More movies online! Via the USA

My local video stores all closed two years ago, and we switched largely to iTunes rentals, plus the occasional Bay St. video or Film Buff for obscure films. I was initially quite unhappy with the selection on iTunes Canada – we watch a lot of obscure, old and foreign films, but most of the video-on-demand services are mainly good for post-2005 North American films. So, I’ve just done a quick scan of the alternatives.

The verdict: iTunes Canada is considerably better than it used to be, and iTunes US is a little better – but not massively better. Using both iTunes US and Amazon Instant Video is probably the best bet.

Here’s the math. We’ve got a list of 81 movies we’d like to see. This list already excludes many easy-to-find titles that we’ve already rented from iTunes Canada, but still has a number of popular movies. Many films on the list are from the Onion A.V. Club’s Best of 2000s and orphans lists, the American Film Institute’s Top 100, and good films I’ve previously seen and would like to watch with my wife. You can think of my list as an “obscurity-ometer” – the more you can hit off, the better for viewing obscure films.

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TIFF 2007 Picks

So after much delibration, let me present our Toronto International Film Festival picks (a collaborative effort between J. and I). This is by no means a list of the “best” films; it’s more of a strategic list of films that might be hard to see later, and that we have a reasonable chance of getting in to, or that we just felt like including.

First choices:

  • The Exodus. Pang Ho-Cheung, Hong Kong. Because we don’t seen enough Asian movies.
  • I’m Not There. Todd Haynes, USA. Bob Dylan’s life, as defined by the characters he invented.
  • Persepolis. Vincent Paronnaud & Marjane Satrapi, France. A bleak recent history of life in Iran interjected with humour and dreams, animated in stark black & white from the original graphic novels.
  • Short Cuts Canada programme 2. A set of shorts leaning a bit more towards the animated end of the spectrum, with Boar Attack, Madam Tutli-Putli and Dada Dum looking particularly appealing.
  • Silent Light. Carlos Reygadas, Mexico. Mexican Mennonites including Miriam Toews, speaking in Low German? Indeed.

Second choices:

  • Encounters at the End of the World. Werner Herzog, USA. The legendary director does Antarctica.
  • Jellyfish. Shira Geffen & Edgar Keret, Israel. Unsettling Israelis on the brink of emotional chaos, and winner of a Camera d’Or at Cannes.
  • M. Lee Myung-Se, South Korea.
  • The Mourning Forest. Naomi Kawase, France/Japan. An elderly man and young woman contemplating grief amidst stunning nature. Winner of the Grand Prix at Cannes this year.
  • With Your Permission. Paprika Steen, Denmark/Sweden. Extreme discomfort, all stiff back and flailing arms. And thankfully not dogme.

Not chosen, but looking forward to:

  • L’âge des ténèbres (Days of Darkness). Denys Arcand, Canada. Following up on the great Barbarian Invasions.
  • Eastern Promises. David Cronenberg, UK/Canada. The History of Violence team are back again, with Mortensen accompanied this time by Naomi Watt in a Russian mobster flick.
  • Elizabeth: The Golden Age. Shekhar Kapur, UK. Not at the top of my list, but probably worth seeing.
  • My Kid Could Paint That. Amir Bar-Lev, USA. Documentary about a 4 year old whose abstract artworks have sold for over $300,000.
  • My Winnipeg. Guy Maddin, Canada. Back with another weird one, I imagine.
  • No Country for Old Men. Joel & Ethan Coen, USA. Highly anticipated, based on its trailer.
  • Paranoid Park. Gus Van Sant, France. With Christopher Doyle as cinematographer.
  • Useless. Jia Zhang-Ke, China. About an artist who criticises consumerism’s effects on China; sounds thematically similar to Manufactured Landscapes, even if the art is completely different.

Reviews will show up in the sidebar of this site over the next few weeks, once we see which picks we get in the draw. It won’t be in the RSS feed, so check back at my site periodically.

Films, 2006

Okay, this post is mostly for my own reference, just so I can remember what films I saw in a given year and recommend things to friends or to rewatch.

My favourite film this year was Caché – interesting both stylistically and politically. The other highlights were Grizzly Man, C.R.A.Z.Y., Thumbsucker and Hard Eight.

  • casino royale. uk, 2006.
  • blood simple. usa, 1983.
  • tenacious d and the pick of destiny. usa, 2006.
  • a history of violence. usa, 2005.
  • borat: cultural learnings of america for make benefit glorious nation of kazakhstan. uk/usa, 2006.
  • manufactured landscapes. canada, 2006.
  • boogie nights. usa, 1997.
  • zoolander. usa, 2001.
  • shaun of the dead. uk, 2004.
  • miami vice. usa, 2006.
  • the iron giant. usa, 1999.
  • x-men 3. usa, 2006.
  • cars. usa, 2006.
  • the proposition. australia, 2005.
  • thumbsucker. usa, 2005.
  • sabah. canada, 2005.
  • dancer in the dark. denmark, 2000.
  • mission impossible iii. usa, 2006.
  • the big sleep. usa, 1946.
  • beowulf and grendel. canada / iceland, 2005.
  • the inside man. usa, 2006.
  • walk the line. usa, 2005.
  • c.r.a.z.y. canada, 2005.
  • oldboy. korea, 2005.
  • kaze no tani no naushika (nausicaä of the valley of the winds). japan, 1984.
  • hard eight / sydney. usa, 1996.
  • scarface. usa, 1983.
  • the three burials of melquiades estrada. usa, 2005.
  • waco: the rules of engagement. usa, 1997.
  • grizzly man. usa, 2005.
  • munich. usa, 2005.
  • capote. usa, 2005.
  • water. canada / india, 2005.
  • the new world. usa, 2005.
  • caché (hidden). france / austria, 2005.

Angus films

Just a followup on a recent post: Yvonne tells me that Angus Adventures are showing their film in Vancouver this weekend and next (at the Hollywood and Denman Place theatres). I see they’re also coming to Ottawa, Waterloo, Calgary and Edmonton in November (but no Toronto yet). Check out the details of their tour.