I was recently invited to attend the Page Turner Panel at The Westdale Theatre as part of the 2021 Hamilton Film Festival. Also on the bill were Colin Chilvers and Aaron Lam. Colin is an Oscar winning SPX artist who’s recently penned and auto-biography : Believing A Man Can Fly. Aaron co-authored this book as well as one of his own delving into the world of soundtracks for action cinema. Many thanks to Nathan Fleet for planning and hosting the event; and all the folks who came out:)
After a long drought it now seems Hamilton has not just one, but two repertory cinemas in the lower city. This March saw the rebirth of two of Hamiltons movie palaces to their former glories: The Westdale Cinema and the Playhouse Cinema.
John and Wendy Tutt have a long history with repertory cinemas. In Waterloo ON in 1985, when your humble writer was just entering Film Studies at U of W, Tutt took a gamble and opened the Princess Cinema at the back of an almost derelict Kent Hotel in Uptown Waterloo, ON.
The cinema blossomed through the years, and also was an early anchor in the revitalization of the entire hotel building complex through the years. It now contains a brew pub, pool hall, cafe, jazz club, bar, and deli.
Later, the Tutt’s took their success down the street, and purchased an old furniture store on King Street in Uptown Waterloo. Here they had a chance to build & retrofit from scratch a twin screen cinema, w cafe, restaurant and wi-fi lounge, which opened in 2005.
In the Fall of 2017, I received a call from Terrance Odette, a local filmmaker about a “For Sale” sign he had seen on Sherman Ave. N. in Hamilton. I knew the real estate agent of the listing,so put them in touch. The property in question, was an old vaudeville hall/cinema from 1914 . It had been used by a church group for many years, and was now sitting vacant.
After a few visits, and a thorough inspection, the Tutt’s took another gamble on a down on its luck building and neighbourhood. They purchased the property on Sherman Ave. in the Winter of 2018, and recent business school graduate and cinema buff Jacob Tutt came on board to help handle the task of much needed renovations; and to become the General Manager upon the cinema’s opening in Spring 2019.
The renovations tuned into much toil and trouble, but with the help of the local trades the Tutt’s were able to honour the legacy and design of this wonderful building ,while bringing it into the modern era.
With excellent acoustics, a renovated theatre fly system, and a retractable cinema screen (is this the only one in Canada? ); The Playhouse is primed not just for film but as a new concert and theatre venue as well.
But film is at the heart of The Playhouse, and that was very much on display with the sold-out opening night screening of Cinema Paradiso on Friday March 1, 2019.
With a full printed monthly schedule, and membership card in hand, I enjoyed every aspect on this “new” cinema. From the excellent accessible seating and washrooms, to the snack bar (soon to be licensed), to the comfortable seats, layout, and projection image; it was a great night to revel in the joy on cinema.
Plus, it was a great occasion to catch up with some old friends and maybe meet some new ones. I even had the chance to see Jan Uhde ,my Film Professor from the University of Waterloo, which was really cool.
And it was nice to see the old Westdale Theatre manager Geoff Tressider as part of the new staff at The Playhouse. He spent many years keeping independent cinema screening alive in Hamilton-and hat’s off to him for that!
If you want more information on the cinema and their current schedule go to: https://playhousecinema.ca
Plus here are a couple links to some interviews with Jacob on 93.3 CFMU-FM
See you at the the movies!
Hey folks, it has been a while since I have been blogging, but it is time to return to it on a more regular basis . I’m working on some blogs now for he next few weeks, so stay tuned. I am also sprucing up the site ,and updating my bio and contact info. Currently, I continue to host Soundtrack on CFMU 93.3 Wednesday’s from 10:00-12:00 EST; although there may be a change of station and city later in the year.I will keep you posted on that. Otherwise film festival wise; last October I attended some screenings at the Festival De Nouveau Cinema in Montreal. Hopefully I will be attending this years Fantasia Film Festival in July and blogging about some of the cool screenings there. Also there is a graphic novel project in the works based on a recent script I penned called Diggers...so there are a lot if things happening ,and coming down the pipe. I will be ack soon with some new blog material. Tschuss.
It has been a while since I blogged, and it has been a busy year w film screenings, writing, and travel. In July, I spent a few days at the Fantasia Film Festival 2017- and the 2018 edition is back again in 3 months time. Recently I attended the Toronto Silent Film Festival and also hosted a screening of my film Lucky 7 at The Royal Cinema in Toronto. I spent Dec-Feb in Europe, and even though I didn’t get to any festivals per se I did see some films at various interesting cinemas in Berlin, Wroclaw, Strasbourg, and Bordeaux. I was also able to check out the Toulouse Cinematheque & the Lumiere Museum in Lyon-which still has a portion of the worlds first film studio. Very cool place. Otherwise, I have been spending some time writing; a new script is in the can plus some preliminary musings on a couple other idea…and radio wise the show on CFMU is still going strong and I acquired a lot of great vinyl in Europe-much to the distress of my pocket book:) Anyways cheers for now and I hope too be back at the blogging on a more frequent basis:)
I was lucky enough to be at the official kickoff of the 10th annual Festiwal Muzyki Filmowej W Krakowie ; and then attend the full festival which ran from May 17-23.
Held yearly in beautiful Krakow,Poland- this is a festival for film music lovers as well as industry and artistic people involved in the ever-changing and growing field of film music.
With an excellent staff and volunteer team and the generous support of RMF Classic , this is a great place to immerse yourself in the world of sounds from the cinema and to get insightfull commentary from the big names in film scoring ;as well as many up and coming composers.
Featuring a full slate of workshops in addition to talks and concerts this is a go to mecca for the film music enthusiast.
Definitely check out their website for video, pics, information, and a very cool link to listen to the new compilation CD released on Varese Sarabande: FMF 2017
Press Conference-Host:Magdalena Wojewoda-in attendance were:Robert Piaskowski, Abel Kornzeniowski,Trevor Morris, and Robert Townson.
Interview w: Jan AP Kaczmarek: go straight to the audio link for an interview w the composer about his music career and the Transatlantyk Festival:
Participants: Eleni Mitsiaki, Jonathan Broxton, Peter F. Ebbinghaus
Opening Night Concert w Abel Korzeniowski- a sold out concert hall at the ICC enjoys a fantastic concert featuring the composers film and television music.
Some Q and A time w Trevor Morris: head to the audio link for a lengthy conversation w composer Morris about his music for film, TV, and video games:
Q and A w Klaus Doldinger and Jean-Michel Bernard- the audio is poor,but a great talk by the composers as well as a cool impromptu jam at the end-audio link is here: Doldinger + Bernard talk film music and jam some jazz near the end
Thoughtful words from Giorgio Moroder- hiatus since the mid-90’s-spent time doing art, photography,a piano concert, and he renovated car-recently he has been back doing DJ work and has scored a series called: Queen Of The South-started doing film music in the 70’s after he was bought to the attention of Alan Parker, this was after he produced Donna Summers: I Need Love.-He scored Parker’s hit film Midnight Express, winning an Oscar for Best original Score in 1977-he talked a bit about the film Metropolis and his struggle to modernize it w new music and a restored print-by the time they could track all the footage down it had been 2 years and the result already seemed dated when it was finally released-it was the first digital sound presentation-says he is not a great keyboard player-never toured much-started as the first DJ in Germany in 1969 and has now come full circle to do live DJ shows(including the outdoor one in Krakow at FMF)-it is fun he says-he says he must have mixed over 1 thousand songs in the studio over the years-says the new digital technology is great-for 2k you can have a good set-up w a laptop-” it’s a democracy of music now”-talked about his hits written for Top Gun-said they recorded a demo w The Motels lead singer which ended up being re-recorded w Berlin for the big hit “Take My Breath Away”-talked about Scarface-now a cult classic-very high expectations when it was produced-Moroder did the Main Theme and 5 songs-cast and crew screening ended in complete silence-the critics hated it & helped kill it-when it came out on video it was a great success especially in the African-American community-big cult movie-Jay Z wanted to redo the songs w some rap and Beyonce-Universal wanted to but DePalma said no-so an album inspired by Scarface came out-Moroder would write more music for it and re-record some stuff if he could-he said 30 out of 100 songs he did were “good” and 10 did well at the charts…to see pictures of his performance at FMF 2017 go to the FMF website at: FMF 2017
All Is Film Music + Titanic shows pack the house at Tauron Arena- there is a lot of interest in film music here in Poland as is evidenced by two packed houses at the 17,000 seat Tauron Arena in Krakow
Standing room only to hear Howard Shore: Shore says he lives in a wooded area in the countryside and this setting really helped him connect with the Lord Of The Rings storyline-this is where he writes and he records mostly in Europe-he starts writing with a pencil and paper then he progresses to digital technology-he studied clarinet and leaned the importance of writing with a pencil-says he doesn’t compose on a computer-he says he writes “away from the film”- he views it once, then writes roughly 45 mins of music after improvising and dreaming about the film-writes more about the “idea” of the film and not so much about the images-writing from the heart-then come orchestration- In Silence Of The Lambs he concentrated his writing on the character played by Jodi Foster rather than the monster character of Anthony Hopkins-In 86 he scored The Fly for David Cronenberg w no electronics-afterwards he started developing his “Opera Technique with Electronics”– for Signs Of Life (89) he used electonic sound with mechanical and underwater sounds and noise and these played the music he had written-this unsettleded the score when mixed with the orchestrated recording- he talked about the challenge of the 13 minute main title sequence for Hugo (2011)-and mentioned a recent film Denial (2016) shot in Poland- Lord Of The Rings– Peter Jackson flew him over to see what they were doing-everything was made by hand for the film-it was a huge challenge for him-he was 9,000 miles away and NZ still only had 56k dial-up internet service-logistical nightmare w over 4 hours of music- he doest have a “team”-he orchestrates, writes, and conducts-wrote for 230 musicians+orchestra+choir+vocalists-he developed a “technique” to control all this-so he took 1 year for each LOR score to write, orchestrate, produce and develop extended versions-he wrote 12 hours of music which took 3 years and 9 months all in…longest production in film history as the films were all shot together and then The Hobbit began..a great talk by Howard Shore!!
More great films here at the goEast FF ,which has wrapped up now with the awards having been given out a few days ago. Here is a little more about some of the films I was able to check out…
The Citizen– d. Ronald Vranik ( Hungary-2016)
Director Vranik returns to the festival after screening his film Transmision here in 2009. This time around he weaves a very human story centring around a African migrant in Budapest ,who struggles to make himself a part of Hungarian society. He comes into the circle of an illegal Iranian immigrant named: Shirin ,as well as a married Hungarian woman: Maria. This trio of characters become intwined in a fluid relationship involving love and loss,as well as racism ,and responsibility.
I found the film had a strong new- realist influence, as the director studies the socio-economic,race, and immigration issues prevalent in modern Hungary. But he never loses sight of the very human story unfolding before us.
Using a cast including a former economist from Africa and a designer from Iran the film grounds itself in an authenticity that again has echoes of the Italian new-realist movement.
A strong feature here from Popfilm in Hungary….
Exiled-d. Davis Simanis ( Latvia-2016)
This is the story of a German army doctor sent to Latvia in 1917 in the midst of WW I. He does so to report on back on the conditions of the facilitiy looking after wounded soldiers in a dilapidated old manor house.
While sporadic fighting takes place in the surrounding area, the doctor finds that the injured are suffering from unknown illness’ and trauma from the horrors of the war; and he seems incapable of healing them. All he can really provide for them is comfort and compassion and his time doesn’t seems fruitless. That is until he rescues a young boy left alone in the forest, and finds that perhaps he can help him find his way back to civilization.
Wonderfully played by Ulrich Matthes, this film is loosely based on the the story of Ovids exile. It is a tough, unrelenting movie, based in historical research on WW I, which was the first large scale mechanized war ;and as a result the first war to unleash a wave of mental and emotional suffering on this magnitude.
Filthy-d. Tereza Nvotova (Czech/Slovakia-2016)
Filthy is a gritty new film from first time director Nvotova. A graduation work for FAMU, this is an impressive film dealing with the topics of sexual abuse, mental illness, and coming of age.
After being victimized by a family friend and raped, our main character finds herself housed in a mental institution as she tries to cope with the trauma of the event.
Shot in the largest mental institution in Slovakia, a facility little changed since the Communisti Era, the director uses actors and real patients in the wards to give the movie the definite realist edge, and to ground it in the context of modern Slovak society.
Th story deals with difficult and serious subject, but we never lose sight of the drama and encapsulation of tthe resiliency of human courage.
An impressive first film from Nvotova, and one would hope for more good things to come from her in the future.
Marina, Mabuse, and Moritori-d. Kathryn Andersen (Germany 2016)
Artur Brauner and his film studio are the subject if this new documentary from director Andersen.
Brauer survived the Holocast in Poland and made it to West Berlin in 1946. Always having been interested in cinema, he convinced his grandmother to sell her fur coat and with this money financed his first film: Moritori.
Shot in the ruins of Berlin, in near impossible conditions, Braurer created a solid drama about the persecution of Jews in WW II. Unfortunately the film was unsuccessful at the cinemas, so Braurer produced a more commercial film next, which proved to be a big success.
With the proceeds from this film, Brauer purchased an old poison gas factory in Spandau mand here he set up his CCC Studios.
These studios were to pump out up to 18 feature films a year in the 1950s, and Brauer was credited with singlehandedly keeping the Berlin film scene alive after most of the talent had fled following the war.
The studio would go on to produce over 700 films, including over 250 made by Brauner himself. Although concentrating on commercial fare the studio did make 24 films through the years dealing with the Holocast. These include Wadjas: A Love Story In Germany and the award wining film : Europa Europa.
Now in his 90s Brauner has handed most of the duties of the studio to his daughter ( and director of this film), Kathryn Andersen.
A very cool look at at the father of ” creative producing” ….
A Hole In The Head-d. Robert Kirchhoff (Czech/Slovak-2016)
A documentary styled as an auteur film. This is an apt description of a new film by director Kirchhoff which is the latest in a series of works that include the award winning film : Normalization.
Here the director has made a film that explores the neglected issue of the persecution of the Roma people’s , and their suffering at the hands of the Nazis during WW II.
Individual stories and remembrances are used to create a film more about the memories of the atrocities of the Roma Holocast, than a researcher-led traditional documentary telling of the story.
This style helps connect the film to its diverse characters knowledge of the past, and to their present day situations; including their hopes for a recognition of their suffering…..
Agnieszka Holland was at the goEast Film Festival on April 30 to present her brand new film Spoor(Pokot). Here, Holland mixs genres to a subversive end, with her story concerning a retired engineer Janine Duszejko who is an amateur astrologist, vegetarian, and teacher with a great love of animals.
She regularly confronts the male establishment in the rural setting of the film, and fights their regular disregard of the laws concerning animal welfare. What unfolds is a murder mystery of sorts that resonates on many political, ecological, social, and existential levels. Beautifully shot and conceived w an excellent score from Antoni Komasa- Lazakiewicz, and Matthias Eklund, with healthy doses of black humour.
Based on a novel by Olga Tokarczuki called : Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead. I would highly recommend this flick….
what follows is a brief compendium of notes from the insightful talk by the director and moderators at the Caligari Filmbuhle in Wiesbaden on April 30
Footprints of the extinct thylacine
Spoor is any sign of a creature or trace by which the progress of someone or something may be followed. A spoor may include tracks, scents, scat, or broken foliage. Spoor is useful for discovering or surveying what types of animals live in an area, or in animal tracking.
Spoor won the Silver Bear at 2017 Berlinale- she graduated from FAMU in 71 studied w Milos Forman-worked with Wadja in Poland-She became part of the Polish New Wave, Moral Anxiety-81 left in exile-TV work includes: The Wire, Burning Bush, House Of Cards- book film is based on was written 9 years ago, premonition at end of book and film? Holland quoted “wadja-doing movies from the future”-
this is a bizarre mix of genres: anarchist,feminist,ecological,fairytale,thriller-difficult to finance-German financing was key-shot in Silesia near Wroclaw-Holland just back from Hong Kong FF, big interest in this film in Asia-subversive use of genre w unexpected uses and outcomes
-4 season long process, 2 years, 5 DOP, 2 directors,- who is the killer?,we don’t know until the end-she likes American directors Coen Brothers and Wes Anderson as they speak about issues yet still connect to an audience-
protest by right wing in Poland, criticize it as feminist film,fuck them! Poland, Hungary,Turkey, USA are all turning hard right taking away women’s rights and destroying the environment.-their enemy is ecology and women-they are angry, only Catholic, white, heterosexual men are important in Poland-environmental issues in film are linked to woman’s fight
-Holland is the role model for feminist cinema in Poland-she was accepted in an all male film world in the 70s because she was viewed as a masculine filmmaker w balls, but she took offence as she IS a different gender w a different point of view-
women were never represented at the same level in distribution, exihibition etc-Poland has several good women directors currently-
this film shows the anger in society that is growing, fire is anger both good and bad, freedom has released options-revenge story(django)-hunters are a metaphor to some extent
-good film creates a space for the audience to form their own conclusions from the structure the filmmaker has provided-
William Blake reference adds an existential element and is attached to the area the film is located…
Also see: Spoor-The Guardian
Hello from Europe folks, hope you are all well. I arrived in Europe a couple weeks ago for some vacation time, and to check out a couple festivals. I arrived early on a cloudy morning at Schipol Airport, and hopped on the TGV to Brussels. After a good sleep, I checked out some cool sights in the city ,and stumbled across the Brussels Cinematek .
The museum was mostly closed, but my timing was good for a screening of a French Film from 1923 called: Visages d’enfants. The film was directed by Jacques Feyder and was screened as part for of their ongoing silent film series that shows restored 35mm prints at their original 18 fps speed. A rotating number of music specialists provide accompaniment.
“Faces of Children (French: Visages d’enfants) is a 1925 French-Swiss silent film directed by Jacques Feyder. It tells the story of a young boy whose mother has died and the resentments which develop when his father remarries. It was a notable example of film realism in the silent era, and its psychological drama was integrated with the natural landscapes of Switzerland where much of the film was made on location.”
Feyder was one of the main French film directors that developed the Poetic Realism style that began in the silent era. He went to Hollywood in 1929 and directed Greta Garbo in her last silent feature: The Kiss.
This was a fantastic screening, one of the best film experiences I have had in a long time, with an excellent live piano score. If you find yourselves in Belgique and are a lover of films do check out the Cinematek schedule in between seeing the sights:)
April 26 finds me in beautiful Wiesbaden, Germany for the beginning of the Goeast Film Festival. This is a long running and highly regarded yearly festival, that specializes in Central European Cinema. This years festival has highlights on woman directors, feminist films and woman’s representation in media, Czech Film Now, as well as films in competition in both the feature and documentary catagories.
I will be writing more in this in the next two weeks, as the festival is just swinging into top gear tomorrow ,and I have a full slate of 4 films to see at the Caligari Film Buhle to kick off my viewing, so stay tuned for more!
And speaking of festivals, a little later in my trip, from May 16-23 I am attending the 10 annual Krakow Film Music Festival. It will be a week of workshops and concerts featuring the likes of Giorgio Moroder, Howard Shore, Klaus Doldinger, and Abel Korniowski.
All taking place in the ultra modern convention centre and Tauron Arema, in the beautiful and medieval city of Krakow, Poland….again more on this at a later date
One additional note: my weekly 2 hour radio programme Soundtrack is still on the air. Guest host Robyn Edgar is filling in so keep listing for an eclectic mix of music from the cinema. The station can be found at 93.3-FM in the Hamilton(Canada) area, or check it out online on our brand new website: http://www.cfmu.ca
The show airs live from 10:00-12:00 est or download or stream a podcast at your leisure:)
“Deutschland 83 is an eight-episode German television series starring Jonas Nay as a 24-year-old native of East Germany who in 1983 is sent to the West as an undercover spy for the HVA, the foreign intelligence agency of the Stasi. The series premiered on 17 June 2015 on the SundanceTV channel in the United States, becoming the first German-language series to air on a US networkThe broadcast was in the original German, with English subtitles.It subsequently aired in Germany beginning in November 2015, and in the UK on Channel 4 beginning in January 2016.”
A very cool new series that was highly recommended to me by a good friend. I am half way through the series, after having to track it down on DVD release here in Canada. What a great view this has been so far, and having been a youth at the time this series is set I well remember the political climate of tension and fear that pervaded the western world, as well as ,of course, the music.The series uses source 80s new wave tunes to great effect. The theme song for the English language version is Peter Schillings 80s track Major Tom, but for the German series Blue Monday by New Order was used.
The show also has a very effective score from composer Reinhold Heil. He was one of the leading touring keyboard players in Germany in the 80s and wrote and played with the Nina Hagen Band as well as producing the 80s mega hit by Nena : 99 Luftballons.
Recently he has been concentrating more on scoring for film and television, starting out collaborating with Tom Twyker (Run Lola Run),and last year scored the TV Series: Berlin Station.
Deutschland 83 had mediocre ratings in Germany but did well in the U.K and the USA ; resulting in a renewal (and retitled “Deutschland 86”). Hopefully this will be followed by a third season, Deutschland 89, which would be set in the pivotal year of 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell.
The show was created by the husband and wife team of American novelist Anna Winger and German TV producer Joerg Winger Anna Winger said that they did extensive research with experts who were from both sides of Germany
Deutschland 83 has received a number of international and domestic awards including an International Emmy Award, a Peabody Award, Grimme Prize,The Golden Nymp, a Metropolis Award, two C21 Drama Award, a Golden Camera, the “Special Jury Award” of the Roma Fiction Fest,and Series Mania 2015 for Best World Series.
“The Greasy Strangler” is a 2016 American black comedy horror film directed by Jim Hosking and written by Jim Hosking and Toby Harvard. The film stars Michael St. Michaels, Sky Elobar, Elizabeth De Razzo, Gil Gex, Abdoulaye NGom, and Holland MacFallister. The Greasy Strangler premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival on January 22, 2016.The film was released on October 7, 2016, by FilmRise.
I was in attendance at the 2016 Fantasia Film Festival where this film was playing but couldn’t squeeze a screening in. And to be honest I was a bit sceptical of giving it a view. Recently however I came across the rather strange but cool score for the film by Andrew Hung,and as a result found the film available on ITunes.
So this time I gave the film a whirl, and quite enjoyed this gross out black comedy, but would say it definitely would not be to everyone’s taste:) I will say that the title aptly described the film in all its quirky, random ,and black moments.
I had quite a few laughs at the jokes and at the unbelievable strange occurrences that take place.
Critics were mixed on this tarnished gem but by the end of the film it had definitely left this reviewer all choked up…
“Pandora-(Hangul: 판도라; RR: Pandora) is a 2016 South Korean disaster film written and directed by Park Jung-woo, starring Kim Nam-Gil. The film was released in South Korea on December 7, 2016.
Jae-hyeok lives with his mother, his sister-in-law and nephew Min-jae in a small Korean town. He is dating Yeon-joo, while working at the local nuclear power plant. Meanwhile, Pyung-sub works at the same nuclear power plant. He is worried about the conditions there, but nobody in the government listens to him. An earthquake strikes the small town where Jae-hyeok lives and causes explosions at the nuclear power plant. The situation quickly spirals out of control, leading the entire nation to panic. To prevent another nuclear disaster, Jae-hyeok and his co-workers return to the nuclear power plant.”
Directed by Park Jung-woo this is a excellent and heart-string tugging Korean disaster flick. Park-woo is a successful screenwriter turned film director whose previous films include another disaster epidemic flick called: Deranged.
This time around the director starts off with a slow-burn story about the extended family of 30 something power plant worker,who is disgruntled with his job and longs to leave his small company-town far behind.
As well the bureaucracy of the political and industrial machinery that runs the nuclear power industry in modern day Korea, is well illustrated , and helps make this a well rounded message film as well as an entertaining and heartbreaking action movie.
This was the first Korean film to be pre-sold to Netflix and it is now streaming in 190 countries via the service.
One of numerous well executed films to come out of Korea, and to ride the wave of what could be described as a modern day renaissance of Asian cinema.
“The Lure-Some time in the 1980s, two mermaids, Golden and Silver (played by Michalina Olszańska and Marta Mazurek respectively), encounter a rock band relaxing and playing music on a beach in Poland. They accompany the band back to the nightclub where they regularly perform and begin playing gigs there, performing as strippers and backup singers. Their audiences are entranced by their singing and on-stage transformation. Silver falls in love with the guitarist Mietek (Jakub Gierszał), while Golden hungers for human prey.”
Director Agnieszka Smoczynska called the film a “coming-of-age story”, with echoes her own youth. The 80s Cabernet style Communist era club is similar to one her mother ran when she was a youth and where she entered teenage years.
But this is more than just an auto biographical reminiscence.
And again, I missed this at both Berlinale and Fantasia in 2016 so I had to wait for a local screening recently to check this film out. It’s a real genre bending, fantastical movie that reaches for it all, and maybe reaches a little too far to retain its focus.
But it’s one of the most inventive films I have seen in a long time, a 80s,Polish, mermaid,cannibal,musical. Quite the concept, and the music has a definite 80s feel, with some campy versions of popular Polish hits from the era adapted by the group(who also appear in the film) Ballady I Romanse.
“The director also wanted the film to be a retelling of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen, and developed her idea of mermaids from tales of the 14th–16th century that described them as the sisters of dragons, and hence made them part monstrous. She invented their need to feed on human hearts and that propensity to attack the larynx of their victims.
Smolenska likened the mermaids to immigrants, abused by the locals (used in the sex industry) on their way to their real goal—America. She added they represent innocence, yet their odour and slime recalled girls maturing, “they menstruate, they ovulate, their bodies start smelling and feeling different.”
The film played to mixed reviews in Poland, although it did win Best Debut Picture at the Gdynia Film Festival; and was generally well received by festivals and critics worldwide.
A visual tour de force, definitely worth a a viewing if you are looking for something a little bit different:)
Elle + Julieta= Who needs Hollywood?
Elle (French for “she” or “her”) “is a 2016 psychological thriller directed by Paul Verhoeven and written by David Birke, based on the novel Oh… by Philippe Djian. Djian’s novel was released in 2012 and received the Prix Interallié (National Literary Award). The film stars Isabelle Huppert as a businesswoman, Michèle Leblanc, who is raped in her home by an unknown assailant and plots revenge.
The film is Verhoeven’s first feature since 2006’s Black Book, and his first in the French language. It premiered in competition for the Palme d’Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival where it received critical acclaim.Elle won the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film and Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Foreign Language Film; it was also selected as the French entry for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, but was not nominated. At the 42nd César Awards, the film received eleven nominations.
Huppert’s performance was widely acclaimed, considered to be one of the finest of her career and she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. She also won several awards, including the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress, the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress, and the Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Actress.”
Wow a fantastic return to form for neglected filmmaker Paul Verhoeven. Originally conceived as a Hollywood production, Verhoeven and writer Dijan shopped the script around L.A.but were turned down by every major actress. So the pair turned to Europe and when financing came through Verhoeven was to have to rise to the challenge of working in an unfamiliar language: French.
However the turn of events seems to have been a good turn really.
With the aid of stellar actress Isabelle Huppert and a fine supporting cast, Verhoeven weaves Dijan’s story into an intricate neo-noir infused with unexpected developments and a strong flavour of black humour.
Complimented by a haunting score from Anne Dudley ,as well as inventive editing and cinematography, Elle turns out to be perhaps the best film of Verhoven’s career and a top work in the rather extensive credits of Isabelle Huppert.
So who needs Hollywood, really? As the Oscars proved once again…
Julieta “is a 2016 Spanish film written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar based on three short stories from the book Runaway by Alice Munro. The film marks Almodóvar’s 20th feature and stars Emma Suárez and Adriana Ugarte as older and younger versions of the film’s protagonist, Julieta, alongside Daniel Grao, Inma Cuesta, Darío Grandinetti, Michelle Jenner and Rossy de Palma.
The film opened on 8 April 2016 in Spain to generally positive reviews. It made its international debut at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, where it was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or, and was released across the world throughout the remainder of 2016. Julieta has grossed over $21 million worldwide.
It was selected by the Academia de las Artes y las Ciencias Cinematográficas de España as the Spanish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards, but did not make the shortlist. It was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language in addition to receiving 4 nominations for European Film Awards and 7 nominations for Goya Awards.”
This new flick left me pleasantly surprised. I will admit to not being the biggest fan of director Almodovar so I went into this screening as an aside really. But what unfolded was a wonderful film chronicling the life of Julieta, with all it’s trials and tribulations.
Based on the writings of Canadian author Alice Munro- this is a understated and engaging woman’s story(s) , with some nourish elements woven in . Women are at the focus of this film and its greatest strength.
Julieta is one of the best films Almodovar has directed , and another strong European feature that exists outside of the mainstream American industry
The Zookeepers Wife+Toni Erdmann= pedestrian filming in a rapid era
The Zookeeper’s Wife “is an upcoming 2017 British-American war drama film directed by Niki Caro and written by Angela Workman, based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Diane Ackerman. The film stars Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenbergh, Michael McElhatton and Daniel Brühl.
The film is scheduled to be released on March 31, 2017, by Focus Features.
A true story about the Warsaw Zoo keepers couple Jan and Antonina Żabiński, who saved many human and animal lives during World War II by hiding them in animal cages.”
I had a chance to see this at a preview screening at the TIFF Lightbox theatre in late January. Jessica Chastain is shooting a film in Toronto and was invited to screen the film and chat about it (and her career) . Unfortunately the audience was required to sign a non-disclosure agreement, but hopefully enough time has elapsed, for me to comment?
This was a big disappointment, based on a very interesting and real story from WWII Poland. Bland, predictable, simplistic filmmaking. And the Polish characters all spoke English in some strange faux-Eastern European accent which really took away from the screening.
Fans of the book may enjoy this but it’s a miss for me I am sorry to say.
Toni Erdmann is a “2016 German-Austrian comedy-drama film directed, written and co-produced by Maren Ade. It stars Peter Simonischek and Sandra Hüller.
The film, which premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, was named the best film of 2016 by Sight & Sound and other respected cinema magazines.
It has been nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards. It won five awards at the 29th European Film Awards: Best Film (a first for a film directed by a woman), Best Director, Best Screenwriter, Best Actor, and Best Actress. It also won the European Parliament LUX Prize.”
I was underwhelmed by this film- it had some very funny moments but seemed stilted and awkward to me. A 2 1/2 hour running time for a one note film is a little rich I would say as well:) Not much of a work of cinema, Toni Erdmann had a very plain and MOW look and feel to it… the German film from the previous year Phoenix, was a far superior film.
Really don’t get the accolades, did I miss something?