Friday, March 27, 2009

Upcoming Summer Film Preview

Ivan The Terrible, Part I & II (Sergei M. Eisenstein, 1944 & 1958)

This summer’s most important cinematic event is Sergei Eisenstein Ivan the Terrible, Part I & II. Sergei Eisenstein is a landmark Soviet Film-maker and theorist. He was the driving force towards the reconsideration of the montage as he described it as the essence of Cinema. The montage is a technique of film editing where a scene is emotionally greater than the sum of its shots through linkages and juxtapositions. The Ivan the Terrible diptych, officially released in 1944 and 1958, is his ultimate work and it follows the 16th century Russian Tsar Ivan IV (Nikolai Cherkasov). Set in 1547 the film is about his effort to unite the turbulent country and is an intriguing meditation on power, superstition and jealousy. The engaging score by the Sergei Prokofiev raises the atmosphere of heroism and paranoia to an extraordinary level. Joseph Stalin, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1953, praised the film and its admirable hero. An epoch piece of film art its highlights are its stylization which includes highly detailed facial characteristics, expressionistic sets, grotesque costumes and grandiose scale. With a new 35mm print all the way from Russia this is will be an experience devoted moviegoers are sure to relish.(Canadian Film Institute, Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street, Saturday, May 9, 7:00 and 9:00)-David Davidson

Sunday, March 22, 2009

April Screening Savor's

Bytowne Cinema
Le Chaos (Youssef Chahine & Khaled Youssef, 2007) Friday, April 17th, 6:45PM
Wendy and Lucy Friday (Kelly Reichardt, 2008) April 24th, 7:00PM

Mayfair Cinema
Cassandra's Dream (Woody Allen, 2007) Friday, April 3rd, 7:00PM
Andy Warhol's Frankenstein (Paul Morrissey, 1974) Saturday, April 4th, 12:00PM
Jésus de Montréal (Denys Arcand, 1989) Friday, April 10th, 4:30PM
Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter (Lee Demarbre, 2001) Saturday, April 11th, 11PM
The Last Temptation of Christ (Martin Scorsese, 1988) Sunday, April 12th, 9:20PM
El Topo (Alejandro Jodorowsky, 1970) Friday, April 17th, 12:00PM
Play Misty for Me (Clint Eastwood, 1971) Saturday, April 18th, 2PM
Nosferatu (F.W. Murnau, 1922) Saturday, April 25th, 9PM

Friday, March 13, 2009

Ernesto Che Guevara

Che: Part Two (Steven Soderbergh, 2008)

ERNESTO CHE GUEVARA is the focus of Steven Soderberg two part biopic Che, a spellbinding film with great exotic locale, amazing acting and immaculate direction. Part 1: The Argentine deals with Che Guevara embarkment with Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolutionist. They journey across the mountainous Cuban landscape recruiting freedom fighters preparing their successful overthrow of Fulgencio Batista dictatorship. Part 2: Guerrilla deals with Mr. Guevara attempt to spread the revolution to Bolivia and idealistically to all of Latin America. Part 1 leads up to 1959 and the fragmented narrative are situated chronologically through titles of date and year. As their gaining more momentum, so does time advance and you get a feeling of progression. Part 2 takes place in 1967 and is more linear. Once Che Guevara arrives in Bolivia there begins a tally of the days he’s been there. As the numbers start reaching the triple digits there is the emergence of a daunting cyclical stasis. Where the guerrilla warfare tactics worked in the Cuban Revolution, and in Part 1 through successful attacks and voice-over narration of theory, in Bolivia they seem unfeasible. Broadly speaking, as a diptych, Part 1 revels in revolution while Part 2 ultimately condemns it. The viewer thus makes his own interpretation of the possibility of revolution. The epic film is an ambitious task on the part of Soderberg. A 235 minutes long film will surely detract a few audience goers. Simultaneously a result of its epic proportions is that it feels cramped. Crammed with too many ideas and events that results the scenes too be cut short, under-developed or not given enough weight. As well like the photograph of Che Guevara that is known as a counter culture popular icon. It is ironic to market it for a consumer culture. Belnicio Del Toro acting is magnificent as he instills awe and rigorous fighting skills during the action sequences while intellect and depth in interviews and at his United Nations speech. Steven Soderberg keeps the tone heavy throughout the film with occasional moment of levity keeping the film focused on its serious subject. His persistence to have the film shot in Spanish makes everything more realistic compared to English speaking Hollywood foreign films. As a whole it is a beautiful portrayal of Cuba and Bolivia countryside and the mind frame and attitude of Ernesto Che Guevara the man Jean-Paul Sartre described as " Not only an intellectual but also the most complete human being of our age ".-David Davidson

Che Part 2: plays at the ByTowne Cinema March 19th to the 22nd. Tickets are $10, $6 for members.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The past, present and future Canadian Inuit

The Necessities of Life (Benoît Pilon, 2008)

A good performance by Natar Ungalaaq and fluctuating intentions makes this a hazily look on Inuit-Canadians relations. In the summer of 1952, Baffin Islands, Tiivii (Ungalaaq) who happens to have tuberculosis gets taken from his family and relocated to a Quebec City hospital. Tiivii is initially unsure of how to respond to the white intervention and his response to it changes from escapism, hostility and eventually acceptance. You may be expecting an original medical drama, but in their attempt screenwriter Bernard Emond and Pilon embrace simplistic formula over psychological cohesiveness. It embraces Arctic landscapes and the role of Inuit art as portrayal of the indigenous in Canada and examines broadly the relationship between Inuit and white modernity of each generation (ancestors, elders, and youth) with the results border lining in stereotypes.-David Davidson

Friday, March 6, 2009

Paul Schrader Film Festival

Paul Schrader: Cavalier Filmmaker

Sordid, Brutal, Beloved. These are apt terms to describe the subject matter and relationship one has with Paul Schrader films. He first emerged in the seventies as a film critic (his writing can be found at, high off the influence of the spiritual film maker Robert Bresson, he pursued a successful screenplay career and on occasion directing. Focusing on grim settings and alienated protagonist with perversions towards violence and sex. Tim Silano`s Schraders Exorcism is a documentary on Schraders unsuccessful attempt in the direction of The Exorcist: The Beginning. After his confrontation with the film producers at Morgan Creek. Silano examines the relationship Holywood has with its filmmakers and their stronghand on creative output. His original attempt was to turn the content from a b-horror movie to an a-psychological thriller and it was that artiness that had him removed from the project and replaced by a generic filmmaker Renny Harlin. The Mayfair Theatre is using the documentary as a base to screen two Paul Schraders gems from his prodigious career as screenplay writer: the Martin Scorsese directed Taxi Driver (1976) and Raging Bull (1980). Taxi Driver lead actor Robert De Niro plays a lonely messed-up taxi driver who after several unsuccessful attempts to reach out to society decides to spiral downwards in pathology culminating in one of cinemas greatest bloodbaths. Raging Bull pits De Niro, In one of his best performances, now as the Boxer Jake LaMotta against the world. It examines the effects of ignorance and anger has on an individual. Fun to watch and leaves room to think about afterwards. These characters, issues and pleasures come up in the documentary and where it was a fictional De Niro personifying them in the latter, it is the all too real Schrader experiencing them in the former. Currently his latest film Adam Ressurected has yet been able to find a distributor. These films promote life experience and hardships and it is those issues faced by Schaders in his Exorcism which makes the investigation absorbing.-David Davidson

The Paul Schrader Film Festival plays at The Mayfair Theatre March 18 & 19.