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Steven Armstrong's Picks
I've always been a fan of Robert Rodriguez, ever since he'd made El Mariachi. I think no matter what he's doing, he always seems to make films that remind us that they don't always have to be super sophisticated with profound messages. He makes films that are fun and if you're a film-head, his movies remind you why you enjoy the process of making them. You can tell the actors are having as good a time making a picture with him as you are watching. I enjoyed the first Machete film with all its stylized action/violence, elements of the myth (an aspect that can be found in the Mexico Trilogy), and especially the surprising group of actors in it such as, Robert DeNiro, Steven Segal, Jeff Fahey, and Don Johnson, what? Machete Kills seems promising in that regard and it looks like just as much fun as anything Rodriguez has done! I'm definitely looking forward to checking this out.
Man of Tai Chi
About a month or so ago, I stumbled on to the trailer of this film. I was particularly interested mostly because this is Keanu Reeves' directorial debut. I noticed immediately Tiger Chen, who I remembered from The Matrix Reloaded, and was surprised by what I saw just in the trailer. This sort of neo-martial arts film actually looks really cool. The other aspect of this film that struck me was the fact that Reeves will be playing the film's villain and I've never seen him play such a character before. Sure he's played edgy, cynical characters previously, but a downright villain, which is what it feels like he might be, I've never seen from him. I'm intrigued and would like to see how Reeves' first directorial effort fares.
Simon Brookfield's Picks
Boy do I love me some Ti West – platonically that is. From his contributions on V/H/S/ and The ABC’s of Death to his stellar feature length work which most recently includes House of the Devil andThe Innkeepers, he is an immensely promising horror filmmaker who has been working on the periphery since 2001. In addition to his skills crafting tense, but deliberately paced genre fare that rely more heavily on mood and acting than blood and guts, West is a superb screenwriter with a knack for dialogue and managing his actors. In my mind there is little reason not to look forward to The Sacrament.
This feature will be a fictionalized (and likely very messed up) account of the infamous Jonestown Massacre, in which two journalists set out to find their subject’s sister, very likely leading them into the heart of The Peoples Temple just prior to the horrific forced poisoning of over 900 people. With West’s passion for crafting slow build horror efforts, this will no doubt (at the very least) be a disturbing feature and one that horror fans should be anticipating highly.
The Double and Enemy: Dopplegängers in action
TIFF 2013 curiously saw two high profile offerings that centered on doppelgänger storylines: The Double with Jesse Eisenberg is directed by Richard Ayoade (Submarine), as well as Enemy, starring Jake Gyllenhaal from Denis Villeneuve whose Prisoners is now in theaters after also debuting in Toronto. Both of these works won over critics and apparently saw great work from the double duty leads.
While these efforts share what I suppose could be called a gimmick (but from the sound of it the hook has true bearing on how the plots of these movies unravel) they should be very different beasts. The Double is apparently so unique due to its blending of nightmarish elements with legitimately funny moments whereas Enemy is a mind boggling thriller with much more of a mature leaning. Different or not, these are two similarly themed efforts are certainly on my radar, with talent in front of and behind the camera to sway favor even more.
Ruben Rosario's Picks
Why Don't You Play in Hell?
Shion Sono has made some pretty insane films, but his latest offering, that played at both TIFF and Fantastic Fest just sounds absolutely nuts. Rival yakuza gangs, a wannabe pop idol and a pair of filmmakers that call themselves the “Fuckbombers” are but a few ingredients that make up Sono's latest. While I've seen very few Sono films, I'm hoping to rectify this and certainly catch this in theaters or pick it up right away, when Drafthouse Films releases it in 2014.
Whether its listening to a great commentary track or a watching a behind the scenes for a film you love, there's something about discovering the actual process of making a film that enhances the magic of cinema. Well, every now and then there are times when a film doesn't come to fruition, due to scheduling conflicts, money and plenty of other elements that make some filmmakers dreams remain as ether and never get to materialize. One of these projects was an adaptation of Frank Herbert's Dune, that was to be made by Alejandro Jodorowski, the father of the midnight movie. While the film never happened, due to a massive budget, strange concepts and a slew of other odd things, Frank Pavich has made a documentary to showcase the reasons why, from many of the people involved, in order to give us a glimpse of the greatest film, that never was.