Monthly Archives: September 2013

The Guest List: theipc

Okay guys, as of yesterday I am up to my waist in the waters of TIFF and I am slowly becoming more and more submerged. So, with that in mind, I figured now would be as good a time as any to introduce the newest segment on The Cinema Monster, which I have yet to title. Essentially, this new feature will consist of a guest contributor compiling a top 10 on whatever topic he/she chooses. It’s basically the same as The Cinema Monster’s weekly top 10 segment, just with a guest or fellow blogger compiling a list. Now, this is the first in what I hope will be a lengthy, fun, and fortuitous segment. If you’d like to contribute a top 10, please do not hesitate. Send me an email (thecinemamonster@gmail.com) containing your name, blog/site (if you have one), and your top 10 topic. If I like what I see, I’ll provide you with the criteria and the go ahead. Oh, and it can be a top 10 I’ve already done, seeing as everyone has different views and opinions.

Okay, enough administrative stuff, let’s get into it. I am very fortunate to have Eric from theipc to do the honours of contributing the first ever guest top 10 on The Cinema Monster. If you haven’t checked out his site and followed already, please do so now, he’s got some truly awesome content. He is also the creator of Shitfest, in which I am an avid fan and participant. So, yeah…check’ em out! I’m going to hand things over to Eric now. Look forward to next week when Cinema Parrot Disco will be contributing her top 10!

Top 10 Things I’ve Seen Clint Howard In: By Eric.

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When it comes to American royalty – names such as Rockefeller, Kennedy, the Fords, the Hearsts, the Cabot-Lodges – and to some extent – Dole – get thrown around. In similar fashion, in the movie industry we can’t go off and forget about the Howards. Containing Ronnie and his HOT daughter Bryce, we can’t go wrong (Ron was actually a good looking teen, but alas, we all grow old and get strange around the curves), but then there lies this anomaly of an individual, Ron’s brother Clint – one of the strangest looking men I’ve ever seen in my life.  In NO WAY am I dogging him – I think he’s actually a good actor, it’s just…. while I look around at movies and TV and my friend’s daughter’s birthday videos – this guy shows up in EVERYTHING! The other day I posted something on my site mentioning meeting Missy Crider who complained to the wife and I over some beers about not being able to get much work (and she’s a hot act) – this dude has been in well over 200 motion pictures (this includes TV mind you)! Anyway – Joseph is off Film Festivaling it up and asked me to contribute a Top Ten List about things I’ve seen, so here’s the Top Ten Things I have seen Clint Howard in (and by no means have I seen everything he’s been in).

10: Ron Howard’s: SPLASH (as Wedding Guest)

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9: Ron Howard’s: BACKDRAFT (as the Pathologist)

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8: TANGO AND CASH: as Slinky

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7: Ron Howard’s: PARENTHOOD (as Lou)

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6: (Ron Howard’s) ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT (as Johnny Bark) – “Watch out for that bucket, Lindsey. That bucket has a purpose.”

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5: HALLOWEEN (2007): Doctor Koplenson

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4: SLEDGE HAMMER – “STATE OF SLEDGE” – One of my all time favorite shows! “Watch out, you mutant!!”

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3: Ron Howard’s: APOLLO 13 (as Sy Liebergot)

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2: SEINFELD: The Trip, Part 2

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1: STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES: THE CORBONITE MANEUVER! Who can ever forget face of Balok burning itself into your nightmares, causing sleep terrors that last to this day????

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Another huge thanks to Eric for contributing this top 10 and for being an advocate of my website since its inception, I owe you a great debt. As for me, don’t expect the usual flow of posts over the next 15 days or so, other than the weekly top 10. I am super busy with TIFF and will be trying to post reviews as soon as I possibly can. Until then, make sure to follow me on Twitter for frequent updates, news, initial reactions, pictures and videos from the festival. Everyone have a great weekend!

Drinking Buddies (2013)

Okay guys, this will be the last post written by me (key words “written by me”) for a little bit. TIFF is officially underway today and I am soon to be on my way downtown for the festivities. So for the next 10 days, I’ll try my best to post reviews for the films I see at the festival as quickly as I can. Look forward to a new segment launching tomorrow. Oh, and let me know what you think of the new site layout/set-up!

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Very rarely does a film so authentically capture the bittersweet, infuriating, and most private moments of a relationship. Joe Swanberg’s “Drinking Buddies” accomplishes this feat with flying, albeit, melancholic colours through the observation and dissection of multiple, interweaving bodies. Perhaps what’s even more disconcerting than the film industry’s inability to steadily and genuinely recreate films that display such universal emotions, is its refusal to acknowledge and rigorously promote the ones that do. Regardless, “Drinking Buddies” is poignant, funny, and adamant in its portrayal of disheartening, yet rewarding bonds. Tossed in alongside Swanberg’s swift, structural direction and marvellous performances from the entire cast. This whimsical, visceral romantic comedy has overcome its limited release and every obstacle thrown to steal even the most critical cinephiles heart.

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Kate (Wilde) and Luke (Johnson) are good friends and co-workers and at a Chicago brewery. The two spend their days working and the nights drinking with their co-workers and significant others. And even though the two are very flirtatious with one another, they are very devoted and in love with their other halves. Kate is with Chris (Livingston) and Luke is with Jill (Kendrick). While Jill and Luke occasionally discuss marriage, they both agree the timing is not right. Soon, the two couples paths cross and they eventually become good friends. Having planned a weekend at a cottage together, the couples prepare for a night amongst the wilderness, but are soon faced with difficult, life-altering decisions and situations. Trust me, it’s not what you think.

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Granted, there isn’t anything overly unique about the themes or settings, and the story is nothing we haven’t heard before. That being said, much like another dramatic rom-com released earlier this year entitled “The Way Way Back.” The familiarity and well-intended cliches sprinkled, intentionally throughout “Drinking Buddies” are overrun by subtle quips, endearing circumstances, and situational laughs carried out by enthralling, relatable characters and heavy, yet luminescent direction. Writer and director Joe Swanberg is superlative both behind the camera and on paper. This results in his most mature, complete offering to date, which is without question, his best. “Drinking Buddies” might come off a bit bland, appear uneventful, and the ending a little too ambiguous for those diluted by the horrid, hackneyed mainstream rom-coms. Nonetheless, to those who can handle the reality of looking in a mirror, “Drinking Buddies” is nothing short of spectacular.

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What I find to be the most original and well-utilized aspect of “Drinking Buddies” is Swanberg’s ability to poke fun at our vulnerability and stupidity as we succumb to this illusive, complex, intangible cohesiveness called love. Which, by the way, Swanberg portrays effectively and genuinely. I mean, he isn’t simply degrading what ultimately gives our life meaning without direction or purpose. The hilarity throughout “Drinking Buddies” has definition and is a “funny because it’s true” type of humour. While openly mocking our most weak, honest selves might seem a tad cruel. This film and its easily accessed connectivity is a much needed release, I’d even go as far as to brand it a muse. Although not out-loud, body-aching knee-slappers. Swanberg’s comedic prowess evokes an array of reaction and emotion that bewilders, uplifts, and saddens.

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Speaking of cohesiveness, it is something Swanberg and his brilliant cast ooze with. Starring the striking Olivia Wilde and graceful Anna Kendrick alongside the flexible, yet formidable duo of Ron Livingston and Jake Johnson. “Drinking Buddies” has performers and performances that radiate with talent and believability.

Undeniably, Olivia Wilde steals the show. She’s funny, smart, beautiful, heartbreaking, just to name a few off the top of my head. I hate to sound like I’m firing off a list of cliched personality traits used in every romantic comedy ever, but I can’t deprive you of the truth. Jake Johnson is nearly as impressive as Wilde, but is outdone, minimally albeit. His performance bursts with the wonder and yearning of a kid in love, mid free-fall. Everything about him is relatable, truthful, hilarious, and empathetic. Anna Kendrick is massively effective in her supporting role. No matter how enraged and disappointed you feel towards her character, she always lures you back into understanding and leaves you completely smitten. Livingston, although the least used, arguably provokes the most diverse reactions. He gives a phenomenal, thorough performance without hesitation or regret.

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Sweet, honest, and utterly entrancing. Joe Swanberg’s “Drinking Buddies” is the sleeper hit of 2013.

Drinking Buddies: 9 out of 10.

Memento (2000)

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This constantly scathing and scornful neo-noir about a man living in perpetual sadness is teeming with complexity, brilliance, and heartbreaking material. Consisting of two separate segments, one told chronologically in black and white, the other told in full colour and reverse. “Memento” has discouraged its fair share of viewers, but has astounded even more. Directed by filmmaking heavyweight Christopher Nolan and adapted from his brother Jonathan’s short story entitled “Memento Mori.” This is the Nolan’s first full-length feature together and roots their already exceedingly prosperous careers. “Memento” toys with its audience, tinkers with the mind and morals of each viewer. While everything may not be essentially what it seems. Ironically, this falsification is the films only truth and it is played out with the utmost effectiveness.

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Leonard Shelby (Pearce) has short term memory loss resulting from an injury he sustained attempting to prevent his wife from being murdered. He remembers everything up until the point of the injury, after that, all that he experiences remains only briefly in his mind afterwords. Before the incident, Leonard was an insurance claims investigator and consistently remembers an encounter with a man named Sammy Jankis. Leonard has tattoos all over his body to help him remember the facts about the perp who murdered his wife and escaped justice. Leonard has made it his life mission to find his wife’s killer and submit him to his own form of redemption.

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While “Memento” is a demanding psychological thriller that takes quite the toll mentally. What makes this mysterious Nolan tale a cut-above is its disheartening and emotional content that is equally as exhausting. Driven by loss, violence, and vengeance. “Memento” although primed by retribution, is fuelled with love and ignited by an honest rage, a deadly, yet sympathetic combination. Although all of this is a lot to absorb, process, and conclude. Nolan does an excellent job leading the audience through this intricate memory, making it as effortless and transient as possible. Like most of life, “Memento” is exquisite proof that everything isn’t always cut and dry. That being said, in this context, the circumstance is tiptoeing around the grey area. Regardless, this experience is unlike any other you’ve encountered watching a film. It is impossible to simply watch “Memento,” you either invest completely, or not at all.

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“Memento” and its execution is completely entrusted to Nolan. However, the cast is charged with as difficult a task, arguably even more so. Due to Leonard’s condition, from the get go the audience is full of skepticism towards each character and their motives. The ensemble’s job is to convince the viewer that they’re genuine. Not such an easy feat when they only have a few minutes to work with at any given time because of the way the film is structured. Nonetheless, “Memento” triumphs and a large part of that success derives from the cast, which features: Guy Pearce, Carie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano.

Carrie-Anne Moss and Joe Pantoliano give absolutely outstanding performances in support of Guy Pearce. Which really magnifies the fact that other than “Memento” and the “Matrix” trilogy, Moss and Pantoliano don’t garner enough screen time in high-profile features, which is a shame considering how effective they are. As for Guy Pearce, who I feel is also incredibly underrated, just not on the same scale as Moss and Pantoliano, really steals the show, as he should. Pearce does a terrific job highlighting the dark humour hidden amongst his character. In addition to fully entrancing the viewer with his melancholic, empathetic, and unstable tendencies. In summary, Memento is solid all the way through, on paper and both behind and in front of the camera.

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“Memento” is essentially the film that made me the cinephile I am today. It is one of my all-time favourites and I don’t think that will ever change. “Memento” is disturbing, heartfelt, and immensely hypnotic. Directed with the utmost precision and acted immaculately, “Memento” is a must see.

“Memento” 9.5 out of 10.

Kill List (2011)

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An emotional, violent, and moody thriller that purposely grinds forward no quicker than a slow crawl. “Kill List” is much like holding one’s hand over an open flame. As you wait in gruelling anticipation for the moment that the heat will become no longer bearable. It sneaks up and leaves a stinging scorch on your palm. And much like this fresh burn, “Kill List’s” reveal will linger long after and send unpleasant, reminding shocks into your brain. This sophomore effort from up-and-comeing director Ben Wheatley is one of the most potent and disturbing films you’ll witness at an art-house…definitely not for the squeamish or easily scarred. Relying just as much on the excruciating tension and defined characters as it does on bloodshed and brutality. “Kill List” is a taut, well crafted horror that goes beyond the usual tendencies of the genre to create a truly unique, terrifying experience.

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Jay and Gal are former soldiers who have become hit-men since living the military. Jay suffers both mentally and physically from a mission in Kiev gone wrong. Soon, Jay and his family begin to run out of money due to his lack of employment. With the encouragement of Gal and his wife, Jay final gets back to business. Upon being hired by a shadowy character, Jay and Gal are ordered to kill three different men. After learning of the men’s criminal activity, Jay loses control and mercilessly tortures them. When a series of weird events start taking place, Jay and Gal are left fighting for their lives and everyone they care about.

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Although “Kill List” delivers its violence and gore with uncanny detail and precision…enough to satisfy any and all genre enthusiasts. What separates this intentionally slow-burning crime-thriller from other low-budget horror flicks is its visceral characters, their motivations, and the way each is played out. Driven by a staggering blend of family drama and PTSD, “Kill List” is a surprisingly veritable gaze into human psychology. While it might not be the type of fear that keeps you up at night or causes you to check in the closet and under your bed before heading to sleep. The sheer terror, disbelief, and haunting imagery will resonate steadily and stronger than any cheap scare or monstrosity you or any film can concoct. Aside from the occasional break brought on by really dark humour, which  is progressively becoming a Ben Wheatley trademark. “Kill List” is persistent and utterly unrelenting in its shocks, disheartening realizations, and vivid savagery.

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Featuring brilliant, exhausting, nightmarish performances from Neil Maskell, Michael Smiley, and the supporting cast. Along with impeccable work behind the camera from the aforementioned Ben Wheatley. “Kill List” is as courageous, frightening, and disembowelling structurally and characteristically as it is visually and intellectually. Smiley, in a supporting role, does a superb job forming a skeletally sound base for Maskell’s enraged evolution and has a startling indifference about him that shrouds and petrifies the viewer. As for Maskell, who completely immerses himself in self-destruction and complex moral conundrums truly spawns a protagonist ripe with villainy. All in all, “Kill List’s” remarkable cast matches Wheatley’s harsh visuals and dramatic, astounding tale stride for stride.

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Disheartening, violent, and utterly mind-bending. Ben Wheatley’s “Kill List” is a modern horror masterpiece.

Kill List: 8 out of 10.

My TIFF 2013 Schedule

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Okay, okay, you got me, the title of this post is a tad misleading. Considering the likelihood of additional screenings being added to my festival schedule, this is merely the first wave. Now, for those who don’t know, TIFF tickets officially went on sale yesterday at 9:00am ET.

I was up bright and early, various internet accessible devices at my dispose, and a gentle, tingling excitement pulsating from my body. Then, not too long after the initial start time, I began to realize that certain films I had intended on attending were temporarily off-sale. However, one thing you come to realize about the festival upon attending numerous times, is to not get too discouraged when a couple of your preferred screenings go off-sale early on. The reason being, there are several, alternative ways to obtain tickets after the start-date. Each day during the festivities at around 7am, additional tickets typically go on sale. If you strike out again, you can always join the rush line which forms just before the screening you’re hoping to be apart of. Essentially, you line up, then roughly 10 minutes before the film’s start time, the empty seats are counted up and sold to those who are waiting in line…so don’t get too down.

I am not going to lie, it was a bit of a let down. I would loved to have gotten all my tickets from the beginning. Then, I would have nothing to worry about other than getting to the screenings and enjoying the films. Oh well, it’s all apart of the experience and to be completely honest, a lot of fun.

Alright, that’s enough of a summarization, let’s get into my initial schedule. Below you will find screenings in which I have tickets bought and ready to go. Click on the title of the film for all you need to know. For those wondering, Premium Screenings contain a red carpet, celebrity appearances, an intro by the filmmakers, and usually a Q and A. Midnight Madness takes place everyday during the festival at midnight, it is always horror films or thrillers.

Saturday September 7, 2013:

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (premium screening), Roy Thomson Hall: 6:00pm.

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Dallas Buyers Club (premium screening), Princess of Wales: 10:00pm.

EXCLUSIVE: Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto film scenes together for The Dallas Buyers Club in New Orleans.

The Green Inferno (midnight madness), Ryerson: 11:59pm.

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Sunday September 8, 2013:

Gravity (premium screening), Princess of Wales: 6:30pm.

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Monday September 9, 2013:

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her, Visa Screening Room: 2:00pm.

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Tuesday September 10, 2013:

Joe, Princess of Wales: 3:00pm.

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Don Jon (premium screening), Princess of Wales: 6:30pm.

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Friday September 13, 2013:

The Sacrament, Scotiabank: 6:45pm.

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Next up, I will lay out what films I will be doing everything in my power to obtain tickets to. Odds are, I’ll be attending these screenings, I just don’t have the tickets as of yet.

Thursday September 5, 2013.

The Fifth Estate (premium screening), Visa Screening Room: 6:30pm.

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Friday September 6, 2013.

12 Years a Slave (premium screening), Princess of Wales: 6:00pm.

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Monday September 9, 2013.

Philomena, Visa Screening Room: 11:00am.

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August: Osage County (premium screening), Roy Thomson Hall: 6:30pm.

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Wednesday September 11, 2013:

Tracks, TIFF Bell Lightbox: 2:45pm

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Okay all, this is my TIFF 2013 schedule thus far. I will be posting pics and videos from the events before, during, and after the screenings, so be sure to follow me on twitter (cinema_monster). In addition, I will be posting reviews for each film I see as fast as I can write them up. I’ll let you all know whenever I add screenings and try to keep you updated everyday. Let’s have a great week and a great festival!