Friday, August 30, 2013

Pick O The Week - August 30

I've never been one to hold off on bemoaning the lack of interesting films coming out, so it was oddly gratifying to stumble upon this article by Graeme McMillan of Underwire suggesting that perhaps Hollywood Blockbusters have just gotten to large to sustain themselves.  He makes some interesting points about this season's blockbusters that could have been and he makes a good point about something I've been suffering from of late: disappointment even in the films that I was (somewhat) interested in.  With TIFF incoming to Toronto in the next few weeks and FanExpo having just left this past weekend, it's time to get excited about films again, so with that in mind I'm going to make my choices this week based on a few films that get me really excited about the medium.

In Theatres: If you're lucky enough to be in Toronto or somewhere reasonably close, you have the opportunity to attend the Toronto International Film Festival.  Each year it features some of the biggest stars and the most talked about films (often right from Cannes).  Last year Joss Whedon's adaptation of Much Ado premiered here and this year sees many films, including this year's (somehow) controversial Palm d'or winner Blue is the Warmest Color (La vie d'Adèle) coming our way.  I've been wanting to see this film since it took the prize at Cannes this summer and while I'm not in town the weekend that its playing (bummer) you can still see it if you're around.  Special mentions go to, Abuse of Weakness, Short Cuts Canada (specifically Anatomy of Assistance), and The Art of Steal (cause I love a good crime drama).  But honestly, there are so many interesting options here you really can't go wrong.

At Home: I was telling someone about the Maltese Falcon the other day and I realized that the film is almost as good as the book (which is a rare thing).  I mean: Mary Astor?  Vintage Bogie?! Come on!  Just reading the script makes me giddy with anticipation.  When a gorgeous client comes calling on Sam Spade, he is loath to turn down her case.  What he can't anticipate is that he will end up entangled in a world of lies, mischief and downright thievery.  It's available on the US netflix (if you're a resident) or pretty much anywhere old movies can be borrowed or bought.  Delightful.

On TV:  There have been a few shows that captured my attention when I was young and which (on re-watching) simply don't hold up.  Lately I've not found television to be all that compelling.  With a mostly binge-watching schedule I haven't found that the cliffhanger is done particularly well anymore, but I still remember when waiting for each week's new episode was like sweet torture and when, "Oh holy hell, no way!" was the way that each episode ended.  It happened for awhile with True Blood, season one was deliciously campy and the show still loves a good cliffhanger.  Game of Thrones too was a great cliffhanger in season one and is perhaps still great (but I've now read the books).  But hands down, the show that always gets me excited about writing and television again is The West Wing (which incidentally always reminds me how disappointed I am in The Newsroom).  So this week's pick is The West Wing.  Also, Josh + Donna forever. That is all.

Retro Re-Watch: This is a bonus as it's also screening at TIFF this week (since it premiered there thirty years ago) but The Big Chill, is often touted as a fantastic example of an ensemble really working well together.  Starring Tom Berenger, Kevin Kline, William Hurt, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum among others, the film explores the relationship between who we are as youngsters, finding ourselves and our values, and how that informs  (and in some cases is entirely irrelevant to) who we become as adults.  Unique in its depiction of a confused generation of activists turned baby-boomers, the film was the people's choice award at TIFF in 1983 and is definitely worth another watch.

Happy Long Weekend everyone!  Play safe.

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