Back on the Big Screen: The Great Digital Film Festival Kicks Off

By Michael Sobota 

This is the first in a series of review from GDFF2015; stay tuned for more of Michael’s reviews and let us know what you think of the films via Facebook or Twitter – @thewalleye, #GDFF2015.Today at SilverCity Thunder Bay, Cineplex Entertainment’s Front Row Centre Events kicked off the sixth annual Great Digital Film Festival. Running for a full week, there will be multiple screenings of 16 films.  There are daytime matinees as well as evening showtimes. All tickets are $6.99 per film and, if you purchase more than one different title, the price drops.The list of titles is drawn from relatively recent science fiction, fantasy and thriller movies. All five of the X Men films are being shown, as well as Alien and its sequel Aliens. The stated intent of the digital festival is “to bring back to the big screen some of the greatest films of the last half century.” New digital prints are being shown with clean, clear images and good sound.

Dick Tracy (1990) — Screening is a specially restored version for the 25th anniversary of the film. Directed and starring Warren Beatty in the title role, it features some of the biggest Hollywood names from that era: Madonna (as Breathless Mahoney), Al Pacino (as Big Boy Caprice), Dustin Hoffman (as Mumbles) and Mandy Patinkin (as 88 Keys). Why are Madona and Patinkin in this comic book based movie? Because, believe it or not, there  are songs written by Stephen Sondheim, with a great duet sung by them together.  Even though I saw the original, I had completely forgotten this.

Dick Tracy is an American comic book character that also ran as a cartoon-strip syndicated in numerous daily newspapers. It ran from 1931 continuously until 1977. This is, basically, an older- folks cartoon strip and I doubt there is anyone under 25 who would even remember who the character was. Well, he was a cop – a police detective – and not a super-hero. The closest thing he had to a “super-power” was a two-way wrist radio. A wrist watch that was sort of a walkie-talkie. Dick Tracey epitomized all that was good and manly. He continuously engaged a whole series of urban cartoon mafia-type villains.

The movie remains true to the comic-book colour palette: reds, blues, greens and yellows. It is bright, flashy and silly. The characters are all larger than life (and all of these good actors chew-up the scenery with mad delight). The plot is simplistic and forgettable; this is a movie triumph of visuals over narrative. It was fun to re-visit on the big screen.

Dick Tracy screens again on Sunday, February 1 at 7:20 pm.

Blade Runner (originally released in 1982, this is Ridley Scott’s revised and restored Directors’ Cut from 2007).  The principal difference in this version and the original is the elimination of a narrative voice over, spoken by Harrison Ford as the main character, Deckard. Based on Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Andriods Dream of Electric Sheep?, Scott set the film in 2019 – and created a stunning visual fantasy of what a realistic, believable Los Angeles might look like 35 years into the future.
The story involves Deckard, a Blade Runner (cop) who hunts down human replicants created by a creepy, smooth techno-scientist (Joe Turkell).  He has to capture and kill four replicants (Rutgeur Hauer, Daryll Hannah, Joanna Cassidy and Brion James).  There is a fifth replicant (Sean Young) who provides the love interest for Deckard, so he doesn’t have to kill her.The movie is gorgeous to look at and has an appropriate, moody synthesized score by Vangellis. It has a creaky plot with holes in it, but a climactic fight between Ford’s and Rutgeur’s characters that retains both tension and nobility. The low point in Scott’s approach to this material is that that all of the female replicants die horrific, bloody, slow-motion pornographic deaths. Male ones merely fade away.Blade Runner screens again on Sunday, February 1 at 3:15 and Tuesday, February 3 at 9:45 pm.

There is a detailed brochure with all the titles, descriptions and screening times available onsite at the theatre or check out the website. The festival runs until February 5 with a lineup that includes:
  • An all-day screening of the X-Men franchise: X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), X-Men: First Class (2011), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), X2: X-Men United (2003), X-Men (2000);
  • 25th anniversary screenings of Darkman (1990) and Dick Tracy (1990);
  • Blade Runner: The Final Cut (2007);
  • Kill Bill Vol 1 (2003) and Kill Bill Vol 2 (2004);
  • Alien (1979);
  • Aliens (1986);
  • Hellboy (2004);
  • Pan’s Labyrinth (2006);
  • The Monster Squad (1987);
  • The Rocketeer (1991).