REVIEW The scariest movie of 2008 so far is, quite possibly, Dorothy Fadiman's Stealing America: Vote by Vote, a stomach-turning look at election irregularities that stretch back as far as 1996, with a special emphasis on the über-fishy goings-on in Ohio circa 2004. Read more »
It's over! Well, for me, anyway -- the festival rolls on through the weekend, but tomorrow I'll be jetting back to SF, watching edited-for-content episodes of The Wire on Air Canada's seatback television. I only had one spontaneous celebrity sighting (Wyclef, scampering into an SUV outside his hotel as I plodded past in search of breakfast this morning). But I did see some enjoyable movies these last two days, plus a few feh offerings.
While San Francisco was having some of its nicest weather of the year, it rained in Toronto. Fortunately, my chief focus was indoors, in the dark, so it didn't matter, really -- soggy socks be damned. I made it to JCVD, Belgian director Mabrouk El Mechri's surprisingly dignified tribute to Jean-Claude Van Damme, and probably my most-anticipated movie of the 2008 festival. Read more »
If you ask me, there's no better way to start your Toronto International Film Festival experience than with a film that contains a money shot revolving around a shredded set of intestines. Ohhh yeah, I knew the France-UK-Belgium co-production Vinyan was gonna be intense when I noted the director, Fabrice Du Welz, had also helmed 2004's Calvaire -- one of those don't-get-off-the-main-road horror flicks that rang more depraved than most. Read more »
Best known for her career as a documentarian (she won an Oscar for 1997's Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O'Brien), Jessica Yu makes her narrative feature debut with Ping Pong Playa, an often gut-busting sports fable about a wannabe NBA star who becomes the unlikely hero of his ping-pong-crazed family.
Lead actor Jimmy Tsai's performance as Christopher "C-Dub" Wang is so dead-on hilarious, I assumed he was a stand-up comedian. Read more »
Can't lie: I've had Sunday, August 31 circled on my metal-show calendar for months. Judas Priest, Motorhead, Heaven and Hell (aka Black Sabbath as fronted by Dio), and Testament rocking the same bill? It's worth the drive down the peninsula to the Shoreline Amphitheater, where even sweaty mullets and overpriced fried grub won't be enough to dampen the awesomeness of Metal Masters. Read more »
As summer dwindles into, well, Indian summer (this is San Francisco, after all), film fans are all asking the same thing: will The Dark Knight be nominated for Best Picture, or what? Like, what other 2008 release has even come close? As the temperature tries to make up its mind between freezing fog and freaky heat, the only thing to do is haul ass to the movieplex and let Hollywood deplete your brain cells as painlessly as possible. Who knows, there might be some awards-season contenders in the following list of fall movie picks. Read more »
On the current season of Weeds, the brother-in-law and erstwhile accountant of pot-dealing MILF Mary-Louise Parker hatch a moneymaking scheme they're convinced can't miss: becoming "coyotes," guiding illegal immigrants across the US-Mexico border. Weeds is, of course, a comedy, but its characters' recent relocation to the San Diego area has made border-crossing (Parker drives across to pick up a shipment ... ) and immigration ( ... and, unknowingly, brings back a man in the trunk of her Prius) among the show's focal themes. Read more »
CELEBRITY PHOTOGRAPHY Before "stalkerazzi" was a word, before the first images of the Brangelina twins fetched a reported $14 million, and before the Internet spawned sites like tmz.com (stuffed with candid pictures of famous-ish trainwrecks like Kim Kardashian and Shauna Sand), there was a way of life that involved not knowing intimate details of every celebrity who dared to leave his or her house. Movie stars had a certain air of mystery and inaccessibility. But in 2008, there's no privacy anymore. Read more »
Anvil! The Story of Anvil (Sacha Gervasi, USA, 2008) Screw you if you compare Anvil to Spinal Tap. Yeah, there are moments of eerie similarity (and Anvil's drummer is named Robb Reiner how's that for a coincidence?), but this heartfelt doc at the Jewish Film Festival doesn't mock. Read more »