Films to look out for at #TIFF21 + Titane!

Posted in Disabilities, Disguise, Feminism, Fetish, Horror, Thriller, Torture, Trans by CulturalMining.com on September 11, 2021

Hi, this is Daniel Garber at the Movies for culturalmining.com and CIUT 89.5 FM.

TIFF has just started, in a half digital, half in-person sort of way, and it looks like it’ll be fun… kinda. There are screenings at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, Roy Thomson Hall, Scotibank Theatre, the Princess of Wales and at Cinesphere at Ontario Place, along with various drive-ins. And for those who fear the virus, you can watch it at home… but the selection is not identical. Some filmmakers don’t want their films premiering on your TV or phone.

Seats are all reserved, so no need to line up. And thinking of munching popcorn? Think again. Nothing will come between you and your mask, even during the movies. Scotiabank Theatre has even issued a diktat that they may be searching your bags — not for firearms, but for cameras and potential munchies. They even issued restrictions on the size of shoulder bags, purses or knapsacks!

This is serious stuff, people.

Because of press embargoes at the time I’m recording it, I can only review one non-embargoed film — a story of a woman who is really into cars. But I can also tell you, for your edification — not reviewing, just telling — about some of the movies coming to the festival that I think look good or interesting.

Here are some of the movies I’m looking forward to seeing at TIFF this year:

Saloum

Saloum is a supernatural action thriller set in West Africa. It’s about about a small team of mercenaries known as the hyenas who escape from a coup d’etat in Guinea Bissau only to land their prop plane in a remote part of Senegal only to encounter supernatural dangers. It’s written and directed by Jean Luc Herbulot and comes out of Lacme studios in an innovative outfit based in Dakar. and it’s having its premiere next week as part of Midnight Madness.

Benediction

Benediction is biopic about Siegfried Sassoon, an aristocrat celebrated for his poems about WWII. I think the movie delves into his personal life, including his lovers. And it’s written and directed by the great Terence Davies — that’s the main reason I want to see it. He has an amazing style of filmmaking like no one else.

Attica

Attica is a documentary feature about the notorious prison in New York State, and the uprising there 50 years ago, where dozens of inmates and guards are killed. I want to see this both for the topic, also for the director. It’s made by Stanley Nelson, who has documented crucial parts of American history, including the civil rights movement, the black panthers, and many others His docs are always great.

Alanis Obomsawin

And speaking of great documentary filmmakers, they’re celebrating Alanis Obomsawin this year and playing many of her films at the festival. If you’re a regular listener of this show, you’ve probably heard some of my many interviews with her over the years — but even if you haven’t, you really should catch some of her films playing at TIFF. Working at the National Film Board she’s the one who’s been documenting indigenous history from the inside, since the 1960s.

Dune

I don’t believe I can call any movie a guilty pleasure, but I am actually mildly excited by Dune. It could be dreadful or it could actually be good. I’m sure you’ve heard of it —it’s based on Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel about a royal family on a sand-covered planet. It’s directed by Denis Villeneuve and it stars Timothee Chalamet… I dunno, could be good, could be terrible.

There are so many other movies I’m l’m hoping to see.
There are adaptations of Canadian novels like Maria Chapdelaine and All My Puny Sorrows based on Miriam Toews’ book. And international directors like Norway’s Joachim Trier called The Worst Person in The World; and Chinese director Zhang Yimou’s film set during the Cultural Revolution, called One Second.

Anyway, despite what some people are saying, there are a lot of great — or potentially great — movies out there, and many have tickets still on sale.

Titane
Wri/Dir: Julia Ducournau

The south of France 20 years ago. Alexia, a bratty little girl who doesn’t wear her seatbelt, is in a terrible car accident. She recovers from brain surgery but is left with a prominent scar on one side of her head covered with a titanium plate. Many years later (Agathe Rousselle) she’s as foul tempered as ever, but now is tall, lean and long limbed with blonde hair. She’s a successful model who specializes in car and boat shows — the type of model who wears skimpy revealing clothing as they pose beside and caress in a the vehicles on display. She has many devoted fans but refuses to sign autographs. And she has a sharp metal knitting needle always tucked in her hair.

For unexplained reasons, but maybe because of the childhood car wreck, she is infatuated by cars. I mean really infatuated, She finally fulfills her fantasies by literally having sex with a Cadillac. They don’t show it, but it’s clear from the bouncing fender and flashing headlights that the caddy is as much into her as as she is into it. But something changes after that, and she starts killing people with her knitting needle. First a rabid fam, and later every other human at a beachside sex orgy. Soon the police are tracking her and she has to get away. At a train station she spots a poster for a little boy named Adrien who disappeared more than a decade earlier and presumed dead. Thinking fast, she hides in a \washroom, smashes her nose flat, dyes her hair brown and cuts it short, and uses cloth tape to flatten her breasts. Now she resemble what the poster boy Adrien might look like today. Sure enough, the dead boy’s dad Vincent (Vincent Lindon) says he’d recognize his son anywhere. He drives her home and puts her to bed in the boys room kept intact since he disappeared. But that’s not all.

Vincent, her new dad, is a super macho guy who lifts weights and injects steroids into his bum. He’s the dictatorial head of an all-male fire station. And Adrien/alexia’s room is inside the firestation. So suddenly she’s trapped in the form of a man in an intensely homoerotic workplace where the men all drink beer and rub against each other to disco music. And… she’s pregnant, and the most likely father is the cadillac. Will Vincent discover she’s not his kidnapped son? Will she ever get out of there alive? Or has she finally found her home?

Titane is a stylized, and surreal, totally off-the-wall fantasy, seen through the eyes of an involuntary transgendered anti-hero who has sex with machines. It’s also about the deluded Vincent who will do practically anything to protect his only family member. It plays with concepts of gender, sexuality, self-identity and family. Lots of gratuitous extreme violence, nudity, and weird, weird sex — this movie is not for the squeamish or the sensitive. Agathe Rouselle and Vincent Lindon are both amazing in their roles. I think this movie is strange but brilliant. It won the Palme d’Or at Cannes this year, only the second film directed by a woman to win that. Great movie.

Titane and the other movies I mentioned are all playing at TIFF. Go to tiff.net for details.

This is Daniel Garber at the Movies, each Saturday morning, on CIUT 89.5 FM and on my website, culturalmining.com

Daniel Garber talks with filmmaker Matthew Rankin about The Twentieth Century

Posted in 1800s, Art, Canada, Fetish, Movies, Politics, Sex by CulturalMining.com on December 27, 2019

Hi, this is Daniel Garber at the Movies for culturalmining.com and CIUT 89.5 FM.

Photos by Jeff Harris.

It’s the end of the 19th Century, and Canada is still an Imperial backwater. Sir Wilfrid Laurier says “The 20th Century shall be the century of Canada.”

Dan Beirne, The Twentieth Century, Photo by Jeff Harris

And a young William Lyon Mackenzie King thinks he should be the one to lead it. He visits girls dying of consumption, tends to his blonde-tressed mother, and pines for a heroic, harp-playing Valkyrie. A pity though, he’s quite nuts.

The Twentieth Century is a new, partially animated and highly stylized film about the history of Canada as seen through the deranged eyes of a young Mackenzie King. Powered with the glow of fluorescent light, modernist architecture with actors gliding past on roller skates, it reimagines the country as a den of corruption controlled by evil royalists and their puppets.

The feature is written and directed by Winnipeg-born, avant-garde filmmaker Matthew Rankin.

I spoke with Matthew on location at TIFF19.

The Twentieth Century won the Best Canadian First Feature at TIFF and has been selected for Canada’s Top Tem Films of 2019.  It is now playing in Toronto.

Canadian sex and violence. Films Reviewed: Hollow in the Land, Birdland, Badsville PLUS Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

Posted in British Columbia, Canada, Canadian Literature, Fetish, Gangs, LGBT, Mystery, Sex, Thriller, Toronto by CulturalMining.com on January 26, 2018

Hi, this is Daniel Garber at the Movies for culturalmining.com and CIUT 89.5 FM.

Who said Canada is “nice but dull”? I’ve got three new indie Canadian movies this week, chock full of sex and violence. There’s torrid sex among the towers of Toronto, a bludgeoned body in the mountains of BC, and a gang war in the steamy southwest. …plus a UK romance set in Liverpool.

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

Dir: Paul McGuigan

It’s 1980 in Liverpool. Peter (Jamie Bell) is an aspiring actor who gets a surprise call from an older actress. She’s in the UK performing on stage in The Glass Menagerie and wonders if she can come by. Gloria Graham (Annette Bening) is a former movie star who won an Oscar in the 1950s. She talks like Marilyn Monroe and looks like Gloria Swanson. She was once known for “playing the tart” in Hollywood dramas. Now she wears large sunglasses and silk scarves over her hair.

Peter is surprised to hear from her again. He met her a year ago at a London rooming house which led to a torrid affair spanning two continents. He visited her at her beach house in California and followed her to New York. But she dumped him unceremoniously at her Manhattan apartment and he never understood why. And now she’s back again asking to stay with him in his working class home with his dowdy mother Bella (Julie Walters). Is it because film stars don’t die in Liverpool?

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool is a wonderful romance based on Peter Turner’s memoirs about his encounters with a once famous actress twice his age. Bening is perfect as an over-the-hill diva who still sees herself as a Shakespearean teenaged Juliet while rejecting aging and her own mortality. And Bell is endearing as the starstruck Peter.

The story is straightforward but the director experiments with style. Peter has flashbacks while walking through a door signalled by a subtle change in lighting and music. And surprising results come from identical scenes which are shown twice but with very different points of view.

Definitely worth seeing.

Hollow in the Land

Wri/Dir: Scooter Corkle

It’s nowadays in the BC interior, a land of mountains, pulp mills and grow-ops. Ally (Dianna Agron) is a pretty but tough woman in her twenties, blonde hair beneath her hardhat. By day, she works at the town pulp mill, and at night looks after her 17-year-old brother Brandon (Jared Abrahamson). And every so often she spends the night with her lover Char (Rachelle Lefevre). Ally may be Brandon’s sister but she acts like his mother, warning him to stay out of  trouble with the cops – or they’ll throw him in jail, just like their dad. He’s in prison for running down a teenager while drunk. And the kid he killed happenis to be the son of the family that owns the pulp mill. Which is very bad news in a company town.

The two cops – friendly Darryll (Shawn Ashmore) and hard-ass Chief (Michael Rogers) – never let them forget it. So when a dead body turns up, and Brandon is the chief suspect, only Ally believes in her brother. It’s up to her to play detective, follow the clues, uncover the motive, track down the killer and find her brother who ran away into he woods. And she has to do all this before the killer kills her.

Hollow in the Land is a pretty good detective mystery/thriller, but with a few problems. I get that it’s noir so most of the scenes are at night, but you’d think they’d light up people’s faces properly so you can see who’s who. But the BC locations are amazing. The movie starts out very confusing, with dozens of characters and a foggy plot, but as it develops, it gets much more interesting. And Diana Agron is great as Ally – tough but tender — who carries it through to a satisfying end.

Birdland

Dir: Peter Lynch

It’s present-day Toronto. Shiela (Kathleen Munroe) is a tough as nails former cop with her own security firm. She’s a whiz with surveillance cameras and disguises. Her mild-mannered husband Tom (David Alpay) works at a museum cataloguing bird carcasses. But when she discovers he’s having an affair with a mysterious woman in a blue kimono, she decided to investigate. But when the affair leads to murder she realizes it’s all much bigger than she suspects. And someone is trying to cover it up. There’s an oil magnate pulling strings, a protester, a femme fatale, a nightclub entrepreneur, and a cop — her ex-partner — investigating the crime. And they all seem to share the same hobby — BDSM sex parties. Who is the killer? Who is having sex with whom? And who’s behind the conspiracy?

Birdland is full of politics, Big Oil, the police, museums, nightclubs, detectives, and kinky sex. And everything is projected against a fabricated bird metaphor:  there’s a man named Starling, an ornithologist, a nightclub with a bird concept, characters who sing Lullaby in Birdland, a bird rescue team… But what’s the point? The “bird” themes don’t come from the characters, it’s superimposed on them. There are some cool concepts and images in Birdland, but it just doesn’t work. I was never sure if I was watching a messy story to justify the not-so-sexy, softcore porn, or if the sex was there to justify an extremely confusing plot. It might work as a miniseries but it packs in too much stuff for a single movie.

Badsville

Dir: April Mullen (Written by Benjamin Barrett and Ian McLaren)

It’s a dead-end town in the southwest in the 1950s (or 60s?). Wink and Benny (Ian McLaren and Benjamin Barrett) are lifelong friends and members of the Kings, a local gang. Wink works in a greasy spoon and hangs with his buddies in the seedy bar or bowling alley. He serves as a mentor for Lil’ Cat (Gregory Kasyan), a local kid with a junkie for a mom. Wink wants him to “stay gold”. The Kings are mainly Latino while their rivals, the Aces, are white. They regularly meet to rumble, meaning big fistfights supplemented with metal pipes and pieces of wood, all lit up by blazing oil drums.

Sounds like fun.

But when he falls for Suzy (Tamara Duarte) a newcomer with a secret past, it looks like things are going to change. Wink might finally achieve his dream – escaping Badsville for a better life in Colorado. And this is what pushes Benny over the edge. He loves Daddio – that’s what he calls Wink – and not just as a friend. So he sets in motion a series of events that he hopes will stop Wink from leaving, but that end up putting all their lives in jeopardy.

Badsville is a new take on classic exploitation gang movies and SE Hinton novels. We’re talking Jets and Sharks here, not Crips and Bloods. And they’re not in high school either, they’re much older. The film looks at masculinity and friendship with a bit of racial politics in the mix. Directed by April Mullen, it’s a first effort by the two non-actors who play Benny and Wink, and also wrote the script. It’s low budget and not perfect – but it works.

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, Hollow in the Land, Birdland and Badsville all start today in Toronto; check your local listings.

This is Daniel Garber at the Movies, each Friday morning, on CIUT 89.5 FM and on my website, culturalmining.com.

Daniel Garber speaks with VIBRATO the Human Vibrator Shawn Bordoff about the doc NO JOKE premiering at NXNE 2013

Posted in comedy, Cultural Mining, documentary, Fetish, Movies, NXNE, Uncategorized by CulturalMining.com on June 14, 2013

https://danielgarber.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/daniel_interview_june14.mp3ImageHi, this is Daniel Garber at the Movies for culturalmining.com and CIUT 89.5 FM.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? And if a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, does it make a sound? How many hours have armchair philosophers and grade 10 stoners wasted discussing riddles like this?
But has anybody ever asked: what if you told a joked… and no one laughed?
Well one filmmaker, Matt Frame, decided to look at this question in detail. He launched a troupe of “special” stand-up comics (ones who drew silent responses from audiences) on a trip across North America. Along with manager Shawn Bordoff — aka Vibrato ‘The Human Vibrator’ — he decided to see how long comics could survive without a laugh, and what they could do to change their delivery. The results are in a new film called NO JOKE that has its world premier at NXNE on Saturday, June 15 at 6:30.
And I’m pleased to have the Human Vibrator himself (co-producer Shawn Bordoff) here in the studio to talk with me. Shawn explains what the tour was like, why they did it, what young comics can learn from their experience…. and what it’s like being a human sexual vibrator!
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