Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My "maybe" festival films

And finally here are among the films I might attend at next week's Windsor International Film Festival, depending on anything from a friend's desire to see it, audience buzz, or the fact I have an open slot between other films:

Gabrielle – I know this is the opening night movie but the topic doesn't especially grab me though it does come from the folks who made Incendies and Monsieur LazharDetroit Unleaded – anything about Detroit can be interesting but I'm ambivalent about a picture of a couple of guys running a gas station no matter how much their personalities clash; Wadjda – I know this is an acclaimed movie and breakthrough for oppressed Saudi women but at first glance the story of a 10-year-old seeking the right to ride a bicycle in this gruesome patriarchal world – symbolic and real as it is – leaves me but half-interested; 15 Reasons to Live – this seems Woody Allen-like, which is good, and has episodic chapters on different reasons life is worth living, so it’s philosophical. Maybe this is more interesting than I first thought. Finding Vivian Maier – because I don’t know anything about this obscure but newly discovered great photographer and therefore I'm reluctant to see it simply because of her obscurity. Then again discovering someone great and a topic that “pushes us to ask as many questions about ourselves” is always intriguing; Kill Your Darlings – a film about the early Beat movement should be a dead ringer but I’ve been disappointed in recent period biopics because they don't depict the eras well enough; The Summit – a movie about scaling the second highest peak looks suspenseful enough, it’s just that I’ve seen and read quite a bit about scaling the highest peak, but still might have its moments…

Tickets are now available through the film festival website at www.windsorfilmfestival.com and at the Capitol Theatre box office.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

My festival picks

Now here are some of the films I plan to see at this year’s Windsor International Film Festival:
Blue is the Warmest Colour – It won the Palme d’Or, Cannes’ top prize, so there must be something to it; Bright Days Ahead – a French film that has Fanny Ardant, is strong on characters, and has romance, is always worth it; Call Girl – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bad Swedish film and one like this which depicts the underbelly of Sweden’s supposed utopian state seems rather delicious; Camille Claudel 1915: I love art, I love the sculptress Camille Claudel, and I love the actress Juliette Binoche – what isn’t there to like/love?; Cas & Dylan – haven’t seen Richard Dreyfuss in God knows how long and a road movie can have its moments; Cutie and The Boxer – this doc about a couple of Japanese artists got great reviews. It’s about artists (see Camille Claudel 1915 above) and the professional and personal dynamics of their relationship; Devil’s Knot – Atom Egoyan may be pretentious but he does have a few things to say and it’s got Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon; The Double – anything with Jesse Eisenberg (one of the smartest actors around) is worth seeing. It also has personal fave Wallace Shawn and is a reinterpretation of a Dostoyevsky story. Can’t wait!; Drinking Buddies – You can keep repeating this theme and it never gets old – can platonic friends be lovers? Good Ol’ Freda – I missed this recently at the Detroit Film Theatre and a doc about the Beatles, and in this case about the Lads from Liverpool and their secretary should be fun and a further inside look at the world’s greatest band; The Great Beauty – Italian films are hardly lame and it’s difficult to resist a story about a world-weary journalist searching for an idealistic past; A HijackingCaptain Phillips may be generating raves but I’ll take the Danish version anytime. In fact it’s not the same story but the same subject and as per Swedish films, I’ve never seen a bad Danish flick….Next post: the films I “might” attend…..

Friday, October 25, 2013

My Windsor film festival

There are more films I’m not going to see than see. That’s not a reflection on the film festival, Nov 5 – 10, which has its most ambitious program yet, with 65 films and 97 screenings, with an added day (Tuesday – Sunday)!....But we all have temperaments, biases, preconceived notions (rightly or wrongly), or tastes that simply don’t appeal. The other reason is because I’ve seen some of these films before (including Beyond the Hills, Pieta, Reality, The Attack) – and I counted nine that had been screened in the general Detroit area over the past year (including Adore, Austenland, Frances Ha, Fruitvale Station, I’m So Excited). Most of these, by the way, are good... In the next few posts I’ll mention some of what I’m not going to see, some of what I’m definitely planning to see, and a list of maybes……So, here, among others, are what I’m not seeing, unless really convinced otherwise: The Act of Killing (I’ve pretty much had it to here with stories of genocide and strife, no matter how searingly relevant), Blue Caprice (it seemed I lived through the nauseating DC Beltway sniping attacks immediately after 9/11), The Broken Circle Breakdown (it may be an Oscar submission but bluegrass ain’t my bag), Fruitvale Station (urban violence doesn’t turn my crank), Girl Most Likely (it has Annette Bening but is another going-home-to-Jersey type tale & reminds me of films like Silver Linings Playbook, which I disliked, even though set in Philly). I’ll studiously avoid a couple of martial arts films, because martial arts or any sort of physical fighting no matter how “artful” leaves me cold and bored – the films are The Grandmaster and Man of Tai Chi. I’ll avoid Short Term 12 because it’s about borderline teenagers, and I’m not too into borderline teenagers……In my next post I’ll have my picks for the fest…..Tickets are now on sale at www.windsorfilmfestival.com. They go on sale at the Capitol Theatre box office next week.

Friday, October 11, 2013

What interests me is the director

I was a little taken aback last week when I saw that the film Enough Said was opening in Windsor. Not just that it was opening here – what, an Indie film showing at a multiplex!? -  but there was an actual display ad or as we used to say in the newspaper trade an “ad slick” or completed ad ready for paste-up. (I’m showing my age.) How, I wondered, could this be? This is a film, after all, by one of the rising stars of independent cinema Nicole Holofcener – and one of my current faves - who made films like Please Give (2010) and Friends with Money (2006) (Aug. 12 post). Both are sweet send-ups – with some serious notes - of BoBo (Bourgeois Bohemian) New York and LA culture. But then it dawned on me - duh! – that the major character in Enough Said is James Gandolfini, late (in both ways) of The Sopranos. So, for marketing purposes, forget this great top-of-her-game director, it’s all about Tony. Nevertheless I will be seeing the movie tonight and Tony will only be an incidental reason.
I came across an interesting article in the National Post yesterday about a new study on Canadian film credits and how they don’t benefit the economy. It’s at http://opinion.financialpost.com/2013/10/09/william-watson-save-470-million-today/

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Netflix? I'm loving it

Yes I’m enjoying Netflix. How much simpler can it get to watch a movie? Just select the film you want, click on it, and within 10 seconds it’s rolling. Since mid-September when I signed on for the free one month trial I’ve watched mainly – what else? – Indies such as It’s a Disaster (Todd Berger, 2013), a send–up on a yuppie brunch (with Julia Stiles). The gang gathers only to discover something approaching nuclear disaster taking place…..Ruby Sparks (Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris, 2012) is an updated version of Pygmalion where a writer (Paul Danos) creates his dream woman (Zoe Kazan) on paper whom miraculously comes to life, with a great cast including Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening, Steve Coogan and Elliott Gould (he’s looking great!)…..Like Crazy (2011) is about an intercontinental love affair that has its joys and ambivalences, demonstrating that when it comes to love the adage “geographically incompatible” may have some validity…..Then there was Roman Polanski’s Carnage (2011) with a stellar cast of Kate Winslet (rapidly becoming one of my favourites), Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz, and John C. Reilly. It's about two New York couples who try to act oh so civilized when discussing the injury one of their kids did to the other in a fight, "try” being the operative word…..2012’s Smashed (James Ponsoldt) - about a couple who can’t control their alcohol  – was a good acting platform for Mary Elizabeth Winstead. As central character Kate she loses her teaching job when her booze consumption goes too far. Another blast from the acting past, Mary Kay Place, plays her mom…..Netflix? I’m loving it.