Thursday, 30 September 2010

Movie Moxie Podcast 8: Never Let Me Go and Genre Look at Drama Films

On this week's episode of the podcast it's time to take a look at one of my most anticipated films of the year Never Let Me Go, check out some DVD releases with Frozen & Perrier's Bounty and continue genre exploration with having a look at drama films.



MP3 File



0:00 – 1:00 - Introduction
1:00 – 4:30 - News
4:30 – 10:00 –Never Let Me Go Review
10:00 – 22:15 – Drama Films as a Genre
22:15 – 25:00 – The Fighter & Conviction Trailer
25:00 – 29:30 – DVD reviews: Frozen & Perrier’s Bounty
29:30 – 31:00– Upcoming up Next Week
31:00 – 31:50– Outro

Show Notes

The Fighter Trailer (feels pretty spoiler-y)


Conviction Trailer (also feels pretty spoiler-y)


Drama as a Film Genre Show Notes:

IMDB Top 50 Drama Films (as of Sept 29, 2010)
1. The Godfather (1972)
2. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
3. The Godfather: Part II (1974)
4. Pulp Fiction (1994)
5. 12 Angry Men (1957)
6. Schindler's List (1993)
7. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
8. Seven Samurai (1954)
9. The Dark Knight (2008)
10. Casablanca (1942)
11. Goodfellas (1990)
12. City of God (2002)
13. Fight Club (1999)
14. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
15. Psycho (1960)
16. Sunset Blvd. (1950)
17. The Moromete Family (1988)
18. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
19. Se7en (1995)
20. Memento (2000)
21. North by Northwest (1959)
22. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
23. Citizen Kane (1941)
24. The Professional (1994)
25. Satantango (1994)
26. Apocalypse Now (1979)
27. Forrest Gump (1994)
28. American History X (1998)
29. American Beauty (1999)
30. Taxi Driver (1976)
31. City Lights (1931)
32. Paths of Glory (1957)
33. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
34. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
35. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
36. The Lives of Others (2006)
37. The Broken Landlord (1985)
38. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
39. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
40. Mr. Muhsin (1987)
41. The Pianist (2002)
42. A Brighter Summer Day (1991)
43. Chinatown (1974)
44. Das Boot (1981)
45. Modern Times (1936)
46. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
47. Canim kardesim (1973)
48. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
49. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
50. L.A. Confidential (1997)



You can subscribe to the Movie Moxie Podcast here:
Or subscribe through iTunes here.

Questions & comments on the podcast are welcome, feel free to comment on this post or contact me directly by email

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Canadian, North American, UK & Australian Box Office September 24, 2010 Weekend

Top 20 Movies in Canada for the Sept 24, 2010 weekend
1. The Town
2. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps *
3. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole *
4. Easy A
5. You Again *
6. Alpha and Omega
7. Resident Evil: Afterlife
8. Devil
9. Incendies (v.o.f.)
10. Inception
11. Eat Pray Love
12. The American
13. Despicable Me
14. The Expendables
15. The Other Guys
16. Takers
17. Heartbreaker
18. Machete
19. À l'origine d'un cri (v.o.f.)
20. The Switch

Top 20 Movies in North America for the Sept 24, 2010 weekend
1. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps *
2. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole *
3. The Town
4. Easy A
5. You Again *
6. Devil
7. Resident Evil: Afterlife
8. Alpha and Omega
9. Takers
10. Inception
11. The Other Guys
12. The American
13. Eat Pray Love
14. Machete
15. Despicable Me
16. The Expendables
17. Catfish
18. Nanny McPhee Returns
19. The Last Exorcism
20. Get Low

Top 10 Movies in the UK for the Sept 24, 2010 weekend
1. The Other Guys
2. Eat Pray Love *
3. The Town *
4. The Hole (2009)
5. Devil
6. Toy Story 3
7. Grown Ups
8. Resident Evil: Afterlife
9. 'Tamara Drewe'
10. Marmaduke

Top 20 Movies in Australia for the Sept 23-26, 2010 weekend
1. Despicable Me
2. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps *
3. The Last Airbender
4. The Other Guys
5. Easy A
6. Cats & Dogs 2: The Revenge of Kitty Galore
7. Tomorrow, When the War Began
8. Diary of a Wimpy Kid *
9. Charlie St. Cloud *
10. The Sorcerer's Apprentice
11. The Girl Who Played With Fire *
12. Inception
13. Salt
14. The Kids Are All Right
15. Boy
16. Hubble 3D
17. The Reluctant Infidel
18. Furry Vengeance
19. Titanic 3D: Ghosts of the Abyss
20. Going the Distance

* indicates opening weekend in noted location

Source: Canada & North America info, UK info, Australia Info

Canadian, North American, UK & Australian Box Office September 17, 2010 Weekend

Top 20 Movies in Canada for the Sept 17, 2010 weekend
1. Easy A *
2. The Town *
3. Resident Evil: Afterlife
4. Devil *
5. Alpha and Omega *
6. Inception
7. The American
8. Eat Pray Love
9. The Expendables
10. The Other Guys
11. Despicable Me
12. Going the Distance
13. Incendies *
14. Takers
15. The Switch
16. Machete
17. Nanny McPhee Returns
18. Heartbreaker
19. Step Up 3D
20. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Top 20 Movies in North America for the Sept 17, 2010 weekend
1. The Town *
2. Easy A *
3. Devil *
4. Resident Evil: Afterlife
5. Alpha and Omega *
6. Takers
7. The American
8. The Other Guys
9. Inception
10. Machete
11. Eat Pray Love
12. The Expendables
13. Going the Distance
14. The Last Exorcism
15. Nanny McPhee Returns
16. The Switch
17. Despicable Me
18. Lottery Ticket
19. Vampires Suck
20. Get Low

Top 10 Movies in the UK for the Sept 17, 2010 weekend
1. The Other Guys *
2. Devil *
3. Resident Evil: Afterlife
4. Toy Story 3
5. Grown Ups
6. Tamara Drewe
7. The Last Exorcism
8. Marmaduke
9. Diary of a Wimpy Kid
10. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Top 20 Movies in Australia for the Sept 16 - 19, 2010 weekend
1. The Last Airbender *
2. Despicable Me
3. The Other Guys
4. Tomorrow, When the War Began
5. Easy A *
6. The Sorcerer's Apprentice
7. Cats & Dogs 2: The Revenge of Kitty Galore *
8. Salt
9. Inception
10. The Kids Are All Right
11. Going the Distance
12. Boy
13. Dabangg
14. The Expendables
15. The Ghost Writer
16. The Disappearance of Alice Creed
17. Piranha 3D
18. The Reluctant Infidel *
19. Hubble 3D
20. Father of My Children

* indicates opening weekend in noted location

Source: Canada & North America info, UK info, Australia Info

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

DVD Releases for September 28, 2010

Time to have a look at the weekly DVD releases and what's out today Tuesday September 28, 2010.

First up is one of my most anticipated and favourite films of the year and one I have been looking forward to it's DVD release ever since it came out in theatres and that is the chilling 3 friends stuck on a chair lift film, the one and only Frozen. Seriously, you need to see it - it's awesome as is the dark comedy Perrier's Bounty from Ian Fitzgibbon (A Film with Me in It) and starring Cillian Murphy and Jim Broadbent. Brilliant comedy there. Also brilliant is the South African film Gangster's Paradise Jerusalema which follows a crime/drama inspired by true event about a the rise of a entrepreneurial gangster.

We also have the release of Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky, a fantastic biopic starring the title roles played by Anna Mouglalis and Mads Mikkelsen respectively. Keeping it kinda real is the part concert/part narrative film This Movie Is Broken featuring Broken Social Scene. Documentary of the week goes to the Canadian film Reel Injun, which follows the "trail of Hollywood Indian".

Unseen but curious about films of the week include Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars which looks hilarious from the trailer & who can resist bloggy goodness? Also out is historical drama Good starring Viggo Mortensen, Mark Strong and Jason Isaacs and the rather controversial release of The Killer Inside Me from director Michael Winterbottom and starring Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson.

Biggie of the week goes to Iron Man 2 which still holds strong as the highest grossing opening weekend of the year in Canada and North America, although I know very few folks that really enjoyed it. Also out is the comedy Get Him to the Greek.

Criterion has as always some very interesting titles in release, this week we see the release of Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence and The Thin Red Line.

Titles on
Amazon.ca(Canada):


Titles on Amazon.com (US):


Reel Injun is not currently available at Amazon.com

Frozen (DVD Review)

Photobucket
Photo - Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment

Writer/Dir: Adam Green (Hatchet)
Cast: Emma Bell, Kevin Zegers, Shawn Ashmore
USA, 2010

Reason to see: Totally has that simple-idea-that-could-make-an-amazing-horror-film vibe

Now every once in a while a film comes out and it not only meets but actually exceeds expectations. Frozen is an exceeds expectations film. I knew that I would be seeing it from just moment into watching the trailer, in fact I didn't even watch the whole trailer because I was sold in just seconds (and I wouldn't recommend watching all of it if you are interested in the film). The promising and horrifying premise of friends stuck on a ski lift was more than enough to get me interested.

The brilliance of the film is, it doesn't rely on just being a good premise to be a good film. It builds on that with a great script that builds up the heart of the film: the characters. There are lots of horror films out there where you really are meant to not care or even like the characters. Not here. I felt like I knew exactly who Parker (Emma Bell), Dan (Kevin Zegers) and Lynch (Shawn Ashmore) were and you better believe that I cared about them. The characters are a completely believable trio and everyone performance was great, although I was particularly impressed with Shawn Ashmore (Bobby/Iceman from the X-Men films).

The horror elements of the film are pitch perfect. The pacing is perfect, the tension builds subtly and it has a great balance of keeping you guessing on some things and leading up to others. It goes without saying that it's a film that you really don't want to know too much about, so I'm certainly not going to spoil the fun. It really hits all the marks of a great horror film and it was great to see it originally at the theatre with an audience that gasping and cringing at all the right moments and I've been aching for it to come out on DVD to not only see it again but share the experience with others. It is definitely a film that benefits from watching with others as you can cringing, gasp and even giggle together along the way. Originally I called it a truly awesome horror film, and it is, but after seeing it a few times now I think the love of the film can be enjoyed and celebrated beyond just horror fans. I'm going to branch that out and say that if you like film at all, see Frozen. You won't regret it.

DVD Extras:
I'm really impressed with the DVD extras here. They extensive and insightful, and there is also almost zero overlap of information throughout the featurettes - which is impressive given the fact that there are 4 featurettes which running time is almost as long as the film itself! That's a rare treat.
  • Audio commentary with writer/director Adam Green and actors Shawn Ashmore, Kevin Zegers & Emma Bell. Great commentary that has a nice group of friends casual vibe to it with lots of funny stories, great insights into the characters along with some technical notations on how specifics things were done in the film which are gone into further detail in the featurette. Two sidenotes on the commentary are that Emma Bell comes in at 25 minutes in, plus several references to another more technical commentary which is only on the BluRay version.
  • Deleted Scenes (3 scenes, 6 minutes) with optional audio commentary by writer/director Adam Green. I watched them first on their own, and then re-watched with the commentary and I think that's really the way to go as you the commentaries explain more about each scene including why it wasn't included in the film.
  • Catching Frostbite: The Origins of Frozen (10 minutes) great featurette that tells the story of how the idea for the film came to be from inspiration to process to the team coming together. Features interview with writer/director Adam Green, first assistant director Craig Borden, co-producer/second unit director Jason Miller, co-producer Cory Neal, director of photography Will Barratt and producers Peter Block & Tim Williams.
  • Three Below Zero (10 minutes) fascinating featurette focusing on the trio of characters in the film their dynamics, relationships, journeys and likability. Features flip clips, stills and interviews with writer/director Adam Green, actors Shawn Ashmore (Lynch), Emma Bell (Parker) and Kevin Zegers (Dan) and producers Peter Block & Tim Williams.
  • Shooting Through It (11 minutes) featurette focusing on the logistics & production side of the film in terms of films vision and challenges of shooting on location. Includes behinds the scenes footage and interviews with writer/director Adam Green, production designer Brian McBrian and director of photography Will Barratt.
  • Beating the Mountain: Surviving Frozen (52 minutes) very extensive featurette with a vast amount of behind the scenes footage including multiple takes of particular shoots, interviews with cast & crew. It goes through everything from what the cast & crew had to go through during the crazy weather during the shoot, technical elements of the logistics of how they particular shots, stunts, literally everything you could want to know about the film is here. What they did was absolutely amazing, I honestly didn't know that every single outside shot was actually done outside. Wow. Interviews include writer/director Adam Green, first assistant director Craig Borden, co-producer/second unit director Jason Miller, co-producer Cory Neal, director of photography Will Barratt and producers Peter Block & Tim Williams, stunt co-ordinator Kane Hodder, production designer Brian McBrian, first assistant camera David "D.R." Rhineer, Sled Reynolds and actors Shawn Ashmore (Lynch), Emma Bell (Parker) and Kevin Zegers (Dan) and more.
  • Trailer
Frozen is available on DVD as of September 28, 2010. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com

Shannon's Overall View:
I loved it
I'll buy it
I highly recommend it

Return to Film Reviews or see more DVD Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2010
Originally reviewed during Theatrical Release - February 8, 2010


Photobucket
Emma Bell, Kevin Zegers and Shawn Ashmore in Frozen.
Photo - Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment

Monday, 27 September 2010

Perrier's Bounty (DVD Review)

Photobucket
Courtesy of eOne Entertainment

Dir: Ian Fitzgibbon (A Film with Me in It)
Cast: Cillian Murphy, Jim Broadbent, Jodie Whittaker, Brendan Gleeson, Gabriel Byrne, Liam Cunningham
Ireland/UK, 2010 (DVD Release)

Reason to see: I was absolutely floored by the brilliance of the dark comedy A Film with Me in It, and was up for more craziness from Ian Fitzgibbon

I've been known to say "comedies just aren't my thing". But when I see a film like Perrier's Bounty and I know that's too much of a blanket statement, because it's the kind of film that when the comedy hits you, your jaw literally drops because it's hard to believe what you just heard because it's shocking & hilarious all in one. Then, it turns that comedy on a dime and hits you with an insanely serious tone, and it just keeps continuing to shake you from left to right throughout the film.

Perrier's Bounty is a a dark comedy/crime film that follows Michael McCrea (Cillian Murphy), whom owes some money and is on the working on a line to pay it back. The funny thing is, it isn't a ton of money and Michael pretty much a decent guy who just doesn't have the best of luck. Mind you it's not the worst of luck either. That's one of the many things I loved about the film, it's outlandish in many ways, but not unbelievable. In every funny and every heartbreaking moment, we have the ridiculousness of the truth firmly centred in it, which is what makes it so spot on and a such an enjoyable film watch.

Another thing I loved about the film and one of it's strongest points is the dialogue. The dialogue is so good that that I just want to watch the film over and over again. Add to it the stellar performances with such a great cast and it notches the film up to brilliance. Cillian Murphy is great as the understated Michael, I loved Jodie Whittaker as his heartbroken neighbour Brenda and Jim Broadbent is fantastic as Michael's slightly eccentric father, who pulls off a story that is rather outlandish that I'm not sure anyone else could have done it. Plus, we get a fabulous slew of charismatic bad guys including Perrier himself (Brendan Gleeson), who are entertaining through and through.

Overall, I loved the film. I'm thrilled to see that it's on DVD now so more people can enjoy it. It's set in some harshness but my goodness it is one funny, charming and even tenderhearted film. I can't wait to watch it again.

DVD Extras:
  • Making of "Perrier's Bountry Featurette" (14 minutes) includes interviews with producers Alan Moloney, Elizabeth Karlsen and Stephen Woolley, writer Mark O'Rowe, director Ian Fitzgibbon and actors Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson, Jodie Whittaker, Jim Broadbent and Liam Cunningham with film clips - really great making of that seamlessly highlights the interview statements with clips from film, especially when chatting about characters, performances, dialogue and action.
  • Trailer
Perrier's Bounty is available on DVD as of September 28, 2010. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com

Shannon's Overall View:
I loved it
I'll watch it again
I highly recommend

Return to Film Reviews or see more DVD Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2010

Never Let Me Go

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Dir: Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo)
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, Keira Knightly, Sally Hawkins, Izzy Meikle-Small, Charlie Rowe, Ella Purnell, Charlotte Rampling
UK/USA, 2010

Seen: September 24, 2010 at Varsity

Reason to see: Absolutely adored the phenomenal novel it is based on by the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go is a challenging film to write about for several reasons. First, the book upon which it is based is truly excellent and I would encourage people to read it even if there wasn't a film. Because of the books unique storytelling style and very different tone, it's hard to relate it beyond a straight-up recommendation because going into what it (and the film) is 'about' is spoiler and wouldn't really do either of them justice as it's unveiled beautifully and adeptly in both the film and book versions.

But I can say that it is a very experiential film. A film that on the surface reminences the childhood and early adulthood of three friends Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightly) with equal parts nostalgia and slightly fuzzy wisdom. Their rather isolated education at Hailsham, life experiences and relationships and their views on the world. There is an subtle oddity of tone that deftly creates the atmosphere that although nothing is wrong, something is just somehow out of place. Edges on uncomfortable, but grounded in truth which keeps our attention softly focused and absorbent. It's absolutely masterful.

It is a film that is about much grander themes on life and relationships over the specific plot points and happenings, but even so each and every thing we see matters. I was very impressed with the specificity of the book to film adaptation, especially in tone. I had imagined it quite differently but what they actually created was absolutely fascinating. Subtlety and restraint play a huge part here, and the benefits of them are that you really slowly become entrenched in the film. The performances are very strong, particularly from Carey Mulligan (An Education) as our protagonist Kathy and Andrew Garfield (Boy A, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus) as Tommy, whom should be on everyones radar as stellar actors and they proven that yet again here.

It's an amazing achievement and adaptation by creating an out of time out of place feel that is both distanced and accessible, with a story that is extraordinary yet believable and characters that compel, repel, live and love. It's absolutely beautiful.

Shannon's Overall View:
I loved it
I'll buy it
I highly recommend, but would recommend reading & enjoying the book first if you can

27 minutes of preshow including an 8 minute late start (!), 10 commercials and 5 previews: The Fighter, Made in Dagenham, Barney's Version, Conviction and Black Swan

Return to Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2010

Friday, 24 September 2010

Film Fan Fridays for Friday September 24, 2010

Hello Film Fans and Fanatics!

Welcome to Film Fan Fridays for Friday September 24, 2010! Well it was a quiet two weeks but after famine there is feasting to be had. We have over 2 days 14 release. 14! Yikes. Talk about a lot to choose from!

In limited release this week we have one of my most anticipated films of the year with Never Let Me Go, based on the phenomenal book by the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro and starring Carey Mulligan (An Education), Andrew Garfield (Boy A, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus), Keira Knightly, Sally Hawkins, Charlotte Rampling, directed by Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo), and I'm going to leave it at that it feels like the less you know the better. Continuing with fiction centric films we have Australian feel good comedy/musical Bran Nue Dae, Philip Seymour Hoffman's directorial debut from Jack Goes Boating and A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop, Zhang Yimou's remake of Blood Simple. We have lots of documentaries this week including I Am Comic, Whatever It Takes and indie-biggie Catfish, a documentary about 2 friends documenting the online-instigated romance of their friend has been shrouded in mystery and telling us that they aren't telling us everything. Interesting idea there. And blurring the lists of life, documentary, art and fiction we have the Casey Affleck directed I'm Still Here starring actor Joaquim Phoenix. And I say 'starring' not 'featuring' on purpose as the film was initially presented as a documentary about Joaquim Phoenix's transition into being an aspiring rapper, but it has been revealed by director Casey Affleck that it isn't a documentary but that a "ruse was necessary to ensure audience experienced the film's narrative, about the disintegration of celebrity, without the clutter of preconceived notions" (source). Wow. I'm undecided if I think that is gutsy, or crazy, or both - although with this being the case it's a shame the ruse was unveiled before it hit regular theatres.

We also have the Bell Lightbox (TIFF's new home base, theatre space & more) showing 3 limited releases of several films with as of Thursday September 23, 2010 including Xavier Dolan's latest Les Amours Imaginaires / Heartbeats, the highly acclaimed A Film Unfinished and the Palme D'Or winner Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives from director Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

In wide release this week we have just 3 releases, which seems of so very pale in comparison to the other 11 films we are seeing, but I know there are on many peoples anticipated films lists, especially Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps a 23-year-later sequel to 1987 film Wall Street. This time round we have Michael Douglas back reprising his role as Gordon Gekko and added to the cast is Carey Mulligan and Shia LaBeouf. Next up is Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole which is from director Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen), and is and animated (and in 3D) film about owls kidnapped and brainwashed to be soldiers. Every time I see the commercial it just seems stranger and stranger to me. Last up for wide releases is You Again where high school drama flairs after the fact when a woman realizes her brother is marrying her old nemesis.

Have a great weekend!

Shannon

Festival Watch

Brazilian Film Festival of Toronto
September 23 -26, 2010 at The Bloor location in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

COMMFFEST
(Global) Community Film Festival
September 23 -26, 2010 at various locations in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Thursday September 22, 2010 Releases

Les Amours Imaginaires / Heartbeats
Writer/Dir: Xavier Dolan (J'ai tué ma mère / I Killed My Mother)
Cast: Xavier Dolan, Niels Schneider, Monia Chokri, Anne Dorval
Canada
Limited Release
Official Film Site & Trailer, IMDb Page

A Film Unfinished
Dir: Yael Hersonski - feature film directorial debut
Documentary
Germany/Israel
Limited Release
Official Film Site & Trailer, IMDb Page

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
Writer/Dir: Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Syndromes and a Century)
Cast: Sakda Kaewbuadee, Jenjira Pongpas, Thanapat Saisaymar
Thailand/UK/France/Germany/Spain/Netherlands
Limited Release
No Official Film Site Found, IMDb Page, Trailer

Friday September 23, 2010 Releases

Bran Nue Dae

Dir: Rachel Perkins (Radiance)
Cast: Rocky McKenzie, Jessica Mauboy, Ernie Dingo, Missy Higgins, Geoffrey Rush
Australia
Limited Release
Official Film Site & Trailer, IMDb Page

Catfish
Dir: Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman - feature film directorial debuts
Documentary
USA
Limited Release
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer


I Am Comic
Dir: Jordon Brady (Waking Up In Reno)
Documentary
USA
Limited Release
Official Film Site & Trailer, IMDb Page

I'm Still Here
Dir: Casey Affleck - feature film directorial debut
Cast: Joaquim Phoenix
USA
Limited Release
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

Jack Goes Boating
Dir: Philip Seymour Hoffman - feature film directorial debut
Cast: John Ortiz, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Amy Ryan, Philip Seymour Hoffman
USA
Limited Release
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole
Dir: Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen)
Voices: Hugo Weaving, Abbie Cornish, Emilie de Ravin, Ryan Kwanten, Helen Mirren, Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess
USA/Australia
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

Never Let Me Go
Dir: Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo)
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, Keira Knightly, Sally Hawkins, Charlotte Rampling
UK/USA
Limited Release
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Dir: Oliver Stone (Wall Street, Alexander, JFK, The Doors)
Cast: Michael Douglas, Carey Mulligan, Shia LaBeouf, Frank Langella, Josh Brolin, Susan Sarandon, Eli Wallach
USA
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

Whatever it Takes
Dir: Christopher C.C. Wong - feature film directorial debut
Documentary
USA
Limited Release
Official Film Site & Trailer, IMDb Page

A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop
Dir: Zhang Yimou (Curse of the Golden Flower, Hero, House of the Flying Daggers)
Cast: Xiao Shenyang, Sun Honglei
China
Limited Release
Official Film Site & Trailer, IMDb Page

You Again
Dir: Andy Fickman (Race to Witch Mountain, The Game Plan)
Cast: Kristen Bell, Odette Yustman, Jimmy Wolk, Sigourney Weaver, Jamie Lee Curtis, Betty White
USA
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

**please note this list of releases reflects first run film released in Toronto, Ontario, Canada as of September 24, 2010**

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

DVD Releases for September 21, 2010

Time to have a look at the DVD releases for September 21, 2010!

Seems like every week recently we have a big summer film hit DVD and this week it's most certainly Robin Hood, and the release gives you 2 viewing options with a theatrical version along with an unrated director's cut. I'm curious. Also out this week is the fantastical The Secret of Moonacre based on the book The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge, and it's so very exciting to see a magical film with a young female protagonist! On a completely different tone we have The Experiment (2010) which is a remake of the 2001 film Das Experiment, both a fictionalizations inspired by the Stanford prison experiment from the book Black Box. We also have the Oscar winning The Secret in Their Eyes making it's DVD debut.

There are lots of films being released this week that I haven't yet seen but really want to, including Stomp the Yard 2: Homecoming (dance movie!), Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Undead (title speaks for itself), Ondine (IMDb plot description of "The story of an Irish fisherman who discovers a woman in his fishing net who he believes to be a mermaid.", and Colin Farrell) and My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (Werner Herzog = yes)

Fair amount of TV hitting DVD this week including the sword & sandals series Spartacus: Blood and Sand - The Complete First Season, recent action series Human Target: The Complete First Season and Castle Season 2.

Titles on Amazon.ca(Canada):


Titles on Amazon.com (US):

The Secret of Moonacre (DVD Review)

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Courtesy of eOne Films

Dir: Gabor Csupo (The Bridge to Terabithia)
Cast: Dakota Blue Richards, Ioan Gruffudd, Natascha McElhone, Juliet Stevenson, Tim Curry, Augustus Prew
UK/Hungary/France, 2009

Reason to See: Fantasy film with a female protagonist? That's a yes for me!

It's was exciting to see a fantasy based film with a young female protagonist (Dakota Blue Richards from The Golden Compass) in this tale or adventure and magic. It is a film that I would have loved to see as a child but even as an adult it brought a smile to my face.

The film is based on the book The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge written back in 1946 and like the film, sounds like a story I would have absolutely loved as a kid. It follows Maria Merryweather (Dakota Blue Richards) who along with her governess Miss Heliotrope (Juliet Stevenson) ends up staying at Moonacre Manor with a distanced Uncle (Ioan Gruffudd). The manor is beautiful, although appears to be ill kept which makes it all the more intriguing. The location and family is filled with delightful mysteries and hints of magic that the curious and inquisitive Maria takes an interest in right away, having adventures or as some (adults) may call it 'getting into trouble'.

The Secret of Moonacre is charming and funny, and along with Maria we have a fantastic set of characters that are more often than not more than meets the eye. The Merryweathers of Moonacre are long time rivals of De Noir family, giving us a rich history of conflict to centre the films focus, although in essence it truly is Maria's journey which we follow, and it's an exciting one at that filled with story, adventure and magic.

I was completely charmed over by the film, as it kept me guessing, kept be intrigued and most of all for having a strong young female protagonist in a story of magic set in a beautiful location. What a complete treat!

DVD Extras:
  • Making-of Featurette (23 minutes) - combination of film clips, behind the scenes footage and interviews with director Gabor Csupo, producers Monica Penders & Meredith Garlick, actors Dakota Blue Richards, Juliet Stevenson, Tim Curry, Ioan Gruffudd, Natascha McElhone and Augustus Prew, production designer Sophie Becher and costume designer Beatrix Aruna Pasztor.
  • Deleted Scenes (11 minutes) 9 scenes, most are extended scenes
  • Cast Interviews (32 minutes) interviews with actors Dakota Blue Richards, Ioan Gruffudd, Natascha McElhone, Tim Curry, Augustus Prew and Juliet Stevenson on their characters, working together, locations, the design of the film and overall love of the art direction & costuming. I quite enjoyed with interviews with Augustus Prew with his take on the character and Juliet Stevenson with what drew her to the project.
  • Behind-the-Scenes Footage (19 minutes) features behinds the scenes look at many of the scenes of the films, often with more than one take and even at times before & after a note from the director.
  • Trailer
The Secret of Moonacre is available on DVD as of September 21, 2010. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com

Shannon's Overall View:
I really enjoyed it
I'll watch it again, repeatedly
I'd recommend it to fans of fantasy film with young protagonists

Return to Film Reviews or see more DVD Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2008 - 2010
See also original review from TIFF 2008

The Experiment (2010) - DVD Review

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Courtesy of eOne Films

Writer/Dir: Paul Scheuring (36K)
Cast: Adrien Brody, Forest Whitaker, Cam Gigandet, Ethan Cohn, Clifton Collins Jr., Jason Lew, David Banner, Maggie Grace
USA, 2010 (DVD Release)

Reason to see: Steller cast and acclaim for the German version of the film Das Experiement

The Experiment (2010) centres on a group of men who sign up for a behavioural experiment for a tidy paycheque for a mere 2 weeks with the conditions set being ensured that they will be safe, however some will be deprived of civil rights for the duration of the experiment. The location of the experiment is a simulated jail, where the men are given roles as either prisoners or guards and both need to abide by rules to ensure completion of the experiment.

The film is based on the novel Black Box by Mario Giordano which was based on a true occurrence of the Stanford prison experiment which had people take on the roles of prisoners and guards. The novel was then turned into the German film Das Experiment in 2001, and now been remade into this version The Experiment (2010). Just to be clear the film is a fictionalization, but certainly a fictionalization with a message.

The film darkly explores lots of different dynamics from power dynamics to group dynamics, from keeping and taking responsibility, following rules and/or a system and morality. Placing these themes stacked against a huge monetary incentive gives an insane amount of tension to keep things together, but with a honed focus on not only power but also the effect of powerlessness, some of the most disturbing threads of the film are ones where money isn't the incentive. We are used to seeing people in film doing and enduring extremes for money, but when the incentive shifts and grows under other reasoning it becomes way more disturbing.

You know when you are seeing a situation prefaced by civil rights being deprived, it's not going to be a walk in the park and the film is certainly not for the weak of heart but is a place we look to for strong performances and in that case it does shine. With 2 Oscar winners in the mix, the acting certainly is top notch from both Adrien Brody and Forest Whitaker, but the performances by the entire ensemble cast were strong although I was particularly taken by the performances of both Clifton Collins Jr. and Ethan Cohn.

The film brings a lot of interesting questions to light on power systems and individuality, and especially on what it takes for people to stand up for change. Who's willing to tuck into their roles versus those willing to intercede, and at what cost? Questions that are as important to ask as they are to have answers for.

I am surprized we didn't see this version on the big screen considering the calibre of the actors and the huge success of the original film. Perhaps the questions are too intense to ponder in the company of an audience and are best explored in a more solitary manner.

Warnings: torture, violence, disturbing ideas, images & behaviour

DVD Extras:
  • Soundbites (20 minutes) - Interviews with writer/director Paul Scheuring, producers Jeanette Buerling & Bill Johnson, and actors Adrien Brody, Forest Whitaker, Cam Gigandet, Ethan Cohn, Clifton Collins Jr., Jason Lew & Maggie Grace.
  • B-roll Selects (7 minutes) - behinds the scenes footage during film at several of the film locations
  • Film Clips (5minutes, 14 clips) literally 14 separate clips from the film
  • The Experiment, a microcosm featurette (8 minutes) - combination of film clips, b-roll and interviews exploring the inspiration, message, analogy and the hope of what people would take away of the film. Interviews include insights from writer/director Paul Scheuring, producers Jeanette Buerling & Bill Johnson, and actors Adrien Brody, Forest Whitaker, Cam Gigandet, Ethan Cohn, Clifton Collins Jr., Jason Lew & Maggie Grace, and primarily is different footage from the soundbites selections.
The Experiment (2010) is available on DVD as of September 21, 2010. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com

Shannon's Overall View:
I appreciated the acting and the importance message
I'd not likely watch it again due to disturbing content & ideas
I'd recommend it if you like films that explore the darker side of human nature and psychological dramas

Return to Film Reviews or see more DVD Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2010

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Forest Whitaker (left), Adrien Brody - Courtesy of eOne Films

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Adrien Brody - Courtesy of eOne Films

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Courtesy of eOne Films - Clifton Collins Jr.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Letters to Juliet (DVD Review)

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Courtesy of eOne Films

Dir: Gary Winick (Bride Wars, 13 Going on 30)
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Egan, Gael García Bernal, Franco Nero
USA, 2010

Reason to see: The trailer looked very sweet, plus I love Vanessa Redgrave

With the tagline "What if you had a second chance at true love", you know it's going to a film filled with warm and fuzzies, and it is. Letters to Juliet brings us a warmhearted view on love, romance and relationships. The film follow Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), who comes across and decides to answer a long lost love letter written by Claire (Vanessa Redgrave).

While I don't consider myself a romantic, this film did win me over. The characters are believable and well played, and the scenario has a cute sense of adventure and whimsy while still being relatable and sweetly hitting home. I also enjoyed how even though romance is the obvious theme here, what we also get is a lovely female relationship formed between Sophie and Claire that was the unexpected joy of the film. It's as much about their relationship as it is about romance, yet everything is intertwined together as life inevitably is. I also loved that it showcased love at different ages and stages of life, giving it not only multi-generational appeal, but awareness and acknowledgement that love exists at many different times of life.

In terms of the cast, Amanda Seyfried is having one heck of a year, it's only May and this is her third release of the year after Dear John, Chloe and now here in Letters to Juliet. Amazing. Even though Chloe provides a lot more variety, I think Letters to Juliet is her strongest performance of the year. For me it was really Vanessa Redgrave really knocks it out of the park, every scene she is in she lights up on screen in a strong, subtle way radiating beauty and knowledge. Overall, I found it rather touching and an easy recommendation for the romance fans out there. It's a film I'd easily enjoy watching with my Mom or my sisters.

As a fun side note, Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero are in fact a couple in real life that first appeared on the screen together in the 1967 film version of Camelot where they starred as Guenevere and Lancelot (with Richard Harris as Arthur). Can you imagine?

DVD Extras:
  • Audio commentary with director Gary Winick & actor Amanda Seyfried (Sophie), a nice combination of casual chat on locations, working with the actors and the films story along with a fair amount of focus on filmmaking technique and choices.
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes (10 minutes) - 2 deleted and 6 extended scenes
  • The Making of Letters to Juliet: In Italia (12 minutes), making of featurette focusing on films message, filming in Italy and working together though behind the scenes footage, film clips and interviews with director Gary Winick, producers Caroline Kaplan, Mark Canton and actors Amanda Seyfried, Christopher Egan, Vanessa Redgrave, Gael García Bernal, Luisa Ranieri and Franco Nero.
  • A Courtyard in Verona (5 minutes) absolutely charming featurette on the inspiration of the film and it's development as well as the book it was based on Letters to Juliet: Celebrating Shakespeare's Greatest Heroine, the Magical City of Verona, and the Power of Love by Lise Friedman and Ceil Friedman. Includes interviews with book co-authors Lise Friedman and Ceil Friedman, producer Caroline Kaplan and Amanda Seyfried, Gael García Bernal, Vanessa Redgrave and Luisa Ranieri.
Letters to Juliet is available on DVD & BluRay. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'll watch it again
I'd recommend it fans of romance and light dramas

Return to Film Reviews or see more DVD Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2010
Originally reviewed for Theatrical Release - May 13, 2010


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(Left to right) VANESSA REDGRAVE and AMANDA SEYFRIED star in LETTERS TO JULIET. Photo John Johnson

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Director GARY WINICK and star AMANDA SEYFRIED on the set of LETTERS TO JULIET. Photo John Johnson. Courtesy of E1 Entertainment

Dark Bridges Film Festival 2010

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It's only a few days until the Dark Bridges Film Festival kicks off at the Roxy Theatre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The festival is bringing all kinds of genre films out to play and showcasing 12 features and 20 shorts of the festivals three day run.

The festival starts off with a bang with the Roman epic Centurion as their first film on opening night and that's sure to get your blood pumping, and then they have a cabin thriller with Dawning, and the midnight screening of the night is an Australian film called El Monstro Del Mar! and described as "Half Faster Pussy Cat Kill Kill, Half tentacle seamonster flick". That sounds like fun to me!

Saturday is sure to bring out the creepy creatures and the undead with werewolf flick Werewolf Fever, a cannibalism focused Long Pigs that looks truly disturbing and then a zombie double bill with one of the biggest buzz scary films around [REC] and it's sequel [REC] 2. The evening caps off with a midnight screening with the Canadian Premiere of Gary King's Death of the Dead which features ninja zombies. Ninja zombies!!

Sunday features included the gorgeous Canadian historical drama Black Field, fantastic black comedy A Film with Me in It, stoner comedy High School starring Adrien Brody and caps the evening off with one of my favourite films of the year the South Korean western The Good The Bad The Weird.

And it's not just features, check out the Saskatchewan Short Film and every feature has shorts playing with it from hilarious The Necronomicon to the chilling Off Season and the beautiful Junko's Shamisen.

How can you not love a festival that opens with a the Roman epic Centurion and closes with the kimchee western The Good The Bad The Weird? What a fantastic energy to bookend the festival with! I'm jealous of the folks attending the festival, it's a fantastic selection of films to enjoy from the weird and wild to bizarre and horrific, I wish I was going to be there!

I chatted with festival founded & directed John Allison on the most recent episode of the Movie Moxie Podcast and you can listen to our conversation here. In a nice tie-is, it's also the episode where I discuss zombies films as a genre.



For more information, check out the Dark Bridges Film Festival: Website, Festival Schedule, Festival Overview, Information on Festival Passes, Facebook Group, Facebook Event, Festival Trailer and Venue Information.

The Dark Bridges Film Festival 2010 runs from September 24 - 26,2010 at the Roxy Theatre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Film Fan Fridays for Friday September 17, 2010

Hello Film Fans and Fanatics!

Welcome to Film Fan Fridays for Friday September 17, 2010 and it's still a bit of a quiet week the festival in town but we do have 5 releases which is a fair selection of films to choose from.

In limited release this week we have The Virginity Hit, which is directed by The Last Exorcism Huck Botko & Andrew Gurland and is one of two films with dual directors as well as one of two films that centres around the losing virginity. Perhaps that's a back to school tie in? Perhaps not.

In wide release this week we have 4 films to chose from, 2 of which are straight of the TIFF gates with Easy A starring Emma Stone in a high school set, new spin and self-reflective version of The Scarlet Letter and the crime/thriller The Town directed and starring Ben Affleck and about a heist crew with the FBI on their tail. Our second dual director film of the week is the animated film Alpha and Omega 3D and last up is Devil based on a story by M. Night Shyamalan about people stuck in an elevator with evil incarnate.

Have a great weekend!

Shannon

Festival Watch

Toronto Independent Film Festival
Festival of Independent Filmmaking
Continues until September 18, 2010, at the Toronto Underground Cinema in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Toronto International Film Festival
Continues until September 19, 2010 at various locations in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Toronto Urban Film Festival
Collection of 1 minute silent films shown on the TTC
Continues until September 19, 2010 on TTC subway platforms in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Friday September 17, 2010 Releases

Alpha and Omega
Dir: Anthony Bell & Ben Gluck - feature film directorial debut
Voices: Hayden Panettiere, Christina Ricci, Justin Long, Dennis Hopper and Danny Glover
USA/India
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

Devil
Dir: Drew Dowdle (feature film directorial debut) and John Erick Dowdle (Quarantine)
Cast: Chris Messina, Geoffrey Arend, Logan Marshall-Green, Bojana Novakovic, Jenny O'Hara, Bokeem Woodbine, Jacob Vargas
USA
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

Easy A
Dir: Will Gluck (Fired Up)
Cast: Emma Stone, Amanda Bynes, Penn Badgley, Cam Gigandet, Lisa Kudrow, Thomas Hayden Church, Patricia Clarkson, Stanley Tucci, Aly Michalka
USA
Official Film Site & Trailer, IMDb Page

The Town
Dir: Ben Affleck (Gone Baby Gone)
Cast: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jeremy Renner, Chris Cooper, Pete Postlethwaite
USA
Official Film Site & Trailer, IMDb Page

The Virginity Hit
Dir: Huck Botko & Andrew Gurland (Mail Order Wife)
Cast: Matt Bennett, Zack Pearlman, Jacob Davich, Krysta Rodriguez, Nicole Weaver
USA
Limited Release
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

**please note this list of releases reflects first run film released in Toronto, Ontario, Canada as of September 17, 2010**
All content on Movie Moxie is written by Shannon Ridler, © 2006 - 2012