I recently watched Disney’s new film Maleficent, and was reminded of their last box office hit, Frozen. I found myself pleasantly surprised, as it was clear that both films were re-inventing the fairy tale.
I grew up watching the Disney classics, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and the rest. What all of the stories had in common was a passive young princess (usually in a coma), who could only be saved by true love’s first kiss. And all the villains in these tales were simply evil, without any real explanation as to how they became that way. At the time, I did not notice anything wrong with these movies; to me, they were just romantic and mystical fairy tales.
Now that I am older (and slightly wiser) I realize that these beloved fairy tales are sending out very flawed messages. Firstly, they are saying that women are helpless, and need a man to save them.
Secondly, they are promoting the idea of love at first sight, literally. The moment the prince catches a glimpse of the princess, it’s true love. I think we can all agree that this makes no sense, especially in today’s day and age. Some serious Facebook, Twitter and Instagram stalking needs to occur before one can even consider going on a date with someone.
Thirdly, the villains in these films represent the idea that people do bad things for no other reason than being innately evil.
However, when I watched Frozen, and then Maleficent, I was happy to see that Disney not only changed these flaws, but actually called them out. For example, in Frozen, Anna and Prince Hans decide to get married after knowing each other for 5 minutes. They ask her sister Elsa for her blessing, who give a simple “NO”, because they literally have just met. In Maleficent, the three fairies force Prince Philip to awaken Aurora with “true love’s first kiss”, to which he replies that it can’t be true love as he has only met her once.
WARNING: In case some have not seen either of these films, the rest of this post contains spoilers. Both films flip the script on the typical romantic love scenario by emphasizing the importance of love among family members. For example, the love interests of both Anna and Maleficent actually lead to their downfall, while the female family members strive to save each other. This brings me to my next point. Frozen and Maleficent both have female protagonists who are positive role models for young girls as they actively come to each other’s rescue.
Finally, both films focus on how the evil characters became that way. In the case of Frozen, Elsa is perceived as evil because she causes an eternal winter on her kingdom. However, this is only because Elsa’s powers are released during emotional outbursts (caused by her sister’s hasty engagement). Not to mention she has been confined to her room her entire life, and forced to hold in her emotions (who wouldn’t snap?). In the case of Maleficent, she only became evil when her wings were taken from her by the prince, whom she loved, as he desperately wanted to become King, and could only do so if it appeared that he killed her.
All in all, the Disney movies of today are even better than the classics, as they now have depth and are sending out positive messages. They still contain romance and wonder, but now in a way that makes sense.
In a Facebook post a few weeks ago, I reflected on the fact that this June was the 30th anniversary of two highly popular, enduring films: Ghostbusters and Gremlins. They opened on the exact same day, in fact. Despite the fact that they were both quirky horror-comedies (thereby playing to virtually the same target audience) that were in direct competition, they both did exceptionally well at the box office, becoming the second and fourth highest-grossing movies of the year, respectively. All in all, it was a pretty decent summer at the box office in 1984, with other films like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Karate Kid, and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock all pulling in solid numbers.
By comparison, this summer hasn’t been faring quite so well, especially when taking inflation and massive film budgets into account. This article talks about how the domestic (American and Canadian) box office was actually up from last year as of two months ago, but has since started trailing 2013’s numbers. The May and June releases have seen some mixed results at the box office: some films have succeeded and played to pre-release expectations (X-Men: Days of Future Past, 22 Jump Street), some have opened huge and then plummeted after the first weekend (The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Godzilla,), some have surprised analysts with their strong performances (Maleficent, The Fault in Our Stars), some have opened softer than expected (How to Train Your Dragon 2), and some opened softly pretty much as they were expected to do (Edge of Tomorrow).
Overall though, nothing has really knocked it out of the park financially, the way that films such as Iron Man 3, The Avengers, and The Dark Knight Rises have done in recent years. Why do you think that is? Are people simply not as interested in going to the movies these days? Is the quality of the films themselves the issue? Did many of them just look unappealing? Many of the pictures mentioned above are sequels or reboots, or even sequels of reboots – have audiences grown weary of all this perceived unoriginality and recycled material? Let us know how you feel about the 2014 summer movie season so far – whether you’ve largely liked the films you’ve seen, been disappointed by them, or stayed away from the multiplex altogether.
Happy Pride Month everyone! Finally, the five year wait since the announcement that Toronto was chosen as the host of this year’s World Pride is over! As every year, included in the fantastic programme of events developed for this year’s festival are many opportunities to experience and enjoy arts and cultural events across the city. Although the Inside Out LGBT Film Festival has wrapped up, the Toronto International Film Festival’s Bell Lightbox’s Bent Lens: Pride on Screen continues to run through August 16 with various film programmes, interviews, special guests, trivia, and outdoor events to celebrate the month.
Meanwhile, Ryerson’s Image Arts Centre is currently holding a queer photography exhibit entitled What it Means to Be Seen: Photography and Queer Visibility in their main Gallery. The exhibit, guest curated by Sophie Hackett, explores the intersection of visibility, representation, activism, and photography’s part in LGBT movements since the 1960s. Let us know what World Pride Events you have enjoyed thus far, or which events you’re anxiously awaiting!
Images Left to Right: the Short Film Corner, the Official Cannes Poster, Xavier Dolan winning the Jury Prize
Last month, The 2014 Cannes Festival was buzzing with Canadian feature length and short films, which made my internship there a much richer experience. Let’s begin with the films in Competition. Eighteen films from all over the globe competed for the coveted Palm D’or. Canada had not one, not two, but three films in the Competition, and two of which won an award!
The first, The Captive by Atom Egoyan, follows a couple eight years after their daughter has been kidnapped, as they begin receiving disturbing clues that she is still alive. While the film had a stellar cast, including Canada’s own Ryan Reynolds, it did not receive the best reviews, due to the inconsistencies in its storytelling. However, I am happy to say that this Canadian film was the first Red Carpet Screening I attended at Cannes. I felt like a proud Canadian as the 2300 spectators in Lumiere Theatre gave Atom Egoyan a standing ovation after his film’s debut at Cannes.
The second film was a dark satire about Hollywood by Daivd Cronenberg called Maps to the Stars. In true Cronenbergian fashion, it drew up a great deal of controversy. Every person I spoke to who saw the film had the same reaction: they would pause, stare at me wide-eyed and describe it as “intense”, “heavy” or “really messed up”. The film received mixed reviews, but won Julianne Moore the Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of a washed up starlet.
The most memorable film was Mommy by Quebec’s own Xavier Dolan. At only 25-years-old, with his second film to screen at Cannes (the first, Laurence Always part of Un Certain Regard in 2012), Dolan took home the Jury Prize for Mommy. Telling the story of a mother coping with her violent son, Mommy received rave reviews, and was a hit with festival audiences. Every single screening of this film at the Palais des Festivals was packed with people; after waiting an hour and a half in line, I still could not get in! Hopefully (and most likely), Mommy will make its way to TIFF in September, so that more Canadians can see it.
On the bottom floor of the Palais was the Marche du Film, and home to one of my favorite festival spots: The Short Film Corner! Here, Festival-Badge holders could sit at one of the many computer stations and watch any short film of their choosing from a variety of countries.
Telefilm Canada put together a wonderful selection of Canadian Shorts entitled “Not Short On Talent”. I gravitated towards the Short Film Corner almost every day to feast my eyes on these Canadian Shorts. One of my favorites was Bounce, This is Not a Freestyle Movie by Guillaume Blanchet, in which he seamlessly edits together shots of himself performing soccer tricks all over the world. The film was fun and inspiring to watch, as the soccer ball bounced from one country to another to an uplifting soundtrack.
The short comedy Roland by Trevor Cornish stuck in my mind because it demonstrates what I love most about short films: the ability to highlight those little quirky moments in everyday life and bring out the hilarity in them. Cornish’s film is about an arts supply store employee named Roland, who takes great pride in working hard at Crafty’s Art Supply. His day takes a turn for the worst when a customer comes in only to use the bathroom. Roland tells him that the bathroom is for employees only, which infuriates the customer, and leaves Roland haunted by the crazed man stalking him in the store. Roland highlights some of the ridiculous rules that we face in society and how we tend to overreact to them.
The most memorable film was Let Me Down Easy by Elisia Mirabelli and Matthew DeFilippis. The film was a coming-of-age story about youth from a traditional town who are sent to a forbidden territory to be tested. The cinematography was stunning, with beautiful shots of the ominous lake and forest, where the youth feel free for the first time in their lives. The most impressive aspect of Let Me Down Easy is the fact that the directors are only 24 years old, and are from Toronto (former Ryerson students to be exact)! They submitted their film to Telefilm Canada’s “Not Short on Talent Program”, and had it play in the Short Film Corner for thousands of industry delegates to see!
So for all of you young, aspiring filmmakers out there, let this film be a beacon of hope for you. You can submit your short film to Telefilm Canada, and may have it screened at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival! Visit the Official Telefilm Website for more details (perhaps later this year, when submissions will be open!)
As if this year’s NXNE schedule wasn’t packed with enough excitement already. Now celebrating it’s 14th consecutive year of MUSIC+FILM+INTERACTIVE+COMEDY+ART, this year’s festival is bigger and better then ever. The NXNE Film programming selection showcases works from all around the World with many North American and Canadian premieres. NXNE Film series screens at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema from June 13th-15th & 22nd. This year’s programme divulges outside the usual scope of music-related films, and dip into a wide selection of genres from art to politics. Film Wristband’s are a guaranteed no-cover access to all NXNE Films and cost $50 for the entire festival. Get out see and see some NXNE MUSIC+FILM+INTERACTIVE+COMEDY+ART.
NXNE FILM SCHEDULE
At the Corner of Queen and Bathurst • Born To Ruin • Boyhood • C.T.R.L. • “Fear and Delight” (The Correspondents) • La Voz De Los Silenciados • Let’s Ruin It With Babies • Lies I Told My Little Sister • Luck’s Hard • “Organs” (The Uncluded) • Panama • Riot On The Dance Floor • Sad Monster • Vann ‘Piano Man’ Walls: The Spirit of R&B • Well Now That We’re Here, There’s No Way Back • Whoops
– Sara Alexandra
I’d like to take a short break from discussing movies, film festivals, and other cultural pursuits. Instead, I’d like to remind you that there is a provincial election today. Yeah, you may have heard something about that – how could you not, with the barrage of campaign ads and media articles over the past month? But, assuming you are of legal age, are you actually planning on going to your nearest polling station?
Many experts are predicting a record-low turnout for this Ontario election. Many people, especially youths, are likely feeling disappointed by the choices available to them, and as such, do not believe that there is any point in voting.
Respectfully, I would encourage everyone who is legally able to vote to do so. Voting is a right and a privilege that is unfortunately not shared by everyone on the planet. Sure, the political change that you seek may come very slowly, but if you decide not to participate in the elections process, then the odds are greater that it will never come at all.
I’m not going to tell you how to vote or who to vote for – this is definitely not the proper forum for that. I do, however, suggest that you make your way to a polling station to let your voice be heard. I know it might seem pointless or hopeless to some of you, but surprises can always happen. As the saying goes, “every vote counts”.
As we at the Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival are closing in on our final deadline for submissions, the summer blockbusters have been lighting up the screens and the box office. This past weekend saw the release of the highly anticipated adaptation of John Green’s bestselling YA novel The Fault in our Stars, which saw its literary success translate seamlessly from page to screen topping the much more star-heavy and action-packed Edge of Tomorrow.
The Fault in our Stars certainly isn’t the only youth-oriented film on top right now. Disney’s Maleficent is currently third in the box office and with 22 Jump Street and How to Train Your Dragon opening this Friday this summer is shaping up to offer some great options for youth filmgoers.
What films are you excited for this summer? Or better yet, tell us about the summer blockbuster you would love to make!
And don’t forget to submit your films by this Friday June 13!