Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Film Unfinished: A Nazi propaganda film in the making (encore screening)

On Tuesday, September 28th, I took in A Film Unfinished, a compilation of found archival footage documenting the conditions of the Warsaw Ghetto during the second world war. I've seen several films that deal with the subject of the Holocaust. I've seen the images of emaciated bodies being dropped into mass graves, read survivor journals and the Diary of Anne Frank. I even wrote my undergraduate thesis on the Holocaust writing of women. While each piece of literature, each interview, each documentary offers additional insight into this dark period, A Film Unfinished provides a unique and deeply interesting entry in the library of Holocaust study.

Filmed in the months leading up to the relocation of Ghetto residents to Treblinka, A Film Unfinished juxtaposes haunting images of starvation, suffering and death against the carefully orchestrated scenes shot by Nazi propagandists. These staged scenes, shown from different angles through multiple takes, paint a bizarre and painful picture of life inside the Ghetto. Interspersed with archival film footage, journal entries, official reports and trial transcripts, the film also captures the memories and reactions of childhood survivors as real and fraudulent scenes play across the screen.

Journal entries made by Adam Czerniakow -- head of the Warsaw Judenrat -- outline details of the filming, narrating many of the images found in the four reels, lending credence to the verdict that these images were indeed manufactured. Elaborately-staged dinner parties, nights at the theatre and traditional Jewish rituals, including an infant's briss, are directed by members of the SS and preserved in cellulose by hired cameramen.

No one knows the intended purpose of the film, but there are those who speculate it was shot to reinforce the Nazi belief that what they were doing was justified -- that the alien Jewish traditions were reasons to fear and hate the people as a whole. The film depicts apparently wealthy Jews turning a blind eye to those in need; women in fine clothing scoff at begging children while well-heeled businessmen step over decaying corpses lying discarded in the streets.

Anyone with an interest in World History, the Holocaust or Nazi Propaganda is sure to find this an engaging and worthwhile watch. The initial audience feedback from the Tuesday night screening was so positive, CIFF is giving festival-goers a second chance to see it.

You can catch the encore presentation of A Film Unfinished at The Plaza on Friday, October 1 at 4:45pm.

Daydream Nation: A Promising Canadian Feature

I’m a huge fan and advocate of Canadian coming-of-age films; C.R.A.Z.Y. is one of the best, and last year’s Victoria Day was probably my favorite screening of the whole festival. However, I’ve got one beef with them: where’s the girl power? Generally, the protagonist is a young man battling with puberty, peers, pretty girls, and parents. Gosh, wouldn’t it be fresh to see a film that gives the feminine perspective of growing up and all it’s complications? Well, as luck would have it, the film Daydream Nation takes a dark and daring chance, centering it’s racy narrative around female teen Caroline Wexler as she ruffles feathers in her small, Canadian hometown.

I won’t give away too many plot points, suffice it to say that Daydream Nation, directed by Michael Goldbach, is a innovative re-working of the dramatic teenage films we’ve all grown to know and love. I’ve got my ticket, and can’t wait to see if Caroline can navigate the turbulent waters of adolescent angst as effectively as her more popular male counterparts. If the theatrical trailer is any indication of this film’s potential, I’m sure Ms. Wexler will do just fine. Check it out below:

Daydream Nation plays Saturday, October 2nd, at Eau Claire #2 at 5:00PM. Get your tickets at the CIFF box office location, or online. It’s true that our country makes great films - let's get out there and support them so that creative Canucks like Mr. Goldbach can keep them coming.

Let Me In: A Refreshing Spin on a Tired Genre

Vampires. A popculture phenomenon in recent years that I'm sure has a number of you readers already rolling your eyes at the thought. Our TV stations and friendly neighborhood cinemas have been pumping out vampire hits as fast as they can ranging from the highly romanticized and shamelessly cheesy Twilight Saga to HBO's gory and envelope-pushing True Blood. I too was part of the vampire jaded camp for quite some time. I admit, I read Twilight and shamefully have seen all three movies. But there was never any really oomph or spark to this series (other than Edward's apparently glittering abs) that left any lasting impression.

Robert Pattinson starring as Edward Cullen in all his vampiric glory.

As an avid horror fan I was seeking something a little darker, a little less polished and a whole lot more bloody than the average vampire fare had given me in recent years. I was steadfast in my preference for zombie movies and apathy towards vampire films.. up until I saw one little foreign film at CIFF in 2008 that changed it all.
Which film was that? You may be wondering. (Even if you weren't wondering I'm going to tell you anyways.)
Well fellow film buffs, the film was: "Låt den rätte komma in" Swedish for "Let the Right One In." The film was so many things other vampire films of late were not. Refreshing, tragic, eerie, poignant - and of course, gory. It showed that horror could be both a work of art and leave you feeling jumpy and nervous walking to your car afterwards in the dark.

The film takes place in a suburb of Stockholm
in the 1980s and centers around a young boy named Oskar who is a victim of constant bullying at school. A strange young girl named Eli and her father move into the apartment next door and the two develop a bizarre yet strong friendship. We soon learn that Eli is not the timid and innocent pre-teen that she appears to be, and in fact has been 12 years old for a loooong time.

Let the Right One In was a haunting and beautiful film, and has justly earned a spot on my list of favorite films of all time. So where does Let Me In fit into all of this? Well, it is a Hollywood remake of this beloved Swedish film, and stars a number of breakout young stars. Most notably, Chloe Moretz who starred as Hit Girl in the underr
ated comic book movie Kickass. But I digress. From the trailer it is apparent that Let Me In has taken strides to make itself a memorable movie in its own right while remaining faithful to the original Swedish text and film. Let Me In takes places in a small town in New Mexico in the 1980s and follows the burgeoning relationship between the young loner Owen and the mysterious new girl, Abby.

Chloe Moretz as Abby in Let Me In

Like all of you, I will be seeing this movie for the first time tonight and I couldn't be more excited. Let the Right One In has become a cult-classic in its own right, and it will be interesting to see how director Matt Reeves (of Cloverfield fame) puts his own spin on the beloved story. Be sure to pick up tickets to this show now, as it's certain to be a full house. You can purchase tickets either online at or through the Festival Central box office in Eau Claire. The film plays tonight at 7pm at Eau Claire Market. Jump at the chance to see this movie before it opens in theaters later this week. See you there!

Red White & Blue: Twist and Turns of Torture and Tragedy

If you’re a procrastinator, and by some tragic circumstance miss out on tickets to tomorrow night’s amazing Black Carpet Gala: I Spit on Your Grave (PS: There are still a few tickets left!) - never fear! There is no need to stay home and pout whilst staring at The Exorcist for the 400th time, there is a better option! The winner of the Best Film award at the Boston Underground Film Festival, and Best International Feature Film at the Fantasia International Film Festival is a sure way to get your Friday night fright on. Red White & Blue is an American thriller that combines awkward romance, mental instability, enormously bad luck, and a cast of emotionally compelling characters in a story that will guide you through the psyches of different perspectives - some which are touching and tragic, others which are incredibly disturbing.

After losing her job, sexually promiscuous and bitter Erica is on the brink of being evicted. Thanks to the kindness of older neighbour, Nate, she is relieved to find work at the local warehouse where he is employed. Nate is drawn to Erica despite her coldness, and Erica is eventually intrigued by Nate’s kind, but mysterious nature. The two share a complicated, awkward, yet well-intentioned attraction to one another despite their differences in age and past experiences. Meanwhile, on the other side of town, a garage band is lead by enthusiastic rocker and loving son, Frankie. He balances his musical ambitions and sexual exploits with the care of his mother who is battling cancer. Thanks to a past sexual encounter with Erica, the world of Frankie and his band clash violently with Erica and Nate - leading to a horrific climax of violence, torture, and tragedy.

I absolutely loved this film. For the first hour you may wonder why it has gained a place in the Late Night Line-Up, as it closer resembles a dark, indie-romance in the beginning, but it’s inclusion in CIFF’s horror series will become gut-wrenchingly apparent once the third act rears it’s ugly (and entertaining) head. That is not to say that the movie is dull and motionless until the violence sets in - quite the contrary. The characters are complex and fascinating, and the film takes a welcome amount of time building the personalities of the players in way that makes the final act strikingly powerful. It perfectly balances drama and brutality, treating the audience to a moving, intense, and at times despicable, tale of unfortunate love and circumstance.

As the token horror junkie, I feel compelled to add that Red White & Blue is MY PICK for favorite Late Night Feature of CIFF 2010. It plays on Friday, October 1st, at the Plaza at 11:30 PM. Pick up your tickets at the CIFF Box Office location, or online. Don’t miss out - successful horror/dramas such as this are few and far between!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Gabi on the Roof in July

GABI ON THE ROOF IN JULY is a refreshing look at young adults, wanting freedom, and fun, without all the responsibility. A young college girl, Gabi, visits her older brother who is trying to get his art career going in Brooklyn. Gabi's free spirit turns out to be another piece for her brother Sam to worry about as he struggles at getting his life together while making ends meet.

Gabi's character in the film is free spirited, and in many ways just young. There is no concept of maturity although, she feels she is mature and pretends to engage in adult acts. She really is just a child, and is looking for support and guidance from her older brother. Gabi's has had a hard time dealing with the separation of her and Sam's parents, and accepting her father's new partner. Gabi is hoping to get support from her brother however she ends up seeing him act out the same way as their father.

The story looks at Gabi's relationship with Sam as she explores art herself in her unique way. Sam's art work which pieces together society, and social decay is beginning to take off. The uniqueness of Sam's art with regards to behavior mimics the decay of Gabi and Sam and the ability to make clear wise choices. The characters desire for something fresh, fun and new is there, however the lack of commitment or dedication are not present. Gabi is a great girl, and as I mentioned she acts exceptionally free, and this freedom is a way for her to learn about herself, although some of how she learns is not conventional. She really is looking for someone to understand her and be there for as a male role model, and Sam needs to step up to the plate to replace that father figure.

Gabi and Sam both do and say things that will leave you thinking societal decay with respect to young people. However being not so old myself (depending on your perspective) the decay is from within due to deeper issues that need to be resolved. I personally would never be as free as the characters in this film, and I am sure there are many others out there that are similar to me in thinking, and behavior, however that is why we enjoy the arts, and do not necessarily create them. We can see fresh new ideas and concepts through a different light which often come from much experimentation, and experiences in life, that some of us will never experience due to our own boundaries, and limitations.

For a fresh fun look at artistic youth through an independent lens check out GABI ON THE ROOF IN JULY on Saturday October 2nd at 4:45 at Eau Claire or on Sunday October 3rd at 9:00pm at Eau Claire.

The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu Had this Horror-fan in Hysterics

It can be hard deciding whether to laugh or scream when it comes to scary movies, and that’s why horror and comedy make such a lovely genre pair. Horror-comedies have been around for decades - literally. The first one was a silent film in 1920 titled Haunted Spooks. Of course today we’re more familiar with films like Evil Dead, Ghostbusters, Beetlejuice, and Idle Hands, but the American film The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu takes this melded genre to a new level. Part buddy flick, part road movie, part supernatural thriller - think of this film as Road Trip meets Alien.

In the depths of the ocean, a monster lies dormant. For Cthulhu to be roused from years of slumber, the two separated pieces of the relic key must be brought together in order to unlock his underwater tomb. The earthly cult of Cthulhu has found one half, and with the help of a supernatural army of fish-people, they are on their way to the location of piece number two. Unfortunately for Jeff, an average cubicle-bound office worker, he has been given the task of guarding it due to a hereditary link to infamous horror novelist, H.P. Lovecraft. He and his co-worker (and best friend), Charlie, call upon their old high school’s token geek, Paul, to learn more about the ancient beast and the consequences of the relic being joined. They are tracked down by the cult’s army and the three unlikely heroes soon find themselves on the run from Cthulhu’s vicious descendants. If they can keep the relic in two pieces, they will save the world from violent destruction and certain doom. If not, we’re all fish food.

You really get the best of both worlds with this one. The laughs are many, thanks mostly to Paul, whose character bears a striking resemblance (physically and behaviorally) to Zack Galifianakis in The Hangover. The bumbling trio never seems to find a cohesive mode of defense - much to the delight of audiences. As for the horror - blood, battle, and beasts are aplenty. Sci-fi fans will also be pleased with the creature designs and costume effects. If you like to laugh, or love to scream (or never know which to do), this film is for you!

The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu plays Thursday, September 30th at the Plaza at 11:00 PM. Get your tickets at CIFF box office locations, or online. Make sure you bring a box of tissues - whether you’re wiping tears of fright or fun is up to you.

Suzuki Picture a Promising Force

Force of Nature: The David Suzuki movie has it's Western Canadian premier tonight at the Plaza. From the looks of it this will be a very popular one, even with an Albertan audience. Unlike other films of a more radical nature, such as this year's 'green screen' series highlight Dirty Oil, which has already caused it's share of controversy, this movie seems like it will be much more quaint, quiet, and introspective. The film is a movie about the man himself, his legacy, and much of it is in his own words, in a documented "final speech". Scenes from this speech or seemingly woven into scenes from Suzuki's past to create what seems like it will be a moving biography, and one which maintains an influential message for decades to come. In this sense the film seems like it will draw a fine line between honouring the past and encouraging the future. Both a humble send off to the man that we all have come to know, and an re-instillment of his passion for change, and to leave a better world for generations to come. Suzuki, a revered scientist, broadcaster, and environmentalist, has aged, and he has undoubtedly gained a reservoir of knowledge, reason, and wisdom over the years. This movie will hopefully capture all of that into a single sitting, one that in my opinion, will be well worth while.

You can catch Force of Nature tonight at 7:00 PM at the Plaza in Kensington.
Tickets are on sale online, at the festival centre in Eau Claire Market, and may be available at the door. Get your tickets before the show if this is one you want to see! It's sure to be a popular one!

Would you like a little faith with your coffee?

Faith, Fraud and Minimum wage follows small-town girl Casey (Emily of New Moon’s Martha MacIsaac) as she struggles to strike a balance in her life. After her sister Meg (Kate Lavender) is left in a coma following a vehicle accident the year before, Casey turns her back on her faith, much to the chagrin of her highly-religious, ultra-conservative Maritime town. Heartbroken by the tragedy, Casey’s father, played by well-known Canadian actor Callum Keith, spends his waking hours at Meg’s beside hoping and praying for a change in her condition.

Frustrated by her job at Krowne Donuts, her father’s absence, and the strained-yet-playful relations with her coworker – local football hero and boyfriend of her arch-rival – Jansen (Ricky Mabe), Casey tosses a cup of Krowne Donuts 100% Arabica coffee on the outter wall of the donut shop. The ensuing mania that takes place, when the coffee stain bears a striking resemblance to Jesus Christ just days before Christmas, throws Casey's world into further chaos.

With Christmas creeping ever closer, the appearance of the holy image gives the town instant notoriety, drawing in worshipers from across Canada and the United Sates. Taking advantage of the sudden rush of visitors, both Krowne Donuts and Casey’s family Christmas tree lot – conveniently located in the adjacent lot – begin to receive a rush of Christmastime income.

As the image attracts more and more of the faithful, the aspirations of local business man -- and Krowne Donuts owner --‘Uncle Bob’ (Don Allison) begin to conflict with the modern views of recently-appointed Father JJ (Andrew Bush). But when Casey’s father begins to believe that the coffee stain Christ is a sign that Meg’s health will be restored, Casey is torn between her practical need for money and her moral obligation to the town, her father and herself.

Equally touching, entertaining and funny, Faith, Fraud and Minimum Wage is a creative commentary on society, capitalism, faith and what it means to be faithful. MacIsaac and Keith are heartbreakingly believable, suffusing the film with an emotional quality that extends beyond the screen to the audience.

Don’t miss the Alberta premier of Faith, Fraud and Minimum Wage Thursday, September 30th, 7pm at The Plaza.

Me, Too (Yo, tambien)

The Spanish film Me, Too (Yo, tambien) tells the story of Daniel Sanz (Pablo Pineda), the first Down’s Syndrome individual to graduate from University in Europe. After studying teaching and education psychology, Daniel takes a job as an assistant in the General Office for Disabled Persons and forms a friendship with coworker Laura (Lola Duenas). The two quickly become close, and it’s not long before Daniel falls in love.

As a result of a vigorous education, Daniel is ‘more advanced’ intellectually and developmentally than most individuals with Down’s Syndrome. His thoughts on art, politics, culture, history and literature surpass those of most of his coworkers, but in spite of his insights, he is still largely considered childlike. At more than 30 years of age, as his brother and sister-in-law expect their first child, Daniel struggles with his own desire to fit into mainstream society, find love and one day start a family of his own.

Me, Too depicts love in a variety of forms, from the tradition and comfort of long-time married life, to the purely sexual and areas between. The film raises questions of a disabled person's right to choose and whether they have the capacity to make decisions about their own lives and bodies.

With that in mind, Me,Too isn’t so much about acceptance and treatment of disabled persons, but rather the universal search for love. People yearn for love and acceptance regardless of whether they graduate university, have a career, or need help tying their shoelaces. Me, Too plays on feelings we all experience – fear of fitting in and being accepted, and the desire to find someone to love who loves us in return.

Daniel faces the same challenges of any individual searching for love, and through it all, he’s hopelessly and determinedly optimistic. Me, Too is a touching, humorous twist on the traditional love story that is certain to appeal to all audiences.

Catch the Canadian premiere of Me, Too at the Globe Theatre on Thursday, September 30th, or the encore screening Saturday, October 2nd at 2:45pm.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New Low

In the mood for an American Indie flick, well NEW LOW may be just the light comedic drama you have been looking for.

Adam Bowers gives us a look into an all too common story that many, many women can relate too. For all those men out there, perhaps this comedic look into the search for relationships may actually give you that sense of commitment that normally leaves you running for the door.

In the film Wendell is in search of a relationship, for what we are not sure of but I am assuming it is to fill his time. He is twenty some, and has no plans for the future, no hobbies, and no interests. Vicki who we meet in the film lets Wendell know about his lack of appeal to women however she herself is willing to overlook it. Wendell however, although willing to get involved in a relationship is not willing to overlook some of the odd and unconventional pieces of Vicki's life.

The story I'm sure you have seen in your lives, or the lives of friends, where one person in the couple is looking for something better, better than they really can get. Not to say we should not strive for the stars, however often we lose a really good thing because we are not happy with the great stuff before us. We are human, and easily blinded by the next more prettier, shinier thing, even if we can not afford it, or it is beyond our means. This film is an entertaining reminder to go home and tell the people in your life how much you love and care for them, and that you would never trade them in for anything.

You still have time before the festival wraps up, so get out and catch NEW LOW on Sunday October 3rd at 6:45 pm at Eau Claire.

Certified Copy: A Canadian premiere

Last night, in an all-but-sold-out theatre, the Calgary International Film Festival played host to the Canadian Premiere of Abbas Kiarostami’s Certified Copy. I wasn’t familiar with Kiarostami’s work prior to this film, but I’ll be sure to seek him out in the future.

Writer James Miller (William Shimell) is touring Italy with his latest book, Certified Copy, a layperson’s study on the significance of official replicas of artistic masterpieces. Elle (Juliette Binoche), plays a French antiques dealer living in Tuscany with her teenaged son Julien.

After reading Miller’s book, Elle disagrees with many of its arguments and sets out to confront the author in person. The two spend the day walking through a small, nearby town, admiring and discussing various pieces of local art, both authentic and replicated. At first appearing to be strangers, it’s left for the audience to decide if Miller and Elle infact share a deeper history.

Juliette Binoche is, as always, genuine and superb in this film, while William Shimell takes on the role of the somewhat egocentric intellectual with charisma. Certified Copy provides an almost voyeuristic glimpse into the often awkward conversation between strangers. Neither censors their opinions and are unapologetic when disagreeing with the others’ views.

Driven by dialogue, with long, meaningful breaks in conversation, Certified Copy is a film about the power of art, while not focusing on art. Intellectual, yet unpretentious, it has a languid, quiet pace reminiscent of last years’ Cairo Time (starring Patricia Clarkson and Alexander Siddig). The film makes stunning use of the picturesque landscape, stopping to admire the ancient structures and tranquil Tuscan countryside.

Kiarostami's use of scenery and dialogue makes for a unique film that, at times, pays more attention to the periphery than to the characters. In one scene, Miller and Elle drive out of Tuscany, discussing his book. As the car rolls along, the scene is shot from outside the windshield, the actors’ faces obscured by reflections of the passing scenery. In another, an unseen museum guide explains the history of a piece of art, while Elle translates for Miller. While watching the conversation take place between the two stars, you hear the tour guides’ narration instead.

With no encore showing at the festival this year, you’ll have to wait for your next opportunity to see Certified Copy. It’s an opportunity I suggest you not miss.

Driving for freedom - Taxi Casablanca

“For Zakia, driving the taxi affirms her identity as a free woman.”

Taxi Casablanca follows Zakia Mezzour, Morocco’s first ­­– and only – female taxi driver, as she navigates the high-speed traffic of Casablanca. She is a brave, determined woman who, after being denied a taxi license on the basis of her sex, wrote letters to the royal family, members of government and other figures of influence, petitioning for her right to work in her chosen field. After a year of perseverance, Zakia was granted her prized ‘white shark’ 19070’s Mercedes.

Morocco is said to be one of the most progressive Middle Eastern countries, so far as women’s rights are concerned. In 2004, King Mohammed VI passed the family law code which officially recognized women, as of age 18, as legal entities for the first time. The law granted women greater rights during divorce, changed the legal age of marriage from 15 to 18, placed restrictions on polygamy and gave women the right to marry without the consent of a male guardian. However, societal expectations around marriage and family, the stigma that accompanies divorce, issues of poverty and lack of education make taking advantage of these legal rights challenging for many women.

Sharing the taxi with her ex-husband, Zakia has spent upwards of five hours a day behind the wheel for more than eight years. Opinions toward her chosen career range from surprise, to support, to staunch disapproval. By the encouragement of her supporters, and determined to prove her detractors wrong, Zakia goes about her day. She seems to take genuine pleasure in driving, even if it’s at someone else’s behest.

In the face of religious and societal traditions, Zakia takes a powerful stand against Morocco’s approved cultural norms. Her courage has proven to be an inspiration for other women in the city. “When I see this woman driving, it’s as if I’m driving,” says one female passenger. “I would love to have that opportunity. To get to that place, you had to show men there’s nothing women can’t do. And it’s true!”

The film covers several broad themes in one fell swoop – women’s rights, poverty, education, domestic abuse and employment. Along with the varied applications in academia – women studies, cultural studies, and economic studies – the film is an intelligent and interesting choice for casual observers.

You can catch Taxi Casablanca, part of the Beyond Borders series, at 2pm on Wednesday, September 29th at the EMMEDIA Gallery.

[Rec] 2: Continuing to Blur the Line Between Horror and Documentary

Horror mockumentaries are rising in popularity, but few have lived up to the critical acclaim that 2007’s Spanish film [Rec] garnered. Not since The Blair Witch Project has a film of this genre caused such a commotion, or become such an instant cult hit. It even spawned an American shot-for-shot remake in 2008, Quarantine. This year, CIFF 2010 brings you [Rec] 2, the sequel to the Spanish sensation released three long years ago. The film begins literally moments after the other ends, as emergency crew assess the carnage that has just taken place in an infected apartment building where tenants were transformed into cannibalistic monsters. The horror is far from over, as officials soon find out, and the frightening phenomenon must be controlled before the panic and chaos spread like a macabre plague.

It’s no surprise that this film is highly anticipated by audiences and critics alike. [Rec] was a terrifying, bloody, and psychologically shredding film, with some of the scariest visuals I’ve seen in recent years. Jamie Russell with the BBC said it was “a runaway rollercoaster of a fright flick” that “will definitely jangle the nerves”.
As I clutch my [Rec] 2 ticket in my hand, I can’t help but get nostalgic about the other scary mockumentaries that have savaged the silver screen in recent years. Let’s go over some of them, shall we? Here are my five favorite frightening found footage films (great alliteration, huh?), starting with...

Although the documentary style, hand-held camera aesthetics in this film had the tendency to make audiences lose their lunches, I couldn’t snub this one from my list. This modern day Godzilla-esque flick trapped you in the middle of a military emergency in New York, and had you watching your back with the rest of the cast. The gigantic monster wasn’t even the scariest part! My stomach jumped every time one of it’s miniature spawns made an appearance, especially in the subway scene. Panic, mayhem, and chaos rule in this creepshow!

District 9
Part alien sci-fi, part political commentary - this film was nominated for four academy awards at the 2010 ceremony: Best Achievement in Editing, Best Achievement in Visual Effects, Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published, and Best Motion Picture of the Year! This film proved that there is more to horror that chills and thrills. Exceptionally acted and socially conscious, District 9 is not one to overlook.

The Poughkeepsie Tapes
I had a hard time getting my hands on this one, but it was well worth the trouble. After enjoying years of secret sadistic torture, the videotapes of an elusive serial killer are discovered in an abandoned house. An investigation is spawned and the disturbing footage is reviewed, along with the testimony of a single survivor. This one will chill you right to your core. Though “footage” from the tapes is only used sporadically throughout the film, the images will haunt you for weeks. Dramatic and insane, the Poughkeepsie killer is a man of disturbing theatricality and enthusiasm for what he does.

The Fourth Kind
This one may not entirely be considered a true mockumentary, but it is close enough for our purposes. Once the secrets of its narrative were leaked, the film bombed at the box office. However, I contest that with the right combination of open-mindedness and thirst for entertainment, this is a film that will have you questioning where the truth is. As if the use of “stock footage” of psychiatric sessions and alien abductions isn’t spooky enough, the testimony of Dr. Abbey Tyler is absolutely spine-chilling. Your nerves will hang on the brink of every word she utters in her otherworldly confession of events.

Paranormal Activity
Bar-none, the most surprising indie-hit of the year. Shot with a budget of only $15,000 American, this film was demanded in theatres all over North America, and made over $193 million dollars worldwide. Bringing to life demons, Oujia boards, and supernatural killers, footage of audiences reacting in shock and horror began circulating over the internet following its wide release. Shockingly realist, the inferred violence in Paranormal Activity had even this horror-junkie sleeping with the lights on.

So there you have it... but I digress. If these movies are your cup of tea, pick up tickets at CIFF Box Office Locations or online for [Rec] 2 playing Wednesday, September 29th at The Plaza at 11:00 PM. I hope to see the rest of my fellow fright fans there!

Grab a Date and See a Sexy Flick at Hump Night!

It can be a difficult task, reconciling opposing tastes in films when it comes to a night out. For fear of sexist generalizations I’ll avoid gender specific pronouns, suffice it to say that there is always someone who “can’t stand mushy Rom-Coms”, and someone else who “won’t sit through another 2 hours of pointless explosions”. I have nothing personal against any genre of film, but my personal taste is certainly subject to pets and peeves - everyone’s is. So how do you choose a film that you and your significant other will both enjoy? Here’s a hint: They don’t call the Wednesday Night Line-Up “Hump Night” for nothing...

Don’t get the wrong idea and assume all the Wednesday night features have the same content, however. Each film has it’s own ratio of skin to sensuality, so take a moment and read up about the films in order to choose one that will excite and not offend. Whether you’re a romantic or an erotic (or both), Hump Night has something that will please even the most wholesome movie-goer.

I had the chance to screen a couple of Hump Night features, so I’ll get the ball rolling for you. Here are the synopses for both the UK feature, Brilliantlove, and the Italian film, Come Undone (Cosa voglio di piu). If you can answer yes to the majority of the questions following the synopses, these films are for you! If not, check the Hump Night Line-Up for something more your speed. Here we go!

Brilliantlove - United Kingdom, 2010, 97 minutes

The love and respect of a bohemian, sexually charged couple is tested. Manchester is a budding photographer whose favorite subject is the sexual images and acts shared between himself and his girlfriend, Noon. One evening, he accidentally leaves a package of developed photos behind at a pub, and they are found by an enthusiastic pornographer, Franny, who is eager to encourage the artistic career of the author. Franny tracks Manchester down, and tempts him with fame and fortune. Manchester can’t wait to reveal his first exhibition and move out of the storage shack he and Noon have converted into a modest flat, but Noon is skeptical of Franny, and unaware of the nature of the images he is about to release.

Is This Film For You?
Do formulaic, heavily structured films lose your interest?
Are you savvy of UK slang and pronunciation?
Are you a fan of indie-artistic subculture?
Can you handle full frontal nudity (male and female)?
Are you comfortable with incredibly graphic sex scenes?
Can you see a film rated 18ª?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, pick up your tickets at a CIFF Box office location, or online. Brilliantlove plays Wednesday, September 29th at Eau Claire Market #2 at 9:45 PM.

Come Undone (Cosa voglio di piu) - Italy, 2010, 126 minutes

Anna is in a long-term relationship with affectionate Alessio. They share an apartment, hobbies, and a comfortable love for each other. Tired of her daily routine as an office worker and sedentary girlfriend, Anna is seduced into a passionate affair with waiter Domencio, who has a wife and children himself. The two meet once a week during the hours of Domencio’s regular swim practice, but it soon becomes an insufficient amount of time to please the lovers. As things become more heated and suspicions begin to arise, they must decide if pursuing their lust is worth the consequences. This is a universal tale of temptation, love, lust, and redemption - but will go beyond your tired expectations of the classic love triangle.

Is This Film For You?
Do you yearn for more in your current relationship?
Have you ever struggled with temptation?
Are you a hopeless romantic, subject to fleeting passions?
Are you spontaneous, or wish you were?
Do you enjoy tasteful, yet lusty sex scenes?
Can you see a film rated 18ª?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, pick up your tickets at a CIFF Box Office location, or online. Come Undone (Cosa voglio di piu) plays Wednesday, Septmber 29th at The Globe Upstairs at 6:45 PM.

Vive L’amour! <3

The (Super-Fantastic!) Untitled Work of Paul Shepard

The modern relationship has finally become what it was always meant to be – sex. We tend to deny it, or cover it up with flowers or expensive gifts, but it truly only exists today because of a fundamental attraction between two people. It is no longer an economic necessity, social requirement, religious ritual, or even a basis for children. Instead, two people date today only because they want and choose to. The reality is that no one, no woman or man, must be in a relationship for any reason except choice. Being alone, and not relying on someone else for emotional satisfaction, is something that has finally become socially acceptable.
-- The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard
The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard (pronounced, She-pard, not Shep-herd), instantly made it into my current top-five picks for CIFF 2010. In this mockumentary of sorts, Paul (Kris Holden-Ried) is documentary filmmaker searching for his next hit. When he receives a call from former lover Sadie (Christine Horne), he’s struck by sudden inspiration. The artistic Sadie is putting out a book of poems on love and would like Paul’s okay before going on tour. Before Paul has looked at, let alone read the book, he’s convincing his hapless producer Jack (Degrassi’s Joey Jeremiah, Pat Mastroianni) to join him as he explores the meaning of modern love.

By the time he’s arranging interviews and dragging his wannabe cousin into the project as cameraman, Paul comes to realize that Sadie’s latest book, Poems and Thoughts for the Man I Love to Hate, are not a study on modern love, but is also inspired by him.

Over the course of filming, Paul interviews four ex-girlfriends, including Sadie, Haley (Zoie Palmer), the actress-turned-Porn fluffer, Lisa (Tricia Braun), his high school sweetheart, and Samantha (Mary Krohner), the possible love of his life. Through the course of the raw footage compiled by Paul’s small team, the general thrust of the documentary begins to take a different shape. Instead of a study on modern love, Paul becomes the subject of his own work, examining why he seems incapable of making a relationship work.

Holden-Ried is witty and charming in this quirky twist on a love story. His portrayal of the love-challenged filmmaker is genuine and endearing, while the remaining cast play their respective characters to a ‘T’. Don’t miss the Hump Night showing of The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard at the Globe Theatre, Wednesday, September 29th at 9:30pm.

Holy Holy Holy

Howl, the monumental poem by beat generation leading figure Allen Ginsberg changed the way an entire generation thought about themselves in the context of their post-second-world-war capitalistic American society. It channelled Ginsberg's sentiments of sexual and spiritual freedom, including his own bisexuality, and was even the subject of an obscenity trial in 1957. It was first read aloud, to much support, at an experimental art gallery in San Francisco, an event that was only ever truly documented in fellow beat poet Jack Kerouac's novel The Dharma Bums. And now it is also a film.

It seems that in this movie, all of these elements have been laced together into a continuing narrative of sorts, complimented by a psychadelic-animated aesthetic, an artistic choice made by directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. These elements will no doubt ensure that Howl is different from the conventional biopic. It's the sort of cinematic experimentation demanded of adaptations of literature from this era, much like David Cronenberg's film version of William S. Burrough's Naked Lunch. That film found itself divided among critics but it still managed to find an audience and a cult following. I believe Howl will find itself in a similar position. It was screened opening night at the Sundance film festival and has already received it's share of reviews, some glowing, others negative.

From what I've seen so far (the trailer) and from what I know of Ginsberg and his works, Howl included, this film looks like an interesting and engaging adaptation of one of the most influential literary works of the twentieth century. It may not be for everyone, but neither is the work it is based on. At the least it can inspire a renewed interest in a truly fascinating poet. Another definite draw of this movie will, and should be, James Franco's near perfect embodiment of Ginsberg. Over the past few years, Franco has asserted himself as the go-to-guy for true-to-life representations of people in movies. From what I have seen in the trailer (which alludes to recreated interview footage), his performance is right on when held in comparison with actual footage of Ginsberg himself (readily available on the internet and featured in documentaries such as Nothing More To Say and Nothing To Weep For)

Whether you are a personal fan of Ginsberg and beat literature, or you simply enjoy a good story, Howl seems a promising way to spend a night out at the movies.

Howl plays tonight, September 28th, at the Plaza cinema in Kensington. Tickets are available online, at the door, or at the festival headquarters situated in Eau Claire Market.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Highlights of Sunday

The sunday line-up exemplified the Only the Best Films Make It slogan. I have seen 13 of the films that screened Sunday and all 13 were great. The Sunday line-up was evidence of the quality of this year's line-up as a whole. It shows why if one is not sure what to see, one should just see anything that piques one's interest.
Here is a quick run-down of the aforementioned 13 films from Sunday:

LEAVE THEM LAUGHING: Alternates between laugh-out-loud funny and heartbreakingly sad. The is the latest from Canadian John Zaritsky (an Oscar winner for JUST ANOTHER MISSING KID). Carla Zilberman is a comedienne diagnosed with ALS. She and her son use humour to deal with a terminal illness that is slowly debilitating her.

FAMILY TREE: Screened twice this weekend. Not much can be said about the film without spoiling one or more of the reveals. A well-told story that hits on many different family dynamics. More layered that the typical family rattled by catastrophe/major revelation film.

TWISTED ROOTS: One of five Finnish films screening at this year's CIFF; the only one that is a feature length narrative film. I have been very impressed with the three I have seen. Hope this year is a forebearer of a blossoming of Finnish cinema. Pairs well with FAMILY TREE; both focussing on family troubles largely precipitated by the patriarch revealing a secret. In this case, the onset of Huntington's Disease. Symptoms of the disease are well-replicated filmically.

PLAYTIME: In my opinion, this is Jacques Tati's best film. The influence he had on comedians that followed is evident. Peter Sellers and Rowan Atkinson would have been unable to form the classic characters we know them for if not for Tati's performance in films like this. Great to see a remastered print.

A SCREAMING MAN: Winner of the Jury Prize at Cannes. I cannot remember another film I have seen from Chad. Encouraging to see such recognition for a film from a country that produces so few films. Coming from such a different culture and political climate likely hinders the vast majority of a North American audience from fully identifying with it but it touches on universal feelings related to status and family roles.

HELENA FROM THE WEDDING: The only film playing at this time that I was going to be able to make it to the start of. Had to choose between eating a meal at the only time I would have a chance or seeing a film I knew little about. I am glad I chose the film. Nothing groundbreaking about it but is a great example of classic American indie film. At beginning it heads towards mumblecore with a bit of extra plot. When it hits its stride, it is reminiscent of the early films of Noah Baumbach and Whit Stillman without getting tied up in class commentary. Great to see Melanie Lynskey putting in so many great performances lately.

ARMADILLO: Winner of Best Documentary Feature at CIFF. This is a film that is perfect for opening weekend so people can discuss it the rest of the festival. Definitely has touched a nerve with some people. As I think over how the entire film plays out, it is arguably one of the finest examples of a filmmaker using a deft touch to avoid bias.

NORA'S WILL: Tremendously enjoyable film. Religion, family, dealing with death and other topics are addressed in a lighthearted and charming manner. It may just be the films I am viewing this year, but it seems like death is present in more CIFF films than in past years. The characters in NORA'S WILL remain respectful of death and the dead while also bringing humor to the mix.

STEAM OF LIFE: Finnish doc about saunas. I was impressed by the behind the scenes details of the technical complications of filming in saunas. Pairs well with FREETIME MACHOS as an intimate look at the angst of the Finnish male.

COLD WATER OF THE SEA: Sunday's Mavericks screening. Beautiful film from Costa Rica. Floats between two parallel stories with mesmerizing visual beauty from start to finish.

PHASMA EX MACHINA: Draws obvious comparisons to 2004's PRIMER. PHASMA EX MACHINA is a difficult film to describe without espousing my opinion of what it means. A film that really is better if you go in without expectations. A young man's parents dies and rather than care for his brother he puts all his energy into creating a machine to bring back his parents. This is a film that will likely become a bit of a cult hit when it is on DVD. May even take a couple of years. Those of you lucky enough to have watched one of the screenings this weekend, can be pleased with yourself that you saw it so much before anyone else caught on to its genius.

PEEPERS: Great turnout for a comedy at 9:30. Seeing this with such an enthusiastic audience was a definite bonus. Brisk 83 minute runtime; solid comedy from start to finish. The material lends itself to lowbrow humour but writing remains clever throughout. This was a film I had high hopes for but was wary of the possibility of it falling flat. It exceeded my expectations and delivered.

THE FAMOUS AND THE DEAD: When I read the synopsis I wondered how a Brazilian could have made a film based on my life. Turns out it is not about me; it is just a great film. Winner of a variety of awards over last two years. A treat to have it screen in Calgary.

Thirteen great films that all screened the same day. And, these are just the ones I saw. There are at least five more that screened Sunday that I have heard great things about. I hope the quantity of great films encourages you all to take a chance on films you are considering over the remaining days of the festival. This year's line-up is solid from top to bottom. If you check something out you likely will not be disappointed.

A mini-interview with Mike's Bloggity Blog

This year, I wanted to do a few mini-interviews with festival-goers to find out about their CIFF experience and learn why they feel the Calgary International Film Festival is an important to Calgary and Calgarians. I had the pleasure recently of interviewing Mike Morrison of Mike’s Bloggity Blog, Canada’s number one entertainment blog for three years running.

Shannon: Tell me about yourself

Mike Morrison: Hey! My name is Mike and I write the Canadian entertainment blog Mike’s Bloggity Blog. I also have a column with Metro and can be found wasting hours on twitter at @mikesbloggity. I’m a huge fan of all things Canadian films, television and theatre. It is my dream to be invited to a Brett Wilson party.

SM: Is this your first CIFF?

MM: Do you know what, it is! Shocking, I know. I moved to Calgary about five years ago and have been overwhelmed with the amount of things there are to do in the city. Sometimes it is a little harder to find stuff than in Vancouver or Toronto, but I think that just makes you appreciate things like CIFF even more. In the past five years, I’ve been able to meet some amazing actors and I’m really excited to have the opportunity to see them on the big screen!

SM: What value do you think CIFF offers to Calgary’s greater cultural landscape?

MM: The more people talk about Calgary and our films, filmmakers and actors, the more I think people will respect this vital industry. I honesty wish I knew about the history of film in Calgary. I mean, there has to be a reason that so many American productions keep coming here to make so many great movies! Plus, let’s all be honest, our hockey team doesn’t have the best track record. That will only help filmmakers when Flames fans start looking for alternatives.

SM: IS there a film you’re particularly interested in or looking forward to?

MM: I had to miss Score: A Hockey Musical, so I’m bummed about that. I love all the singers that are featured in the movie, like Hawksley Workman. Since I’m in the blogging business, I’m definitely going to go on word of mouth. Plus, I’m really easy to boss around, so I’ll pretty much go to anything anyone tells me to!

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Be sure to check out Mike’s Bloggity Blog ( for the latest in Canadian – and Calgarian – entertainment. You can also follow Mike on Twitter at @mikesbloggity.

Norberto's Deadline

Norberto (Fernando Amaral) is a mild-mannered real estate agent searching for meaning in his otherwise mundane life. After attending a local production, Norberto is drawn to the theatre. Already planning to attend an effective communication seminar to boost his self esteem and speaking to clients, Norberto enrolls in a local acting class.

Focusing all of his newfound energy into acting, Norberto struggles to maintain a balance between his ‘real life’ – his job and personal relationships – and his ‘stage life’. Relations with his wife and friends begin to suffer as Norberto throws himself into his first role, a small but vital speaking part.

It’s unclear if Norberto is driven by his desire to find contentment or if he’s simply bored with his day-to-day reality. In what could be another ‘mid-life crisis’ tale, Norberto’s Deadline is appealing precisely because it effectively captures a snapshot of one man’s life, highlighting the impact that even the smallest decisions can effect. The film is a warm and relatable study on daily life, following a character who is, if not extraordinary, certainly genuine.

You can catch Norbero’s Deadline this evening, Monday, September 27th, 7pm at the Eau Claire Cineplex Odeon.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

When fear takes over -- Phobidilia

At times humorous, at others tortured, Phobidilia peeks into the cloistered life of an unnamed young man in his 20's. Our hero (Ofer Shecter), is an agoraphobic software developer who has been unable to leave the safety of his apartment for several years.

With the conveniences of satellite television, the Internet and telephone, our hero's basic, and not so basic, needs are aptly met. Spending several years in relative seclusion has taken its toll, however -- with little-to-no interaction with other people, reality and dream, fact and fiction blend together, leaving him incapable of understanding the motives and emotions of other human beings. He sees the world outside like a Spanish soap opera -- mundane events taking on layers of drama, intrigue and suspense with daily events narrated by a cliche TV voice-over.

Our hero is content in his solitude as ruler over his own, private kingdom. With so few subjects, there are few variables that fall beyond his control. When telemarketer Daniella (Efrat Boimold) inserts herself into his closed-off kingdom, our hero finds himself longing for true human interaction. When he's forced to confess the truth about his circumstances, Daniela finds ways to join him -- the two go on imaginary dates, strolling hand-in-hand through a flower-filled forest and relaxing on a sun-lit park bench.

His carefully-constructed lifestyle is further thrown into chaos when Grumps (Shlomo Bar-Shavit), a grandfatherly real estate agent, tries to force the hero from his home, claiming the landlord wishes to sell. Ofer's character goes to great lengths to frigthen away potential renters, and the ensuing war obliterates the complacent peace both our hero and Gumps -- a Holocaust survivor -- have found in their respective lives. After surviving the Holocaust hidden in a hole on a Polish farm, Grumps understands the pain, fear and challenge of rejoining the world, and the importance of forcing yourself to do so.

Phobidilia delves into the all-encompassing power of fear. Schecter's portrayal of the reclusive young hero is frightfully genuine. You desperately want him to move forward through his fear but sympathize with his desperate plight for things to remain unchanged.

Phobidilia is a darkly interesting and captivating film, and certainly one of my personal picks for CIFF 2010. You can catch Phobidilia at the Globe Theatre, Monday, September 27th at 9:15pm.

Canadian Feature 'Son of the Sunshine' a Critical Success

If you’re a fan of Canadian cinema it is essential that you catch Son of the Sunshine. I have yet to view it myself, but can’t wait to see if it lives up to its reputation. Set in Ontario, the film tells the tragic story of a young man with Tourette’s syndrome who undergoes an experimental procedure in order to cure his symptoms. It works, but ends up costing him more than money - he loses his unique ability to heal others, and is forced to deal with new dynamics in his family, including the departure of his sister and his mother’s drug-dealing boyfriend.

Since I will be seeing it for the first time with the rest of the audience on monday, I’ll save you my speculation. Instead, I offer you this list of awards won by the film, and some quotations from industry experts praising the film. I’ll let them convince you!

Rising Star Award, Edmonton International Film Festival 2009
Audience Award, Malibu Film Festival 2009
Best Feature, Malibu Film Festival 2009
Best Actress, Wild Rose Independent Film Festival 2009
Best Feature, Wild Rose Independent Film Festival 2009
Best Director, Wild Rose Independent Film Festival 2009
Best Actor, Wild Rose Independent Film Festival 2009

"...A psycho-soap opera, slum-gutter fairy tale... I was blown off the couch, out the door and down the street."
- John Griffin, Montreal Gazette

"Audacious first feature...Ward's performance truly captures my attention"
- Chris Knight, National Post

"A gorgeous, ambitious undertaking."
- Jessica Almon, NY Movies Examiner

"Ward's portrayal is intense, heart-wrenchingly authentic and powerful."
- Bruce DeMara, Toronto Star

"Mature, immediately involving story."
- Eric Kohn, IndieWire

Son of the Sunshine plays on Monday, September 27th at The Globe Theatre Upstairs at 9:30PM. Get your tickets at CIFF box office locations, or online. Also, check out the film’s website at . See you there!

BAS: Beyond the Red Light

Often we see films that feature issues in society that leave us feeling powerless, and distraught on why no one is doing anything to make a difference. BAS gives us a refreshing look at the

work of a number of people who are actively making a difference in the lives of numerous women who have become victims to a horrifically large prostitution trade.

In India many young girls, and young women are abducted, or are lured through the promise of marriage, a new job by men and women who work in this age old trade. Often families in poor villages are promised a better life for their daughters in the big city if they are to marry someone who unbeknownst to them is a human trafficker. The story's are endless on how many of these young women are brought into the industry. Many of these women have no idea what has happened till they arrive at a brothel, the place where majority of them will spend their lives. If you have ever travelled to India there are two kinds of people you likely encountered those who we imagine to represent the true India, spiritual, beautiful beings, and those that are just trying to survive by any means necessary whether it be crime, prostitution, etc. I do not blame the second group of people, for what they do out of desperation but I do not condone it either. Crime is often just a mechanism of survival in a country where the population is so large, it is hard to make a place for yourself in society especially where often the class system is still regarded, leaving many unable to climb the social ladder even today. Think back to Slum Dog Millionaire, where Anil Kapoor's character in the film cannot believe that a simple Jamal a "chai walla" (tea server) could possibly know the answers to questions that one would expect only an educated or more knowledgeable person to know. In the end it was a miracle for Jamal, as is the outcome for the women in this film who are thought they would die in a brothel.

The film focuses on rescuing women who have been forced into prostitution. The women are shown at a Rescue home, where they are taught dance in hopes to release the emotions they have inside that have been beaten down with the lives they were forced to live. They are asked to dream, and encouraged to make a new life for themselves. This itself is a very difficult task for the average woman in India even today. Sure India has modernized in some of its thinking, however what we see in Bollywood where women often are independent is not truly the case for the middle class and below in the country, and even in the upper class to some degree. Society is still predominately male driven, and women on their own are often thought of as prey. Although we are led to believe that women can do everything a man can do, it often is really not the case in India. There is still a stigma. This stigma leaves women who are victims of prostitution with little hope for a future.

In BAS by Wendy Champagne we see the stories and the pain and hope in the eyes of many young women. I loved how at the start of the film the faces of these women are blurred, and their voices so faint we can barely hear them. They are like ghosts. Many of these women are performing acts of prostitution 30 -35 times daily. Many of the brothels have 40 - 50 women in a small area. When the police officials raid the brothels, women are hidden in small secret areas. The conditions end up leaving many of these women HIV positive from the line of work they have been forced into, or also with children.

The Rescue Foundation featured in this film works with many of these girls in improving their capacity to return to some form of normalcy. However in a society where often such careers leave a permanent stigma it is difficult to overcome.

The one part of the film that had me a little confused was the fact that the foundation helped to assist these women to become married. Married women have more strength in society in India than do single women. I was a little confused by all this, as in Indian culture I know it a challenge for women with such a stigma to be so easily married off. I am not trying to judge, as I only wish the best for these women, but am curious as how these arrangements were made.

None the less the women in the film are empowered with the support and guidance they are given, through means such as the arts. The film leaves us seeing these beautiful women stronger, and louder than when we first met them.

BAS in hindi means STOP, and is reflective in the message the women want to get across, that they will not take it anymore!

BAS: BEYOND THE RED LIGHT can be caught at John Dutton Theatre at 12pm on Tuesday September 28th & Friday October 1st.

Milk of Sorrow

Claudia Liosa's MILK OF SORROW (LA TETA ASUSTADA) is a beautiful story looking into the emotional distraught character Fausta, and the past of her mother she carries with her. It is believed in the village, that Fausta suffers from a illness known as "the frightened breast," which was passed on through her mother's milk after birth. While Fausta was in her mothers womb, her mother endured horrific events that led to what the locals referred to as this sickness. Fausta's mother passes, and she is faced with the task of wanting to take her mothers body back to her home land, however her debilitating fear of life and her social poverty make this task challenging one to pursue.

Magaly Solier who plays Fausta, is remarkable. We truly feel the power of the so called disease in her portrayal of Fausta. The beauty of the character and her expressive eyes often said it all, such that little dialogue was required to feel Fausta's pain. Although Fausta's presence on screen was meant to be quiet and disturbed, her inner spirit was strong like her mothers who endured much torture, and needed to be released. This film is beautiful portrayal of one's inner spirit and what drives us to make a change in our lives. Although Fausta has been fearful her whole life she learns that she can not sit passively if she wants to really live and accomplish the task she faces with her mothers body.

As a women I loved how this film looked at a risque subject matter in a very delicate manner through the pain in the eyes of Fausta's character and her journey.

Grab a friend and check out MILK OF SORROW at the John Dutton Theatre at 12:00pm on Monday September 27. If you can't make that showing don't fret, catch this beauty at an encore screening at 2:00pm on at Enmedia on Friday October 1.

Bloody Noodle Shop

Bloody Noodle Shop

By: Benjamin Ross Hayden

No need to pen this article as published by Rodrick Jaynes - The Coen Bros illusive pseudonymic persona who supposedly writes their articles and edits their film, who actually does not exist. This time, Chinese auteur director Yimou Zhang fashions A Woman, A Gun, and a Noodle Shop, an astounding remake of the Coen Brother’s 1984 classic, Blood Simple.

Zhang’s earlier works are Hero, House of Flying Daggers, and Ju Dou. These are memorable contemporary Chinese films. Zhang subverts a bygone theatrical technique for this film, Zhang states “I gave the remake a rich Chinese flavor. I also adopted the aesthetic style of the old Chinese opera piece, San Cha Kou. The result is the confinement of all the characters within the same space, each of them shifting roles with one another and making similar mistakes”.

Subverting styles and periods is a method the Coen brothers have mastered with films such as The Man Who Wasn’t There – noir films, The Hudsucker Proxy - classic Hollywood style, and Burn After Reading – the spy drama.

Zhang’s subversion – the Confuciust Operatic – offers a far eastern perspective on the Coen’s underlying postmodernist absurdist meanings. The style, when blended with the ideas in Blood Simple, creates what Zhang holds about his film that “WGNS lays bare the absurdity of life – something ironically repetitive, always beyond our control”.

The film holds twelve - and probably more - direct thematic references to Blood Simple: the gun, emphasis on the gun’s chamber, the incompetent lover, the death of the abuser, the undead resurrection of the abuser, the hesitation to kill the undead abuser, the protagonist’s death dream, the bullet/arrow holes beaming light through the walls, and also the final death blow, unseen to Zhang (also the name of the female lead), as also unseen to Abby, played by Frances McDormand in Blood Simple. Most importantly, the final shots of both films: the pipes in Blood Simple – a mechanistic symbol for redundancy of the plumbing construction, a postmodernist visual metaphor in Blood Simple, equates with the pointlessness of numerous deaths, is seemingly repositioned in Zhang’s WGNS with the psychedelic water droplets of Zhan – the corrupt policeman – his death being as a water droplet trapped inside the metaphoric pipes of existentialist redundancy that the Coens contrastingly display at the end of Blood Simple.

In Zhang’s WGNS, there is apparently a subtle homage to The Dark Knight. The hyper-anxious lead, Li, asks the dead boss, Wang, "Why So Serious?". Li speaks to the back of Wang’s dead head – being a balding head with hair along the sides, this symbol of a Clown, taken with Christopher Nolan’s and Health Ledger’s Joker character, is reminiscent of The Dark Knight. This speaks about the new breed of world-class filmmakers referencing each other’s works, showing that film is a global language of intercommunicative inspiration.

Whether be the Coens referencing past genres, to Zhang referencing Coen thematics and the global filmmaking community at large, we see a growing symbiosis of cinematic interconnectivity weaving time, experience, and location into a unity of cinematic philosophy.