Sunday, December 22, 2013

My 10 Favourite Films of 2013

I saw almost 100 films this year. This includes the 40 or so screenings combined at the Hot Docs Festival in the spring and the Toronto International Film Festival in September. As well, I usually catch well-regarded Festival films when they're programmed during the year at TIFF. Watching movies is one of my passions and I'm happy to report that I once saw six movies in day at TIFF (including Lagaan -- a 3 1/2 hour epic!)

Here's a list of my favourite 10 films for 2013:
  1. 12 Years a Slave (Directed by Steve McQueen)
  2. Gravity (Directed by Alfonso CuarĂ³n)
  3. The Wind Rises (Directed by Hayao Miyazaki)
  4. Inside Llewyn Davis (Directed by Ethan Cohen and Joel Cohen)
  5. August: Osage County (Directed by John Wells)
  6. Philomena (Directed by Stephen Frears)
  7. Blue is the Warmest Color (Directed by Abdellatif Kechiche)
  8. The Known Unknown (Directed by Errol Morris)
  9. Leviathan (Directed by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel)
  10. Stories We Tell (Directed by Sarah Polley)
Special Mentions to Films with Stellar Performances:
  • Blue Jasmine (Directed by Woody Allen, Starring Cate Blanchett)
  • All Is Lost (Directed by JC Chandor, Starring Robert Redford)
  • Before Midnight (Directed by Richard Linklater, Starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Summer Solstice , 11 pm, Jordaan

My short film Summer Solstice, 11 pm, Jordaan will be screened this weekend at a film festival in Switzerland. Thrilled for Swiss audiences to see it.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The 40 Part Motet by Janet Cardiff

Janet Cardiff's 40 Part Motet is currently on exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario. The sound sculpture features Thomas Tallis' Spem in Alium played back through 40 speakers with each speaker capturing a separately-recorded voice. The experience is especially profound when wandering around Moore's monumental sculptures.

Here's my one minute iPhone video:

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Summer Solstice, 11 pm, Jordaan at the Images Festival

My short film Summer Solstice, 11 pm, Jordaan is an official selection at the Images Festival this year.

Summer Solstice, 11 pm, Jordaan By Albert Wisco

"A fleeting twilight meditation on space, temporality and urban transportation," as described in the Images Festival program, Summer Solstice, 11 pm, Jordaan  celebrates its International Premier at the Toronto-based festival.

The Images Festival showcases experimental and avant-garde works by internationally renowned artists. My film screens on Saturday, April 13 at 10:30 pm at the Art Gallery of Ontario's Jackman Hall. It's part of the mmNemonic DVices program curated by Nick Benidt, Julian Carrington and Blake Williams.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Nuit Blanche: Hands on the Van

At Nuit Blanche 2012, artist Jon Sasaki presented Hands on the Van. The installation had group of contestants competing to keep their hands on a cube van. The last person to keep their hands on the van won $500, the amount of the artist's fee for the event, which was stored inside the van. It starred artist Lex Vaughn as the contest moderator.

Here's a 30 second iPhone video I created:

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Film Round Up #1: January 2013

In 2012, I lost track of the number of films I watched. I'll tweet or keep notes in a notebook, but this marks the first time I've published anything regularly. My plan is to publish a film round up every month.

When it comes to picking movies to see, I'm very selective. Generally, I prefer movies that find audiences in film festivals, documentaries, foreign films, independent films and films by trusted and innovative filmmakers.

Emmanuelle Riva in Amour

Here are the films I saw in January 2013:

Les Miserables, Directed by Tom Hooper
B-. A film adaptation of the msuical. I would have given this a lower mark if it weren't for the gorgeous design and costumes. The perfomances in a musical of this calibre must MUST be stellar.

Django Unchained, Directed by Quentin Tarrintino
A-. An entertaining Tarrintino film. Jamie Fox is very good. Christoph Waltz is excellent.

Amour, Directed by Michael Haneke
A. A lyrical meditation on love and marriage at the end of one's life. Excellent script, direction and performances.

Zero Dark Thirty, Directed by Kathryn Bigelow
A. A film that tracks the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Bigelow can direct the hell out of action/war movies. Many subtle touches in the film that make it a distinct film made with Bigelow's empathy -- children's faces, character development, etc.

Goldfinger, Directed by Guy Hamilton
A-. A very entertaining Agent 007 film with Sean Connery as Bond. Gorgeous production design. Excellent villains.

Rebelle (The War Witch) by Kim Nguyen
A-. A very harrowing yet lyrical look at a child soldier's life. The film couldn't have been made without its star Rachel Mwanza.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Before I Die ...

The Before I Die ... art project was started by New Orleans-based artist Candy Chang. It began in her hometown, where she found a derelict house, transformed it into a giant chalkboard and stenciled the sentence "Before I die ..." onto a wall. This was an invitation to passers-by to fill the blanks and complete the sentence with their thoughts. It was installed in Toronto at Queen and Dufferin Streets in Parkdale in September 2012.

Here's my 30-second iPhone video which captures some responses from Torontonians:

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Evan Penney: Re Figured

I recently visited Canadian sculptor Evan Penny's exhibition at the Art Galley of Ontario. The survey of the artist's work included many large-scale, hyper-realistic sculptures of human figures that were both astonishingly realistic and clearly artificial. The effect was a jaw-dropping yet disconcerting reminder of the constructs used when producing human representations today. The AGO's Evan Penny: Re Figured will be on view until February 10, 2013.