Going In and Coming Out: Frontera

By: Anthony KingFronteraPoster

GOING IN:

I think it’s fair to say that any big Movie Buff – or whatever they refer to themselves as – likes all genres of film.  They’ll dance during a musical, cry for a rom-com, and even read subtitles for a foreign film.  I, for one, consider myself in this category but if I had to pick one genre as my least favourite or the one I tend to avoid, it would definitely be Westerns.  Now I will admit there are, of course, amazing exceptions but there’s something about the setting of Westerns that’s always turned me off.  So naturally, I’m the perfect person to review Frontera.

Frontera is about a former Arizona Sheriff whose wife is killed on their property and he suspects a Mexican man who’s illegally crossed into the US did it.  Although Westerns aren’t typically my thing, I do love a good murder mystery and everyone loves a good revenge plot.  I’m intrigued enough by the story.

It’s got a pretty decent cast including Ed Harris as the lead.  A quick side note on Ed Harris, be forewarned this comes with zero factual basis, but has he ever done an accent in a movie?  I feel like he’s an American in every movie he’s in whether it takes place in the US or not.  When he does show up in a movie set in another country, they always shoehorn in some quick explanation as to why he’s an American there.  See The Way Back and Enemy at the Gates for examples.  The film also has Aden Young in it who I’ve only seen in one other thing;  but that one thing is the show Rectify which is really great.  It’s on Netflix.  Check it out. Continue reading

Delivery

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By: Addison Wylie

Delivery isn’t funny ha-ha, which you would think would be problematic in a documentary showcasing four levelheaded guys challenging themselves to take a one-night stab at stand-up comedy.  However, the film itself is more amusing in an endearing way.

Sean Menard, Shane Cunningham, Bert van Lierop, and Mark Myers (who also serves as the film’s writer/director, and may be familiarized by his former Much Music title ‘Mark the Temp’) make a pact to face their fears at Toronto’s Yuk Yuk comedy club.  While the documentary is affirming for all four friends, it’s a film that was initiated by Myers, who is also leading up to being a first-time father.  One of his other dreams besides getting married to the woman of his dreams, eventually becoming a father, and overcoming his nervous public speaking, was to make a movie.  Delivery kills a bunch of birds with one stone.

Menard, Cunningham, Lierop, and Myers are all likeable.  All four are somewhat relatable, and are all nice dudes you’d want to go out and have a beer with.  They provide support and feedback for each other leading up to the big night, but it’s easy to tell they’re each others’ biggest fans.  How else can you explain one of the fellas receiving huge laughter in their group, yet they bomb on the stage?  As much as I would like to tell you who that person is, that would be unfair to Myers’ doc to which he’s worked very hard to make. Continue reading

Affective and Absurd: A Toronto Youth Shorts Preview

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The Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival is a terrific way for young filmmakers to enter the scene.  It’s a festival run by responsible believers who maintain faith in future generations of storytellers.

The film festival has also given hard-working individuals a deserving premiere in an appreciated Toronto-bound theatrical venue.  The awards ceremony is an added bonus to those seeking genuine recognition, as well as constructive criticism by a panel of educated peers.

This year, movie goers will be treated to three programs: Questions and DiscoveryPersonal Portraits, and The Bonds That Bind Us.  While the festival has been known to give hefty riddles to those participating in film challenges, these programs are thematically straightforward.  Expect some neat post-screening Q&A’s as well. Continue reading

Coherence

By: Addison WylieCoherencePoster

In the first Back to the Future film, Marty McFly straps on a guitar, turns to a baffled band, and says, “watch for the changes, and try to keep up, okay?”  With Coherence, filmmaker James Ward Byrkit is the rascally McFly, and I’m standing on the stage looking absolutely perplexed.  It’s because no matter how hard you try to keep up, Byrkit constantly has us on our toes.  Great Scott!

Ironically enough, it’s extremely difficult to describe Coherence.  I can try my damnedest, but the results would have me spinning my wheels.  And, by busting out the the odd hint, it would constitute being a somewhat spoiler to Byrkit’s carefully detailed puzzle.

It’s a film that has a great opening that lures us in.  Byrkit takes the fly-on-the-wall perspective to another level, and has us feeling like a stranger at a dinner party.  The actors are all naturals and the cinematography is very busy, offering lots of closed shots of friends catching up and carrying conversations across the room.  We almost feel inclined to apologize and excuse ourselves when a character is moving towards the screen. Continue reading

Video Games: The Movie

By: Addison WylieVideoGamesPoster

Gamers are a smart brand of people and consumers.  As much as Video Games: The Movie believes in that notion, filmmaker Jeremy Snead’s patronizing presentation suggests otherwise.

Many can pitch the argument that gazing into a monitor and playing video games wastes you away, but the hypervigilance that is developing amongst nimble younger generations has older fans impressed.  Those veterans are also admiring how the industry has brought players together, and how it has consistently pushed forward since the cataclysmic video game crash in 1983.

Video Games: The Movie hopes to chronicle all of this history, nostalgia, and honour.  It does to some extent, but the problem with Snead’s handling of the topics is that he treats the audience like children.  Very, very young children. Continue reading

Honeymoon

By: Addison WylieHoneymoonPoster

Bea and Paul are that cute couple you wish to never go out to dinner with.  They’re not terrible people or arrogant, they’re just overwhelmingly in love.  They’re those newlyweds who have cute nicknames for each other and always have an enamoured smile plastered on.  On the car ride home, you’re significant other would turn to you and say, “They were nice. We should be more like them.”

Maybe that’s why I received so much satisfaction from Honeymoon when weird things started to occur around Bea and Paul.  This could be proof that I have a heart of cold concrete, but these are characters that need complications to keep us interested.  The eeriness that occurs in Leigh Janiak’s film causes the lead couple to change attitudes and become more involved in something other than themselves, and peer into the dangerous unknown.

Janiak’s film takes the attractive couple (played by Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway) to the woods for a romantic honeymoon, only to find the atmosphere getting thicker with ominous activity.  One night, Bea disappears and Paul finds her naked and dazed.  She proclaims nothing happened and that this was an incident of common sleepwalking.  The thing is Paul has never witnessed Bea sleepwalk, and he’s noticing his wife flubbing everyday activities.  Continue reading

Metro Manila

By: Addison WylieMetroManilaPoster

Metro Manila took me on quite the emotional rollercoaster.  At first, I was skeptical.  By the end, I was clutching the edge of my seat and anticipating filmmaker Sean Ellis’ next move.

Let’s start at the beginning.  Those initial weary sensations were drawn from how Ellis envisioned impoverished areas of the Philippines.  Without a moment’s notice, the filmmaker hurls us into the damp streets alongside the Ramirez family.  Times are tougher than one could imagine and the price of rice is dwindling.  Rice farmer Oscar (played by Jake Macapagal) and his wife Mai (played by Althea Vega) agree that living is becoming impossible at their current homestead.  They make an executive decision to try their luck in Manila, a city with more employment opportunities but also overflowing with rampant busyness.  Oscar eventually finds employment, but his new security job challenges him in ways he certainly did not expect.

Ellis wants to show gritty shadiness during these earlier scenes to hammer in how desperately unfit the conditions are, but the cinematography records differently. Continue reading

Heaven Is for Real

By: Addison WylieHeavenIsForRealposter

Heaven Is for Real is – so far – my favourite recent faith-based flick in a year full of religion centric movies.  It’s mild-mannered and shoots for attainable goals, which makes Randall Wallace’s movie all the more amiable.  Another major plus is how there’s no preachy hidden agenda detailing the motivations of the movie.  Religion serves as a prominent theme in Heaven Is for Real, but its only to add depth to the main struggles.

Heaven Is for Real is based on pastor Todd Burpo’s true story involving his four-year-old son Colton having a vision of the pearly gates and the bliss that awaits beyond them.  The encounter happens during an operation on Colton’s burst appendix, but he remains breathing.  He lies still in a closed off operating room, yet claims to have seen his father (played by Greg Kinnear) and his mother (played by Kelly Reilly) in tears and having their own heartbreaking moments.

With this new information, Todd doesn’t know how to comprehend this newfound knowledge.  He gets frustrated with the man upstairs during Colton’s turmoil, but he doesn’t question his faith.  He simply doesn’t know what to do with it.  Is this a sign?  Is it an event to share to his dependable Nebraskan community of followers? Continue reading

The One I Love

By: Addison WylieTheOneILoveposter

Every moviegoing year has a movie like The One I Love.  That one movie where everyone who sees it unanimously and silently agrees to keep quiet about it.

It’s a neat decision to witness.  It shows that the average audience still loves a challenge and still loves to keep a secret, hoping that their friends can one day see the movie and join the club.

Just as many who have seen and loved Charlie McDowell’s peculiar lil’ indie, I’m also going to keep details at a sparse supply.  I will reveal there are two leads.  A man and his wife, played nicely by Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss.  I’ll also reveal that their marriage is hitting a bumpy patch due to a lack of spontaneity, forgiveness, and trust.  Additionally, a therapist (played perfectly by Ted Danson) suggests that they head off on a getaway to a recommended house just outside of town, but just far enough away from other people.  That’s all you’ll hear from me regarding the plot. Continue reading

TIFF 2014: Into the Drink

Atlantic

By: Addison Wylie

For a while, Atlantic. was the most relaxed I had felt at this year’s festival.  Incredibly shot sequences of Fettah windsurfing across the infinite drink eased me into a trance.  Its angelic score cradling the audience is the final nuance Atlantic. has that completely sends us into adoration with these moments of Jan-Willem van Ewijk’s tranquil tale.

Alas, Atlantic. follows a bothersome and oddly common theme at this year’s TIFF.  Atlantic. eventually drifts away from its strengths and heads straight into boredom.

It’s a rare occasion where character development actually hurt Ewijk’s work.  There’s too much of it bogging down an otherwise weirdly interesting “man with no name”.  Actor Fettah Lamara knows how to work with his role of a wanderer and knows how to draw movie goers in when he’s having to utilize survival skills.  He doesn’t fare so well when he has to flesh this stranger out through the character’s family and acquaintances.  This maybe could’ve worked if filmmaker Jim Jarmusch took the reigns from Ewijk, but it’d still be a long shot. Continue reading