Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Highlights of 2011

Gathered below are some key moments and accomplishments that helped make 2011 such a memorable year for me:

-Getting to visit my aunt, uncles and grandmum at the start of the year in Victoria, British Columbia.

-Continuing to do my bit (and love every minute of it) for the J-Film Pow-Wow alongside Chris MaGee, Bob Turnbull, Matthew Hardstaff, Eric Evans, Chikako Hirao Evans and Nicholas Vroman. Let’s keep on rockin’ the Japanese film blogging scene through 2012!

-Continuing to count myself among some pretty cool folks at good ol’ Chapters Oakville. Cultured, clever, funny – you all rock!

-Traveling back to Frankfurt for the 11th Nippon Connection film festival (the second time I’ve attended the annual celebration of Japanese cinema), where I saw lots of great films and met up with friends old and new. Between the beautiful spring weather, keeping busy with my coverage of the fest and getting a few precious chances to explore the city, it truly was a week to remember.

-Talking some Edward Yang and Hou Hsiao-hsien with Coffin Jon, Josh and Rufus on the VCinema Show. I look forward to returning to wrap up the arc on Taiwanese cinema with our discussion of Tsai Ming-liang.

-Attending and covering the 3rd Shinsedai Cinema Festival in Toronto in July, where I hung out with some cool folks, made some (more!) great cinematic discoveries and got a chance to interview Japanese actress and producer Kiki Sugino for VCinema.

-Getting the awesome opportunity to preview the Fellini: Spectacular Obsessions exhibit at the TIFF Bell Lightbox for a special piece and review series for Toronto Film Scene. Very special thanks to Trista DeVries and the press relations folks at the Lightbox.

-Keeping up a spirited correspondence with extremely talented artist and like-minded film buff Edmund Yeo, whose latest work, Last Fragments of Winter, I recently glowed about in a piece for VCinema. Here’s hoping the coming year is kind to you and your creative endeavors – and that it brings about a chance for us to actually meet!

-Staying in the loop with the Toronto film critic/blogger/lover scene, specifically through Adam Nayman’s brilliant film seminars at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre and all those monthly film blogger pub nights at the Duke of York.

-Sinking my teeth into many assignments for Intellect Books – namely the pieces I contributed to the books World Film Locations: Tokyo, Directory of World Cinema: Japan 2 and Directory of World Cinema: France (of which the latter two will be released in February and May of 2012, respectively). I’m very proud of the final results, and hope that people find them helpful and at least somewhat enlightening!

-Getting published in the Toronto-based film journal CineAction with an essay on one of my favorite filmmakers of all time – the aforementioned Tsai Ming-liang. Writing the essay was a lot of fun and certainly one of the most personally rewarding experiences of my year. Thank you to editor Susan Morrison!

-Maintaining strong ties with my family, which includes my supportive parents and two younger sisters, Natalie and Christina, through quite a variety of experiences - some pleasant and exciting, some trying. Wherever we all end up next year, we’ll still be connected to one another.

-Getting a healthy start in learning Japanese through the lessons and material provided by the good folks at I’m so excited to learn more about this beautiful and fascinating language.

-Deciding on a bold and exciting new course in my life that will (hopefully) see me moving to Japan as a certified English teacher early in the new year. I haven’t even left the country yet and already I’ve met many great people (through the TESL/TESOL certification course I took in Toronto throughout this past December). Here’s hoping for more fantastic new encounters and experiences – not to mention a successful transition to the Land of the Rising Sun!

-And last but not least, being able to bookend the year by chilling with the most excellent Brad Weston and Bree-An Lucas.

Many thanks to everyone who helped make this a truly special and memorable year for me. As always, I look forward to what the next year will bring – fresh adventures, new encounters, opportunities to test myself and grow, brand new routes and avenues to tread along. As I chart my own course, I sincerely hope everyone else has a happy and productive 2012!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Sailor's Delight

January 2011 - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Starry Night...

October, 2008 - Nice, France

Monday, December 19, 2011

O Christmas Tree...

January 2011 - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wires 'n' Bulbs

January 2011 - Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Edmund Yeo's "Last Fragments of Winter" - VCinema Review

Hello all! A few days ago, I popped up once more at VCinema, that great online/podcasting hotspot for Asian cinema lovers everywhere. I wrote up something very special for them: a review of the latest short film from accomplished Malaysian filmmaker Edmund Yeo. The film, Last Fragments of Winter, is a beautifully crafted piece of work that was shot in Japan and Malaysia and recently had its world premiere at the 8th Dubai International Film Festival. Check out my review for it here, and if you ever have the chance, make sure to catch this fantastic gem!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

City of Glass

December 2010 - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011


August 2011 - Oakville, Ontario, Canada

Friday, November 25, 2011

Emily Carr's "Scorned as Timber, Beloved of the Sky"

Hello all. Today, I finished reading Lewis DeSoto's entry in Penguin's Extraordinary Canadians series, which focuses on the life and work of Western Canadian artist Emily Carr. Take a gander at what it's about here; I'd recommend it to anyone interested in this remarkable woman, Canadian art history or that elusive thing known as the creative process in general, as it provides an incredibly refreshing look at her passion for nature, animals and artistic expression (which she mainly tapped through painting and writing).

To celebrate Emily and DeSoto's book about her, I give you her 1935 painting Scorned as Timber, Beloved of the Sky, which DeSoto exalts with the following words: 

"The emotional and symbolic content affects us in an almost physical manner. The power of the painting is undeniable. It is beyond design and decoration; no longer a depiction of something that is meant to represent rapture, it is rapture, the very embodiment and expression of ecstatic liberation."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Emily II

December, 2010 - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Emily I

January, 2011 - Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Monday, November 21, 2011

Green III

This picture and the other nature shots I've been posting over the past few days were all taken this past January in Victoria, British Columbia around Durrance Lake. Stay tuned here for more shots that I've gathered over time.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Three Colors Celebration!

Today marks the arrival of a pretty big home video release for many film fans: the Criterion Collection Blu-ray and DVD sets of Krzysztof Kieślowski's fabulous Three Colors trilogy. The good folks over at asked me to help them talk about the set for their DVD/Blu-ray Shed feature - check out my brief blurb here (presented along with links to my Row Three reviews for each of the three films - thanks guys!).

And to help get you further in the mood to re-visit these great films, I've included below the cool Three Reasons videos put out by Criterion to help promote this release:


Monday, November 14, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Help Support the 4th Shinsedai Cinema Festival!

Hello, all. This past July, the Shinsedai Cinema Festival was held for the third time in Toronto at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, showcasing an impressive array of independent short and feature films from Japan's independent film community. Next year will mark a new chapter in the fest's still-young history, as it will be moving to a brand new venue in the city: the Revue Cinema. With this change, however, comes some new financial responsibilities for the festival's organizers, leading them to branch out to the greater online community for help.

Thus, they have begun a fundraising campaign at IndieGoGo to help cover the costs of transporting and accommodating the Japanese filmmakers who will be arriving from overseas to promote their film and enjoy the festival. The goal is to raise $7000 in a little under 60 days - something that, with enough people, can be easily accomplished. Even a small donation would be greatly appreciated, and on the right side of the campaign page, you will find a listing of rewards for specific donation amounts.

So, if you feel like helping out, just check out the campaign at the above link to see your options and more info on the impact your donation will make. Also, if you wish, you can check out the main page for the Shinsedai Cinema Festival. Many thanks in advance!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Elegeia (Mark Beneria, 2009)

Hello, all. This post comes in the midst of yet another period in which I've been pondering the life and work of the great Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky. A while ago, I found a short film devoted to him on Youtube that I really should have shared earlier. In any case, here it is now. Shot on and one day after December 29th, 2008 (the 22-year anniversary of Tarkovsky's death) in the Russian Orthodox Cemetery in Sainte-Geneiève-des-Bois, France (near Paris) where he is buried, Mark Beneria's Elegeia offers up a fittingly poetic tribute to the artist using patient camera movements and a solemn flute score (by Okuda Asuya) that evoke his legendary, powerful films. In a mournful tone, Beneria reflects on the greatness of Tarkovsky's work and the sad circumstances surrounding his troubled life in exile. If devoted admirers of Tarkovsky's work weren't compelled to actually visit his grave in France, they will be after seeing this film. I know I want to.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

CineAction Issue #85

Hello all. Today, I come to you with a piece of news that's at least a few weeks old, but has not been mentioned here yet. It concerns the most recent issue of the Toronto-based film journal CineAction, which is published three times a year and features different essays on particular subjects and themes that are chosen for each issue. This latest one, Issue #85, had "Slow Film" as one of its topics, which prompted me to plan out and submit an essay on one of my favorite filmmakers, Tsai Ming-Liang. The finished result, entitled Slow Fuse: The Cinematic Strategies of Tsai Ming-Liang, can now be read in this latest issue and specifically focuses on the story structures of The Hole (1998), What Time Is It There (2001) and I Don't Want To Sleep Alone (2006).

The journal should be out on newsstands for the remainder of 2011 - here is its table of contents. If you're interested or a fan of the filmmaker, please check it out if you can!

Also remember that I will be appearing on the VCinema Podcast to talk about Tsai's 2003 film Goodbye, Dragon Inn sometime in the coming months.

P.S. Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Music News: Ultimately Always by Kemek

Hello all. Today marks the release of a new record from a music artist who I've been really digging recently - Kemek, also known as Adam Douglas. Besides teaching in South Korea and occasionally writing for the VCinema Blog, he makes music that ranges from ambient to electronic to dubstep and beyond. I've been listening to his thoroughly relaxing album Itsuka quite a bit these days, and was glad to learn of this latest release from him. If you're at all into soothing and/or experimental music, check him out!

Click on the links below to:

* Sample and purchase Ultimately Always (pay what you want) at the Architects + Heroes website.

* Visit Kemek's blog to check out more info on his other music releases.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

New Trailer for Edmund Yeo's Exhalation

Hello all. I just wanted to share the release of a brand new trailer for the 2010 short film Exhalation, which was directed by Malaysian filmmaker Edmund Yeo. I've followed Edmund's remarkable progress for some time now and written about a number of his admirably crafted films, including Exhalation, The White Flower and Kingyo.

If you're in or around Tokyo in late October, you can catch it at the 24th Tokyo International Film Festival on the 23rd along with Lim Kah Wai's Magic and Loss. Check here for more information on the screening.

Plus, you can check out a short interview I did with Edmund about Exhalation over at the J-Film Pow-Wow.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Three Reasons for Satyajit Ray's The Music Room

A few nights ago, I finally got around to watching this incredible film from the great Bengali master Satyajit Ray. This vid (part of Criterion's brilliant Three Reasons ad line) does a pretty good job of illustrating some of its highlights. Actually, it's one of the more dynamic videos in the series - due in no small part to both cinematographer Subrata Mitra's dynamic, Scorsese-esque (to me, at least) camera movements and the incredible, exhilarating music edited to the images. Check it out for yourself:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Book Stuff!

Hello all. Marc here with a quick post regarding two film book-related tidbits for you. Firstly, John Berra, editor of such books as Directory of World Cinema: Japan and Directory of World Cinema: American Independent and current lecturer of film studies at China's Nanjing University, has recently released the cover image (see below) for the upcoming Directory of World Cinema: Japan 2, which he also edited. The new book will, like the first, feature reviews and essays covering various subjects in the world of Japanese cinema. Contributors include myself as well as fellow J-Film Pow-Wow writers Chris MaGee, Matthew Hardstaff and Bob Turnbull. Using an image from Tetsuya Nakashima's film Kamikaze Girls, it looks like the folks at Intellect behind the design decided to really run with the pink motif! The book will be released sometime in 2012.

Speaking of film books, there's a site that I've been meaning to plug here for some time now that covers in remarkable detail the goings on in the world of film writing. It is Toronto Film Review, run by fellow Toronto cinephile and film literature devotee David Davidson. Over at his blog, you'll find monthly editorials, book reviews, news and write-ups on film-related goings-on in Toronto and more. The easily detectable passion and incredible depth of David's pieces alone make his site worth visiting - check it out!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Late Summer Update - Shinsedai! Kiki Sugino! Federico Fellini! Satyajit Ray! Tokyo!

Hello all! After having recently spent a relaxing stint in northern Ontario cottage country and, before then, kept fairly busy with various writing projects here and there, I have quite a bit to report regarding my goings-on in the film community! Let's dive right in, shall we?

* At the end of July, the 3rd Shinsedai Cinema Festival came and went through Toronto, bringing with it a slew of great independent Japanese films, including Fumie Nishikawa's The Azemichi Road, which won the festival's Kobayashi Audience Choice Award; Koji Fukada's Hospitalité; Keita Kurosaka's Midori-ko; Ryugo Nakamura's The Catcher on the Shore and Neil Cantwell and Tim Grabham's KanZeOn. You can read a brief overview of the festival I wrote for the J-Film Pow-Wow; in addition to that, I'll have a more in-depth report posted at Midnight Eye sometime in the future.

* During the festival, I had the opportunity to interview a special guest - Kiki Sugino, who has served as an actor and producer on Hospitalité, which was the festival's opening night film; Edmund Yeo's short film Exhalation and Kah-Wai Lim's Magic and Loss. In the time I was allotted, we covered a good portion of topics regarding her career, collaborations with various directors and cultural background. Read the full interview over at the VCinema Blog!

* Meanwhile, over at Toronto Film Scene, I'm continuing my little series of pieces on the TIFF Bell Lightbox's Fellini/Felliniesque: "Dream" Double Bills film program that has been going on over the summer, tying in with its Fellini: Spectacular Obsessions exhibition. Earlier, I had written on Miranda July's pairing of Fellini's La Strada with Jane Campion's An Angel at my Table, while most recently I've submitted a piece on Deepa Mehta's selection of Nights of Cabiria with Satyajit Ray's Devi. Expect at least one more to land on the site before this fascinating program is up - and while you're at it, go check out some of these films or the ones in the Lightbox's thematically linked Days of Glory: Masterworks of Italian Neorealism program.

* Finally for now, a few days ago marked the release of a new book from Intellect that I contributed to: World Film Locations: Tokyo, which looks at some notable sites and sights throughout the city that have popped up on movie screens in productions both Japanese and otherwise. It was edited by my buddy at the J-Film Pow-Wow, Chris MaGee, and features pieces from a whole slew of writers and film folk who I'm very lucky to count among my friends and acquaintances. They consist of *deep breath* the Pow-Wow's own Matthew Hardstaff and Eric Evans, Nishikata Film Review's Catherine Munroe Hotes, VCinema's Jon Jung, Midnight Eye's Tom Mes, Directory of World Cinema: Japan editor John Berra and Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre Executive Director James Heron, among many more talented contributors. If you're interested in picking up the book, you can follow this link to or check any convenient online retailer or hip bookstore near you!

UPDATE (28/08/2011): It seems that the book's release has been slightly delayed by one month - thus, it will be out on Sept. 15th.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The 3rd Shinsedai Cinema Festival Comes to Toronto!

Now entering its third year, the Shinsedai Cinema Festival will once more be bringing a slew of independent Japanese films to Toronto this summer. Began in 2009 by author and Midnight Eye co-founder Jasper Sharp and J-Film Pow-Wow founder and editor-in-chief Chris MaGee, the festival is designed to highlight some of the newest filmmakers to emerge from Japan, giving North American viewers a rare chance to take a look at noteworthy films that have received attention elsewhere in the world. This year’s guests will include Kiki Sugino, the lead actress and producer of the opening night film, Koji Fukuda’s Hospitalité; comedian and director Devi Kobayashi, whose films Mariko Rose the Spook and Hikari will be shown back-to-back; and Ryugo Nakamura, a fifteen year-old filmmaker who already has an impressive number of short films (thirty, to be precise) to his name and will be presenting his latest feature, The Catcher on the Shore.

This year’s lineup looks like quite the diverse grab bag of cinematic treats, offering a wide selections of genres to choose from. Along with the above-mentioned films, I am quite intrigued by a few films I recognize from this year’s lineup from Frankfurt’s Nippon Connection film festival, which I had the pleasure of attending. Besides highlights like Koji Shiraishi’s Shirome, a mockumentary that features girl group Momoiro Clover thrust into a horror film scenario, and Yoichi Higashi’s Wandering Home, a family drama starring Tadanobu Asano as the alcoholic photojournalist Yutaka Kamoshida, I am perhaps most excited about Keita Kurosaka’s Midori-ko, a positively brilliant, beautifully strange work of hand-drawn animation that took its maker over ten years to complete.

The 3rd Shinsedai Cinema Festival will run from July 21st-24th, 2011, at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre in Toronto. Full details on the films, schedule, tickets and passes and location can all be found at the festival’s main website. I will be doing some coverage of the festival for a few film sites, so stay tuned for links to those pieces once they are completed!

Check out the trailers for Hospitalité and Midori-ko below!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Images of a Tarkovskian Nature

Hello, all. So, lately I've been going through something of an Andrei Tarkovsky phase, which I've fuelled by reading a fair bit about him, revisiting certain films of his and discovering others for the first time (including his final masterpiece, The Sacrifice). I've also been greatly appreciating a Tumblr blog run by the Criterion Cast's Ryan Gallagher that provides continuous postings of Polaroid pictures Tarkovsky took throughout his life - it should come as no surprise that each one offers up an image of beauty.

So, to make my own image-based tribute to this beloved master of cinema, I thought it'd be fitting to share a few pictures I've taken during my recent travels that strongly evoke his films and their unique, powerful connection to nature.

So, without further ado, here are some Tarkovskian images for you to enjoy that will hopefully put you in the mood to revisit one of his beautiful films.

The following pictures (which you can click to enlarge) were taken in different corners of Canada, in Victoria, British Columbia...

...Minden, Ontario...

...and Oakville, Ontario.