Monday, September 28, 2009

TV News: Tickets For Live Taping of 'Battle of the Blades' Available

From a press release.

Be one of the first to return to the historic Maple Leaf Gardens for a live taping of BATTLE OF THE BLADES. Tickets are available beginning Monday September 28 at 12 noon EST.


From left to right, the BATTLE OF THE BLADES pairs Back row: Ken Daneyko, Stephane Richer, Ron Duguay, Craig Simpson, Bob Probert. Middle row: Jodeyne Higgins, Marie-France Dubreuil, Jamie Sale, Kristina Lenko, Claude Lemieux. Front row: Barb Underhill, Christine Hough-Sweeney, Tie Domi, Isabelle Brasseur, Glenn Anderson.

Battle of the Blades will tape at Maple Leaf Gardens in front of a live audience Sunday and Monday Nights at 6:30 p.m. EST beginning Sunday October 4th until Monday November 16th. Tickets for the live shows will be available through Ticketmaster for an administrative fee of $5 for general admission and $8 for assigned seating (when available).

BATTLE OF THE BLADES features some of Canada’s elite Olympic and World figure skaters teamed up with eight of the NHL’s most colourful hockey players in a pairs figure skating competition. The pairs have been specifically chosen to enhance the very best in athletic and on-ice entertainment: Isabelle Brasseur and Glenn Anderson; Jodeyne Higgins and Ken Daneyko; Christine Hough-Sweeney and Tie Domi; Barbara Underhill and Ron Duguay; Shae-Lynn Bourne and Claude Lemieux; Kristina Lenko and Bob Probert; Marie-France Dubreuil and Stéphane Richer; and Jamie Salé and Craig Simpson. The series premieres Sunday, October 4 at 8:00 p.m. EST on CBC Television.

For ticket information, please visit www.cbc.ca/battle. Tickets are available at any Ticketmaster outlet or by calling 416-870-8000.

Supporting photography available at www.cbc.ca/imagegallery.

For further information, contact:
Karen Gruson
karen.gruson@sympatico.ca
(416) 923-0076


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Un barrage contre le Pacifique (The Sea Wall)

Those who have already read L'amant (The Lover) knows why it's extremely hard to adapt a novel of French novelist Marguerite Duras into a film. Yours truly hasn't seen the film The Lover. However, as for this film, all I can tell you is that it bores you to death because of its slow pace and its badly written dialogues. All in all, the excellent cinematography can't help the film.


In the French Indochina (Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos) of the 1930s, a widow (Isabelle Hupert) invested her savings in a rice field in Cambodia. However, she feels that she's got ripped off by the colonial authorities. In fact, she has difficulty to pay back the mortgage on her land and it's always flooded by typhoons of the South China Sea. This is why the widow plans to build a dam to make profits. However, as she tries to improve her situation, the widow knows that her son, Joseph (Gaspard Ulliel), and her daughter, Suzanne (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey), will leave her sooner or later.

Obviously, Un barrage contre le Pacifique uses a lot its cinematography to seduce us. In fact, such an evidence leaps to our eyes through the magnificent framing of Cambodia's beautiful landscapes which are nonetheless a source of frustration for the three leading characters. Moreover, director Rithy Panh's visual intelligence can evidently be seen in his ability to capture the humiliation endured by some Cambodians during the French colonization without demagoguery.

Despite that, the film's cinematography doesn't save the whole story. As a matter of fact, many will feel that the cast, which is led by Isabelle Huppert, doesn't have a great margin of manoeuvre to express their character's true depth. For example, the love story between Suzanne and the Chinese business man seems contrived because the dialogues look like they were written for a soap opera (ex: "You're so beautiful" or "I don't know what to say when I'm with you").

Finally, I'm not going to waste any more of my time expressing my opinion regarding this film. Hopefully, Isabelle Huppert does a good job in leading the cast. Although her performance might look wooden, her feelings express quite well the loss of hope that the widow has when it comes to analyzing the economic performance of her rice field.

Rating: 2.5/5


Origin:France/Cambodia/Belgium (2009)
Length:115 minutes
Genre:Drama
Screenplay:Michel Fessler
Director:Rithy Panh
Starring:Isabelle Hupert, Gaspard Ulliel, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey and Randal Douc


Friday, September 25, 2009

News: The Festival du nouveau cinéma's Line-Up of Canadian Films


Just like me, were you pissed off because you had to stay in your hometown while the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) was happening? Well, it appears that the wait is over! In fact, the Festival du nouveau cinéma (FNC) - which will be taking place in Montreal from October 7 to 18 - has revealed its line-up of Canadian films. Besides, this goes without saying that most of these films were previously shown at the TIFF.


So here's the list of feature films and (a few) documentaries. By the way, each film's description is taken directly from the media release that was sent to me.

  • Les Signes vitaux (dir.: Sophie Deraspe)
    A film about generosity, humanity and the gift of self in the private moments between a young woman and the old people she meets in the final stages of their lives.
  • Un ange à la mer (Angel at Sea) (dir.: Frédéric Dumont)
    Difficult and disturbing subject matter—the psychological abuse of children—is treated with sensitivity and subtlety in this award-winning (Karlovy Vary) first feature.
  • Mark (dir.: Mike Hoolboom)
    After his film editor’s unexpected suicide at age 35, Mike Hoolboom decides to make a biography in film. An outstanding work that shows the astonishing capacity of cinema to bring a human presence back to life. The director’s highest achievement to date.
  • All Fall Down (dir.: Philip Hoffman)
    Philip Hoffman’s meditative exploration of time and place filtered through the story of a 19th-century First Nations activist and the filmmaker’s personal journal in the landscape of southern Ontario.
  • Le Chômeur de la mort (dir.: Benjamin Hogue and Pierre-Luc Gouin)
    Bursting with rare archival footage, an uplifting portrait
    of Claude Péloquin that is also a moving tribute to one of the maddest and most singular personalities Quebec literature has ever produced.
  • Cole (dir.: Carl Bessaï)
    A moving and thought-provoking story about a young man who is torn between his dreams and his family obligations. Shot in the spectacular landscape of Lytton, British Columbia.
  • Crackie (dir.: Sherry White)
    A sad, triumphant coming-of-age story shot in Conception Bay, Newfoundland. A teenage girl living with her eccentric grandmother (Mary Walsh) looks for connection and a way out of the “nuisance grounds”. A moving first feature about a quiet fighter and moments of joy.
  • Élégant (dir.: Yan Giroux)
    Yan Giroux documents the disquieting implosion of the band Chocolat as they perform two shows in the Magdalene Islands at their absolute drunken worst, with disastrous consequences.
  • The Killing Boys (dir.: Eugene Garcia)
    An unusual suspense thriller styled as a faux documentary following two brothers with a strange addiction to crime.
  • Leslie, My Name Is Evil (dir.: Reginald Harkema)
    The boring, predictable life of a chemist is about to change when he is called to jury duty at the Manson Family trial. An insightful, challenging and entertaining analysis of politics and pop culture.
  • Né pour être sauvage: l’histoire trouble de WD-40 (dir.: Pierre-Alexandre Bouchard)
    A tour through the private lives of the Chicoutimi boys who formed the alternative rock band WD-40 and are still standing after 15 years in a rough business.
  • New Denmark (dir.: Rafaël Ouellet)
    From presence to absence, pain to confusion, a profound meditation on the search for a loved one who has disappeared. The drama of a 16-year-old girl and all things left unsaid.
  • Nuages sur la ville (dir.: Simon Galiero)
    A darkly hilarious tale that hinges on the missed signals between irritating old-guard intellectuals and their aimless offspring. Insider postmodern angst around the pitfalls of media and art.
  • Open Diaries (dir.: Sasha A. Schriber)
    After her daughter runs away, a 38-year old divorced woman is rejuvenated by having sex with men young enough to be her son. Is it possible to be in love and have a healthy relationship?
  • Passenger Side (dir.: Matthew Bissonette)
    A deliciously acid road movie involving two estranged brothers, a dollar store full of eccentrics, the wilderness of Los Angeles, and a nebulous goal.
  • The Trostky (dir.: Jacob Tierney)
    A teenage boy fervently believes he is Trotsky reincarnated in this decidedly Montreal comedy and surprise hit of the year. All we can say is, “Long live the Revolution!”
  • Visionnaires planétaires (dir.: Sylvie Van Brabant)
    Director Sylvie Van Brabant travels the planet with eco-activist Mikael Rioux to illuminate the collective vision of the world’s leading authorities on environmental protection.
  • Viva el Culbec libre (dir.: François Cronen Gourd and Mélanie Ladouceur)
    Pataphysicist and Neo-Rhino party leader François Cronen Gourd’s humble documentary about his excursion to Cuba to forge artistic links between Quebecers and Cubans.
  • Wapikoni, escale à Kitcisakik (dir.: Mathieu Vachon)
    The Algonquin First Nations community of Kitcisakik
    welcomes filmmaker and instructor Mathieu Vachon, a member of the extraordinary Wapikoni Mobile program connecting Aboriginal youth to their own and other cultures through music and video art.
  • The Wild Hunt (dir.: Alexandre Franchi)
    When role-playing becomes real in a pseudo-ancient ritual, the actors plunge headlong into a dangerous game where the rules no longer apply. Montreal native Alexandre Franchi rearranges the chessboard in this unnerving fantasy.
  • Zed in Tokyo (dir.: Vali Fugulin)
    Filmmaker Vali Fugulin admiringly documents a unique collaboration between François Girard and the Cirque du Soleil to create the troupe’s first permanent production
    in Japan.


TV News: 'Innerspace' Premieres on Oct. 2

From a press release

  • STARGATE UNIVERSE (SGU) star Louis Ferreira and Executive Producer Brad Wright drop by SPACE studios to celebrate inaugural episode of SGU and INNERSPACE
  • Plus, exclusive on-set interviews with STARGATE UNIVERSE stars Robert Carlyle, Brian Smith and many more!


INNERSPACE. In Your Space.

Toronto, ON (September 24, 2009) – Buckle your seatbelts Canada as SPACE shifts into high-gear with the premiere of INNERSPACE, a fast-paced, 30-minute, late-night entertainment show. Starting Friday Oct. 2, every Tuesday to Friday at 11 p.m. ET, host Ajay Fry with Natasha Eloi and Teddy Wilson rant and rave as they recall moments from SPACE’s signature prime-time series. Along with guest interviews and viewer feedback, INNERSPACE previews and promotes the hottest Sci-Fi events, movies, books, video games, collectibles, comics, music and tech gadgets.

From comic books to vampires, aliens to the paranormal, Sci-Fi and the supernatural have become an integral part of mainstream culture. Beyond the post-show banter, INNERSPACE navigates its viewers through this eclectic genre with the most exclusive and comprehensive coverage.

INNERSPACE takes off with a special, one-hour episode following the explosive 9 p.m. ET premiere of SPACE’s highly anticipated sci-fi drama STARGATE UNIVERSE (SGU). To start things with a bang, SGU star Louis Ferreira and Executive Producer/Co-Creator Brad Wright stop by the studio to weigh in on the premiere. Then, sci-fi fans get the complete behind-the-scenes experience as INNERSPACE delivers exclusive footage and on-set interviews with Robert Carlyle, Brian Smith, David Blue and award-winning Executive Producers Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper.

For additional INNERSPACE content viewers can check in 24/7 at spacecast.com.

INNERSPACE is a SPACE original production, shot CTV headquarters in the heart of Toronto’s entertainment district. Fraser Robinson is Director of Content for SPACE, Michelle Dudas is Supervising Producer and Rachel Goldstein-Couto is Program Manager for SPACE and The Comedy Network.

INNERSPACE is a SPACE original production, shot CTV headquarters in the heart of Toronto’s entertainment district. Fraser Robinson is Director of Content for SPACE, Michelle Dudas is Supervising Producer and Rachel Goldstein-Couto is Program Manager for SPACE and The Comedy Network.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

News: The Festival du nouveau cinéma presents its 38th FNC Jury

From a media release


Montreal, Thursday, September 24, 2009 – The Festival du Nouveau Cinéma is pleased to announce the jury for its 38th Festival, which runs October 7 to 18. The jury members are well known personalities in the film and arts world, who will decide the winners of the FNC’s numerous awards, to be handed out on Closing Night, Saturday, October 17 at the Imperial Cinema (Sandra & Leo Kolber Centre, Salle Lucie & André Chagnon).


Chaired by Cameron Bailey, co-director of Toronto’s International Film Festival, the jury for the International Selection also includes: Lucie Amyot, programming director at TFO (Ontario’s Francophone television) and Chevalier de l’Ordre des arts et lettres; Mario Fortin, executive director of Cinéma Beaubien; American filmmaker Kim Massee (Cowboy Angels); and Quebec filmmaker-scriptwriter Kim N’Guyen (Le Marais, Truffe). They will award the FNC’s top prize, the Quebecor Louve d’Or, which this year carries a $15,000 cash prize, to the director of the best first, second or third feature chosen from the 18 films in the International category. They will also award the Best Acting Award for best actor in this section, and the Daniel Langlois Innovation Prize in honour of Daniel Langlois’s extraordinary contribution to the FNC’s growth and stability, and commitment to advancing knowledge in the arts community. It goes to an International section film remarkable for artistic daring, creative use of new media and innovative treatment of a sensitive subject.

In the FOCUS category for Québécois and Canadian features, the jurors are: Yuri Berger, programming director at Festivalissimo and associate producer at the 2009 Just for Laughs Film Festival; Pape Boye, co-creator of Funny Balloons and Coach 14 (international film sales); and Aleen Stein, a founder and principal shareholder of the Criterion film collection. They will award the Grand Prix Focus– Cinémathèque québécoise, which carries a cash prize of $1,500 and a $3,500 in-kind prize, to the best feature film in that category.

The Short Film jurors are: choreographer Dave St-Pierre; musician Lydia Champagne; and the founder of the Festival international Regard sur le court métrage au Saguenay, Eric Bachand. They will award the Loup argenté for best short in the International Selection, as well as the Grand Prix Focus: short film and $5,000 in cash for best short film in the Focus section, presented by Bravo!FACT, the CTV Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent.

The Quebec film critics association (AQCC) will also select a best film in the International Selection, to be awarded the Prix de l’AQCC. The jury this year will be composed of: Mathieu Li-Goyette, a writer with Panorama-cinema; Jorge Gutman, critic at El Popular and for Latin Time on CKUT 90.3 FM; and Claire Valade, from the magazine Séquences.

The Festival du Nouveau Cinéma is presented by Quebecor in collaboration with eXcentris and made possible by funding from SODEC, Telefilm Canada, Ministère du Tourisme; Ministère des Affaires municipales, des Régions et de l’Occupation du territoire; Ville de Montréal; Canada Council for the Arts; Tourisme Montréal; Conseil des arts de Montréal; and Canadian Heritage. The Festival also thanks its major partners the STM and Solotech, its official suppliers and all the distributors for helping to make this 38th FNC possible.

http://www.nouveaucinema.ca/

Media Contact:
Mélanie Mingotaud / Brigitte Chabot (Communications)
514.861.7871
melanie@bchabotcom.ca


Notes on a Scandal

Obviously, this film attracts you because of the description of the synopsis on the DVD's back cover. Besides, the film lives up to your expectations mostly because of the wicked duo made of Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett. All in all, Notes on a Scandal is one of the best British films I've seen.


Barbara Covett (Judi Dench) is a History teacher in High school. She's a lonely person and her most intimate relationship is with her personal diary. When Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett) joins the school as the new art teacher, Barbara feels that a friendship between Sheba and her is developing. However, when Barbara discovers that Sheba is having an affair with Steven Conolly (Andrew Simpson), a 15 years old student, her jealousy and her anger is gradually put on display.

Prior to watching this film, I didn't know anything about it and I didn't read the novel by Zöe Heller. Nevertheless, in the end, I was glad to discover this film. In fact, for a film that mixes elements of drama and thriller, Notes on a Scandal is nicely paced. Besides, the film skilfully brings us to the climax because viewers are just waiting to see how the character of Sheba will be going down.

However, one might feel - after going through the climax - that Notes on a Scandal's plot has a minor lack of logic. In fact, after the affair between Sheba and Steven is revealed in the British media, we know that only three people knew about the affair: Sheba, Steven and Barbara. The fact that Sheba doesn't (in the middle of the film) have any thoughts about who (either Barbara or Steven) might have leaked the information about her affair diminishes the psychological suspense for as long as the middle part lasts.

Despite a minor flaw in the script, Notes on a Scandal can rely on a great performance from its cast, especially from its leading ladies, Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett. Without aiming for sensationalism, Dench's and Blanchett's expose quite well their own character's fragility and aggressiveness in their own way. As someone who doesn't yell that much, Judi Dench showcases her talent to play a manipulative woman. As for Cate Blanchett, her performance about someone who can be nice, naive and tough is so credible.

Finally, while the film might not be perfect because of a minor flaw in the script, the film, as a whole, is gripping and smart. Besides, if you have the patience to, you'll be delighted to see how the film hides its layers of depth before your eyes.

Rating: 3.5/5


Origin:UK (2006)
Length:92 minutes
Genre:Drama
Screenplay:Patrick Marber
Director:Richard Eyre
Starring:Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett and Bill Nighy


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Movie News: 'J'ai tué ma mère' (I Killed My Mother) Is Canada's Oscar Pick For 2010

From a media release:

I Killed my Mother submitted as Canada’s representative for nomination in the Best Foreign Language Film category.

Montréal, Quebec, September 22, 2009 – Telefilm Canada is proud to announce that I Killed my Mother (J’ai tué ma mère), directed by Xavier Dolan, has been submitted for nomination as Best Foreign Language Film at the 82nd annual Academy Awards, to be held March 7, 2010.


Telefilm Canada chairs the pan-Canadian selection committee and is a non-voting member. The committee comprises 24 voting members representing major film industry associations and government agencies. This year, I Killed my Mother (J’ai tué ma mère) was selected from among 18 eligible films. The nominations for the 82nd Academy Awards will be announced on February 2, 2010.

“A Canadian film in the race for the Oscars provides outstanding exposure for Canadian productions among domestic as well as international audiences,” stated Sheila de La Varende, Telefilm Canada’s Director of National and International Business Development. “We applaud the precious work accomplished over the past few weeks by the selection committee, which gathers together industry representatives from all regions of Canada.”

I Killed my Mother (J’ai tué ma mère) tells the story of sixteen-year-old Hubert Minel, who has a personality conflict with his mother to the point of hating her. Resentful of the feelings of hatred he bears against her, Hubert tries to rekindle the great relationship they used to have.

Selection process for the category of Best Foreign Language Film

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has invited 96 countries to submit their top film for consideration as a possible Best Foreign Language Film nominee. Academy rules state that qualifying films must first be released in the country submitting it no earlier than October 1, 2008, and no later than September 30, 2009, and be publicly screened for the first time in 35mm or 70mm film or in a qualifying digital cinema format for at least seven consecutive days in a commercial motion picture theatre. In addition, the recording of the original dialogue track as well as the completed film must be predominantly in a language or languages other than English.

Only one film per country is accepted. The Academy will subsequently vote to choose the five films to be nominated in the foreign film category. Films submitted for consideration for the Best Foreign Language Oscar may also be eligible in other award categories, so long as they comply with the particular requirements governing these categories.

Last year, The Necessities of Life (Ce qu’il faut pour vivre), directed by Benoit Pilon, was Canada’s Oscar pick, but the film was not subsequently selected as one of the official nominees. Over the years, four Canadian films have been nominated for the Best Foreign Language Oscar. Deepa Mehta’s Water was nominated in 2006, and three films by Denys Arcand have been so honoured: Le Déclin de l'empire américain (The Decline of the American Empire) in 1986, Jésus de Montréal (Jesus of Montreal) in 1989, and Les Invasions barbares (The Barbarian Invasions), which won the coveted award for 2003.

Canadian Selection Committee – 82nd Annual Academy Awards

Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television
Alberta Motion Picture Industries Association
Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA)
Alliance québécoise des techniciens de l'image et du son (AQTIS)
Association des producteurs de films et de télévision du Québec (APFTQ)
Association des réalisateurs et réalisatrices du Québec (ARRQ)
Association québécoise des critiques de cinéma
British Columbia Film
Canada Council for the Arts
Canadian Film and Television Production Association (CFTPA)
Directors Guild of Canada
Film Nova Scotia
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
Manitoba Film & Sound
National Film Board of Canada
New Brunswick Film
Newfoundland and Labrador Film Development Corporation
Ontario Media Development Corporation
SaskFilm and Video Development Corporation
Société de développement des entreprises culturelles (SODEC)
Société des auteurs de radio, télévision et cinéma du Québec (SARTEC)
Technology PEI
Telefilm Canada (Chair, non-voting)
Union des artistes
Yukon Film & Sound Commission

Developing and promoting the Canadian audiovisual industry
Telefilm Canada is a federal cultural agency dedicated to developing and promoting the Canadian audiovisual industry. Telefilm provides financial support to the private sector to create distinctively Canadian productions that appeal to domestic and international audiences. The Corporation also administers the funding programs of the Canadian Feature Film Fund, the Canadian Television Fund and the Canada New Media Fund. Visit www.telefilm.gc.ca.

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Media enquiries:
Eva Hartling
Communications Specialist
Telefilm Canada
514-283-0838, ext. 2090 or 1-800-567-0890
hartlie@telefilm.gc.ca


TV News: Global Toronto’s News Hour Anchor Leslie Roberts Takes A Whirlwind Tour Of Hot Neighborhoods, Cool Communities


From a press release

New Local Series Launches In Cliffside, Scarborough On Tuesday, September 22. For additional information, please visit www.canwesttvmedia.com.


(Toronto) Global Toronto viewers will be joining News Hour anchor Leslie Roberts for a weekly visit to many of the unique and unknown districts, vibrant neighbourhoods and growing towns that circle the GTA in Hot Neighbourhoods, Cool Communities, a new weekly feature airing Tuesdays on Global Toronto’s News Hour at 6 pm. Over the next few months, Roberts will explore the unique mosaic of our neighbourhoods and cities, and the first stop will be Scarborough’s little-known lakeside neighbourhood of Cliffside on Tuesday, September 22.

Here’s where Leslie Roberts is headed:

September 22Cliffside, Scarborough
September 29Streetsville, Mississauga
October 6 Liberty Village, Toronto
October 13Ledbury, Toronto
October 20Port Hope
October 27Village Square, Burlington
November 3Leslieville, Toronto
November 10Unionville
November 17Hillside, Toronto
November 24Milton
December 1Baldwin Street, The Grange, Toronto
December 8Downtown Richmond Hill
December 15Brooklin

“I’m really excited to explore the neighbourhoods and towns all around us, as we have many hidden gems here,” Roberts said. “Toronto is home to some of the most diverse and vital communities in the country. This series is designed to investigate what makes them special and we’ll look at the factors that are shaping these communities including issues like development and preservation, effects of economic downswing, and local controversies.”

The Hot Neighbourhoods, Cool Communities itinerary will follow Leslie Roberts throughout the GTA exploring a number of Toronto’s districts, some tucked-away, others in transition, but all very lively. He’ll explore some of the fast-growing, often historical communities fanning out beyond the GTA in all directions.

“The goal of the series is to bring News Hour viewers a fresh look at the dynamic and changing parts of our urban landscape” says Ward Smith, News Director, Global Toronto. ‘”We think it’s a great way for Leslie to connect with our viewers as he will personally meet a cross-section of residents in each area and hear what they have to say about where they live.”

Hot Neighbourhoods, Cool Communities with Leslie Roberts begins on Tuesday, September 22 on Global Toronto’s News Hour at 6pm.

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About Canwest Broadcasting:
Canwest Broadcasting operates Global Television and eighteen of the country's most popular specialty channels, including HGTV, Mystery TV, National Geographic Channel, Showcase, History Television, Food Network and TVtropolis. Canwest Broadcasting is a division of Canwest Media Inc.

About Canwest Media Inc.
Canwest Media Inc is a subsidiary of Canwest Global Communications Corp. (www.canwest.com; TSX: CGS and CGS.A). An international media company, Canwest is Canada's largest publisher of paid English language daily newspapers and owns, operates and/or holds substantial interests in conventional television, out-of-home advertising, specialty cable channels and web sites in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States.

For media inquiries, please contact:

David McCaughna,
Publicist, Global News
647-338-2485
dmccaughna@canwest.com

Sunday, September 20, 2009

La ligne brisée (The Broken Line)


La ligne brisée might look like a film that only relies on the name of its stars. Obviously, after going through the film, we can see that David Boutin and Guillaume Lemay-Thivierge, who are both big stars in Quebec, manage to carry with strength the film on their shoulders. However, expect to see some weak points in the storyline.


Sébastien Messier (David Boutin) and Danny Demers (Guillaume Lemay-Thivierge) are two friends who have been in boxing for a while. When Danny comes back to Montreal, Sébastien is preparing for a championship fight. However, their reunion goes awry and breaks their friendship. Five years later, Sébastien has hit the rock bottom and Danny is the world champion. In order to settle a score with Danny, Sébastien will challenge him. Will Danny accept it?

For a labourer who hails from the television industry, Louis Choquette certainly has a promising future ahead of him. After all, you just have to see the inspiring consideration he's put in the cinematography. For that matter, the film brilliantly captures the atmosphere of a boxing match the same way The Wrestler captures the atmosphere of a wrestling match. All in all, you, as a viewer, feel that you're in the film.

Nevertheless, this sport drama is a tad predictable. Indeed, this is the case in its middle part when the film superficially explores the end of the friendship between Sébastien and Danny comes to an end after a tragic car accident. Despite that, director Louis Choquette and scriptwriter Michelle Allen knew how to get the most they could with the flawed script. With that said, La ligne brisée can rely on the solid performance from its leading men, David Boutin and Guillaume Lemay-Thivierge. Both of them play well - physically and emotionally - two characters who individually have to deal with their inner demons.

Finally, despite the efforts you see from Choquette and Allen, La ligne brisée can only claim to be an entertainment film. In fact, just see it for yourself and have in mind that the pace is as quick as a car used for a James Bond film. However, one can't forget how thin the script is. In fact, the development of the leading characters looks incomplete, because the characters of Jacynthe René, who plays Danny's girlfriend, and Fanny Mallette, who plays Sébastien's physiotherapist, are underused.

Rating: 3/5


Origin:Canada (2008)
Length:102 minutes
Genre:Drama
Screenplay:Michelle Allen
Director:Louis Choquette
Starring:David Boutin, Guillaume Lemay-Thivierge, Fanny Mallette, Jacynthe René and Germain Houde


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Movie News: Telefilm Canada's Partnership with the Vancouver International Film Festival

From a press release

Vancouver, September 18, 2009 – Telefilm Canada is announcing its support of the 28th edition of the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF), taking place October 1 to 16, 2009. This year marks the 25th anniversary of Telefilm’s partnership with VIFF and of Telefilm’s Western Regional Office in Vancouver, established in 1984. A total of 17 Telefilm-financed films are being screened at VIFF this year.


“Telefilm Canada’s Western Regional Office opened its doors 25 years ago, and from the very beginning the Vancouver International Film Festival has been an important partner in developing Western Canadian talent and in building Canadian audiences for Canadian films,” said Sheila de La Varende, Director, International and National Business Development, Telefilm Canada. “A rich programme of Canadian films is on offer again this year, a testament to the diversity of our cinema. Women filmmakers are prominent in this year’s line-up, with Canadian directors such as Sherry White and Daniska Esterhazy showcasing their films at VIFF.”

“We are proud to be a partner of VIFF for the 25th consecutive year,” said Earl Hong Tai, Western Regional Director, Business Development, Telefilm Canada. “Both VIFF and Telefilm have been dedicated to the development and success of the Canadian audiovisual industry for over two decades and we believe VIFF provides unique opportunities to this region and this country’s creative teams by offering them such a platform for networking and exchanging ideas.”

Canadian Images Series

The VIFF Canadian Images Series is one of the biggest showcases of Canadian film in the world. Telefilm has supported many of the films in the series at the development, production or completion stages. In honour of the 25th anniversary of the Western Regional Office, Telefilm will be presenting BLACK FIELD and ZOOEY & ADAM (please visit www.viff.org for screening times), two films from the Canadian Images Series. Local filmmakers and Telefilm representatives will be onsite to answer questions from the audience following the screenings.

Telefilm Canada International Tête-à-tête Meetings

Telefilm is proud to present the sixth instalment of the Telefilm Canada International Tête-à-tête Meetings. Designed to foster Canadian co-production and international sales, this unique series of meetings provides an opportunity for filmmakers to discuss current projects with international producers, distributors, commissioning editors and Telefilm representatives.

Telefilm-financed films at VIFF 2009

Title
Director(s)
J'ai tué ma mère (I Killed My Mother)Xavier Dolan
65 Red RosesNimisha Mukerji and Philip Lyall
AntoineLaura Bari
Facing AliPete McCormack
Puck HogsWarren P. Sonoda
Cooper's Camera
A Shine of RainbowsVic Sarin
Black FieldDaniska Esterhazy
CrackieSherry White
Prom Night in MississippiPaul Saltzman
ExcitedBruce Sweeney
Zooey & AdamSean Garrity
Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glen GouldMichèle Hozer and Peter Raymont
Cooking With StellaDilip Mehta
Leslie, My Name Is EvilReg Harkema
BrokeRosie Dransfeld
At Home, By Myself, With YouKris Booth

Developing and promoting the Canadian audiovisual industry
Telefilm Canada is a federal cultural agency dedicated to developing and promoting the Canadian audiovisual industry. Telefilm provides financial support to the private sector to create distinctively Canadian productions that appeal to domestic and international audiences. The Corporation also administers the funding programs of the Canadian Feature Film Fund, the Canadian Television Fund and the Canada New Media Fund. Visit www.telefilm.gc.ca.

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For further information, please contact:
Kim Alison Fraser
Communications Officer, Telefilm Canada
604-683-7088, ext. 2628
fraserk@telefilm.gc.ca

Friday, September 18, 2009

TV News: Space's October Schedule


From a press release

Get lost in the vast unknown of SPACE, with the new series STARGATE UNIVERSE (SGU). SGU premieres Friday, October 2 at 9 p.m. ET. Continuing Fridays at 10 p.m. ET. The quest for non-human intelligence and otherworldly beings arrives with Season 2 of SPACE’s original series SANCTUARY, premiering Friday, October 9 at 9 p.m. ET.


  • The Antares’ exploration of the solar system halts mid-mission with the season finale of DEFYING GRAVITY Friday, October 23 at 8 p.m. ET
  • Visit the town of EUREKA and meet the local geniuses as Season 3 continues on SPACE, Thursday, October 1 at 10 p.m. ET. New episodes all-month long.
  • See how director Spike Jonze brings Maurice Sendak’s classic book to life in SPACE’s special premiere of BEYOND THE SCREEN: WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, Saturday, October 17 at 10 a.m. ET.
  • View your brains out with the SPACE ZOMBIE WEEKEND, nightly October 2-4.
  • FRINGE continues Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET
  • Season 9 of SMALLVILLE continues Sundays at 8 p.m. ET. New episodes all month all long.
  • Season 6 of MEDIUM continues Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET. New episodes all month long.
  • Season 5 of SUPERNATURAL continues Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET. New episodes all month long.
  • Get your horror movie fix with SPACE’s October Frightmares. All horror movies, all month long! See listings below for full details.

** Media note ** Download photos from www.ctvmedia.ca/space. Screeners available upon request.
Below is a chronological listing of October 1-31 programming highlights. All programming is subject to change.

ZOMBIE WEEKEND:

Friday, October 2
12 a.m. ET– Fido (2006)
Timmy Robinson's best friend in the whole wide world is a six-foot tall rotting zombie named Fido. But when Fido eats the next-door neighbor, Mom and Dad hit the roof, and Timmy must fight to keep Fido part of the family. Stars Carrie-Anne Moss, Billy Connolly and Dylan Baker.

Saturday, October 3
9 p.m. ET – Dawn of the Dead (2004)
A nurse, a policeman and other survivors of a worldwide plague that produces aggressive, flesh-eating zombies, take refuge in a Midwestern shopping mall. Stars Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames and Jake Weber.

11:25 p.m. ET – Land of the Dead (2005)
The living dead have taken over the world, and the last humans live in a walled city in an effort to protect themselves. Stars Simon Baker, John Leguizamo and Dennis Hopper.

Sunday, October 4
9 p.m. ET – Shaun of the Dead (2004)
A man decides to win back his ex-girlfriend and reconcile with his mother all while dealing with an entire community that has returned from the dead. Stars Simon Pegg, Kate Ashfield and Nick Frost.

11:10 p.m. ET – S.S. Doomtrooper (2006)
A genetically bred Nazi super soldier fights Allied troops. Stars Cormin Nemec, James Pomichter and Marianne Filali.

SPACE SERIES AND PREMIERES:

Thursday, October 1

10 p.m. ET/PT – EUREKA Season 3.5 – “Welcome Back, Carter” **SEASON PREMIERE**
Following his firing in "From Fear to Eternity", Carter attends a job interview with the Department of Homeland Security. Deputy Lupo hands in her resignation on learning her new boss is a robot.

Friday, October 2
9 p.m. ET/PT – STARGATE UNIVERSE (SGU) – “Air” **SERIES PREMIERE**
SGU follows a band of soldiers, scientists and civilians, who must fend for themselves as they are forced through a Stargate and emerge aboard an ancient ship, when their hidden base comes under attack. Faced with meeting the most basic needs of food, water and air, the group must unlock the secrets of the ship's Stargate to survive.

Thursday, October 8
10 p.m. ET/PT – EUREKA Season 3.5 – “Your Face or Mine”
It is time for physical exams for the Sheriff's department and an upgrade for the town's security system, both Eureka-styled by Global Dynamics.

Thursday, October 15
10 p.m. ET/PT – EUREKA Season 3.5 – “Insane in the P-Brane”
When objects begin moving on their own, Carter and newcomer Dr. Tess Fontana visit the "other side" to find the answer.

Saturday, October 17
10 a.m. ET/PT – BEYOND THE SCREEN: WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE ** PREMIERE**
A behind the scenes look at how Spike Jonze brings the film Where The Wild Things Are to life with a mixture of real actors, computer animation and live puppeteering. Includes interviews with cast and crew.

Thursday, October 22
10 p.m. ET/PT – EUREKA Season 3.5 – “It’s Not Easy Being Green”
When the bowling team from Area 51 hits town, the long-standing rivalry-cum-war is reignited, and a prank goes horribly wrong.

Thursday, October 29
10 p.m. ET/PT – EUREKA Season 3.5 – “If You Build It…”
A wave of wholesale looting hits Eureka, and when the missing objects turn up in a field it becomes a race against time to find the cause.

SPACE MOVIE PREMIERES:

Monday, October 5
9 p.m. ET/PT – Scream (1996)
A psychopathic serial killer is stalking a group of teens. Stars David Arquette, Neve Campbell and Courteney Cox.

Saturday, October 10
9 p.m. ET/PT – Darkness (2002)
A family moves into a quaint country home where nothing is as it seems. Stars Anna Paquin and Lena Olin.

Saturday, October 17
9 p.m. ET – The Return (2006)
Joanna Mills, a traveling business woman, begins having nightmares of an unsolved 15 year old murder. Stars Sarah Michelle Gellar.

Monday, October 19
9 p.m. ET – Scream 2 (1997)
Trying to forget what happened in Woodsboro, Sidney Prescott relocates to Windsor College only to find that another psychotic killer wants her dead. Stars David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Sarah Michelle Gellar.

Saturday, October 24
9 p.m. ET – Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)
While on a road trip, two brothers and their girlfriends get into an accident that begins a terrifying experience in a secluded house of horrors. Stars Jordana Brewster.

Saturday, October 31
9 p.m. ET – Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
A group of friends passing through town are stalked and hunted down by a deformed killer with a chainsaw. Stars Jessica Biel.

For more information, please contact:

Michelle Lomack, Acting Publicist, 416-384-5276, michelle.lomack@ctv.ca
Mary Costa, Senior Publicist, 416-384-7702, mary.costa@ctv.ca

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sunshine Cleaning

Honestly, Sunshine Cleaning is quite a cute film to watch not just because one of the most beautiful actresses in the world, Amy Adams, stars in it. In fact, it's wonderful to see that Amy Adams and Emily Blunt lead the cast with a detectable enthusiasm. However, one might feel that Sunshine Cleaning's script is missing something.


Rose (Amy Adams) and Nora (Emily Blunt) are two sisters from Albuquerque who work in a dead-end job. While Rose wants to quit her job of maid and Nora got fired from her job in a restaurant, they both end up creating a business of their own (the company's name will be Sunshine Cleaning). Of course, the latter consists in cleaning up crime scenes. With the money that she'll make, Rose hopes to be able to send her son Oscar to a private school.

Obviously, Sunshine Cleaning can be appreciated on the first look. In fact, in my own experience as a movie viewer, I thought that the film offered something different when it comes to the script's configuration. Like a TV series, the film tries hard to make us be interested in each of the three leading characters (who are all related to each other): Rose, Nora and their father (Alan Arkin). With a background topic like optimism, the film captures these characters' attempt to improve their condition and even their obligation to face their own personal problems.

However, Sunshine Cleaning is just a film that makes us wish we could have seen more. With the time it takes to jump from one leading character's perspective to another, Sunshine Cleaning is too short. As a result of that, one might get the feeling that the sub-plots revolving around Rose are not as developed as they could have been. For instance, the film doesn't bother to tell us where does the character of Winston (Clifton Collins Jr.), the manager of the store where Rose and Nora buy their cleaning equipment, fit in the story. After all, the film suggests that there might be a budding friendship or an affective relation between Rose and Winston.

All in all, despite a few plot holes and a slow pace, Sunshine Cleaning is a cute and enjoyable film about the importance to keep hope even if our life seems miserable. Besides, some may say that Amy Adams and Emily Blunt are wasting their time in this film. However, their talent and their charisma make up for their small margin of manoeuvre granted to them by the anorexic storyline.

Rating: 3/5



Origin:USA (2009)
Length:91 minutes
Genre:Comedy/Drama
Screenplay:Megan Holley
Director:Christine Jeffs
Starring:Amy Adams, Emily Blunt and Alan Arkin


Sunday, September 13, 2009

TV: Waiting For The Premiere of 'The Border'

Seriously, it's just too bad that not all the TV series made by CBC will debut in September. In fact, The Border is one of these TV series since it will premiere on October 8, 2009 at 9 PM. Therefore, the question is: Why is it one of the TV series that I anticipate? Well, the answer is quite simple.


In the first season, the main characters tended to be presented as good guys because the decision they took during a mission didn't leave much of an impact in their conscience. However, since the second half of the second season brought the show to a new peak (i.e. Gray Jackson's undercover job in a criminal gang), one is starting to think that the show rightfully bears its title (i.e. the line between the right and wrong choice). Obviously, I can't wait for the premiere of the third season and I'm dying to see if the creators of the show have pushed the idea of dilemma in the characters' mind further.

With that said, here are some questions that many of us will have before watching the premiere:

  • Will Sgt. Gray Jackson really go in prison?
  • Did Sgt. Layla Hourani survive in the explosion that ended the second season?
  • What will be the outcome of the gunfight that ended the second season?

Finally, this season is sure going to be more intense since the stakes got higher. Anyway, I'll remind you that the show premieres on CBC on October 8, 2009 at 9 PM. Besides, if you miss an episode, you can legally watch the full episodes on the TV series's official web site (provided that you live in Canada).

Promotional poster for the third season of ‘The Border’
Promotional poster for the third season of The Border.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Trailer: 'Les sept jours du talion'

Do you like thrillers? Well, I'm sure that in the upcoming months, you'll be well served. On February 5, 2010 (this is what I know for now), the film Les sept jours du talion (which means "The Seven Days of the Lex Talionis" in French) will be released in Quebec. By the way, the film is adapted from a novel of Patrick Senécal, a novelist who is often compared to Stephen King.


From lef to right: Rémy Girard, Martin Dubreuil and Claude Legault. They respectively play Sgt. Det. Hervé Mercure, Anthony Lemaire (the man who killed Bruno's daughter) and Bruno Hamel, the leading character who kidnaps Lemaire in order to kill him.

The story

Bruno Hamel (Claude Legault) is a surgeon who succeeded in life. He happily lives with Sylvie (Fanny Mallette), his wife, and Jasmine, their daughter. However, after Bruno let his daughter go play outside, Jasmine is found dead (and raped). When Jasmine's killer (Martin Dubreuil) is arrested and ready to go in court, Bruno has one idea in his mind: he wants to take the chance to kidnap the "monster". Besides, while in hiding (with the "monster" as a hostage), he tells to the police that he'll torture the killer for seven days and kill him. Afterwards, Bruno plans to turn himself in to the authorities. Nonetheless, will Sgt. Det. Hervé Mercure (Rémy Girard) manage to arrest both Anthony Lemaire and Bruno as the clock is ticking?


My thoughts

Few words: I can't wait to see this film since I've read the novel. Judging from the trailer, the film will be quite close to what we've got in the novel. Moreover, the leading actor is Claude Legault and the director is Daniel Grou, aka Podz, who directed the outstanding TV series Minuit, le soir (I LOVED it).


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Movie News: Canadian Films at the 14th Pusan International Film Festival

From a press release.

Montreal, September 7, 2009 – Telefilm Canada is pleased to announce that nine Canadian feature films have been officially selected for the 14th edition of the Pusan International Film Festival, which takes place in Pusan, South Korea from October 8 to 19, 2009.

“Telefilm recognizes Pusan as a valuable venue for Canadian filmmakers to showcase their work to international audiences,” states Sheila de la Varende, Director, International & National Business Development. “Participation in Pusan supports our efforts to increase foreign sales, encourage co-production, and raise the profile of Canada’s industry on the international scene, all of which are critically important to building a sustainable, vibrant film industry in this country.”

In 14 years, Pusan has become one of Asia’s most important film festivals, to which a market component, the Asian Film Market, was added in 2006. Telefilm has been organizing screenings for Pusan’s selection committee and facilitating the selection of Canadian films for this important international festival since 2005.

MIDNIGHT TO 4 AM, a Canada/Singapore/South Korea feature film project, has been selected to be part of the pitching sessions of the 12th Pusan Promotion Plan, the financing forum component of the Pusan Festival. The project is an omnibus feature length film, composed of six short stories by six directors, produced by Cine-Asie Creatives from Montréal.

Director and producer Peter Wintonick will be giving a masterclass and mentoring projects with the Pusan documentary wing called “AND”, the Asian Documentary Network, and with Pusan's Asian Film Fund.

The following films have been officially selected for the festival:

World Cinema Section
UN ANGE A LA MER (dir. Frédéric Dumont; Production Company: Dragons Films, Palomar; Sales Agent: E1 Entertainment; Belgium/Canada) - Asian premiere;

CAIRO TIME (dir. Ruba Nadda; Production Company: Foundry Films; Sales Agent: E1 Entertainment; Canada) - International premiere;

COLE (dir. Carl Bessai; Production Company: Raven West Films; Canada) - International premiere;

DÉDÉ, A TRAVERS LES BRUMES (dir. Jean-Philippe Duval; Production Company: Max Films, Zone 3 Sales Agent: Max Films International; Canada) - International premiere;

LA DONATION (dir. Bernard Emond; Production Company: ACPAV; Sales Agent: E1 Entertainment; Canada) - Asian premiere.

Wide Angle Section (Documentary)
PILGRIMAGE (dir. Peter Wintonick & Mira Burt-Wintonick; Production Company: Necessary Illusions Productions; Sales Agent: Films Transit International; Canada) - Asian premiere.

Flash Forward Section (Competition)
CHICAGO HEIGHTS (dir. Daniel Nearing; Production Company: 923 Films; USA/Canada) - International premiere.

Midnight Passion Section
STOIC (dir. Uwe Boll; Production Company: Brightlight Pictures; Sales Agent: Brightlight Pictures; Canada) - Asian premiere;

TRICK’R TREAT (dir. Michael Dougherty; Production Company: Bad Hat Harry Productions; Sales Agent: Warner Bros.; USA/Canada).

Developing and promoting the Canadian audiovisual industry
Telefilm Canada is a federal cultural agency dedicated to developing and promoting the Canadian audiovisual industry. Telefilm provides financial support to the private sector to create distinctively Canadian productions that appeal to domestic and international audiences. The Corporation also administers the funding programs of the Canadian Feature Film Fund, the Canadian Television Fund and the Canada New Media Fund. Visit www.telefilm.gc.ca.

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For additional information, please contact:
Alejandra Sosa
Communications Officer and Press Attaché, Telefilm Canada
416-973-6436, ext. 2505 or 1-800-463-4607
sosaa@telefilm.gc.ca

Shiri

As entertaining as it is, who would have thought that Shiri was shot with a budget of $8.5 million? If you don't take in consideration the film's production value, its commercial success in South Korea and the action sequences, what you get is nothing but a film that makes you roll your eyes for its poor artistic value.


In 1992, as the North Korean army organizes a brutal training of assassins in the countryside, Lee Bang-hee (Kim Yunjin) turns out to be the best. She's sent to South Korea by her superior, Park Mu-young (Choi Min-sik), as a sniper in order to assassinate important South Korean political figures. Because of that two South Korean agents, Yu Jong-won (Han Suk-kyu) and Lee Jang-gil (Song Kang-ho), two South Korean special agents, have tried for many years to arrest her. However, things get complicated since Bang-hee changed her look with plastic surgery.

Besides, after so many years of tension, North and South Korea decide to ease their diplomatic relation through a friendly soccer match between both countries. Obviously, Park Mu-young disobeys the orders from his government and plans with Bang-hee to detonate a binary liquid explosive in a stadium of Seoul on the day of the game. Therefore, will agents Lee and Yu manage to find Bang-hee and Park as the clock is ticking?

Although the action scenes would look quite simple, Shiri does a fine job in the entertainment department. With its captivating gunfights, its clock-ticking suspense à la Hollywood, its pace and its hand-held cinematography, Shiri has it all. However, if we leave aside the action scenes, Shiri is unsatisfying. This goes without saying that using the word "formulaic" to describe it is an understatement. In fact, scriptwriter/director Kang Je-gyu only assigns the most basic motivations to his two leading characters (to arrest Bang-hee) that any attempt to add depth by showing the characters' personal life makes us laugh. Besides, without giving away the vital details of the story, the plot twist at the end definitely falls flat because the importance of some supporting characters (ex: Bang-hee) is unfortunately downplayed.

In short, to us, Westerners, Shiri is just a disposable entertaining film that can be forgotten no matter how thrilling this film is. However, the film will be remembered in years to come for it represents the first attempt by South Korea's "new wave" of filmmakers to make commercial films and to compete with the world.

Rating: 2/5



Origin:South Korea (1999)
Length:125 minutes
Genre:Thriller
Screenplay:Kang Je-gyu
Director:Kang Je-gyu
Starring:Han Suk-kyu, Choi Min-sik, Song Kang-ho and Kim Yunjin


Sunday, September 6, 2009

TV News: 'Being Erica' Premieres on Sept. 22

Good morning fellow Canadians from coast to coast! If you're planning to watch other stuff on TV besides the hockey season, here's a good news for you. Through Vlada over at Staying In, we can learn that Being Erica's anticipated second season will hit the Great White North on September 22 at 9 PM on CBC. As for the USA, SoapNet, a cable network, will air the show "in early 2010" although it's not a soap opera.


In the second season, Erica Strange (Erin Karpluk) is now a junior editor in a publishing house. Although she gained more confidence in herself, she's still got regrets in her life. In order to deal with them, Erica still sees a therapist. However, as the first season's finale suggested it, Dr. Naadiah is now replacing Dr. Tom (Michael Riley) for a while as the therapist who sends Erica back in time so that Erica can fix a given regret.

For more details on the script of the second season, read what Vlada has to say.


Countdown: 16 days before the premiere of Being Erica!


Saturday, September 5, 2009

In the Loop


Regardless of our nationality, we have good reasons to appreciate In the Loop. In fact, with all the serious political films we're used to see, it's refreshing to see one that pokes fun at those who represent us. Besides, despite its few flaws in the script, In the Loop's humour is never vulgar and is sure going to entertain you.


During an interview on radio, Simon Foster (Tom Hollander), Great Britain's Minister for International Development, accidentally states that a war in the Middle East is "unforeseeable". Now that he regrets it Simon tries everything he can to avoid supporting an eventual war in the Middle East despite the pressure from Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi), the Prime Minister's "enforcer". Therefore, what should Simon do while he's diplomatically visiting the USA?

Obviously, as a comedy, In the Loop brings quite a fresh air. With a limited use of music and a rather simple editing, director Armando Iannuci manages to take us as hostages and insert us in this strange world of politics. Of course, although we shouldn't take things too seriously in this film, we just can't help ourselves when we see how the character of Simon Foster embodies the image of many Canadian politicians (who are extremely afraid to say in public their true beliefs) even though he's a British. In Simon's case, since the war in Iraq hasn't started, he doesn't want to either publicly show support for it or be opposed to it.

Obviously, without being too vulgar, In the Loop provides us with some good material to laugh at political correctness and other bad habits from politicians. Moreover, while we know that the characters are not played in a very serious way, we can see that the cast did its job with enthusiasm. No wonder Tom Hollander, as Simon Foster, looks so much like a politician. Besides, although the script evidently uses a known historical event (we all know that the war is coming), the script is not too predictable in that it puts Simon in front of a funny dilemma: blindly vote in favour of the war or follow his principles (if he has any).

However, despite its qualities, In the Loop gives you the feeling that it's longer than it actually has to be. In fact, while many scenes try to spice things up, we certainly didn't need to see how some supporting characters are giving a headache to Simon. For instance, I could have lived without the scenes concerning the leaking of some official documents.

Rating: 3.5/5


Origin:UK (2009)
Length:106 minutes
Genre:Comedy
Screenplay:
Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Ian Martin and Tony Roche
Director:Armando Iannucci
Starring:Tom Hollander, Peter Capaldi, Gina McKee, James Gandolfini, Chris Addison and Anna Chlumsky


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

On the Corner

Nathaniel Geary's independent film is a sign that not all independent films can be excellent despite the originality. This means that On the Corner always give you the feeling that it could have been better than what we see in the end-result. Hopefully, the film feels quite realistic since it was shot on location in the neighbourhood of Downtown Eastside (a place with serious problems of poverty and drugs) in Vancouver.


Patricia "Angel" Henry (Alex Rice), an Aboriginal who hails from Prince Rupert, lives in Vancouver. In order to survive she turns to prostitution along with her friend Stacey (Katherine Isabelle), a white girl. On one day, Angel encounters Randy (Simon Baker), her brother, and he tells her that he has nowhere to live. Of course, Randy will find a dead-end job, but he'll start selling drugs - by making sure Angel doesn't know it - in the street at the suggestion of Cliffie (JR Bourne), Stacey's boyfriend, in order to make easy money. However, the problem is that Randy will become a drug addict since he consumes drugs more than he manages to sell them. As Angel tries to quit prostitution once and for all, will she manage to get her brother out of the downward spiral he's in?

Visually speaking, some may cringe by seeing that Geary opted for a filming stock that suits more a documentary (or the broadcasting of a live event) rather than a feature film. Obviously, this goes without saying that On the Corner makes a movie like This Beautiful City or Maria Full of Grace look like productions from Hollywood. However, such a courageous choice astonishingly contributes to the film's realism. All in all, instead of being a nuisance to On the Corner, the dark cinematography brings the idea that urban poverty should be shown the way it is as much as possible. In addition to that, the cinematography smartly brings the idea that the characters feel that their situation is hopeless.

However, the problem with On the Corner lies in the script's slow pace. While the story looks interesting on paper, it takes too much time to take off. Indeed, it's only in the film's third quarter that Randy's drug addiction is dealt with while it's the story's point. Hopefully, as the film that gives you the feeling it show slices of some people's life, On the Corner can rely on dialogues that rings so true. Of course, the performance you see might not be as intense as what you see in conventional dramas. However, we have to give credits for the actors for working hard in order to look natural even in some dialogues that might seem trivial since they remind us of things we say in our daily life (ex: how much money did you make today?).

With that said, On the Corner is definitely not your usual drama you see in order to escape from your reality. Besides, without giving us the feeling that their collective performance is either overacted or lame, the cast finds a way to get the job done against all odds when it comes to playing poor characters who are pitted against the theories of social darwinism.

Finally, On the Corner is far to be an entertaining film and watch it if you don't have a negative prejudice against independent films. However, you'll like the film if you don't expect the script to be excellent.

Rating: 3/5

[No trailer available]


Origin:Canada (2003)
Length:95 minutes
Genre:Drama
Screenplay:Nathaniel Geary
Director:Nathaniel Geary
Starring:Alex Rice, Simon Baker, Katharine Isabelle and JR Bourne


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Paris, je t'aime

Once in a while, one has to try something new when it comes to films. Unlike Toronto Stories, which is another anthology movie I'd recommend, Paris, je t'aime uses a rather different approach while showing as much audacity as its Canadian counterpart. All in all, the film is a rather enjoyable gem.


First of all, to put it shortly, Paris, je t'aime uses 18 short segments directed by internationally acclaimed directors. Of course, each segment takes place in a different district of Paris. In each segment, the directors, through their own vision, offer their own interpretation of the meaning of love in none other than the most romantic city in the world.

Obviously, the first praise that you'd like to offer for this film is certainly its photography. Without looking like a postal card, Paris, je t'aime has no difficulty to capture the city's beauty in order to fit it into the different stories about ordinary people who are either in love or searching for it. Of course, since you're dealing with an anthology film, don't expect all segments to be of the same strength. As a matter of fact, I didn't the point of the segment with the Chinese woman.

Therefore, I'd say that my two favourite segments were Quais de Seine (the Muslim girl and the History student), which was directed by Gurinder Chadha, and 14e arrondissement (the American woman who went alone to France to learn French), which was directed by Alexander Payne. Although I personally believe that religion is a private matter (i.e. no religious symbols in public places) I did like the idea convened by Chadha in her segment. Indeed, while the female character's justification for wearing the veil irked me, I liked the way the idea that love/friendship should know no ethnic/racial/religious boundaries was expressed nonetheless. As for, the segment 14e arrondissement, I raise my two thumbs up for Margo Martindale's effort to speak French even though it's not her primary language. Obviously, her forgivable clumsiness gave to her segment its beauty for it can be felt as an ode to cultural open-mindedness.

In the end, I actually liked this film although I'm not a fan of anthology film and that I found it a little bit long. As a matter of fact, in the good segments, Paris, je t'aime is a visual feast that has no difficulty to develop the characters before our eyes in such a short period. Besides, let's not forget the unforgettable performance by the cast.

Rating: 3.5/5


Origin:France/Liechtenstein/Switzerland (2006)
Length:120 minutes
Genre:Anthology drama
Screenplay:
Tristan Carné, Emmanuel Benbihy, Bruno Podalydès, Paul Mayeda Berges, Gurinder Chadha, Gus Van Sant, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Walter Salles, Daniela Thomas, Christopher Doyle, Gabrielle Keng, Rain Li, Isabel Coixet, Nobuhiro Suwa, Sylvain Chomet, Alfonso Cuarón, Olivier Assayas, Oliver Schmitz, Richard LaGravenese, Vincenzo Natali, Wes Craven, Tom Tykwer, Gena Rowlands, Nadine Eïd and Alexander Payne
Directors:
Olivier Assayas, Frédéric Auburtin, Gurinder Chadha, Sylvain Chomet, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Isabel Coixet, Wes Craven, Alfonso Cuarón, Gérard Depardieu, Christopher Doyle, Richard LaGravenese, Vincenzo Natali, Alexander Payne, Bruno Podalydès, Walter Salles, Oliver Schmitz, Nobuhiro Suwa, Daniela Thomas, Tom Tykwer and Gus Van Sant
Starring:
Florence Muller, Bruno Podalydès, Leïla Bekhti, Julien Beramis, Cyril Descours, Thomas Dumerchez, Marianne Faithfull, Elias McConnell, Gaspard Ulliel, Julie Bataille, Steve Buscemi, Gulliver Hecq, Axel Kiener, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Barbet Schroeder, Li Xin, Javier Cámara, Sergio Castellitto, Emilie Ohana, Miranda Richardson, Leonor Watling, Juliette Binoche, Martin Combes, Willem Dafoe, Hippolyte Girardot, Roxane Pelicier, Dylan Gomong, Yolande Moreau, Isabelle Patey, Paul Putner, Nick Nolte, Ludivine Sagnier, Lionel Dray, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Joana Preiss, Seydou Boro, Aïssa Maïga, Fanny Ardant, Bob Hoskins, Olga Kurylenko, Elijah Wood, Emily Mortimer, Alexander Payne, Rufus Sewell, Melchior Beslon, Natalie Portman, Gérard Depardieu, Ben Gazzara, Gena Rowlands and Margo Martindale


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