Film festivals

Sundance 2013: Viva Silva!

|
()

Festival veteran Jesse Hawthorne Ficks files his first report from the 2013 Sundance and Slamdance Film Festivals.

This year's Sundance and Slamdance Film Festivals were both outstanding, so I did my best to pack my schedule as full as humanly possible (sacrificing sleep in the process). With close to 50 programs achieved, I can assure you it's gonna be one helluva year for cinema. Make sure to mark some of these titles down for 2013.

Filmmaker Sebastián Silva brought two new entries to Sundance, and they both happened to be two of my most cherished experiences. Crystal Fairy and Magic Magic were filmed in Chile at the same time, and showcase the almighty Michael Cera — who learned Spanish just for these projects. If you are able to avoid the countless spoiler-heavy reviews (this isn't one of them) and enter these films at your own risk, you will be treated to Silva's masterful, even transcendental, slow burn.

Read more »

Kier-La Janisse on "House of Psychotic Women" and IndieFest

|
()

I first heard of Kier-La Janisse when a film she'd compiled, Metal Storm: The Scandinavian Black Metal Wars, screened at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in 2005.

That would be a rad enough reason to want to read her new book, House of Psychotic Women: An Autobiographical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films (FAB Press, 360pp., $29.95), but the Canadian dynamo's resume doesn't stop (or start) there: she's also the creator of Vancouver's late, great CineMuerte Horror Film Festival; co-founder of Montreal's Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies and the Blue Sunshine Psychotronic Film Centre; has programmed at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Tex.; was the subject of the 2004 doc Celluloid Horror; and has written or contributed to too many film magazines and books to list here. (One of them is Fangoria, though.)

Read more »

TIFF happens, part three! Plus top films of the fest

|
()

Read Jesse Hawthorne Ficks' first and second reports from the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival.

Dial M For Murder 3D Remastered (Alfred Hitchcock, US) The digitally remastered re-release of Alfred Hitchcock's only 3D production was introduced by none other than film historian David Bordwell, whose introductory textbooks Film Art (1979) and Film History (1994) have shaped countless film students. After an insightful Hitchcock introduction that left me feeling as if I had downloaded an entire book to my central nervous system in only 12 minutes, the 4K, 3D digital restoration began.

What was most exciting about this often-dismissed Hitchcock flick (aside from the highly effective 3D itself) was recognizing how incorrect critics in 1954 had been when they complained about how pathetic the 3D was utilized. Re-evaluating Dial M For Murder in the present 3D age, it is overwhelmingly clear that Hitchcock understood the complexity of his technique; instead of overusing the "in your face" gimmick he directed his attention toward utilizing the depth of the sets and perfectly placed props near the camera. Fifty-eight years later, even one of Hitchcock's "lesser" films (even according to himself) is still paving the road for future films and filmmakers.

Read more »

TIFF happens, part two!

|
()

Read Jesse Hawthorne Ficks' first report from the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival here.

In Another Country (Hong Sang-soo, South Korea) This highly enjoyable Éric Rohmer-esque vehicle for Isabelle Huppert continues Hong's tradition as being the Korean Woody Allen by making a highly personal comedies. Huppert is masterful bouncing in and out of each random-yet-interconnected sequence, but Yu Jun-sang steals the show as the local lifeguard who hilariously channels Roberto Benigni (circa Jim Jarmusch's 1986 Down By Law). It's one of the funniest comic performances of 2012.

Read more »

Frenemies in this life, enemies in the next: 'The Master' and other new films

|
()

It's here at last! Clear your mind and join the Cause!

Yep, The Master opens today, along with a pair of cop movies (one set in gritty LA, the other set in an even grittier megacity of the future). Already in progress is the 3rd i's San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival. Check out my take on all of the above right herre.

The most excellent Caitlin Donohue takes on Stephen Elliott's porn-themed About Cherry (screening at the Castro tonight!) here.

As-yet unreviewed due to various reasons (two being: aversions to PG-13 horror flicks, and Channing Tatum overload ... seriously, guy, take a vacation!), but most certainly opening today, are House At the End of the Street (alas, not the House Hunters suspense thriller we've all been waiting for) and high-school reunion comedy 10 Years. I didn't make it to my 10-year reunion but I feel confident saying that NOBODY in my class (go Tigers!) showed up with Magic Mike-style abs.

But wait, there's more! Read on for the rest of the best (and meh-st) of the week.

Read more »

TIFF happens! Toronto fest picks, part one

|
()

This year's Toronto International Film Festival showcased 289 films. I attended 32. Mark down any titles that sound interesting, because this upcoming year is gonna be one to remember.

Outrage Beyond (Takeshi Kitano, Japan) The sequel to Takeshi Kitano's return-to-gangster-form Outrage (2010) sports the same no-nonsense editing that matches extreme violence with perfectly primed pauses. Kitano's knack for offbeat crime films began almost 25 years ago with his nasty neo-noir classic Violent Cop (1989). Since then, he's found a perfect blend of humor and artistry over the years, with such masterpieces as Sonatine (1993) and Hana-Bi (1997). Even his more eccentric deliveries, such as the sentimental Kikujiro (1999) and Brother (2000) —  his American crossover, co-starring Omar Epps — have the power to make fans out of first-time Takeshi viewers. Outrage Beyond methodically introduces (then destroys) main characters, creates tons of twists and turns that mangle the melodrama, and will either hypnotize you to all its inverted genre glory or leave you completely cold, confused, and unaffected. Either way, Takeshi is his own boss and I will watch everything he touches.

Read more »