Friday, April 30, 2010

2010 CONTACT Photography Festival, May 1-31

On Friday, a launch party was held for the 2010 CONTACT Photography Festival at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art. The festival runs for the entire month of May around various venues mostly in the downtown region of Toronto. This year's theme is "Pervasive Influence."

For more information, visit their website at

Here are the events for this opening weekend:

Saturday May 1, 7:30 – 9:30pm
Come and celebrate the openings of two primary exhibitions at the University of Toronto.

The Brothel Without Walls
University of Toronto Art Centre
15 Kings College Circle

The pervasiveness of photography leads us to question its effects on society. Exploring photographs as “dreams that money can buy” and how the illusions images create are often preferable to reality, the exhibition features works by Susan Anderson, Evan Baden, Douglas Coupland, Jessica Dimmock, Marina Gadonneix, Clunie Reid, Stefan Ruiz, Joachim Schmid and Christopher Wahl.

Hot Docs opening night

Last night was the opening of the 2010 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, the largest documentary film festival in North America. It kicked off in style with two gala presentations. The first was the Canadian premiere of Babies by French director Thomas Balmès. It's a pure vérité documentary where there is no narration or interviewing, just straight-ahead fly-on-the-wall observation of the subjects. In this case, the primary subjects are four babies from four different countries in the first year of their lives. They are Ponijao from Namibia, Bayarjargal from Mongolia, Mari from Tokyo, and Hattie from San Francisco.

The film provides an interesting side-by-side comparison of cultural similarities as well as the expected differences. No subtitles are provided for the adults who appear because in many ways what they say is irrelevant. The babies are the focus, and they wouldn't understand the words anyhow.  Perhaps the film might have gone deeper and looked at social issues as the The Up Series. But at this early stage in their lives, the children have an angelic innocence that the film captures beautifully.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Awards News: 9th Tribeca Film Festival awards

As the 9th Tribeca Film Festival draws to a close, they announced their award winners on Thursday night at a ceremony in Manhattan’s Union Square. The top winner of the night was Die Fremde (When We Leave), which earned the Best Narrative Feature award (and $25,000 cash) for director Feo Aladag, and Best Actress for its star Sibel Kekilli. Just last week, Die Fremde similarly won Best Film (Bronze) and Best Actress at Germany's Lola Awards. Shocked by her win, Kekilli hugged the jurors and let out a string of "fuck" exclamations, before asking jokingly if the award would be taken away as a result.

Other winners include Kim Chapiron who was named Best New Narrative Filmmaker for Dog Pound, and received $25,000. The jury had wanted to give Dog Pound a first-ever Best Ensemble prize, but were told that it was too late to add that category. Also winning $25,000 were Best New Documentary Filmmaker winner Clio Barnard for The Arbor, and Best Documentary Feature winner Alexandra Codina (Monica & David).

The Audience Award will be announced Saturday at the festival's wrap party.  All the winning films will screen at the Village East Cinemas on Sunday.

UPDATERUSH: Beyond the Lighted Stage won the Heineken Audience Award on Saturday May 1. The award comes with a $25,000 cash prize.

Complete list of Tribeca Film Festival Award Winners

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

When racially incorrect casting is a good thing

The Guardian posted an interesting piece yesterday - Idris Elba defends Thor film role. Idris Elba is a respected British actor who played Stringer Bell on TV's The Wire. He's playing the Norse god Heimdall in Kenneth Branagh's upcoming film adaptation of the comic book Thor. He also happens to be black. The subheading of the article was "Race debate stirs after London-born star of The Wire wins role as Norse deity Heimdall in Kenneth Branagh's new film Thor."

The fact that he's black has caused no end of consternation in the fanboy world. Comments on various message boards have been bitter and nasty. The Guardian article quoted some of them. An older article on racked up 223 comments on 23 pages. Here's a typical rant:

"I am sick of white characters being changed into black characters. Call me racist all you want but if a black character was changed into a white character people would go nuts!! I agree with the top posters, lets have a white Blank Panther. ... Would black people mind if someone casted a white person to play Luke Cage? ... Then why is it alright to screw with other Superheroes that were white from day one? Apparently it doesn't matter if your white. Now that is racism at it's best!"

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

NFTKK diary #3: bumps on the road in pre-production

Pre-production continues on the short film I'm currently making in partnership with Katarina Soukup of Catbird Productions. It's called Notes From the Kuerti Keyboard and is being made with a grant from Bravo!FACT. I stated in a previous posting that scouting locations was a very time-consuming drag and one of the things I enjoy the least about filmmaking, but that we had finally taken care of it and that the rest of the way "should be relatively smooth sailing."

I spoke too soon.

On the weekend we found out we lost a key member of our team. Our Director of Photography was required for a stretch on a television series and felt compelled to take that gig. I wasn't upset because that sort of thing happens all the time. Still, it was a shock and could potentially have been a major blow.

TIFF Announces Programmers for 2010 Festival

Piers Handling, Director and CEO of TIFF, and Cameron Bailey, Co-Director of the Festival, today announced the line-up of programmers for the 35th annual Toronto International Film Festival which runs from Thursday, September 9 to Sunday, September 19, 2010.

Some programmers from previous years have moved on, including Jesse Wente, Raymond Phathanavirangoon and Kathleen Mullen. Others such as Martin Bilodeau and Magali Simard have stepped in, while Agata Smoluch del Sorbo moves from Short Cuts Canada to Canadian Features. TIFF is known for having some of the finest programmers around and giving them a remarkable degree of autonomy in making their selections.

“We have assembled a stellar team of programmers for the Festival who have a wealth of experience among them. They will curatorially guide our audiences through programming which will connect and inspire people of all ages and backgrounds,” said Handling. “These programmers are truly the best in the business, and audiences can once again look forward to a wide-ranging and exciting line-up in September,” said Bailey.

In addition to Handling, who programs from the UK, France, Italy and Poland, and Bailey, who programs from USA, Europe, South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, the programming team for the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival is as follows:

Monday, April 26, 2010

Film subjects attend Hot Docs screenings

One of the delights of attending a film festival is the opportunity to see the people behind the movie. At many screenings, one or more representatives from the film will attend and possibly introduce the film, interact with the audience in a post-screening Question & Answer period, or both. Usually it's the director who is present, but sometimes it can be a producer, actor or any key personnel from the film. With documentary films, often the real-life subject(s) of the film will attend. 

For the upcoming Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival, a good number of the film subjects will be guests at their respective screenings. Hot Docs has released a list of the guest subjects who are featured in films at this year’s upcoming Festival which starts this coming Thursday. The first guest subjects presented will be from one of the two opening night films, RUSH: Beyond the Lighted Stage (D: Scot McFadyen, Sam Dunn, 106 min). Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson of Rush will attend the film's Canadian premiere at the Winter Garden Theatre on Hot Docs' opening night, Thursday, April 29. Filmmakers Scot McFadyen and Sam Dunn will also attend the screening of their film.

Additional guests are listed below. In most cases, the guests will be present at one or more of their film's screenings.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Awards News: 60th Deutscher Filmpreis (German Film Awards)

On Friday night, the German Film Academy held a ceremony for their 60th Deutscher Filmpreis (German Film Awards), also known as the Lolas in honour of Marlene Dietrich's character Lola in Der blaue Engel (The Blue Angel). The big winner on the night was Das weiße Band (The White Ribbon), which took 10 awards out of its 13 nominations.15-year-old Maria Victoria Dragus won the best supporting actress Lola and thanked her teachers for allowing her to take the day off school and attend the show. Das weiße Band also won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and was one of my top 10 films of 2009.

Hans-Christian Schmid's war crime trial drama Sturm (Storm) was next with three awards from its five nominations. Bernd Eichinger, the producer of the much parodied film Der Untergang (Downfall) featuring Hitler working himself into a rage, won a lifetime achievement award.

Complete list of 60th Deutscher Filmpreis (Lola) winners:

Filmmaker opportunities at the Toronto International Film Festival

In addition to being the most important public film festival in the world, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) hosts a very important industry component. Their industry pass allows access to special industry events, press/industry screenings, panels, industry sessions, and the Filmmakers’ Lounge (formerly Match Club). It's a good opportunity to meet and schmooze with some movers and shakers. Industry registration opens on May 5.

In addition to this, TIFF has two terrific programmes that can really kick-start a filmmaker to the next level: Telefilm Canada PITCH THIS! and Talent Lab. Applications for both are now open. The events themselves take place during the festival, which in 2010 runs from September 9-19.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Free screening of Banksy's Exit Through the Gift Shop

The film Exit Through the Gift Shop by Banksy made a splash earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival. It ostensibly tells the story of how an eccentric French shopkeeper turned documentary filmmaker tries to track down and film the elusive British graffiti artist Banksy only to have the camera turned back on him. It was billed as 'the world's first street art disaster movie' and proved quite controversial. Some critics doubt its authenticity and feel that it blurs the line between fiction and documentary forms. Nonetheless, the film was widely acclaimed.

For those in Toronto, now is your chance to catch the film. The film's Canadian distributor Mongrel Media is having a free "secret" screening of Exit Through the Gift Shop tonight Saturday April 24 at 12:00am midnight. The first 350 people at AMC Theatres at Yonge and Dundas get in free. You should, however, arrive much earlier to be sure to get in.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Location, location, location

As of late, I haven't been able to post as often as I'd like because I'm gearing up to shoot another short film project that I'm doing with a Bravo!FACT grant: Notes From the Kuerti Keyboard.  It has been quite busy for me in preparation for the shoot itself. Several things have made the pre-production part of it rather tricky, but the hardest and least enjoyable is usually trying to find the right locations.

My filmmaking partner Katarina Soukup (Catbird Productions) is based in Montreal and our talent for the music short film is distinguished pianist Anton Kuerti. We first received news of our grant in early March. However, Anton was just about to leave for a European tour, so we weren't able to meet with him to get a firm sense of his availability until earlier this month. After that, the other key team member we needed to nail down was our director of photography (DP, i.e. cinematographer) who was going to be quite busy as well.

Katarina and I are both attending the Hot Docs Festival from April 29-May 9. Since she was planning to travel later in May as part of a documentary project she's working on, we were looking at the week or so following Hot Docs for our shoot. Anton is scheduled to play in Montreal on May 11 and would be traveling back on the 12th, so he was fine anytime after that. However, our DP told us that he starts something else on May 15 and wouldn't be available after that. That left us only two days, May 13-14. We were only planning a two-day shoot, so that wasn't too terrible. But it meant that we had no flexibility in our next hurdle: locations.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Awards News: 14th annual WGC Screenwriting Awards

Over 600 people attended the 2010 Writers Guild of Canada (WGC) Screenwriting Awards on Monday in Toronto. It was a packed house who turned up to recognize the 43 nominees in 11 categories. Jacob Tierney was the winner of the Best Feature Film category for writing The Trotsky, in which a Montreal high school student Leon (Jay Baruchel) believes he's the reincarnation of Leon Trotsky.

The ceremony was hosted by Debra DiGiovanni, and written by her as well as Steven and Daniel Shehori. The evening featured a variety of presenters including Yannick Bisson, Kristin Booth, Inga Cadranel, Enrico Colantoni, and screenwriters Mark Farrell, Michael McGowan, Jennifer Pertsch, Christin Simms, Shelley Eriksen, Leila Basen and David Preston.

Complete list of 2010 WGC Award winners

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Awards News: 29th Hong Kong Film Awards ‎

On Sunday April 18, the 29th Hong Kong Film Awards, announced Sunday at the Hong Kong Cultural Center: The historical/martial arts thriller Bodyguards and Assassins was the big winner on the night, taking eight awards, including best film and best director for Teddy Chen. Nicholas Tse again won Best Supporting Actor, a prize he took last month at the Asian Film Awards.

Next with four awards wasthe nostalgic 1960s Echoes of the Rainbow. Its prizes included Best Screenplay and Best Actor Simon Yam. In February, it won the Crystal Bear for best film in the Generation Kplus category at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Director and martial arts choreographer Lau Kar-leung, (The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, Drunken Master II) was given a lifetime achievement award. Unfortunately due to his age, his speech was very slow and long. It would have been much longer had his wife not urged him to finish as he hit the five-minute mark. Generally, the ceremony as a whole was a long and drawn out affair.

Complete list of 29th Hong Kong Film Award winners

Awards News: 2010 Romy Awards (Austria)

This past Saturday, Austria hosted it's 2010 Romy Awards for film and television at the Hofburg in Vienna.. They consist of both audience awards and awards given by the Austrian Academy. The Romys were created in 1990 in honour of the late actress Romy Schneider by the Austrian newspaper Kurier. The newly established ROMY Academy consists of all previous 259 winners, and awards prizes to directors, cameramen and other crew. 

The audience voting was considered a great success as over 115,000 votes were submitted. However, there was a bit of a scandal with Dominic Heinzl's win as Most Popular Moderator. He works on the public broadcaster ORF, and private channel ATV made accusations of vote manipulation when their moderator Volker Piesczek didn't win. They've threatened a boycott of the ceremonies for next year.

American actress Olivia Wilde from the television series House took part in the ceremony. She was a presenter and gave the Most Popular Television Star award to actress Ursula Strauss.

Complete list of 2010 Romy Award winners

Monday, April 19, 2010

Call for Submissions: RBC Tarragon Under 30 National Playwriting Competition

Call for Submissions: RBC Tarragon Under 30 National Playwriting Competition, Tarragon

The deadline for submissions is Friday, April 30, 2010 at 5 pm.

Since 1970, Tarragon Theatre has been a leader in the development of new Canadian plays, introducing theatre audiences to talented home-grown playwrights, and contributing countless plays to the Canadian canon.

As part of our mandate to seek out and nurture new and vital voices, Tarragon Theatre, with the generous support of RBC Foundation, is pleased to announce the second annual RBC Tarragon Under 30 National Playwriting Competition.

If you are. . .
  • A Canadian citizen or permanent resident; and
  • Under 30 years of age
. . . we encourage you to submit your play!

The winning playwright will receive:
  • A cash award of $3000; and
  • The opportunity to participate in Tarragon’s annual Play Reading Week in November 2010.

Awards News: 2010 Juno Awards for Canadian Music

The Juno Awards were held in St. John's Newfoundland this past weekend, in spite of all the problems caused by Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland. A pre-awards ceremony was held on Saturday, and then a larger ceremony on Sunday night which was broadcast. Michael Bublé was the weekend's big winner picking up four awards. He received the Pop Album of the Year honour for his album Crazy Love on Saturday night, and then on Sunday won Album of the Year, Single of the Year for “Haven’t Met You Yet” and the fan-voted Juno Fan Choice Award.  His producer Bob Rock took Producer of the Year for his work on Buble's album.

Other multiple winners on the weekend included Metric, Drake and K'naan. This is an indication that the Junos are catching up with the times and more in tune with current tastes. Teen idol Justin Bieber went home empty-handed even though he was nominated for Album of the Year, New Artist of the Year and Pop Album of the Year.  Nonetheless, he was clearly the fan favourite as the crowd screamed at the mere mention of his name. 

Many of the artists missed one or both days because of the air traffic chaos. Those who were there hurried out when they heard news that volcanic ash was drifting from Iceland and would ground flights for the following few days. Those who took part in the ceremonies did their best, but with the lack of a host, it made both nights often very dull.

Complete list of 2010 Juno Award winners:

Friday, April 16, 2010

Call for Submissions: Finding Fresh Voices Intensive Playwriting Program

Writer-director Brad Fraser (Love & Human Remains, Leaving Metropolis) returns to his roots in the theatre with a new program for new and unproduced playwrights. He is leading an eight-week program to help writers develop their work. He will bring in guest speakers to provide input as well. This is an excellent opportunity for emerging talent to develop their skills under the guidance of experienced mentors.

Here is the information for those interested in applying.

Call for Submissions: Finding Fresh Voices-Brad Fraser’s Intensive Playwriting Program for New or Unproduced Writers, Playwrights Guild of Canada

Playwrights Guild of Canada announces a brand new playwriting program led by Brad Fraser for those who are interested in writing for the theatre but don’t know where to start.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Call for Submissions: The One Minute Film & Video Festival

The One Minute Film & Video Festival 

The call for submissions is now open!
We want your one minute films about the theme “social!” Click here for all the information about how to submit your one minute film or video. The call for submissions runs from April 15 - August 31.

Welcome back!
The One Minute Film & Video Festival is back for 2010! More news on this year’s festival and call for submissions will be posted to this space in the next few weeks. To get the latest, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr.

This year’s theme is “social”
Just because the call for submissions doesn’t start till April 15 doesn’t mean you can’t get started thinking about your one-minute movie! This year’s theme is social. Filmmakers are encouraged to interpret the theme as broadly as they wish, in whatever genre or format they choose. Good luck!

Information on call for submissions coming April 15

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

EXCHANGE FOR CHANGE: screen/media writers workshop & benefit fundraiser

Writer and Canadian Film Centre alumnus Elize Morgan has joined with Karen Walton and Ink Canada (a great place for all things Canadian Film/TV and Writing) to create a fund-raising event for writers. This is going to be a PWYC event to raise funds for Global Agents for Change for a 2000 km bicycle sprint-in-a-month across Europe from Amsterdam to Budapest. Morgan hopes to raise money to help fund microcredit loans and raise awareness on world poverty

The workshops will take place on Saturday, April 24, 2010 from 10am to 4pm at the Lillian H. Smith branch, Toronto Public Library 239 College Street.


6 Sessions, 1 Day - Pay What You Can, Toronto!

New or pro, come down and show your support for 6 talks about great storytelling, with multiple-award winning, local pro Writers, Producers & Directors of traditional film, television & digital media content ... who are donating their time for a good cause - the fight against world poverty. Schedule below.

23rd Annual IMAGES FESTIVAL Awards winners

Congratulations to the 2010 Images Festival Award Winners! The festival announced its winners on Saturday April 10 at St. Anne’s Church, followed by a celebratory Closing Night Party at the Workman Arts Theatre for artists and festival-goers. Next year's edition of the Images Festival will take place April 7-16, 2011.

The 2010 Competition Jury included Candice Hopkins (Director and Curator of Exhibitions at Western Front, Vancouver and the Sobey Curatorial Resident, Indigenous Art, National Gallery of Canada), Henriette Huldisch (Associate Curator at Hamburger Bahnhof Museum for Contemporary Art, Berlin) and Irina Leimbacher (independent film curator and scholar, San Francisco).
The Images Festival will announce their Off Screen & Performance Projects Calls for Submission for 2011 soon.

List of 23rd Annual Images Festival award winners:

Monday, April 12, 2010

Awards News: 30th Annual Genie Awards for Canadian film

Denis Villeneuve's Polytechnique was the big winner on Monday night at the 30th Annual Genie Awards ceremony, which took place this year in Toronto. It won a total of nine of its eleven nominations, including Best Motion Picture, Achievement in Direction (Denis Villeneuve), Original Screenplay (Jacques Davidts), and Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Karine Vanasse). The film is a moving and powerful testament to the victims and survivors of the tragic Montreal Massacre of 1989, and managed the seemingly impossible feat of creating a beautiful work of art based on such a horrific event. I chose it as one of my top 10 films of 2009 and am in complete agreement with its many awards.

There had been some controversy leading up to the night since some felt that the festival darling J’ai tué ma mere (I Killed My Mother) was snubbed when it received no nominations. The only award it received was the previously announced non-competitive Claude Jutra Award for first-time filmmaker. I think the Academy got it right as the film is excellent for a first feature, but flawed in many respects. The accusation of anti-Quebec sentiment is proven to be utterly ridiculous with the sweep by the superior film Polytechnique.

The Best Actor Award went to Joshua Jackson for his fine work in the excellent road movie One Week. He attended the ceremony with his girlfriend Diane Kruger from Inglourious Basterds. Two Irish co-productions came away with wins. Love & Savagery's Martha Burns took Best Supporting Actress while Fifty Dead Men Walking won for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Art Direction.

Complete list of 2010 Genie Award winners

Saturday, April 10, 2010

FWC Genies TalkBack 2010 - A Film Artist Salon

The First Weekend Club is a free cross-Canada film club and grassroots initiative dedicated to promote Canadian films, especially for a film's critical first weekend theatrical release. This is particularly important in Canada, since our films are smaller independent projects that depend on strong opening to help it have a longer and healthier theatrical run. The First Weekend Club was founded in February of 2003 by Anita Adams in Vancouver, and has expanded to other cities including Toronto, Calgary, Victoria, Ottawa, Halifax and Montreal.

The club also hosts special events such as the upcoming TalkBack: A Film Artist Salon in which several filmmakers who are nominated for Genie Awards will be interviewed by noted Toronto film critic Richard Crouse. The event takes place Sunday April 11 at 3pm at the Drake Hotel.

Here are the details:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Images Festival: Closing Weekend Programming

Closing Weekend Programming
Wednesday April 7 through Saturday April 10

The world's most provocative and radiant visions made visible this weekend at film/video screenings, live performances, our Closing Night Gala, Awards Ceremony and Party!

The Images Festival's website and online store are live! Well into the ten day festival, Images programming for Closing Weekend showcases media ranging from hand-manipulated overhead projectors to live dance + video presentations to downloadable short films.

Coming up this weekend are performances and events by local, national and international artists, including Yvonne Rainer, robbinschilds, Kevin Jerome Everson, Tom Chomont, recent Mexican experimental films, One Take Super 8 world premieres and Shary Boyle (pictured above) with Christine Fellows and Jason Tait in our CLOSING NIGHT GALA THIS SATURDAY!

Make sure you get tickets and schedule your weekend. Most Off Screen galleries will stay open through the month of April and into May. Please see our website for details.
See you at the festival!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

In Defence of Tiger Woods, Sex Machine

Poor Tiger Woods. It's gotten out of hand how everyone has piled on with the Tiger-bashing after he got the snot beaten out of him by his trophy wife. Where's the reality check? Surely he's not the first athlete who has had large numbers of affairs while on the road. Wilt Chamberlain happily bragged about it, claiming to have sex with 20,000 women. Rock stars do it to, as do businessmen who spend large amounts of time on the road.

I'm not saying that what he did was right. But he didn't do anything that thousands of others haven't done before. The difference is that in the past, the women wouldn't have been believed. In any he-said she-said dispute, the men would have been given all the benefit of the doubt. Now with technology and things like text-messaging, it's easy for the women to prove their claims.

Also in the past, women would have been a little embarrassed to be the "other woman." Now, everyone's a fame-whore. People are happy to have their fifteen minutes of exposure even if it's for the most dubious reasons. So when a someone bags a celebrity, that's an instant fast-track to fame by association.

Monday, April 5, 2010

10th ReelWorld Film Festival, April 7 - 11, 2010

The ReelWorld Film Festival is a yearly celebration of movies by diverse talents, both in front of and behind the camera. Toronto is one of the most diverse cities in the world, and the festival reflects that in the programming. ReelWorld screens features, shorts, documentaries, animation, music videos from the Aboriginal, Asian, Black, Latino, Middle Eastern, South Asian and other communities.

The festival was founded by Tonya Lee Williams, who has Toronto roots and played Dr. Olivia Winters on the television show The Young and the Restless.

The festival also features an industry series that includes panels on topics such as Developing a sellable script; Distribution: What you need to know; Being a Professional Actor; Getting from Here to There: Filmmakers share their secrets; Case Study: feature film Off World; and 'Face 2 Face' sessions for emerging filmmakers to meet one-on-one with industry professionals.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Call for submissions: Breast Fest Film Festival

The Breast Fest Film Festival is having a short film competition for their 2010 festival which takes place November 19 -21. Both filmmakers and those touched by breast cancer - directly or indirectly - are invited to submit short films (maximum 10 minutes) that shed light on the issues surround breast cancer and breast health in unique and creative ways. Deadline for submissions is July 31, 2010.

They are also currently accepting films for the 2010 festival. If you have a film over 10 minutes on the subject of breast cancer, you are encouraged to submit your film for consideration.

Click here to watch the Breast Fest trailer.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Film Review - Clash of the Titans

Writer: Travis Beacham, Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi; from 1981 screenplay by Beverley Cross
Director: Louis Leterrier
Producer: Basil Iwanyk and Kevin De La Noy
Cast: Sam Worthington, Alexa Davalos, Mads Mikkelsen, Gemma Arterton, Pete Postelthwaite, Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson
Fantasy adventure, 1 hour 58 minutes

This was precisely the sort of retroactive 3D film I complained about previously where a movie was made in plain 2D but the studios jump on the 3D fad after the fact as a cash-grab. The movie itself is mildly entertaining but forgettable. The 3D doesn't help and actually makes it feel worse. Still it's the type of dumb blockbuster that usually does really well at the box office. The 3D gimmickry just ensures that it will rake in the bucks.

The original 1981 Clash of the Titans was nothing special either. It played fast and loose with Greek mythology and borrowed a monster from Norse mythology (the Kraken). It featured no Titans, the generation of gods that preceded the Olympians. They probably chose not to properly call them Olympians since modern viewers would likely associate that word with the Olympic games (which originated in the Greek city Olympia) rather than the gods of Mount Olympus. Even then, the gods don't clash so much as watch the demigod Perseus fight various monsters.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Film Review: How to Train Your Dragon

Writer: William Davies, Peter Tolan, Christopher Sanders, Dean DeBlois; based on a book by Cressida Cowell
Director: Christopher Sanders, Dean DeBlois
Producer: Bonnie Arnold
Voice cast: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Older children's animation, 1 hour 38 minutes

Having griped about the how the industry is wasting the goodwill towards 3D cinema in the wake of Avatar, I must say that How to Train Your Dragon is a very good movie. Unfortunately, theatres decided to introduce a price increase upon its release. That may have had a dampening effect on its opening weekend results, a respectable $43.3 million, but a disappointment compared to the same weekend last year when another 3D animated film Monsters vs. Aliens took $59.3 million.

But it is a true 3D film and doesn't have the issues of retroactive 3D that Alice and Wonderland and Clash of the Titans has. It's also not a huge disappointment simply as a movie as are those two. No, this Dreamworks film matches the quality of last year's Up by the reliably outstanding Pixar. How to Train Your Dragon already has to be an early contender for best animated film of the year.