A Touch Of Sin

Almost a week after I screened A Touch Of Sin, I’m still trying to come to grips with my reaction to it. There’s plenty to admire about Jia Zhangke’s film, from its stark violence through its sweeping scope, but I can’t help but come back to the fact that its 129 minute running time made […]

Man Of Tai Chi

It’s not entirely simply a matter of being snarky to refer to Keanu Reeve’s directorial debut, Man of Tai Chi, as a vanity project through and through. Constructed as a showcase for martial artist Tiger Hu Chen, this is hardly the first time in the history of action films that an entire project has revolved […]

Oculus

The Midnight Madness slate usually has a few rules – keep things snappy, keep them gory, and you’ll do well to keep the denizens of the dark with you for a running time that stretches well into the very early morning. Splatters of blood and blaring horns are often key, and often mood is sacrificed […]

McCanick

Once upon a time, our screens were littered with one-name cops – Serpico, Canon, Columbo, Kojak, all with hard C-sounding consonant names that bespoke of a grittiness or hard hardheadedness. It’s no surprise that McCanick borrows both the power of the single named title and many of the same consonants, as it plays as a […]

Rush

There’s a dilemma about any “based on a true story” film. First, the movie has to work for those unfamiliar with actual events, those neophytes completely unaware of actual historical facts. Most movies often coddle these people, spending far too much time situating plot with interminable exposition that it all becomes a bit pedantic. Secondly, […]

Devil’s Knot

For each of the last three years, the story of what transpired in West Memphis, Arkansas on May 5, 1993 has been the subject of a film that has played the Toronto International Film Festival. In 2011, we saw the third installment of the Award winning Paradise Lost series. After an initial documentary that brought […]

Gravity

You’re going to hear a lot about this film, gushing hyperbole about how Alfonso Cuarón has created a new masterpiece of such wonderful elegance that it’s a sight to behold. You’ll hear that it’s the best set-in-space film of all time. You might hear talk of the lengths they surely went through filming the thing. […]

The Dog

The Dog is a highly entertaining if slightly indulgent look at the life of John Wojtowicz, the man who was portrayed by Al Pacino in Lumet’s classic Dog Day Afternoon. Wojtowicz is a pretty fascinating guy who crammed more than his share of lives into his time on earth, and we learn from a series […]

Break Loose

All the ingredients are here for a fine thriller – political discord, corrupt cops, ruthless proto-oligarchs, and car chases, all set against the backdrop of the waning years of Yeltsin, and the massive social and political change that would take place under Putin ushering Russia into the new Millennium. Alas, despite its slick facade and […]

The Square

Let’s cut right to the chase – Jehane Noujaim’s epic, astonishing documentary The Square is easily one of the most complex, most nuanced, and frankly most important documentaries made about the ongoing political developments in Egypt. Heck, I’ll go further, it’s one of the finer historical documentaries I think that’s ever been made, period. I […]

Triptych

Québecois filmmaker and theatre director Robert Lepage is one of Canada’s truly great artists, a man of astonishing visual style. Since then he has achieved great acclaim, often playing larger on the international stage than he does in most of English Canada. For his latest film, Lepage has teamed up with award-winning short film director […]

Tim’s Vermeer

For decades now, Penn & Teller have made a living pricking the balloon of illusion, showing the skill and sheer tenacity behind magical performances that’s as compelling as any level of deceipt or subterfuge. What makes their shtick so engaging is that they go out of their way to show you how the trick was […]

The Fifth Estate

Over the weeks leading up to the Toronto International Film Festival, I’ve been asked repeatedly about the choice of this film as an opening Gala. Many have questions whether the opening film somehow speaks to a great theme at the fest, as if a single title can speak for the hundreds of films from all […]

Parkland

It’s not really a surprise that the Kennedy Assassination continues to hold so much sway some half century after its occurrence. A young, charismatic President cut off in his prime, a picture-perfect doting wife, and all the mystery and machinations surrounding his death have made for generations of responses to the events of November 22, […]

THE HOST Makes One Hate Cinema

It’s rare that I see a film as patently awful as The Host. I mean, sure, I’ve stomached the likes of Identity Thief in the last few months, but this latest “film” from the “mind” of Twilight “author” Stephenie Meyer may well go down in history as one of the worst things ever screened to […]

Beyond the Spectre of HBO’s PHIL SPECTOR

All the ingredients are there – a salacious crime and trial that captivated tabloids, centered around a man that has had the name genius about him for half a century. A quirky, charismatic dwarven weirdo that helped shape the sounds of a generation, caught up in a sordid celebrity case that L.A. is ground zero […]

I’ve Fallen For OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN

I think the only proper way to fully convey the power, the majesty, the sheer awesomeness of Olympus Has Fallen is to do so with the same level of bombastic hyperbole that the film exhibits. It’s as if the only way you can really sum up your experience of seeing this Die Hard-in-the-Whitehouse masterpiece is […]

DON’T STOP BELIEVIN’ Traces Remarkable Journey

The story is so remarkable you almost can’t help but being skeptical that it wasn’t crafted just to be the basis of a film some day — massive international touring band loses their second main lead singer, and needs to find a guy to fill some pretty massive footsteps. Then, tooling around Youtube, one of […]

THE GATEKEEPERS Is A Piercing Documentary

It came as no surprise in retrospect that The Gatekeepers is a film celebrated by Errol Morris. Having missed the film when it played TIFF last September, I had assumed, incorrectly, that it’d be a dry piece, merely talking heads parsing out careful responses. Instead, we get something quite remarkable, a decidedly open and honest […]

JACK THE GIANT SLAYER Boldly Slashes Forth, Free Of Irony

Color me surprised, because if Jack the Giant Slayer isn’t quite the best movie of the year so far, it’s at least a damn good one. It’s fair to say the movie had a stink about it. It was meant to come out last summer, and got pushed back for a variety of reasons, ostensibly […]

A GLIMPSE INSIDE THE MIND OF CHARLES SWAN III Offers Only Fleeting Pleasures

Any film with a title as obnoxious as A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III seems resolutely unconcerned with actually getting wide audience acceptance. I’ve watched the film, and even interviewed the director, and still have a hell of a time keeping the title straight. That said, it does give you a sense of […]

WARM BODIES Underplays the Zombie Thing With a Charming Romance

A sweet yet innocuous romance steeped in both Shakespearean motifs and shoegazing tropes, the saving grace of Warm Bodies (AKA ‘the emo zombie film’) is that it’s quite charming, never completely falling into a farcical take on the subject matter. We meet “R” (Nicholas Hoult) shuffling through an airport, intoning via a melancholy, sardonic voiceover […]

PARKER – This Crime Dud Should Be Illegal

I like Jason Statham, I really do. I mean, sure, he’s got the best first name of any actor that has ever lived, but I like the guy. I like that whatever movie he’s in, he makes it his own. I like the old Statham from Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, I even like […]

Talking MAMA, LAST STAND and more Oscar fun on CTV!

Another Sunday evening chat with Scott Laurie (dashing in his new glasses!), discussing GDT produced MAMA, Arnie in LAST STAND, and more love for Deakins to get his damn trophy again. Click image below to launch player

Talking the Razzies on CTV

Appeared on CTV News Channel tonight to talk about this year’s slates of “Razzies”, or “worst film”, which included my (beloved) BATTLESHIP. Click image above to watch the video

BATTLESHIP for Best Picture of 2012

We live in a time when winking, snarky, sardonic Cinema has become the norm, when things like subtext and subterfuge gloss over what are more often than not simply action movies gone wrong. We’ve seen pixels fighting pixels, groups of Avengers not really avenging anything, a rising Dark Knight that some found risible, all while […]

Best of 2012 on CTV News Channel

An evening spent celebrating some of the highlights of 2012, and a couple of stinkers, including one that while released in late December 2011 still stank up the entire year. Flash required, may not work on some mobile devices…

Live Television Interview – Talking STAR WARS…again!

Had another early morning media call, this time a visit to the CTV News Channel set for a sit down conversation about Disney, Star Wars, and the future of the franchise. Thanks to Jacqueline Milczarek and Dan Matheson for being so welcoming, to the technical crew and back stage staff that were friendly and encouraging, […]

ARGO and the “Truthiness” Doctrine

Argo is a delightful throwback film, echoing the kind of “political intrigue” style that was commonplace during the Nixon administration. The fact that Argo shares many characteristics with the likes of The Ides of March might be no mere coincidence. Forgetting the obvious point, that George Clooney is listed as a producer on both works, […]