Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Toronto International Film Festival announces first films for 41st edition

Featuring World Premieres from filmmakers including Oliver Stone, Mira Nair, Ewan McGregor, Konkona Sensharma, Lone Scherfig, Raja Amari, Jonathan Demme, Baltasar Kormákur, Amma Asante, Christopher Guest, Feng Xiaogang, Rob Reiner, J.A. Bayona, Arnaud des Pallières, Kiyoshi Kurosawa and many more

Piers Handling, CEO and Director of TIFF, and Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of the Toronto International Film Festival, announced the first round of titles premiering in the Gala and Special Presentations programmes of the 41st Toronto International Film Festival.

Of the 19 Galas and 49 Special Presentations announced, this initial lineup includes films from such celebrated directors as Werner Herzog, Denis Villeneuve, Jim Jarmusch, Mia Hansen-Løve, Rebecca Zlotowski, Tom Ford, François Ozon, Andrea Arnold, Maren Ade, Park Chan-wook, Kim Jee woon, Kenneth Lonergan, Antoine Fuqua, Damien Chazelle, Pablo Larraín, and Paul Verhoeven.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Film review: Cafe Society

Writer/Director: Woody Allen
Producers: Letty Aronson, Ron Chez, Helen Robin,  Adam B. Stern, Allan Teh, Stephen Tenenbaum, Edward Walson
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Steve Carell, Parker Posey, Corey Stoll
1 hour, 36 minutes

By now, audiences expect certain elements in a Woody Allen movie: a period piece from the 1930s, a love triangle, a nebbish Woody-Allen-like protagonist, perhaps a gangster, a discussion about morality and, of course, some sharp, funny lines sprinkled throughout.

Cafe Society, the auteur's latest, contains all these ingredients which adds up to an entertaining though flawed film that's parts comedy, romance and drama.

[Spoiler alert] Jesse Eisenberg plays Bobby, a naive Jewish kid from Brooklyn who hits up his bigshot uncle Phil (Steve Carell), a Hollywood agent, for a job. Unwittingly, Bobby falls for Phil's younger secretary, Vonnie (Kristen Stewart) who is secretly Phil's mistress. When Phil leaves his wife for Vonnie, Bobby's world crashes down and he returns to Brooklyn to work for his gangster brother, Ben (Carey Stoll) and runs his high-society nightclub. Years pass, Bobby marries another woman and becomes a father. He grows tougher, harder, wiser. One day, Vonnie and Uncle Phil visit Bobby's New York nightclub and that nearly rekindles his L.A. romance with Vonnie. By the end of the film, we're left with a big What if? What if Vonnie had chosen Bobby instead of Phil?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

David Bowie is back...on the big screen

review by Allan Tong

Six months after cancer claimed the iconic British musician, David Bowie returns to Canada on select Cineplex screens on July 21, 24 and 31. No, it's not The Man Who Fell to Earth or Labyrinth, but a documentary about Bowie's superb retrospective mounted by London's V&A Museum that traveled to cities from Toronto and Melbourne in 2013-5. Both the show and the film are called David Bowie is and both are indispensable to fans of rock music, pop culture and The Thin White Duke.

If you caught the exhibition, then the film is a 94-minute souvenir that perfectly recaptures the show. If you missed it, then the next best thing is to catch this documentary. David Bowie is is part museum guide, part documentary and part biography. It is an unusual creature in that the curators, Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh, speak directly to the camera as in a TV special while periodically Bowie fans gush on camera about their idol as they would in a TV commercial.

However, David Bowie is redeems itself by detailing key moments in Bowie's life by deftly using the exhibitions rare photos, films, costumes, Bowie's audio interviews and his handwritten lyrics. The curators give us a tour of several exhibits, starting with photos of the teenage Bowie and his early band, The Kon-rads, looking confident and "imagining himself as a star already" rising from grim postwar England. We glimpse Bowie in a rare film performing mime under the key influence of teacher Lindsay Kemp, who would teach Bowie to adopt characters later in his music career. "It was much easier to be somebody else," Bowie says in voice-over.