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#TIFF17 has come and gone, and like most years — it kicked my ass. I saw 32 films this year between Thursday September 7 and Friday September 15 (along with 4 before the festival even began), shattering my previous best of 25 films from previous years. And I tied my personal best number of films seen in 1 day at 5. I was hoping to see 6, but the combination of Revenge starting almost an hour late (at 1AM no less) and the eye-opening experience of watching mother! were a bit too much to handle. So while I am disappointed that I cut this year short, I am more than satisfied with what I did see.

I had a lot of activity going on Twitter reviewing all the films quickly, but did get to write out a few journals for the great Oscar-tracking site NextBestPicture.com. Here are the links to the journals filled with thoughts on the films I saw, as well as some of my experiences (including getting to tell Nicolas Cage he was my spirit animal!).

On the Ground at TIFF – Days 1 & 2
Film Highlights — Call Me By Your Name, Lady Bird, Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken!

On the Ground at TIFF – Days 3 & 4
Film Highlights — The Current War, Molly’s Game, mother!

On the Ground at TIFF – Days 5 & 6
Film Highlights — Darkest Hour, The Disaster Artist, The Shape of Water

On the Ground at TIFF – The Final Days
Film Highlights — Mudbound, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

And here are the links to the capsule reviews I wrote for my favourite film and celebrity news site, Mr. Will Wong:

Lady Bird
mother!
The Shape of Water

Until next September!

tiff40Tomorrow marks the beginning of TIFF — the Toronto International Film Festival. It runs for 11 days every September, this year’s running September 10-20. Nearly 300 films are screened from all over the world, and the buzz and excitement is simply unrivaled. There is just so much to do, and so much to see, that it actually becomes quite stressful planning it all. Are you going to see movies? See stars? Try to sneak into the parties? There is no right answer as everyone does something different.

I took a bit more time off work this year, so I am hoping to beat my record of seeing 19 films in 11 days (though I will not try beating my record of seeing 5(!) films in a day). And unlike previous years, I will be blogging and writing capsules of all of the films I manage to see. I may even put up a few of my best celeb photos. The goal is to be on here daily, telling stories and letting you know which films to seek out during and long after the festival when some of these movies finally see the light of day.

I have seen 2 films so far (at private and embargoed critics’ screenings last week), and their reviews should go up sometime in the next few days over on Mr. Will Wong’s website. I know I said I’ll be posting celebrity photos, but none of mine will ever compare to his — so keep an eye on that site for updates, and for reviews from me and the rest of the crew who will be all over the festival.

So kick back and prepare for the madness. But just remember, we’ll get through this.

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As a film fan in Toronto, I can say I am very excited to see Suicide Squad when it is finally unleashed next August. And I can say I was even more excited to finally see some legit footage from the movie yesterday.

I have been following it intently, and even went to a few of the outdoor shoots throughout May. I was there the first night when Will Smith and apparently, Ben Affleck, were on set. I saw a bit of the digital effects work going into scenes with Smith and Margot Robbie outside of Bay Station (made up to look like a subway station from Metro City).

And I even got to see the friggin’ Batmobile one night alongside well over 500 other people cramming onto a long block of Yonge Street. It was so crazy that night that filming was delayed for 4 hours, and the on-duty police told people they had to go home before shooting would commence again. This, after they escorted the Batmobile up and down the street in all its glory.

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Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters II came out in the summer of 1989. I was 2-years-old, but remember seeing it in a hotel room during a family trip at some point around then. I distinctly remember the pink slime in the sewers, and the guys riding on the Statue of Liberty. I watched the original Ghostbusters religiously before and after that time (on a taped VHS no less), but did not see that movie again for many years after that. From what I can tell and surmise, it continues to not hold up very well at all. Yet I clamoured for more adventures from Venkman, Egon, Spengler and Winston beyond the Saturday morning cartoons, but the years and rumours came and went, and Ghostbusters III never arrived.

In 2009, the flawed but really enjoyable Ghostbusters: The Video Game was released with the majority of the original cast intact, along with a story taking place very shortly after the second film. It was not the sequel we all had been hoping for, but it was as close as we ever got.

I say this all because what I really want to see, and what I will bet just about every film fan alive in the 1980’s and early 1990’s wants to see, is Ghostbusters III. But with Harold Ramis passing away, and the remaining cast not getting any younger, this pipe dream seems like a virtual impossibility.

But fear not – because Sony confirmed yesterday that on top of Paul Feig’s female-lead spiritual sequel/reboot/reinvention/whatever coming next July, they also have a Channing Tatum-lead follow-up planned, another follow-up involving an Avengers-style team-up between both of the new Ghostbuster teams, and some form of a prequel. Whether this is a full-fledged remake of the first film or not remains to be seen. So more or less, Sony is creating another enchanted cinematic universe. Continue Reading

I really do not understand why, but I feel compelled to write about Robin Williams tonight. He was found dead this morning, an apparent suicide after suffering from severe depression. While there have been many of the obligatory “RIP” posts on Facebook and Twitter (including one from myself), there have been just as many, if not more, talking about mental illness and how to help/get help if you or a loved one is suffering. That’s great and all, but do we really need to wallow on the circumstances of his death, or should we be praising the resume of incredible work this gifted comedian and actor left behind?

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The Bastardization of the American Dream

By David Baldwin

*Please note this article contains spoilers*

This past weekend, Michael Bay finally unleashed his long gestating Pain & Gain with Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson. It made just over $20-million, nearly one-fifth of the opening of Bay’s last film – Transformers: Dark of the Moon. It had its share of problems (a lengthy and verbose first act, an almost criminal use of narration and a really odd tonal structure to name just a few), but it is easily the best work Bay has done in well over a decade. The man is known for spectacle, and this is his least spectacular film yet.

As I left the theatre, I was unsure of how I felt about the film. It certainly was not at all what I was expecting, especially from an “auteur” like Bay. But at the same time, I was very impressed with what I had just witnessed. I felt disgusted with myself, especially after how much I have hated pretty much the entirety of his directorial output (save for The Rock, which remains one of my favourite action films to this day). But there was something about the film, something I did not quite catch onto as I watched it, that acted as the narrative crux of the whole thing. It dawned on me a few days later, rather obviously, that this was the inherent quest to obtain the American Dream. I mention the phrase and immediately it evokes an aura of tall tales and myths, of true stories of glory and failure – the never-ending search for a practically unattainable euphoria. It is exactly what the characters in this sordid and bleak tale crave the most. It drives their actions, reactions, and is ultimately the cause of their downfall. Well, that and their own stupidity. Continue Reading