Friday, October 31, 2014

Indie Spotlight: The Door


Indie Spotlight is a series focusing on reviews of independent films

After saving a wealthy Japanese gentleman from a mugging, Owen (Sam Kantor) is offered a job at one of the man’s family businesses.  Owen arrives at an old abandoned meat-packing plant and is told to put on a security uniform, sit at a desk, and make sure that the door at the other end of the room does not open.  With his boss being too ambiguous about what’s behind the door, Owen eventually decides that the job is not for him, despite the $500 a day salary.  However, before he could be relieved by a replacement, he is suddenly joined by his girlfriend Abby (Winny Clarke), best friend Matt (Matt O'Connor), Matt’s girlfriend Jess (Alys Crocker) and friends Olivia (Liv Collins) and Mia (Jessie Yang).  When Owen is not looking, Mia takes the key to the door and goes inside, leaving the rest of the friends no choice but to follow and search for her.

My Thoughts on ABCs of Death 2

ABCs-of-death-2[5]Once again, 26 filmmakers present 26 ways to die in the horror anthology ABCs of Death 2.  As with the first film, each of the filmmakers were given creative freedom to create a short segment corresponding to the letter of the alphabet they were assigned, with each ending in a highly creative and often gory death.  Some of the filmmakers contributing to the second volume of the ABCS of Death include Rodney Ascher (Room 237), Alexandre Bustillo (Inside), Julian Gilbey (A Lonely Place to Die), E.L. Katz (Cheap Thrills), Aharon Keshales (Big Bad Wolves), Steven Kostanski (Manborg), Juan Martínez Moreno (Game of Werewolves), Vincenzo Natali (Cube), Jerome Sable (Stage Fright), and Jen and Sylvia Soska (American Mary).

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My Thoughts on White Bird in a Blizzard

WhiteBirdinaBlizzardFrom Gregg Araki (The Doom Generation, Mysterious Skin) comes this coming of age drama about a teenage girl’s relationship with her missing mother.  17 year old Kat Connor (Shailene Woodley) used to have a close relationship with her mother Eve (Eva Green), but they steadily grew more distant as Kat grew older and started to come into her own sexually.  One day, Kat comes home and is told by her father Brock (Christopher Meloni) that Eve has disappeared.  This causes Kat to reflect on her relationship with her mother and how it affect’s Kat’s development as a young woman.

The films of Gregg Araki have ranged from films with dark subject matter, such as The Doom Generation (1995) and Mysterious Skin (2004), to highly surreal comedies, such as Smiley Face (2007) and Kaboom (2010).  White Bird in a Blizzard, based on the novel by Laura Kasischke, is closer to the the dramatic end of the spectrum, even though the film features a few surreal flourishes, particularly snowbound dream sequences by Kat, which is likely what gives White Bird in a Blizzard its title.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Announcing Blindspot 2015: Celebrating 40 years of TIFF


There’s still two entries left in my 2014 Blindspot series, but I couldn’t wait to announce my Blindspot line-up for 2015, which I decided upon months ago.  My second themed Blindspot series, I decided to make next year’s selection a yearlong celebration to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Toronto International Film Festival next September.  Beginning Werner Herzog’s Heart of Glass, which played at the first Festival of Festivals in 1976, the majority of next year’s series will consist of winners of TIFF’s People’s Choice Award, with my annual Halloween horror selection being selected from the very first Midnight Madness line-up.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Indie Spotlight: Destination: Rad City


Indie Spotlight is a series focusing on reviews of independent films

A man stuck in the 1980s aspires to travel to a music festival in the low-budget independent comedy Destination: Rad City.  Rick Trickanovsky (Boris A. Godzinevski) is a man living in the town of Keswick, Ontario, who is obsessed with the fashion and culture of the 1980s.  One day, Rick decides to fulfill his late father’s wish and travel to the Rocklahoma 1980s music festival in the United States.  In order to afford to make this road trip, Rick decides to form a band and enter a music competition.

My Thoughts on Whiplash

WhiplashAn aspiring jazz drummer aspires to reach perfection in the musical drama Whiplash.  Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) is a young man, who enrols in an elite music conservatory, in the hopes of becoming one of the next great jazz drummers.  He is chosen to become part of the school’s jazz ensemble, which is lead by the perfectionist conductor Terence Fletcher (J. K. Simmons).  Fletcher, who refuses anything less than the best, pushes his musicians to their extreme limits, with there being huge consequences for those who don’t play up to par.  Under the greatest stress of his life, Andrew must prove to Fletcher that he has what it takes to be a great drummer.

Listen to Me – The Dew Over, Episode Twenty: 2008


This week I make my third appearance on The Dew Over podcast. The topic this time around in the 2008 Oscars, with the episode featuring a number puns and references towards a certain popular film from that year.  With there being a smaller panel than most episodes of The Dew Over, it opened the door for me to be more active in the discussion.  Particularly, I made sure to give my case for my favourite film from 2008.

Click here to listen to the episode

Saturday, October 25, 2014

TADFF14: Wrap-Up


The 2014 edition of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival ended up being its most successful.  Breaking through in its ninth year, this year’s edition of Toronto After Dark had a record 13 sellouts, which helped prove how this year’s line-up was of a particularly high quality.  Even though there were a few films that I was underwhelmed by, there was nothing that played at Toronto After Dark this year that I outright disliked.  In fact, a few of the films that I saw ended up to be very pleasant surprises.  Next year is the tenth anniversary of Toronto After Dark and I expect that the festival will grow even more in the years to come.

TADFF14: Shorts After Dark


In addition to the pre-feature Canadian shorts, Toronto After Dark also screens a showcase of nine short films from around the globe.  This year’s line-up include home invaders in pilgrim masks, a sci-fi film about selling doorknobs, and romance about a man who removes his skin.  Here is my rundown of the Shorts After Dark line-up.

TADFF14: Canada After Dark


Preceding every feature film screening, this year’s Canada After Dark short film line-up featured everything from stop motion thrillers to surreal romances to exploitation homages.  Here is is a rundown of all nineteen Canadian short films.