TOP 10 FILMS OF 2012

With today’s Oscar nominations, I thought it would be proper for me to ride the coat-tails of the Oscar’s excitement and yell at you about my favourite films from the past twelve months.

NUMBER TEN!
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10.
THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS (Part 1): As many of you now know, I was less than thrilled with Christopher Nolan’s THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, don’t look for it anywhere on this list. His magic-Batman-dust had apparently lost its effect on me.

Cue THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS PART 1, DC Comics’ animated feature of Frank Miller’s incredible graphic novel.

After my disappointment in Nolan’s TDKR, this was the cinematic equivalent to a hail Mary with Batman as the QB (too early for sports analogies in the top 10?). Oh, and Peter Weller, also known as ROBO COP, voices Batman. Yeah. I know.

Part 2 is due out January 29th. Catch up, Batnerds!

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9. 
SLEEPWALK WITH ME: If a ringing endorsement from Joss Whedon himself wasn’t enough to get this film in front of everyone’s eyes, I hope this list can at least get a few of the stragglers.

Best film about or inspired by stand-up comedy I have ever seen.

*Available now on Canadian Netflix.

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Tie – 8.
THE MASTER & THE COMEDY: This year, the number eight slot is reserved for the two films that left me completely disoriented in their wake. I literally had difficulty forming a full sentence after THE MASTER (the sentence I was trying to form was “Hello, could I have a small double-double?”).

Both films put forth a buffet’s worth to chew on, their leading performances to begin with: Jaoquin Phoenix and (surprisingly) Tim Heidecker throw down two of my favourite performances of the year.

Both films also feel, like their main characters, incomplete, leaving you in a weird place once the credits roll. So that said, I obviously recommend THE MASTER and THE COMEDY for any and all first dates.

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7. Beasts of the Southern Wild: I wanted to start this off saying “Remember Quvenzhané Wallis’ name” but since it’s such a hard one to pronounce, I’ll forgive you if you don’t.

I often wince or get uneasy whenever a child performs. Usually because they suck. But once in a while, a child comes along and does what I try to do as a profession with such ease and conviction that it leaves me dumbfounded (that’s after a brief fury spell, of course).

Quvenzhané Wallis, you are officially on notice. I am trying to conjure up some sort of spell to steal your talents before you’re even aware of them. Oh, and congratulations on your film, it’s really magical ‘n’ stuff, I guess…

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6. GOON: Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, my favourite hockey movie of all-time, GOON. Written by Canadian royalty, Jay Baruchel (yes, that actor fella’) and directed by Michael Dowse (FUBAR, IT’S ALL GONE PETE TONG).

I had an active dislike for Seann William Scott‘s body of work going into GOON, and I am happy to say that I was in awe of the balancing act that he managed to pull off in GOON, which really elevated the film to a whole other (ice) level.

…You knew there were going to be puns on this list, right?

If there’s only one Canadian flick that I can guilt you into watching this year, I’d love for it to be this one.

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5. MOONRISE KINGDOM: In 2007, after watching THE DARJEELING LIMITED, I was a little bit worried that the haters may have been right: that Wes Anderson was nothing but weightless, ineffectual quirk.

After 2009’s THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX and this year’s MOONRISE KINGDOM, I am fully prepared to tell the haters to stuff a fluffy, pastel-coloured sock in their traps.

I’m sorry for almost turning my back on you, Wes. Never again.

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4. THE CABIN IN THE WOODS: Regardless of what I thought of a certain lacklustre cameo in this film, I thought the rest of CABIN was a damn near masterpiece combination of laughs and scares, with an insanely clever script that forces you to change the way you watch horror films. They went and hijacked an entire genre. Boom.

*Bonus points for casting Richard Jenkins.

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3. CLOUD ATLAS: That’s right, number 3. Not only did I like the film with the terrible (and possibly racist) race-bending make-up, I loved it.

It takes a certain level of audacity to put Hugh Grant in yellow face, a certain level of audacity that I absolutely admire. Luckily for my movie-viewing-self, I also happen to admire a whole lot more about CLOUD ATLAS, foremost, I admire the fact that I found myself rooting for an emotion, rather than characters.

Does that make sense?

Overall, CLOUD ATLAS felt fresh, sloppy, precise and careless all at the same time. I implore you to put away your cynic-hat and scoff-handbag for three hours and let CLOUD ATLAS work it’s magic on you.

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2. HOLY MOTORS: This here is the cinematic equivalent of being chewed up and spit out. The “Who When Where What Why” questions that are generally asked when watching a film are pointless here and maybe even downright selfish, robbing yourself of one of the wildest rides a film has had to offer in a damn long time.

Months later, I still catch myself coming up with different theories about what exactly was going on with this film, but in the end I don’t care. I just want to bask in it’s absurdity and let what comes come.

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1. THE AVENGERS: No, not really.

Did I getcha’?

Sorry, I had to make a joke before I threw some obscure Belgian film your way as my number one… Do you see how insecure I am in my pomposity?

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1. THE KID WITH A BIKE: It kind of bothers me to put this as my number one because it was technically released in 2011 in it’s native Belgium and France (2012 in North America), but it is absolutely the best film I watched in the past twelve months, head and shoulders above the rest.

I’ve been hearing rumblings about the Dardenne brothers from Belgium for years now, but had never tracked their films down. I have learned my lesson, and am promptly catching up on their films.

THE KID WITH A BIKE features yet another child performance that is deeply, deeply moving, matched by an incredible and deceptively broad story.

Last year, it thrilled me when people told me they caught up with MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE based solely on my recommendation. I hope I can do the same and persuade a few of you into catching up with this wonderful film. Do it.

Thanks, 2012! You were pretty great.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: THE IMPOSTER, ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, LOOPER, THE GREY, KLOWN, SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED, SKYFALL, LIFE OF PI (in 3D, specifically) & KILLER JOE.

I DID NOT SEE: LINCOLN, AMOUR, ZERO DARK THIRTY, THE HOBBIT, OSLO AUGUST 31ST, PARANORMAN, SEARCHING FOR SUGARMAN & WAR WITCH.

Had any differing opinions? Yell them at me in the comments section, I dares ya’!

FILM VS. DIGITAL


You may or may not know, but there is a war being waged at this very moment. The two sides, battling over the future of filmmaking, arguing which is better: film or digital.

There’s been a whole heap of articles written for each argument, but recently, Karim Hussain, the director of photography for HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN and the upcoming film, ANTIVIRAL (playing at this year’s Cannes Film Festival), had this to say…

Here’s the LA weekly article on the death of film and Christopher Nolan’s plea to preserve 35mm (http://www.laweekly.com/2012-04-12/film-tv/35-mm-film-digital-Hollywood/). I’d happily agree with him, if it wasn’t for the fact that labs and cinemas have been letting their 35mm / 16mm processing, dailies transferring and printing go to shit, laying off staff and ultimately screwing the filmmakers with countless headaches and worries due to sub-standard quality.

When you have an inexperienced kid transfer your rushes and you get a different looking film on set every day, or the lab snaps your negative in their developer, ruining tons of work, digital starts to look good. When your 35mm print is projected in a shitty green print on bad stock the film wasn’t even graded for, it’s out of focus, covered in dirt and scratches, shaking all over the screen, with the bulb turned down so hard to save money that the screen is just a murky smear, the sound is analog 4.0 and super-low because the cinema chain got in a fight with Dolby, good digital projection starts to smell pretty nice. If cinemas maintained their film projectors and technical presentations, then people would see how beautiful 35mm looks and sounds.

These days, they’re more likely to see a blurry mess and barely hear it if it’s an indie without DTS tracks. And in North America, DCP projection is following suit, darkening their bulbs to save on the even more expensive costs of digital bulb replacement. They are literally driving people from the cinemas by giving us horrible presentations. VOD is looking pretty sweet when you pay 13 bucks for a ticket, then can barely see what’s going on and people around you flood the cinema with light from their texting!

The best remaining lab technicians in the world (there are not so many left) will bend over backwards to ensure Christopher Nolan’s multi-multi-multi million dollar photochemical answer prints will look good and be well projected when he’s in the room. But he is the 1% of filmmakers.

The reality is, after the romance of film that I happily subscribe to, independent movies shot on film don’t get the same treatment as the big boys, and after all the headaches, the Arri Alexa starts to look pretty damn sweet. Plus it’s an amazing camera that frees you up in so many brilliant ways that were never before possible…

Filmmakers have been driven to digital for more reasons than just economy and after using the Alexa on a couple films, I’ll happily drink the Kool-Aid. I’m a much happier person because of it!

Interesting, eh?

Me personally, I love digital (of course I do, I wouldn’t have just had you read that if I didn’t). I worked at a movie theatre for three years, where I saw countless films given a terrible presentation simply because the minimum-wage employed projectionist really didn’t give enough of a shit to adjust the film properly.

There’s plenty of other reasons for why I welcome the digital age with wide open arms, a lot of which Karim mentioned above, but what do you think? Any diehard film lovers out there, not willing to let go?

THE CORRIDOR IN THE CORRIDOR


Foreword: the following entry is meant to be read as a companion piece to THE CORRIDOR and contains a few mild-spoilers. 

During the process of taking THE CORRIDOR around to film festivals and showing it to audiences, I learned very early on that my favourite part of the Q&A session was always when the conversation would inevitably turn to “So, what exactly is ‘the corridor’?”

We, the cast, along with our director Evan Kelly, and our writer Josh MacDonald were fortunate enough to have five days of rehearsals before we started shooting THE CORRIDOR. A lot of questions were answered, and a lot of the relationships were established. One afternoon though, Evan asked us all what we thought the corridor was. He and Josh allowed us to sputter on for a few minutes each, without applauding or disproving any theories. Evan said “Interesting”, and that was the last discussion we had.

We were never given the answer (which I’m thankful for), but instead were left to find our own fear of, and beauty within “the corridor”.

What I’d like to do today, is offer up my own interpretation of the corridor, not as any sort of definitive answer, but instead to start up a conversation among those of you who’ve seen the film, and offer up your own meaning…

One substantial ingredient to my theory comes from a seemingly silly internet video called “We Are All Connected” by Symphony of Science. Symphony of Science takes videos of famous quantum physicists (ie. Carl Sagan and Neil Tyson Degrasse) talking about many of the universe’s wonders, and they auto-tune their voices and add music to them. See below:

Pretty darn awesome, eh?

Aside from being fairly catchy, there are also some really staggering facts and theories lobbed around in there. The line that stuck with me the most, however, was Carl Sagan’s simple explanation for everything: “We are a way for the cosmos to know itself“.

In the film, David Patrick Flemming‘s character Chris says of the corridor “It’s a probe. It’s seeking.”

For me, once I combined these two pieces of information, I started to view the corridor as an evaluation process. This was the universe’s way of “checking in”, by sending this probe and seeing who it really was, as a sentient being.

The corridor connects those who connect with it (ie. Ev, played by Jim Gilbert, sitting on the snowmobile, hearing conversations in the airplane), it also intensifies their desires and their thoughts, illuminating their primal instincts, showing their true selves so that they can be judged by the universe.

Once it saw the truth (or at least the truth amongst these five men): the pain they caused each other, the jealousy, the unhappiness, it didn’t like what it was seeing and decided to do away with them, in an act of disgust.

The probe moved forward, and would continue to move forward, towards the city, until it could find something in itself that it found to be admirable. It was Tyler’s (played by Stephen Chambers) sacrifice at the end of the film that the corridor AKA the universe found to be noble, and as a result, it stopped seeking.

Are you still with me? I feel like I may have scared a few of you off.

Now as I said, this is in no way a definitive answer, and as we learned a few days ago with Matt Groening revealing that the Springfield from THE SIMPSONS is in Oregon, definitive answers are no fun.

Now that I’ve shown you mine, please show me your theories of what exactly the corridor from THE CORRIDOR is

THE CORRIDOR is available now on Video On Demand in Canada via Bell VOD, iTunes, Sony, Xbox, Cogeco, MTS, Rogers, SaskTel, Shaw VOD, Telus, VCC, Videotron, Google, RODO and in America on IFC On Demand, iTunes and others.

NEW SHOTS w/ RILEY SMITH


During my most recent stay in Halifax, I met up with professional photographer Riley Smith (RileyPhoto.tv) to take some new headshots. Naturally, we ended up screwing around for a few hours, and came up with some of these…


That may or may not have been Tobias Funke in there. I refuse to confirm or deny.

I had myself a great time working with Riley for the day, and can fully recommend that you do the same if you’re in need of photographs of your facial area. Check out Riley’s website @ http://www.RileyPhoto.tv.

OPEN LETTER TO ACTRA


Here’s a letter that I sent to ACTRA National, Toronto and Maritimes today, in an effort to get them to increase their funding to the Women In The Director’s Chair program. In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I had a pretty great time…

To Whom It May Concern,

I am a full-member of ACTRA (member #**-*****) who has just returned from The Banff Centre in Alberta. There in Banff, I was taking part in the Women In The Director’s Chair‘s acting ensemble, which had all go through a rigorous two-week program, working each day with some of Canada’s brightest up-and-coming female directors.

I understand that from your standpoint, the Women In The Director’s Chair program could be easily be mistaken as something that’s purely beneficial to the directors. Nothing could be further from the truth. Working in the environment that Carol Whiteman has constructed, which gives everyone the “freedom to fail” and puts the process before the product, I have rediscovered what it means to be a true collaborator.

And also, more so than ever, I feel that I have defined what it means (to myself) to be an actor. Talking with other members of the ensemble, we all agree that we’re leaving the program feeling more empowered as artists than ever before.

I’m writing you today to ask you to please consider increasing your contributions to the Women In The Director’s Chair program next year, as raising operating costs at The Banff Centre have already had negative impacts on the program; for example mentor-actor, Christianne Hirt-Shaw, was unable to stay for the full duration of the two weeks due to a lack of funding. A lost opportunity for the actors, no doubt.

I’ll be posting this open-letter to my website, GlenMatthews.ca, not in an attempt to call out ACTRA, but instead to show other actors how strongly I feel about the WIDC program, and to encourage them to apply to take part in this wonderful, invaluable experience.

I hope that by next January, when other performers have a chance to come to Banff and be a part of the ensemble, the program will be better funded by ACTRA, allowing the participants to get even more out of it than I did.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Glen Matthews

Much love to my union, and to my fellow union members who will hopefully enjoy the benefits of the Women In The Director’s Chair some day down the road.

TOP 11 FILMS OF 2011

It’s that time of the year (the end of it) when people sit down and drum up lists of their favourite things of the past twelve months. Today, I would like to share with you (only because you care so much) my 11 favourite films of 2011…

Onward!


11HANNA – Directed by: Joe Wright
There’s a lot to like about HANNA, especially it’s odd-characters, it’s odd-pacing, and it’s incredible soundtrack, which just so happens to be the best soundtrack of the year — oh don’t mind me, I’m just trying to start a flame-war with all the DRIVE-soundtrack fanatics in the comments section (leave a comment, I dare ya’).


10MIDNIGHT IN PARIS – Directed by Woody Allen
My screening for MIDNIGHT IN PARIS could not have been more perfect for Allen’s whimsy: Saturday morning in the cinema, packed to the gills with giggling, giddy senior citizens. Leave your snarkiness at the door, Matthews. Avoid all spoilers of this film, and watch accordingly.


9WIN WIN – Directed by Tom McCarthy
I’ve made no attempt to hide the fact that I’m a huge fan of writer, director and actor Tom McCarthy — the guy played a big part in inspiring me to write and direct my first short film, ROOM SERVICE. As with both of McCarthy’s other films (THE STATION AGENT and THE VISITOR), WIN WIN’s strength is in it’s characters. My expectations could not have been higher and I was not let down.


8RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES – Directed by Rupert Wyatt
Speaking of expectations… Any reasonable person would agree: this movie should have sucked. Really bad. But it didn’t. In fact, it was fairly awesome. Aside from a cringe-inducing final five minutes, the film had some of the best sci-fi moments of the year, and at one point (see photo above) literally made me gasp-out-loud. I generally don’t do that too often unless I’ve spilt a hot drink on my lap.


7 – A tie between:  DETENTION – Directed by Joseph Kahn
I’m sure I could be accused of bias here, but it’s nothing but pride for fellow-Haligonian, Mark Palermo who wrote the screenplay for Joseph Kahn‘s second feature film. Try and process this: a high-school, slasher-flick comedy that also has elements of time-travel. The film moves at an unbelievable pace, and I mean that in the best way possible. It’s everything I wanted SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD to be.

Technically, I think DETENTION belongs in the 2012 category, I just wanted to get behind this movie early on and encourage you to embrace this madness when it’s available to you.


7 – &: MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL – Directed by Brad Bird
In spite of the public’s opinion of Tom Cruise’s very public, very odd life, he just can’t help himself from being awesome when he steps in front of a camera. MI:4 has some of the most-thrilling action sequences conceived on-screen all year, and also a surprising sense of humour.


6DRIVE – Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
“This film will shock you” is such an incredibly lame thing to say, but it applies here. From the first minute, I was hooked in, and was convinced that I was witnessing a brutal, unforgiving, modern masterpiece unravel before my very eyes. It was in the final fifteen minutes that the film lost me with a (in my opinion) weak finale. The anger I feel towards the ending is only a result of how amazing the rest of the movie is, so there’s that.


5WARRIOR – Directed by Gavin O’Connor
Howard Hawk’s famously said that a great film must contain “Three great scenes, [and] no bad ones”. Off the top of my head, I can count six great scenes in WARRIOR, which isn’t surprising given the talent involved, and nothing that even resembles a “bad scene”. Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, and (surprisingly – for me, at least) Nick Nolte all give beautiful, heart-wrenching performances.

The major flaw of the film is it’s premise: we are expected to believe that two brothers could end up in the finals of a worldwide mixed-martial-arts tournament, which is, to say the least, ridiculous. If you can get passed this, you’ll be enjoying one of the finest ensemble casts 2011 has to offer. Upon three viewings, I have been brought to tears all three times. Manly, manly tears.


4MELANCHOLIA – Directed by Lars Von Trier
This was my first foray into the world of Lars Von Trier, and although I’ve heard many a weird thing describing his films, nothing could prepare me for this. Beautiful, frustrating, brave, and overall: haunting.

If there’s a full moon in the sky, I am now incapable of looking away without first pondering the world’s end. Thanks for that, MELANCHOLIA.

Oh, and Kirsten Dunst can act!


3SUBMARINE – Directed by Richard Ayoade
The main criticism I’ve heard leveled against Wes Anderson‘s most-recent films is that they are increasingly lacking in a human characters, which I personally disagree with, but for anyone who has this problem with his films of late, may I recommend viewing Richard Ayoade‘s debut feature film, SUBMARINE, a quirky and whimsical coming-of-age story highlighted by some amazingly well-balanced performances.

This film has 2011’s second best soundtrack — that’s right, you DRIVE soundtrack enthusiasts! Meet me in the comments section!


2ATTACK THE BLOCK – Directed by Joe Cornish
All too often, especially in the past ten years, we have been promised films with incredible premises such as “Nazi zombies”, “Pirates vs. Ninjas”, “Snakes on a plane” that have more often than not, ended up absolutely sucking. ATTACK THE BLOCK, which is essentially “Hoodlums vs. Aliens” is a film that finally delivers on it’s potential for awesome.

It’s not a surprise that SHAUN OF THE DEAD director Edgar Wright, was the executive producer on this film, as it has the same balance between comedy, action, and thrills, and perhaps it’s been even more finely defined here with ATTACK THE BLOCK. Anyone who knows how much I love SHAUN OF THE DEAD, knows how big of a compliment that is.


1MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE – Directed by Sean Durkin
I really don’t want to say too much about this film. It’s so much better to be discovered. It starts as one thing and slowly builds into an absolute masterpiece.

Elizabeth Olsen, the younger sister of the Olsen twins (you heard me) is phenomenal (yes, you still heard me) in the lead as Martha, a young woman haunted by her memories of her time spent with a cult lead by John Hawkes (skinnier and better than ever), as she attempts to re-assimilate with her family. It sounds like an okay premise, but the execution is flawless.

If you take a recommendation from me just once this year, treat yourself to MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE.

————

TOP 11 HONOURABLE MENTIONS (because why not): CEDAR RAPIDS, TYRANNOSAUR, BEGINNERS, 50/50, KUNG FU PANDA 2, X-MEN FIRST CLASS, HAROLD AND KUMAR 3D, THE DESCENDANTS, THE LINCOLN LAWYER, FAST FIVE, and BRIDESMAIDS.

(ASSUMED) TOP 11 FILMS I HAVEN’T SEEN: TAKE SHELTER, SHAME, CARNAGE, CAPTAIN AMERICA, SUPER, TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, THE ARTIST, THE SKIN I LIVE IN, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN, GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, and CAFE DE FLORE.

TV PARTY PODCAST INTERVIEW

Hello folks! I am an incredible fan of the podcast format, so it is with much joy that I share with you today an interview I did for 88.1FM CKDU’s TV PARTY PODCAST!

The interview, hosted by Stephan MacLeod and Ryan Delehanty, is 94 minutes long, so turn off that Christmas special, download this sucker onto your iPhone, and go for a long walk (no, I don’t care how cold it is outside).

TV Party interviews actor extraordinaire Glen Matthews about his failed quest to become a professional wrestler, learning to act, his roles in Hobo with a Shotgun, the Corridor, Streets of Domination, Game, Roller Town and much more.

To download my episode, as well as interviews with Josh MacDonald (writer of THE CORRIDOR), Jason Eisener (director of HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN), Mark Palermo (writer of DETENTION) as well as many others, please visit http://www.mediafire.com/?7r92bt7eiy51c

MacLeod and Delehanty told me that they plan to have the episodes of TV PARTY PODCAST available via iTunes later on in 2012, so be ready to do some subscribin’.

Happy holidays, everyone! I’ll be posting my top 11 films of 2011 list in a few days (movies I watched, not movies I was in — that would be exceptionally narcissistic) so stay tuned for that and be ready to argue with me!