In The Valley of Elah

Another film about the current Iraq conflict, this one based on a true story of a father, ex Military MP, who sets out to investigate the circumstances surround his son’s status as AWOL. Through this crime thriller motif we are introduced to many compelling themes regarding the military code of ethics and brotherhood, the changing […]

Redacted

Redacted is DePalma’s oblique take on the Iraq war, fictionalizing the events surrounding the rape of a 15 year old girl by a group of American Marines. The film takes a fairly unique stylistic direction, using shaky handicam “diary” footage mixed with news reports, a French documentary, security cam and YouTube clips to provide multiple […]

Eastern Promises

Coming after last year’s sublime A History of Violence, Cronenberg’s second pairing with Viggo Mortensen comes complete with very high expectations. It starts very well, and we’re immediately drawn into this world of dead pregnant teens, the Russian mob, the hermeneutics of tattoos and the archetypal disappointment of a father with his son. There’s a […]

Glory to the Filmmaker

You’ll ask yourself throughout much of the running time of Glory to the Filmmaker, “What in the hell is this thing about?” We get to experience dancing aliens, asteroid impacts, duck puppets and submarines, all products from the shattered brain of “Beat” Takeshi. Roughly, this is a post-modernist take on the filmmaker’s own impotence, his […]

Ex Drummer

Ex Drummer is a mess of a film, a tawdry, bizarre tale that has enough visual style to set it apart, barely, from being a complete waste of several hours of your life. A band of misfits get together and find a drummer to put together a musical group. Infants die, fat women have their […]

My Winnipeg

Glorious, sublime, the film Maddin was literally born to direct. Sure, he’s toyed with the form before, presenting films that look like they’re from some lost vault of early 20th century cinema, but with My Winnipeg he finally has a subject to tie all of the loose threads together, his hometown. Part documentary, part autobiography, […]

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

First thing you need to know going in, this is not some fast paced shoot-em-up. The euphemism “deliberately paced” may be used, as this film is epic while remaining entirely intimate. Eschewing the usual grand scope, this is a character piece through and through, examining in great detail the many facets of the “real” Jesse […]

They Wait

Broadly, this is a tale of ghosts, ghouls and bone collectors, set in Vancouver’s Chinatown. The film begins with three men hunting for bear somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, when suddenly the spooky black smoke out of Lost claims its first victim. Cut to Singapore (or was it Shanghai? No matter, it’s clearly just an […]

Juno

Juno presents many a cliché – a tale of unplanned teen pregnancy and the choices it brings forth, the awkwardness of fitting in and falling in love, the dynamics of young and older relationships – all a bit of a mess in less sure hands. It may not be perfect, but it’s a hell of […]

No Country For Old Men

The best kind of festival film, the one that many hours and many films later you’re still thinking about, finding new things to love about it. This is a film that pulls no punches – it’s brutal, violent and at times perverse. It is almost sadistic in how it removes all sense of catharsis from […]

Diaries – 2007

Day 1 A fairly conservative day, with big Hollywood flicks to kick off the fun. They’ve rejigged the way that press and industry screenings work, making it far more challenging to attend films with a paying audience. Other than a few first day bumps and some very long lineups, everything went reasonably smoothly. Alas, Midnight […]

The Mother of Tears

Take a dash of porn acting, add some “After School Special” plotting and excruciating exposition, and coat with about 10 minutes of styilin’ old school gore and you have the mess that you’d expect from the latest Argento oeuvre. The “story” is the third part of the “Mamma” trilogy (as Dario described it), this time […]

Michael Clayton

I must admit I’m getting pretty tired of the intro conflict/flashback to show the setup/conclusion through flashfoward structure that many films and TV shows are making use of (seeing this right after Lust, Caution didn’t help either). Clooney, excellent as always, plays a “fixer” for a high powered law firm, someone who cleans up the […]

Lust, Caution

Ang Lee’s latest is certainly his most “foreign” film, more so than his other non-English films like Crouching Tiger, un-appologetically demanding a sensitivity to Shanghaisese culture during the Japanese occupation. I must admit to feeling a bit lost with much of the characterization early on the film being drawn out of subtle Mahjong plays, and […]

The Brave One

The television commercials make this look like some Jodi Foster as Batwoman, kicking ass and taking names as a rabid vigilante out for justice in the modern Gotham of New York. In fact, the film starts out quite quietly, with Jodi as a radio jock doing a “sounds of the city” schtick, referencing the crumbling […]