Sunday Matinee: Charade

On January 28 and 31 Cineplex is playing the excellent 1963 movie Charade as part of the Classic Film series.

Directed by Stanley Donen, the film is kind of mix between a romantic screwball comedy and a thriller. Regina “Reggie” Lampert (Audrey Hepburn) while on a skiing trip decides she’s going to divorce her husband Charles when she gets back to Paris. While at the ski lodge she meets Peter Joshua (Cary Grant). When she returns to Paris she finds that her husband has been murdered.
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Sunday Matinee: Elevator To The Gallows

Julien Tavernier (Maurice Ronet) and his lover, the married Florence Carala (Jeanne Moreau) plot to kill Florence’s husband who is also Julien’s boss.

While the husband is working late Saturday night, Julien sneaks up the outside of the building using a rope and shoots and kills the husband. He then makes it look like a suicide. Julien leaves the building, starting his car and then notices that he left the rope hanging from the side of the building.
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Sunday Matinee: Suspiria

Dario Argento’s classic horror movie about a young woman (Jessica Harper) attending a dance school in Europe and discovering something sinister is happening at the school, is turning 40 this year.

Synapse Films did a 4k restoration on the movie that took four years to complete and has been screening the restoration in select theatres this year. It apparently looks amazing. They’ve also just released the restoration on blu-ray this month.
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REVIEW: ‘The Last Jedi’ is Star Wars’ Best Film Since ‘Empire’

Rey (Daisy Ridley) looks into the horizon, as you do in Star Wars.

As satisfying as The Force Awakens was, as the dust settled, it became clear than J.J. Abrams had basically remixed A New Hope for a new generation without bringing new ideas to the fore (heck, Abrams went for yet another Death Star, the most cumbersome of weapons). Considering this development, concerns over The Last Jedi being another Empire Strikes Back weren’t unfounded.

Enter Rian Johnson. The writer/director behind the brainy indies Brick, Looper and The Brothers Bloom explores corners of the Star Wars universe never seen before on screen, without breaking the mold. Chief among them, a scenario beyond the battle between good and evil that has characterized the saga. Johnson also takes full advantage of the visual possibilities and deliver the most unique-looking episode of the franchise, without becoming a CGI hodgepodge like the prequels. Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘The Last Jedi’ is Star Wars’ Best Film Since ‘Empire’”

REVIEW: The Road Forward Has Too Many Branches

A blend of musical and documentary too ambitious for its own good, The Road Forward attempts to tackle First Nations’ most significant struggles of the last century (the Native Brotherhood, the Constitution Express, residential schools, missing aboriginal women) via information and music.

The magnitude of the scope is staggering: Each subject is worth entire sagas and demands our attention. Despite Marie Clements’ self-assured direction, the outcome is scattered and it’s hard to become fully immersed in the film.

As if the birth of Indian Nationalism and recent history weren’t enough, The Road Forward dedicates a fair amount of time to the performers’ own battles. Their stories are compelling in their own right, but become lost in a bombardment of minutiae, particularly in the top half. Five years ago, the stylistically similar (and likely influential) The Art of Killing succeeded by limiting its scope.

The rise of Canada’s first indigenous newspaper -The Native Voice- gives the movie a vague framing, but the outcome cries for structure. The music comes close to supersede the film’s shortcomings: The score is strong and the tune “Indian Man” is rousing enough to transcend the film. Unfortunately, The Road Forward as a whole is far from cohesive. Two and a half planets (out of five).

The Road Forward will play at the Broadway Theatre this Wednesday the 13th only. Free screening.

Sunday Matinee: Pulp

Director Mike Hodges and Michael Caine decided to follow up the brilliant Get Carter with another gangster like film, the 1972 movie Pulp.

The difference this time out is instead of a serious and gritty crime drama Pulp is more of a comedy. It has goofy moments and jokes, then some gritty crime. Michael Caine stars as Mickey King, a novelist who writes books like My Gun is Long and The Organ Grinder under pen names Guy Strange, Gary Rough and the amusing S. Ódomi. Caine is hired to ghost write and autobiography of retired actor Preston Gilbert (Mickey Rooney).
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Sunday Matinee: Shin Godzilla

After stopping the Godzilla franchise in 2004 Toho Studios gave the big guy a break for a few years. They then licensed him out to Legendary Pictures who started a new American Godzilla franchise that started in 2014. When that movie was a success Toho decided to relaunch the series in Japan again. They brought in acclaimed director Hideaki Anno (creator of Neon Genesis Evangelion) to write and co-direct the new movie. In 2016 Shin Godzilla hit screens and presented a very different take on the legendary monster.

The movie draws its inspiration from the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. The Japanese Coast Guard investigate an abandoned boat only to be attacked by a huge wave and a creature. News reports later show a giant tail swimming closer to shore. The prime minister of Japan assures people that the sea creature can’t come on shore. It has gills and no limbs. Despite this the creature swims into canals and into Japan and eventually makes land where the creature evolves legs and lungs.
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Sunday Matinee: Jabberwocky

Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind aren’t the only movies celebrating their 40th anniversaries this year. Terry Gilliam’s Jabberwocky is too.

Jabberwocky was Gilliam’s first solo directorial effort away from Monty Python although Michael Palin stars in it and Terry Jones has a cameo. Palin stars as a poor cooper in medieval times. All Palin wants to do is work and marry a large peasant woman who doesn’t really like him. Palin’s father disowns him on his deathbed so Palin goes to town to try and find work.
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REVIEW: Coco Sneaks Up on You

Pixar’s less heralded but most remarkable skill is its ability to introduce ideas and concepts one would be hard-pressed to consider appropriate for a family movie: Mental health comes from managing our emotions, not denying them (Inside Out); the value of criticism lies in the discovery of new talent (Ratatouille); overprotection can stunt a child’s growth (Finding Nemo).

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with Coco -it’s visually stunning and undeniably fun- but the message (“families are important and want the best for us”) is pedestrian at best and debatable under certain circumstances. Not that the value of family was ever a novel idea, but the Fast and Furious saga has driven the notion into the ground.

Coco is set during the Day of the Dead in Mexico, the one time of the year those who have passed can come for a visit. At the Rivera household, the fiesta is celebrated without music. A few generations ago, the paterfamilias left his wife and baby daughter to pursued a career in music and never returned. It was decided then the family would make a living making shoes and no tunes will ever be played at home, or surrounding areas. Continue reading “REVIEW: Coco Sneaks Up on You”

Byron Bashforth: From the Prairies to Pixar

Pixar’s Coco.

Okla native Byron Bashforth has been involved in nine Pixar movies and four shorts to date, including the Disney subsidiary’s brand-new feature, Coco. Bashforth is the film’s character shading lead, meaning he is responsible for the team in charge of the look of all the characters in the film. Considering that Coco unfolds in two separate realities and the number of roles is in the dozens, Bashforth has his work cut out for him.

Byron got his Master in Computer Science at the University of Saskatchewan and has been involved with Pixar for almost two decades. “I remember watching the trailer for Toy Story and it occurred to me for the first time that you could use computers to do something else than computer science stuff. It opened the possibility of being able to combine my artistic streak and computers as a career.”

The animator has been the character shading lead for the short Lava and the features Monsters University and Ratatouille. I had the chance to catch up with Byron over the phone from California. Continue reading “Byron Bashforth: From the Prairies to Pixar”