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TADFF 2013: We Are What We Are (2013)

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To be completely honest, “We Are What We Are” raised some very intriguing arguments and I’d like to discuss that first.

In the recent past, here in the modern day, or our near future, It’s hard to imagine cannibalism providing anything but disgust and confusion to us. It may tweak our interest and pull at the strings of our curiosity from time to time, but nothing more has or will ever come of it. And you can bet that those, if any, who partake in the consumption of the human body came forth nowadays, they’d be met with the strongest punishment we, as a race with morals and compassion feel comfortable deploying, at the very least they’d be segregated.

The reason for this hatred has grown so quickly and vast, and with good reason. Apart from the fact that to accomplish this act, one must end another. The need for sustenance hasn’t been that significantly dire in the western world for as long as one can remember. So the need for such deplorable behaviour is really irrelevant nowadays and murdering someone for such unnecessary purposes is extremely frowned upon. This achievement, if you will, is directly correlated with our evolution as a species. Whether it be socially, politically, industrially, etc…

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All this distancing and disgust being said, the question of our basic, elemental, natural survivalist instinct will always remain prominent. And as confident as we are that no matter how pressing the need to digest some form of physical intake is, we’d never resort to cannibalism…we simply cannot conclude this effectively. The truth is, none of us have been in a situation that calls for such drastic action, so how can any of us say that we’d never digest common flesh. While the film weaves its way through this subject briefly, what’s even more interesting is the more immediate topic “We Are What We Are” deals with, which is… What if cannibalism is all you’ve ever known? How would you feel participating in an act that is as normal to you as breathing? Director Jim Mickle’s take on these seemingly insane notions is the starting point for this terrific slow-burner. While it certainly isn’t the first, nor will it be the last to concoct a story around such a vile, yet nourishing act. It definitely captures the immensity, humanity, and seriousness of the subject.

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A remake of Jorge Michel Grau’s film of the same title. This tense, impeccably acted  hybrid composed of horror, drama, and thriller is as heartfelt and astonishing as it is unsettling and menacing. It’d be very easy to lose one’s way in the gory, abhorrent, violent nature of cannibalism, especially when conjuring up a film that needs to satisfy those aspects. While “We Are What We Are” definitely meets these disturbing requirements, it’s quite remarkable how tasteful carnage and destruction can actually be. Yes, there are moments that’ll make you cringe and leave you a bit queasy. Nonetheless, when stacked up alongside the emotions, conflicts, and beautiful imagery, it’s nothing more than another cinematic tactic. This is due in large part to the experience and talent of the aforementioned Jim Mickle who directed this flick and screenplay scribe Nick Damichi. The duo do a sublime job separating their film from the filth and trivialness of other horror abortions.

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Perhaps the most stunning feature of the film is the dark, ambient, gloomy atmosphere hovering over this strange, tragic little town. In between each blunt object to the head and soupy human stew, one feels completely at ease which makes the hard-to-stomach surprises all the more effective. A lot of this needs to be credited to Damichi’s progressive, humanized script and Mickle’s impressive camerawork…but even more so to the film’s trio of composers. The soundtrack is smooth and entrancing, never leaving you clawing at your eardrums. An abundance of horror flicks these days go for the ascending screech or ominous semitones, but not here. This is music you could listen to while gazing towards a skyline or a breathtaking night sky, hell, even when you’re trying to doze off…and in no way is this a bad thing.

As impressive and hypnotic as all the technical and behind-the-scenes mumbo-jumbo is, it’d be nothing without the right cast. “We Are What We Are” has a strong, invested, talented ensemble across the board featuring Bill Sage, Julia Garner, Ambyr Childers, Michael Parks, and Kelly McGillis. Without question, Bill Sage steals the show here. He’s intimidating, ruthless, and his emotional spectrum ranges from stoic to uncontrollable grief. One of the best performances in a horror flick I’ve ever seen, he’s just an absolute beast. Ambyr Childers gives the performance of her young career, something to be truly proud of as a calling card. Apart from Sage, Childers is the striking scene stealer. Julia Garner does a superlative job in her supporting role. The young actress, who’s starred in a couple of indie-hits and looks to have some mainstream success in the near future, easily gives the most vulnerable, emotional compromised performance.

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Amazingly performed, atmospheric, and deliciously satisfying, “We Are What We Are” is a visual feast (no pun intended).

We Are What We Are: 8.5 out of 10.

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TIFF 2013 Releases Schedule and Final Announcements

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We are now less than two weeks away from when the Toronto International Film Festival tickets go on sale to the public and a mere 16 days away from the start of the actual festivities. On Tuesday morning, another slew of films were announced along with the schedule itself and a long list of celebrities set to attend the festival. I don’t know about you, but the anticipation is overwhelming me. I suppose the nervousness and excitement will dissipate somewhat when I actually know what screenings I will be attending, or it could skyrocket even higher. Either way, this is shaping up to be one hell of a festival!

Schedule:

Now, for those attending, or those simply who’d like to know what’s going on and when, you can find the full schedule by clicking here.

FInal Film List and Programmes:

If you’d like to know what films are playing at the festival, you can click here for the entire list or click the TIFF button in the main menu at the top of this page. You can also find all the programmes offered by the festival by clicking here. Essentially, all films screening at the festival are divided into groups for attendees to better understand what type of genre and themes the film will contain.

TIFF Guests:

Perhaps the most exciting news released Tuesday morning was the endless list of celebrities ready to attend the festival. Amongst the names are Benedict Cumberbatch, Meryl Streep, Rebecca Hall, Josh Broliin, Alan RIckman, Clive Owen, Kate Winslet, Jennifer Aniston, Mark Ruffalo, Elizabeth Olsen, Scarlett Johansson, Hugh Jackman, Tom Hiddleston, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Nicholas Cage, Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, Ben Foster, Anton Yelchin, Liam Neeson, James McAvoy, Nicole Kidman, Felicity Jones, Ed Harris, Spike Jonze, Melissa George, Paul Giamatti, Idris Elba, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sarah Gadon, Colin Firth, Michael Fassbender, Jesse Eisenberg, Sandra Bullock, Chris Hemsworth, Mila Kunis, Jessica Chastain, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ralph Fiennes, Jude Law, Tom Wilkinson, Mia Waikowska, Owen Wilson, Steve McQueen, Jason Reitman, Keanu Reeves, Keira Knightley, Matthew McConaughey, Ti West, Eli Roth, Daniel Radcliffe, Julia Roberts, Reese Witherspoon, Sarah Paulson, Oliva Wilde, Mike Myers, James Franco, Adrien Brody, Marion Cotillard, and Thandie Newton, just to name what I feel to be the most important. And honestly, I couldn’t type any more names. There is a bunch more on the list you can find here. Also, these are just the people confirmed thus far, it is expected that the likes of George Clooney and Brad Pitt, amongst others will be attending.

Jason Reitman’s Live Read:

You can find all the information below, provided by the TIFF website.

The Festival proudly welcomes back Jason Reitman’s Live Read — a unique event in which classic movie scripts are read by contemporary actors. With no rehearsal, the actors come together for a one-take read-through with Reitman narrating stage direction. In 2012, the Festival welcomed Reitman and an all-star cast — including Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, Adam Driver, Sarah Gadon and George Stroumboulopoulos — for a live table read of Alan Ball’s screenplay for American Beauty. This year, Reitman is back with a surprise script from a modern classic and a new cast at the Ryerson Theatre on Friday, September 6. Details, including cast and script, for the 2013 Live Read event will be announced in early September.

IMAX Screenings:

New this year, audiences are invited to be part of the action with two official Festival selections and two special screenings presented in spectacular IMAX. The two films will be Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity” and Keanu Reeves “Man of Tai Chi.”

Next Wave and Manifesto Announced:

You can find another plethora of titles announced by clicking here.

New Galas and Special Presentations:

Metallica Through the Never: Nimród Antal, Canada/USA, World Premiere

Dane DeHaan (The Place Beyond the Pines) stars as a Metallica roadie dispatched to hell and back in this mind-blowing mash-up of concert film and post-apocalyptic adventure, presented in IMAX 3D.

The Wizard of Oz: Victor Fleming, USA, World Premiere

Experience Judy Garland’s over-the-rainbow adventure in vivid new detail with this IMAX 3D presentation of Victor Fleming’s family classic.

10th Midnight Madness Film Unveiled:

Witching & Bitching:

Fleeing through the impenetrable forests of the Basque countryside after a jewel heist, a hapless band of robbers runs afoul of a coven of witches, in this madcap supernatural spectacle from Spanish genre specialist Alex de la Iglesia (The Last Circus).

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Okay then, that’ll do it for the pre-TIFF announcements. The Cinema Monster will be covering the festival in full, providing reviews, news, and Q and A’s as often as possible, make sure to follow our website to keep up with the festival. Also, follow The Cinema Monster on Twitter (@cinema_monster) and Facebook for up-to-the-minute news and posts, not to mention special pictures and videos provided by me from the screenings. Have a great week!

Juno (2007)

Just a quick review today guys, sorry about that. I am rather busy but I will soon return to business as usual. I hope you enjoy this review. Juno is one of my all time favourites. Have a great weekend!

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A coming-of-age rom-com that focuses more on the heartbreak than the laughter. Juno’s relentless quirkiness, philosophical depth, and political shades are vastly entertaining, yet alarming and enclosing. But conversely, are a much welcomed and appreciated cinematic suffocation. Juno might appear to be harmless and vindicated on the surface…In retrospect, underneath its harmless exterior is a set of disturbing and harsh realities. Not everything about this unorthodox film is doom and gloom. The vibrant, bitter story is carried along by a light, rather breezy hilarity that’s closer to masking the fallacy of invisible innocence than outrightly distracting the viewer from it. Containing a script filled with oddities, performances that mar the line of morality, and innovative direction. Juno is a romantic comedy for past, present, and future generations to come.

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Sometime in autumn, Juno (Page), a 16-year-old high school student living in Minnesota, discovers she is pregnant. The father is Paulie Bleeker (Cera), a fellow classmate and friend whom she spent one night in a big chair having sexual relations. Juno decides to have the unborn child aborted at a local clinic. But upon arriving, Juno has a sudden change of heart and decides to give birth and give the baby to a couple willing to adopt. After an extensive search, Juno finds the perfect parents in Mark (Bateman) and Vanessa (Garner). When all the papers are signed, Juno continues on with her schooling and life as planned, waiting to give birth. What she doesn’t realize is the physical and emotional toll the next 9 months will force upon her.

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Harnessing the charisma, honesty, and charming irregularities of its shy, solidified cast. Juno features Michael Cera, Ellen Page, and Jason Bateman as the funny, at times troubled leads. With Jennifer Garner, Alison Janney, and J.K Simmons supporting as they exude their usual comedic genius. By a wide margin, Page takes top spot for her performance as Juno. As the lead, Page is forced to deal with, not only a significant body change, but also an unprecedented, rapid ascent into maturity and she captures these facets in their entirety, effortlessly. Following up Page is Bateman who’s a close runner up. Showcasing a much more artistic and serious side to his usual hilarity. Bateman is incredible as a confused, helpless, deviant looking for an escape. Cera doesn’t diverge from his typical behaviour and believably falls for the girl, hard. As a unit, Juno’s ensemble couldn’t have performed any more faultless.

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Diablo Cody, writer of Juno, and director Jason Reitman give new life to a failing genre. With a unique sense of humour and circumstances that break the mould, Juno is cinematic evolution. Reitman and Cody up the ante by forging an encompassing situation that affects not only the typical protagonists in a rom-com. But residually, albeit indirectly dismantles anyone who’s connected. Reitman’s staggering ability to consume a story’s identity and regurgitate it to his viewers in a emotional, meaningful, visually spectacular way is worthy of unconditional appreciation. Juno is existing proof that you don’t need to break the bank or complicate the story to make a film that sticks in the viewers mind. Using what it has to make the viewer laugh, cry, and appreciate what is truly important, Juno is a modern classic.

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Showing the intricacy in what is seemingly a simply event. Juno’s implicitly and adoring nature is worthy of the audiences heartfelt endearment and empathy.

Juno: 9 out of 10.