Sunday, September 25, 2005

One of the highlights of

the Film Festival is the chance to see locally produced films. Calgary has a great crop of talented filmmmakers, and this is a great time for them to show off their talents.

Today, I caught 2 films... one local, and one by Director Werner Herzog.

The local film is called REVERB, and is directed by Mark Edward Lewis, which screened to a sold out theatre..
REVERB is the story of Jeff Timmens (Played by local TV Host Dave Kelly), who's sent out by his boss at the Central Music Network (CMN), to Iopa, Iowa to cover the National Karaoke Competition. Hating the assignment at first, Jeff finds that the life of "Kroakers" is far more interesting and eccentric than he could have ever imagined.. and aloong the way Jeff finds himself with a story that combines divas and domestic disturbances, baptizing and backstabbing, winners and wineos.
The movie reminded me a lot of BEST OF SHOW, and it does a pretty good job of creating a mocumentary about the world of Karaoke. The Characters range from a choir members who sneak out early to Karaoke, to one girl who walks dogs and delivers singing telegrams for a living, The cast gives first rate performances. All in All, an enjoyable sitting. The screenplay never has any REAL surprises, but it has laughs. If you get a chance to see it.. make sure to sit through the credits. REVERB gets a solid C+

The second film was Werner Herzog's GRIZZLY MAN, which tells the story of Timothy Treadwell, a man who spent 13 summers up in Alaska studying and protecting the Bears, until he and his girlfriend were killed by a rogue bear in october 2003.
The docudrama uses footage from Treadwell's videos he shot up there, and during the entire film you start to get a sense of a man losing his grip on reality. Treadwell began to believe that he had more in common with the bears that humans, and you see a man that doesn't treat the bears with respect, but as equals which everyone knows, except Treadwell apparantly. It was funny, and wrenching to watch some of the video Treadwell shot of himself wandering around with bears, calling them by the Cutesy names he gave them. Towards the end, you can see Treadwell's distaste for humans grow, and his dellusion that he had a spiritual connection with the bears, and from the footage we see, the bears just mostly ignore him.
GRIZZLY MAN is one of those movies that could have EASILY gone over the edge. There is an audio tape that records the last moments of Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard as they're killed by the grizzly bear, but it is never used. There is one scene in the movie where Herzog is LISTENING to the tape, but all we see is his distraught face. GRIZZLY MAN was definately a must-see for me, and I glad I saw it. B+



Saturday, September 24, 2005

Day 1 went from one extreme

to another at the Calgary International Film Festival for my screening schedule.

First up was the Opening Gala:

Deepa Mehta's (Bollywood/Hollywood) WATER.

Set in 1938 Colonial India, against Mahatma Gandhi's rise to power, the story begins when
eight-year-old Chuyia is widowed and sent to a home where Hindu widows must live in penitence. Chuyia’s feisty presence affects the lives of the other residents, including a young widow, who falls for a Gandhian idealist.

WATER completes Deepa Mehta's elemental trilogy (Fire, 1996, Earth, 1998), and the production was not without controversy. In 2000, the project was temporarily abandoned as controversy surrounded the production when Hindu protestors in the holy city of Varanasi disrupted location shootings and vandalized sets. Some Hindu fundamentalists got a copy of the script, and decided that the story was anti-hindu. In 2004, the film was re-cast, filming began, and Water was completed in Sri Lanka.

The story unwinds in a leisurely fashion, but I found the movie to be fascinating to watch. The 8 year old actress that plays Chuyia, we discovered during the Q&A after the movie with the director, could not speak Hindu and learned all her lines phonetically. All in all, a great way to start the Festival off.

No sooner was the opening film over, than it was time for the second screening of the night, a Documentary called Put the Needle on the Record.

Put the Needle on the Record explores the world of dance music and the DJ's that bring it to life. The film features over 50 songs from top artists in the world of electronic music and over 40 interviews with electronic artists. Filmed primarily at the Winter Music Conference, a 5-day, non-stop party held annually in Miami, the film takes a look behind the scenes where the biggest DJ talents in the world come to see and be seen. It features interviews with artists such as Dirty Vegas, Paul Oakenfeld, The Crystal Method and Junior Sanchez.

Put the Needle on the Record has an interesting premise, but is about 23 minutes too long. The movie felt like a PG rated version of a GIRLS GONE WILD video, and I was getting a little bored.

What made tonight's screenings interesting, was the extremes of the Audiences. The opening gala had a rather formal feel to it, where the second screening was a 180 degree turn from that. Going from the red-carpet arrivals of Deepa Mehta and the star Lisa Ray, then entering the auditorium for the second movie with Dance Music blaring, reminded me the array of films I have to look forward to over the next week.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Friday, September 02, 2005

As I sit here in front of my computer,

safe and comfortable in my place of residence, I can't help but be haunted by all the images coming from New Orleans, as the residents there try and recover from the effects of Hurricane Katrina.

Now is the time for everyone to do what they can to help out. This effort won't take DAYS to fix, it will take MONTHS, if not YEARS to help the people of New Orleans get back to normal. I thank god that there are organizations like the RED CROSS, and others that are around to spearhead the effort. I pray that the looters will stop, and relief efforts can begin in earnest. This is not a time for lawlessness, it's a time of healing, and each person lending a helping hand. We did it for Tsunami, now we can do it for something closer to home.

Today has been labelled "International Blogging for Disaster Relief Day". If you peruse blogs today, you may notice that many of them may have changed the focus of their blogs to help raise awareness and help for the Hurricane Victims. This is my part.

You can check out this link for the Wikipedia on the hurricane, which is a fantastic resource on what happened, and what's going on. The Wikipedia is an open source encyclopedia, and is being added to on an ongoing basis.

You can make a Donation to the Red Cross, or the Salvation Army

Check out the following International%20Blogging%20for%20Disaster%20Relief%20Day'>Link, to learn more, and to track all the blogs covering the event today.

This is a time for everyone to band together and help out. It would be really cool if all Movie Theatres in Canada and the United States took $1 from every $5 pop they sell, and put it toward Hurricane recovery. That way everyone would make a difference in some small way.