Sea Fever Review

The open ocean has long been the stuff of nightmares, with suspicion and superstition developed over millennia by seafarers. On old maps they would write “there be dragons”, and the oft-quoted fact is that we know more about the surface of the moon than the deepest waters of our planet. Neasa Hardiman’s Sea Fever trades on the fear, fascination and exploitation of the depths, resulting in a film that’s both harrowing and intelligent. A rare mix indeed.

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The Twentieth Century Interview

Matthew Raskin’s film The Twentieth Century is a fever dream of a biopic, using geometric sets and oblique references to historical facts to tell a curiously dehistorical tale about William Lyon Mackenzie, first Prime Minister of Canada. Joining a long list of weird and wonderful films to emerge from Winnipeg, Raskin’s film is an audacious and unapologetically odd film. His feature debut follows on a number of shorts that also displayed an oblique view of the past, making for a surreal and engaging work that will likely enthrall and confound in equal measure. 

/Film spoke to Matthew prior to the film’s World Premiere as part of the Midnight Madness slate at TIFF 2019.

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There has been a recent spate of documentaries from the survivors of the 60s, those artists that manage to outlive and outlast many of their colleagues and collaborators, resulting in decades of music making. The latest, Once Were Brothers, draws from Robbie Robertson’s story, a unique narrative where a half-native kid from Toronto became the center of a movement that birthed Americana.

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apocalypse now final cut

As a kid, I was obsessed with helicopters. There was no real reason why, save for the fact that they seemed more magical than planes. Helicopters seem so implausible, like they shouldn’t work, some sort of mechanical beast that defied nature’s rules. The fundamentally feel out of context when you see them in the sky, and with the smallest interference to their aerodynamic components, catastrophe strikes. I liked shows like Airwolf about a fancy flying machine, or even the forgotten Clint Eastwood film Firefox, and on M.A.S.H. you’d see them every week with their giant, dragonfly glass bubbles flying over the canyons of California meant to evoke the Korean conflict.

There is no war more associated with the helicopter than Vietnam, and no better metaphor for America’s involvement than the technical might of the whirlybird that embodies all the achievements and progress and horrors of “modern” civilization, a fragile dominance that rests on thin, spinning blades. Similarly, there’s no better cinematic representation of these birds than Apocalypse Now, a film that barely stays in flight, whipping and spinning around, yet managing, implausibly, to be one of the greatest artistic achievements of all time.

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Hobbs and Shaw Spoiler Review

Spoiler alert: It’s about family.

And that’s it? We can end this article there, right?

Okay. We’ll go beyond that. When taking about Hobbs and Shaw, the latest film in the Fast and Furious saga, it helps to step back a bit when reflecting on the ridiculousness of the first spin-off from what I’ve dubbed the Fast and Furii (I’ll keep going ‘till it catches on, dammit). And here’s your real spoiler warning: all plot points are on the table from here on out.

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once upon a time in hollywood soundtrack

Whether it worked for you or not, Quentin Tarantino’s ninth film, Once Upon a Time In…Hollywood, has a lot to unpack. Unsurprisingly for a Tarantino film, one of the most impressive elements is the use of source music, a soundtrack littered with tunes from in and around the 1969 Los Angeles milieu.

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Paul Williams Interview

Actor, writer, singer, lyricist, musician, Oscar winner and survivor – for more than five decades Paul Williams has been all this and more. As an actor he’s appeared in everything from Battle for the Planet of the Apes to Smokey and the Bandit and Baby Driver. As a songwriter he penned hits for The Carpenters, Three Dog Night and Hellen Reddy, as well as the Monkees and Daft Punk. He wrote the lyrics to the Love Boat theme, played in Bugsy Malone both on stage and screen, and wrote scores and songs for dozens of films. He’s even the head of ASCAP, the organization for maintaining copyright for songwriters. He’s currently in the early stages of adapting Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth as a musical.

Yet for all his accomplishments, Williams is also one of the most generous, kind humans you’re likely to encounter. He practically exudes humanity, presenting a warmth and ease of affection that’s downright humbling. It’s easy to be swayed in his presence, somewhat cynical that no one can be this kind, yet in speaking with him the feeling deepens even further. We met to talk about a role that for some is his most iconic – Swan in Brian DePalma’s 1974 Phantom of the Paradise. Williams was originally tasked with the musical duties (a set of songs he wrote in his hotel after gigs while in Lake Tahoe opening for Liza Minnelli), but DePalma soon realized he found his Spector-like spectre for his film. The film was a major flop in most markets, but by a quirk of fate the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba embraced the film, and Williams in turn, as a classic.

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The Lion King Remake Comparison

With John Favreau’s hybrid of plate photography and CGI characters bringing The Lion King back to screen, it’s a perfect opportunity to look at the key personnel who helped bring the indelible songs from the film to life. Some are famous, some less so, and some were left out of the narrative until recently. Since the original landed in 1994, this music has become part of a new pop song canon, playing for decades on Broadway and continuing to enthrall new generations.

When the film was released, this was a breakthrough for Disney. The film was the first animated feature in the studio’s history not based on an existing property, a rarity even by today’s standards as evidenced by the fact that their entire slate seems to be remakes, sequels or prequels of familiar titles. Drawing from many references, especially Hamlet, the film was shepherded by many of the same that brought Beauty and the Beast to the screen, and along with Aladdin and  Little Mermaid convinced the world that the studio was once again the home to classic, timeless animated extravaganzas. The film had strong story, fantastic visuals, but above all an infectious soundtrack made by some exceptional talent.

Here are some of those that helped give rise to the music of The Lion King.

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Far From Home Spider-Man Peter and MJ

In Spider-Man: Far From Home, Peter Parker and his fellow students head to Europe, following a long line of Americans for generations that have headed abroad to expand their horizons. Naturally things go awry, travel plans get askew, and Parker cannot run far away from the obligations that his powers have committed him to.

There are hundreds films that speak to the experience of heading abroad and the kind of antics one gets up to that echo, in sometimes surprising ways, in this newest blockbuster. As more and more of cinema emerges as these megaproductions, there are still correlations, intended or otherwise, to different narratives we’ve experienced in the darkened halls of the movie palace. 

In keeping with the notion we’re meant to take this formerly frivolous stuff seriously, here are a few films that speak to these life experiences (excluding Eurotrip was very much an active choice), and how they evoke a sense of Spidey’s own heroic journey.

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Beatles Music in the Movies

Danny Boyle’s film Yesterday asks a provocative question – how would the world be different if the Beatles had never existed for anyone else around you? Would playing them these songs elicit the same emotional response these tunes have had for decades, or would they be considered merely a bunch of twee melodies suitable for background enjoyment? Thankfully we don’t have to live the nightmare scenario of a world without these songs from Macca, Johnny, George and Ringo, graced with music that’s been the world’s shared soundtrack since the early 1960s.

Yesterday has some strong cover versions of the Fab’s tunes, with the performance of these “lost” songs central to Richard Curtis’ screenplay. Many other films have used reinterpretations of Beatles tunes in various ways, providing through reinterpretation a different look at what these songs fundamentally represent, using these themes and variation to celebrate the classical canon of Western pop music while making the works unique.

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