TKFF 2012 Festival Wrap-Up (Kirk Haviland)

TKFF 2012

Kirk

The first ever Toronto Korean Film Festival wrapped on July 1st after a nine-day run in its first year. The highlights of the festival were the films of course, closing with the latter two entries of the famed Vengeance Trilogy from Park Chan-wook, Oldboy and Symapthy for Lady Vengeance on 35mm film prints, highlighting some of the best that Korean Cinema has to offer. Of course there were ups and downs, as with any fest going through its first iterations, growing pains if you will, and the TKFF is no exception.

First off, while I was not present for the opening gala which I did hear run late, there seemed to be some disorganization with lineups and showtimes as for the first weekend not one film started at its designated start time. Now while this is not a rarity in film festival land, the fact that we were not even seated for most of these performances until after the scheduled start time is. To the festival’s credit by the 2nd weekend this seemed to be an issue of the past, at least I hope it is. Also, the exact same spooling of header/commercials greeted us before every showing, which is not entirely bad, but with the attendance being mainly a smaller but dedicated crowd attending more than one show, mixing up the clips and maybe getting more director endorsements might be the way to go next year.  And personally I was hoping for more of a “taste” of Korean culture in general surrounding the festival throught its duration (I understand was more prevalent on opening night). That said I cannot deem the first offering of TKFF as anything less than a minor success. I know they were hoping for better attendance, and that will come with time, but the basis for any successful venture like this lies in its people and in that category TKFF flourishes. The cast behind the scenes is a group of friendly, enthusiastic and talented people that I personally wish every success with this fest for years to come. The films may have been the main attraction but they were a close second. How TKFF returns next year remains to be seen, I feel they may be better served with 5 nights instead of 9 with 3 or 4 shows on the weekends but that’s just me, whether they change venues or go completely new release without the ‘best of’ format one things is for sure, if it’s the same people behind it you will see me in line with my ticket in hand.

Dave

You know ultimately, I have to rate the first edition of TKFF (Toronto Korean Film Festival) a minor disappointment.  Growing pains and organizational hiccups are understandable given that it was a first year event, but there was just too much wrong with the entire event.  It was far too long for a first time festival; 9 days was more than a little ambitious and given the pedigree of some of the programmers, organizers and advisors it was a little too much.  For a first time festival going entirely retro is good enough and it had more than its fair share of highlights.  The opening night film of “Secret Sunshine” was a stunning and heart wrenching drama, and while some of the screenings like “Tale of Two Sisters”, “Save The Green Planet” and the aforementioned Park Chan-wook films that closed out the festival had the added bonus of being displayed on 35mm film prints, there were some films that just didn’t work.  Films like “Epitaph” and “Failan” that had their Toronto premieres were not very strong and while I’ll admit that there may have been a cultural divide in regards to the animated film “Leafie”, it was one of the more awkward and potential inappropriate animated films I have seen in some time.

Going forward I would recommend trying to accentuate more of the cultural aspects that could have been there, even if it’s just a Kimchi station on opening night and while retro programming does have its place in most film festivals, they desperately need to add newer films that a great portion of the general public are oblivious to, in order to expand their audience.  It was an OK start for TKFF and I certainly hope they get the opportunity to do this again next year, but they do need to make some big changes and learn what aspects that they need to focus on more if they want to have better success in the coming years.

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New to Blu: The Color of Money Review (Dave Voigt)

The Color of Money (1986)

Starring Paul Newman, Tom Cruise, and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Trailer

Just because it is new on Blu-Ray doesn’t necessarily mean it is a new movie.  Celebrating its 25th anniversary and now out on Blu-Ray courtesy of our friends at Touchstone Home Entertainment for the very first time is the classic Martin Scorsese film about the art of the hustle, where a film legend reprises one his iconic roles.  It’s time to learn The Color of Money.

Paul Newman revisiting his role from “The Hustler” as Fast Eddie Felson. In The Color of Money Eddie forms a profitable alliance with the flashy and talented young pool shark Vince (Cruise).  As Eddie takes Vince under his wing and shows him the ropes, Vince’s brash attitude and arrogance begin to cost Eddie more than a just a few matches and all that leads to an ultimate showdown where both men leave it all on the felt.

As a part of an underrated and often forgotten period in the 1980’s, Martin Scorsese’s The Color of Money often gets overlooked in the grand scheme of things in his overall canon of films but it is a damn fine character drama that works from minute one.  Scorsese knows how to light and frame a grungy pool hall, possibly better than anyone and the screenplay by Richard Price adapted from the novel from Walter Tevis crackles with tension, wit, and intelligence.  As we track the journey of Fast Eddie back to the top and his ultimate journey of redemption, we connect to the character and we connect to the man, as every individual person on screen is made real and tangible, thanks to the crisp writing, stellar direction with phenomenal use of music that is common in most Scorsese films, along with strong performances from every major player involved.

In his only Academy Award winning performance, Paul Newman revisited Fast Eddie Felson and made him real, as a man content in his retirement from competition only to get lured out of it by a young prodigy that reminds him of his younger days, the character finally gets to complete his journey by learning how to truly win.  Newman takes us on all the highs and lows that the character goes on towards his redemption in a masterful performance.  Coming off the success of Top Gun, a young Tom Cruise was firmly installed as a leading man, and his performance as hot shot pool hustler Vincent Lauria was one of the first memorable performances in his career and Cruise in working with Scorsese showed the talent and the charm that has propelled him all of these years.  In one of her first leading roles, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio was also nominated for an Oscar as the street savvy Carmen who was hitching herself to Vincent not only to use him but to save herself from a life she knew she didn’t want.  All three performances made this an emotional powerhouse of a film as we were connected and invested in each of their fates as the story ultimately unfolded.

There are sadly no extras on this Blu-Ray release, but it was an excellent digital restoration that gives the film a new level of vibrancy as the sound is immaculate and every dingy dark colour in every pool hall has been restored to its true meaning and this is undoubtedly the closest we will get to seeing it like theatre audiences did.

Ultimately, The Color of Money isn’t a movie that will get mentioned in the same breath as some of the more attractive or more recent Scorsese classics, but it really should be because as you look over the course of his career as a storyteller, the decade of the 80’s is where Scorsese really hit his stride.

The Color of Money is now available on Blu-Ray at video stores all across Toronto as well as at all major retailers for purchase.

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HOT DOCS 2012 (Toronto) – Festival Wrap-up

Subscribers to Entertainment Maven have had their inboxes and Facebook pages barraged over the last ten or so days with our coverage of Toronto’s massive documentary film festival, Hot Docs 2012. Despite our feverish reviewing, we still only managed to scratch the surface of this incredible festival. Below are three different wrap-ups of the festival from three different writers who attended.

KIRK HAVILAND

Hot Docs 2012 marks my first full fest for Hot Docs, my first festival doing coverage for Entertainment Maven, and my first media accreditation for a fest. That’s a lot of firsts, and it will hold a special place in my memory because of this. This also marks the last time I will ever see a movie at the Cumberland Four, more on that in the upcoming days. I was excited to get back into fest mode but wary of how I would enjoy a fest of only docs, well the answer is that I enjoyed it very much and saw some great films. Thanks go to the staff and volunteers of the fest and the guys over at VKPR for all the help on the media side. While the day job prohibited me from seeing everything on my list, I did get to see a fair amount of the films I had earmarked. Among the notables were Affair of the Heart, Love Story, Radioman and just missing the top five list, the excellent Inocente and Despite the Gods. That said here are my five faves of the fest

5 – Indie Game: The Movie

4 – Ping Pong

3 – Marley (you’ll see more about that soon)

2 – Tchoupitoulas

1 – Bones Brigade: An Autobiography (I admit bias in picking this as #1 because of my love for Dogtown and Z-Boys, but I’m picking it anyways) 

PAOLO KAGAOAN

Fascinating. That’s probably one of the words I abused while talking to you guys about the movies I’ve seen at this year’s Hot Docs. And most of them do deserve the words in the best of sense, since the filmmakers scoured the earth for the most well…fascinating and creative and innovative and intelligent people to put in front of their cameras. As for favourites, the first thing that comes to my head is Tchoupitoulas, with its bare bones depiction of New Orleans in the eyes of three – but really one – working class child. But that’s my brain speaking, that movie’s in the top five. My real favourite is Scarlet Road, which had the breezy tone of meeting the friends of a woman struggling to find change of the statuses of sex workers and differently-abled people in all of Australia and the world. There’s Soldier Citizen, showing me that I don’t have to like the people in them, whose political views range from radical to moderate, as long as I can understand and see the complexities within their views. It portrays the debates between Israeli soldiers and their teacher, but the movie also mixes those heated moments with the mundane, as young people are allowed to be young. Then there’s We Are Legion, absorbing the electric pace fitting for their hacktivist subjects, reminding me of the dreaded time I stepped into 4chan and /b and the other time the bad boys and girls turned good. And lastly there’s the devastating Call Me Kuchu with its occasional moments of bright faces and objects fighting oppressive homophobia in Uganda. I’ve also witnessed some sad moments on the big screen but there’s a bittersweet realization that these people, both posthumously or still moving and shaking, will be remembered by these films. I can’t wait until next year when the filmmakers responsible for these movies will come back and tell us about more of their passionate subject. And I’m sure the screens will dazzle us with more of their work.

DAVE VOIGT

As Hot Docs 2012 is officially in the books, the one thing that strikes me from previous years was the excellent attendance at this year’s version of the festival – which was a new record.  The reopening of the Bloor Cinema as the Hot Docs Bloor Cinema certainly added to the curiosity and while there weren’t necessarily as many high profile films this year as compared to last, it has to be considered as one of the finer festivals in recent years given the incredibly strong lineup.  Films like Detropia, The Imposter, The Invisible War and The Queen of Versailles made incredibly strong impressions on this critic personally and I have no doubt that they will all be making appearances in Toronto theatres in the weeks and months to come.  Music documentaries played a big role this year as Marley packed both screenings at this year’s festival and tickets to Shut Up and Play the Hits, Charles Bradley: Soul Of America, Beware of Mr. Baker and An Affair of the Heart were hot commodities as each of these films delighted audiences and created some new fans for these bands and artists.  Films like Beauty is Embarrassing, Ping-Pong and Radioman provided some uplifting moments. The Ambassador and Despite the Gods had a few crazy moments and then there were films like McCulin, Only the Young and Tchoupitoulas that just sneak up and their audiences and surprise them.  That is ultimately the magic of a festival like this as it allows you to take chances and support some incredibly interesting films.

As a pure ranking of favorites I would have to rank my favorite five films as the following.

5 – Despite the Gods

4 -McCulin

3 -The Queen of Versailles

2 -The Imposter

1 – Tchoupitoulas

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