Category: Movies

Remembering Freddie Mercury

I sat motionless and in awe throughout a premiere screening of the North American digitally restored and remixed 1986 documentary film, Hungarian Rhapsody – Queen Live in Budapest, the final glimpse of and cinematic proof that Freddie Mercury was, is and always will be a giant in the pantheon of rock ‘n’ roll.

Prowling the stage like a caged panther, turning loose his manic energy and unforgettable piercing falsetto, Freddie enthralled an audience of over 80,000 loyally delirious fans and seduced them with a larger than life magnetism that most performers can only beg for.  These fans must be boasting to their children and grandchildren that God chose them to be in the same crowded room with Freddie in Hungary, for Queen’s final concert during the 1986 “Magic” tour.

The film begins with a 25 minute prologue in which we get to know Queen’s other founding members (Brian May, Roger Taylor, John Deacon) and delight in the mischievous nature, transparent complexity and humble soul that was Freddie. He was not without a sense of irony. When replying to a reporter’s rather idiotic question, he shot back, with just the perfect mix of sarcasm and tragic foreshadowing, “Who wants to live forever?”

It is heartbreaking that in surrendering to AIDS in 1991, Freddie’s life and career was extinguished at its height, yet comforting that his outstanding musical contribution and legacy will forever burn on.

“We are the champions, my friends ……” for witnessing greatness and cherishing the memory of a rising star who bared his soul with every performance and in every song.

The CD, DVD and Blu-Ray of this historic concert are to be released in November, 2012 through Eagle Rock Entertainment. Will also be available at HMV, Best Buy and Wal-Mart.

Vladimir Bondarenko

Here Comes Your 19th Rendezvous With Madness Festival

Intervention Canada

Matthew Hogue, Program Manager of the Rendezvous With Madness Film Festival, which closes this Saturday, November 12, shoots from the hip when asked why he took the leap four years ago into working for the Festival and the dark subject matter surrounding the human condition that it explores. “A family member has experienced a form of mental illness and as a film maker, that personal relationship and connection has driven me to make films on mental health issues and become associated with Rendezvous With Madness.

Matt’s private admission has confirmed the widely held belief, especially in the mental health and social service communities, and so courageously told in author Henri J.M. Nouwen’s book, The Wounded Healer, that those who have been touched or affected by a debilitating human condition, will more than often pursue careers or professions that assist in healing both themselves and those in need of such.

In its 19th anniversary year, Rendezvous With Madness showcases films and television programs that address and tell the stories of universal mental health and addiction problems.

Do they cover all the bases? “We attempt a wide depiction of mental illness, primarily through character-driven stories, with an emphasis on Canadian films and film makers. On a world-wide level, we are all susceptible to mental illness, sadly affecting an estimated 25% of Canadians. What our festival and film makers strive for is giving hope and the ability, in time, to slowly recover.”

Matt admits that selling the festival to the general public has been, thus far, a successful challenge. “We try to offer a wide spectrum of programming on mental health issues by starting out artistically, through the creative medium of film, the most universally popular and accessible of all the arts, which I feel breaks through all walls and barriers.”

My advice: Get with these programs! How can you resist a film festival with the humorous, catchy slogan: “Films You Will Lose Your Mind Over”. Let’s face it, we are all a few misfired neurons away from mental illness and living on the street, so let’s be grateful, attend and celebrate a most insightful and worthy festival that helps us understand the nature of mental illness, in both its devastating effects and the human capacity to progressively heal both ourselves and our loved ones.

Matt’s advice: Intervention Canada, tonight, Thursday, November 10, 6:30pm at TIFF (King and John Streets), which profiles people whose addictions have brought them to a point of crisis or estranged them from their friends or loved ones. Carnivale of the Mind, Saturday, November 12, 8 pm, at the Workman Arts, 651 Dufferin Street, “A multi-media and totally weird, mysterious journey of the mind.”

For more info to www.rendezvouswithmadness.com

Dark Girls Documentary Trailer

It is heartbreaking to think a topic Spike Lee covered in 1988 is still relevant in 2011.

 

Our Idiot Brother – Review

Directed by Jesse Peretz
Starring Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Emily Mortimer, and Zooey Deschanel
90 minutes
Opens August 26, 2011

** stars out of five

Ned (Paul Rudd) is an easy-going guy but his naivety and “just because you think it, have to spill it” attitude causes him and others much grief. After selling weed to an on duty policeman (how stupid is that), Ned is convicted and goes directly to jail. After being released, he desperately needs a place to stay. Ned barges into the lives of his three sisters and his “big mouth” creates mayhem in each household.

Why See It?
I was expecting more from this comedy having viewed the trailer which looked like it was going to deliver one belly buster after another. But for me, Our Idiot Brother was more absurd than funny. The storyline could have packed more of a comedic punch; perhaps some poor decisions were made during the writing of the script which deflated the story into less than what it could have been.

On the other hand, most of the characters and actors will have a lot of audience appeal and were well matched. For example, the three sister characters helped to fuel the humour (what little there was): Emily Mortimer plays Liz, a housewife in a loveless marriage with a filmmaker who has a roving eye; Elizabeth Banks plays Miranda, an aspiring young writer oblivious to the fact that she is indeed well matched to her slack mannered neighbour; Zooey Deschanel plays Natalie, a lesbian who may be more bisexual that she would like to admit.

And of course there is the character Ned; Paul Rudd was only mediocre as the idiot bro and considering his large roster of past comedies (Clueless, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Dinner for Schmucks) Rudd is so much more capable of delivering a top-notch performance.

Conan the Barbarian – Review

Directed by Marcus Nispel
Starring Jason Momoa, Rachel Nichols, Ron Perlman, Rose McGowan, Stephen Lang
112 minutes
Opens August 19, 2011

*** stars out of five

Conan the Cimmerian (Jason Momoa) travels the continent of Hyboria to find and kill the merciless warlord Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang) who slaughtered his father and village. As Zym tries to resurrect his dead wife with the aid of his sorceress daughter Marique (Rose McGowan), he discovers the last piece to the puzzle lies in the pure blood of Tamara (Rachel Nichols), a beautiful high priestess. Conan rescues Tamara from Zym’s evil clutch and falls in love with her; together they continue the battle against evil.

Why See It?
As with all remakes there will always be a barrage of negative criticisms that follow the release; this won’t stop Nispel’s 3-D remake of Conan the Barbarian from being a huge box office attraction this summer. The brutal fighting scenes alone are magnificent and capture the true essence and meaning of what being barbaric is all about. Compared to the original 1982 version in which Arnold Schwarzenegger played the Conan character, this new rehash kicks butt.

First, Jason Momoa is a better actor (he can carry more believable lines and grunts) plus he looks more barbaric and fights better than Arnold any day. Second, the 3-D component adds a lot more punch and excitement to the gory fighting scenes.. As a female viewer, I was surprised that I didn’t turn my head away during the violent scenes; instead, I found myself wanting more and more of Momoa and his over-developed muscles whether on the battlefield or in the bedroom (when he makes hard passionate love to Tamara).

Third, both the storyline and emotional impact of this fantasy/adventure feels sincere. As a result, I was captured and held in suspension for the entire running time – all 112 glorious minutes of it. In fact, I enjoyed Conan the Barbarian so much that I did NOT want the action to end.

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