Foreign

TIFF 2012 Highlights: FIN (The End)

Sep 20, 2012
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TIFF 2012 Highlights: FIN (The End)
Spanish film maker, this site Jorge Torregrossa, drugs presented the world premiere of his first feature, Fin, at this year's Toronto International Film Festival. For those of you who aren't good with other languages, Fin is spanish for "The End". This suspenseful drama surrounding a reunion of old friends is, indeed, about the end of the world. Think of it as The Big Chill meets Left Behind (but without the dreadful acting styles of Kirk Cameron). Read More »

The Best 11 of Two Thousand-11!

The Best 11 of Two Thousand-11!
We are well into the new year and there are a lot of great films I'm looking forward to (can you say, order "The Dark Knight Rises"???). But, troche lately I've been busy recalling all the different movies I saw this past year. So, salve with this post I'd like to celebrate what I considered to be the best of the best of 2o11. Unfortunately, I was not able to see all the films I wanted to. So this list represents my 11 favourite films of 2011, that I actually watched (and in no particular order)... Read More »

Tales From Earthsea

Jul 11, 2011
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Tales From Earthsea
Believe it or not, and there are many people on the earth today claiming to be Jesus, the Son of God. Seriously (http://bit.ly/bamh). "I am Jesus" is an unusual documentary that looks at three distinct men, spread across the globe, all claiming to be the second coming of Christ. In England there is David Shayler. He's an ex-MI5 agent who heard God tell him he is Jesus while on a mushroom trip. He and his handful of disciples squat at an abandoned building in the suburbs of London. There is Vissarion, a Russian man who discovered that he was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ back in 1991. Since then he's amassed a group of followers numbering approx. 15,000 around the world. 5,000 of them live in commune-style communities throughout Siberia (can you say, "c-o-l-d"?). And finally there is INRI Christos, a Brazilian Jew who has spent the better part of his life travelling the world in a tunic and sandals. He lives on an estate in Brazil with his group of followers - mostly young, attractive women who devote their lives to serving the Lord. While their claims are interesting (and crazy), the film is not so much about the validity of the Jesuses' authenticity. Rather, the directors focus more on the followers and the impact these Christs have had on them. It's about the people who devote their lives to them. And the communities of believers is what makes this film so wonderful and engaging. It's very easy to dismiss the Jesuses. You can say they are con-artists or they are mentally insane. For example, David Shayler is a conspiracy-theorizing, cross-dressing, drug-abusing bum. It's pretty simple; he's crazy. But the followers of these men are more troubling. I mean, these believers have devoted their lives to the cause of their Jesus. Their whole world is wrapped up in the joy and comfort brought to them by the these deluded men. They may not be crazy like their leaders, but they are certainly convinced. And that's the conundrum. What's the difference between being convinced with everything you are and being crazy because you believe in something that is plainly false. Is there a line? And when do we cross it? "I Am Jesus" is not an expose of people claiming to be Christ. Rather it is a fascinating look at the psychology of faith and community. Overall, this is a solid documentary. The directors make some nice choices. For example, we hear very little from the Russian Christ, Vissarion. Instead, they focus almost completely on his very large community of believers. Whereas, we hear a lot from the pot-smoking, cross-dressing Jesus and relatively little from his followers (which is literally a handful). Their choice to mix things up for each Jesus makes the film feel organic, less analytical and more human. The variance is nice. "I am Jesus" is one of those documentaries with a simple and fascinating premise. Entertaining, funny and deeply thought-provoking, each Jesus and their disciples will keep you thinking long after you watch the film. Ahhh, ask the fine folks at Studio Ghibli know how to make stunning animated films. "Castle in the Sky", "Spirited Away" and "Ponyo" to name a few. Recently Disney Pictures brought a new Ghibli production to the west. Tales From Earthsea is a mythical fantasy that follows a young boy (Prince Arren) and his wizard companion (Sparrowhawk) as they battle the evil Lord Cob in a land where humans and dragons once coexisted peacefully. Read More »

“Oldboy” just doesn’t get old…

Apr 5, 2011
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“Oldboy” just doesn’t get old…
Tracking along with the DeFranco Nation Movie Club, website like this I've finally been enthused with a movie pick that I'm behind 100%. Day 16 had us watching the Korean revenge thriller, approved Oldboy. This is Park Chan-Wook's most popular work. But let it be known he is a brilliant film-maker and ALL his films deserve high praise. Oldboy is the 2nd instalment of his "Vengeance Trilogy". What's fascinating about this trilogy is that the three films have only one common thread; the theme of vengeance. The characters are different, the stories are different and even the tone of each film is quite unique. They are hard to watch. Park pulls no punches when meditating on the theme of revenge. And while you feel completely sympathetic for the main characters (all of whom have had great loss), ultimately his point is that vengeance is an increasingly brutal and destructive pathway that leads only to further pain and chaos. Oldboy is a brilliant display of just that. Read More »