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My Thoughts on It Follows

ItFollowsA girl is infected with a sexually transmitted haunting in the horror film It Follows. After getting intimate one night with her new beau Hugh (Jake Weary), Jay (Maika Monroe) finds herself tied to a chair and told by Hugh that he passed along an infection and that “It” will start coming after Jay, until she passes it on herself (or dies).  While initially excused as a sick case of sexual abuse, Jay soon finds herself being pursued by “It,” who can take the form of anyone.  With the help her friends, including sister Kelly (Lili Sepe) and best friend Paul (Keir Gilchrist), Jay desperately searches for a way to break this curse, before it is too late.

Canadian Film Film 2015: Shooting: The Musical

Shooting-The-MusicalGo behind the scenes of the most offensive movie ever with High School Shooting: The Musical.  A documentary crew is making a film about life after film school for a number of recent graduates, many of whom could not get jobs within the film industry.  Adam Baxter (Bruce Novakowski) is one of these recent graduates, who decides to leverage the suicide of his roommate Max into the opportunity to make a film.  Adam takes Max’s final script and re-writes it into a musical about a high school shooting.  The fellow graduates gather together to make the film, despite worries about the subject matter.

Doc Thoughts: That Guy Dick Miller

TGDMQuintessential character actor Dick Miller is the subject of Elijah Drenner’s documentary That Guy Dick Miller.  With a career that spans six decades, Dick Miller began his acting career in 1955, playing both a cowboy and Indian in Roger Corman’s Apache Woman.  Miller would become one of Corman’s regular actors, with his breakout being his starring role in 1959’s A Bucket of Blood.  Miller would later be cast by Cormon disciples, such as Joe Dante, as well as appearing in character roles in films, such as The Terminator and Demon Night.  This helped to give Dick Miller the reputation for being “that guy, who’s in everything.”

Canadian Film Fest 2015: The Cocksure Lads Movie

COCKSURE-LADSA British band arrives in Toronto for their first ever North American gig in The Cocksure Lads Movie. Dusty (Lyndon Ogbourne), Reg (Adam McNab), Derek (Luke Marty), and Blake (Edward Hillier) make up The Cocksure Lads, a Beatles-like rock band from England. Mere minutes after arriving in Toronto for a gig, lead singer Dusty gets arrogant about royalties, resulting in a fight with guitarist Reg.  Dusty then storms off, apparently marking an end to the band.  The remaining band members go on their separate ways, with the hopes of finding Dusty and saving the performance.

Running Down Canadian Film Fest 2015

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The 2015 edition of the Canadian Film Fest begins tomorrow evening and runs through Saturday.  Now in its ninth year, this year’s festival will feature 8 feature films and 16 shorts over the course of four days. My coverage of the festival will begin tomorrow, but in the meantime, here is a rundown what will be happening at the festival.

Hot Docs 2015 Highlights

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The film line-up was announced this week for the 2015 edition of the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.  This year’s line-up will include 210 titles from 45 countries.  102 of these films will be world or international premieres, which includes 17 world premieres from Canada.  In addition, a point has been made that 40% of the filmmakers at Hot Docs this year will be female.  This year’s opening night film will be the international premiere of Tig, which is about comedian Tig Notaro’s battle with cancer.  The film will also be featured as part of this year’s Scotiabank Big Ideas line-up.  Another major highlight of this year’s festival is the Canadian premiere of Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, which is described as the definitive documentary about the frontman of Nirvana.

My Thoughts on Run All Night

RunAllNightLiam Neeson plays an ex-mob enforcer protecting his estranged son in the thriller Run All Night.  Jimmy Conlon (Neeson) is an aging hitman haunted by the crimes of his past.  He has fallen out with his son Michael (Joel Kinnaman), who he hasn’t seen for five years, and his only true friend is his old boss Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris).  Shawn’s hothead son Danny (Boyd Holbrook) gets involved in a drug deal gone sour, which ends in a murder witnessed by Michael, who was the dealers’ limo driver.  This results in Jimmy getting involved and he is forced to kill Danny, in order to save Michael.  Grief stricken, Shawn vows revenge on the both Jimmy and Michael, who reluctantly team together to go on the run and survive the night, all while being pursued by Shawn’s men, the police lead by Detective Harding (Vincent D'Onofrio), and deadly hitman Andrew Price (Common).

Doc Thoughts: Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show

ShowrunnersThe men and women who control television series behind the scenes are explored in the documentary Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show.  Every television series is run by the chief writer and producer, known as the showrunner.  Considered to be one of the complex roles in the entertainment industry, showrunners work hard to control the direction of their series, while also having to cope with network interference and an industry dependent on ratings.  Multiple showrunners, including J.J. Abrams (Alias), Damon Lindelof (LOST), Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and Terence Winter (Boardwalk Empire) talk about their experiences as showrunners, which is now more than just an anonymous writer in the background.

Doc Thoughts: The Hunting Ground

the-hunting-groundFrom Academy Award nominated filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering (The Invisible War) comes this examination of the epidemic of sexual assault on college and university campuses all across the United States.  One in five women on U.S. college campuses experience sexual assaults, however very few are willing to report them, due to inaction and victim blaming from both the administration and legal authorities.  Some of the survivors of sexual assault, such as University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill students Andrea Pino and Annie Clark, become fed up at this campus rape culture and decide to take action into their own hands.

My Thoughts on Chappie

ChappieFrom director Neill Blomkamp (District 9) comes this story about a police robot, which becomes a sentient being.  To combat the high crime rate, the police force in Johannesburg has been replaced by artificially intelligent robotic scouts, who were designed by Deon Wilson (Dev Patel) for the weapons manufacturer Tetravaal.  Tetravaal CEO Michelle Bradley (Sigourney Weaver) is quite happy with the scouts’ success rate, but she does not allow Deon to test a new advanced A.I. program. 

Deon steals a broken scout to test the software on, but is subsequently hijacked by gangsters Ninja (Watkin Tudor Jones), Yolandi (Yolandi Visser), and Yankie (Jose Pablo Cantillo), who want to use the robot, who they name Chappie (voice and motion capture by Sharlto Copley), to help perform a heist.  Meanwhile, rival Tetravaal engineer Vincent Moore (Hugh Jackman), who is fearful of artificial intelligence, begins plans to sabotage Deon’s scouts, so his human-controlled MOOSE robots can take their place.

Doc Thoughts: 1971

1971The theft of FBI documents and the backlash is the topic of the documentary 1971.  On March 8, 1971, a group of activists broke into the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania and took off with hundreds of files.  The documents, which were later leaked to the media, revealed illegal surveillance activities that were being performed by the FBI, which eventually resulted in a Congressional investigation.  After 40 years, the perpetrators of this crime, who called themselves The Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI, have broken their silence.

Doc Thoughts: Ballet 422

ballet-422The creation of a ballet from rehearsal to premiere is documented in Ballet 422.  The New York City Ballet is one of the foremost dance companies in the world, with a roster of more than 90 fulltime dancers.  25 year old dancer Justin Peck emerges as a promising choreographer and he is commissioned to create the NYCB’s 422nd new ballet, Paz de la Jolla.  Over the course of the next two months, Peck collaborates with musicians, lighting designers, costume designers and his fellow dancers to create this new production.

My Thoughts on The Babadook

TheBabadookA mysterious pop-up book results in terror for a single mother and her child in the Australian horror film The Babadook.  Amelia (Essie Davis) is a single mother, who struggles to care for her six year old son Samuel (Noah Wiseman).  Suffering from apparent behavioural problems, Samuel is obsessed with finding and killing monsters, which includes developing weapons.  One night, when asked by Amelia to choose a bedtime story, Samuel picks a mysterious pop-up book off the shelf entitled “Mister Babadook,” about a malevolent boogeyman.  After reading the book, Samuel begins to believe that The Babadook is coming after them.  While Amelia initially believes this to be more of her son’s delusions, strange happenings around the house causes her to realize that this boogeyman might actually be real.

Hot Docs Doc Soup: The Hunting Ground

thehuntingground

From Academy Award nominated filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering (The Invisible War) comes this examination of the epidemic of sexual assault on college and university campuses all across the United States.  One in five women on U.S. college campuses experience sexual assaults, however very few are willing to report them, due to inaction and victim blaming from both the administration and legal authorities.  Some of the survivors of sexual assault, such as University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill students Andrea Pino and Annie Clark, become fed up at this campus rape culture and decide to take action into their own hands.

Trailer: Mr. Holmes

mr-holmes

Ian McKellen reunites with Gods and Monsters director Bill Condon to play an elderly Sherlock Holmes in Mr. Holmes.  It is definitely an interesting concept to have a film about the world’s greatest detective solving one last case at an age when he’s not as sharp as he used to be.  There isn’t really all that much revealed about the specific plot of Mr. Holmes in this first teaser trailer, other than the fact Holmes’ main companion in this film is a boy named Roger.  I will definitely be interested in checking out Mr. Holmes when it is released later this year.

A Tribute to John Candy

JohnCandy

It is hard to believe that twenty years have now passed since Canadian comedian John Candy tragically passed away on March 4, 1994 at the age of 43.  With a career that began in the mid-1970s, Candy became known for his role on the television series “SCTV,” before becoming a movie star in the 1980s and early 1990s with role in now classic films, such as Splash, Spaceballs, Planes, Trains, & Automobiles, Uncle Buck, and Home Alone.  In 1991, Candy became a minority owner for the Toronto Argonauts football team and regularly appeared in the team’s television commercials.  Towards the end of his lifetime, Candy tried to branch out into more dramatic roles, including a role as a shady lawyer in Oliver Stone’s JFK.  Tragically, Candy died of a heart attack in 1994, while he was in Mexico filming the movie Wagon’s East.  The film ended up being the first of two posthumous releases for Candy, with Candy’s final film being Michael Moore’s satire Canadian Bacon in 1995.