TIFF #7; Lies, Damn Lies, and Capitalism (2009 Sep 16)

It's getting to that time in every festival when things start winding down - midweek. The bloom is off the rose, so to speak. The best and biggest films are in the rearview mirror. Crowds are dwindling. There are no longer lines at the box office. ...

TIFF #6: Surreality (2009 Sep 15)

Film festivals have a reputation as being places where dramas and documentaries dominate. While there's some truth to this, there are plenty of opportunities for those who prefer films outside the realm of traditional festival fare. The Midnight ...

TIFF #5: Dante, Portman, and Hicks Disappoint (2009 Sep 14)

It seems like forever since we've heard from director Joe Dante. Back in the '80s, he was one of the kings of teen-oriented thrillers, with titles like Gremlins and Innerspace on his resume. He continued working into the '90s but with increasingly ...

TIFF #4: Two Clooneys and Two Coens (2009 Sep 13)

George Clooney and the Coen Brothers: perfect together. Except this year, they're not. Clooney is here in two films and the Coens (both of them, working as a pair as usual) are also at Toronto, but their projects are not related. Also here is ...

TIFF #3: Reel People (2009 Sep 12)

It's not unusual for a festival to showcase period pieces providing semi-fictionalized accounts of famous people's lives. This year brings three such high-profile productions to Toronto. Those are Bright Star, Jane Campion's autopsy of the tragic ...

TIFF #2: Controversy's Groom (2009 Sep 11)

September 11. The ghosts of years and festivals past. Last year, due to the early coming of Labor Day, I was home before the anniversary - the first time that happened since 2001. This year, the festival is just getting underway. It's difficult ...

TIFF #1: The Leaves of Fall (2009 Sep 10)

Summer is over. The kids are back in school. The nights are getting longer, the days shorter. Baseball is moving inexorably toward the playoffs; football season has begun. Heat is escaping from the northern hemisphere like air through the slow ...

Wrapping Up the 1980s (2009 Sep 03)

After spending more than a half-year wading through memories, recollections, and movies from the period of 1980 through 1989, I have had an opportunity to take a new look at an old decade. Personally, it represented my coming of age - I grew up ...

I Hate Vampires (2009 Aug 30)

For nearly a century after the publication of Bram Stoker's classic novel, the term "vampire" was synonymous with the name "Dracula." The only vampires anyone remembers from the '20s (Schreck), '30s (Lugosi), and '50s (Lee) were Draculas (although, ...

Black and White (2009 Aug 20)

Originally, this week's ReelThoughts was going to be about how the practical length of human immortality is about 175 years. Or why I hate vampires. But an issue about which I have a perspective has leapt to some prominence in the so-called "...

1989 (2009 Aug 12)

If 1988 was lacking in earthshaking current events, 1989 more than made up for it. The first major international news story began percolating in late April; at that time, most of the news outlets either ignored it or relegated it to a back-page item...

Summer Breeze (2009 Aug 06)

As temperatures are finally starting to warm up in the Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada, the domestic box office is cooling down. After a record-setting spring, multiplexes saw attendance take a dip - and not into the pool - during the ...

A Proposal for the MPAA (2009 Jul 28)

It's no secret that I have been critical of the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), the organization that doles out motion picture classifications (or ratings) to movies in the United States. My criticism comes on two fronts, both of which...

1988 (2009 Jul 20)

1988 was a strange year for me - one in which I felt dissociated from the world at large. In the pre-Internet era, it was necessary to seek out news by turning on the television, listening to the radio, or reading the newspaper. For the most part, ...

Out of Touch (2009 Jul 15)

There's a growing sentiment in some corners of the blogosphere that, because the majority of the critical community disliked Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, we are "out of touch." Really? What does that mean? As Roger Ebert noted, "It's not a...

Where the Links Are (2009 Jul 10)

How the Web has changed in just a few years…I have noticed that e-mail is fast becoming passé. It takes some remembering to recall when it was the newest, hottest thing in communication. Now, it's often viewed as a step up from the telegraph. ...

The Halftime Top 10 (2009 Jul 07)

Recently, a friend asked me if I was going to provide a mid-year Top 10 list as has been my habit in recent years. "After all," he remarked, "Can you even find ten films worth being on the list?" A good point, although anyone who has seen ten or ...