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While limited, the influence of auteurs Lars von Trier and Michael Hanek

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Comments: 0Saturday, April 25, 2015 02:56:37 AM
While documentaries seldom get the same distribution opportunities as feature films, there is a built-in audience looking for them. HotDocs, one of the foremost festivals dedicated to the genre, is already attracting crowds in Toronto. Judging by the first two films I had the chance to watch, the 2015 version is looking strong.Drone (Sweden, 2014): The War on Terror’s favourite toy
Comments: 0Saturday, April 18, 2015 07:54:15 PM
Simon Curtis speaks fast. He can burn through fifteen questions in less than ten minutes. He also has no trouble keeping his answers short if an adverb suffices. The director of My Week with Marilyn (for which Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh received Oscar nominations) is now back in the big screen with the more modern drama Woman in Gold.In 1998, Austria introduced new legislation to deal w
Comments: 0Tuesday, April 7, 2015 01:06:33 AM
While limited, the influence of auteurs Lars von Trier and Michael Haneke cannot be understated. Their grim perception of the world is as necessary as, say, Pixar’s output, but very few are willing to experience it.It’s different among young filmmakers going for substance. Haneke and Von Trier are hard-to-shake referents and their prints are easy to spot. It’s the case of the min
Comments: 0Friday, March 6, 2015 05:26:21 AM
There is something surreal about meeting Jemaine Clement in person. Bespectacled, tall and lanky, fits perfectly any preconception you may have of him based on his Flight of the Conchords public persona.With the comic duo on hiatus, Clementco-wrote, co-directed and co-starred in What We Do in the Shadows, a horror parody that gets a lot of mileage of a premise a thousand times visited: Vampire lif
Comments: 0Sunday, February 22, 2015 04:29:05 AM
One of the biggest problems of turning the Oscars into veritable presidential campaigns is that the element of surprise has been all but eliminated. With all the awards handed in advance and the momentum measured to a fault, we know the winners well ahead of the event. Sure, Birdman and Boyhood are fairly even forces, but as the later begins to fade, the former is at the peak of its powers. T
Comments: 0Thursday, February 12, 2015 09:22:05 PM
There isn’t a good explanation why fan-fiction-turned-best-seller “Fifty Shades of Grey” became so successful. It was built following the “Twilight” blueprint, hardly anybody’s idea of a great book. It wasn’t even well written: “oh, my” was often the way to describe whatever was going on plot-wise.Unlike “Twilight”, the overarching
Comments: 0Monday, January 26, 2015 12:25:48 AM
Pablo Escobar Gaviria was a larger than life character, whether we like it or not. Because he was notoriously shady in spite of his gregarious public persona, any attempt to portray him is bound to come short. Escobar could be your staunchest ally, until you stop being of any use.Escobar: Paradise Lost does several smart things in its approach to the drug lord’s life and times. It doesn&rsqu
Comments: 0Saturday, January 10, 2015 10:50:13 PM
The Taken franchise has never been a critic’s favorite: A simplistic premise (a nearly superhuman guy knocks every criminal in sight to rescue his kidnapped daughter) made worse by horrifying dialogue. However, a committed performance by Liam Neeson connected with the audience and singlehandedly turned the saga into a hit.Taken 3 shakes the formula a bit. The whole kidnapping gimmick in Euro
Comments: 0Friday, December 19, 2014 02:10:48 AM
Director Peter Jackson made a number of questionable decisions in his adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. First, he split the author’s shortest book in three movies. Then, he decided to show it in a 48 frames-per-second format (the usual is 24), giving the film a weirdly hyper-realistic look. Lastly, he inserted two elves that weren’t in the original text: Fan favorite Leg
Comments: 0Thursday, December 11, 2014 02:54:53 PM
Derek Bachman.Oh, man.  That punch in the gut.  The wind knocked out of me.  The outpouring of emotion on Facebook that clues me into the fact that Derek Bachman is just suddenly gone.Derek Bachman, Executive Director at SaskMusic died today, leaving behind not only a young family, but the legacy of a great guy with a big heart.I don’t want to pretend that Derek and I were bes
Comments: 0Saturday, November 29, 2014 03:04:22 AM
An unexpected hit in 2011 (on the wake of The Hangover frenzy), Horrible Bosses was an impish, moderately pleasant comedy with an overachieving cast. Much of it success had to do with the three leads’ chemistry: Jason Bateman as the straight man, Charlie Day as the neurotic sidekick, and Jason Sudeikis as the wild card. Ego, superego and id. While tolerable, there wasn’t anything
Comments: 0Sunday, November 23, 2014 08:06:11 PM
The third movie of The Hunger Games had more obstacles to overcome than previous episodes. For starters, the book -“Mockingjay”- is the most maligned of the series, as the exploration of the outside world doesn’t quite match the tightly controlled universe of the games (also, the writing is not up to par for some reason). Furthermore, audiences are getting wary of the strategy of
Comments: 0Friday, November 14, 2014 03:46:16 PM
Thanks to the distributors’ mysterious designs, three strong Swedish comedies have made it to Saskatoon. Last July, the kiddie-punk romp We Are the Best! demonstrated that free-range kids don’t necessarily turn into obnoxious brats. The film was fresh and original and represents the easily relatable movies the Swedes are making these days. Don’t know about you, but I have problem
Comments: 0Friday, November 14, 2014 03:36:10 PM
I really wanted to like Dumb and Dumber To. The first one –which came out twenty years ago- was gross, weirdly sweet and full of catchphrases still quoted today (“so there is a chance!” is a classic).Sadly, the sequel misses more than scores. As ridiculous as the original was, the demented script unfolded smoothly. Dumb and Dumber To stalls at every corner and comedic ideas are f
Comments: 0Thursday, November 6, 2014 03:36:27 PM
Among the many interesting aspects of director Christopher Nolan’s career, the fact he is one of the few filmmakers able to get original and expensive films greenlighted by major studios is remarkable. Sure, he owes his reputation to a comic book saga (which Nolan elevated way above the source material), but the quality of his work and capacity to blend complex ideas with popcorn entertainme
Comments: 0Friday, October 31, 2014 05:01:34 AM
I didn’t know Jake Gyllenhaal had it in him.Up to Nightcrawler, Gyllenhaal had demonstrated to be a fine character actor (Brokeback Mountain), but as a leading man it lacked the spark of a Christian Bale or a Matt Damon. Turns out all he had to do was to pick slightly askew roles to crave his own niche.Nightcrawler is Network for our times: Smaller (the setting is the cutthroat world of loca
Comments: 0Tuesday, September 30, 2014 09:22:13 PM
Hey all!  If you follow this blog, you know that from time to time I invite guest blogger Sam Corbett of The Sheepdogs to tell us about his adventures in rock n' roll.  Sam's gonna spin us a yarn about their performance on The Junos with Bachman Turner Overdrive --- and having to play to an out of time click track.  Enjoy this installment of The Sheepblog, brought to you by
Comments: 0Monday, September 29, 2014 06:22:00 PM
Most animation companies play it safe. All apparent risks are calculated and potential backlash is taken into consideration. Portland-based stop-motion animation company Laika is more forward. Laika’s three films so far (not counting Corpse Bride) have gone beyond heart-tugging tales peppered with comedy. Coraline explored the tricky relationship between mothers and daughters, while ParaNorm
Comments: 0Friday, September 26, 2014 01:40:58 PM
The Equalizer update starring Denzel Washington is a throwback to 80’s action movies in more ways than one: Not only is a remake of the underrated Edward Woodward TV show. It’s the kind of movie in which the good guys are really good, the bad ones are beyond redemption and there are no grey areas in sight.This is not necessarily a problem. The good vs. evil conflict is the foundation o
Comments: 0Friday, September 19, 2014 04:08:35 AM
Before you start complaining about yet another movie about Liam Neeson’s “particular set of skills”, know that A Walk Among the Tombstones is a couple of notches above his recent output. Tombstones is a little darker, a bit more mean spirited, and a lot more entertaining.Oddly enough, Neeson himself seems lighter on his feet, as opposed to the grim, preternaturally obfuscated Nee
Comments: 0Saturday, September 13, 2014 02:05:20 PM
Early on, my favorite section at TIFF was Midnight Madness. A collection of horror films or gonzo documentaries, it was the place to be if you were a genre fan.In the last couple of years, the quality of the selection hasn’t been all that solid (Die Cheerleader Die comes to mind). Or could it be the mild thrills of a scary flick couldn’t match the complexity of other TIFF selectio
Comments: 0Friday, September 12, 2014 12:17:57 PM
Other than a couple of curio media junkets (somehow I'll participate in both), TIFF is coming to an end. It wasn't a fantastic year. No title generated so much interest you couldn't get a ticket. On the other hand, I haven't run into anything downright horrible, like 2013's La Ultima Película. Pasolini comes close, but Willem Dafoe redeems the film a
Comments: 0Thursday, September 11, 2014 05:49:17 PM
 As the herd of journalists and industry people starts to thin a bit, I have now the chance to catch up with some of the festival’s oddest titles. None more strange thanThe Editor, an hilarious Winnipeg production that’s easily the best Canadian title I’ve seen this year at TIFF. The Editor is an homage to the giallo films Mario Bava and Dario A
Comments: 0Wednesday, September 10, 2014 12:05:04 PM
Star-studded Tuesday: Had interviews with Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and Steve Carell for Foxcatcher, and J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller for Whiplash. Tatum and Simmons were the highlights (Carell, surprisingly low key). I asked Tatum about what was on his mind while smashing his head against a mirror (the scene is in theFoxcatcher trailer, look it up).Tatum: Have you ever bee
Comments: 0Tuesday, September 9, 2014 12:51:13 PM
Today was a day full of interviews, some of which you should be able to read in Prairie Dog and Planet S in the near future. It’s the case of the one I had with Robert Kenner. Kenner, an Oscar nominee for Food Inc. has another potential nominee in the cutting Merchants of Doubt. An outgoing fellow, the documentary filmmaker is as merciless as Michael Moore, but not as antagoni
Comments: 0Monday, September 8, 2014 01:48:14 PM
On Saturday night I attended the premiere of Roger Waters The Wall, a concert movie with the latest iteration of the musical masterpiece (less Pink, more war). Besides dozens of Waters’ fans , a small but loud group of Israel supporters  stood at the opposite side of the street and complained about the presence of the musician at TIFF (their signs were somewhat clever: &l
Comments: 0Sunday, September 7, 2014 03:10:33 PM
 If there is a sticking topic in this edition of TIFF is bad mothers. You can find them everywhere: In American dramas about the dangers of the internet, Danish tragedies, indie flicks, British comedies, Xavier Dolan movies, you name it. Mommy issues galore.Men, Women and Children (USA, 2014): Director Jason Reitman (Juno, Thank You for Smoking) has managed to make six fil
Comments: 0Saturday, September 6, 2014 12:24:53 PM
Summer arrived late to Toronto, to the point two heat warnings have taken place just last week. This also means misery to me, carrying a massive computer across Hogtown in my equally oversized black backpack. This wouldn't be a problem if I didn't had to interview Jennifer Garner. My only consolation: Everybody is sweaty in this town. Except Jennifer Garner, who is too pretty to sweat.Ill-
Comments: 0Friday, September 5, 2014 10:49:51 AM
This is my fifth year covering TIFF and I must confess, it's getting a bit old: The four hours of sleep, the rejections (few of my interview requests can ever be accommodated), the persistent hunger, the beyond-the-pale washrooms, the snobby journalists who eat all the food at catering before you can get a crack at it... It's hard. But then you come across two superb films before the rest
Comments: 0Tuesday, August 26, 2014 01:45:09 PM
While it’s true James Bond is a tough act to follow, Pierce Brosnan seems to be having a hard time finding a niche following his stint as 007. Not a gifted comedian or dramatic actor (how many businessmen can this guy play?), Brosnan has attempted a number of variations on his suave British spy persona. The November Man is the most blatant and the least successful, by a mile.Retired CIA agen

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