Monday, February 11, 2013

Film notes

Five Oscar animated shorts, five live action flicks, which I saw at the DFT over the weekend. Normally not a great fan of animation, of this crop of 10 films I thought the cartoons were better than the real life shorts. My favourite was Fresh Guacamole (picture left), about the – who knows – quagmire of gambling, or nothing at all. This film has some hilarious fast cuts – technically and literally. It’s by a guy named PES, Adam Pesapane, a renowned maker of short films – many available online including this - who takes everyday objects and transforms them into entirely new somethings, and mesmerizingly so.....Next best was Paperman, John Kahrs’s charming black and white romantic take on  the 1950ish world of two Manhattan office workers. It's appropriately produced by Disney.....On the live action side my favourite was Curfew (Shawn Christensen) about a suicidal druggie whose forced out of his misery to take care of his haranguing young niece. That was followed by Henry, the Quebec film directed by Yan England, about the cruelties of Alzheimer’s disease.....The DFT repeats the screenings four times this coming weekend and the price is more than worth it - 10 Oscar-nominated short films for under $10 – all in one sitting.

Dustin Hoffman has done respectably enough  in his directorial debut Quartet (at Devonshire Cineplex and the Uptown Birmingham). In this film he’s amassed all the senior standouts of British stage and movies (of course they got to meet the great Hoffman as well!). These actors include Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Pauline Collins and Tom Courtenay. Quartet is a comedy about aging musicians tucked away in a seniors home for, well, aging musicians. Old is no place for sissies, quoth the august Bette Davis. But if you have a wicked sense of humour – as the characters in this film do – it helps out a lot.

The horror film Mama has been in the top 10 at the box office and is turning excellent revenue. It’s directed by Andres Muchietti, and filmed extensively in Canada, and the executive producer is Guillermo del Toro, who directed the critically acclaimed 2006 dark fantasy Pan’s Labyrinth. Jessica Chastain stars. There are a lot of good things about this movie – the acting of the two very young children, the special effects, the mood, the cinematography. I wish I could give it more credit. The problem: it’s a horror film that doesn’t frighten enough.

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