Issue: December 2014 - Year-End Spectacular

2015 Predictions: Rise of the small films

There are only two things I ask of the film industry for 2015, and I hope these predictions come true. First, can we please cool it with the superhero films and young adult adaptations? I realize that this is a long shot, as due to the success of Marvel’s film and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay at the box office, it looks like these trends are going to continue for a while yet. Marvel already has two films scheduled to come out in 2015 plus a new tv show and have announced their planned films through 2019. There is also the second part of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay and the Divergent sequel to look forward to. If these films rake in the cash that they’re expected to we are most likely in for another solid decade of these huge budget action blockbusters. Although, with The Hunger Games coming to a close, everyone will be out looking for the next franchise. It’s a safe bet that it will be a fantastical dystopia and most likely feature a female lead. I will continue to hope for Hollywood to realize that Tamora Pierce’s books are perfect for adaptation to the screen and there is years worth of material in her publications. My second request is for Hollywood to continue the trend, however small, of increasing the profile of women both on-screen and off....

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2015 Predictions: pop musicians curating/scoring soundtracks

Ever since Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor teamed up with Atticus Ross to win an Oscar (and a Grammy) for scoring The Social Network and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, I honestly thought more contemporary artists would be chomping at the bit to want to take a stab at composing a score for a film or at the very least curate the soundtrack. Perhaps 2015 will be the year that this prediction comes true. Pharrell tried his hand at it and tackled the soundtracks for both Despicable Me films and scored a Best Original Song nomination for “Happy”. Another artist to take a stab at it is Lorde. She was asked curate the soundtrack for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and enlisted her famous friends to contribute songs. He efforts nabbed her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song and don’t be surprised if she earns an Academy Award nomination. But with these two scoring success, why haven’t more artists jumped on the bandwagon? Taking on the task of curating or even scoring a soundtrack seems like a daunting one. You’re asking an artist, who already has an established sound, to create music for a movie that may not necessarily be in line with their artistry. Sure it may work on paper, but who’s to say that they won’t feel inspired by the script? Inspiration isn’t...

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2015 Resolutions: Against the stream

This coming year, I’m going to stand neck-deep against coming tide of internet streaming services. I say “neck-deep,” as it would be completely foolish and naïve to say I’ll cancel my Netflix account or stop streaming altogether. No. But, I am signing a new lease on my own movie-going and re-investing in brick and mortar businesses and tangible film technologies. We all need to right our course and move away from the intangibility of streaming services and back to our beloved neighbourhood video stores and personal movie collections. Many streaming services want you to believe that there is a lot of thought put into the movies they make available for viewing. Why does Hollow Man “crackle”? Well, it doesn’t. It was just cheap to license and people will watch what you put in front of them. Look at the so-called Classics section of Netflix—by the evident standards, a film automatically qualifies as a classic if it came out before 1968. And looking closer at Canadian Netflix, it appears as though only a couple of dozen films fall into this category. I live just steps away from the last remaining Film Buff in the city. This past October, the Buff (that’s what we call it) closed its doors for a couple of weeks to renovate and consolidate its holdings. It now shares its space with Local Hero, a family run...

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2015 Predictions: let’s embrace illogic

Predicting the future is a fool’s errand, which means I’m uniquely qualified to write this article. I don’t know what the future holds. I am therefore going to use the next few paragraphs to manifest my ideal cinematic future into existence and pass it off as a prediction. Think of this as the mood board sequence from The Bling Ring, but in text. In 2014, filmmakers desperately tried to convince us that their movies made sense. They tried very hard. Too hard, one might say. Not for the first time, Christopher Nolan wheeled out actor-cum-exposition-device Michael Caine to deliver a monologue justifying Interstellar’s approach to science. He then claimed that physicist Kip Thorne had signed off on the film. Thorne published a book explaining Interstellar. Earlier in the year, Caine’s partner in tedious exposition from the Dark Knight trilogy, Morgan Freeman, was called upon to explain the science of Lucy. The Internet went wild. Lucy and Interstellar spawned hundreds of articles analyzing their scientific foundations. Movies aren’t allowed to be patently absurd anymore and that’s everyone’s loss. So here’s my prediction for 2015: This will be the year films stop pretending that they make sense. Please, cinematic Gods, let it be so! I am not arguing that movies should deliberately attempt to make as little sense as possible. The Transformers franchise already has that corner of the market covered....

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Franchised: The Santa Clause

Christmas movies aren’t usually something that get a number of sequels, so there weren’t many choices when the holiday season rolled around and Toronto Film Scene wanted to explore a holiday franchise. In fact, The Santa Clause may be the only film to actually get a trilogy. There are a few films that have managed to get a direct-to-video sequel, but two films doesn’t make a franchise. Starring Tim Allen as Scott Calvin, the popular series was shot mainly in Canada and has managed to become a part of Christmas tradition over the years. With 2014 marking the 20th anniversary of the first film, Toronto Film Scene is looking at The Santa Clause, a franchise that started out very strongly, but quickly came to an end in 2006. The Santa Clause The first film in the series was a huge success. Directed by John Pasquin, who had previously worked with Tim Allen on his television show Home Improvement, the film gathered very positive reviews, and a huge profit. Made for an estimated budget of $22 million, with the worldwide gross being just under $190 million, it was inevitable that a franchise would be born here. It’s an odd place to start, as the premise of the film is that Scott Calvin (Allen), must take over the duties of Santa Claus after he accidentally frightens Santa on his roof, causing Santa to fall...

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2015 Resolutions: 5 things to study before heading to the movies in 2015

Although many films contain original material, it’s not uncommon for their narratives to be drawn from other sources such as chapters of world history or the lives of important figures. Films have also relied on novels, comics, and even news and current events for inspiration and ideas. While a successful film should allow you to enter the theatre with no prior knowledge, paint a fully realized portrayal, and send you on your way fully enlightened and learned, sometimes you can’t help but want a little background. Be it reading the book beforehand, checking CNN archives, or doing a quick search on Wikipedia, it’s nice to know what you’re walking into. Here are five things to consider studying up on before jumping into your SUV and heading out to the movies in 2015: Pablo Escobar Coming to theatres January 2015 is Escobar: Paradise Lost, a thriller about a young man who falls for a girl who turns out to the niece of Pablo Escobar. This film is said to based on true events, giving audiences a glimpse into the life of the notorious Columbian drug lord. Who is Pablo Escobar? Famous drug lord aside, he also had a brief career in politics. Dubious and ambiguous, Escobar was the wealthiest criminal in history yet highly regarded by the Roman Catholic church in Columbia for the donations he made towards the building...

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I’m dreaming of a Black Christmas

Let me take you back to 1974, a year that saw many historical events occur. The year that witnessed Richard Nixon’s comeuppance at the Watergate Hotel, a year that featured The Rumble in the Jungle, and saw Stephen King publish his first novel, “Carrie”. West Germany won the World Cup on home soil, ABBA won the Eurovision contest, and the Rubik’s Cube entered stores. But one event that is not so well-known about 1974, was that Black Christmas was released. The film that turned the traditional Canadian white Christmas, black! Black Christmas isn’t a well-known movie outside Canada, and even within the country many do not know it, but it is a hugely significant film that helped change the face of the horror movie. After Hitchcock’s 1960 movie, Psycho, horror had taken a huge turn. The movie moved away from the monster-led films of the 50s, and the amazing make-up and special effects that were used to scare the audience, and instead, made a human the monster. No longer was Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster or The Thing something to be feared, but a wimpy motel owner with a psychotic disease. Psycho, therefore, opened the gates of the horror world and carved open many different paths that allowed movies to frighten its viewers. One of these avenues was the later named ‘slasher’ movie that is often seen to find its feet...

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