"The tail-end of summer is an exciting period for Toronto's cult-cinema crowd," writes Neil Karassik in Eye Weekly. "With TIFF's Midnight Madness programme, Rue Morgue's Festival of Fear expo and the fifth annual Toronto After Dark Film Festival to look forward to, there will definitely be blood. And Robogeisha. Like many a subversive film fest, After Dark can be an iffy experience for non-diehards, although it always boasts some standout flicks, whether they be quality bloodbaths, like Neil Marshall's Centurion or delightfully insane match-ups, such as Alien vs Ninja."
"Now in its fifth year at the Bloor Cinema, the festival presents eight nights' worth of horror, action, science fiction and would-be cult movies of every stripe," writes Jason Anderson in his overview for the Toronto Star. "Though still relatively modest in size compared to Montreal's Fantasia, the granddaddy of the continent's genre fests, Toronto After Dark is a valuable survey of the movie world's latest extremes."
Bob Turnbull previews Henry Saine's The Last Lovecraft, Jake West's Doghouse, Yorgos Noussias's Evil in the Time of Heroes, Ivan Engler's Cargo, Noburu Iguchi's Robogeisha, John Stalberg's High School, Daniel Stamm's The Last Exorcism, Seiji Chiba's Alien vs Ninja, the omnibus film Phobia 2 from Thailand, Joshua Grannell's All About Evil, Marshall's Centurion, Philip Ridley's Heartless, Christopher Smith's Black Death, Steven R Monroe's I Spit on Your Grave, Quentin Dupieux's Rubber and Tom Six's The Human Centipede — and has trailers for all of them. The festival opens tonight and runs through August 20.
Noir City: Chicago 2 opens for a week-long run at the Music Box Theatre and the Chicago Reader not only has capsule previews of the highlights but also Cliff Doerksen on Edmund Goulding's Nightmare Alley (1947), "an excellent film, well worth seeing on the big screen just for the luscious, brooding cinematography by Lee Garmes (Gone With the Wind)." Ben Kenigsberg picks out more highlights from the series for Time Out Chicago.
Also in the Reader: Ed M Koziarski talks with Paul Cotter, whose debut feature, Bomber, sees its Chicago premiere in a weeklong run starting today at the Gene Siskel Film Center. The subheading over the piece calls the film a "semiautobiographical seriocomic road movie, inspired by Abbas Kiarostami and the mumblecore gang."
The Reader, CINE-FILE and Cliff Doerksen (Time Out Chicago) have capsule previews of the work of black artists screening at the Black Harvest International Festival of Film and Video running today through Thursday at the Gene Siskel Film Center.
"The George Kuchar renaissance that began with the release of Jennifer M Kroot's affectionate documentary detailing 'the 8mm Mozarts,' George and his twin brother Mike, builds to a climax this weekend when the Harvard Film Archive welcomes George, who'll present sterling new 16mm restorations of five rarely screened shorts (two of them done by the HFA) plus one of his few feature-length films." Brett Michel in the Boston Phoenix: "The Devil's Cleavage (1973; August 15 at 7 pm) is a 108-minute black-and-white send-up of post-war melodrama involving a busty, unhappily married nurse who dreams of a better life, and it suggests that though the 67-year-old, Bronx-born Kuchar brothers claim the first film their movie-loving mother, Stella, ever took them to was Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, it was actually Douglas Sirk's 50s-era melodramas that made an indelible mark on George."
The Boston Globe's Ty Burr rounds up more local highlights.
IN THE BAY AREA
"My good friend David Wilson is holding court at the Berkeley Art Museum for a little while longer," notes Max Goldberg, adding, "make sure to check out his teeming installations before they disappear. David's constellations of visual art and events have long served as a guiding light to my own inquiries, and so it was a great pleasure to be able to 'respond' to his work with a short program of films which will screen at the museum this coming Friday." That is, today.
As Johnnie To's Vengeance opens at the Sundance Kabuki and the Bay Guardian's Cheryl Eddy recommends catching it: "To fans will be in bullet-ballet heaven."
IN LOS ANGELES
"Ultimately opting for Brakhage over butchery, this surprising horror debut, I Can See You, hits us where it hurts, by turning vision itself into a mind-frying source of anxiety," writes Nicolas Rapold in the LA Weekly. "Working under Larry Fessenden's low-budget horror shingle, young director Graham Reznick is adept enough with sound and rhythm to incorporate, say, a borrowing of Lost Highway expressionism in his technique, which is self-enamored but effective." At the Downtown Independent.
IN NEW YORK
3D may or may not be the future, but it's "definitely part of the cinema's past," writes Dave Kehr in the New York Times, "never as gloriously and gaudily as in the approximately 45 stereographic features released by the American film industry between 1952 and 1955. Fifteen of those vintage films, filled with flaming arrows, pointy surgical instruments, guys in gorilla suits and high-kicking chorines all hurtling from the screen and into your face, will be featured over the next two weeks in Classic 3-D, a series at Film Forum in the South Village." And he goes on to explain the "double system" of projection which Bruce Goldstein, "the Film Forum's resourceful repertory programmer," has gone to great pains to recreate. J Hoberman, too, considers the past, present and possible futures of 3D in the Voice; the New Yorker's Richard Brody briefly considers "Lew Landers's grungy 1953 film noir Man in the Dark; and you want to refer, too, to Glenn Kenny's preview of the series running through August 26 here in The Daily Notebook. Meantime, Matt Zoller Seitz argues in Salon that if 3D is to realize its "radical, revolutionary potential," filmmakers are going to have to chuck a load of old habits.
As part of the series Nilsson Schmilsson: A Tribute to Harry Nilsson, the 92Y Tribeca will be previewing Who is Harry Nilsson? (And Why is Everybody Talkin' About Him?) this evening.
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