Tag: independent cinema

TIFF 2009The second installment of my film picks for happy viewing at Toronto International Film Festival 2009. Hurry and get tickets now, these shows are all this week of Sept. 14th, 2009!


Director: Erik Gandini
Country: Sweden
Year: 2009
Language: English, Italian
Runtime: 85 minutes
Format: Color/35mm


Disinformationist and cultural watchdog director Erik Gandini, whose previous films include Surplus: Terrorized into Being Consumers (2003) and Gitmo – The New Rules of War (2005) that won the best documentary award at the Seattle International Film Festival, (sounds like my kind of guy) now brings us a film that explores the strange and astonishing world and influence of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi – owner of the country’s television empire. The following synopsis explains:

“In a late evening of 1976, a local Italian television broadcasts a quiz where viewers at home have to answer questions. For each correct answer, a housewife takes off a garment and does a brief dance. The format is simple and very successful.

Unaware viewers did not know that the show was the beginning of a complete change on the way of doing television. A revolution that would forever change the entire Italian political system, changing the values and becoming a powerful instrument of government for the nation.”

As if that isn’t enough to get any reader of the CulturePin.com to make a date for this screening, here is a trailer:

Tuesday September 15

Thursday September 17

Saturday September 19

Buy Tickets

Valhalla Rising

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Country: Denmark/United Kingdom
Year: 2009
Language: English
Runtime: 90 minutes
Format: Color/35mm


European director Nicolas Winding Refn is probably best known for the Pusher trilogy that migrated the gangster film genre to Copenhagen on an epic scale. His latest film Valhalla Rising tackles the Viking genre – typically heavy with mutton eating and battle axes gleaming in the reflection of the moon off of glaciers, he raises the roof high and takes us deeper inside the world of these powerful warriors who preceded Christopher Columbus arrival to North America by several hundred years.

From the programme:
“The film’s landscapes look so foreign and desolate that Valhalla Rising might as well have been shot on the moon.”

Looks like a lot of visual eye candy and excitement to me.

Tuesday September 15

Saturday September 19

Buy Tickets Now

Midnight Madness Programme 2009 – Pt. II

Solomon Kane

Director: Michael J. Bassett
Country: France/Czech Republic/United Kingdom
Year: 2009
Language: English
Runtime: 104 minutes
Format: Color/D-Cinema
Rating: 14A

Continuing with our list of gory epic sagas started with Valhalla Rising, director Michael J. Bassett, whose previous films including Deathwatch (2002) and Wilderness (2006) – films that in hindsight appear to have prepared him for undertaking the famous pulp-fiction story of 16th century Puritan Solomon Kane, is shot in a gritty and irreverent manner invoking a return to high-spirited action and adventure. Interestingly enough it is part of the Midnight Madness programme which can only mean that the action and adventure quotient is high indeed.

Wednesday September 16

Thursday September 17

Buy Tickets

Bitch Slap

Director: Rick Jacobson
Country: USA
Year: 2009
Language: English
Runtime: 104 minutes
Format: Color/35mm
Rating: 14A


Bitch Slap director Rick Jacobson has directed over 100 episodes of television including the series Xena: Warrior Princess, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Baywatch. The movie is called Bitch Slap. If you are a fan of Russ Meyer’s big-boobie-desert-romps or Tarantino’s instatiable lust for grindhouse fare mixed with really really bad bluescreen, then what are you waiting for? It’s Midnight Madness, it’s happening now, get a ticket and get there. If any of the above sound offensive or abhorrent to you, then for goodness’ sake stay home and watch reruns of Friends.

Monday September 14

Wednesday September 16

Buy Tickets

If you get a chance to see any of these films, please let me know what you thought of it. Also I would love to hear any other film recommendations you may have by posting a comment on this article. Have a great TIFF 2009!

This year the Toronto International Film Festival has cut back on its big splashy Hollywood fare and increased the number of screens for smaller independents from 29 to 36.

This is not to say the festival will be any less red-carpet worthy with over 50 of the world’s biggest celebrities from Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, Zac Efron, Matt Damon, Anne Hathaway, Keria Knightley to the Coen Brothers, Spike Lee, Charlie Kaufman, John Malkovich and everyone in between expected to attend for their respective film premieres.

I find an unusually good selection at this year’s Midnight Madness – from the Being John Malkovich-esque JCVD wherein the muscles from Brussels plays himself, dealing with being a has-been only to turn into a post-modern action flick, to the similarly half-documentary/half-tribute Not Quite Hollywood that celebrates or marvels at some of the pulp cinema that led to Tarantino’s Kill Bill and Grindhouse. Other films I chose either because they geographically interesting or because their directors have consistently delivered at Toronto and also bring something new to the table (Mike Leigh, Michael Winterbottom, Denys Arcand, Deepa Mehta, Bruce MacDonald).

Here is my long short list which I will narrow down further as actual screening times and discussion unfurls:

TIFF 2008
[Film Title – Director – Country – Series/Genre – Notes]

Burn After Reading – Coen Brothers

Eden Log – France – Sci Fi – Midnight Madness

Detroit Metal City – Toshio Lee – Japan – Midnight Madness

The Dungeon Masters – USA Comedy/Sci Fi

Food, Inc. – USA doc

Garden/Ing – Japan

Genova – Michael Winterbottom – UK

Ghost Town – Ricky Gervais new comedy

The Good, The Bad, The Weird – South Korea

Happy-Go-LuckyMike Leigh – UK

Heaven on Earth – Deepa Mehta – India

Horn of Plenty – Spain/Cuba

Hunger – Steve McQueen – UK

In the Shadow of The Naga – Thailand

JCVD – Mabrouk El Mechri – France – Midnight Madness (Jean Claude Van Damme plays himself)

Me and Orson Welles – Richard Linklater – UK

Not Quite Hollywood – Mark Hartley – USA/Australia – Midnight Madness

Picasso and Braque go to the movies – Arne Glimcher – USA

Plastic City – Yu Lik Wai – Brazil/China

Plus Tard tu Comprendras – Amos Gitaï – France

Pontypool – Bruce MacDonald

The Road – based on the brilliant Cormac McCarthy novel starring Charlize Theron

Rain – Maria Govan – Bahamas (coming of age)

The Real Shaolin – USA/China (sports Doc)

RocknRolla – Guy Ritchie – UK

The Sky Crawlers – Animation – Japan

Slumdog Millionaire – Danny Boyle – UK

Synecdoche, New York – Charlie Kaufman – USA

Tears for Sale – Uros Stojanovic – Serbia/Croatia

Treeless Mountain – US/Korea

Tokyo Sonata – Kyoshi Kurosawa – Japan/The Netherlands/Hong Kong, China

Tulpan – Sergey Dvortsevoy – Germany/Switzerland/Kazakhstan/Russia/Poland

Two-Legged Horse – Samira Makhmalbaf – Iran (doc – abuse/poverty)

Yes Madam, Sir – Megan Doneman – India/Australia

Youssou Ndour: I Bring What I Love – Chai Vasarhelyi – USA

The film schedule will be posted at the TIFF website on Tuesday August 26th, 2008.

Single tickets go on sale September 3rd.