Posts Tagged ‘Mark Ruffalo’

This week’s releases include: a striking history of film; a superhero calamity; an alliance of physical traits; a delightful animation; a tale at sea; and a paralyzed DJ who has faith forced upon him. (more…)

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Many of this week’s releases appear a little late for Halloween, but there’s also some entertaining family drama: a magical people attempts to avoid extinction via industrial progress; a couple stumbles upon a town with dangerously peculiar children; a VHS camcorder captures all the family moments no one wants to remember; a ghostly possession could lead to the end of the world; a woman discovers she’s not who she thought she was; a young man befriends an eccentric gigolo; a weekend of gaming goes terribly wrong; a family is forever changed after the kids seek out their father; and a deranged family’s harvest involves collecting people. (more…)


The title refers to the old adage “What doesn’t kill makes you stronger.” Lucky for Brian Goodman – the real life story’s subject and the film’s director – the saying proved true for him.

Brian (Mark Ruffalo) and Paulie (Ethan Hawke) are brothers in life and crime. Beginning as kids doing small jobs for the neighbourhood boss, the boys grew into professional criminals. Even though Brian has a wife (Amanda Peet) and two kids to support, it’s Paulie, the single ladies man, set to take action because he doesn’t think they’re paid enough for their services. Eventually the guys get busted and serve five years in prison. Once released, Brian tries to go straight and be a better father while Paulie falls right back into old habits. In the end, it becomes a question of whether Paulie will pull Brian back down with him.

The movie is gritty and doesn’t pull any punches – it tells it like it was. Brian’s crack addiction is shown under a harsh light as well as the strain it put on his relationship with his family. Even though their stay in prison is widely skipped, they do show the beating of a convicted child molester because it was a significant event and, more simply, because it happened.

Ruffalo and Hawke are outstanding. Ruffalo’s greatest moments in the film occur after he starts smoking crack. His mood swings and desperation, which is so strong he runs away from a hospital and his loved ones just to get a hit, are heartbreakingly believable. Hawke becomes the charming tough guy who is never going to change and knows it too well. Peet turns in a surprisingly raw performance as a woman helplessly in love with no other options.

The DVD audio commentary with Goodman and producer/co-star Donnie Wahlberg provides insight into the production process, the real-life inspirations and Goodman’s experience as a first-time director. The “making of” featurette speaks a lot about how the actors know Goodman and became involved with the project. Some of the deleted and alternate scenes are surprisingly darker than some of the scenes in the film, but for the most part they are uneventful.


Blindness deals with a woman who feels exceedingly alone during an epidemic that unites everyone else in their sickness.

An unexplained outbreak of blindness spreads exponentially through the city and in lieu of any other plan, everyone who is infected is placed in quarantine. A doctor (Mark Ruffalo) is one of the first to enter the designated area with his wife (Julianne Moore), who is not affected but unwilling to leave her husband alone and helpless. The tale then becomes one of a woman stretched to her limits and a makeshift society run amok.

In addition to Ruffalo and Moore, Gael Garcia Bernal turns in an impressive performance as the self-proclaimed king of thieves, Danny Glover is the rational older gentleman, Alice Braga is the prostitute with the golden heart, and Don McKeller, who wrote the script and likes to appear in films to which he contributes, plays the belligerent patient.

The one element Blindness has in common with the last man on Earth plot is the total dissolution of effective government. It is an interesting look at one woman’s struggle, often conjuring imagery from zombie and apocalypse films. Unfortunately, the final half-hour slows down so much that you feel each minute drag past. If repetitive details were restricted, the film’s pace would be better. Furthermore, the conclusion feels excessive.

In the end, what could have been a great film based on story, abilities of the director (Fernando Meirelles) and cast, is made mediocre by pacing issues.

The first of the two-disc DVD contains the feature film and “The Seeing Eye,” which is an additional 30 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage embedded in the film. The second disc holds a 55-minute “making of” featurette titled “Vision of Blindness,” which shows how the cast learned to be blind and Meirelles’ unique style of shooting; and five deleted scenes that were intuitively cut from the film.

The Brothers Bloom is an entertaining throwback to early slapstick comedy but with cell phones.

Bloom’s (Adrian Brody) older brother Stephen (Mark Ruffalo who is also making a TIFF appearance in Blindness) has been rewriting his little brother’s life since they were kids. At the ages of 10 and 13, the boys began their careers as con men, tricking the ”playground bourgeoisie.” Weary of betraying everyone and never being himself, Bloom threatens to quit after every job. Finally, Stephen agrees to let Bloom go if he helps Stephen and their silent partner Bang Bang (Rinko Kikuchi) con a rich lonely eccentric named Penelope (Rachel Weisz) out of a small fortune. There’s just one rule: don’t fall in love.

Director Rian Johnson is not new to adapting early film genres to modern tastes, having done so to critical-acclaim in 2005 with his feature debut, Brick. The Brothers Bloom employs an old school approach to comedy that went out of style but never stopped being funny. While the design appears dated, the narrative unfolds in a non-descript era that is modernized with technology, graffiti walls and references to animé. The result is genuinely humorous and often mysterious.

Ruffalo is the dominant personality in the brothers’ relationship; he’s the quick-witted idea man. Brody is the charming front man that easily wins the trust of the marks. Meanwhile, Kikuchi is practically a mime but cute rather than annoying. And Weisz is wonderfully quirky and naive.

This film is a joyous unpredictable ride with a brilliant last act.

The last man on Earth plot has been recycled countless times. Conversely, Blindness deals with a woman who feels exceedingly alone during an epidemic.

An unexplained outbreak of blindness spreads exponentially through the city and in lieu of any other plan, everyone who is infected is placed in quarantine. A doctor (Mark Ruffalo who is also making a TIFF appearance in The Brothers Bloom) is one of the first to enter the designated area with his wife (Julianne Moore), who is not affected but unwilling to leave her husband alone and helpless. The tale then becomes one of a woman stretched to her limits and a makeshift society run amok.

In addition to Ruffalo and Moore, Gael Garcia Bernal turns in an impressive performance as the self-proclaimed king of thieves, Danny Glover is the rational older gentleman, Alice Braga is the prostitute with the golden heart, and Don McKeller, who wrote the script and likes to appear in films to which he contributes, plays the belligerent patient.

The movie is an interesting look at one woman’s struggle, often conjuring imagery from zombie and apocalypse films. Unfortunately, the final half-hour slows down so much that you feel each minute drag past. If repetitive details were restricted, the film’s pace would be better. Furthermore, the ending feels superfluous.

In the end, what could have been a great film based on story and abilities of the director (Fernando Meirelles) and cast is made mediocre by pacing issues.

There is no shortage of Canadian filmmakers to fill out the programmes at this year’s Festival of festivals.

Canadian programming for the 33rd annual Toronto International Film Festival was revealed at a press conference yesterday. Some returning favourites showcasing their work include Bruce McDonald, Deepa Mehta, Don McKellar, Joshua Jackson, Kari Skogland, Philippe Falardeau, and Kevin Zegers.

Skoglund’s Fifty Dead Men Walking and Michael McGowan’s One Week join the already announced opening-night film Passchendaele by Paul Gross as Canadian Gala presentations. In One Week, a young man (Jackson) comes to terms with his mortality on a cross-Canada road trip, starring Liane Balaban and Campbell Scott. Set in the late 1980’s, at the height of the Irish civil conflict, Fifty Dead Men Walking follows Martin (Jim Sturgess), a recruit of the British police ordered to spy on the IRA; also starring Sir Ben Kingsley, Rose McGowan and Zegers.

Three titles join Atom Egoyan’s previously announced Adoration in the Special Presentations category. Mehta’s Heaven on Earth is set in the Toronto suburb of Brampton and features Bollywood star Preity Zinta as Chand, a vibrant young woman who comes to Canada to meet her husband and his very traditional family. The Oscar-nominated director of Water was on-hand and said Heaven on Earth is “perhaps my favourite film. It’s where my two worlds come together. They come together right here because the film’s deeply rooted in my community – which is the Punjabi community – and it’s also deeply rooted in my adopted homeland, which is Canada.”

The other Special Presentations are Fernando Meirelles’ Blindness, written by McKellar and starring Mark Ruffalo, Julianne Moore, Danny Glover and Gael García Bernal, it’s an apocalyptic tale of a plague that robs people of their sight; and Falardeau’s C’est pas moi, je le jure! (It’s Not Me, I Swear!), which tells the tale of a 10-year-old boy with lots of problems and an overly fertile imagination.

Canada First! gets underway with Edison and Leo, Canada’s first stop-motion animated feature, while Warren Sonada’s Cooper’s Camera, starring The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’s Jason Jones and Samantha Bee, follows the disintegration of a truly dysfunctional family Christmas. That series also includes Marie-Hélène Cousineau and Madeline Ivalu’s Before Tomorrow; Justin Simms’s Down to the Dirt; Charles Officer’s Nurse. Fighter. Boy; Ingrid Veninger and Simon Reynolds’s Only; Randall Cole’s Real Time; Terry Miles’s When Life Was Good; and Cameron Labine’s Control Alt Delete.

The Contemporary World Cinema category will showcase Rodrigue Jean’s Lost Song, Léa Pool’s Maman est chez le coiffeur, Carl Bessai’s Mothers & Daughters, Francis Leclerc’s Un Été sans point ni coup sûr, and the multiple-effort production Toronto Stories.

Toronto Stories is a tribute to the city from filmmakers Sook-Yin Lee, Sudz Sutherland, David Weaver and Aaron Woodley. Weaver, who also co-produced, was at the unveiling with all the project’s directors. “I was motivated to make this film because of the fact that Toronto, when it appears in films, very rarely plays itself. With so many people coming to it in the past 10 to 20 years, it’s a brand-new city that hasn’t really been on the screen before,” said Weaver. “I’m hoping this will be a whole new perception of Toronto.”

The Vanguard line-up, dedicated to groundbreaking films that challenge the boundaries of social discourse, now includes McDonald’s first horror film Pontypool and Rafaël Ouellet’s Derrière moi.

Real to Reel added Astra Taylor’s Examined Life, Luc Bourdon’s La Mémoire des anges, and Malcolm Rogge’s Under Rich Earth.

Short Cuts Canada presents 38 innovative shorts, including Denis Villeneuve’s Next Floor, Guy Édoin’s La Battue, and Helen Lee’s Hers at Last.

This year’s Canadian Open Vault selection is François Girard’s breakthrough feature 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould (1993), a compelling and striking exploration of the idiosyncratic world of Gould’s ideas and music.

Two renowned international filmmakers will oversee the Talent Lab’s fifth year: French director Olivier Assayas (Paris, je t’aime) and British producer Stephen Woolley (The Crying Game). The program provides 22 emerging filmmakers with a four-day intensive workshop.

The Toronto International Film Festival runs September 4 through 13.

For more TIFF ’08 coverage, click here.