Austeria (The Inn) is director Jerzy Kawalerowicz’s adaptation of the 1966 novel by Julian Stryjkowski. It’s a dramatic comedy set in the early days of the first world war and it’s tone, not surprisingly, is rather austere.
Author Graeme Maitland
Based on the novel by Boleslaw Prus, Jerzy Kawalerowicz’s 1966 film Pharaoh (Faraon) is a sweeping epic that highlights the internal machinations of the Egyptian political structure. It is an intricately constructed and infinitely nuanced film that rivals anything produced in the Hollywood studio system. The cinematography is lavish and beautifully subdued, highlighting a minimalist approach to the colour scheme and production design. Only golden hues and neutral toned colours are dominant, with the notable exception being the river boat scene where tropical flowers can be seen lining the edge of the river. The score is sweeping and engaging. The pacing is near perfect in this theatrical cut. The original version of the film was to be over three hours long, however it was cut down for theatrical exhibition. This version runs just under two and half hours.
Christopher Di Nunzio’s short film Under The Dark Wing is an exploration of the darker elements of faith and how they fit in to the criminal underworld. There is something supernatural about the young girl who enters the lives of two low level mafia thugs and forever alters the course of their lives. Sporting some nice cinematography and the boldness to tackle some cross genre storytelling, Under the Dark Wing has potential. Unfortunately it never quite reaches the level it needs to.
Examining David Cronenberg’s first short feature, Stereo, offers a lot of insight for film enthusiasts. The film is difficult to take in as a pure entertainment, but as a relic of the auteur’s beginnings in the world of filmmaking it’s a fascinating piece.
The film has a loose storyline that centres around a group of young men and women who are housed in a research facility in northern Ontario. The purpose of this facility seems to be to examine the development of psychic abilities and extra sensory powers. The film flows through the architecturally interesting landscape of the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus. The brutally modern approach to corporate and institutional construction in the 1960’s lends itself quite well to the science fiction tone that Cronenberg was going for. We follow this group of young psychics as they interact with each other and attempt to develop their powers. The voice over that plays throughout the film doesn’t necessarily reflect the action on-screen, but it certainly compliments it. We hear a series of jargon that sounds as though it was lifted directly out of a medical text book. This dialogue is delivered so convincingly that it’s difficult to distinguish the facts from the obvious fictions. By the end of the film it’s unclear as to whether the research has produced any actual results, but the audience is left satisfied having been taken on an experimental journey into a sci-fi universe.
Young love is a tender thing. Easily dismissed as puppy love, infatuation, immature discovery, or any number of rather derogatory adjectives. Love is love and it’s real when you feel it. This is true for senior citizens, adults, and even teenagers, excuse me, young adults. How I live Now is Kevin McDonald’s adaptation of Meg Rosoff’s novel of the same name. It’s a book that falls squarely into the hip, new, category of Young Adult fiction. These books have lately been adapted to the big screen with large success. City of Bones, Percy Jackson, and most notably, the Twilight series are al examples of YA novels becoming big budget films. The difference between those titles and How I Live Now is that the fantasy elements in something like Twilight are clearly fantasy, whereas the fantasy of How I Live Now is based in a terrifyingly possible reality.
M. Butterfly represents a departure for David Cronenberg. Fast Company notwithstanding, it was with this film that he left the worlds of science fiction and horror in order to explore his key themes in a dramatic and realistic setting. M. Butterfly is a textured and multilayered film that deftly explores the realities of love, transformation, identity, and, yes, flesh.
Shandi Mitchell’s new film, The Disappeared, explores one of the most basic human instincts; survival. We need food, shelter and water in order to live, beyond that everything else is luxury. In the film we join six survivors of a shipwreck in the expansive, yet totally claustrophobic confines of two lifeboats. This is a minimalistic ensemble piece, which offers a view into the culture of sailing and seamanship and tests the limits of duty and loyalty. It’s a successful, if rather isolating film.
Television is overrun with so-called reality shows. Finding an interesting quirk in a person, or an industry, or a subculture and then documenting and producing a story built around that quirk is what it’s all about. It’s an easy way for the media to produce content, and to be fair, sometimes it’s interesting. Sean Cisterna’s documentary 30 Ghosts follows the same model. He joins Kim Hadfield as she takes her troupe of ghost hunters on a series of investigations searching for proof of the paranormal. It’s familiar territory, but there’s an interesting balance between the superficial world of ghost hunting and the internal struggle that Hadfield is clearly experiencing.
Marcio Novelli is a Hamilton, Ontario native singer/songwriter whose career is just about to launch. He sites influences such as Tegan and Sara, 30 Seconds to Mars, and Green Day as being important to his sound, though his structured and layered pop-rock sound feels a bit more diverse than that. He’s an enthusiastic and joyful performer with an obvious passion for music. In the documentary Walking Proof we join Marcio as he basically locks himself in a recording studio for seventeen days to complete his first full-length album. While he has an engaging and passionate personality, the film comes off as a bit stagnant and it doesn’t allow the viewer an opportunity to get to know any of the people on a personal level.
Down in southern California there’s a bit of a cultural time warp happening. The Rockabilly music scene is an underground movement that generally tries to maintain the aural and visual aesthetic of 1950’s teen culture. Of course the Rockabilly scene isn’t limited to California, but Reb Kennedy’s Wild Records is based in California and that’s where Elise Salomon spent five months shooting her documentary Los Wild Ones.