Image: cityscape from Wong Kar Wai's beautiful 2046 (2004).

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

ADFF 2014 Articles (or, I really should write things here rather than just linking to the ADFF site, but....)

I was asked once again to contribute to the website for the Abu Dhabi Film Festival (taking place October 23 to November 1), and this year wrote four articles discussing five films.

Margaret Brown, one of my favourite filmmakers (and my buddy since her beautiful debut Be Here to Love Me screened at TIFF a million years ago) has her utterly brilliant documentary The Great Invisible at ADFF. The film also opens in NYC and LA this Friday -- you should see it if you can. My ADFF review here may give you some arguments why. (Like how I did that?!) Or, if I can't persuade you, here's the trailer.

I also contributed articles on:
- Ramin Bahrani's 99 Homes, a film that joins Margaret's in being, in essence, about the American soul and which was my top pick at TIFF this year;
- Theeb, the first ever "Bedouin Western" and another film that also really dazzled me at TIFF;
- and the aesthetic choices fueling two disparate documentaries, The Wanted 18 and Iraqi Odyssey. The former uses stop-motion animation (of cows, no less) and the latter 3D.

It's always a pleasure to write for ADFF as their programming team tends to select many of my top picks that I've seen at Hot Docs or TIFF and they really let me write whatever I want in my reviews of the films; to whit, my review of The Great Invisible has pretty pointed things to say about the oil industry and did I mention that the festival is in Abu Dhabi...? Anyhow, if you are interested in my latest published musings on films, the links above will take you there.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Jim Jarmusch and the End of the World (article for ADFF site)

Jarmusch's ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE was one of my two favourite films at this year's TIFF. I could sit down and write an entire book on it (if I had the time, clearly) but for now I've at least penned a small review article for the Abu Dhabi festival site, if you are interested. And see the film whenever and wherever you can: it's bloody great.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

TIFF's 2011 City to City Focus: Buenos Aires, the "city of tango, psychoanalysis and red meat"

After months of having to bite my tongue, I'm finally able to reveal that this year's City to City program at TIFF will feature the films and filmmakers of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Buenos Aires is a hotbed of filmmaking, with a new generation influenced by the Argentine New Wave of the early 2000s -- filmmakers such as Lucrecia Martel, Lisandro Alonso, Pablo Trapero (whose Crane World is a personal fave) -- but making their Bs As cinema very much their own. We will announce specific titles in August, after what will surely be months of hard decisions ahead of us (and a trip to the BAFICI festival in April.)

Read more in the press release on TIFF's site.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Journal Article Published: Spectacular Paris

Hello loyal readers (reader?)!
This is becoming (so sadly), the only thing I post on this blog, but I wanted to mention that a journal article loooong in fruition* has recently seen the publication light of day.

(*Especially so, if you consider that it grew out of a paper I wrote for a graduate architecture seminar in 2003.)

The article is ponderously titled "Spectacular Paris: Representations of Nostalgia and Desire," and it appears in the journal
Paroles Gelées (vol. 26 no. 1), available online here. It's kind of a favourite piece of mine: a mobilization of theories including Guy Debord's work in Society of the Spectacle to interrogate the (near)coincident opening of the Paris Las Vegas resort and casino and the release of Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge and Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Amélie, all in short succession around the turn of the millennium. Lots of meaty discussion of illusion, false vacations and, naturally, the spectacle. Both films discussed play a big role in chapter 5 of my diss, so it's nice to see some of my ongoing analysis in this vein see the light of day. Sort of a preview of things to come. Soon.

[Image from Moulin Rouge, dir Baz Luhrmann, 2001]

Sunday, October 3, 2010 Interview

During the opening hours of TIFF 2010, I sat down for an interview with's Michael Guillen to discuss the City to City program, the role of personal taste in film festival curation, the emerging scholarly field of urban-cinema studies and some of what makes TIFF such a unique festival. Michael posted our interview on Twitch and on his own blog, The Evening Class, and he made me sound pretty dang coherent. (Also, just by looking at the other features on the website surrounding my interview, you can see how widely Twitch writers cover cinema and media culture: everything from film fests to one of the funniest ad campaigns ever. Have a browse.)

Thanks Michael!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

TIFF's City to City 2010 focus: Istanbul

So, the blog entry I started right when we announced this year's TIFF City to City focus (way back in August) was never finished: strangely, TIFF kept me too busy.

While the post was supposed to be the big reveal on the focus city - Istanbul - this will instead be a look back at the programme that was, and a brief one at that.

You can read the text Cameron and I authored about our selection online here.

This page has links to all of the films we programmed - 18 in all.

Here is a link to an article reviewing the programme posted at CBC Arts Online, with arts reporter Jessica Wong, and here I am talking up CTC with Toronto Star reporter Ashante Infantry.

I may try to add to this post over time, but for now I just wanted to get the links up for the read-ables that are already out there.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Urbanism + Typography: The Fun Side of City Branding

I'm a tad besotted with the CitID project, which has received some recent coverage via the New Yorker and Fast Company, among other sites. An initiative of design firm Norwegian Ink, CitID invites designers to create logos for their cities that are superior to your run-of-the-mill, dry, tidy and often completely uninventive tourism efforts. (Torontonians may recall the hub-bub around the uncanny similarities between the Toronto Unlimited campaign and the Bahamas tourism design.)

Not everything submitted to the site will make your socks go up and down, but when designers get it right, the results are lovely. On the one hand, CitID represents a sound argument for more user-generated logo creation, an opportunity that too many organizations and companies deny themselves. On the other, it offers a breath of fresh air to those of us who spend too much time amid theory about how corporate branding is turning our urban surrounds into soulless, interchangeable yawnscapes. Maybe we only need to look out the window to learn that, actually.

In any event, as of today, there is still ZERO representation of any Canadian cities, so Canuck graphic designers, you know what you have to do. Toronto, Montreal, Sudbury, Halifax, Vancouver, Regina... none of these places is going to logo-ize themselves... at least not well.

(Both images courtesy of CitID.)