Wednesday, August 31, 2011

FFM Montréal 2011: Vucut

Vücut/Body (2011, Mustafa Nuri)

What your body means to you and what it means to those around you may be entirely different ideas. Each party will influence one another to a degree, but whose influence shall carry over more, yours, or that of the public? Beware if the pressure of the latter group gains the upper hand, for suddenly your life may be lived not under the conditions you want, but under societal pressures. But where exactly are the boundaries of this pressure and how can one overcome it? It is even possible? The more important question remains: do you respect yourself enough just the way you are? Turkish director Mustafa Nuri unabashedly dives into the delicate, sensitive issue of self image in some provocative ways for his directorial debut, Vucut, which played at the FFM in Montréal.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Definitive Bond Marathon: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

(Directed by Lewis Gilbert)
Even during a period of détente between the British and Russians, evil lurked in the shadows and posed a threat to the entire world. Following the at first unexplained disappearance of British and Soviet war submarines, 007 (Roger Moore) was called upon to search for a highly sophisticated submarine tracking mechanism, whose plans, stored on microfilm, were apparently located in Egypt. It was there that he made the acquaintance of a Russian secret just as cunning and capable as himself, Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach), aka agent XXX, who was also hot on the trail for the tracking system plans. There time in Egypt was almost cut short when whereupon discovering one of the oddest yet most powerful assassins ever, a behemoth named Jaws (Richard Kiel) equipped with steel teeth. 

Bond and Amasova opted to form a truce for the sake of both their countries, and were aided by additional intelligence which pinpointed to a certain Karl Stromberg (Curd Jürgens), sea life scientist and mastermind behind the impressive Atlantis underwater facility where he performed research, or so he claimed. It was almost too late when 007 and agent XXX became privy to the true nature of Stromberg’s intentions, which involved launching nuclear missiles from his base of operations onto the cities of Moscow and New York, thus propelling those nations into nuclear war and endangering the entire world. Man, the most destructive animal ever to walk the planet, would be dead, with Stromberg living in peace in the aftermath with a newly created civilization. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Blogging Around

Hello readers,

It's that time of year again! Yup, the weekend I loath the most in the entire year: the final one of August. Can summer not stick around just a little longer? I guess not...

It isn't all bad, mind you. The autumn movie season is fast approaching and will truly be in full swing in just a couple weeks (I say a couple because that lineup for next weekend, Sept 2nd,  looks horrendous) and there are some brilliant festivals occurring over the next few months to keep things pretty hot, and there ain't much hotter than Between the Seats right now!

But today is not about us. Nay, it occurred to us yesterday the previous Blogging Around column dates back quite a while, so it's high time were some paid some dues and respect to fellow film bloggers for their hard work. None of us get paid, but we love it anyways, and, more importantly,  Between the Seats loves you:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

FFM Montréal 2011: Brutal Box

Brutal Box (2011, Oscar Rojo)

You can find just about anything on the world-wide internet these days. The eventual and logical result  of this direct access to this near limitless amount information  is that business can be done just as easily on via the web as it ever could traditionally when people had to actually plan meetings and physically relocate themselves to close deals. The savvier money makers know full well that a buck can be made off just any number of perceptively useful and useless products, and while some products are in fact useless, others which can produce impressive profits are quite disturbing. Brutal Box offers viewers a glimpse into the commerce side of the internet’s darker alleyways, like videos of people going on hunger strikes or hoodlums prancing around city streets and picking unsuspecting victims to rob and beat up. It is commerce derived from one of our most embarrassing traits: out fascination with morbidity.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

FFM Montréal 2011: Figli delle Stella

Figli delle Stelle/Unlikely Revolutionaries (2010, Lucio Pelligrini)

Given the political climate in Italy right, what with the Berlusconi government constantly receiving the brunt of criticism for its rampant corruption with non-other than Berlusconi himself at the center of attention for all the wrong reasons, the fact that a director would choose to create a film about a gang of local newbie criminals who kidnap a an Italian politician and hold in for ransom may come as a surprise. Politics is an especially ferocious, passionate and controversial sport in Italy, making the choice to film Figli delle Stelle may be seen as a bold one. However, there are a number of significant aspects to the film that can help sway any negative opinion, namely that is sold as a comedy, therefore proposing a more light-hearted view on the political existing political tension. Then again, some will surely decry that politics and kidnapping are no laughing matter, so who knows.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Definitive Bond Marathon: The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)

(directed by Guy Hamilton)

When one rescues the entire world as many times as agent 007 (Roger Moore) had, word gets about. His reputation, as a hero, but more importantly as one of the world’s greatest marksmen, earned him a dubious reputation among some less than enthralling personalities, chief among them Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) a world renowned assassin. 007’s adventure began on the day MI6 received a single golden bullet with Bond’s number engraved in the material, a clear sign that the mysterious Scaramanga wanted to challenge Bond in a duel to the death. M (Bernard Lee) subtly advised Bond to drop his current investigation of a missing solar energy conductor device and put an end to whatever personal business he had with the ruthless killer.

Bond’s globetrotting for clues, which took him from Beirut to Macao, Hong Kong and finally Bangkok, led him on the trail to not only Scaramanga, but also to a realization: that the man with the golden gun had a significant role to play in the search for the solar energy machine (baptised the Soles Agitator). He and a Hong Kong magnate named Hai Phat (Richard Loo) were in cahoots to steal the device. Bond, making use of his...several talents, seduced Scaramanga current lover, Andrea (Maud Adams), into helping discover the true nature of Scaramanga’s plan, which involved keeping the Solex Agitator for himself on a private island in Chinese waters where a dangerous new weapon was being devised. Fellow MI6 agent Mary Goodnight (Britt Ekland) even helped along the way.

Friday, August 19, 2011

FFM Montréal 2011: Aadukalam

Aadukalam/ Arena (2010, Vetrimaran)

Winner of several major awards at India’s National Film Awards in May of this year, such as Best Director and Best Actor, it goes without saying Vetrimaran’s opus of ambition and hardship in the world of rooster fighting, Aadukalam,  was a major success in its native country. Movies such as these are the reason why attending events such as the Festival des films du monde is not only entertaining, but also an eye opening experience at times. If someone came up to me and said they wished to make an epic and emotionally complex tale rooted in the underground sport of cock fights, I would perhaps wish them good luck in their endeavour but want no part of such a project with such a far-fetched premise.  Then that same person would explain to me that such an activity is in fact a very important deal, culturally speaking, in many areas around the globe, namely India. That is when my interest peaks.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fantasia 2011 Feedback: Final feedback

Today is Wednesday August 17th and the Fantasia Film Festival came to a close an Sunday August 7th, a full 10 days ago, so why still write about it? The answer is simple. Despite producing 10 full length reviews for films Between the Seats attended, there remain some gems that deserve mention. Consider the following as a ‘Capsule reviews’ column, but reserved for some final thoughts on films which received either world, Canadian, or Québec  premiers at Fantasia this past summer. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Definitive Bond Marathon: Live and Let Die (1973)

(Directed by Guy Hamilton)

Following numerous titanic entanglements with SPECTRE and its chief operator, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, a long hidden enemy slowly emerged from the shadows: illegal drug exports. MI6 agents and contacts in New Orleans, at the United Nations in New York and on the small, staunchly independent Caribbean island of San Monique were killed in rapid succession, and company intelligence indicated that the acts were connected. 007 (Roger Moore) began his investigation in New York with CIA agent Felix Leiter (David Hedison) by attempting to find out more about Dr. Kananga (Yaphet Kotto), Prime Minister of San Monique and his Harlem based associate, Mr. Big.

During Bond’s first close encounter with Big in Harlem, he made the acquaintance of the Kananga’s personal tarot card reader, the magnificent if somewhat cold Solitaire (Jayne Seymour).  Bond thankfully escaped capture, but it a trip to San Monique was required in order to better comprehend what kept the Kananga-Big connection strong and why MI6 agents who had gotten too close for comfort had been liquidated. It was there, while trying to break Solitaire free from Kananga’s clutches, that he discovered what really drove the larger than life man’s interesting in U.S. gangster: heroine, and a plan to completely take over the market all over the United States.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Festival des films du monde 2011 and more

With one major Montréal film festival over (Fantasia), it's time to ready ourselves for another. This time, it's an event that promises more 'normal' films, the Festival des films du monde de Montréal, which runs from Thursday August 18th to Sunday August 28th 2011.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fantasia 2011 Feedback: Marianne

Marianne (2011, Filip Tegstedt)

Some of the best horror stories are those which succeed in exploring the inner complexities of mankind.  They not only serve the more immediate purpose of entertaining the viewer, but equally help explore and possibly remind ourselves of what we are. In other words, they serve as a mirror into ourselves and can simplify, to a degree, our fears and anxieties. First time writer-director Swedish director Filip Tegstedt takes his own stab at the ghost story genre with his debut Marianne, which premiered at the Fantasia film festival earlier this summer. Focussing on serious family drama and the supernatural, it was one the event’s most eagerly anticipated films, largely in part because of the masterful poster artwork (see above) which graced the hall where the festival box office was located at Concordia university.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fantasia 2011 Feedback: The Haunters

The Haunters (2011, Kim Min-suk)

After the onslaught of huge, mass-audience friendly superhero films cluttering the silver screen for over a decade, audiences have recently witnessed the arrival of a few off-kilter movies which tackled the issue of super heroism in a different light. Mathew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass and James Gunn’s Super were both grittier, meaner and never shied away from showing some things that would happen if masked avengers got into constant brawls with gangsters: people lose a lot of blood and possibly die. Now comes a Korean film from writer-director Kim Min-suk, who also helped pen The Good, the Bad, the Weird (check out the Shootout at High Noon marathon!), whose directorial debut, The Haunters, ups the ante by adding actual super powers to the mix of violence and destruction.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Definitive Bond Marathon: Diamonds are Forever (1971)

(Directed by Guy Hamilton)
Bond (Sean Connery) returns after some time off from government duty which, while hardly relaxing, was nonetheless ‘most satisfying.’ He and M (Bernard Lee) are invited to discuss with the representative of a significant British diamond mining company operating in South Africa, a Commonwealth country. It appears that the precious jewels are being smuggled by larger portions than ever before, and 007 is tasked with investigating the how and the why. His investigation leads him to Amsterdam and a well known smuggler, Peter Franks, whom he kills and impersonates, as well Franks’ American accomplice, the street wise and sexy Tiffany Case (Jill St. John).

The mysterious diamond trail takes them to one of the most popular and bloated cities in the United States: Las Vegas, As the clues begin to fall into place, 007 discover that rather facing a new foe, the perpetrator behind the smuggling is in fact the nightmarishly familiar figure of Ernst Stavro Blofeld (James Gray), who is using the most state of the art technology by harnessing the potential of the diamonds into a laser satellite powerful enough to destroy the world...

Friday, August 5, 2011

Capsule reviews: Rise of the Apes, Cowboys and Aliens, Capt. America

While Fantasia 2011 has taken up much of the movie watching free time I’ve had over the past 3 weeks, Between the Seats succeeded, against what we like to consider impossible odds, to squeeze some summer movie blockbusters. Here are some brief thoughts on said films.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fantasia 2011 Feedback: The Whisperer in Darkness

The Whisperer In Darkness (2011, Sean Branney)

Stories of otherworldly creatures with seemingly god-like powers that came to Earth were a speciality of famed science-fiction author H.P. Lovecraft. Few films, successful ones at the very least, have been translated to the silver screen. Unbeknownst to me was the existence of a H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society who adapted the author’s work into a screenplay and subsequently developed a short film in 2005 titled The Call of the Cthulhu, the Cthuhlu being one of the more popular of Lovecraft’s strange creations. Cast and crew members of the aforementioned picture, like actor Matt Foyer and writer-director Sean Branney joined creative forces several years later in preparation of another Lovecraft-inspired film, this time a feature length one, called The Whisperer in Darkness, which played at Fantasia last week.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Fantasia 2011 Feedback: El Sol

El Sol (2010, Ayar Blasco)
*Warning: The following review contains foul language.

Pixar, Disney, Dreamworks, those are the names of but some of the studios which create the world’s most well known and beloved feature-length animation pictures. Each individual studio releases one or possibly multiple films per year, to the delight of not only families who enjoy each subsequent zany, heartfelt adventure. The world of animated films however is arguably the trickiest in which one can find interesting, non-mainstream fare. The sheer dominance of the studios mentioned above goes a long way in explaining exactly why many animated films not emanating from huge studios go entirely unnoticed with very few exceptions (one thinks of last year’s Secret of the Kells). Festivals can be a prime venue to discover new, unknown talents in the genre. Such was the case last week with a screening of an incredibly quirky, audacious and unabashedly vulgar little movie called El Sol (The Sun), from Argentinean director Ayar Blasco.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Blog update

Hello readers!

First and foremost, I want to take a couple minutes to apologize for the weird delay in updates that occurred from about Thursday July 21st to Wednesday July 27th. I had a sneaking suspicion the work load was going to increase over the course of the weekend (case in point: I almost never work Sundays and yet did on the 24th). Not to mention that they were long, long days, so watching movies and certainly writing about them quickly was out of the question.Thanks for still visiting during that stretch though. Much appreciated!