He might’ve died forty-four years ago, but Bruce Lee still attracts controversy. Director George Nolfi found that out, with the release of his Lee sort-of biopic, Birth of the Dragon. Centering on the legendary 1964 fight between Lee and Suaolin master Wong Jack Man, the film bowed yesterday clouded by accusations of white-washing. Does Birth of the Dragon deserve to be kicked around? Find out after the jump!
It’s the silly season for Toronto filmgoers, the cine-season, TIFFmas to many devoted local movie buffs. Today the Toronto International Film Festival 2017 edition announced its first swath of upcoming films. These are Gala and Special Presentation flicks, and there’s bound to be a passel of Oscar-hunting contenders worth checking out. Catch the full list after the jump!
Long before the teen angst pangs of Twilight or the fever heat of True Blood, director Kathryn Bigelow had an inkling of what a southern-fried vampire romance could be. Near Dark delivered on her vision of hillbilly vamps, an eighties cult classic that’s hard to believe is coming up on its thirtieth anniversary. The cinephiles at TIFF have dug out an archival print, so this Friday, July 21st, Bigelow’s blood-sucking hicks will rise again.
If you like thrillers, genre-bending capers, femmes fatales and shady figures wrapped up in criminal exploits where no one comes out on top, chances are you’re a film noir fan through and through. Maybe you’ve seen Chinatown ten times, and you think you’ve got the plot of The Maltese Falcon figured out. Maybe you have. But a jaded noir aficionado could do a lot worse than to check out some of the gritty gems in TIFF’s upcoming program Panique: French Crime Classics. It’s one dark amuse-bouche after another, a feast of chilling misanthropy and malice for the summer. “Cinematic A/C, Gallic style,” quips James Quandt, Senior Programmer, and he’s not wrong. These flicks get in your bones.
This summer, TIFF’s having a crime wave. French crime to be exact. They’re mounting two programmes, both bursting with criminal intent. I’ll take a look at the second bunch next week, a brilliant collection of flicks called Panique: French Crime Classics. Opening today is a different but related programme, Army of Shadows: The Films of Jean Pierre Melville. It’s a great ride, too, full of cool noirs and hard-boiled thrillers, from the best director named Melville that most definitely did not write Moby Dick.
Man. I guess people were so depressed in the seventies they’d try just about anything. As we live through a fast-forward remix of the Watergate scandal, it’s interesting to take a look back at those strange, hungover times. The Commune is a Danish film set in the seventies, so a rather different milieu than Nixon’s America. But societal malaise was pervasive in Western culture at that time. From the talented but uneven director Thomas Vinterberg (The Celebration, The Hunt), The Commune is a loosely autobiographical film of his own experiences growing up in that era. It’s a spare tale of a marriage pushed too far, veering into melodrama.
Ed Gass-Donnelly’s got style and atmosphere to burn, that’s for sure. In the opening moments of his new elegiac horror-thriller Lavender, we track into a frozen tableau of police investigating a grim crime scene in a rustic farmhouse. The cops hover like statues over sheet-draped bodies as the camera glides between them, coming to rest on a petrified girl slumped against a bedroom wall, clutching a bloody razor. As she stares blankly into us, we wonder, is this girl a killer? Why would she do such terrible things?
High winds took a bite out of the weekend, Hurricane Matthew knocking nearly 10% off the weekend’s box office totals, compared to last year. But The Girl on the Train was the engine that could, topping the weekend grosses handily.
Why do so many aliens want to kill us? Okay, maybe humanity leaves a lot to be desired. There’s war, murder, avarice aplenty, and people that want to elect Donald Trump. If we haven’t broken the planet we live on, we’ve sure as hell damaged the packaging. Our celebrated social networks leave us staring at our phones, hardly noticing the actual world in front of us.
But we don’t completely suck. There’s art and inventions and love… still, fucking Donald Trump? Maybe the aliens have a point. Don’t get me wrong. I love me a Starship Troopers or a Predator or an Alien, when that unknowable other is just a vicious killing machine here to reduce us to emphatic survival. But it’s not often that we see aliens as screwed up as we are. Which is one of the many things that makes Neil Blomkamp’s District 9 so great. The aliens and their massive ship hovering over a metropolis aren’t here to destroy us with monument-shattering death rays. Their spacecraft broke down, they’re sick and dying, and whatever their interstellar traveling, they’re completely S-O-L. The film’s a brilliant exploration of a refugee civilization landing on our doorstep, and the amazing awfulness humans bring to bear in dealing with the problem.