Thursday, September 30, 2010


Written by Aaron Sorkin
Directed by David Fincher
Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake

Mark Zuckerberg: There is a difference between being obsessive and being motivated.

With over 500 million members worldwide, Facebook has come a long way since it was just a little social networking site kicking around a few prestigious colleges in the United States. In fact, I remember quite vividly when I first heard about it. It came out of nowhere and suddenly everyone I knew was asking why I wasn’t on Facebook yet. I actually held out. I had done Friendster and Myspace. Why did I need this new network to come into my life so I could feign the idea of closeness with people I had neither seen nor thought of for years? For days, I cursed it to anyone who would listen. This made it particularly difficult when I actually joined Facebook a few weeks later and started inviting all the people I had complained about it to, to be my friend.

THE SOCIAL NETWORK, or what is affectionately known as “The Facebook Movie”, is not about a bunch of bored office workers or late night loners wasting hours of their lives on Facebook. That’s about all it isn’t about though. Screenwriter, Aaron Sorkin, has taken the real life story of how Facebook came into existence and turned it into something so much more revealing about human nature. By walking us through the two lawsuits that Facebook co-creator, Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), was served as a result of how he went about co-creating Facebook, Sorkin is able to comment on everything Facebook touches on, directly or indirectly. Suddenly, a factual account of a civil law suit is able to expose America’s class system as still going strong, our universal fascination with gossip and popularity and the increasingly blurred difference between public and private statement. Even the inclusion of the lawsuits themselves denounce an American fascination with suing to get even, even when that means suing your best friend.

Fortunately for Sorkin’s ambitious script, David Fincher helms THE SOCIAL NETWORK and I really want to add him as my friend again after THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON made me hide him from my news feed. (Kidding, David Fincher is not my friend in any capacity). Fincher has this one though. He has an incredible awareness of the implications being made by the actions and accents the perfect moments to prove the points subtly and effectively. He also drives brave, brazen performances from his three young stars. Justin Timberlake shows dramatic depth as Sean Parker, the creator of Napster. Andrew Garfield finally shows me why I should give him any notice as Facebook co-creator, Eduardo Saverin. And Eisenberg, an actor that is oft criticized for being one note, takes what is now his signature whip of a tongue and infuses it with a strong sense of character and understanding. He plays Zuckerberg as an unstoppable force, driven by a deep-rooted self-hatred. You want to hate the guy yourself but Eisenberg makes it so you think twice before you do.

One of my original arguments for not joining Facebook was that I thought it enforced a horrible falsehood. People could remain close virtually and keep up with loved ones without making any actual effort to be a real part of their lives. It would drive us further apart while making us feel like we were getting closer. THE SOCIAL NETWORK proves me wrong though. This fantastic and fascinating piece of filmmaking will unite us all through the one thing all 500 million of us can relate to, our love/hate relationships with Facebook. And by breaking it all down, he manages to find the heart behind the screen.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Black Sheep @ The Box Office

The Black Sheep Box Office report is back and fashionably late I'm afraid. Technical issues prevented me from getting this up yesterday but I thought I'd give it another go this morning and here we are. I'm pleased to be able to bring the box office reporting back this week because there is a lot going on at the multiplexes.

Oliver Stone returns with WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS at number one, giving Shia LaBeouf his sixth straight number one opener. Adult fare proves once again that it isn't dead yet but the sequel to the 1989 hit only registered a per screen average of $5.3K, less than the $5.6K of last week's champ, THE TOWN, which falls to third place ( or possibly second after the actual figures come in later today), with the smallest decline of any film in the Top 10. Number one is all about bragging rights though and that's all WALL STREET needed to look like a success.

Director Zach Snyder had to settle for second place with his first foray into animated film, LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS. To be honest, I don't even know what the rest of the title of this movie is. I do know it's long and ridiculous and it isn't the least bit surprising to me that this owl movie did not take off at the box office. It just looked so lifeless to me from the trailers. Sorry owls, you are not cool.

Owls, you are however cooler than Kristin Bell. Disney has been heavily promoting her comedy, YOU AGAIN, co-starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Sigourney Weaver but it would appear that discerning audiences were able to spot the rental in disguise. And with a fifth place finish like this one, it will be available to rent in no time.

A number of high profile art house films were released this week and succeeded to varying degrees. The biggest of the bunch was Davis Guggenheim's follow-up to his Academy Award winning documentary, AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, WAITING FOR SUPERMAN, about the state of the American education system. The film pulled in an average of over $35K on just 4 screens. And with an impressive average of $27K on just 6 screens, Woody Allen's YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER makes it's debut. Allen is consistently bashed each time he releases a film for being washed up but yet his fans are clearly a loyal lot.

Documentary filmmakers, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Freidman try their hand at narrative film with the James Franco/Jon Hamm drama, HOWL, based on the poet Allan Ginsberg's indecency trial. It's $9K per screen average is solid but good word of mouth will be needed to help it's expansion. The same will be necessary for Rodrigo Cortes's BURIED, starring Ryan Reynolds. The genre picture opened to $9.5K on 11 screens and Lionsgate plans on going wide in a couple of weeks. Hopefully Reynolds's winning personality will help it play past the artsy crowd as they didn't jump at his man in a box trick.

Finally, in expansion news, Mark Romanek's NEVER LET ME GO, added 22 screens for a grand total of 26 and saw a 120% increase in ticket sales. Like BURIED, the pic goes wide in a couple of weeks and is hoping to build a quiet buzz to get there. And one of my favourite docs this year, CATFISH, also manages a successful second week expansion with an 83% increase after adding 45 screens. Don't miss it if it is playing in your hood.

NEXT WEEK: I told you there was a lot going on this week and next week is no different really. High profile films like the Matt Reeves remake, LET ME IN, bows on 2000 screens and Renee Zellwegger is back on 2000 screens with CASE 39. Before October scares us completely though, the supposed movie of the year, THE SOCIAL NETWORK hopes to make good on its hype on over 2700 screens.

Source: Box Office Mojo

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Written by Allan Loeb and Steven Schiff
Directed by Oliver Stone
Starring Shia LaBeouf, Carey Mulligan, Josh Brolin and Michael Douglas

Gordon Gekko: A fisherman always sees another fisherman coming.

Oliver Stone is reputed to be a controversial film director but that isn’t entirely fair. To be controversial, one must make statements that rock the status quo and potentially encourage progress and change. Stone may have started out his career with more of a bite, but the two-time Oscar winner for directing, doesn’t actually have very much to say at this point. Instead, he attaches himself to projects that cannot help but be controversial in nature and allows our already preconceived notions of these subjects to do all the talking for him.

In WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS, Stone revisits one of his most successful films to supposedly reiterate to us what he did in the original WALL STREET, because clearly, we were not paying close enough attention then. In 1989, investment mogul, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) stepped over everyone he knew for the almighty dollar and ended up going to prison. He was famous for having said that “Greed is good,” but as it turns out, it was pretty bad. So bad that it inspired him to write a book about how greed was going to be the downfall of America. He got rich off that book of course and then Gordon Gekko went on to predict the 2008 economic crisis. If only Stone had made this movie before everything happened. Maybe all of this calamity could have been avoided.

Gordon was released from prison in 2001 to find that no one was waiting for him and the world had continued on without him. Then apparently nothing at all happened for seven years because the story picks back up in 2008. Gordon’s daughter, Winnie (Carey Mulligan) is now dating a Wall Street up and comer, Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf). Together they share a bright future full of possibility and fortune until their financial flooring falls out from underneath them. This new generation of money players is portrayed as reluctant but yet still able to enjoy their wealth and the lifestyle it affords them. Their ideals, nobility and honour, are still intact but this is just an illusion and lucky for all of us, Stone is here to show them that more money means more problems.

The greed that is bringing everyone down in WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS is exponentially bigger than it has ever been and Stone warns us that we will not survive another financial meltdown like the one that just forced the American government to fork over billions of bailout dollars. Solid performances and some impressive camera work on behalf of Rodrigo Pietro make the experience reasonably entertaining but Stone never lets us forget just how touchy everything is. He preaches of how moral hazard will continue to cripple the market but basically applies the same principals to his own filmmaking. As long as he hides behind the overbearing face of controversy, he will never have to risk anything of his own by actually saying something unpopular himself.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Written and Directed by Xavier Dolan
Starring Xavier Dolan, Monia Chokri and Niels Schneider

Ah, l’amour. They say the French know it best and, even though Quebecois is not quite the same as French, novice Quebec-born filmmaker, Xavier Dolan, seems to have a pretty strong handle on the whole thing. Not only does he know love and the many places it takes us in our heads but he also knows a thing or two about how to put together one fine film on the subject. His second feature, HEARTBEATS, confirms his position as one of Canada’s most promising filmmakers.

In this corner, Xavier Dolan!

At 22 years old, I knew nothing about love. Dolan at 22 however, knows that love is what we make of it. Repeating the impressive triple threat he blasted on to the Canadian film scene with in his first feature, J'AI TUE MA MERE (I KILLED MY MOTHER), Dolan also writes and stars in this part farce, part exploration of love’s depths. He plays Francis, a young, gay Montrealer who shares a friendship based mostly on cynicism with Marie (Monia Chokri), an impeccably dressed neurotic. One fated evening, they both meet Nicolas (Niels Schneider). He is handsome and captivating and it isn’t long before they are both trying to get him to notice them. As I’m sure you can imagine, this takes a toll on their friendship.

And the challenger, Monia Chokri!

HEARTBEATS is enchanting. Dolan channels the French “New Wave” and taps into his admiration for Wong Kar-Wai, creating a picture that is sumptuous and romantic but yet still realistic. His understanding of each step love takes upon its journey is uncanny, making it easy to remember exactly what its like to want a love that you can’t have and just how far people will go to realize it won’t work. Sometimes love may feel right in our hearts but Dolan reminds us that it might also just be entirely imagined.

The Black Sheep interview with Xavier Dolan is coming in the next week. Be sure to check back.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman
Starring Nev Schulman

Nev: They didn’t fool me. They just told me things and I didn’t question them. That’s not fooling.

There are still people out there who consider meeting people from the internet to be a pretty dangerous thing. They might not be who they say they are or, worse yet, they could be a serial killer or something equally frightening. I challenge those people to watch the refreshingly brazen documentary, CATFISH. When they do, they will see a whole other face of danger they had never even contemplated.

Nev Schulman is a New York City based photographer. In 2007, an eight-year-old girl named Abby sent him a painting one day based on one of his photographs. The two connected through her mother, Angela, and a correspondence began that extended past these three to include other family members, including her brother, father and older sister, Megan. Before long, everyone was on everyone else’s Facebook page, wall posts and messages flying back and forth without care. Then something unexpected happened. Nev started to feel something for Megan.

They had never met but through simple online and telephone communications, they began to fall in love. Are they falling in love with each other though or with the idea of falling in love itself? Meeting someone online can be inherently misleading, both in terms of representation and the feelings that come from that. We control what we say and how we say it but so is the other person staring at their screen. And what the experience lacks in intonation and physical gesture, we fill in with whatever we want to see. When Nev and Megan start calling each other “cutie” in their constant text messaging, they mean it, but they don’t really know who they’re saying it to.

Henry Joost and Nev’s brother, Ariel, documented the experience for CATFISH, and decided that, in order for the film to feel complete, Nev and Megan would need to meet each other in person. The road this took them down is one you’ll have to experience for yourself. It is just as frightening as it is enlightening about human interaction in this modern world. And perhaps more importantly, Joost and Schulman tackle the topic with poise and respect, instead of taking the sensational approach, which would have been much easier for them. After all, when it comes to meeting people online, you can fault the methods employed if they bother you that much but the desire is the same. You can’t fault people for wanting to find love.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I feel like I've lived in another world for the last 11 days.  As much as TIFF felt like this unstoppable force that was going to devour my life before it began, its end feels just as bizarre because I'm not sure how to go back to my regular life after this.  That being said, as much as I am sincerely appreciative for this incredible opportunity, I also need it to end.  I'm spent.

After seeing THE ILLUSIONIST this evening, I will have seen a total of 30 films this year at TIFF.  That's about a dozen more than I saw last year and a solid benchmark I can be proud of.  I also banked a total of nine interviews and did my very first red carpet, for Woody Allen no less.  I know it isn't about the bling but I met Javier Bardem, Ryan Reynolds, Anthony Hopkins, Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu, Will Ferrell, Julian Schnabel and Xavier Dolan.  I also crossed paths with Zach Braff, Paul Giamatti, Freida Pinto, Josh Brolin, Minnie Driver, Bruce Greenwood, Jay Baruchel, Jacob Tierney, Scott Speedman and Roger "freaking" Ebert.  I didn't actually meet Mr. Allen but he did pass by me and shoot me a somewhat confused look.  I love him.

I even attended the TIFF 2010 awards lunch.  Free food and the well deserved announcement that the Cadillac People's Choice Award went to THE KING'S SPEECH by Tom Hooper.  Colin Firth may have missed the Oscar last year but he's coming back strong this year.

Colin Firth in THE KING'S SPEECH

Of the 30 films I saw, I think I can honestly say I can count the number of films I did not enjoy on one hand.  As far as films that wowed me, I need another hand to do that.  Here are my 10 favourite films at TIFF 2010 ... (in alphabetical order)

Directed by Danny Boyle
Starring James Franco

Directed by Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu
Starring Javier Bardem

Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Starring Natalie Portman

Directed by Derek Cianfrance
Starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams

Directed by Will Gluck
Starring Emma Stone

Xavier Dolan in HEARTBEATS

Directed by and starring Xavier Dolan
(Look for the Black Sheep interview next week)

Directed by Casey Affleck
Starring Joaquin Phoenix

Directed by Tom Hooper
Starring Colin Firth

Directed by John Cameron Mitchell
Starring Nicole Kidman

Directed by Errol Morris

Joyce McKinney in TABLOID

A big thank you goes out to Movie Entertainment magazine for making this possible, the great crew at Maple Pictures and Alliance Films for the opportunity to interview such great filmmakers, the TIFF press office for all their support, Chris Bumbray from for keeping me company for so many screenings, to Chris, Emily and Michelle at The Mark News for publishing my reviews for all new readers, and all my friends and family for their incredible support during the last couple of weeks.  I could not have made it through this without you.

And finally, a huge thanks goes out to you, my Black Sheep readers.  My coverage of TIFF 2010 made for some of the most successful days Black Sheep has ever seen and I cannot thank you enough for reading.

I'll be off for a few days but Black Sheep will be back up and running shortly with a review of CATFISH.  Thanks again for everything; this has been amazing for me.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I have one more film to see.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Directed by Casey Affleck
Starring Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix: You’re going to look back on this and think you’re a fucking idiot.

This is what I get for not sitting down to write reviews as soon as I see the movie. I thought I had a little time to let this one simmer in my head, and there is plenty to let settle, but that just isn’t so. When I first sat to watch Casey Affleck’s directorial debut, a documentary chronicling the self-proclaimed lost years of Joaquin Phoenix, entitled I’M STILL HERE, I was completely taken in. I do not mean this to say that I felt duped. I was simply mesmerized by the debauchery and disaster that was unfolding before me. Whether it was real or not was not the point. The point was that it was fascinating.

A couple of years ago, Phoenix, an Academy Award nominated actor, famous for being moody and difficult, announced that he was retiring from acting in order to pursue his new passion, hip-hop. It was announced shortly thereafter that Pheonix’s brother-in-law, Affleck, would be documenting this transition for a film. Then came the rumours that this was all a hoax designed for the purposes of making a mockumentary. The hoax was neither denied nor confirmed and eventually, people just lost interest. Now that the film is being released though, it is no surprise to me that Phoenix has announced his return to acting and Affleck has announced that the film was in fact staged. If they hadn’t, I’m not sure Phoenix would have ever found work again after this film.

Not knowing whether or not Phoenix was putting on an act made watching I’M STILL HERE work on levels I never expected from it. Phoenix presents himself as the brooding actor that no one understands who now wants to break free of the public’s impressions of him, which he feels trapped by. When he struggles to break into the hip-hop world, he gets angry like a little boy who isn’t getting his way. He gripes about how he has dreams and that it isn’t fair that he shouldn’t be able to make them come true as if there aren’t millions of people on the planet who watch their dreams disappear every day. Don’t get me wrong; it is absolutely infuriating to indulge this spoiled dope head but, under the knowing eye of Affleck’s lens, Phoenix is making statements about celebrity that he doesn’t even know he’s making.

Only now we know that he did know exactly what he was saying. According to Affleck, only Phoenix, his agent and he knew that this was being put on. I have not seen the film again through this new perspective but I suspect that it might let all the air out of it. Watching Phoenix disintegrate on screen is at once repulsive but also disheartening. The way Affleck cuts it together, he doesn’t appear to be begging for sympathy but rather begging the question as to how we all got there. After all, it is our celebrity obsessed culture that created this monster. Letting us in on the joke though makes me think I’M STILL HERE might cease to be sharp commentary on a fame obsessed culture and just resort back to being just about Phoenix’s ego.

He will either ruin his career and ability to be a convincing actor after this or he will win an Academy Award.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Written by Alex Garland
Directed by Mark Romanek
Starring Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield

Famed music video director, Mark Romanek, takes on Kazuo Ishiguro’s much loved and heavily praised novel, NEVER LET ME GO, as his second venture into feature filmmaking. It is a daring challenge indeed given the underlying questions about the value of human life but Romanek takes the challenge head on. I have not read the novel but, from what I understand, he gets the tone just right. That said, if the tone is meant to be one of cold disassociation, than perhaps it was never meant to be a film to begin with.

NEVER LET ME GO is a hybrid of science fiction and romantic drama. The prologue to the film tells us that a medical breakthrough discovered in 1967 has increased the life expectancy of human beings to over 100 years but does not tell us how. We are then introduced to Kathy, Tommy and Ruth (Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Keira Knightley, respectively) in 1978 at a boarding school called Hailsham. There is clearly something special about this school and the children that go there and it is our job to piece that together bit by bit. While that is happening though, a love triangle develops between these friends that is meant to be this great affront to love. It seems secondary to the mystery awaiting us and therefore never feels meaningful even after the mystery is solved.

When a younger Kathy sits on her bed, listening to fictional singer, Judy Bridgewater, sing, “Never, never, never let me go,” she cries quietly to herself and yearns to know what that feels like. She looks human, she emotes like a human but she knows she isn’t like everyone else. Watching the film, NEVER LET ME GO, is perhaps best exemplified in this scene. Like the little girl, it too wants to be held and cherished, for its beautiful imagery and solid performances, but whether or not that is even possible is up for debate. Again, like the little girl, the film too might be lacking a soul.

TIFF BITS: The Home Stretch

It's bizarre to me that TIFF is actually still happening.  The festival is so front heavy that the second weekend feels a little like an after thought.  The screenings are much emptier and most of the stars have gone home but maybe that's your thing.  Maybe you don't like masses of screaming people and would rather just see a movie.  You're in luck because there are plenty of great films playing this weekend.  With your permission, I will break them down for you, in hopes that you have a TIFF-erific weekend!


Varsity - 9:00 AM
Don't waste your time on this joke of a film.  I know you like Zach Galifianakis and he is one of the better things about this film but it is truly not worth the price of a TIFF ticket, nor is it worth getting out of bed this early for. It just isn't that funny a story.

Ryerson - 6:00 PM
This Emma Stone comedy opens in traditional theatres today but if you're looking for that particular TIFF vibe to go along with this hilarious movie, catch this screening at Ryerson.  I'll say it again, this is one of the funniest movies I've seen all year.  Adults will love it too so fear not, Mom and Dad.  (Click to read the Black Sheep review)

Bell Lightbox - 7:00 PM
In honour of the new Bell Lightbox theatre and of the 35 years the festival has been in existence, TIFF is offering some of the films that made big splashes at the festival in past years for free, including Deepak Mehta's haunting WATER.  Free, people.  You can't beat that.

Varsity - 7:45 PM
Tom Tykwer returns to form with his latest, THREE.  After a mediocre Hollywood experiment (THE INTERNATIONAL), Tykwer returns to Germany with the story of a couple who both separately fall for the same guy and have parralel affairs with him.  Tykwer is feeling cheeky with this one and it makes for a great look at modern relationships.


AMC - 9:45 AM
Ondi Timoner, whom I had the good fortune to speak with during the festival, presents famed environmentalist, Bjorm Lomberg, in this counter piece to the Al Gore documentary, AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH.  It is not bent of taking down the Davis Guggenheim Oscar winner but rather to get people to see the climate change issue from another perspective.  Challenging and worth it.

Elgin Theatre - 11:00 AM
John Cameron Mitchell is one of the few personalities at the festival that I did not get to meet that I really wanted to.  He is an amazing director and he proves with this fantastic drama that he can handle more straight forward fare with great poise.  Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhardt star as parents who lost a young child.  Under Mitchell's direction, it feels fresh and hits hard.

Elgin Theatre - 2:30 PM
Famed music video director, Mark Romanek, returns to feature filmmaking with an adaptation of a widely loved novel.  It looks very pretty and the performances are solid but it left me feeling rather cold.  I would wait on this one as it is coming to theatres pretty soon.  The full Black Sheep review is coming later today.

Bell Lightbox - 6:00 PM
Take any excuse you can to visit the Bell Lightbox theatre. Danny Boyle's 127 HOURS is a great excuse.  James Franco stars as Aron Ralsten, the mountaineer who was trapped for 127 hours in a cavern back in 2003.  This film is an intense trip about man and nature but is not for the faint of heart. Ralsten has to go through a lot to get through his ordeal but if you can stomach it, you should.  (Click for full Black Sheep review)

Bell Lightbox - 7:00 PM
Another free offering from TIFF at the Bell Lightbox theatre.  This Sarah Polley film from a few years back exemplifies perfectly what Canadian cinema can be when done right.  Gordon Pinsett and Julie Christie give haunting performances as a wife succumbing to Alzheimer's and the husband who watches her slip away. (Click for full Black Sheep review.)

Varsity - 8:30
Casey Affleck is making my life real difficult.  I have yet to review this look at the supposed lost year of Jaoquin Phoenix and now he has announced that the whole thing was a fake.  I'm not sure how to write about it now but it was still one of the most fascinating films I saw at the festival.  Don't miss this train wreck; it is better than you think.

Elgin Theatre - 9:00 PM
This Ben Affleck directed adult drama is a fine piece of filmmaking.  It isn't going to change the world or anything but it is a smart story and executed with finesse and care.  Affleck also stars and I have not seen him give this good a performance maybe ever.  Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm and Jeremy Renner fill out the cast. (Click for the full Black Sheep review)

Ryerson - 9:00 PM
This Darren Aronofsky picture was certainly one of the most buzzed about films at TIFF this year.  Many think it is brilliant while others, some of the more pickier critics I suspect, feel it is a B-movie with great production design.  I thought it was an intense look at the breakdown of one individual dancer and damn gorgeous to behold.  This one doesn't come back to theatres until December so if you can catch it now, please do. (Click for the full Black Sheep review)

Bell Lightbox - 9:00 PM
I caught this Werner Herzog documentary yesterday morning and it was definitely unlike anything I've seen from the documentary world.  This is primarily because Herzog shot the film using 3D cameras. A documentary in 3D?  Weird in concept but very well suited here as Herzog takes us deep into a cave in France that has what are likely the oldest examples of human painting in existence.  The 3D itself was definitely put to good use.

Bell Lightbox - 10:00 PM
If you read my site at all, you know how I feel about this Paul Haggis ensemble drama about racism in Los Angeles.  It is certainly a good film but I have my issues with how manipulative it is.  That said, many of you love it and TIFF is playing it for free just for you so if you want to see it on the big screen again, here is your chance. (Click for full Black Sheep review.)


AMC - 12:00 PM
The latest Woody Allen farce will be released in theatres before you know it but if you can't wait, you shouldn't have to.  It is familiar but it is certainly charming and an enjoyable experience all around.  It is standard fare though so don't go expecting new from Mr. Allen. (Click for full Black Sheep review)

Scotiabank - 3:15 PM
See above.

Bell Lightbox - 9:00 PM
Directed by David Schwimmer and starring Clive Owen and Catherine Keener, this family melodrama is horrifically cliched and subsequently reasonably offensive at times.  Owen & Keener play parents to a 14-year-old girl who is the victim of sexual abuse.  The intentions were surely good but the execution is very tired.  Avoid.

Varsity - 8:45 PM
And here is another film for you to avoid.  Do not be fooled by the intriguing cast - from Michael C. Hall to Sarah Silverman to Rainn Wilson.  This comedy is so bent on being quirky and different that it doesn't realize how completely unrelatable it is.  I chuckled here and there because the cast is what it is but it was mostly just ridiculous.

Bell Lightbox - 10:00 PM
Here is the last in the free 35 years screenings at Bell Lightbox.  I don't think I need to really say anything about this Rob Reiner film because so many people love this one.  If you've never seen it on a big screen before, here is your chance!

Ryerson - 6:00 PM
You voted and the winner will be announced this Sunday afternoon, in time for this free screening at Ryerson.  Every year TIFF lets the people decide their favourite film at the festival and then lets them watch it for free.  Last year's winner was PRECIOUS.  The year before that was SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE.  And we all know how well those films did afterward.  Who will win this year?  BLACK SWAN?  We will have to wait and see.

And that's it!  Black Sheep's guide to the final weekend at TIFF 2010.  I hope you find it helpful and who knows, maybe I will run into you at screenings this weekend.  My press pass is pretty much spent at this point so I'll be doing it in public this weekend.  Hehe ... By this, I mean I will be seeing public screenings all weekend and I am very excited for this.  There is only so much time I can spend amongst press and industry people.  They barely even clap for the volunteers!

Enjoy your last weekend at TIFF and be sure to check back on Black Sheep this weekend for more reviews and Black Sheep's choices for the best films at TIFF.

Happy TIFF!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

TIFF Review: 127 HOURS

Written by Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy
Directed by Danny Boyle
Starring James Franco

Aron Ralston: This rock has been waiting for me my whole life.

I thought that winning an Oscar might mellow SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE director, Danny Boyle, but it only seems to have fueled his fire. Before anything has a chance to happen in his latest, 127 HOURS, the screen is split into three and images of people going to work or running marathons are inundating the screen at rapid speeds. I understand that he has his own style but I want to see Boyle just let the action unfold for a change, instead of just chopping it up and rearranging it visually to simply make it look cooler. At times in Boyle’s career, it has felt like the images needed the overt style to become relevant or meaningful but this time is different. Boyle has finally found a story that begs for his personal yet simultaneously impersonal touch.

127 HOURS is the story of an adrenaline junkie, a nature nut, a loner. Forcing an image to wake the heck up and jump off the screen itself is akin to what protagonist Aron Ralston (James Franco) does whenever he can. And when he can’t make that happen, he would almost rather be alone. He seeks out thrills to elevate himself above the mundane just like Boyle tries to enhance his image. When Ralston gets away from the city though and into the peaks and valleys of Blue John Canyon, Boyle slows his pace and allows the sheer grandness and beauty of the landscape to speak for itself. And speak it does. It asserts itself and its immovable brilliance by reminding man just who’s in charge here after all when it almost swallows young Ralston whole.

Ralston is a real person and in 2003, he spent a sum total of, you guessed it, 127 hours literally stuck between a rock and hard place when a rock fell with him into a cavernous gap and crushed his arm against the wall. Franco’s journey as Ralston is rarely easy to bear and sometimes just as difficult for us to take as well. His spirit goes from exuberant to painfully sober to near delirium and he carries it off with a strength I’m not the least bit surprised to see. Boyle was sure to lighten the tension with flashbacks that inform us of exactly everything Ralston still has to live for, which in turn teaches him a thing or two about how to actually live for it. The point may be somewhat plain but the experience that is 127 HOURS is a testament to an amazing feat of human endurance and perseverance, as well as an adventure that won’t soon be forgotten.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

TIFF'D: Wednesday, September 15

Day 7 is a strange day at TIFF for me.  It feels to some extent like the festival ended yesterday.  I have no more interviews.  There are only press screenings scheduled still for the next couple of days.  Past that, I will try to catch some public screenings if they’re not off sale.  The first half was insanity.  I ran around everywhere and had plenty to report on but with things dying down now, I don’t have nearly as much to do nor do I have as much to report on.  And to top it off, I have a full on head cold.

I figure I will just let you know what to expect from Black Sheep Reviews for the remainder of the festival.  Tomorrow will feature a re view of Danny Boyle’s 127 HOURS, the follow up to the Oscar winning phenomenon, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE.  That’s about it though.  I am seeing three movies tomorrow and as I really should be in bed instead of in a theatre, I will be taking it as easy as possible.

Friday will feature a special weekend edition of TIFF Bits.  The last weekend of the festival tends to bring back many festival favourites and I will do my best to steer you toward the best films playing in the last weekend of this incredible festival.  Getting tickets is your problem though. 

Friday will also feature a review of NEVER LET ME GO, which I will be seeing in just a half hour.  Saturday will feature the last TIFF review and it is for one of my favourites from the festival, Joaquin Phoenix documentary, I’M STILL HERE.

On the last day of TIFF, I will give you my recap of the entire experience and run down for you my Top 5 TIFF films as well as my choice for the worst film I caught at TIFF.  I still have about ten or s films before those choices are made and plan on doing my best for you in my now somewhat limited physical capacity.

Thanks again for all your support.
Happy TIFF!