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Toronto After Dark Review: ‘Tigers Are Not Afraid’ is a Beautiful, Brilliant, Dark Fairytale

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With Tigers Are Not Afraid, writer/director Issa López has crafted an emotionally beautiful fairytale, tangled in the horrific underworld of cartel violence in Mexico.

Tigers Are Not Afraid begins with a title card that provides the tragic, sobering facts of the drug war. Since its beginning in 2006, 160,000 people have been killed and 53,000 have disappeared in Mexico. There are no numbers for the children they’ve left behind.

via TADFF

The film follows a young girl, Estrella (Paola Lara), as she returns home from school to find her mother missing. She soon joins with a group of four orphans  – not unlike Wendy and the Lost Boys – and they form their own gang to care and watch out for each other while evading violent gangsters.

Tigers Are Not Afraid brings a heartfelt magic to a dark world by giving Estrella the power of three wishes. As each wish is granted, the twisted results weave an important thread into the stunning tapestry of the film’s story.

For a film that is so deeply rooted in the wonder, fear, and delightful logic of children, it’s vital to have an incredible cast to carry it through. López cast five children with no previous acting experience. In a brilliant move by López, they shot in chronological order and the children were never shown the full script, so their pure, raw emotion is beautifully authentic.

via TADFF

The children’s performances are incredibly honest and absolutely wonderful. Their happy, playful moments are an utter joy to watch, and their sadness and fear is completely heartbreaking.

Juan Ramón López as gang leader El Shine is particularly mesmerizing. There’s an emotional complexity in his performance that projects maturity far beyond his young age. He’s mastered the art of stillness and communicates volumes with just the look in his eyes. This kid is impressive.

via TADFF

Part of the brilliance of Tigers Are Not Afraid lies in López’s understanding of the young characters and the way children interpret and rationalize things. In one scene, we hear the kids describe the gruesome, over-the-top methods of the Huascas (the local, particularly sinister gang). Shortly after, audio from a news report playing in the background provides a far more accurate description of their criminal activity.

It’s a moment that stands out to the adult viewer, reminding you of the dramatic ways your imagination would fill in situational blanks as a child. We would jump to the most logical conclusion in a time when our logic was full of elaborate, fantastical ideas.

Other times, these youthful interpretations are far more optimistic. The children marvel at the possibilities of found objects; they make a dilapidated building into a magnificent home, full of opportunity and beauty.

At its heart, Tigers Are Not Afraid is about a loss of innocence. The reality of a constant potential for danger is never lost on these children, but because it has been and continues to be such a normal part of their lives, they adapt. As children do. They see the darkness in the world but still continue to reach for the light.

via TADFF

Supernatural elements blend with the gritty, harsh reality of the story to paint a rich, magical world. Ghostly apparitions – victims of gang violence – are not graceful, ethereal beings. They are full of tragic rage. It’s easy to feel Estrella’s fear when she’s confronted by these horrific specters.

Other moments have a warm, fairytale quality that lifts your heart in a swell of emotion. This elaborate dreamscape is held in a delicate balance that López has perfected. She makes it look so effortless and easy that it’s as natural as breathing.

Tigers Are Not Afraid deserves to be ranked in the highest echelon, among films like The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth (it’s worth noting that Guillermo Del Toro was such a fan that he’s announced that he will be producing a film for López).

It’s beautiful in every sense of the word, yet fully embraces its own darkness. There’s so much that could be said about this film, but instead, I urge you to see it for yourself. Nothing else could do it justice.

 

Check out the trailer and poster below, and click here to read about the 4 other films I cannot wait to see at Toronto After Dark Film Festival.

via TADFF

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Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey – Extended Clip

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Brace yourselves, Disney fans! The sweet and lovable Winnie the Pooh takes a dark turn in the latest extended scene of Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey.

Pooh, with his mouth drooling with sticky honey, transforms into a ruthless tormentor, the sounds of whipping and screaming fill this just released clip.

Send the kiddos to another room, this one is going to be a wild ride! Watch the clip below:

The much-anticipated Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey is hitting theaters on February 15th, and it’s shaping up to be one wild ride.

With word of mouth spreading faster than a stampede of heffalumps, the film’s 1-day theatrical run has been extended to a nine-day theater release, set to be shown in over 1,500 theaters nationwide.

The buzz is so strong that the studio behind the project is already planning a sequel, greenlighting it before any box office numbers even come in. The film’s official Twitter page made the announcement with the tantalizing caption “More blood. More honey”.

They also released a teaser poster featuring Winnie-The-Pooh 2, front and center, with a tagline that reads “Friends will gather… to take revenge”. Get ready to be lured into the world of Winnie the Pooh like never before.

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Keanu Reeves Will Return As ‘Constantine’ in Sequel Directed by Francis Lawrence

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Keanu Reeves will finally return as John Constantine in a film directed by Francis Lawrence once again. Deadline reports that the new film has been given the greenlight. The first film came out back in 2005 and introduced a very different version of DC’s Hellblazer John Constantine.

Keanu Reeves offered his first public comments regarding Constantine 2 going into development under Warner Bros since its announcement last year.

Reeves explained just how much he loved playing the role in the first movie, joking that he was similar to the titular character from Oliver Twist in asking the studio “Can I please have some more?”

“I don’t know if it was unfinished business but it was definitely a role that I loved. And I thought that Francis Lawrence, the director, did such amazing work. I loved playing that character, and I really enjoyed the film. I was like, [adopts Oliver Twist voice] ‘Can I please have some more?'”

Constantine 2 by diamonddead-Art

This apparently became a regular conversation between Reeves and Warner Bros., with the studio regularly saying no to his requests:

“I kept asking almost every year. I’d be like, ‘Can I please?’ [and] they’d be like, ‘No, no!'”

Once the studio finally said “sure” and greenlit the sequel, Reeves and his team quickly got to work and are now “just starting to try and put a story together.”

Reeves was unable to contain his excitement, making it clear that he’s going to “try [his] darndest to try and realize that dream” of making this movie even with all the obstacles in the way:

“So it’s exciting. It’s almost like an open playground that we can hopefully cook something up and play in, and I guess get out of the playground and prepare a meal. But I’m looking forward to it, and hopefully it can happen. You don’t know how these things go. But I’m definitely going to try my darndest to try and realize that dream.”

The Constantine sequel will be directed by Lawrence and produced by Bad Robot with JJ Abrams and Hannah Minghella. Plus, Akiva Goldsmith is set to write.

Over the years since the release of 2005’s Constantine, Matt Ryan played a very authentic version of the blonde, British demonologist for a shortlived NBC series. Ryan has also given the character voice in animated films as well as portrayed the character in spinoffs to other DC worlds such as Legends of Tomorrow.

The synopsis for Constantine went like this:

As a suicide survivor, demon hunter John Constantine (Keanu Reeves) has literally been to hell and back — and he knows that when he dies, he’s got a one-way ticket to Satan’s realm unless he can earn enough goodwill to climb God’s stairway to heaven. While helping policewoman Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz) investigate her identical twin’s apparent suicide, Constantine becomes caught up in a supernatural plot involving both demonic and angelic forces. Based on the DC/Vertigo “Hellblazer” comics.

Over the years we have heard buzz about a possible Constantine sequel several times, with no actual flame behind the sparks. So, it is definitely exciting to see the film actually moving forward.

Stay tuned for more Keanu Constantine details.

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Blumhouse’s Five Nights at Freddy’s Has Begun Filming

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Filming for the highly anticipated Blumhouse production of Five Nights at Freddy’s has officially begun! A sneak peek photo posted by Blum himself reveals that the flick is being shot under the oh-so-delicious faux title of Bad Cupcake. Yum!

We’re ready for a horror-filled romp with Matthew Lillard (Thir13en Ghosts, Scream). He’s one of our favorite people to watch, and we can’t wait to see what he brings to the film!

Joining him is none other than Josh Hutcherson (Tragedy Girls) and Mary Stuart Masterson (Skin). Emma Tammi (The Wind) is directing this horror-themed video game adaptation, with the team from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop conjuring up the evil animatronics. We can’t wait to see the nightmare fuel this team brews up!

The new film will follow a troubled security guard as he begins working at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza. While spending his first night on the job, he realizes the night shift at Freddy’s won’t be so easy to make it through.

We’re happy to see production underway and look forward to seeing some BTS clips soon!

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