.

But I am not here to talk about that! Right now, I am here to talk about Sam Winchester.

I know right? Sam Winchester. Mariel is talking about Sam Winchester in a positive manner.

Alright, so continuing on with the Brains vs. Brawns idea, here we see Sam in his zone. He was leading the episode with his brains, and his curiosity, and that was refreshing to see. I know it is like that for almost every episode of all eight seasons, but there was something different about this.

All of his life, Sam has felt like an outsider. He just wanted to go to school, and go to college and not be a hunter because he’d rather read books than shoot a bow and arrow. And he was always revered as the black sheep because of it. In S3, we see Sam trying to be more like Dean in order to survive in a world where he believed that he is truly alone without his brother. To him, the only way to survive was to become more like him, to become more like a Hunter. And we saw that, really. For the past few seasons now. We saw a revenge-driven, demon-screwing Sam, guilty Sam and no-soul-to-ever-have-guilt Sam. Then we had broken Sam.

Which was all very boring, bad variaties of Hunter Sam. It was like the writers had no idea how to deal with his character, and now they’ve finally found it.

Sam is a Man of Letters while Dean is the Hunter.

Together, they make a perfect team, and that’s how it’s been from the very beginning of this show. Except before, he was just the smart brother. The Winchester geek. This time, he actually belongs in the family in a way that he has never been before. Dean has always known that he had a family because the family he has known his whole life is full of Hunters. And let’s face it: Dean is a Hunter, through and through. He’s always belonged in a family of Hunters while Sam never did. Dean was John Winchester’s right hand man, Sam belonged because he was his brother.

Now he actually has a family line he can be compared to other than the fact that John and him are both revenge-driven psychopaths. (I mean, he’s still a psychopath–he was warming his hands on a burning corpse!) He makes sense within the Dean-Sam dynamic because they’re not only brothers, they’re a partnership. Not only do their skill sets match, but what they like to do compliment each other. Dean will always doing what he does because that is who he is; he needs to always be doing right and saving people. And Sam will always be the scholar, because he is a man the strives for that.

Together, in a world of demons, monsters and Nazi Necromancers, they are the Hunter and the Man of Letters, descendants of the Campell-Winchester line.

And that’s all good.

PS: If the series doesn’t end exactly the same, or similarly to how this episode ended, I may get really upset. Because that was good, man. They find their places in a world that needs heroes in denim, with their own roles to play.

OnlyLoversLeftAliveDirected by: Jim Jarmusch

Starring: Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, Anton Yelchin and John Hurt

Photo courtesy of Omelete

This movie was announced early 2010, and it had everyone casted except for Hiddleston, because Michael Fassbender was to play his character. Of course, the moment I heard the names Tilda Swinton and Michael Fassbender with the word ‘vampire,’ I knew I just found a movie about my favourite supernatural creatures that didn’t sparkle like the most of them, at that moment.

So I kept track, through the whole not having funding, to having it and to deciding to film in Detroit to have that whole apocalyptic feel. Then in 2012, Hiddleston replaced Fassbender, and I was still, if not more, excited about the whole thing.

Because to me, Tilda Swinton + Anyone (especially Fassbender or Hiddleston = Epic. It will always be epic. Her being a vampire is just a huge plus.