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Showing posts from January, 2011

"The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector" Review: Grab the Popcorn!

The Mad Genius Speaks

Watching The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector the catchy phrase that will run though your mind is "mad genius". What else can you think of the man who compares his artistry as a producer to such notables as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Bach etc? The thing is, he is an amazing producer, having been credited with inventing the "wall of sound" that distinguished the music he produced from the late 50s to early 70s from other sounds coming out of America. Many, including Brian Wilson, have tried and failed to copy or better his technique.

Did you know Spector wrote Spanish Harlem? I don't know about you, but whenever I think of that song I think of Ben E. King. To me Phil Spector was the guy behind girl groups like, The Crystals (Da Doo Ron Ron) and The Ronettes (Be My Baby). I'm not a huge Beatles fan so I wasn't aware of his work with Lennon, Harrison, nor his production of the BeatlesLet it Be album. The scope of Phil's w…

ATTENBERG REVIEW: It's Greek to Me, and I Like It!

Attenberg begins with two young women kissing, but what you are seeing is not lesbian ardor, it’s sex education: the virgin heroine Marina (Ariane Labed)is being instructed in the art of French kissing by her sexually experienced friend Bella (Evangelia Randou).

There is sex and nudity in Attenberg (the town after which the film is named), but there is no passion, and the barren existence that Marina lives is reflected in the “ruins” of empty buildings in the dying factory town and by her father’s terminal illness. Marina’s relationship with her father (Vangelis Mourikis) is an open exchange of scholarly understanding and love; her relationship with a visiting engineer (Giorgos Lanthimos) is more academic interest than romantic love or even lust. Her friend Bella’s promiscuity never seems to be based on any true carnality, and Marina’s widowed father hasn’t had sex in a long time. A miasma of lifelessness hangs about the town.

At the core of writer/director Athina Rachel Tsangari’s fi…

Dear Oscar, Please Remember ANOTHER YEAR

Director/writer, Mike Leigh’s latest film, Another Year, is a flawless, understated gem, whose delicate beauty makes me wish I could whisper, “go see it!” in each of your ears instead of writing about it. I just don’t want the film to be over-hyped in a way that will detract from the simplicity of the story. Since I do want as many people as possible to go see this film , I will ask that when you do, that you leave any expectations of high drama at the door and prepare your senses for seasons filled with humour, pathos and reality.

Mike Leigh regulars, Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen, and Lesley Manville are the featured stars in the ensemble piece, Another Year. The story centers around Tom and Gerri (Broadbent and Sheen), a contented middle aged couple, their lonely, divorced friend, Mary (Manville), and their son Jack (Oliver Maltman). We follow these characters over the course of a year, watching the seasonal canvass change as Tom and Gerri cultivate their communal garden and welcome …

Hail the Queen: Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work

I first bragged about Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work on air in April of 2010 when I saw it at Hot Docs, and then in May 2010 when I saw it again at Inside Out. Well, here it is 2011 and I'm going to brag about this film again by reprinting my original review and my thoughts about the film now that it has been released on DVD.

The Film (original review from May 2010)
"This documentary is an honest portrait of perseverance and endurance. The title sums it up: Joan is a "piece of work" in the sense that she is different and edgy, and she is a work-a-holic. Her daughter, Melissa spells it out in the documentary when she says that all the comics she knows has a sense of insecurity that they never seem to lose no matter how famous they become. They all seem to long for the validation and attention they get from their audience. The film shows Joan stressing about empty calendar dates, working on her play, dealing with the business of being Joan Rivers, and, of course, doing he…

Nostalgia for the Light Shines at the TIFF Bell Lightbox

NOSTALGIA FOR THE LIGHT, my number 2 pick (and it was a very close runner up to West is West) at TIFF 2010 is screening at the TIFF Bell Lightbox (corner of King and John Streets) until January 19th. Wish it had a longer run because this Chilean documentary by master director, Patricio Guzmán, is exquisite (see my TIFF review). This film is made for everyone, but will be of particular interest to history lovers and astronomy buffs. Since TIFF always gets the best film prints, seeing the stars on a large screen at the Lightbox will be an amazing treat for the senses. Spanish with English subtitles.

Runs until Feb 2nd
TIFF Bell Lightbox
(corner of King and John)

Schedule and Info