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Going Beyond the Brick with LEGO Batman

21 Feb

cym_yo1w8aqqn_zBy Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

I very rarely get excited about all the toys released along with an animated film. With How to Train Your Dragon, the variety of reptiles seen on-screen only salivated my appetite for owning a model of each because I love the designs. In the movie, LEGO Batman, I got giddy over the garage full of vehicles the caped crusader uses in his fight against crime and if only I had a couple of thousand dollars. Buying the bricks is not cheap because a lot of the money goes towards name brand recognition and licensing rights than manufacture. All reason went out the window when I saw Scutter, Batman’s mech change from robot mode to airplane.

Can I hope the model does the same? I’ll have to look at YouTube videos to find out, or just buy it. I caved and bought the set, not only because I liked the personality given to it, and enjoyed how the film gave to fans a perfect examination of two properties. Not only did it examine why the man behind the cowl is what he is but also it stayed true to what the brick represents. It’s become more than a kid’s construction toy and it helps creates a foundation to spur creativity.

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[Victoria Film Festival 2017] Dreaming About My Life as a Zucchini & Upcoming Dates

13 Feb

ma_vie_de_courgetteBy Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

GKIDS USA release date:
February 24, 2017

Once in a while, a stop-motion animated film will amaze. My Life as a Zucchini (the English title of the Swiss-French Ma vie de Courgette) has a wonderful artistic design to it, reminiscent of Tim Burton’s wide-eyed look. This movie is based on the book by Gilles Paris and just like it, the story touches on the tough themes of how kids dealing with abandonment. At the same time, audiences get to learn about what establishing of a family, related or not, means. Icare (who prefers the nickname Zucchini – Courgette in French) is the protagonist, and after a quick look at his home life, his next day looks like a complete disaster. He may have or not have accidentally caused the death of his mother. She was drunk and aggressive towards her boy, so it’s tough to say if what happened was her fault or his. We never truly know when the titles roll.

Without any adults in his life, he now faces an uncertain future while living at an orphanage. He finds others like him and in some people’s eyes, they are damaged goods because of why they were placed here. Simon, the bully of this estate reveals all, but after an instance where Courgette shows he’s not afraid, becomes his friend (perhaps maybe too quickly) and as the two come to realize their existence is meaningless, just where this movie goes depends on how quick viewers are to notice the signs.

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[Victoria Film Festival 2017] Redefining the Ghost Story with Personal Shopper

12 Feb

mediaBy Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

This movie will get a wider release in the USA on March 10.

To delicately write and direct a ghost story often means understanding the underlying aspects of what makes this sub genre a delight to watch, if not read. Most stories are focused on an individual feeling isolated instead of terrorized and in some cases, the protagonist feels like a great weight is upon him or her. To be free means all of that is lifted.

The appeal of Olivier Assayas’ movie, Personal Shopper, is in how this subject is gently explored. He does a great job of making a film that is more of a thriller than a Woman in Black style spookfest. The heroine in this story, Maureen Cartwright (Kristen Stewart), does not like her job of being a fashion barista for celebrity-model Kyra (Nora Von Waldstätten) whom she rarely sees and fortunately (or not) she has a side job of being a medium. She can sense dead people and perhaps help them move on. But when she has her own dead weight of dealing with the death of her twin brother is more gifted, just what she’s looking for is actually closure. She is waiting for a sign from him.

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[Victoria Film Festival 2017] Dealing with Karma in The Suffering of Ninko

11 Feb

the-suffering-of-ninko-film-posterBy Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

The trailer for the movie, Suffering of Ninko, is deceptively wonderful. We are presented with what appears to be a comedy about Ninko (Masato Tsujioka), a novice Buddhist monk, whom many a woman wants to cuddle up with. There’s even two male members of his order who show interest, and to see how he struggles to stay celibate is at the heart of this rated R film. Reciting his mantras is easy, but when he is presented with physical challenges, averting his eyes is not. However, there’s more he must face to test his virtue.

The people from Edo-period Japan tends to have a deeper spiritual connection with the world. Whether that’s in the art they produce or their every day life, the supernatural is generally believed to exist everywhere. When rendered to a form either on paper or with a word, there’s a life given to the work. With literature, it gives the narrative a higher meaning. In the full 70minute film, just what this tale means is worth exploring. Is it folklore, a Brothers Grimm type tale or symphonic prose?

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