Thursday 24 March 2011

Japan Benefit Screening of "Fine, Totally Fine" in Toronto

If you happen to reside in the great city of Toronto, please block off April 5th on your calendars. The Toronto J-Film Pow-Wow is putting on a benefit screening of Yosuke Fujita's "Fine, Totally Fine" at The Revue Cinema (located at 400 Roncesvalles Avenue - 7PM show time) with all proceeds going to help disaster relief funds in Japan.

From all reports, it's an excellent film and very funny. One of my co-horts at J-Film (Eric Evans) describes it as "quite possibly the most perfectly cast film in recent memory, without one weak link or false note". It's gotta be worth $8 (only eight!) for that, don't you think? Here's the trailer:

Proceeds go directly to the Support Japan - GAMBARE relief fund which will be distributed by Japanese aid organizations JustGiving to help the survivors of the tragedy.

Check our post over at the J-Film for more information, but if you can spare the time at all and are in the area, please come help fill the theatre for the 7PM show and donate a few dollars towards the relief cause.

If you can't make it, please consider donating to any of the many relief funds that have been set up recently. The right hand sidebar has a good example that's quite conveniently placed...

Las Vegas Through X-Ray Eyes

The first film I ended up watching after I got back from a week long family trip to Las Vegas last week was Roger Corman's 1963 "X: The Man With The X-Ray Eyes". It's been near the top of my list for eons and I finally received the disc from just before we left on our trip. We had a great time in Vegas (not a dime towards gambling - just seeing the sights and basking in some spot on perfect weather), but I'll admit that I was pretty glad to cozy up to the film the evening we returned.

It's goofy in so very many ways, but also really well constructed as it moves from Dr. James Xavier's (Ray Milland) early experiences testing eye drops that can increase the spectrum of viewable wavelengths through his x-ray capabilities that get him in trouble at his hospital to being on the run in a carnival sideshow.

But your past always catches up...So after fleeing yet again, Xavier decides to build a new lab and continue his experiments. Where to get the money though? Well, with his new found abilities, games of chance become sure things, so he sets off for...wait for it...Las Vegas! His entry into the city is a kaleidoscope of colours filtered through warped vision:

Though almost 50 years removed from my recent stroll through The Strip, Xavier's distorted view of the gambling halls and hotels is not that far removed from the sensory experience of being on that boulevard at 9:30PM. On St. Patrick's Day. It's a remarkable oasis of fun and fake in the middle of a desert. Horrible and wonderful at the same time.

Blue Man Group were awesome though.

Sunday 20 March 2011

Random Dancing - Yet Another Movie Montage

Maybe it's that fresh smell in the air...Maybe it's that warm breeze that occasionally wafts by that signals the end of the long winter those of us in the colder climes have had...Hell, maybe it was just the Super Moon, but the arrival of Spring has given me the urge to DANCE!

Yes, dance. Set to the tune "Cineramascope" by the monster groove band Galactic (from New Orleans), the following video is a compilation of dancing clips from a diverse set of films. I avoided too many "professional" dancers in the clips in order to get things closer to how I might celebrate the arrival of Spring myself.

As with my first montage, the music came first - you can't really hear Galactic's "Cineramascope" without envisioning some booty shaking...And with a title like that, it was a no-brainer.

Movie titles will be added once we've finished the guessing contest over at the RowThree post for this video.

Thursday 3 March 2011

Scribblings Of A Random Nature #18

Had a lot on my mind lately...But it's high time I started these up again.

Get Low (2010 - Aaron Schneider) - I'd read quite a few negative and ambivalent reviews for Schneider's first film, but with its recent Indie Spirit win for best first feature I guess there were a few fans after all. And I can see why - it's gorgeous to look at and wonderful to slowly wade through. Terrific, natural performances from all and interesting characters pulled me along through a story that didn't quite pay off as perhaps I had hoped it would. I enjoyed the ride through it, though, so in some ways the ending hardly mattered. Loved that final shot of the smiling baby too...I'm a total sucker for that.

The Racket (1951 - John Cromwell) - Though I've listed only one director, there's a laundry list of uncredited ones according to IMDB (including the great Nicholas Ray). Perhaps on a rewatch or during the commentary I may be able to discern where others had their hands in the picture, but I certainly didn't notice anything through my initial viewing. It was extremely entertaining for the duration - especially watching Robert Ryan and Robert Mitchum go mano-a-mano. While Ryan does dirty scoundrel with a smile on his face, Mitchum's good cop (in a city full of bad ones) can't wait to knock it off. The secondary characters are equally fun (including William Conrad as an oily detective) and the photography is typical of the best noirs - in other words, it uses shadows in painterly ways.

The Legend Of Red Dragon (2006 - Toru Ichikawa) - There are plenty of things wrong with this film...The story is far from original, the low budget screams out with every frame, the "martial arts" action is neither martial arts nor action, the acting is either cranked up to 11 or dialed down to minus 11 and the video effects are rather pointless. None of those things are a crime though - I mean you can't blame someone for trying and there's obviously some effort put into the filmmaking (different camera angles, specific framing of actors, etc.). What is a crime, though (at least it will be if I ever get into elected office), is making something this dull. Though only a measely 77 minutes long, the experience of watching this movie lasted several days for me - simply because I fell asleep no fewer than 7 times while working my way through it. Part of the problem is that its straight-up revenge story never engages or provides any mystery whatsoever and does nothing new with its premise (it barely does anything old with it). The film never recovers from its bland, opening yakuza battle and short of the pointless quirkiness of a band of assassins (who do a little dance and sing a song before their killings), the story of a daughter seeking to even the score with the family head who murdered her father brings nothing of interest to the table. Aside from a few moments of moderately interesting visual setups and an obvious attention to certain details, "The Legend Of Red Dragon" fails in the worst possible way: it's completely inert.

It's Kind Of A Funny Story (2010 - Anne Boden, Ryan Fleck) - I'm not completely sure if the filmmakers copped out of wrapping up several storylines towards the end of the movie or if they purposely left them ambiguously open, but regardless of the intent I really enjoyed how the secondary characters added bits of colour to the central story of one young teenagers messed up life - wrapping everything up in nice care packages before the end credits would have ruined the gist of the film. Craig has trouble handling what he perceives as pressure from all sides in his life and checks himself into a hospital for a one night stay. Hoping to simply get over his suicidal urges in quick and easy fashion, he ends up having to stay the week. His problems and resolutions are somewhat simplified, but there's an easy going charm and humour to the movie that pulled me in deeper as it went along.