Friday, September 26, 2008

At The Movies

The Lucky Ones (Neil Burger, 2008)
(South Keys & AMC 24 Kanata)

Next of Kin (Atom Egoyan, 1984)
(National Archives Auditorium, 395 Wellington Street, Friday, October 17th, 9:00pm)

American Nightmare (Don McBrearty, 1983)
Deadly Eyes (Robert Clouse, 1982)
(Club SAW,67 Nicholas Street, Saturday, October 25th, 9:30 & 11:00)

Shangri-La (Takashi Miike,2002)
(National Archives Auditorium, 395 Wellington Street, Sunday, November 2nd, 7:00pm)

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (Marina Zenovich, 2008)

In France he is desired and in America he is wanted.
- Andrew Braunsberg

Rajmund Roman Liebling was born on August 18, 1933 in Paris, France. His family moved to Poland in 1937. At the dawn of the second world war his family was moved to the Kraków Ghetto.He stayed alive by living in a farm where he had to sleep in a cow stall. One of his life-affirming motivation was to reunite with his family when the Nazi Germany would be defeated. Once the war ended he found out his mother and sister were killed in the Auschwitz concentration camp.

He graduated from the Polish film school in Łódź in 1959. His international breakthrough masterpiece Knife in the Water (1962) was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards and was just re-released on dvd by the Criterion Collection. His films dealt with intelligent psychological horrors and alienation. Repulsion, Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown and The Tenant were popular in the art house film circuits. In 1969 his pregnant wife of the time Sharon Tate was murdered by followers of Charles Manson.

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired explains what exactly happened in 1978 between Roman and the 13-year-old Samantha (Gaily) Geimer. Through archive footage, photographs, newspaper clippings, text, courtroom sketches and interviews. Marina Zenovich beautifully lays out and layers the facts wrapped up in the divisive case. The scandal with Samantha involved Roman organizing a private photo shoot for a french edition of vogue that lead to the unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. After that there was an indictment for Roman where the showboating presiding judge, Laurence J. Rittenband sentenced him to 50 years in prison. To get around the American legal system Roman fled to London and then to Paris where he holds citizenship. France does not extradite its own citizens so he has been staying there ever since and he avoids traveling to countries that might give him up to American authorities. The film sheds a light on the activities leading up to, involving and after the case. (Bytowne Cinema, 324 Rideau Street, 09/26-09/30)

He is now 75 years old and is married to the french actress Emmanuelle Seigner and they have two children Morgane and Elvis. In 2002 he won his first Palme D'or at Cannes for The Pianist and now he is currently working on a adaptation of the novel The Ghost, written by Robert Harris.- David Davidson

Friday, September 12, 2008

Rooster and Turk

Righteous Kill (Jon Avnet, 2008)

It's not in my guy's DNA (to retire). ...Probably, his ambition is to die on the job. Sort of like an actor.
-Al Pacino

Rooster (Al Pacino) and Turk (Rober De Niro) are New York City Police Department investigators hunting a vigilante killer. This is Pacino and De Niro latest collaboration film since Micheal Mann's police-thriller Heat in 1995. Their characters in the film are police officers that are trying to take down a noctorious drug dealer. The films principal emotion expressed is anger. Anger towards the judicial system, criminals and personal short coming. As you discover throughout the film one of the two buddy cops turn out to be a serial vigilante killing unpunished culprits. His amoral murders include a wide range of victims including children killers, pimps, rapists and sexually abusive priest. The film examines these murders from a distance and since the murderer is unknown the police force can only speculate over who is to blame for them.

The anger the two cops feel can be respective of the late actors fading career since their heyday in the 1970s. Their performance he can be seen as reprisals of earlier roles. Their signature macho trademark, depressed brows, powerful lines and their ability to look serious and confused. There is as well a parable between the unethical killings and their choices to take on roles in mediocre movies in their later career. Since this is a mediocre film. The film structure is formulaic with obligatory cliches of the action-crime genre and even conventional anti-conventions. The climax of the film boils down to a locker-room prank that has a unrealistic denouement where Al Pacino's accompanying officers disappears. The film ends with the death of Rooster then cuts to Turk going on with his life as he watches his little league baseball team play a game. The ending brings you back to reality and contrasts the dying star fate with the realist life of the audience.-David Davidson

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Life Defining Moments

Man on Wire (James Marsh, 2008)
My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin, 2007)

Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg will be the second non-fiction documentary to come to the Bytowne this month with Man on Wire that deals with personnel life defining moments. My Winnipeg is an exploration on Maddin's youth growing up in his home town of Winnipeg.

Philippe Petit and his compatriot's recalls their memories of Mr.Petit youth involving his passion with tightrope walking in Man on Wire. He started out in Paris by walking between the neighboring Cathedral of Notre-Dame dancing along a wire between two of its towers then went on to the Harbor Bridge in Sydney and then finally his 1975 high-wire walk between the World Trade Center in New York. The film is constructed through interviews with Philippe, his girlfriend of the time Annie Allix, his best friend Jean-Louis Blondeau and a few other accomplices as well as personal still photographs from the era documenting their efforts and well crafted re-enactments. It is essentially a heist film by focussing on the legal, technical, physical and psychological aspects of setting up the wire between the twin towers. An understated message of the film is the seductive ability of the criminal and dangerous goal that has everyone flocking towards Phillipe.

This tightrope walk was to be the last for Phillipe. Since a child he conceived a passion to walk between the trade center. Now that dream is over and there is the lasting impression of happiest he once had then in his life as he speaks unguarded about those day. His relationships with his girlfriend and friends ended with the evangelical feat. His walk permanently changed the public perception of the buildings when at the time were not to popular and now the film is bringing back some amazement and awe to a structure we can no longer relinquish.-David Davidson

Man On Wire (Bytowne Cinema, 324 Rideau Street, 09/05-09/14)
My Winnipeg (Bytowne Cinema, 324 Rideau Street, 09/12-09/16)


The 65th Venice Film Festival  came to a close September 6th and with a jury chaired by Wim Wenders announced the Golden Lion for Best Film to The Wrestler by Darren Aronofsky. Starring Mickey Rourke the film is a drama of a retired wrestler who decides to return to the ring for a last match.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

End of the Summer Cinema, Bytowne September & October

I personally found my summer months not have being to enthused about new films. There might have been a few gems in a sea of rubbish. This summer great new releases included Flight of the Red Balloon, Encounters at the End of the World and the Dark Knight. So instead of going out to see films, I stayed in. I kept myself occupied visiting film history. I just came back from Montreal where they were having their World Film Festival. They had many screenings throughout the city, there was a Tony Curtis tribune and Brian de Palma had a master class on his oeuvre. They closed down part of St.Catherine street and had an immense screen to project films each night. When i was there they were playing Heaven's Gate (Michael Cimino). When i got there i sat beside three other film students. They were great, we talked about films, had a few drinks (they were generous enough to share some mixed drinks they brought in Coke bottles). Hundreds of strangers just sat there, either on the provided benches, stairs or sitting on the ground to enjoy the film. There was a great sense of a cinephile community.

What i was anticipating was what all the New York, Chicago and Sight & Sound critics were talking about. The films listed below have premiered already in major cities for a couple of months now but thankfully their here for the fall. Were now just getting Man On Wire (James Marsh, 2008), Taxi to the Dark Side, Gonzo the Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (Alex Gibney, 2007, 2008), My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin, 2007), Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (Marina Zenovich, 2008).-David Davidson

Man On Wire (09/05-14), Taxi to the Dark Side (09/11), Gonzo the Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (09/12-15), My Winnipeg (09/12-15), Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (09/26-30) (Bytowne Cinema, 324 Rideau Street)