It started off with a bang – both Iron Man 3 and the 2013 summer movie season. The third instalment in the Iron Man series hit the big time whether anyone thought it was good or not, but unlike a Black Friday line-up, it was worth the time and effort to fight the crowd to get in. Here’s a look back at what worked in the biggest movie of the year.
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Quick, name another physicist that’s been on The Simpsons. They’ve had a Nobel prize-winning chemist (Dudley Herschbach), and a renowned paleontologist (Stephen Jay Gould). But in the public mind one luminary science guy’s cameo registers more deeply than the rest. With his wheelchair (that apparently flies) and his computer-synthesized voice, Stephen Hawking’s iconic appearance with TV’s most dysfunctional family was a classic moment in popular culture. Hawking had been famous for years before his cameo with yellow people in two dimensions, of course. A new documentary simply titled Hawking takes us through the great scientist’s life, and how he changed our view of the universe. Look out for wormholes, after the jump.
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Earlier this year, when the first trailer to Thor: The Dark World was released, I found myself surprisingly excited. Here was what looked to be a bit of a throw back film; a bit of a Marvel Studios homage to the those great swashbuckling sword and sorcery movies of the early 1980’s: Conan, The Sword and the Sorcerer, The Beastmaster and Krull. Those were movies that I loved as a kid – and love even more now.
With Thor: The Dark World, it seemed liked the eightification of comic book films was upon us. And in this particular case, I was ok with that. There was no better decade for this kind of genre than the decade that spawned all of those cool movies of my youth, happily spent at the video rental store.
Thor: The Dark World, was more than that, though. It was a movie that combined muscular heroes and dreaded villains with big-budget sets and fantastic special effects with well-known actors, working inside a shared fictional universe, playing well with at least three other important film franchises. A truly twenty-first century aesthetic.
It’s Saturday. Let me tell you more about the movie, Thor: The Dark World after the jump.
He’s been called the King of Venereal Horror, the Baron of Blood, a chilly, analytical formalist with a fascination for the grotesque. He’s synonymous with the genre of body horror, its foremost practitioner, whose films Rabid, Scanners, and The Brood helped define it. He’s made every woman squirm mutely with the deranged disintegration of Jeremy Irons’ twin gynecologists in Dead Ringers, and he ripped your heart out when Jeff Goldblum’s Brundlefly begged for death at the end of The Fly. But one thing a lot of people don’t appreciate is his dark sense of humour. Underneath the blood and the ooze and the weird sexuality and the techno-fetishism, David Cronenberg is a funny guy.
Nicolas Winding Refn was already moderately well known before Drive tore onto the scene in 2011. His Pusher trilogy had earned him notoriety, and Bronson and Valhalla Rising cemented his reputation for visionary extreme cinema. Not that either made for easy viewing. But with Drive his sensibility coalesced into something stylish, classic and austere. The opening sequence alone, with Ryan Gosling’s Driver darting from police searchlights, using all manner of vehicular stealth to evade capture, was a bravura performance. So how did Refn evolve, with no film training, into a preeminent director? TIFF is running all of Refn’s films over the next week. Let’s take a look at some, after the jump.
A woman walks naked through the streets, wearing only high heels, blood on her legs. Somewhere, perhaps nearby, police load a body in a bag into an ambulance. Or perhaps it isn’t near. Or at the same time. Instantly haunting, such is the narrative guesswork of French auteur Claire Denis’s latest film Bastards (Les Salauds). Moody and kaleidoscopic in its sense of time and place, Denis has created a very contemporary and disjointed noir. It’s just one of the films TIFF is presenting in its retrospective Objects of Desire: The Cinema of Claire Denis. Follow the jump to find out where Denis got her start (hint: all over), and what makes her take on cinema compelling. Read the rest of this entry
Joseph Gordon Lovett (JGL) makes his writing and directorial debut with the romantic comedy Don Jon. If you’re thinking: why would a Hollywood veteran bother making a sappy, clichéd, trope-filled travesty of a genre film, be prepared to have your misconceptions skewered with the opening frames. JGL makes sure you know his debut is indie in its conception, execution and casting. This is not an emo love story, it’s not an indie film trying to brush up against Hollywood. This is a film that has a powerhouse behind it who can get a first time director’s movie made with big stars that actually has something to say. ‘Safe’ is not a word to use for JGL’s first film. It may have Scarlett Johansson, Tony Danza and Julianne Moore as the main characters in the film, but this could be considered anything but mainstream. Channing Tatum and Anne Hathaway also get funny cameo rolls, but as the $9 million opening weekend box office attests to, Hollywood does not consider this film a mainstream winner. And thank God for that. There is little evidence of Hollywood interference in a movie containing explicit drug use, in your face sex scenes and a narrative thread dedicated solely to porn.
This weekend, TIFF is running a retrospective of the films of Leos Carax called Modern Love. L’amour fou is what the French call it, crazy love, and a jumbled madcap romanticism is at the heart of all Carax’s films. From the kinetic debut of 1984′s Boy Meets Girl to 2012′s confounding critical sensation Holy Motors, Carax has made deeply personal, idiosyncratic cinema, narratively challenged but always visually compelling. In that thirty-eight-year span, Carax has made only five features, and TIFF is presenting them all. Carax himself will be present for three of the screenings. It’s almost impossible to tie his films down to any one thing, but I’ll lob a few into the air for you, after the jump.