TIFF Cinematheque Presents - Sequels

The title of this program, SECOND COMINGS consists of the finest follow-ups (sequels) paired with the originals.  Cinema’s Greatest Sequels runs from August 8th to the 31st, starting with THE GODFATHER PART II, in 4K digital restoration, opening on August the 7th.

For complete program listing, ticket pricing and venue, please check the TIFF Cinematheque website at

tiff.net

Capsule Reviews for selected films follow:

BATMAN (USA 1989) ***
Directed by Tim Burton

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Michael Keaton plays Batman and millionaire Bruce Wayne in this Tim Burton version that arrives hot on the heels of their success.  But Jack Nicholson as the Joker gets top billing and almost equal screen time as Batman.  The femme fatale is Kim Basinger who is torn between her loyalty to Wayne and Batman.  The film follows true to the roots of the d.c. comic books unlike the Christopher Nolan DARK KNIGHT films (that have become too serious for their own good with Christian Bale training in Tibet and have taken too many liberties with the stories like Batman getting married and Alfred dying).  Burton’s BATMAN is creepy and dark but the film still manages to be fun (courtesy of Nicholson hamming it up) even if it is a tad too long.  All the special effects are there from the batmohile and batplane and Burton’s surrealism is also ever present as seen in the petrified forest around Gotham City.  Prince lends his hand at the songs and music during the 200th year celebration of Gotham City.

THE EVIL DEAD (USA 1981) ***

Directed by Sam Raimi

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THE EVIL DEAD is the first of three and a reboot of EVIL DEAD films that spun a cult following.  This one is more horror and less comedy compared to the sequel, and really nasty in terms of scares, blood and gore.  Five college students vacation in an isolated cabin.  They find an audiotape and book that releases a legion of demons and spirits that begin possessing the members of the group.  Unlike most horror films, the men are the survivors with Ash (Bruce Campbell) being the last one surviving (or not) into the sequel.  Though this film contains potential for humour, Raimi only taps it in the sequel.  This is the perfect film to bring up to the cottage to watch in the night.

THE EVIL DEAD 2 (USA 1987) ***

Directed by Sam Raimi

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This is a weird sequel.  It starts off where the original left off with Ash (Bruce Campbell) being the last survivor than being possessed by the evil dead.  The tim then goes on to retell the story, an alternate version.  Ash and his girlfriend Linda are now in a remote cabin in the woods. There he discovers a tape recorder that a professor had used to record incantations from the Necronomicon XMortis - the Book of the Dead.  When he turns it on, the recording releases a dark, sinister force from the woods.  It turns Linda into a zombie, her soul possessed by some hideous demon, and then tries to do the same to Ash.   The sequel is more comedy horror then horror and so it would be more fun to watch this in a theatre full of enthusiastic horror fans.  The segment with the spirit chasing Ash all around inside the cabin is particularly hilarious as the one with him trying to get rid of his possessed hand.

FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (Spain/Italy/W Germany 1962) ***
Directed by Sergio Leone

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This is the film that started the popularity of the spaghetti western.  Different from American westerns, the spaghetti western was always  shot in sparse barren landscapes in Spain that doubled for the west in America.  Mexico was always in the foreground with bounty hunters looking to make a small fortune hunting down bandits.  There are no ranches, or wagons or calvary in these films.  In FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, the first of its kind, the man with no name (Clint Eastwood) enters a remote town and sells his services to two waring factions.  If the plot sound familiar, it is a copy of Akira Kurosawa’s classic YOJIMBO.  The film resulted in legal problems that delayed its release in the U.S. for about 3 years.  Still, the resetting from japan to the west is a well done if not a more serious version of YOJIMBO.

FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (Italy/Spain/W Germany 1965) ****
Directed by Sergio Leone

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“Where life is cheap, death comes with a price.” The humorous titles state in the beginning of the film, which is the justification for bounty hunters.  Two of them, the man with no name (Clint Eastwood) and the Colonel (Lee Van Cleef) are bound to join forces to take on the biggest prize (Gian Maria Volente) who is planning a big bank robbery complete with a full gang of misfits.  The film has plenty of action and shoot-outs amidst the dry bare landscape that is  typical of spaghetti westerns.  Leone’s brand of humour is just too funny - from the buck-teethed busty woman at the hotel trying to pick up the man with no name to the little kid that asks for money any time he divulges information to the man with name.  The Ennio Morricone score makes this the perfect Sergio Leone western.

FRANKENSTEIN (USA 1931) ****

Directed by James Whale

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The most iconic horror film of all time based on the play and novel of the same name, FRANKENSTEIN has all the elements of a classic horror movie - a scary enough looking monster, a madman, storms always lurking in the background, a huge castle (lighthouse, actually) and a damsel in distress.  It is 1894 in Nyon, Switzerland and Henry Frankenstein, a young scientist, and his assistant Fritz, a hunchback, piece together a human body, the parts of which have been collected from various sources. Frankenstein desires to create human life through electrical devices which he has perfected.  The black and white visuals are stunning as anything seen lately in CGI current horror flicks.  Boris Karloff with make up by Jack Pierce makes the excellent monster while Colin Clive overacts to perfection as Dr. Henry Frankenstein.  Mae Clarke is suitably distressed and puzzled as Elizabeth over her fiance’s obsession to create life while Dwight Frye plays hunchback Fritz with a good balance of humour and creepiness.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BN8K-4osNb0

BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (USA 1935) ****
Directed by James Whale

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The much critically acclaimed sequel to FRANKENSTEIN follows on immediately from the events of the earlier film.   A chastened Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) abandons his plans to create life, only to be tempted and finally coerced by the Monster, encouraged by Henry's old mentor Dr. Pretorius, (Ernest Thesiger) into constructing a mate for him.  Elsa Lanchester plays both Mary Shelley who appears in the film as the author of the novel, who tells the continuation of the story and the monster’s mate.  A lot happens in the last climatic 5 minutes of the film, that includes the monster’s mate’s creation, the mate’s reaction and what happens to Henry and Elizabeth.  The burning windmill at the climax of FRANKENSTEIN is matched by the burning and blowing up of a castle in the sequel.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9t6NHlPJHA

THE GODFATHER (USA 1970) ***** TOP 10

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola

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The original Best Picture Oscar winner that spurned two critically acclaimed and box-office successful sequels Parts I and II still stands at the best of the three.  Based on the novel and co-written by Mario Puzo, this is the epic story of the Corleone Mafia clan, its troubles and how it finally manages to stay on top by extremely violent means.  The film opens with the wedding of the Godfather’s (Marlon Brando) daughter’s (Talia Shire) wedding.  As the Don is being greeted by various ‘guests’ requesting favours (See Image), Coppola’s film cuts to the celebrations in which many things are going on in between the lines or images.  The sons are introduced from hot-tempered Sonny (James Caan), adopted Tom Hagan (Robert Duvall) to eldest Alfredo (John Cazale) to the favourite youngest Michael (Al Pacino) who will eventually inherit the position of Godfather.  The film is scattered with violent killings from strangulation, knifing, gunning to the beheading of a horse.  The ending is a brilliant intercutting of the assassination of the 5 other family heads amidst the christening of Michael’s Christening of his Godson in which he denounces Satan and his deeds.  Everything else about the film is near perfect including Nino Rota’s riveting score and Brando’s performance that won him the Oscar for Best Actor.

THE GODFATHER PART II (USA 1974) ***** Top 10 

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola

(sequel to THE GODFATHER)

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Co-written by Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo, PART II is both the prequel and sequel to THE GODFATHER that went on to win 6 Oscars including Best Picture.  An epic film running at 200 minutes, the film tells the dual stories of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) , the new Don of the family and his ‘business ventures’ after an attempt was made on the life of his family and the other of Vito Don Corleone (Robert De Niro) of his escape from Sicily in 1901 to the rise in his empire in New York City.  Both stories are absorbing and aptly executed.  De Niro and Pacino are both excellent with the former winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and the latter nominated for Best Actor.  Coppola intercuts both stories with grace and expertise, often switching the stories at their highlights - example at the crucial family fight between Michael and his wife, Kay (Diane Keaton).  The mood and atmosphere of PART II are maintained, with the music of Nino Rota and the cinematography of Gordon Willis.  Though not as violent but just as disturbing in its portrayal of organized crime, THE GODFATHER II was released in 1974 to great acclaim and deservedly so.  Arguably the best sequel (and prequel) ever made!

SANJURO (Japan 1963) ****

Directed by Akira Kurosawa

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Director Kurosawa and actor Toshiro Mifune unite in the sequel to YOJIMBO.  Mifune reprises his role as a clever and expert masterless Ronin for hire who help a clan rid itself of the vermin.  The superintendent of the clan is the traitor aiming to blame the Chamberlain for corruption and hence take over the clan.  The Ronin aids the clueless good guys.  The best line in the film, as uttered by the Ronin: “It’s a stupid plan, but the excitement will keep me awake!”.  SANJURO is more entertaining and more fun than YOJIMBO and not as confusing in terms of plot.  The villains are also, in the words of the Ronin, quite clever and often comes one up on top in ideas before the good guys.  Kurosawa’s humour is ever present in the form of the Ronin’s behaviour.

YOJIMBO (Japan 1961) ****
Directed by Akira Kurosawa

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The year is 186o in feudal Japan.  A ronin (masterless samurai) (Toshiro Mifune) wanders into a small village and hires himself between the two warring gangs, Seibei and Ushitora.  The ronin stays with the old man, Gonji at the inn who feeds him and grumbles half the time about him and the town.  At the same time, he feeds the Ronin information.  The film contains lots of comical characters from Gonji, to the major to the henchmen on both sides.  But Kurosawa does not shy against violence and brutality.  There are lots of beatings and dismemberments with blood spurting out everywhere.  But Kurosawa has a soft side shown when the Ronin rescues a mother and child and when he offers his enemy some sympathy.  A rare chance to see two Japanese greats together - director Kurosawa and actor Mifune.

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