“War for the Planet of the Apes” Earns Another Victory for the Rebooted Franchise

Remember how Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a James Franco-laden disaster with John Lithgow wandering around forgetting everything and apes rampaged over the Golden Gate bridge being attacked by police helicopters? How far we’ve come. This Planet of the Apes reboot may be one of the most artistically successful reboots of a beloved franchise in the history of Hollywood, and it is almost entirely on the strength of the final two films – first with 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and now with War for the Planet of the Apes.

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TIFF 2017: The President’s Visit

Cinema Axis

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In a small village in Lebanon, a soap maker toils in his dingy shop. He earns very little respect from the townsfolk, though his service is essential. Then, one day, the President of the country calls him. As part of a new “Clean Up the Country” campaign, he will be visiting the humble shop to buy the finest soaps available in a publicity stunt. The owner is told to keep the visit secret.

Of course, that fails immediately.

First, the soap maker tells his uncle, a local fishmonger. The uncle spreads the word immediately, and takes credit for owning the soap shot, to boot (he doesn’t; but is quick to take advantage of the publicity to hawk his mackerel). Now, ever denizen of the sleepy town is dressed to the nines, ready to impress the president with their sophistication.

Except he doesn’t show. And the soap maker has decided to…

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TIFF 2017: Creatura Dada

Cinema Axis

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It almost feels folly to describe Caroline Monnet’s Creatura Dada with any kind of sincerity. I could certainly do it, but it will take you more time to read my blurby review than to actually watch the film. I watched it four times in preparation, and each time I noticed something different.

At a scant four minutes long, you’d think there couldn’t possibly be much going on. But, there’s a lot of content in those four minutes. Ostensibly, Creatura Dada seems to be a bridal shower or even a women’s-only rehearsal dinner. The women, all of indigenous descent, consume a luxurious seafood meal in many courses, bordering between the gluttonous and the celebratory. At one point, it becomes clear that the meal is being shown in reverse – sort of. At another, the women dance or sway to the music while staring straight to camera, organized in generations.

Monnet means…

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“It” is Potent Storytelling Spoiled by Commercialized Horror

It appears to be one of the most crowd-pleasing horror films in recent memory. But a crowd-pleasing horror film is something of a contradiction in terms. If everyone finds it to their liking, then how unnerving, scary, or boundary-pushing can it possibly be? I’m not saying that every horror film has to have people throwing up in the theaters like The Exorcist or scared out of their wits, but there is something wrong with a horror film feeling so conventional and comfortable.

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TIFF 2017: The Tesla World Light

Cinema Axis

tesla_05The Tesla World Light is a strange stop-motion animation short film. Robert Vilar plays Nikola Tesla in the latter days of his life, fantasizing about a system of free energy for all nations while a lightning-spouting pigeon terrorizes him around his room.

So, it’s something of an art film.

The animation technique is obviously stop-motion, especially for the pigeon, but that’s part of the charm. The rest of the animation is a technique called light animation, which involves moving a bright light in frame, resulting in light rays. In practice, it looks kind of like the trailing lights of a sparkler. It’s a pretty cool effect, and it definitely suits the subject of Tesla and his penchant for electricity experiments.

Story-wise, there is not much going on, and it gets a little abstract and crazy. But that’s kind of the point, it’s an expression of the manic genius of Tesla…

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TIFF 2017: Tulipani: Love, Honour, and a Bicycle

Cinema Axis

tulipani_love_honourandabicycle_01Tulipani: Love, Honour, and a Bicycle is a Dutch romance film that perfectly balances its whimsical outlook on life with heartfelt drama. Set in Puglia, Italy, the film tells the story of a Dutch man named Gauke starting a new life after a devastating flood in his home town. The overall result is a brilliant comedy with affecting characters, gorgeous visuals, and powerful themes.

Tulipani opens with a confounding shot of a redheaded woman named Anna (Ksenia Solo) hanging out of a Piaggio Ape, backside scraped or burned, hysterically laughing. After arriving at a local hospital, a police investigator confronts the girl about a Zippo lighter he found at a crime scene. Once she admits that it is hers, he charges Anna with murder. Anna’s friend, Piero and his Mother, loudly protest, explaining that there is a story that explains everything – a story 30 years in the making! Anna…

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