Fantasia 2017: The Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue (Japan, 2017)



Anyone who has been to Tokyo would recognize the array of neon lights and their reflections in nearby bodies of water. For the uninitiated, Yuya Ishii’s The Tokyo Night Sky is Always the Densest Shade of Blue is an accurate introduction. The colorful, bokeh’ed opening sequences are at once beautiful and romantically lonely. In a megalopolis of over 35 million people, is it even possible to feel alone? Protagonist Mika muses that falling in love with Tokyo is like committing suicide. Somewhere across town, Shinji, is almost obliviously on a similar quest for love and for self-validation.

Through the use of complimentary colors and various techniques to demonstrate sensory contrasts (noise vs. silence, motion vs. stillness, etc.), we watch Shinji and Miki fumble through a relatively mundane life. The themes of death and hope Continue reading

Fantasia 2017: The Senior Class (Hong Deok-Pyo, South Korea)



Jung-Woo has a crush on his art school’s best student, Ju-Hee. Ju-Hee makes very little conversation with her classmates, instead focusing on her ultimate goal. She will travel to France to further her art studies no matter the obstacles. When Jung-Woo discovers how exactly Ju-Hee makes ends meet, it gives him the opportunity to get closer to the object of his affection. But as with most stories of young love, things don’t go smoothly. Though we might think peer bullying and gossip abound in high school, Hong Deok-Pyo’s The Senior Class shows that this exists even among college students. Since these youngsters are on the brink of becoming adults, this is exactly where angst and conflict arise.

Where there is a secret, there is always someone willing to spread his or her knowledge – even if not entirely accurate. The power of the rumor is something we’ve seen in other Korean films such as Old Boy (2003, Park Chan-Wook). Ju-Hee’s secret eventually spreads, even if it was no fault of Jung-Woo’s. Desperate to graduate with her Continue reading

Fantasia 2017: Skin for Skin (Beecher, Kurytnik, Canada)



With neither narration nor dialogue, Skin for Skin tells the tale of the fur trading industry. Described as “a tale of profit and loss”, the events take place during a brutal animal harvest in 1823.

Warning: cute animals are suddenly gutted across the screen. Although stylistically so, this might frighten young children and sadden animal lovers. It may be gruesome, but it portrays the reality of the fur trade, and certainly sets up the plot finale, where good vanquishes evil.

Though Carol Beecher and Kevin D. A. Kurytnik have created a very violent short film, it is also teeming with visual excellence. The close attention to details in Continue reading

Oscars – Best Animated Feature Film



The Oscars’ Best Animated Feature Film category is filled, as usual, with efficient well scripted, but predictable, action-packed warrior and fur animals pictures: Moana (Disney), Zootopia (Disney) and Kubo and the two strings (Universal). This year, however, two foreign animated features, relying on mature subjects and treatment, compete for the Academy voters consideration.

Japanese Studio Ghibli are back in Oscar territory with Continue reading

Sommets du cinéma d’animation



Every year, in time for the first snow , the city of Montreal hosts the Sommets du cinéma d’animation. Celebrating its 15th anniversary, the event starts today (and is on until the 27th) at Cinémathèque Québécoise with the presentation of the animated feature Window horses by Ann Marie Fleming. The Sommets will showcase 150 shorts, from all around the world, mainly offering their usual alternative to Disney and Pixar.

With all the controversy about women filmmakers being marginalized locally and globally it is refreshing to see the work of women being highlighted (not only by the management choice for the opening) with red carpet treatment extended to Continue reading