Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Films du Fleur de Lys: Jaloux

Jaloux (2010, Patrick Demers)

There are movies for which the viewer knows precisely what they shall receive by paying to see it. There are movies for which expectations are totally confounded. Then there are the more rare hybrid films, those that do indeed remain faithful to either expectations or genre conventions, yet simulate the viewer with additional layers, or take the long way around and explore different venues. By the film’s end, the audience recognizes that they go what they came for, they just didn’t expect to receive it in that type packaging. Patrick Demers’ feature film debut Jaloux, which premiered at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival (and was shot in spring of ’08, believe it or not!), refuses to succumb to all of the familiar beats of a thriller while still embracing some of its more appreciated qualities.

Monday, March 28, 2011

del Toro Time: Blade II

Blade II (2002, Guillermo del Toro)

One of the more interesting aspects of doing a marathon for which the topics surrounds a specific director’s work is that it can provide the viewer with clear patterns in said director’s vision. From stories telling cues, emotional beats to aesthetic choices, certain directors find a comfort zone and flex their movie making muscles within it. Having watched a 6th Guillermo del Toro film in the span of a month, the most noticeable trend the author has picked up on the question of identity. Oftentimes characters are forced to suffer through life as things they would rather not be, reduced to lurking in shadows because regular people would never accept who they are. Despite their best efforts, they will not ever be a member of the outside world. Blade II is just one of those movies, although this del Toro movie has a nasty bite to it.

Friday, March 25, 2011

del Toro Time: Mimic

Mimic (1997, Guillermo del Toro)

Many internationally acclaimed directors have been tempted by fame and the grandiose stature of Hollywood. Some even made attempts at trying their craft within the legendary studio system. Alas, as talented, original and creative as some of these minds may have been, most discovered that the greener pastures were in fact back home, or at least not in Hollywood. Unlike most, Guillermo del Toro has succeeded where others have failed in trying to produce work that truly resonated with mainstream audiences in North America. One need only think of Blade II and the Hellboy franchise. What one needs to understand is that those successes were attained during the director’s second stint in Hollywood. The movie he made during his first séjour was Mimic. After watching that movie, it was clear to me why he opted to return to Spanish-language cinema as well as more creative control with The Devil’s Backbone.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Far East Specials: Memories of Murder

Memories of Murder (2003, Bong Joon-ho)

Between the Seats prides itself in offering readers concise, intelligent and articulate movies reviews in as professional a tone as possible given that we are not, in truth, professionals. Every now and then our crack team of avid movie watchers stumbles upon a film that serves up such an immediate impact that, for lack of a better term, a ‘geekiness’ kicks in and we go bananas. Since the inception of the Far East Specials column, a few modern Korean films have been examined (I Saw the Devil made us a bit loopy as well), giving readers an idea of what genre films are emerging from that country’s startlingly audacious movie industry. Intellectualism be damned. Haughty taught personality, we don’t need that here today. Screw that shit. I just watched Memories of Murder.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Films du Fleur de Lys: La vérité

La vérité/Guilt (2011, Marc Bisaillon)

It is preferable for one to lie about one’s accidental sins and continue living a happy life or incur the risk punishment by facing the cold, hard facts? What if one knows perfectly well that the sin was unintentional, the result of one’s miscalculations as opposed to any ill intent? The problematic nature of the dilemma thickens considerably if the sin in question involves the death of an innocent. Such is the mounting pressure that weighs down on Gabriel’s (Pierre-Luc Lafontaine) mind and heart as he struggles to get through everyday teenage life following a nightmarish accident that leads to an elderly man’s death one night after getting drunk with his best friend Yves (Émile Mailhiot). Neither chooses to confess just yet. Yves, the brasher member of the duo, succeeds in living on with his life, but Gabriel, more shy and honest, feels the guilt choking him as days turn into weeks and weeks become months. Marc Bisaillon, another small Québec director who ventures into challenging psychological territory with his stories and characters, develops this themes of guilt and truth until they inevitably crash together.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Western Marathon: Order of the films

Hello readers,

 The Burns brothers trio from The Proposition (2006, John Hillcoat)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Films du Fleur de Lys: Les amours imaginaires

Les amours imaginaires/Heartbeats (2010, Xavier Dolan)

One of Québec’s rising stars in the field of cinema is Xavier Dolan. He has not even reached his twenties yet, but already he has had two major critical successes released in the province in back to back years, What’s more, his feature film debut, J’ai tué ma mère (I Killed my Mother), was adored at the 2009 Cannes film festival. What more could a young up and coming writer-director ask for? With knowledge that he is currently working on a third film, Laurence Anyways, one could even consider him to be ‘prolific,’ despite that he remains rather green in movie world. For his sophomore effort, Les amours imaginaires , Dolan returns to some thematic material explored in his previous feature. Suppressed emotions characters wrestle with for too long until it becomes too late as well as love-hate relationships that spring from the simplest yet also most complicated of things are a lot of what drives the stories Dolan shares. There is also the small matter of 'tough love.'

Thursday, March 17, 2011

del Toro Time: Pan's Labyrinth

El Laberinto del Fauno/Pan’s Labyrinth (2006, Guillermo del Toro)

Fairy tales and other stories about the fantastic have frequently been used throughout human history to better understand the way the world functions. The natural laws of physics, astronomy, human behaviour and traditions, morality lessons, all these and more have been given the some sort of fairy or sci-fi treatment. Such tactics are still employed till this day when explaining certain things to children. Before they have a better grasp on the events that shape their universe, we often help them relate to the world through stories. Such is the way little Ofelia (Ivana Baquero)  sees the trees, bugs and shadows of the Spanish countryside in Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth. The story is set in 1944, and young Ofelia is living under the auspices of her sick and pregnant mother Carmen (Ariadna Gil) and her stepfather, the terrifyingly intimidating Vidal (Sergi López), Captain for the Spanish army under the fascist government, which was in the midst of a civil war with rebels. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Another marathon coming soon...

Hello readers,

I have another project in mind, one that will be larger than the regular marathons which only last anywhere from 3-6 films. No, this is something that will resemble the Homemade Summer Movie marathon from last year, which lasted a good few months (although there is nothing wrong with doing another one of those). It's more specific than just random action movies. In fact, the films will be from one studio in particular. The details haven't been ironed out yet, but it should be a lot of fun if you're in to this sort if thing...

review: 127 Hours

127 Hours (2010, Danny Boyle)

It is difficult to pinpoint what sort of director Danny Boyle is. The characters of his movies frequently get into loads of trouble and are therefore forced to find unusual ways to return to safety (by re-igniting the sun, by becoming a contestant in a game show), but that isn’t necessarily a running theme. Claiming Boyle to be a ‘director for hire’ is just as inaccurate. His films may feel very different from one another, but the director always succeeds in giving the audience a little bit more than what they expected. That is the sign of a unique talent. One does not know what exactly to expect from the director, but by the film’s end, one is neither surprised to learn that it was ‘directed by Danny Boyle.’ Boyle may have accomplished his greatest coup to date. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

del Toro Time: Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008, Guillermo del Toro)

It was time for a bigger budget. More action, more special effects, more monsters, more characters, more of everything people loved about 2004’s Hellboy. Guillermo del Toro would once again serve as screenwriter with the aid of Hellboy’s father, Mike Mignola, but this time he would be aided by all the prosthetics, makeup and computer wizardry money could buy. Much of what made the original installment such a wonderfully coloured comic book film was not merely del Toro's visual flourishes. It was equally the director’s understanding of Hellboy’s nature and of his uncomfortable, emotionally compromising place in the world he inhabited. Would del Toro continue to explore this venue or would this potentially great franchise suffer from the dangerous ‘overstayed welcome’ syndrome so many sequels are afflicted with?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

New Joint Marathon: Westerns. Sunday, April 3rd

You’ve read us dissect the Star Wars franchise like a couple of manic fanboys. Then you witnessed our valiant battle through the thick, dangerous jungles alongside John Rambo. Now join Bill from his Movie Emporium and I as we stand off against some of the slimiest, dirtiest foes from the wild, wild west…and possibly against each other! 

Far East Specials: An Empress and the Warriors

An Empress and the Warriors (2008, Tony Ching Siu-Tung)

There are only so many action adventure epics that feature a woman in the starring role, particularly those whose stories transpire in the past. For long stretches of human history, women have been relegated to third and fourth string roles in power politics. Military campaigns? Forget it. The empowerment of women on the international stage is a recent phenomenon, which partly explains why, in film, period epics frequently fail to highlight female characters.  Tony Ching Siu-Tung’s gloriously decorated An Empress and the Warriors tries to play ball with a female lead, the beautiful Kelly Chin from the Infernal Affairs films, who, as an empress, has at her command legions of armed men to protect her kingdom after the mysterious murder of her father. Even when a movie legitimately tries to empower a female character, there are always some forces pulling the weight of her depth back down to stereotypes. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

del Toro Time: Hellboy

Hellboy (2004, Guillermo del Toro)

‘Give Evil Hell’

The tag line quoted above graced the theatrical trailers of 2004’s Hellboy. Heavily marketed and highly anticipated, it was a dream collaboration between a filmmaker and a comic book artist who both showed unabashed love for marvellous and terrifying creatures. The director, of course, was Guillermo del Toro and the comic artist-writer was Mike Mignolia. Fantasy action fans geared up to rejoice in what promised to be one hell of a good time. The tag line was suitably chosen play of words. The ‘Hell’ in question is one of the more unique anti-superhero creations to emerge from the world of graphic novels, a man-sized demon straight from the underworld, but rather than wreaking havoc on humanity, he is trained to protect us from havoc. Guillermo del Toro’s understanding of the character goes far beyond what the adrenaline induced tag line has in mind. Despite appearances, Hellboy represents qualities human beings should convey but often fail to.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Review: Des hommes et des dieux/Of Gods and Men

Des hommes et des dieux/Of Gods and Men (2010, Xavier Beauvois)

In this day and age of great tension between cultures which dominate the western world and those that flourish in the Arab world (a silly term, if you ask me. Do I live in the ‘White world’?...), it seems reasonable to explore the depths, points of contention, and complexities which make up this rivalry. The historical wrongdoings perpetrated by a number of European states would be a decent place to start. I stress the word ‘states’ here and avoid the term ‘nations’ or ‘people’ because I do not think those would apply entirely. Ethnocentrism could be another. There can be hundreds of reasons, and in the worst case scenarios, they drive blind hatred. Hate on one side, hate on both sides. When certain people gain the means to express said hatred and put their words into actions, that is when the situations becomes dangerous.