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Fido (2006)
To Pronounce This a Zombie Movie Is Somewhat Misleading
8 September 2006
Just saw the World Preem of Fido at the Toronto International Film Festival and thoroughly enjoyed it. Here we have a welcome reworking of a genre widely thought to have been pioneered (certainly 'fleshed out' extensively and successfully) by George Romero. But this is a Canadian film by a Canadian Director and it's a Comedy! And, YES, I actually think it is better than 'Shawn of the Dead'. Thoroughly believable and, perhaps even more importantly, enjoyable performances by Dylan Baker, Carrie-Anne Moss and young actor K'Sun Ray, whom I suspect we'll be seeing a lot more of in future features. However, I must confess that I most enjoyed the delicious turn by Tim Blake Nelson as neighbour Mr. Theopolis, essentially playing a willing animated version of Victor Van Dort from the Corpse Bride (or, for those who've seen the film, wouldn't that read even better here as the Corpse Pride?) and, of course, Scotch actor Billy Connolly in his least animated, yet somehow deeply moving role as the titular character. Just think, he would not have gotten this role had it not been for Peter Stormare's commitments to Prison Break (as was revealed in the Q&A following Thursday night's screening). I can't help but speculate that the Screenwriters must have drawn a lot of inspiration from Day Of The Dead's Zombie 'Bub'.I am not keen on ever revealing plot details during a Comment and I won't start now. Suffice it to say that Fido is NOT one of those dour, graphically gory Zombie films you can rely on from Romero. Rather it is a film that will have you constantly chuckling and, although (and I did have to think back carefully to be sure) there is a fair dose of blood-letting and violence, the delectable humour, so well enhanced by the surreal milieu created by Director Currie and his co-screenwriters, goes a long way towards making this seem like a feature that ought to be rated PG-13. I urge you to go see this little Canuck gem. I'll certainly be buying the DVD once it emerges hopefully by next Summer.
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Duma (2005)
Excellent - Reminds me somewhat of "Walkabout"
27 July 2005
This film was a rare pleasure to behold, much like the joy I experienced in September 1993 at the Toronto International Film Festival screening of "SIRGA: L'infant Lion" (yet to be released on DVD in North America although released in Germany a few years ago). There are deeper messages here and these are truly welcome, unlike so much of the swill that passes for family entertainment these days. As much as I enjoyed "Two Brothers" (Jean-Jacques Annaud) recently, I do prefer this film by a director whose last film I enjoyed at the Toronto Festival some 8+ years ago - "Fly Away Home".

The journey taken by the 12 year old boy reminds me somewhat of the journey taken by a slightly younger lad and his sister in the also-compelling early 70s Nicholas Roeg film "Walkabout" which I also highly recommend if you like nature-type films (or should I say "au natural" type films ... ha ha). I rate this one 9 out of 10.

Anyway make sure you get to see this once it comes to your part of the world either theatrically or, likelier on DVD.
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Veer-Zaara (2004)
Why Am I Giving This Film an 8 out of 10?
22 February 2005
How then should I rate an Indian/Hindi/Tamil film now that filmmakers like Ashutosh Gowariker or Mani Ratnam have revealed that basic formulas don't need to be adhered to as religiously as before for great 'Bollywood' entertainment? Why am I rating Veer Zaara an 8? Certainly not because of it's relatively predictable (with perhaps 1 exception) plot. Definitely not due to the musical numbers (these are adequate but by no means as catchy as in either Gowariker's "Lagaan" or Advani's "Kal Ho Naa Ho" for example). Surprisingly, not simply because of the amazing Shah Rukh Khan who keeps reaching new pinnacles of performance with each passing role. Maybe it's partially because I appreciated a lot of the symbolism, not to mention significance, re the underlying messages of UNITY in the face of long-standing differences between two major nations and two major religions (in this case India & Pakistan and Sikhs and Muslims) that permeated the entire storyline.

No I think that the reason I award a high 8 to this film, is because, even though I noticed its flaws, by the last 45 minutes, these didn't matter much as I was drawn in to the story to such an extent that I could not help but enjoy the film immensely. If you are not totally jaded, I predict that you'll also enjoy it immensely.

P.S. FYI: I am not from India and have never visited there. I reviewed this from a new Original 2 DVD Set just released. Next on my list is the newly purchased Gowariker film "Swades" and I'll give my comment on that film in a week or two (soon as I have the time to watch it).
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The World According to Bush (2004 TV Movie)
Kerry Ought To Watch THIS Documentary
17 October 2004
All I can ask, having seen this on our great national television network here in Canada earlier tonight, is: why doesn't Kerry have the fortitude to tell the truth about Bush and his administration like the people interviewed in this Doc did?

Perhaps he has not even seen this film. But surely he knows many of the revealing facts about George W. Bush, his father (former Pres) and his grandfather's connections with Nazi Germany etc.

ALL Americans owe it to themselves to expose themselves to the facts exposed pointedly by Karel in "The World According To Bush". Kudos go to this filmmaker. 9 out of 10!!
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Saved! (2004)
Discussion-Provoking Film
4 October 2004
"Saved" is a film relevant to both young people and their parents. It is clearly a huge cut above the typical teen drama and functions as much a caveat against bible-thumping 'literalism' as an uplifting film for teens struggling with guild-inducing burdens of pastoral and parental pressure from carnal thoughts and/or deeds. On the surface, a mostly absorbing, if sometime formulaic, drama about school teens in a Christian high school facing a variety of personal challenges - popularity, relationships with each other (both straight & gay), handicaps (excellent perf by Macaulay Culkin)etc., "Saved" is a film that provokes deeper spiritual discussions that are sadly lacking between marginalized young people (because of teen pregnancy, homosexuality etc.) and the prevailing power-base of fundimentalist Christian parents and youth pastors.

Definitely worthy of a rental ... perhaps even a discounted DVD purchase. 8 out of 10.
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Private (2004)
Palestinian Hearth Invasion
11 September 2004
Any films that explore fact-based story lines pertaining to the ever-tense Israeli-Palestinian conflict and manage to convey both the weaknesses and the dignities of both Palestinians and Israelis without partisanship, ought not to be interesting and uplifting. "Private", the story of a privileged Palestinian family of 7 (3 boys, 2 girls and their parents) whose house is suddenly invaded and occupied by Israeli soldiers, ought to be both interesting and uplifting. I found it eminently interesting (even exciting), but, sadly not too uplifting. I felt that the screenwriter strove perhaps a bit too hard to avoid blaming either side. To be sure, the performances of those playing the parts of the Palestinian family were beyond reproach and the same can be said of the Israeli actor leading the soldiers. No mean feat when you consider that these parts were played by Jewish and Arabic actors. I was especially impressed with the two youngest children - a boy and a girl both affected in wildly different ways by the course of events they are forced to endure. While "Private" does eventually strive to convey the utter senselessness of the Israeli-Palestinian war and the possibility of hope for a future where violence need not be resorted to, the sad reality of the true story upon which this film is based, impedes any likelihood that you will leave the cinema (or your favourite movie-watching seat in your house) feeling a sense of hope when the end credits start to roll. I saw this film at the Toronto International Film Festival. I chose to see it because from the basic plot outline I read, I was hoping for a reprise of the kind of film going experience I had watching the Shapiro/Goldberg/Bolado docu "Promises" during the 2001 Film Festival here, which in fact was vastly superior to "Private". I will conclude by mentioning that I have rated this film 7/10.
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Where Do Film Treasures Go?
21 May 2004
I saw this motion picture at the 1995 Toronto International Film Festival and have searched for it since then ... first on VHS and since 1997 on DVD. It is from Thailand. It's a harrowingly realistic film and one I hope someday to see again or own on DVD. So the question is: where do all the independent film treasures that do not get distribution deals go? This film is listed with only Toronto in the Release Dates section on IMDb. There must be something that can be done to change this scenario. The film concerns children on the streets of Thailand and the dangers they face and I recall that it was one of the best films that I saw which screened at Toronto's International Film Festival that year. Since then I have seen a number of other treasures that don't seem to get wide release and, worse yet never seem to be available on any home video format.
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A Film of unprecedented impact!
16 March 2004
I urge everyone to see "The Passion of the Christ" ONCE. Having said that, I don't think I could see it again until perhaps I own it on DVD. More than any film I have EVER seen (and I've seen thousands) this film drained me totally and I could barely get up and walk out of the cinema after the end credits started to roll. It is an awesome, harrowingly realistic work of cinematic art that is made all the more relevant by subject matter - the ultimate sacrifice for all of mankind.

Most of those who have gone to see the film recently have likely been motivated by curiousity. I appeal here not to the curious (you'll likely go anyway) but to everyone else. Go to see this film and take your children (as long as they are over 11 yrs) so that you can experience a film like you may never again have the chance to experience.

Finally, for those who complain of violence, the graphic suffering of Christ pales in comparison to several other violent films that have screened recently (Kill Bill being a particularly appropriate example). The reason people find complain about it being violent, lies in the mastery of the film - its ability to portray suffering in a totally believable manner.

A 10 out of 10!
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The Cuckoo (2002)
Thoroughly enjoyable
21 September 2002
Saw this film at the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival on September 9th and was pleasantly surprised. It is truly a thoroughly enjoyable film that easily merits the 9 out of 10 I voted herein. It is so regrettable that a wide release is likely to elude this little gem. I am certain that many film lovers throughout the world would delight in the results of its clearly creative, though not necessarily original, comedic plot's "communication barrier" underpinnings, which are effectively utilized to convey a sense of the profound absurdity of war in a way I found vastly more entertaining than the myriad of Hollywood fare that has plodded similar plot lines using copious brutal images. A refreshing surprise that I hope comes your way some day in a Festival or Foreign-film Television channel!
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I defy you to view this film and not be moved emotionally!
14 September 2002
Recently had the pleasure of seeing this emotionally charged film by Director Mani Ratnam at the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival. I have bestowed my highest honour of the Film Festival on this feature. Make sure that you do not let an opportunity to experience this cinematic gem pass you by ... but be forewarded: this film will make you shed a tear if you belong to the species known as homo sapien! A 10 !!
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Harlem Aria (1999)
One of the best films at Toronto Fest in 1999
29 August 2000
Really surprised that this film was not bought quickly and given appropriate promo push for wide release. The Audience at the Toronto International Film Fest screening I attended in Sept. 99 stood and clapped for many minutes at the conclusion of the screening and most stayed for the Q&A. Excellent film with surprisingly nuanced perf by Wayons as a seedy character. Please see this if at all possible!!
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