Is there anything dorkier than having a deep, profound love for The Muppets? When the guys here at Dork Shelf asked me if I could throw together a special week of Muppet related content in honour of this week’s release of the latest Muppet film, I nearly hyperventilated and passed out from excitement. The Muppets have been involved with several of my favourite films of all time and they had a huge impact on my understanding of writing and comedy.
Toronto’s video game community will gather this weekend for Gamercamp LV 3, a mishmash of panel discussions, demos, game jams and social events that is growing almost as exponentially as the local community itself. As part of Gamercamp, The ‘Shelf has partnered with Toronto After Dark to present the "Full Motion Video" film program.
The Addams Family musical, now in its second year on Broadway, is based on the artwork of cartoonist Charles Addams and the popular film and television productions that followed. The comedy musical pushes our favourite gothic family into new territory -- into genuine, unironic happiness. Happiness that was not achieved through decapitation, poisoning or the like. It's kind of weird.
In Alexander Payne’s The Descendants, the most catastrophic events that befall the main characters happen off screen, making it a kind of glossy kindred spirit to the more youth oriented romance Like Crazy and the much beloved cult drama Martha Marcy May Marlene. Payne creates a story about privileged people dealing with real world issues without a sense of detachment or boredom. Sofia Coppola should see this film and take notes.
Few places in Toronto are as appropriate for an Assassin's Creed event as the Berkeley Church on Queen and Parliament. Originally built in 1871, it's a mix of the modern and the historical – a perfect fit for the time-jumping, history-shaping saga that continues this week with the release of Ubisoft's latest chapter in the series, Assassin's Creed: Revelations.
Director Tarsem Singh previously made two visually stunning, but incredibly boring and boneheaded films (The Cell, The Fall) before taking on his latest film Immortals. Undoubtedly talented when it comes to visuals, his latest film somehow manages to rank as the least of his efforts, but not for lack of trying. Whereas his past efforts have been ambitious failures, there simply isn’t anything in this sword and sandals epic that hasn’t been done before, or better, hundreds of times before.
Most filmmaking is a seat of the pants endeavour fraught with pitfalls and last second changes. Nothing goes according to plan, but more often that not on major Hollywood productions things tend to go more swimmingly. That is, of course, provided that they aren’t making a sequel to one of the previous year’s biggest success stories. Scream 2 stands as a testament to director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson. It's a film that managed to be almost equally as good as the original and actually far more interesting on an academic level.
It has buttons, says Sony's PlayStation Move. You are the controller, says Microsoft's Kinect. Pfft... that's all child's play. Have you ever flown a plane using only your eyes?
Several years after an awkward experience at Guantanamo Bay (both in terms of plotting and execution), the most famous on screen stoners since Jay and Silent Bob and the funniest ones since Cheech and Chong, return to take on the holidays in the ornately titled A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas.
America’s culture of greed has inspired several films in recent years, but Tower Heist decides to take a comic approach. It follows the employees of an upscale condo building who discover that their richest resident — also their accountant — has lost their retirement fund in a Ponzi scheme. The turn comes when the building manager takes personal responsibility for trusting the banker and plots to steal the money back from the banker’s well secured penthouse. It’s like a funny Ocean’s 11. Wait, Ocean’s 11 was already funny. Funnier? No... Hrm.
In the last year of development for id's newest first-person shooter RAGE, you might be forgiven if you thought "MEGATEXTURES" was actually its title. Yet here we are, on the tail end of a promotional tour that made no bones about it: RAGE is the next DOOM. But has id evolved beyond its innovative roots to carve a niche for itself among a market bloated with shooters?
Genre mash-ups are all the rage these days. Remakes and reboots aside, it seems like the only way filmmakers are able to get a genre film made these days is if they blend well-trod tropes and conventions together. Vampire police procedural? Let's make a deal! Post-apocalyptic rom-com? Sign on the dotted line. Kung fu werewolf revenge drama? Please, just take our money! If any of these made up movie pitches appeal to you, then you might just get something out of the zombie-buddy comedy DeadHeads.
It isn’t uncommon to see movies at the After Dark Film Festival where you can tell others that the plot can be excused. Monster Brawl, which aspires to be a mirror image of a televised WWE special, replaces the scary looking beefcakes with scary looking monsters.The film seems to have a better idea of what it wanted to be rather than how to really accomplish that. “The story didn’t matter” is a common thing to overhear at these events, but I gotta hand it to you, Monster Brawl, “I’m not really sure that was a movie” is a new one.
Redline isn’t about nothing, but it isn’t about much. Nothing stops Redline from hitting goals. Nothing stops Redline from victory. Redline is so ferocious and unwieldy that it’s too dangerous to be bound in your hands, it’s too fast for the qualms of plot or logic. It can’t slow down. The wonderful thing about animation is that it’s a world from scratch, created only by the pen instead of constructs of likelihood. Redline is its own universe, and it rockets through it so fast you’ll miss planets if you blink.
After watching all four Scream films again on Blu-ray, I find it a bit strange that I haven’t devoted more time to talking about a series of films that single-handedly revived the slasher genre with a blend of genuine terror and self-reflexive humour. So here now begins a four week long look back at the history of the now seminal series that has been slaying audiences since 1996.
Manborg is meant to recreate that VHS tape you once found misplaced in the corner concert film section of a pawn shop. In a world being rapidly flooded with these rehashed nostalgia bombs, Manborg is challenged to represent a new era/aesthetic of re-re-re-rehash, and to be more entertaining than many of the other films in the running. Thankfully for Manborg, it is half man, half cyborg, all Manborg.
As his first film since The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers is horror director Ti West’s opportunity to show a winning streak, or at least an uncanny corridor. It also happens to be a chance for star Sara Paxton, often cast as that pretty blonde in really forgettable roles, to earn a new start, not unlike West himself.
The Divide is a psychological thriller about post-apocalyptic survival that is often horrifying and all around nightmarish. From claustrophobia to torture, radiation sickness and murder, the only thing comfortable about this movie was how snugly it fit into the middle of Toronto After Dark’s line-up.