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    Fantasia Film Festival 2014: Derek’s Most Anticipated Movies

    This will be my third year attending the venerable Fantasia International Film Festival here in Montreal, and this year’s slate does not disappoint. I was asked to pick the five movies I was the most excited to see. This proved to be a difficult task, seeing as how my original list had upwards of thirty titles. But here are the five that have got me the most intrigued.

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    Vincenzo Natali’s ‘Nothing’ is about the dangerous power of social structures

    If Cube (1997) was writer-director Vincenzo Natali’s crack at a gruesome, Sartre/Kafka-tinged Twilight Zone episode, then his 2003 film Nothing is his take on the Theatre of the Absurd, a stripped-down character study about two losers interacting with little more than each other and the vast emptiness of the infinite. It’s as if Waiting for Godot’s Vladimir and Estragon were farting around one day and discovered that they had the power to edit reality. It’s also a funny and ultimately warm film, the clear product of work made among friends. But as light and comic as it is, there’s plenty of pathos to go around; friendships falter when people change, making the world go away doesn’t help a lick, and even in a fantasy world where you can take yourself completely out of all systems, you can never get the systems themselves out of you.

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    ‘Cube’ is a scrappy little piece of government-funded genre weirdness

    There is such a thing as “pre-critic” movies. These are the films that had a major psychic impact on a writer or thinker way before they have even considered (or even imagined) the possibility of having cinematic sensibilities or intellectual engagement with movies as art-objects. These movies tend to be pop culture touchstones; movies like the first Star Wars film or Ghostbusters or Pulp Fiction are common ones in part because of their ubiquity. But as with all generalizations, there are always outliers and oddities. One of my pre-critic movies, which I saw as a young man of fifteen on Canadian cable on a sunny Saturday afternoon, was Vincenzo Natali’s 1997 sci-fi horror film Cube. To this day, it remains one of my very favourite films, a scrappy little piece of government-funded genre weirdness that gets by on crack direction, weird acting choices, and spectacular sound design.

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    ‘Goin’ Down the Road’ a watershed moment in Canadian national cinema

    Donald Shebib’s landmark 1970 drama Goin’ Down the Road was a watershed moment in Canadian national cinema, in part because it proved that there could be one. The very notion of a Canadian national cinema was relatively new when the film was released. Though the National Film Board (NFB) was establish in the late 1930s, it was only in the 1950s that its focus shifted from war-effort propaganda to a very specific form of national soul-searching, wondering aloud who we were and what our place in the world was. The collective attempt at pinpointing Canada’s national identity would reach a fever pitch with the Centennial just around the corner, but ended up yielding precious few concrete answers (though it wasn’t for lack of trying, as NFB-produced works like Helicopter Canada, commissioned specifically for Canada’s 100th birthday, can attest).

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    ‘Ace Attorney’ is king among game-to-movie adaptations

    I’ll come right out and say it: Takashi Miike’s Ace Attorney, based on the first entry of the popular Capcom video game series, is the single-best cinematic adaptation of a video game property of all time. Now some of the more snide readers out there will no doubt think that this a pretty low bar to clear. There’s at least a partial truth to that: the current all-time champion of video game (henceforth VG) movie critical acclaim is 2001’s Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, coming in at a cool 44% on Rotten Tomatoes (not that the RT metric is reflective of quality in any capacity, but that’s another discussion for another time). While the movie was a watershed moment from a technical standpoint (it had some of the most impressively detailed CGI in movie history up until that point), the consensus was the the film wasn’t engaging enough on an emotional level to be any good. The fact that it went way over budget and single-handedly killed off Square’s film production arm certainly didn’t help matters. As with anything, numbers don’t lie, but they don’t tell the whole truth either.

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    50 Best Films of 2014

    The-Raid-2-Berandal-Hammer-Girl-Julie-Estelle-and-Baseball-Bat-Man-Very-Tri-Yulisman

    40. Night Moves Since 2006, Kelly Reichardt has found a way to reach inside of the hearts of her audiences, plucking out strings one by one with desolate re-imaginations of the American Pacific Northwest, seen through the eyes of people not so different than ourselves. With Meek’s Cutoff, she departed from her typical genre and moved […]

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    The Field Guide to Netflix Canada: ‘A New Leaf’

    A New Leaf Written by Elaine May Directed by Elaine May USA, 1971 Fellow Canadian cinephiles know that our local version of Netflix has a terrible wheat-to-chaff ratio. The thin library, coupled with the still-not-great UI, makes it so that a disproportionately large amount of legwork has to be put into just browsing for movies. […]

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    Female-Fronted Hollywood Remakes We’d Like to See

    Lucy

    Lucy

    The calls have been heard loud and clear, both on stage and off at the Oscars or in the annals of the web and at the box office: the world demands more movies with women, about women, by women and for women.

    Every week a movie seems to be failing the Bechdel test, and every week a separate movie ends up walking away with the lion’s share at the box office. From hits like Maleficent, The Fault in Our Stars and Lucy to monster franchises like The Hunger Games, the old notion that teenage boys are the ones driving the demand at the movies is rapidly eroding. The Hollywood Reporter pointed out that Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy opened to a 44 percent female audience on the film’s opening weekend, the highest share for any Marvel movie to date.

    And although they’ve taken their sweet time, Hollywood is finally responding in the only way they know how: churning out a bunch of remakes, reboots, spinoffs and sequels with a massive price tag attached.

    Case in point, Sony is in talks with Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) to reimagine Ghostbusters with a female cast. Marvel is about to greenlight a Black Widow movie starring Scarlett Johansson just as she’s hit the hottest moment of her career. And Sylvester Stallone wants to make an Expendabelles movie starring an ass-kicking, chain smoking Sigourney Weaver.

    While we’d love for Hollywood to start coming up with some original ideas with women taking the center stage, we wouldn’t put it past them to rehash every remotely successful franchise, blockbuster or cult movie ever made with a leading lady. So in that spirit, we at Sound on Sight decided to help the studios out with a list of female-fronted remakes we’d love to see, everything from the perfectly plausible to the downright ridiculous reboot no one asked for but will get made anyway. Continue reading

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    Fantasia 2014: ‘Pouvoir intime (Blind Trust)’ is a Quebec genre gem worth rediscovery

    Pouvoir intime, or Blind Trust if you’re of the Anglo persuasion, is a film that has more or less fallen through the cracks of time. It was issued on home video once upon a time, in the long-past age known as the VHS era, and hasn’t been seen in a newer format since. Luckily, some enterprising folks at the Fantasia International Film Festival got together with the Cinémathèque québécoise and got them to dust off their 35mm print of the film. Showing these kinds of movies serves a very specific purpose: they add depth and texture to a film culture that was still figuring itself out even in the mid-80s.

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    Fantasia 2014: ‘The Zero Theorem’ undermines its satire with muddy ideology and philosophy

    Stop me if you’ve heard this one already: a low-level cog in a comically large bureaucratic environment in a grotesque-looking “future” dystopia struggles in the face of obsolescence and oblivion. The character in question is fundamentally good, but incredibly weedy, their resolve and spirit having been ground to stumps by the world around them.

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    ‘Planes: Fire and Rescue’ – poor characters, lackluster voice-acting, flimsy story, and overall cheap feel

    There’s a moment in Planes: Fire and Rescue where one of the sentient vehicles is prompted to “drop the needle.” The request is followed by a series of quick cuts: a small anthropomorphic forklift pulls out a record from its sleeve, slams in onto a turntable, and lowers the tonearm. Then, the unmistakable infinite-hammer-on riff to AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” appears on the soundtrack, accompanying a getting-ready-to-slay-a-fire montage sequence.

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