Thursday, March 10, 2011

Not JUST Another Year

This week, Director Mike Leigh (Happy-Go-Lucky, Vera Drake, Topsy-Turvy) brings us the incisive Another Year. Leigh delicately crafts a witty, yet tragic, and fascinating portrait of ordinary people. The people feel real and recognizable as British middle class. The main couple, Gerri and Tom, played beautifully by Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen, is masterful. Their relationships with flighty Mary, ill-mannered Ken, and bereaved Ronnie demonstrate the couple’s good hearted natures. Their marriage is the envy of most of their friends and they are quietly grateful.
Time passes with the seasons during the film, shot in tandem to Tom and Gerri working in their vegetable garden. But things get awkward when Mary flirts and prods Joe, Tom and Gerri’s 30-year old son, for a date and is visibly upset when he brings home a girlfriend that the family adores. This interrupts the otherwise placid life of happily married couple. Love and loneliness are depicted equally in this revealing film of human truths. The cozy contentment of Tom and Gerri’s long lasting marriage is precisely contrasted to the troubled group.  Similar to Sophia Coppola’s Somewhere, this film may move slow but tells a rich story of humanity.

There is no screening for March 16 because of March Break.

BUFS returns on March 23 with the Canadian film Small Town Murder Songs. the film follows a violent crime that shakes up life in a small Mennonite town in Ontario, especially for a cop with a past. The film stars Peter Stormare, Martha Plimpton and Jill Hennessy.
March 30 will be Barney's Version, starring Paul Giamatti based on the novel by Canadian author, Mordecai Richler.
Followed by the recent adaptation of Jane Eyre by Cary Fukunaga on April 6.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Wallop from The Way Back

The Way Back, Peter Weir’s first film since Master and Commander in 2003, is an effortlessly inspirational film. Allegedly the film is based on a true story; however its veracity is disputed. Nonetheless, the film depicts a beautiful story of survival and the value of freedom. The Way Back is a about a group of rough men who escape from a Stalinist gulag in 1941 to travel thousands of miles out of Serbia to India. The determined group encounters blizzards, dust storms, mountains, deserts and a young Russian orphan along the way. Weir’s depiction is not in the least bit Hallmark-like. According to Mick LaSalle of The San Francisco Chronicle, “Weir instills emotion in the audience, not by showing emotion, but by showing action and by holding emotion in check.”
Regardless of whether these exact events took place, during World War II other Poles undertook difficult journeys attempting to leave the Soviet Union. Accounts of their escapes can be found in the archives of the Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum in London, England, and in the Hoover Institute, Stanford University, in California, in addition to other reasonably verifiable escapee autobiographies printed in English. The Way Back is meant to inspire and demonstrate the true triumph of the human spirit.

Check out the Trailer: The Way Back

Next is Mike Leigh's Film Another Year on March 9.

Violent Blue Valentine

I don’t mean physically, but Blue Valentine, last week’s BUFS film, tears at heartstrings. The film is about a young married couple, Dean and Cindy, whose relationship is tragically falling apart. The young couple, played by Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, fall innocently in love, but get lost along the way. Director and Co-writer, Derek Cianfrance beautifully depicts a painful but tender understanding of the demons that accompany falling in love. Ryan’s woundedness is heartbreaking. Michelle’s solemnness evokes our ability to relate to her choices and feelings. We fall in love just as easily as Dean and Cindy do; we melt with them; and we feel torn with them.
            Now, we can’t avoid the issue of the film’s rating. There was much controversy over the NC-17-rating the film initially received for its depiction of oral sex. However, The Weinstein Company appealed the decision and the film received an R-rating (18A in Canada). Personally, I agree with the R-rating because the scene was not pornographic or explicit. Additionally, films like Black Swan and Forgetting Sarah Marshall did not receive NC-17-ratings for their oral sex scenes. The ratings of such films are very important because they determine the size of the audience the film will reach, since many theatres won’t play films with NC-17 ratings. The rating dispute raised questions about sexism in the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

Check out the Trailer at: Blue Valentine

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Got the Post-Oscar blues?

Come check out student talent at Brock's 24-Hour Film Festival happening tomorrow!
Students had 24 hours to make a film based on a mystery topic. These films will be screened in Academic South 202 at Brock University on Thursday March 3 at 7 p.m. Judges will determine first, second and third place winners in addition to an audience choice award.

Admission is $2 which includes a ticket in the draw for the $50 Audience award.

For more information, visit us on Facebook: 24-Hour Film Festival

BUFS Schedule

Thanks for your interest everyone!
For the complete show listing for BUFS visit:
Tickets are $10 for everyone. Passes are also available.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Simple Somewhere

Last week’s film was Sophia Coppola’s Somewhere starring Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning. Somewhere follows hot actor Johnny Marco (Dorff) through his existential journey while he lives at the The Chateau Marmont, a well-known retreat for Hollywood celebrities.
The film takes on a similar theme of success and isolation found in Sophia’s films. Her three most popular films, The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette, portray a boredom of the characters in their quest for self-definition. Similarly, we see the maturation of Johnny when his 11-year-old daughter comes to stay with him for a while. Johnny realizes after his daughter leaves that she was the only tether he had to anything real.
Sophia depicts Johnny as a working actor, but not on set. She is familiar with the everyday tasks of the rich and aimless, having grown up around it (her father is famed director, Francis Ford Coppola). The film is said to be inspired by Federico Fellini’s Toby Dammit as well as real life events. The simplicity of the film allows the audience to relax and observe with no expectations. It follows Sophia’s trend of “Don’t tell, show”, a skill lacking in some of our generation’s directors. Her patience of visual style and affinity for minimalist filmmaking provide a fresh change from other films about Hollywood (and the drama we see unfold in the media).  

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Inventive Incendies

This film follows the children of Nawal Marwan on their quest to discover the truth about their mother. At the request of their deceased mother, adult twins, Jeanne and Simon, travel the Middle East to find the father they thought was dead and a brother they didn’t know existed. Canadian Director, Denis Villeneuve, who brought us the film Polytechnique, tells another violent story of trauma and reconciliation. The title “inendies” is loosely translated to “scorched”. Villeneuve refers to this as the inferno that leaves “something totally destroyed, totally transformed…destruction that you cannot change afterwards.” Jeanne’s journey reveals her mother’s dark history pushing the narrative to an end that echoes the devastation of religious conflict. This film challenges discourses of organized religion with its grotesque depiction of unwarranted deaths. The innocent lives transformed over a belief system encourage the audience to reflect on structured religion. This type of film is another provocative investigation of history and culture that is exclusive to audiences of film series like BUFS. I encourage film patrons to seek out such confrontational films.

Check out the trailer at: Incendies

Thursday, February 10, 2011

It's Kind of a revealing story...

It was another mediocre turnout at BUFS last week. The inclement weather deterred many patrons, but there was a larger number of students as expected.
The film, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, chronicles one depressed teenager’s (Craig) week in an adult psychiatric ward. The film is based on the novel by Ned Vizzini. It is a touching and humourous story of struggles and life discovery. With a surprising and sentimental performance by funny-man Zack Galifianakis (Bobby), this film demonstrates the power of friendship and communication. As Mick Lasalle of The San Francisco Chronicle eloquently states, “The movie taps into a curious truth about life and particular variety of relationship that exists in the world but that’s rarely if ever depicted in movies: There’s a special mentoring bond that can sometimes develop between a thoroughly screwed-up adult and a slightly less screwed-up teenager.” The bond between Craig and Bobby is unconventional but helps Craig look at himself and his future clearly and with less anxiety.
The film seems random at first but eventually becomes familiar and comfortable for the audience. It’s not your typical Hollywood film. It draws you in with its humanness. I wonder if the same can be said for the recent release of The Roommate, which will likely draw a large youth audience.

Mediocre Marwencol and Steady The King's Speech

Last week’s BUFS screening was Jeff Malmberg’s documentary entitled Marwencol ( The film tells the tragic, yet inspiring, story of Mark Hogancamp. After being brutally attacked and beaten by 5 men in 2000, Mark suffered severe head injuries causing him to lose all of his memories. Mark turned to an unconventional type of therapy. He built a small model town, Marwencol, for his dolls to tell his story. Mark’s story is retold through his alter ego soldier that crash lands and hides in the small Belgian town from 5 SS soldiers. He illustrates his story through his photography.
This film’s realism is chilling. Through Mark’s lens, his dolls were as real to us as they were to him. Mark’s fantasy photography was not only therapy for him but became an attraction when displayed at a New York art Gallery. This uniquely compassionate film depicts Mark and all of his idiosyncrasies as an example of how our communities and creative spirit can save our lives.
Unfortunately, there was only a mediocre turn out for this film. On the other hand, The King’s Speech is continuously doing well at Empire theatres. I believe this is due to Oscar buzz and word of mouth. The King’s Speech is a remarkable film depicting powerful story of human emotion and courage. I recommend catching it before it leaves the theatre and keep your eye out for the release of Marwencol.
            Tomorrow’s film is It’s Kind of a Funny Story. Check it out!

Greetings fellow movie lovers!

I’ve started this blog because of my love for movies. With passion and a background in Popular Culture from Brock University, I hope to introduce you to some not-so-famous films as well as some popular blockbuster or award winning films. From a young age I developed an affection for films that can enlighten, inspire, frighten or change us, as well as make us think, laugh and cry. Films have a way of allowing us to escape our lives or help us to understand them. They can tell realistic or fantastical stories of strength, redemption, pain, and compassion. I wanted to write this blog so people would know there is more out there than just what is released in major theatres. I want people to experience more than just Blockbusters and Oscar films.
I am not a film critic or a film theorist; I am simply a lover of film and what it can do for an audience. My job at Empire Theatres and volunteer work with Brock University Film Series (BUFS) simply allow me to observe and report on a variety of films.