Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Worldwide Short Film Festival 2011 Preview


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Images from short films: Sergeant Slaughter, My Big Brother (Celebrity Shorts 1) and Martyris (Midnight Mania Freaky)

BLINK AT YOUR OWN RISK is the new catch phrase for this years Worldwide Short Film Festival, and I actually always look forward to their catch phrase because it's quite catchy & funny and being short myself I always secretly hope it's something I can add to my own repertoire!

The festival has a great combination of official selection and specialty programs, from the comedy of Indie Comedy Showcase: FOR SHORTS & GIGGLES to family friendly double bill of Shorts For Shorties: TELL US A STORY! and Shorts For Shorties: ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL. Or travel the world through the programs Trilogy of Trilogies: NEW ZEALAND'S GOT TALENT and Spotlight on Italy 1 & Spotlight on Italy 2.

Feeling a little light-headed in love? Take your honey to Date Night which will be at the CN Tower! That's pretty exciting. Or is you are on the rebound, perhaps it's time to check out One Night Stand. Relationships just keep going as friends in arms can check out Bromance or one of my favourite of the Official Selection titles: The Hipster, for all the cats to cool for school.

Personally I'm drawn more to the wacky & weird, which brings us to one of my continually favourite programs of Sci Fi: OUT THERE and the Midnight Mania's of Freaky & Creepy. If that's not enough we also have the original SLAP'N'TICKLE and it's new found addition Slap'n'Tickle: HARDGORE.

It's not just about watching short film. Check out the Symposium that runs throughout the festival including a Master Class: Directing Performance with Director Kari Skogland and actor Callum Keith Rennie. That's pretty freaking awesome.

And the whole shebang start tonight with the Opening Gala: Award Winners from Around the World at the Bloor.

I usually attend the festival live, but this year I'm in Portland for the World Domination Summit and will be away for the entirely of the Worldwide Short Film Festival which makes me sad. But on the happy side of the street, I have previewed several of the programs for your enjoyment:
I highly recommend checking out the films at the festival, it's so much more fun to watch them with an audience and with filmmakers in attendance for Q&A's. So scoot over to the festival and have fun, short, time.

For more information, check out the Worldwide Short Film Festival website, Program Descriptions, Film Schedule, Symposium Details, Location Information and Box Office Information.

You can also find the festival on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.

The Worldwide Short Film Festival runs from May 31 - June 5, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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Images from Pixels, Umbra and Yuri Lennon's Landing on Alpha 46 in the Sci Fi: OUT THERE Program

Worldwide Short Film Festival 2011: SciFi Out There and Midnight Mania

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Images from: Pixels, Umbra and Yuri Lennon's Landing on Alpha 46


The Sci Fi: OUT THERE is one I always look forward to at the Worldwide Short Film Festival, and this years selections deliver yet again. From the humorous to the haunting, it's a great array of interesting ideas from the playful to the painful. Here's a look at several of the shorts in the program.

Dir: Patrick Jean
France, 3 minutes

Awesome animation homage to old school Atari & arcade games transpixelled on city streets. Well crafted, funny and nostalgic all in one, I adored it!

Dir: Anne Leclercq
Cast: Anne-Cécile Vandalem
Belgium, 17 minutes

Wow. This one freaked me out. I love how it can tell it's highly conceptual scifi story with very little verbal language relayed, and how ironic that is considering our protagonist specializes in language. Haunting, lonely and resonate, Dissonance left me unnerved with it's beauty.

Dir: Peter Gornstein
Cast: Cyron Melville, Henning Jensen, Anders Hoyt
Denmark, 19 minutes

Morally complex and easy-to-access this short film is set in 2032 Copenhagen and adeptly explores the greater complications of human nature and societies. Showing a hard and fast 'protective' agency and the people they are apparently 'protecting' is shows how little is 'clear' for anyone.

Dir: Malcolm Sutherland
Canada, 6 minutes

Cute little creature that's doing it's best to figure out where it is and what it's doing. Short, stompy and to the point, this animated film is a mind trip and feels like a moments where it clearly shows how ideas in it of themselves can be truly scary. And, um... really cute. Loved it.

Yuri Lennon's Landing on Alpha 46
Dir: Anthony Vouardoux
Switzerland/Germany, 15 minutes

Yuri Lennon's Landing on Alpha 46 is really short filmmaking at it's best, using a great idea with limited points of view to explore a grander issue. Love that. The ideas fit the format, and in this case a space launch and investigation of a transmission. Brilliant short film.

SCI FI: Out There program screens at Worldwide Short Film Festival on Wednesday June 1, 2011 at 9:15PM at the ROM.

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Images from The Legend of Beaver Dam and Ninjas

Midnight Mania - Creepy and Freaky Programs
Ready to stay up late and get all freaked out? You are in luck because with these programs you will!

Here's a look at several of the shorts in theMidnight Mania Creepy program:

The Legend of Beaver Dam
Dir: Jerome Sable
Canada, 12 minutes

Hilarious and totally messed up take on a camp fire/ghost story gone wrong. The Legend of Beaver Dam had me in stitches. It doesn't hold back on any level, pushing all the buttons and delivers equal portions of horror and humour. Really got a kick out of it! Actually, it would kick you if it could. Maybe it can!

Dir: Dan Gitsham
Cast: Anthony Head
UK, 9 minutes

Anthony Head (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Merlin) star in Ella and we follow throughout as we try to piece together the mystery, and the horror, of not only the story but also his characters involvement and actions. Haunting and unsettling, Ella kept me on edge.

Adder's Bite
Dir: Firas Momani
Canada, 10 minutes

I can't honestly say that I understand all (or any) of the story of (or if there was one) in Adder's Bite, but I can say that I was completely absorbed by the film and curiously looking in and around and all over the screen. Bizarre movements and unnerving tone provided a completely visceral viewing experience. Can't wait to see more from filmmaker Firas Momani.

Dir: Dennison Ramalho
Brazil, 22 minutes

Following the torment of a man whose wrestling with the pain of wrong doing, Ninja takes this premise and pushes it to further pain and torment with every step and without reprieve. Long, harsh and brutal, Ninjas is one of the few films that was so disturbing I wish I hadn't see it. Effective, yes but the disturbing imagery & ideas it contains was too brutal for me.

Midnight Mania Creepy screens at Worldwide Short Film Festival on Friday June 3, 2011 at 11:59PM at the Bloor.

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Images from Martyris and Parasitoid

And now for a selection of shorts in the Midnight Mania Freaky program:

Dir: Luis Felipe Hernández Alanís
Mexico, 8 minutes

Fascinating animated film that has a strong nightmare like feel following a wild collection of restrained creatures that are painfully unhappy and destructive. High creep factor but absolutely beautifully done.

Dir: Martin Lotherington
Norway, 10 minutes

Great idea and nice execution as we see a parasite in search of and attempting to connect with it's host. Really engaging and great use of non verbal storytelling, Parasitoid really caught me.

Sticky Ends
Dir: Osman Cerfon
France, 6 minutes

Great comedy of errors and resilience as the bizarre fishlike man blows hovering bubbles that oddly protect people at the worst of times. Very clever and funny, even when you think you shouldn't be laugh it's hard not to!

Dir: Karni +Saul
UK, 10 minutes

Bizarre and birdy birthday party that for young Robert who has one heck of an imagination while accepting visitors of from three chatty old ladies. I loved how this one was fantastical and bizarre as well as being oddly comforting. Quite a treat.

Umshini Wam / Bring Me My Machine Gun
Dir: Harmony Korine
USA, 16 minutes

I'm a little at a loss of what to say about this one but I couldn't stop watching these wheelchair riding, ganster & ninja talking, hot-dog roasting duo. This short literally left me speechless & dumbfounded.

Midnight Mania Freaky screens at Worldwide Short Film Festival on Saturday June 4, 2011 at 11:59PM at the ROM.

The Worldwide Short Film Festival runs from May 31 - June 5, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Worldwide Short Film Festival 2011: Celebrity Shorts

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Images from Celebrity Shorts 1 films: White Other and Sergeant Slaughter, My Big Brother

I'm not always drawn to the Celebrity Shorts programs but this year had films starring Tom Hardy, Tom Felton, Joel Edgerton, Rosemary DeWitt, Colin Firth and directed by Rachel Weisz and Rupert Friend. I pretty much love all of them, therefore had to see them.

Taking a look at several of the shorts in the Celebrity Shorts 1 program.

PS Your Mystery Sender
Dir: Benjamin Wigley
UK, 9 minutes

This one is noted as both fiction and documentary, and to be honest if it isn't true I'm not sure I want to know! Following fashion designer Sir Paul Smith sharing his beautiful collection of regular object anonymously mailed to him over the years. This short is positively delightful.

White Other
Dir: Dan Hartley
Cast: Tom Felton, Imelda Staunton
UK, 13 minutes

Gripping short set in the confines of a hospital ward between nurse and one heck of live wire guy. Does the sterile setting allow for compassion and healing? Who needs understanding and honesty more? Will we be won over? Great questioning drama and fabulous acting in this short from Harry Potter almost-alums Tom Felton and Imelda Staunton.

Sergeant Slaughter, My Big Brother
Dir: Greg Williams
Cast: Tom Hardy, Ben MacLeod
UK, 12 minutes

Sibling kinship runs both strong and awry this drama centred on younger, bullied brother (Ben MacLeod) and older bully-like brother (Tom Hardy) who wants to go off and join the French Foreign Legion. The film does a great job of keeping the audience off balance on predispositions and judgment on the brothers and their family as we wonder if a clean break truly could be the best for everyone. Really top-notch short.

Animal Love
Dir: D: Mollie Jones
Cast: Selma Blair, Jeremy Davis
USA, 16 minutes

It took me a bit to warm up to Animal Love, which features two oddballs who hook up with a no-strings agreement but then start to seem to get a little sweet on each other. Really tender and beautiful, with lovely performances from Selma Blair & Jeremy Davis, this quirky romance completely won me over. And the cute animals helped, too.

Dir: Peter Cattaneo
Cast: Daniel Roche, Milo Quinton, Stephen Fry
UK, 12 minutes

Autobiographical comedy of Stephen Fry's private school days that is witty and charming as it follows the story of how he takes a younger student under his wing, gets in and tries to get out of trouble with the headmaster (played by Stephen Fry) and the lovely power of friendship.

Celebrity Shorts 1 screens at Worldwide Short Film Festival on Thursday June 2, 2011 at 7PM at the ROM.

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Images from Celebrity Shorts 1: PS Your Mystery Sender and An Act of Love

And now for a selection of the Celebrity Shorts 2 program:

Dir: Neil LaBute
Cast: Julia Stiles
USA, 8 minutes

Crisp short film featuring Julia Stiles as the 'other woman' whose had just about enough! It's very monologue-like with a straight to the camera telling where we bear the brunt of her out pour of honest distaste and discomfort and she attempts to shattering the disillusionment of the her lover's wife.

Dir: Rupert Friend
Cast: Colin Firth, Keira Knightly, Tom Mison
UK, 16 minutes

Arguing with your partner can be bad enough, what happens when you add a random, persistent neighbour into the mix? Steve (Colin Firth) becomes the self-imposing, tea-thirsty neighbour that throws wrenches in the works of the everyday lives of the folks above him. It begs the question of how far we'll stretch for common courtesy and when enough really seems like enough!

The Thief
Dir: Rachel Weisz
Cast: Rosemary DeWitt, Joel Edgerton
USA, 14 minutes

Beautiful human drama between a thief (Joel Edgerton) who breaks into an unexpectedly occupied home where the owner (Rosemary DeWitt) displays something more powerful that fear. Gripping and wonderfully acted, I loved this short film. And a PS to any skeptics out there, it's based on a true story from Glamour Magazine’s Reel Moments project. Wow. That's truly powerful.

Celebrity Shorts 2 screens at Worldwide Short Film Festival on Friday June 3, 2011 at 7PM at the Bloor.

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Images from Celebrity Shorts 2 films Sexting and The Thief

The Worldwide Short Film Festival runs from May 31 - June 5, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Worldwide Short Film Festival 2011: Opening Night Gala & CFC Dramatic Shorts

Image from West of the Moon from the Opening Gala Program

Opening Gala: Award Winners from Around the World
The festival starts off tonight with star studding award winning shorts from across the globe! Let's take a look at selection of shorts in the Opening Gala program.

Dir: Daan Bakker
Netherlands, 8 minutes

A wiser than his age and well spoken 12-year old charms everyone he meets with candor and vigor at a hotel where his family is vacationing. It begs the question is it better to believe, or to know? Or perhaps a bit of both. Charming & delightful this one is sure to be an crowd pleaser. Bukowski delivers.

West of the Moon
Dir: Brent Bonacorso
USA, 10 minutes

Gorgeous & whimsical this combination of live-action and animation shows the wonder of imagination at work. I loved watching this wacky and wild story unfold, making sense of nonsense & sensing and sharing whimsy in every possible way. West of the Moon was a complete treat.

Big Bang Big Boom
Dir: Blu
Italy, 12 minutes

I could watch the animation of Big Bang Big Boom over and over and over again. A beautiful, rough around the edges with a lively sense or humour and smarts to top it all off. This is a creative genius at work.

The Lost Thing
Dir: Andrew Ruhemann & Shaun Tan
Australia, 15 minutes

Oh, The Lost Thing... where have you been? Perhaps you've been lost. A beautiful story that blends the very literal with an undercurrent of the sad notation of not noticing the wonder of the world around us. A great reminder and a truly magnificent film. A treasure not only lost, but also found.

Opening Gala: Award Winners from Around the World screens at Worldwide Short Film Festival on:
  • Tuesday May 31, 2011 at 7PM at the Bloor
  • Sunday June 5, 2011 at 9:30 at the ROM
Andrew Moodie in Transmission, part of the Canadian Film Centre: SHORT DRAMATIC FILMS program

Canadian Film Centre: SHORT DRAMATIC FILMS

Here's a look at two of the shorts in the Canadian Film Centre: SHORT DRAMATIC FILMS program.

Kill Brass
Dir: Michel Kandinsky
Cast: Ron White, Graham Abbey
Canada, 17 minutes

Great storytelling and tension displayed in this tale of two hit men. From the younger, bolder Koestler (Graham Abbey) and the passed-seasoned Spinoza (Ron White) take each other on to see who will remain standing at the end of the day.

Dir: Randall Okita (Machine with Wishbone)
Cast: Andrew Moodie, Wayne Ward, Evan Gilchrist
Canada, 17 minutes

Griping moral drama and character study centred on a tow-truck driver (in a fantastic performance by Andrew Moodie) who struggles with a non-so-simple towing. Challenging perceptions and balancing restraint, the audience is kept captive as we see the moments go from bad to worse. Fantastic display of restraint, repercussions and rage.

Canadian Film Centre: SHORT DRAMATIC FILMS screens at Worldwide Short Film Festival on Sunday June 5, 2011 at 12NOON at the Varsity.

The Worldwide Short Film Festival runs from May 31 - June 5, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

DVD Releases May 31, 2011

Time to take a look at a selection of the DVD Releases for May 31, 2011

  • True Blood Season 3 one of the raciest shows out there this Southern set vampire mystery series starring Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer and Alexander Skarsgård has been a summer run away hit for 3 seasons running (and it has been weekly summer discussion topic over the Hexed: Sisterhood of the Supernatural podcast which I co-host with my sister Suzie. Catch up now if you need to get ready for Season 4 which beings airing June 26, 2011.
  • Kaboom (DVD Review) hilarious film which simple description is a new college students who are quite sexed and drugged up, but when you look a bit closer it's a whole lot more.
  • Passion Play (DVD Review) stars Mickey Rourke as a almost washed up trumpet player to falls for & seeks salvation from a girl with wins (Megan Fox). I know it sounds crazy, but it's actually quite touching
  • Prey (DVD Review) French monster film set in the forest of a fertiziler plant family where the animals start to go a little too wild.
  • Undertow / Contracorriente Gorgeous and touching film set in a Peruvian village where a man trys to balance his time between his pregnant wife and his secret boyfriend. Powerful emotional journey with fantastic acting (available June 1, 2011).
  • The Waiting City Gripping drama starring Radha Mitchell (Pitch Black) & Joel Edgerton (Animal Kingdom) as a couple who go to India in hopes of adopting a child.
  • Drive Angry Supernatural action film starring Nicolas Cage looking for revenge on his daughter and is on the run from the Devil's right hand man. I can't believe I didn't make it to this one in the theatre - looking forward to rectifying that now!
  • The Call of Cthulhu Two things I know about Cthulhu: I'm paranoid I'll spell it wrong and it all about H.P. Lovecraft. The film follows the H.P. Lovecraft's story of the same name and stars Matt Foyer, David Mersault and is directed by Andrew H. Leman.
  • Rocksteady The Roots of Reggae documentary on reggae All-Stars reunion concert in Kingston, Jamaica.
  • Biutiful 2-time Oscar nominaed film starring Javier Bardem and from director Alejandro González Iñárritu.
  • Rookie Blue Season 1 Canadian cop show centred on Rookies, I have to admit the commercials for the second season have we curious with it's wry humour.
  • Covert Affairs: Season One Piper Perabo stars as a CIA agent in this action/crime TV series. Wow, I thought this one just started and now it's on DVD!

Titles on Amazon.ca(Canada):

Titles on Amazon.com (US):

Monday, 30 May 2011

Kaboom (DVD Review)

Image: Courtesy of eOne Films.

Writer/Dir: Gregg Araki (Smiley Face, The Doom Generation)
Cast: Thomas Dekker, Haley Bennett, Juno Temple, Chris Zylka, Roxane Mesquida, Nicole LaLiberte, James Duval, Kelly Lynch, Andy Fischer-Price
USA/France, 2011

Reason to see: This one got really positive buzz

I was slightly hesitant going into Kaboom, as it looked like a college-set druggie/sex comedy and that isn't quite my thing but there was just something about it that keep making me curious. I'm so glad I did as it is hilarious and pretty freaking smart to boot.

Kaboom stars Thomas Dekker as Smith, a new college student balancing life between lightly lusting after new roommate Thor (Chris Zylka), have crazy dreams & visions, all the while keeping up to date with the love life of his awesome & sarcastic best friend Stella (Haley Bennett). And that barely scratches the surface. We also have the very direct London whose interested in just about everything and everyone, and played brillantly by Juno Temple, Stella's crazy new girlfriend Lorelie (Roxane Mesquida) and Smith's bizarre visions of mysterious Red-Haired Girl (Nicole LaLiberte). Kaboom is a film that you keep thinking you don't believe what you are seeing, because it's just so out there, but you can't take your eyes off if. Better than watching a train wreck, but rather a mish mash of adult sized tinker toys gracefully placed together and then wildly run amok. I never knew what was going to happen next, and if fact I wasn't even thinking about what would happen next because I was so engaged and bewildered by what was actually happening.

It was beautiful and ridiculous all rolled up in to one happy package that arrives when it isn't even your birthday. You just accept it, keep going and hope for more. And there kept being more. It was a hell of a lot of fun and is well worth the ride. Kaboom is trippy, it's sassy and it's gutsy as all get out. Believe me, this is one crazy ride that you'll want to tell your friends about. See Kaboom.

DVD Extras:
No DVD Extras

Kaboom is available on DVD as of May 31, 2011. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com

Shannon's Overall View:
I loved it
I'll watch it again
I highly recommend it as a cheeky & wacky comedy

Return to Film Reviews or see more DVD Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2011

Thomas Dekker, Haley Bennett and Roxane Mesquida in KABOOM. Courtesy of eOne Films.

Thomas Dekker in KABOOM. Courtesy of eOne Films.

Passion Play (DVD Review)

Image: Courtesy of eOne Films

Writer/Dir: Mitch Glazer - feature film directorial debut
Cast: Mickey Rourke, Megan Fox, Bill Murphy, Kelly Lynch, Rhys Ifans, Jerry Sawyers
USA, 2011

Reason to see: Western/carnival feel with possible supernaturalness (Megan Fox with wings!) was enough to hook me!

In Passion Play we follow Nate Pool (Mickey Rourke), a washed-up trumpet player that seems to be very close to the end of his luck until he stumbles across Lily (Megan Fox), a carnival worker with wings. Yes, wings. Ah... I love that. Speaking of love, is this what we see in Nate & Lily's eyes? Love or perhaps redemption? Or even just the possibility of escape. But escape from whom, or escape to what? Two lost and broken souls who the world has given a boatload of bad luck find each other, and possibly another chance.

I was very happily impressed with Passion Play. I dances the fine line of emotions and opportunity very well, and I loved the unconventional relationship between Nate & Lily. I loved the western-feel and the carnival stylings which balanced out the oppressive and ominous stories of the characters. The acting was across the board solid with not only Mickey Rourke and Megan Fox, as well as Bill Murray who plays the dark-but-often-funny gangster Happy Shannon.

I did find at times there felt like a few missing pieces in terms of the setting and the effects range from great to just okay, but there was always an air of otherness that made me think you are just suppose to go with it. It mostly felt like the real world, but every once in a while it made me wonder. And I like to wonder, so I did just go with it. As a relationship drama with a supernatural spin, I thought it was quite lovely and touching. I'm already looking forward to watching it again.

DVD Extras:
  • Trailer
Passion Play is available on DVD as of May 31, 2011. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed much more than expected it
I'll watch it again
I'd recommend as relationship dramas with a supernatural flavour

Return to Film Reviews or see more DVD Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2011

Prey/Proie (DVD Review)

Image: Courtesy of eOne Films.

Dir: Antoine Blossier - feature film directorial debut
Cast: Bérénice Bejo, Grégoire Colin, Isabelle Renauld, François Levantal, Joseph Malerba, Fred Ulysse
France, 2010

Reason to see: You had me at French Monster Movie

Set in the countryside and following an family in the pesticide business, Prey/Proie presents us with a lot to play with the the horror genre. From the mix of man vs nature to nature vs man and throws lots of human to human tension in the mix. It's pretty manly all around, but we also have a Claire (Bérénice Bejo) whose boyfriend is an easily not welcome in the male-heavy family and even though the romantic relationship feels strong there is still an unnerving disalignment when everyone is together. This gets pushed to the max with all the fellas head out to the forest to see if they can solve the mystery of the wildlife going a little too wild.

I really enjoyed the nature setting, human relationships and playing with the idea of consequences to actions that Prey/Proie really brought to the forefront. The tension swells pretty high and the editing was great, giving quite a heightened sense of emotions for the horror of the situation. I think I've been watching a lot of the more comedy/wacky monster films like Sharktopus and Dinoshark, because it took me a bit to adjust to the serious tone of Prey/Proie and well as the sensing the monsters through tension, tone and editing over seeing them all to much.

Although this was done very well and the film looked gorgeous, I did want to see a little bit more. With the serious nature of the monsters, human drama and moral issues this one ended up being quite different and darker than I expected. Still a nice addition to the monster horror mix, but more for the serious thriller/horror fans over the popcorn crowds.

DVD Extras:
No DVD Extras

Prey / Proie is available on DVD as of May 31, 2011. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com

Shannon's Overall View:
I wanted to enjoyed it more
I'll likely give it another shot
I'd recommend as a non-comedic monster film for thriller & horror fans

Return to Film Reviews or see more DVD Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2011

PREY. Courtesy of eOne Films.

François Levantal in PREY. Courtesy of eOne Films.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

One Day (Book Review)


Book: One Day by David Nicholls

Reason to Read: May Book Selection for the Book to Film Club, and one of the most recently released books in the book club as it came out in June 2009.

One Day by David Nicholls
, our May selection for the 2011 Book to Film Club and the only book that I hadn't even heard about back in January when this journey started. I hadn't quite decided for the last selection so asked on Twitter for recommendations and this one shot to the top of the list (Something Borrowed was a close second). I'm very, very thankful for the recommend as I absolutely loved the book and had never heard of it before that Twitter request. Don't you love social media?

One Day follows Emma and Dexter, on the same day for many years. Honestly that hook hooked me deep and I didn't really need any more selling to want to read it. But to throw some cherries on tip, it will star Anne Hathaway (Devil Wears Prada, Rachel Getting Married) and Jim Sturgess (Across the Universe, Heartless) as Emma & Dexter and will directed by Lone Scherfig (An Education). I feel like we are in very good hands for the adaptation.

I enjoyed every minute of reading this book. Even though I only finished the book a few short days ago I still fully fell immersed in the lives of Emma and Dexter, and I felt this way every time I put the book down until I picked it up again - even if a week passed by. What would happens next, where would the emotions turn, how would their lives change, or stay the same. I remember the smallest things from places they lived or worked to of course the bigger moments. I often read it while I was on public transit, and more than once had to stifle a laugh and almost always had a smile on my face. If I'm making it sound purely like sunshine and rainbows, it certainly isn't as there are many hardships and strong emotions but I always connected to the emotional realness of their relationship. I also adored how the book easily transitioned the point of view from character to character although it did take a bit of getting used to, including sometimes wanting to jump ahead to see who was thinking, writing or talking. As the book wore on it was easier to know who it was because of how well the characters are developed.

I'm really excited about the casting of the film, I think Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess are going to be absolutely perfect! The only thing I wonder is if Anne Hathaway will have do an accent, which I'm not a stickler for in general but I think it is important to her character and would be weird if they changed it. I'm curious to what kind of storytelling style they will use for the film, especially in terms of transitioning from year to year and I really hope they get the clothes and 'cool factor' right and I really hope they keep the life trajectories consistent with the book.

Overall, I found it riveting, engaging and emotional ride from start to finish. Even though I could have read it faster, and always wanted to know what happened next, it was one of those books where I could sit contently after a chapter and reveal in the deliciousness of the banter, the joys & the horrors and above all the realness of the characters and their emotions. I highly recommend checking it out.

Film Adaptation
Current release date for the film is August 19, 2011. It was previously scheduled for July 8, 2011, although readers will know the best day would have been July 15, 2011 but then again that would have it going against the juggernaut that is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and well, that's not a good idea for any film. We can always watch it year and year again on July 15th is we so wish. And if we like it! Here's hoping!

The 2011 Book to Film Club is open year round, you can hop on the fun train at any time! Sign up for updates here.

Book to Film Club May 2011: One Day by David Nicholls


It's almost the end of the month, how has your reading been going? Our May Reading Selection is One Day by David Nicholls and I hope you have been enjoying it. I just finished it on Friday and found it engaging and emotional from start to finish.

One Day by David Nicholls
The book follows 2 people on the same day every year.

Here are some questions to consider about the reading experience. Feel free to write a review, journal about them or voice them in any way that feels right.

Things to ponder on the book:
  • Did you enjoy reading it?
  • Was it what you were expecting?
  • What did you know about the book before reading it?
  • Did you enjoy the format?
  • What did you think about the writing style?
  • What did you take away from reading the book?
  • Is there anything you would change about the book?
  • Who would you recommend the book to?

About the upcoming film adaptation:
  • How do you feel about the casting of the film (Anne Hathaway as Emma and Jim Sturgess as Dexter)?
  • What do you hope to be the focus of the film?
  • What do you think is essential to keep from the book in the film?
  • What do you think they can trim away from the book to the film?
  • What do you think the challenges of the adaptation may be?
  • Do you have any hesitations on the adaptation?
  • What are you most looking forward to about the film adaptation?

If this was a re-read:
  • How did reading it this time compare with your previous time reading it?
  • Did you notice anything different this time round?
  • Did your interest and focus stay on the same characters and moments, or shift?

If you choose to shelf this out one:
  • Was there a barrier (genre, focus, reception) ?
  • Would you consider trying it later?
  • Have you already read it?
  • Will you join us again in June for On the Road? (I hope you will!)

Book reviews from Book to Film Clubbers:

Film Adaptation
The film version of One Day will star Anne Hathaway (Devil Wears Prada, Rachel Getting Married) and Jim Sturgess (Across the Universe, Heartless), directed by Lone Scherfig (An Education) and although the original release date as will be released on July 8 (and it really, really should have been July 15 and is only understandable in the context that it's the release date of the final Harry Potter aka 7.2 film), it looks like it will be out on August 19, 2011. Sigh. I don't want to have to wait that long! You can check out the trailer for the film if you need a morsel of what we have to look forward to.
Film Release date: August 19, 2011

If you haven't yet joined the Book to Film Club, you can hop on the fun train at any time! Sign up for updates here.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Film Fan Fridays for Friday May 27, 2011

Hello Film Fans and Fanatics!

Welcome to Film Fan Fridays for Friday May 27, 2011!

In limited release this week we start off with two documentaries with L'Amour Fou centred on on fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent and his ex-lover Pierre Berge and Bobby Fischer Against the World on the life of chess master bobby Fischer. We also have the end-of-world/survival horror The Collapsed, ensemble-cast friend comedy that also feels quite tragic Little White Lies / Les petits mouchoirs plus the Thursday May 26, 2011 release of The Invisible Eye / La mirada invisible.

In wide release this week we have starting things off early both releases of the week being Thursday May 26, 2011 and both are sequels: The Hangover Part II and Kung Fu Panda 2.

Be sure to check out my coverage of the World Wide Short Film Festival next week over at at Movie Moxie.

Have a great weekend!


Festival Watch

Inside Out
21st Annual Toronto Lesbian and Gay Film and Video Festival
Continues until May 29, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Worldwide Short Film Festival
May 31 - June 5, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Thursday May 26, 2011 Releases

The Hangover Part II
Dir: Todd Phillips (The Hangover, Due Date, Old School)
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

The Invisible Eye / La mirada invisible
Dir: Diego Lerman (Mientras tanto, Suddenly)
Cast: Julieta Zylberberg, Osmar Núñez, Marta Lubos
Official Film Site & Trailer, IMDb Page

Kung Fu Panda 2
Dir: Jennifer Yuh - feature film directorial debut
Voices: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffm, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, James Hong, Gary Oldman, Michelle Yeoh, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Victor Garber
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

Friday May 27, 2011 Releases

L'Amour Fou
Dir: Pierre Thoretton - feature film directorial debut
Limited Release
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

Bobby Fischer Against the World
Dir: Liz Garbus (Girlhood)
Limited Release
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

The Collapsed
Dir: Justin McConnell (Working Class Rock Star)
Cast: John Fantasia, Steve Vieira, Anna Ross, Lise Moule, Vincent Thomas, Stéfano Gallo
Limited Release
Official Film Site & Trailer, IMDb Page

Little White Lies / Les petits mouchoirs
Writer/Dir: Guillaume Canet (Tell No One)
Cast: François Cluzet, Marion Cotillard, Benoît Magimel, Gilles Lellouche, Jean Dujardin, Laurent Lafitte, Valérie Bonneton, Véronique Cantara, Pascale Arbillot
Limited Release
Official Film Site & Trailer, IMDb Page, English subtitled Trailer

**please note this list of releases reflects first run film released in Toronto, Ontario, Canada as of May 27, 2011**

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Inside Out 2011: OFF BEAT & You Will Be Mine

Above: Hans-Jakob Mühlethaler and Manuel Neuburger in OFF BEAT

Dir: Jan Gassmann
Cast: Hans-Jakob Mühlethaler, Manuel Neuburger, Domenico Pecoraio

OFF BEAT was one of the films I just knew I had to see at the festival: a film from Switzerland that features a real life musician (Hans-Jakob Mühlethaler) as a rapper was well more than enough to get me intrigued but little did I know it would easily be one of the best films I saw of this year selections. The film is centred strongly on the journeys and relationships between several people focusing on rapper Lukas (Hans-Jakob Mühlethaler), producer Mischa (Domenico Pecoraio) and Sämi aka Samsonite (Manuel Neuburger). Two rappers and one producer could easily be enough to cause tension, but this amps it up with Lukas & Mischa also being discreet lovers, and with Lukas & Sämi being brothers. The emotions run really high in this film and are layered with complications from everything from drugs to broken families to cyclic patterns it but also does a great job of showing the process of catharsis and questioning as well as treating the audience to many truths from family to healing, and the power of poetry, inspiration and music. I absolutely loved OFF BEAT. It has powerful emotional journeys, fantastic performances especially by Hans-Jakob Mühlethaler & Manuel Neuburger, tender & beautiful moments throughout as well as awesome rapping and great music. It's a crazy package when you put it all together, and it works each step of the way. I highly recommend checking it out.

OFF BEAT screens at Inside Out on Friday May 27, 2011 at 7:15PM

Above: Isild Le Besco and Judith Davis in You Will Be Mine / Je te mangerais

You Will Be Mine / Je te mangerais
Dir: Sophie Laloy
Cast: Judith Davis, Isild Le Besco

You Will Be Mine / Je te mangerais follows as two childhood friends who drifted apart are reunited as young adults when Marie (Judith Davis) comes to stay with Emma (Isild Le Besco) to be closer to school where she studies classic piano. The film does a great job of dancing on comfort zone lines, for both the characters and the audience, from Marie trying to find the balance of freedom outside a family environment or as as the young women find their feet in their rekindled friendship in which Emma subtly pushes for more. Confronted by the confusing of looking up to someone then not agreeing with them adds to the unique dynamic created. There is certainly a lot of heat in You Will Be Mine / Je te mangerais as the chemistry between Judith Davis and Isild Le Besco can be electric, and it plays teasingly along as the characters come together and move away like a push me-pull me doll. Mental games and chilling tension add to the already ramped up atmosphere creating a whirlwind of chaos. I wasn't always on board with the direction it went, but was always impressed by the great performances by the two leads and the fantastic atmosphere. Very chilling.

You Will Be Mine / Je te mangerais screens at Inside Out on Friday May 27, 2011 at 7:30PM

The Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film and Video Festival 2011 runs from May 19-29, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Movie Moxie Podcast 38: Beat the World, Dance Films as a Genre


This week on the Movie Moxie Podcast Shannon takes a look at the recent Canadian dance film Beat the World, checks in on the Inside Out Film Festival and takes on Dance Films as a Genre (and our second last genre exploration!).

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0:00 – 1:10 - Introduction
1:10 – 11:30 – Beat the World Review
11:30 – 20:30 – Film Watching Habits
20:30 – 28:30 – Inside Out 2011 Update
28:30 – 1:04:00 – Dance Films as a Genre
1:04:00 – 1:06:15 – DVD releases
1:06:15 –1:08:30 – Upcoming Next Week
1:08:30 –1L09L41– Outro

Show Notes
Dance as a Genre Show Notes
  • Shannon definition of Dance Films: Dance films are a subgenre of film where the central focus of the film is on an dancer, group of dancers, dance event or competition. They often including themes of coming of age, romance, overcoming adversity, working together and people coming together from both sides of the tracks.
  • Dance Film Themes: coming of age, people coming together from both sides of the tracks, competitions, the challenge of conformity, people of different levels of learning/experiences
  • I mention the awesome ballroom dancers & choreographers Tony Meredith & Melanie LaPatin
  • Classic Dance Film Stars: Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly, Danny Kaye, Cyd Charisse
  • Classic Dance Films: The Gay Divorcee, Swing Time, Top Hat, Silk Stockings, Holiday Inn, Singin’ in the Rain, On the Town
  • 80’s Breakdancing: Breakin’, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, Beat Street
  • Ballet/Modern Dance Films: Centre Stage, White Nights, Mao's Last Dancer
  • Ballroom: Strictly Ballroom, Shall We Dance / Shall we dansu?, Dance with Me, Take the Lead, Salsa
  • Hip Hop: Save the Last Dance, Step Up, Step Up 2: The Streets, Step Up 3D, Street Dance, Beat the World, You Got Served
  • Step: Stomp the Yard, How She Move
  • Performing Arts: Fame, A Chorus Line
  • Male protagonist dance films: Footloose, Billy Elliott
  • Documentaries: Every Little Step, Mad Hot Ballroom, Planet B-Boy
  • Also mentioned: Stepping Out, Off Beat
  • List of all Dance Films Reviewed
Not Quite Dance Films:
  • Musicals (play/film adaptations) that have great dance: West Side Story, Jesus Christ Superstar
  • Honorary mentions aka not dance films but close friends in arms: Roll Bounce (rollerskaking + competition) & Drumline (Marching Band)
  • Not Dance films: The Last Days of Disco, Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Flashdance, Black Swan, Dirty Dancing
Faves of others:
  • Dirty Dancing, Rize, Strictly Ballroom, Flashdance, Beat Street, A Chorus Line, All that Jazz, Honey, Step Up 3D, The Red Shoes (1948), Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, Singing in the Rain, Stomp the Yard, West Side Story, Dance with Me, Salsa, Save the Last Dance, Take the Lead, Street Dance, Step Up
Thanks to Kevin, Vinnie, Danette, Andrew, Norlinda, Nevermindher, Justin Vactor and my sisters Suzie & Jamie for your faves & recommends!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Inside Out 2011: Weekend, Who Took the Bomp


Writer/Dir: Andrew Haigh
Cast: Tom Cullen, Chris New
I always look forward to the Centrepiece Gala selection at Inside Out as it's a place on the schedule that has an excellent track record bringing us fantastic films from around the world, such last year with Undertow / Contracorriente and 2008's Newcastle. This year we have Weekend from the UK and it's another fantastic film to add to the mix. The film follows the rather quiet and reserved Russell (Tom Cullen) and new hook up Glen (Chris New) as they go through the getting to know each other steps from awkward newness to amped up bravado to tender admissions. It's a beautiful look at many complicated layers of relationships that honestly and adeptly peels back those layers one by one. I loved how it was very verbally direct but emotionally subtly as it explored assumptions, opinions as well as the actual reality of the relationships created. One of the many strengths of the film is that it looked at the ideas, ideals and issues from not only a personal perspective of the individual characters but also as a society and world view of inward looking out and outward looking in. Another strength of the film is Russell & Glen themselves, who are well developed, complicated yet so human and accessible. Plus, they have great chemistry which is highlighted by the slow burn nature of the film which before you know it draws you completely in and makes you care intensely for the characters. Absolutely brilliant filmmaking and top notch performances from Tom Cullen and Chris New. I highly recommend checking Weekend out.

Weekend is the Centrepiece Gala selection this year and screens at Inside Out on Tuesday May 24, 2011 at 9:30PM


Who Took the Bomp? Le Tigre on Tour
Dir: Kerthy Fix
Documentary featuring the band Le Tigre

Who Took the Bomp? Le Tigre on Tour follows the band Le Tigre during their 2004 This Island world tour and includes footage of their Hamburg, Tokyo, Copenhagen & Sydney shows as filmed by by their lighting director Carmine. Along with being a concert films it also features interviews with the band, behind the scenes footage and archival footage of other concert appearances throughout the years and on top of all that it's an awesome punk rock, feminist, lesbian, positive hell of a good time. Le Tigre is made up of Kathleen Hanna, Johanna Fateman and JD Samson who are impressive as hell both on stage and off. The concert footage is electric and the media interviews that range from enlightening & engaging to ones where it's obvious the interviewers have done little research into the band but the audience get treated to their reaction along with more hilarious behind the scenes footage. We also get general reactionaryness to more awkward interviews and encounters, some of which is entertaining and at other times disheartening as it shows the battle for feminism and equality is still a battle being fought. I also loved the direct to camera interviews where they discussed their individual and collective interest in and connection to music, politics, feminism, and each other including the importance to continuing to acknowledge speak up and out of feminism. I thought it was sad and shocking that they still dealt with sexism and prejudice along with way, and it was great to hear their honest reactions and responses to it along the way. Kathleen Hanna, Johanna Fateman and JD Samson are completely awesome, awe-inspiring and positive to boot. I loved every single moment of this film.

Who Took the Bomp? Le Tigre on Tour screens at Inside Out on Friday May 27, 2011 at 10:00PM

The Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film and Video Festival 2011 runs from May 19-29, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

DVD Releases for May 24, 2011

Tuesday time! Let's have a look at a selection of this weeks DVD releases for May 24, 2011.

  • I Am Number Four I'm so excited that the first of the 2011 Book to Film Club film is now out on DVD! I really enjoyed both the book and the film, and look forward to seeing the film again and if people haven't seen it yet now they can catch up!
  • Gnomeo & Juliet (DVD Review) on DVD, BluRay & 3D ComboPack charming (and liberal) animated adaptation of Romeo & Juliet featuring the voices of James McAvoy & Emily Blunt.
  • The Unloved gritty drama following a child through the UK government-run social services for orphans and children in danger, directed by Samantha Morton
  • A Small Act absolutely wonderful documentary on how a small act can have a beautiful impact. Completely inspiring and I highly recommend checking it out.
  • Nénette touching documentary on an a 40-year-old orangutan.
  • Oliver Sherman I really want to see this Canadian films starring Garret Dillahunt and Molly Parker.
  • All Good Things creepy feeling mystery based an unsolved murder case in New York, stars Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst & Frank Langella
  • William & Kate: Planning a Royal Wedding more documentary goodness so soon after the actual Royal Wedding! I wonder how they did it.
  • Transformers: The Complete Original Series Feeling nostalgic for the TV series? Check it ...all.. out now... the original robots in disguise!
Titles on Amazon.ca(Canada):

Titles on Amazon.com (US):

Oliver Sherman not currently available via Amazon.com

Monday, 23 May 2011

Gnomeo & Juliet (DVD Review)

DVD Review of Gnomeo & Juliet, a very liberal and charming adaptation of Romeo & Juliet into an animated film with characters translated into garden gnomes. Features voice talents of James McAvoy & Emily Blunt.
Image: Courtesy of eOne Films

Dir: Kelly Asbury (Shrek 2, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron)
Voices: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Michael Caine, Jason Statham, Maggie Smith, Patrick Stewart, Ashley Jensen, Stephen Merchant, Matt Lucas, Jim Cummings, Julie Walters, Richard Wilson, Ozzy Osbourne
UK/USA, 2011

Reason to see: Love the cast & the trailer made me smile

Gnomeo and Juliet is a delightful animated romance that takes Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, and re-invents it with garden gnomes. Yes, garden gnomes. When I heard the premise I was a little skeptical, but the trailer was cute which got me curious enough to give the film itself a try and I'm glad I did as it completely won me over.

The Capulet and Montague houses are transposed to the greenery of garden gnomes from rival lawns and are easily distinguishable by being either "a red" (Capulet house, Redbrick gnomes) or "a blue" (Montague house, Bluebury gnomes). Add a sporting event to the mix and I settled comfortable into the understanding of seeing a British football analogy and sensibility which was delightful & unexpected. But it's more than just fun and games, as the heart of the story is the sweet lawn-cross'd romance between our little scrapper Gnomeo and the adventurous Juliet.

There are so many things I enjoyed about Gnomeo and Juliet. I loved that they were aware of and acknowledged that it's a story that's been told time and again, but then ran with it in a new, fresh direction. I love how adventurous Juliet is, how she doesn't take no for an answer and actually has her own ambitious, thoughts and ideas even though there is the overbearing father figure, who being voice by Michael Caine is hard not to love in spite of his overly protective nature. I also loved the sweet romance between Gnomeo (James McAvoy) and Juliet (Emily Blunt), who even though we know their story still keep the romance fresh and exciting to watch unfold. I was also completely taken aback by how clever it was to use gnomes as a analogy to the challenges of being inflexible. This is brilliant as garden gnomes, like any figurines, have a distinct fragility to them. I really loved this in concept and how they used it in the film.

The film has a lovely supporting cast that fill it with enthusiasm including Featherstone the flamingo (Jim Cummings), a cute-but-mute Shrums and villainous Tybalt (Jason Statham) as our resident love-to-hate character. The film also has several musical numbers with music from Elton John that adds to the liveliness.

Overall I found Gnomeo and Juliet a lot of fun and a film that really stuck with me over time and I've thought about a suprizing amount since I've seen it. It's a great choice for a Valentine's Day weekend release with it's sweet romance, lively spirit and all-around good nature.

DVD Extras:
  • Alternative Endings with Filmmaker Introductions (2 alternative endings, 4 minutes with introductions) introduction discussing rationale behind the different possible endings and also touches on the animation and storyboarding process, plus showing the alternative endings in story reels* with music, sound and voice overs.
  • Deleted & Alternative Scenes with Filmmaker Introductions (6 scenes, 35 with introductions) introduction by directer Kelly Asbury discussing story reels*and the different things they tried in the film. The extra scenes include an alternate beginning, alternate character introductions and interpretations, plus rational behind some of the choices in deleted scenes or using alternative versions, plus touching on is how the story connections to the original Romeo & Juliet. There is one in particular scene that was deleted for being 'too dark', which is true but as an adult I found it freaking hilarious! All scenes shows in story reels* with music, sound and some voice overs.
*All of the extra footage animation sequences are story reels, described as a slide show in drawings, and are not finished animated sequences in full colour.

Gnomeo & Juliet is available on DVD, BluRay and in a variety of 3D versions via DVD/BluRay combopacks as of May 24, 2011. Check it out over at Amazon.ca DVD, Amazon.ca (Blu-Ray), Amazon.ca (3D Blu-Ray/DVD Combo) & Amazon.com DVD, Amaozn.com (Blu-ray/DVD) & Amazon.com (Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD + Digital Copy)

Shannon's Overall View:
I really enjoyed it
I look forward to seeing it again
I'd widely recommend it

Return to Film Reviews or see more DVD Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2011
Originally reviewed for Theatrical Release - February 11, 2011

Juliet (voiced by Emily Blunt) and Gnomeo (voiced by James McAvoy) in Gnomeo & Juliet 3D Courtesy of eOne Films

Featherstone (voiced by Jim Cummings) in Gnomeo & Juliet 3D Courtesy of eOne Films
All content on Movie Moxie is written by Shannon Ridler, © 2006 - 2012