Thursday, 27 December 2007

Favourite Films of 2007

I love reading all the end of year lists, and sometimes I want to make mine before I've read any of them but this year that so didn't happy. Which is just fine and dandy as many of the films that are topping the top tens and such are ones I've not seen and I dare say a few I do not intend to see. But, considering there were 314 releases this year there are many films and lists and opinions to go around.

To have an idea of where I'm coming from, at the time of this post I've seen 46 of the 314 releases this year (14.6%), including 12 of the 36 Canadian films (30%). Both of these percentages are up from last year, woohoo! I think getting out to the theatre every week, as well as attending festival really played a part there.

The Films

The Good: Very fine Entertainment choices
3:10 to Yuma
Fido (New genre! The Zombie Drama)
Hairspray
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Namesake, The
Stomp the Yard

The Great: New Favourites to add to collection
300
Away From Her
Bourne Ultimatum, The
Golden Compass, The
Host, The / Gwoemul
Hot Fuzz
Let's All Hate Toronto
Sharkwater
Sunshine
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Above and Beyond: These Ones Go To 11! Breakthrough films that I will always remember
After the Wedding / Efter brylluppet
Brand Upon the Brain!
King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
Once

The Experiences

Best Experience:
There are so many good ones, this year it's a tie between seeing Brand Upon the Brain! at the Elgin with live accompaniment and seeing Uwe Boll at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival.

Oddest Experience: Being the only person in the theatre for a film

Worst Experience: Getting yelled at by a patron whom thought my friend & I shouldn't be laughing during The Queen. Mean man!

Disappointments: Transformers, Margot at the Wedding, The Darjeeling Limited

Almost wish I'd Never Seen: Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead

Surprized I Didn't See: This is England, The Wind that Shakes the Barely, La Vie En Rose

Festivals
2007 was also a year of festivals, likely to be the first of many to come headed out to TIFF, Toronto After Dark, Reel Asian and One Minute. I'd have to say that Toronto After Dark was the *most* fun and had great audiences, and Reel Asian had the best overall quality of films. Kudo's all around!

The Rest

Considering I made it through a whopping 278 film in 2007 (as of Dec 27/07), if only feels fair to mention some of the great films that that I enjoyed during this year, even if they were not released this year. So, here are the odds and sods:

Great films seen in 2007 that is a previous year release: Eyes Without A Face, Night of the Hunter, Rashômon, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, Barbarella, The Seventh Seal

Great films seen in 2007 that is yet to be released: Boy A, Flash Point, Finishing the Game, Le Cèdre penché, My Winnipeg

That was my year. How was yours?

Once

Writer/Dir: John Carney (On the Edge)
Cast: Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová
Ireland, 2007

Seen: September 20/07 at the Carlton

Reason to see: Across-the-board positive reviews, so I headed out to See 1 film a week in the theatre for a year, this is week 39/52.

This was on my list to see for so long, and I am thrilled that it had a really long run in the theatre (thank you Carlton theatre!), it's unusual these days that a May release would still be kickin' around in September.

There is a beautiful understated-ness to this film that upon initially feels simple but I believe it is really truth. You feel the truth. Rarely does music I've heard for the first time bring tears to my eyes, but in this film it did. You could feel it the music, to the core of your being. I haven't even mentioned the story! I'm not sure you would really need to know much about it, other than it's about finding your way. Two people finding their way. Yep, that's enough.

Shannon's Overall View:
It is one of the most amazing films I've seen
I'll buy it, and the soundtrack too
I'd recommend it to everyone

5 minutes of preshow including 1 commercial and 2 previews: Elizabeth: The Golden Age, El Cantante

Return to Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2007

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

Dir: Seth Gordon - directorial feature film debut
Documentary on arcade video gamers
USA, 2007

Seen: December 9/07 at the Bloor

Reason to see: Did you see the description? Arcade video gamers documentary. Oh my. Also, this film has received critical acclaim amongst many in the online film community. It is week 51/52 for See 1 film a week in the theatre for a year.

Who knew there was a community dedicated to the classic arcade games? Who knew people still played classic arcade games, and had tournaments, tracked scores. I didn't. That was before watching The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. The film focuses on the journey of underdog Steve Wiebe, who decides to take a crack at breaking the world record score for Donkey Kong, set in 1982 by Billy Mitchell. But it goes so much further than just the game and delves into the world of the gamers, scorekeepers and how it affects so many parts of their lives. It has some of the best lines I've heard in ages, and that is saying something coming from a documentary. It's an unbelievable journey into lands unknown full of barrels and bytes and it is one wild ride that I would be happy to take again.

It was great to see this in the theatre, as their was tons of energy in the room was we all giggled and cheered together.

Shannon's Overall View:
I loved it
I'll buy it
I highly recommend it, to gamers and non gamers alike

Return to Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Brand Upon the Brain!

Dir: Guy Maddin (The Saddest Music in the World, Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary, My Winnipeg)
Cast: Sullivan Brown, Maya Lawson, Gretchen Krich, Katherine E. Scharhon
Canada/USA, 2007

Seen: June 5/07 at the Elgin Theatre

Reason to see: Guy Maddin silent film shown for 1 night at the gorgeous Elgin theatre with live narration, musicians and foley artists. Um, yes - I will be going! This also counts as week 24/52 for See 1 film a week in the theatre for a year.

This was amazing. Spectacular. Wonderous. No one can create worlds like Guy Maddin can. The atmosphere of nostalgia, the powerful emotions, the unlikely yet captivating plot. Every moment is brilliant. It's all in a flurry and with a bizarre set of characters you find yourself possibly trying to catch every moment, when you really just need to settle back and let it all unfold, and unfold it does. One of the most remarkable films I have ever seen.

Shannon's Overall View:
It was one of the most amazing film experiences - ever!
I'll buy it
I highly recommend it

Return to Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2007

2007 Releases

Complete listing of films released in theatres in Toronto during 2007.

Total films releases: 314
Canadian: 36 (notated with *, includes co-productions)
Re-releases: 1 of previously released films

2 Days in Paris
2:37
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days / 4 luni, 3 saptamani si 2 zile
10 Canoes
10 Questions for the Dalai Lama
11th Hour, The
13 Tzameti
28 Weeks Later...
3:10 to Yuma
30 Days of Night
300
1408
After the Wedding / Efter brylluppet
Air Guitar Nation
Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem
Alpha Dog
Alvin and the Chipmunks
Amazing Grace
American Gangster
American Venus *
Amu
Angel-A
Arctic Tale
Are We Done Yet?
Arthur and the Invisibles / Arthur et les Minimoys
Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, The
Astronaut Farmer, The
Atonement
August Rush
Aura, The / El Aura
Avenue Montaigne / Orchestra Seats
Awake
Away From Her *
Balls of Fury
Because I Said So
Becoming Jane
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
Beowulf
Black Book / Zwartboek
Black Snake Moan
Blade Runner: The Final Cut **originally released 1982
Blades of Glory
Blood and Chocolate
Bodybuilder and I, The *
Bolly Double / The Lookalike
Boss of it All, The / Direktøren for det hele
Bourne Ultimatum, The
Boy Culture
Brand Upon the Brain!*
Bratz
Breach
Breakfast with Scot *
Breaking and Entering
Bride of Silence / Hat mua roi bao lau
Bridge to Terabithia
Brothers Solomon, The
Bubble, The
Bucket List, The
Bug
Caimano, Il / The Caiman
Cantante, El
Captivity
Catch and Release
Cemetery Club, The / Moadon beit hakvarot
Charlie Wilson's War
Citizen Duane *
Civic Duty *
Close to Home / Karov La Bayit
Comebacks, The
Condemned, The
Congorama *
Control
Crossing *
Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash, A
Daddy Day Camp
Daddy's Little Girls
Dan in Real Life
Darfur Now
Darjeeling Limited, The
Day Watch / Dnevnoy Dozor
Days of Glory / Indigènes
Dead Silence
Death at a Funeral
Death Sentence
Delta Farce
Disturbia
Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The / Le Scaphandre et le papillon
Eagle vs. Shark
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Enchanted
Epic Movie
Evan Almightly
Evening
Everything's Gone Green *
Ex, The
Factory Girl
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Fay Grim
Feast of Love
Feel the Noise
Fido *
Firehouse Dog
First Snow
Flying Scotsman, The
Fracture
Fred Claus
Freedom Writers
French Guy, The *
Game Plan, The
Georgia Rule
Ghost Rider
God Grew Tired of Us
Golden Door / Nuovomodo
Golden Compass, The
Gone Baby Gone
Good Luck Chuck
Gracie
Great Debaters, The
Greg & Gentillon *
Grindhouse
Gypsy Caravan
Hairspray
Halloween
Hannibal Rising
Happily N'Ever After
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Hatchet
Heartbreak Kid, The
Hills Have Eyes 2 , The
Hitcher, The
Hitman
Hoax , The
Host, The / Gwoemul
Hostel Part II, Eli Roths'
Hot Fuzz
Hot Rod
How to Cook Your Life
I Am Legend
I Know Who Killed Me
I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry
I Think I Love My Wife
I'm Not There
In the Land of Women
In the Shadow of the Moon
In the Valley of Elah
Inland Empire
Interview
Into the Wild
Introducing the Dwights / Clubland
Invasion, The
Invisible, The
Italian, The / Italianetz
Jane Austen Book Club, The
Jimmy Carter Man From Plains
Jindabyne
Joshua
Journey to Armenia / Le Voyage en Arménie
Juno
Kickin' it Old Skool
King of California
King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, The
Kingdom, The
Kite Runner, The
Klimt
Knocked Up
La Vie en Rose / Ma Mome
Lady Chatterley
Lars and the Real Girl
Last Legion, The
Last Mimzy, The
Last Sin Eater , The
Let's All Hate Toronto *
Letters from Iwo Jima
Licence to Wed
Lions for Lambs
Live Free or Die Hard
Lives of Others, The / Das Leben der Anderen
Lookout, The
Love in the Time of Cholera
Love is Work *
Lucky You
Lust, Caution / Se, jie
Mama's Boy
Manufacturing Dissent *
Margot at the Wedding
Marsh, The *
Martian Child
Meet the Robinsons
Messengers, The
Michael Clayton
Mighty Heart, A
Miss Potter
Missing Victor Pellerin *
Mist, The
Moliere
Mount Pleasant *
Mr. Bean's Holiday
Mr. Brooks
Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium
Music and Lyrics
Music Within
My Best Friend / Mon Meilleur Ami
My Kid Could Paint That
Namesake, The
Nancy Drew
Nanny Diaries, The
National Treasure: Book of Secrets
Next
No Country for Old Men
No Reservations
Norbit
Number 23, The
Ocean's Thirteen
Offside
Once
Orphanage, The / El Orfanato
P2
P.S. I Love You
Page Turner, The / La Tourneuse de Pages
Paprika / Papurika
Paris, Je T'aime
Partition *
Pathfinder
Perfect Stranger
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
Pierrepoint: The Last Hangman
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Poor Boy's Game*
Premonition
Pride
Primeval
Provoked
Puffball
Radiant City *
Rails & Ties
Ratatouille
Reaping, The
Red Road
Redacted *
Reign Over Me
Rendition
Reno 911!: Miami
Rescue Dawn
Reservation Road
Resident Evil: Extinction
Resurrecting the Champ
Rise: Blood Hunter
Rocket Science
Romanzo Criminale
Rush Hour 3
Saawariya
Savages, The
Saw IV
Scenes of a Sexual Nature
Seeker: The Dark is Rising, The
Seven Swords / Chat gim
Severance
Shake Hands with the Devil *
Sharkwater *
Shoot 'Em Up
Shooter
Shrek the Third
Sicko
Silk *
Simpsons Movie, The
Skinwalkers
Sleeping Dogs *
Sleuth
Smokin' Aces
Spiderman 3
Stardust
Starter for 10
Stomp the Yard
Stone's Throw, A *
Sunflower / Xiang ri kui
Sunshine
Superbad
Sur la Trace d'Igor Rizzi / On the Trail of Igor Rizzi *
Surf's Up
Surviving My Mother *
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Sweet Mud / Adama Meshuga'at
Sydney White
Talk To Me
Terror's Advocate / L'avocat de la terreur
That Beautiful Somewhere *
Things We Lost in the Fire, The
This Christmas
This is England
TMNT
Tracey Fragments, The *
Transformers
Ultimate Gift, The
Underdog
Vacancy
Valet, The / La Boublure
Venus
Vitus
Waitress
Walk All Over Me *
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
War
We Own the Night
Weirdsville *
White Masai, The / Weisse Massai, Die
Who Loves the Sun *
Why Did I Get Married
Wild Hogs
Wind that Shakes the Barley, The
Year of the Dog
You Kill Me
Young Triffie *
Your Mommy Kills Animals
Zodiac

*incidates film as Canadian or Canadian co-pro

Please note this list of releases reflects first run film released in Toronto, Ontario, Canada as of December 28, 2007

2006 Releases

Complete listing of films released in theatres in Toronto during 2006.

Total films releases: 317
Canadian: 40 (notated with *, includes co-productions)
Re-releases: 3 of previously released films.

3 Needles *
12 and Holding
16 Blocks
Accepted
Akeelah and the Bee
Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker
All the King’s Men
American Dreamz
American Hardcore
Annapolis
Ant Bully, The
Apocalypto
Aquamarine
Art School Confidential
Ask The Dust
ATL
Babel
Basic Instinct 2
Barnyard
Beerfest
The Benchwarmers
Beowulf and Grendel *
Big Momma's House 2
Black Christmas *
Black Dahlia, The
Black Eyed Dog *
Blood Diamond
Bloodrayne
Bobby
Bon Cop, Bad Cop *
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Boynton Beach Club, The
The Break-Up
Brick
Cache / Hidden
Cars
Casino Royale
Catch A Fire
Charlotte's Web
Cheech *
Clerks II
Click
Children of Men
Covenant, The
Confetti
Conversations with God
Conversations With Other Women
Crank
Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul
CSA: The Confederate States of America
Curious George
Curse of the Golden Flower / Man cheng jin dai huang jin jia
Da Vinci Code, The
Date Movie
Dave Chappelle's Block Party
Dear Wendy
Death of a President
Deck the Halls
Déjà Vu
Deliver Us From Evil
Departed, The
Descent, The
Devil and Daniel Johnston, The
Devil Wears Prada, The
District B13 / Banlieue B13
Don't Come Knocking
Doogal
Down in the Valley
Dreamgirls
Dreamland
Driving Lessons
Eight Below
Employee of the Month
L'Enfant / The Child
Eragon
Eve and the Fire Horse *
Everyone's Hero *
Failure to Launch
Familia *
Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, The
Fast Food Nation
Fateless / Sorstalansag
Final Destination 3
Firewall
Flags of Our Fathers
Flicka
Flushed Away
Flyboys
For Your Consideration
Fountain, The
Free Zone
Freedomland
Friends with Money
Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus
Gabrielle
Garfield: A Tail fo Two Kitties
Glory Road
Good German, The
Good Shepherd, The
Good Woman, A
Good Year, A
Grandma's Boy
Gridiron Gang
Grudge, The
Guardian, The
Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, A
Guy X *
Half Nelson
Hamster Cage, The *
Happy Feet
Hard Candy *
Harsh Times
Hate Crime
Heart of the Game, The
Hills Have Eyes, The
History Boys, The
Holiday, The
Hollywoodland
Hoodwinked!
Hoot
Hostel
House of Sand / Casa de Areia
How to Eat Fried Worms
Ice Age: The Meltdown
Idiocracy
Idlewild
Illusionist, The
Imagine Me and You
Inconvenient Truth, An
Infamous
Inside Man
Into the Great Silence / Große Stille, Die
Invincible
Jackass Number Two
Jet Li’s Fearless / Huo Yuan Jia
John Tucker Must Die
Journals of Knud Rasmussen, The *
Joyeux Noel
Just My Luck
Kamataki *
Kardia *
Karla
Keane
Keeping Mum
Keeping up With the Steins
King, The
Kinky Boots
Lady Vengeance / Chinjeolhan geumjassi
Lady in the Water
Lake House, The
Larry The Cable Guy: Health Inspector
Last Holiday
Last King of Scotland, The
Last Kiss, The
Last Trapper, The / Le Dernier Trappeur *
Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man
Let's Go to Prison
Libertine, The
Limb Salesman, The *
Little Children
Little Fish
Little Man
Little Miss Sunshine
Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World
Lost City, The
Lucid *
Lucky Number Slevin
Madea's Family Reunion
Man of the Year
Manufactured Landscapes *
Marie Antoinette
Marine, The
Matador, The
Match Point
Material Girls
Metal: A Headbanger's Journey *
Miami Vice
Mission Impossible III
Mistress of Spices
Monkey Warfare *
Monster House
My Super Ex-Girlfriend
Nacho Libre
Nanny McPhee
Nativity Story, The
Neil Young: Heart of Gold
New World, The
Niagara Motel *
Night at the Museum
Night Listener, The
Night Watch / Nochnoi Dozor
Notes on a Scandal
The Notorious Bettie Page
Omagh
The Omen
On A Clear Day
Only Human / Seres Queridos
Open Season
Over the Hedge
Painted Veil, The
Paperback Hero * - re-release
Pan's Labyrinth
Passenger - re-release
Peaceful Warrior
La Petite Jerusalem / Little Jerusalem Phat Girlz
The Pink Panther
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Poseidon
Prairie Home Companion, A
Prestige, The
Promise, The / Wu ji
Proposition, The
Protector, The/ Tom yum goong
Pulse
Pure *
Pursuit of Happyness, The
Queen, The
Quiet, The
Quinceañera
R. V.
Rainbow Raani
Return, The
Rhinoceros Eyes
Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles / Qian li zou dan qi
Road to Guantanamo, The
Rocket, The / Maurice Richard *
Rocky Balboa
Running Scared
Running with Scissors
Salt
Santa Clause 3: The Escape, The
Saw III
Scanner Darkly, A
Scary Movie 4
School for Scoundrels
Science of Sleep, The / La Science des rêves
Scoop
Secret Life of Words, The / La Vida Secreta de las Palabras
See No Evil
Sentinel, The
Shadowboxer
Shaggy Dog, The
She's the Man
Shooting Dogs
Shortbus
Shut Up and Sing
Silent Hill
Simple Curve, A *
Six Figures *
Sketches of Frank Gehry
Sleeping Does Lie
Slither *
Snakes on a Plane
Snow Cake *
Something New
Sophie Scholl: The Final Days
Souvenir of Canada *
Spymate *
Stay Alive
Step Up
Stick It
Stranger than Fiction
Strangers With Candy
Sun, The / Solntse
A Sunday in Kigali / Un dimanche à Kigali *
Superman Returns
Switch Off / Apaga Y Vamanos
Take the Lead
Tales of the Rat Fink *
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
Thank You For Smoking
These Girls *
Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, The
Three Times / Zui hao de shi guang
Through the Fire
Tideland
Tim Burton's A Nightmare Before Christmas in 3D
Trailer Park Boys: The Movie *
Tristan & Isolde
Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
Trust the Man
Tsotsi
Turistas
Typhoon / Taepung
U-Carmen Ekhayelitsha
U.S. vs. John Lennon, The
Ultraviolet
Unaccompanied Minors
Underworld: Evolution
United 93
Unnatural & Accidental *
V for Vendetta
Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj
Vers le Sud / Heading South *
Volver
Wah-Wah
War Within, The
We Are Marshall
What the Bleep!? - Down the Rabbit Hole
When Do We Eat?
When A Stranger Calls
The White Countess
Who Killed the Electric Car
Whole New Thing *
Why We Fight *
Wicker Man, The
The Wild
Wordplay
World Trade Center
The Worlds Fastest Indian
X-Men: The Last Stand
Year in the Death of Jack Richards, A *
You, Me and Dupree
Zoom

*incidates film as Canadian or Canadian co-pro

please note list of releases reflects first run film released in Toronto, Ontario, Canada as of December 29, 2006

Thursday, 20 December 2007

I Am Legend

Dir: Francis Lawrence (Constantine)
Cast: Will Smith
USA, 2007

Seen: December 17/07 at Scotiabank, in IMAX

Reason to see: My last week on See 1 film a week in the theatre for a year!

I did find it believeable, I wasn't finding (or looking) for continuity holes nor did I question the science/technology aspect of the film. Wow, I must have not been very impressed with the film if that is an opening sentence. I found that for the majority of the film thinking Will Smith is a better actor than this. I thought he was excellent in Ali and enjoyable in Hitch, but I was thinking way to much about the performance instead of just enjoying the film. I think it is a fun action film, it has a great story and a fair amount of cleverness but it did not win me over upon this viewing. However I will admit I didn't find myself initially drawn to this film, which is surprizing given that it is scifi in nature and that can often mean I am first in line! I think it is because I've enjoyed so many more foreign and independent films this year and avoided the majority of Hollywood blockbusters.

Shannon's Overall View:
I found it switched between scary and slow
I'd try watching it again
I'd recommend it for action and scifi (of the post apocalyptic nature) fans

15 minutes of preshow including a 4 minute IMAX 'lightshow' and 3 previews including Spiderwick, Shine a Light and The Dark Knight, which was more like a 5 minute long clip as opposed to a preview. Initially I thought it actually was I Am Legend as there was no 'Mr Moviefone' or similar voice over.

Return to Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

52 weeks in the theatre - 52/52 weeks!

Photobucket

Completed: December 27/06 - December 18/07

I think it is fitting that it started where it all began, although what was the 'Paramount' Theatre is now 'Scotiabank'. I had a few tries before this worked out, third time was definitely the charm and I didn't really get into the groove of it until around summer (amazing how much easier it was to fit in after my gym membership ran out). But, then it just became the norm to do as so many habits are. It was also easier to do when I stuck to the same day of the week, Tuesday was movie day and that was that. Sometimes I saw films strictly due to the convenience of the time they were being shown at but that did not provide me with the best films to see.

Here are the numbers:
52 consecutive weeks of seeing films in the theatre
119 films seen
6 is the most films seen in 1 day
0 walkouts (although I was very close to doing so at Poultrygeist)

Some highlights and lowlights:

Feb 4/07 headed out to see 2 films due to loss of heat in my apartment. 10C isn't fun. Did I mention this was Superbowl Sunday and although it did get resolved that day the heat went off again the next day?

June 5, 2007 seeing Brand Upon the Brain at the Elgin theatre, an amazing silent film by Guy Maddin with live orchestra, narration and foley artists. Truly awesome experience!

One film, which I'll leave unnamed, I was the only person in the audience. Surreal.

Schizophrenic summer. LOVED the films I saw at the beginning of the summer: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Sunshine, The Bourne Ultimatum and Hairspray, but was disappointed towards the end with: Transformers, The Last Legion and War. Ok to be fair I wasn't expecting much from The Last Legion.

Where to watch? The majority of films I saw either at Scotiabank (great venue for sound/picture, stadium seating) or The Bloor (great selection of old and new-ish, often a festival venue, surprizingly good sightlines and I love that I can get change back from a $5 with a medium popcorn with real butter and a tea). I still love the selection at the Carlton especially for foreign film, but I wasn't over there as much.

Best Experience - TIFF Midnight Madness showing of SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO. Unbelievable energy in the room, 2 members of the cast at the preshow introduction and freaking awesome film to boot. What a ride.

Click here for the full list of films seen in the theatre during the 52 weeks.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Angel-A

Writer/Dir: Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, The Professional, La Femme Nikita)
Cast: Rie Rasmussen, Jamel Debbouze, Gilbert Melki, Serge Riaboukine
France, 2007

Seen: June 27/07 at the Royal

Reason to see: Luc Besson is one of my favourite directors, also as week 27 for 52 weeks of seeing film in the theatre in a row.

I'm a long time fan on Luc Besson and I'll admit after seeing the preview for this I was a little hesitant about seeing the film. Although it promised unconventional relationship, a strong female character and a lot of visual style and being in black and white to boot. All of that on paper seems completely great. What made me hesitate was some of the gender dynamics and an odd reoccurring focus of the camera to between Angel-a's legs. Now, Besson has historically had fantastic female characters in his films (La Femme Nikita, The Fifth Element), so I thought I would let that go as maybe I was reading too much into it. Unfortunately I wasn't, it was oddly predominant in the film and although I believe they were going in essence an empowering thing and/or that is wasn't about gender but character, but it didnt't really work for me. Putting that aside, the films actual main focus is a down on his luck guy for whom an angel drops from the sky to take care of him. There are moral questions that come into play, the two have and interesting dynamic and it is well shot. Overall, it wasn't one that I overly enjoyed and unlike many films this year it was the film that the preview represented.

Shannon's Overall View:
It was not to my taste
I'll likely not watch it again
I'd recommend it to those who enjoy quirky French films and don't mind some gender crap

preshow included no commercials and 3 previews: Manufacturing Dissent, Red Road and The Boss of it All

Return to Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Saturday, 15 December 2007

After the Wedding / Efter brylluppet

Dir: Susanne Bier (Brothers / Brødre, Open Hears / Elsker dig for evigt)
Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Rolf Lassgård, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Stine Fischer Christensen
Denmark/Sweden, 2007

Seen: May 20/07 at Carlton

Reason to see: Nominated for Best foreign language film of the year for the 79th Academy Awards, also for week 21 of see 1 film a week in the theatre for a year

Rarely does a film leave such a strong impression on me as After the Wedding did. After seeing it, I wanted everyone I know to see it, I didn't want to say what it was about or set it up just to get them out there to see it. I don't know of anyone who wouldn't get something from it, and honestly if I had read a plot synopsis about the film it may not have gotten me to see it. Although it's strongly plot based, it's a film seeped in emotions and family dynamics. I've not had such an emotional reaction to a film since watching Whale Rider (read: lots of kleenex required). Don't let the kleenex stop you if that isn't your thing, it's touching but not sentimental. It's believable, powerful and can make you mad all at the same time. The strength of the film clearly lies in the brilliant acting of the core characters the only one whom would likely to be known on this side of the pond is likely Mads Mikkelsen for his role as Le Chiffre in Casino Royale (2006).

This will likely be my favourite foreign film of 2007, and I say 2007 as that was the year of it's release here in Toronto.

Shannon's Overall View:
I loved it
I'll buy it
I give it my highest recommendation

6 minutes of preshow including 1 commercials and 2 previews : I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and Angel-A

More Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Golden Globe Nominations 2007 (films only)

Best Motion Picture – Drama
American Gangster
Atonement
Eastern Promises
The Great Debaters
Michael Clayton
No Country For Old Men
There Will Be Blood

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama
Cate Blanchett – Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie – Away From Her
Jodie Foster – The Brave One
Angelina Jolie – A Mighty Heart
Keira Knightley – Atonement

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama
George Clooney – Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis – There Will Be Blood
James McAvoy – Atonement
Viggo Mortensen – Eastern Promises
Denzel Washington – American Gangster

Best Motion Picture - Musical Or Comedy
Across The Universe
Charlie Wilson's War
Hairspray
Juno
Sweeney Todd

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Amy Adams – Enchanted
Nikki Blonsky – Hairspray
Helena Bonham Carter – Sweeney Todd
Marion Cotillard – La Vie En Rose
Ellen Page – Juno

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical Or Comedy
Johnny Depp – Sweeney Todd
Ryan Gosling – Lars and the Real Girl
Tom Hanks – Charlie Wilson's War
Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Savages
John C. Reilly – Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

Best Performance by an Actress In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Cate Blanchett – I'm Not There
Julia Roberts – Charlie Wilson's War
Saoirse Ronan – Atonement
Amy Ryan – Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton – Michael Clayton

Best Performance by an Actor In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Casey Affleck – The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem – No Country For Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman – Charlie Wilson's War
John Travolta – Hairspray
Tom Wilkinson – Michael Clayton

Best Animated Feature Film
Bee Movie
Ratatouille
The Simpsons Movie

Best Foreign Languge Film
4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days - Romania
The Diving Bell And The Butterfly - France/United States
The Kite Runner - United States
Lust, Caution - Taiwan
Persepolis - France

Best Director - Motion Picture
Tim Burton – Sweeney Todd
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen – No Country For Old Men
Julian Schnabel – The Diving Bell And The Butterfly
Ridley Scott – American Gangster
Joe Wright – Atonement

Best Screenplay - Motion Picture
Atonement
Charlie Wilson's War
The Diving Bell And The Butterfly
Juno
No Country For Old Men

Best Original Score - Motion Picture

Grace Is Gone - Composed by Clint Eastwood
The Kite Runner - Composed by Alberto Iglesias
Atonement - Composed by Dario Marianelli
Eastern Promises - Composed by Howard Shore
Into The Wild - Composed by Eddie Vedder

Best Original Song - Motion Picture
"Despedida" – Love In The Time Of Cholera
Music By: Shakira and Antonio Pinto
Lyrics By: Shakira

"Grace Is Gone" – Grace Is Gone
Music By: Clint Eastwood
Lyrics By: Carole Bayer Sager

"Guaranteed" – Into The Wild
Music & Lyrics By: Eddie Vedder

"That's How You Know" – Enchanted
Music & Lyrics By: Alan Menken

"Walk Hard" – Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
Music & Lyrics By: Judd Apatow, Kasdan, John C. Reilly and Marshall Crenshaw

Cecil B. DeMille Award - Steven Spielberg

for more info see: www.goldenglobes.org/nominations

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Canada's Top Ten 2007 Announced

Exciting news for Canadian film, Canada's Top Ten for 2007 has been announced. I'm thrilled to see My Winnipeg on the list, a masterpiece by the one, the only Guy Maddin. Overall it is a well rounded selection of films, and like last year the majority of the films have not be out in regular theatre release. In Toronto, only 2 have shown outside festival settings: Eastern Promises and The Tracey Fragments. We do have an opportunity to see the films as they shown at Cinematheque January 25 - February 5, 2008 (see schedule here, buy tickets here).

Canada's Top Ten 2007:

L'âge des ténèbres / Days of Darkness
Director: Denys Arcand

Amal
Director: Richie Mehta

Continental, un film sans fusil / Continental, a Film Without Guns
Director: Stéphane Lafleur

Eastern Promises
Director: David Cronenberg

Fugitive Pieces
Director: Jeremy Podeswa

My Winnipeg
Director: Guy Maddin

A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel Dorfman
Director: Peter Raymont

The Tracey Fragments
Director: Bruce McDonald

Up the Yangtze
Director: Yung Chang

Young People Fucking
Director: Martin Gero

Canadian Top Ten short films list:

Code 13
by Mathieu L. Denis

The Colony
by Jeff Barnaby

Dust Bowl Ha! Ha!
by Sebastien Pilote

Farmer's Requiem
by Ramses Madina

Les Grands
by Chloe Leriche

I Have Seen the Future
by Cam Christiansen

I Met the Walrus
by Josh Raskin

Madame Tutli-Putli
by Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski

Pool
by Chris Chong Chan Fui

Terminus
by Trevor Cawood

Canada's Top Ten was established in 2001 by the Toronto International Film Festival Group to honour excellence Canadian film.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

One Minute Film and Video Festival 2007

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2007 marks the 5th year for the One Minute Film and Video Festival. Every year there is a theme for the festival and for 2007 the theme is Secrets. This theme provided us with many films to see, and I was surprized at how often I was thinking during the film: What's the secret? It must have been a challenge to hide and reveal a secret in a mere sixty seconds.

With 52 films it was not easy to hold in the noggin' what happened in each and every one. Thankfully the festival provides views with a program that lists each of the one minute wonders along with a still shot. I for one, say a hearty "Thank you!" for the lovely memory jogger.

Here are the stand outs:

Compelling:

Beijing 2007
Tania Ursomarzo
Beautiful and tender moments of a flower in a glass

Ice9
Evan Trapper
A wealth of expression, and ice

Hilarious:

No Cigar
Colin McIvor
This one got my vote for best. Perfect in every sense of the word.

Spoilers!
Daniel Cockburn & Jeff Szpirglas
Spoilers indeed, each and every one

Coming out of Context
Powzy Dewhurst
Brilliant reinterpretation of the Archie comics

Creepy:

Nobody Listens to a Hysterical Woman
Penny Lane & Jesse Stiles
Intense and successful at creating a truly uncomfortable environment

This Thing is Bigger than the Both of Use: These Are Facts
Daniel Cockburn
Effective and tense

Indescribable:

Deer-Leg Nun-Chucks
Joe Hambleton
Best name out of the short, and bizarre film to boot!

The festival was a lot of fun, great energy in the room and was rounded off with awards presentation. It really packed a lot into one great night. I highly recommend checking it out next year and the years to come.

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Matthew C. Brown and Meredith Dault presenting honourable mention to Evan Tapper for Ice9

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Matthew C. Brown, Meredith Dault presenting award for animation to Flemish Beauty for The Inquisitive Snail

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The 5th One Minute Film and Video Festival was on November 22 2007 at the Bloor Cinema, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Margot at the Wedding

Writer/Dir: Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale, Kicking and Screaming)
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jack Black, Zane Pais, Ciarán Hinds, John Turturro, Halley Feiffer
USA, 2007

Seen: November 29/07 at Cumberland

Reason to see: I really enjoyed The Squid and the Whale, and the preview intrigued me. It's also my weekly film for See 1 film a week in the theatre for a year, this is week 49/52.

What drew me to seeing Margot at the Wedding was the preview. It showed what appeared to be a non traditional yet supportive family who were all quirky in their own ways. It also showed the two leads, Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Jason Leigh in very 'regular person' light. When I found out it was directed by Noah Baubach who gave us The Squid and the Whale, I was convinced to get out there and see it. Although all the majority of the previous statements are true of the film, every new element it showed made the characters less likeable and less interesting. There was no one to root for, and that is something that always blows out the pilot light of interest for me. There was some strong dialogue throughout the film, but it was not as strong as The Squid and the Whale and the majority of the powerful moments were shown in the preview.

Shannon's Overall View:
I was disappointed
I'd try watching it again
I'd recommend it to those who enjoy dramatic films about miserable people

roughly 10 minutes of preshow including 10 commercials, and previews : The Diving Bell & the Butterfly, The Kite Runner, There Will Be Blood, Poor Boy's Game and Atonement

Return to Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Beowulf

Dir: Robert Zemeckis (The Polar Express, Cast Away, What Lies Beneath, Forrest Gump)
Cast: Ray Winstone, Robin Wright Penn, Angelina Jolie, Alison Lohman, Crispin Glover, Anthony Hopkins, John Malkovich
USA

Seen: December 4/07 at Scotiabank

Reason to see: It's Epic! It's Beowulf! Also nearing an end to my See 1 film a week in the theatre for a year, this is week 50/52.

I will be the first to admit I was surprized not to enjoy this film. Epic story, new/inventive visual technique of blending live action into animation and great characters. While all those are true, it did not hold my interest. I will note that is available to be seen in 3D and I saw it in a regular theatre setting (I can't see in 3D). I believe that if seen in 3D it would be a lot more fun, but in the regular theatre it's quite goofy seeing things flung directly at the screen. I also found the animation distraction - sometimes it looks animated, sometimes it looks so real that it felt inconsistent as a whole, and other than the 3D factor and I don't know why they would choose to do a film like that. That being said I did think the landscape and use of colour for the visuals was quite effective. I feel that the animation they used was like selective visual sampling, this face with that body and this voice. Which is such a shame, I think all of the actors involved would have provided us with a great film had it been live action.

Although there were a few good action sequences I was a little surprized by how some of them were treated. There was also a fair amount of gender crap, and of course with a story set in 507 AD I would expect that to some extent but this went a little beyond and a little bizarre. I wish they had focused more on the characters and the story rather than the spectacle.

Warnings: Violence, gender crap

There is a lot of shock-buzz about the fact that this film is rated PG-13, and that is the American rating because here in Canada it has a 14A rating, which I believe to be more appropriate. I don't usually comment on ratings but this film is quite violent and suggestive for PG-13.

Shannon's Overall View:
I thought it was goofy
I might watch it again if it was on
I'd recommend it as a fun movie for 3D and action fans

21 minutes of preshow including 14 commercials, and 5 previews : Wanted, Jumper, The Golden Compass, Cloverfield and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Return to Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Saturday, 8 December 2007

The Golden Compass

Writer/Dir: Chris Weitz (About A Boy)
Cast: Dakota Blue Richards, Freddie Highmore, Sir Ian McKellen, Nicole Kidman, Jim Carter, Sam Elliot, Daniel Craig, Eva Green
USA/UK, 2007

Seen: December 7, 2007 at Scotiabank Theatre

Reason to see: It was Jamie's pick for her birthday!

Based on the Philip Pullman novel of the same name, The Golden Compass is fun fantasy film. I enjoyed many aspects including the world in which it was set, the fact that people had daemons (creature companions) and of course and outspoken and adventurous young girl. Oh how I wish there was a film such as this when I was growing up I would have seen it a millions times. I started reading the book just prior to seeing the film so it is hard to comment on the book to film accuracies in terms of plot but I will say that I felt they shifted some of the storytelling into the hands of the adult actors which I understand in theory as it would be a challenge to have so much of the film under the sole responsibility of a child actor. I'm not convinced with was the best choice, and it the film continues as a trilogy along with the books we shall see how it progresses. Out of the performances in the film I would have to say hands down that Sam Elliot supporting role was a wonderful part to the film.

On the whole the film does has some flaws be they continuity or some uneven pacing but I think it creates a great world and is likely to provoke very interesting conversations after viewing which in my opinion is always a good in sign. It even had moments that brought tears in my eyes. Whatever flaws it may have I forgive them without a doubt.

Shannon's Overall View:
It enjoyed it
I'll buy it
I recommend it, especially for girls

Return to Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2007

roughly 15 minutes of preshow including around 7 commercials and 5 previews: The Water Horse, Horton Hears a Who, Charlie Bartlett, Mad Money and Inkheart

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Stomp the Yard

Dir: Sylvain White
Cast: Columbus Short, Laz Alonso, Darrin Dewitt Henson, Meagan Good, Harry J. Lennix
USA, 2007

Seen: November 20, 2007 on TMN

Reason to see: It's a dance movie!!!

We have not has as many dance films in 2007 which is so sad, but we do have Stomp the Yard, which is a dance movie based on stepping and that makes things a little bit better. As with many dance films it is also a coming of age film and has a solid story and great characters. For a shift in the genre this film is focused on a male protagonist, DJ played by Columbus Short whom facings many challenges be they social, class or status but the one constant in his life is always dance. Numerous great dance sequences are shown throughout the film, but I would have to say the strength of the film is in the characters. Enjoyable from beginning to end.

Shannon's Overall View:
It enjoyed with enthusiasm
I've already watched it again numerous times, it goes on the 'to buy' list
I recommend it

Return to Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

December at Movie Moxie

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Ah, December. The month of snow, toques, holiday cheer and lists upon list of the year in review, awards nominations and predictions. As it is getting closer and closer to the end of the year I plan on looking back on what 2007 has brought us in the land of film. From releases as far back as January to just a few short weeks ago I will let you in on my thoughts of the films, experiences and insights to the year.

I've also decided to introduce something new, called my "Non-Reviews". These are films that I either turned off, or turned me off. Normally, I would just not review the films but I've committed to writing about all the films I've seen from March 5, 2006 to Dec 1, 2008 (and likely beyond) I found myself in a bit of a pickle. The creation of my "Non-Reviews" is my way of getting out of the pickle jar.

But, the good news is that I find films most films to be enjoyable on some level and I believe that 2007 has been quite a solid year for entertaining film. I am looking forward to exploring and sharing the year!

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Non-Reviews

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This list of "Non-Reviews" which are films that I either turned off, or turned me off.

That being said, I do always look for the positive side of things and my overall goal with reviews is to share what the experience of the film was like as well as provide enough information about the film so people can determine if it is a film they will enjoy, regardless if I 'liked' it or not. However, every once in a while I run across films that I can not recommend. I hope this does not become a long list.

There will be spoilers.

All reviews © Shannon Ridler, 2006-2010

Big Lebowski, The
Crank
Derailed
Embodiment of Evil / Encarnação do Demônio
Shoot 'Em Up
South of Heaven
Wild Bunch, The

Monday, 3 December 2007

My Favourite Westerns

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In November 2007 I decided to explore western films, for a variety of reasons ranging from wanting to define what a spaghetti western was, to having a month to focus on a topic and post every day (see my original thoughts here). One thing that was interesting that I found was that I didn't not spend a lot of time researching other than watching the films, looking and commenting on trending and pouring though a lot of the 'trivia' notes on imdb. I can now say that a spaghetti western is one that is lower budget, higher violence and produced by Italian studios (see wikipedia western link here, and don't go to the spaghetti western link unless you've seen all or most of them). So there was my 'real' research for the month.

Overall I found I liked the majority of the films that I saw. The ones that hold a special place in my heart are those which had great characters. They were not always 'good' people, but they were always charismatic and highly skilled. Often they were stand up folk, and a consistent theme was that of protecting the innocent or 'regular' people and that will always win me over.

Other themes that thread through the films are stories of money and power. This often involves a whole town but can also be between just a few people. These films were sometimes good but on the whole were not a sure-fire win for me. And one notch down from that were the films that were so strong on the violence that it's almost the only thing I can remember about them.

So, after 30 days of pouring through a film genre that on the whole I would say has the longest films, from shoot outs to stand offs here is a list of my favourite, and not so favourite, westerns. So far. Giddy up.

Loved
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
The Magnificent Seven
Seven Samurai / Shichinin no samurai
Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The
Shane
Outland
Holes
SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO
The Ox-Bow Incident

Enjoyed
Once Upon A Time in the West
Unforgiven
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
El Dorado
My Darling Clementine
A Fistful of Dollars

Indifferent
Lonestar
High Noon

Disliked
Proposition, The
High Plains Drifter
Wild Bunch, The
The Outlaw Josey Wales

Unseen:
Dances with Wolves
The Searchers
Stagecoach

Click here to see reviews by genre and here for more western reviews.

Your Favourite Westerns

Here are the poll results! Seems like Clint Eastwood really is 'the man' appearing in at least half of the choices. Thanks for voting!

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 25%
The Searchers 25%
The Magnificent Seven 12%
Pale Rider 12%
Unforgiven 12%
Other 12%

To see my favourite westerns, look here.

Friday, 30 November 2007

High Noon

Dir: Fred Zinneman (From Here to Eternity, The Day of the Jackel)
Cast: Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Lloyd Bridges, Lee Van Cleef
USA, 1952

Seen: May 6, 2007 thanks to Toronto Public Library

Reason to see: It’s on my 101 list of films I can't believe I haven't seen

This film reads a lot more sombre than many westerns. Even the opening sequence is paired with a song along the lines of a ballad as opposed to something lively, eerie or catchy. So right off the bad you know you are in for something different. Add to that, it's in real time. Add more to it, it's not overly long at 84 minutes but feels long and like not much is happening. I even wrote in my notes "Lots of build up, nothing has happened". There is an interesting premise in there, but I wanted more. Characters, story, punch, heart, anything... something, maybe even a little bit of everything but as long as there was more.

One thing to note is at the time of viewing I was not aware of the connection it was making to blacklisting.

Shannon's Overall View:
It did not hold my attention
I'd give it another shot
I'd recommend it to classics and real time film fans

Return to Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Thursday, 29 November 2007

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly / Il Buono, il brutto, il cattivo

Dir: Sergio Leone (A Fistful of Dollars, Once Upon A Time in the West)
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef
Italy/Spain, 1966

Seen: April 28, 2007 thanks to the Toronto Public Library

Reason to see: It’s on my 101 list of films I can't believe I haven't seen for being #4 on imdb's top 250

I was floored by this film, from the first moment the strikingly familiar music came on to the very end. In all the films I've come across on my 101 list, this along with Rashômon are two of the best films I have seen in my entire life. I watched it twice in 2 days, and it's over 3 hours long, that is how good it is. The acting is stellar, the cinematography is beyond words and it is rich with tension throughout. It explores a common theme for westerns (and many contemporary films) which is what people will do and how far they will go for money. There is a fair amount of violence which usually makes me less interest but somehow with this film it works. Everything works, it was sheer maddening joy to watch it unfold.

Warnings – Violence, torture

Shannon's Overall View:
I thought it excellent
I'll buy it
I’d recommend it

Return to Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

The Treasure of Sierra Madre

Dir: John Huston (The African Queen, Across the Pacific, The Maltese Falcon)
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Tim Holt, Walter Huston
USA, 1948

Seen: November 24, 2007 thanks to Toronto Public Library

Reason to see: For Western month as it is one of 'the' best westerns on multiple lists, won 3 Oscars (directing & writing: John Huston and supporting actor: Walter Huston)

I'm surprized to say this one did not rank really high for me, after seeing it on so many list's not just as a western but a film in general I'd have to say it fell short of my expectations. It's a different kind of western than the one's I've been watching lately. Almost the entire film is confined to the three main characters and is situated on the land, not in a town. They are all down on their luck and looking to strike it rich with gold. For me, that is where I became less interested. There is a certain need, want and desire that is associated with wealth that I do not fine compelling. Many people consider such things as a exploration of human nature and I usually find it shows us a darker side that I would rather not see, and sometimes I don't believe. All in all, it does have a solid story with amazing acting (especially Tim Holt and Walter Huston), and I tried to appreciate it on that level but in general I found it a little depressing.

At long last to know where this quote came from:
"Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges."

Oddity:
There were no subtitles for the spoken Spanish throughout the film.

Shannon's Overall View:
I thought it was a solid film, however I didn't overly enjoy it
I'd not likely watch it again
I'd recommend it to classics and western fans

Return to Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

El Dorado

Dir: Howard Hawks (Rio Bravo, Monkey Business, Red River, Bringing Up Baby)
Cast: John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, James Caan, Charlene Holt, Michele Carey
USA, 1966

Seen: November 20, 2007 thanks to Toronto Public Library

Reason to see: For Western month

This is one solid western featuring a great duo: John Wayne and Robert Mitchum. If that wasn't enough add in a very young James Caan, so it adds up a little more like a trio. The characters are all fantastic - the good ones and the bad. One of the reason's I like this films is because of that, and that the characters have integrity, at least the good ones do, and it shows the strength of friendship.

The film is full of great dialogue and lines, (see the imdb quotes page) but this one is my fave:
"We travelled together"
"That means he saved your life or you saved his or both, and neither of you will talk about it"

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'd watch it again
I'd recommend it to western fans

Return to Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Monday, 26 November 2007

High Plains Drifter

Dir: Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven, Pale Rider, Letters from Iwo Jima)
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Billy Curtis, Stefan Gierasch, Walter Barnes, Verna Bloom, Marianna Hill
USA, 1973

Seen: November 10, 2007 thanks to Toronto Public Library

Reason to see: For Western month, I also tend to like Clint Eastwood films

This is one of the type of westerns that I was wary of when I first posted at the beginning of the month re: the Bad and the Ugly. I didn't know that this one would be an example of it, I just though - cool! Clint Eastwood flick! The level of dispassion and selfishness in the majority of the characters makes this quite a hard film to watch, although it does have it's moments. The music is spectacular and eerie, giving it an otherworldy feel. The protagonist is a highly skilled and adept individual which can be compelling to watch. But on the flip side, the sexual violence was not compelling to watch and was quite disturbing. I did feel that on the whole, the film was worth sticking through seeing it to the end, but I would not watch it again.

Warnings: Violence, sexual violence

Shannon's Overall View:
I was surprized by it
I'd not watch it again
I'd recommend it to die hard western fans, or those who enjoy an exploration of the dark side of human nature.

Return to Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Favorite Westerns

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Back to westerns we go! What would be a better way to get back into the swing of things than with a poll? No better way, which is why as you can see to your right a poll to cast your vote on your favourite westerns. I included ones spanning a fair number of styles and throughout the years. I decided to leave of the few that have come out very recently to alleviate the bias of recency. If your fave isn't on the list feel free to add it to the comments here and I will count it. Enjoy!

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
High Noon
The Magnificent Seven
Once Upon A Time in the West
The Ox-Bow Incident
Pale Rider
The Searchers
Tombstone
The Treasure of Sierra Madre
Unforgiven

Friday, 23 November 2007

Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival - Awards and Wrap Up

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Five days of reeling wonder was the 2007 Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival. Out of all the festivals I’ve been to this year, The Toronto Reel Asian International Film festival has the strongest programming. The films were fantastic, their was a huge range in types of films (feature, shorts, documentaries, silent) and the quality of the films were excellent. Even if something didn't suit personal taste, they were all solid.

Official Reel Asian Award Winners
The Reel Asian Awards were presented on Day 5 before the screening of Sakuran. It was quite a night! Lesley Loksi Chan's speech takes the cake as the cutest, she let us know it was her first festival and she thought getting a badge was cool! A round of applause to all the winners

Animasian Award went to Yellow Sticky Notes dir. Jeff Chiba Stearns
and honourable mention to Flutter dir. Howie Shia

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Jeff Chiba Sterns accepting the award for Yellow Sticky Notes

TSV Visionary Video Award went to I No I No dir. Lesley Loksi Chan

Centennial College @ Wallace Studios Most Innovative Film Production Award went to Wanda and Miles dir. Lesley Loksi Chan

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First time festivaller and two time awards winner Lesley Loksi Chan

NFB Best Documentary Award went to Koryo Saram - The Unreliable People dir. Y David Chung and Matt Dibble

Charles Street Video and Reel Asian SEE ME! HEAR ME! PITCH ME! pitch winners
Winner in the Professional Category is Castle in the Sky - Dean Vargas and Lena Lee
Winner in the Emerging Category is What You Eat Jennifer Liao

NOW Audience Award went to Getting Home dir. Zhang Yang

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In a bizarre stroke of luck (good or bad I'm not certain), I saw a grand total of zero of the award winning films. So, I am going to share what I felt were the stand out films.

Features: Owl and the Sparrow, Finishing the Game

Documentary: And Thereafter II, Total Bangkok

Shorts (live action): Smile, The Contest, Souvenirs From Asia, Rock Garden

Shorts (animated): Flutter

Silent: Factory

Favourite Program: Total Pen-ek - Shorts Programme on the works of Pen-ek Ratanaruang on Day 4

Best Experience: Opening Night screening of Finishing the Game. Guys in yellow and black jumpsuits, high energy crowd, fantastic film and Dustin Nguyen did a Q&A/Trivia game. What a night!

Funnest collective experience: The pig toss! Every screening a pig was tossed into the audience and the catcher won a prize!

Best Q&A's: Owl and the Sparrow, Smile

Happy unexpected moment: Julia Kwan in attendance for Smile

Most unexpected: Loving And Thereafter II and not loving Love Conquers All

Repeating themes: Orphans, love, social inacceptance/culture clash

Fullest Screenings: Finishing the Game, Owl and the Sparrow, Sakuran

Wish I hadn't missed: The World Of Lesley Loksi Chan

Most Compelling Imagery: Factory

Weirdest venue thing: Why are different seats at Innis different widths? Some were cozy, others were a little smaller. Very odd. Front row on the left is mine though, called it!

It was an amazing festival, and just like little piggy here time to rest up for next year, as this with definitely make its way to my schedule again next November.

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Oinked out!

The Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival 2007 runs from November 14-18, 2007 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Seven Samurai / Shichinin no samurai

Dir: Akira Kurosawa (Rashômon,Throne of Blood / Kumonosu jô, Madadayo / Not Yet, Yojimbo)
Cast: Takashi Shimura, Toshirô Mifune, Yoshio Inaba, Senji Miyaguchi, Keiko Tsushima, Isao Kimura, Daisuke Katô, Minoru Chiaki
Japan, 1954

Seen: July 7, 2007 at Cinematheque

Reason to see: It's on my List of 101 Films I Can't Believe I Haven't Seen, for being on the imdb's top #250 films (currently ranked as # 10). It is also my entry for week 29/52 for my challenge of seeing films in the theatre 52 weeks in a row.

Reason to review: My fourth and final review as a part of the Akira Kurosawa blog-a-thon

This film is a fascinating journey of integrity, faith and hope as a village being preyed on by bandits looks to hire samurai to protect them. However, not all samurai's are cut of the same cloth. As with any film that has multiple important characters were are giving opportunities to distinguish them from one another in various ways. But the story is not just about the seven samurai, but also very much the community that commissions them. It also speaks to having the skill and means to support, contribute and defend your family and community, specifically the experience of not being able to do this things. In some says it's a parallel underdog story and band of misfits story. For me, that is always a great start. There are so many wonderful characters and special moments with them. That being said there are also many challenges, some of which are hard to take. All in all, it is worth it to stick with it to then end as it is an excellent film.

There were some sound quality issues when I saw this film and I think that put a damper on my enjoyment ever so slightly. Even with that, out of all the Akira Kurosawa films I've seen I would have to say that Rashômon is my favourite, with this coming in as a close second.

This film was remade numerous times, most famously as The Magnificent Seven starring Yul Brynner.

Fair warning - it's a long one! Most cuts of the film are 3 hrs plus so make

Shannon's Overall View:
I really enjoyed it
I'd buy it
I highly recommend it

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Madadayo / Not Yet

Dir: Akira Kurosawa (Rashômon,Throne of Blood / Kumonosu jô, Seven Samurai / Shichinin no samurai, Yojimbo)
Cast: Tatsuo Matsumura, Kyôko Kagawa, Akira Terao, Hisashi Igawa, Jôji Tokoro, Masayuki Yui
Japan, 1993

Seen: October 2, 2007 thanks to the Toronto Public Library

Reason to see: Another delving into Akira Kurosawa's work!

Reason to review: As a part of the the Akira Kurosawa blog-a-thon!

This film was not at all what I expected, although I didn't know anything about it to begin with other than Akira Kurosawa directed it. I was complete astonished by it, and you really have to be ready for a bit of a long haul as it clocks in at 2h14min and there are quite a few repetitions on simliar yet building events. Centred around 'The Professor' Hyakken Uchida (played by Tatsuo Matsumura) though many stages of his list starting in about the 1940's, some of the stages were grand and others more gruelling. In essence, the film reads as a tribute film to a fine and optimistic man admired by his former students. I have a soft spot in my heart for teacher stories and this one did find a little home in there.

Shannon's Overall View:
I quite enjoyed it
I'd watch it again
I would recommend if you like stories about teachers, and have patience

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007
All content on Movie Moxie is written by Shannon Ridler, © 2006 - 2012