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Author Archives: danielhreed

RIC: A Shift in the Landscape

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Simone Estrin’s 26-minute documentary, A Shift in the Landscape, is now playing at the Ryerson Image Centre’s (RIC) Student Gallery. As soon as the house lights dim, the colossal abstract sculptures of Richard Serra flood the screen. It is an immediate meditation on art and how it inhabits the environment.

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Biff Bam Pop’s Alien Invasion rolls camera on Super 8

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When the trailer for JJ Abrams’ Super 8 first hit the public eye, everything about it seemed so mysterious. It appeared as a sort of supernatural film, but it was hard to be sure if it was about a monster or alien being. It looked like a government conspiracy film with the shots of the securely guarded cargo train winding through small town America.

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Hot Docs 2016: Aim for the Roses

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John Bolton’s Aim for the Roses is a quirky and ambitious film. Set to make its world premiere at Hot Docs 2016, Toronto’s documentary film festival extravaganza, Aim for the Roses is a story of obsession.

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Wim Wenders at TIFF: Wings of Desire

Wings of Desire, Wim Wenders’ final fictional film from the 1980s, is lighter than a feather. The wispy gates of heaven open to an overcast Berlin in the twilight of The Cold War. Angels float through the streets and listen to the thoughts of the city’s many lonely characters.

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Wim Wenders at TIFF: Paris, Texas

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Wim Wenders’ visionary Palme d’Or winning film Paris, Texas is the culmination of the director’s many years of hard work capturing life on the road. This poetic study of what it means for one to belong in the world transcends language and reality.

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Wim Wenders at TIFF: The American Friend

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Wim Wenders’ neo-noir thriller, The American Friend, looks like it was cut from the same cloth as other films from the genre. When viewing the film in 2016, it’s hard not to make stylistic connections to such titles as: The French Connection, Chinatown, and Point Blank. However, what makes The American Friend stand out from its counterparts is that it doesn’t concern itself with trying to fulfill a mysterious plotline.

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Winter at TIFF: Wim Wenders’ Early Shorts

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As part of their expansive retrospective on the exceptional German director Wim Wenders, The TIFF Bell Lightbox delivers a rare opportunity to see the man’s early short films as one screening. Most of these films date back to the late 1960s when Wenders was a film student in Munich. The films are the collected diaries of a young filmmaker experimenting with the medium, searching for his voice. While many of the films feel like fragmented snapshots of little consequence, it is evident that a vision is starting to form. Viewing the compilation in the context of Wenders’ later work, it is miraculous to see the jump in craftsmanship in such a short amount of time.

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Toronto Jewish Film Festival: Wedding Doll

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Nitzan Gilady’s latest film, Wedding Doll, is a dark portrait of a small Israeli community that exists on the edge of the Negev Desert. The town overlooks the prehistoric Makhtesh Ramon – a massive orange crater where many of the film’s characters congregate in order to reflect and socialize.

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Stop Motion Animation Retrospective – Tetsuo: The Iron Man

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If you want to start your year off right with one of the bleakest films ever made, then look no further than the TIFF Bell Lightbox’s New Year’s Day screening of Tetsuo: The Iron Man. Shinya Tsukamoto’s depraved 1989 masterpiece is no easy watch, but it is cinema in its purest form. As a result, it is a must-see from TIFF’s stop-motion animation retrospective.

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Stop Motion Animation Retrospective: Monty Python’s Life of Brian and Fantastic Planet

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The TIFF Bell Lightbox’s stop motion animation retrospective continues this extended holiday weekend with several more impressive titles. Of particular note are screenings of the two 1970s European classics, Monty Python’s Life of Brian and Fantastic Planet (La Planète Sauvage).

Both films pose numerous questions about existence in two completely different tones. Life of Brian, as with all of Monty Python’s greatest works, looks at the world satirically. It is laugh-out-loud hilarious in its absurdities – an elite comedy in which the actors deliver jokes with tremendous control. The jokes are structured so well that they feel as if they appear out of nowhere. All of a sudden, each line becomes funnier than the next. The characters fidget oddly, contort their faces, hold their gazes for a split second too long, and speak with bizarre cadences tones or impediments. Then, at the utmost perfect time, the punch line is dropped and a laughing fit ensues. The Python guys are so good at telling jokes that the plot line is almost unnecessary to the film’s enjoyment. Life of Brian becomes a competition of witty jokester one-ups-man-ship from the opening credits all the way to the closing song.

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