Wednesday, October 01, 2014

October Horror Fest 2014


October has arrived, which means that it is time for my yearly marathon of horror films, which over the last few years I have been dubbing simply October Horror Fest.  From now until Halloween, I will watch as many horror films as I can.  Since I take a hiatus mid-month for Toronto After Dark, I usually end up watching about a dozen films, though I hope to go past twenty this year.  I typically only count the films I watch at home, though I also see quite a few theatrical horror offerings in October, which this year includes a Wes Craven retrospective at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

Something I am doing new this year is running down some of the films that I plan to watch over the course of the month.  I have a shortlist of 25 films prepared and I hope to see at least half of them, though it would also be nice if I could squeeze them all in.

Without further ado, here is my planned October Horror Fest line-up!

TADFF14: Running Down the Final 9


Only about two weeks remain before the start of the 9th annual Toronto After Dark Film Festival.  Today saw the announcement of the remaining nine films in this year’s line-up and there are definitely some interesting selections among them.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

My Thoughts on The Boxtrolls

TheBoxTrollsFrom the animation studio Laika (Coraline, ParaNorman) comes the stop-motion fantasy-adventure The Boxtrolls.  The town of Cheesebridge live in fear of the subterranean Boxtrolls, who are rumoured to kidnap and eat children.  Because of this, Lord Portley-Rind (Jared Harris) hires the sinister Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) to exterminate the Boxtrolls, in exchange for membership to the cheese-loving White Hats group. However, in actuality the Boxtrolls are kind-hearted builders, who have even raised an orphan boy named Eggs (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) as one of there own.  When Lord Portley-Rind’s daughter Winnie (Elle Fanning) meets Eggs and learns of Snatcher’s true intentions, the two try to rush to warn the town and save the Boxtrolls.

Blu-Ray Thoughts: Motivational Growth

Motivational-Growth-BlurayOut today on DVD and Blu-Ray is the very weird dark comedy Motivational Growth, directed by Don Thacker.  The film focuses on on an agoraphobic man named Ian Folivor (Adrian DiGiovanni), who hasn’t left his apartment for 16 months and spends the majority of his time channel surfing on the TV.  When the TV suddenly breaks down, Ian doesn’t know what to do and even attempts committing suicide by mixing chemicals in his bathtub.  When the attempt fails, Ian finds out that a giant mildew growth on the wall, known only as The Mold (voiced by Jeffrey Combs), has started talking to him.  The Mold offers to help get Ian out of the funk he is in and even help Ian court his attractive neighbour Leah (Danielle Doetsch).  However, it quickly turns out that The Mold has ulterior motives and Ian learns the downside of trusting a motivational growth.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Blindspot 2014: Goodfellas

goodfellasIt is time for my second Martin Scorsese blindspot of the year, as I watch his 1990 mafia drama Goodfellas.  Based on true events, the film tells of the story of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), who has always idolized the mafia and he begins working for a local crime family as a teenager, being taken under the wing by mob capo, Paul "Paulie" Cicero (Paul Sorvino) and his associates James "Jimmy the Gent" Conway (Robert DeNiro) and short tempered armed robber Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci).  Over the years, the three rise up the ranks in the mafia, however they quickly find out that life as a wiseguy isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

Goodfellas was one of those films that I technically hadn’t seen, but I already knew practically everything about it.  This is one of the films that Martin Scorsese has become most known for and it is hard not to notice references to it in pop culture.  In fact, when I was a kid, long before even hearing of the film, I remember watching the “Goodfeathers” sketches on the cartoon series Animaniacs, which recreated the characters of the film as pigeons.  Because I was already quite familiar with Goodfellas, actually watching the film seemed like more of a formality.

Friday, September 26, 2014

My Thoughts on Hector and the Search for Happiness

HectorandtheSearchforHappinessA British psychiatrist goes on a soul searching journey for happiness in Hector and the Search for Happiness.  Hector (Simon Pegg) is a London psychiatrist, who lives a tidy, uncomplicated, satisfactory life with his girlfriend Clara (Rosamund Pike).  After a particularly bad day, Hector decides that he needs to get away and find out the meaning of happiness.  Hector proceeds to go on a trip to China, Africa, and Los Angeles and takes notes on the different definitions of happiness he encounters.  Along the way, Hector meets up with a number of interesting individuals, including rich banker Edward (Stellan SkarsgĂ„rd), drug lord Diego (Jean Reno), ex-girlfriend Agnes (Toni Collette), and happiness expert Professor Coreman (Christopher Plummer).

Monday, September 22, 2014

Selections from Toronto Youth Shorts 2014


The 2014 edition of the Toronto Youth Shorts film festival will be happening this Saturday September 27 at the Maple Leaf Cinema in the CN Tower.  The festival will showcase 36 short films, divided into three programmes, by young filmmakers from all over the Greater Toronto Area.  As part of the lead up to the festival, I was given a sneak peak of five of the shorts that will be screening.

TIFF14 CAST Awards Announced


(Updated 9/23) The “Cinema Appreciation Society of Toronto” have chosen their favourite films of the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.  The top film of the list was the Jake Gyllenhaal-starring crime thriller Nightcrawler.  Also in the top five were the documentary The Look of Silence, the drumming drama Whiplash, Xavier Dolan’s Mommy, Peter Strickland’s The Duke of Burdundy.  The list was compiled by 29 voters, who each submitted their top ten films of the festival.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Indie Spotlight: Coherence


Indie Spotlight is a series focusing on reviews of independent films

This review may contain SPOILERS

Strange things happen at a dinner party in the indie sci-fi film Coherence.  A group of eight friends, Em (Emily Foxler), Kevin (Maury Sterling), Mike (Nicholas Brendon), Beth (Elizabeth Gracen), Amir (Alex Manugian), Laurie (Lauren Maher), Hugh (Hugo Armstrong), and Lee (Lorene Scafaria), gather together for dinner on the same night a comet is passing them by.  Beginning with a sudden black out, a number of strange occurrences happen, which will cause these eight friends to examine their relationship to each other.

I purposely made the above plot synopsis as vague as possible, since I saw Coherence knowing next to nothing about the plot, which is probably the best way to experience the film.  That said, it will be quite difficult to write about the film, without getting into some more specific plot details.  As such, if you don’t want to know anymore about the plot of Coherence, do not read this review any further.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Trailer: Big Eyes


Tim Burton returns with this biopic of artist Margaret Keane (Amy Adams), who had to struggle with the fact that her husband Walter (Christoph Waltz) took credit for the big eyed portraits she painted.  As seen from this new trailer for the film, Big Eyes is probably Tim Burton’s most dramatic film since Big Fish, with very little of his kookiness on display (save for a single shot of a human being with big eyes).  The film is notable for featuring the screenwriting team behind Ed Wood, which many consider to be Burton’s best film.  Either way, Big Eyes is a way for Tim Burton to bounce back, after criticisms of becoming stale after his last few films (particularly 2012’s Dark Shadows).  Big Eyes is scheduled to open on Christmas Day.