PAUL WILLIAMS STILL ALIVE

Growing up with THE MUPPET SHOW, the musical and comic stylings of Paul Williams were inescapable. I assume I saw him on the plethora of game shows and LOVE BOAT appearances he made, but it was this little mans turn with Kermit and friends, and his subsequent scoring of the first MUPPET MOVIE that ingrained […]

THE BOY WHO WAS A KING

All the ingredients are there – a fascinating tale of a boy-King crowned in the midst of the last World War, forced to flee his country and live in exile, only to triumphantly return after the collapse of the Soviet Union to claim a democratically elected leadership position decades after he first held office. Unfortunately, […]

THE LAST GLADIATORS

In this extremely well made documentary, Alex Gibney (here last year with the under-appreciated CLIENT 9) sets his sights on one of the more misunderstood characters of Canada’s game – the hockey enforcer. The film starts with a startling shot of a pair of ravaged hands, the kunckles obliterated, fingers skewed at odd angles. The […]

INTO THE ABYSS

Leave it to Herzog to turn the debate about capital punishment on its head. Delving into the events of a brutal Texan homicide, he talks to the two men convicted of the crime, the families of the victims, and the law enforcement and legal personnel that arrested, convicted, and eventually put to death one of […]

ALBERT NOBBS

Co-written, co-produced, and starring Glen Close, it’s hard to avoid feeling that ALBERT NOBBS is a mere vanity piece by the celebrated actress. It’s easy to dismiss the film as mere Oscar bait, a “showy” gender-bending presentation with the staged uglification that often bestows kudos upon actresses, be it in the form of distorted nose, […]

HEADSHOT

In the prologue to HEADSHOT we’re quickly introduced to our lead character, the camera floating as a first person shot. Wearing monk robes, the man walks into a compound, raises a gun, then… Black. Months later, he wakes up, only to have his life turned upside down, literally. Whether it’s a bullet in his head […]

KILLER JOE

KILLER JOE is a dark, vicious little character piece marking a return of sorts for William Friedkin. Sure, the director of EXORCIST and FRENCH CONNECTION made a couple decent films in the last four decades, but he’s hardly been able to make a real splash since. Essentially the film revolved around five players. First there’s […]

COMIC-CON EPISODE FOUR: A FAN’S HOPE

I admit upfront I had no hope for this film. I figured Spurlock would trot out his usual shtick, focusing more on himself than his subject, and engaging in a fatuous kind of culture tourism, diving deep into the belly of geekdom. Instead, A FAN’S HOPE is by far Spurlock’s most matured and compelling work […]

DEATH OF A SUPERHERO

Yet another in a slew of Cancer-themed fest flicks, this one takes another take on the subject through the eyes of a talented yet troubled youth Donald (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) going through his own anger issues as he undergoes chemotherapy. Donald’s biggest concern is that he won’t die a virgin. Eliciting the assistance of a local […]

SUPERCLÀSICO

SUPERCLÀSICO is one of those real gems you get to experience at an international film festival – breezy, clever, beautifully crafted and performed, it’s a gem of a film that treats its audience with respect while being nothing short of enjoyable. The fact that it’s (co)written be the writer of one of my least favourite […]

KILL LIST

KILL LIST is a strange, unsettling film. More character drama than straight out genre piece, the opening half owes more to Mike Leigh film than to Tobe Hooper. We’re introduced to Jay (Neil Maskell), a hitman that’s between jobs. After his last gig went awry (for reasons unclear at the beginning), he’s struggling to make […]

THE AWAKENING

Another in a line of films this year that start with great flourish, yet can’t sustain ’till the end, THE AWAKENING is 4/5ths of a great, moody little piece with a tacked on conclusion that washes much of it away. When it’s good, however, the film is a lot of fun. Set in 1921, the […]

TYRANNOSAUR

From about a minute into the film, Considine’s TYRANNOSAUR grabs you by the throat and never lets go. We follow Joseph, played by Scott thesp stalwart Peter Mullan, as he leaves a bar in a rage. Taking out his frustration on the first thing he can (the dog chained to his arm), we’re immediately disgusted […]

THE ORANGES

With all the dreary heaviness that you get during fest time (not that I’m complaining), sometimes you need a nice comedy to brighten your spirits. THE ORANGES was one of those refreshing turns – fun, maybe forgettable, but still a refreshing drink in the middle of more somber fare. Set in the upper middle class […]

SMUGGLER

SMUGGLER comes at a pretty challenging phase of any Midnight Madness slate – by the second last night, you’re completely exhausted, trying hard just to get through the next couple days of films with your sanity intact. It into the strange fugue state of mental and physical exhaustion that this crazy, almost madcap horror/comedy/adventure film […]

TAKE SHELTER

After turns in the likes of PEARL HARBOR and BAD BOYS II, followed by a couple strange and stranger Herzog films, the career of Michael Shannon has been anything but consistent or compartmentalized. Of late, his turn as the taciturn, smouldering Prohibition cop on HBO’s BOARDWALK EMPIRE has captivated viewers, showing the range of this […]

I’M CAROLYN PARKER: THE GOOD, THE MAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL

Another in a slew of Huricane Katrina-themed docs, what sets Demme’s film apart is both the scope (he filmed over many years) and the direct focus of the subject matter. Choosing one remarkable woman and using her story to the larger tale of the postdeluvian 9th ward is both inspired and extremely effective. Carolyn Parker […]

GENERATION P

GENERATION P is a psychedelic, kaleidoscopic explosion from Russia, relying upon oodles of post-Soviet pop-culture references that went way over my head, resulting in a film that that’s still a whole heap of fun. A twisted mix of MAD MEN and FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS, we find our protagonist poet Babylen (Vladimir Yepifantsev) […]

HIMIZU

After last year’s astonishing COLD FISH, Sion Sono with a disaster movie of a different sort. Shot and produced quickly, using the backdrop of last Spring’s Tsunami as both an explicit and metaphorical throughline of this tale of abuse, young love and the challenges of moving on after one has lost everything. Based on a […]

JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME

A sort of companion piece to Solondz’s DARK HORSE, the Duplass’ JEFF film is about quirky, dysfunctional family dynamics and the maturation of a man-child as he emerges decades late from under the wings of his mother (Susan Sarandon). As the title indicates, Jeff (Jason Segel) has never really made anything of himself, save for […]

THE DAY

THE DAY, another in a long, lonnnng line of post-Apocalyptic, us-vs-them films, does something worthy of celebration: It shows us that, indeed, the outskirts of Ottawa need very little manipulation to appear convincingly as an end-of-world locale. It’s always a good sign when a film demonstrates early on that infact anything is possible. Too often […]

DOPPELGÄNGER PAUL

I derive no pleasure from seeing mediocre Canadian films at TIFF. I have this strange, patriotic notion that some of these little indies will prove to have enough charm or wit to elevate them above the mundane, yet too often they’re so abysmally bad (a few come to mind) that their inclusion in the fest […]

FROM THE SKY DOWN

One comment off the top, I hate the title. Sure, it’s a cutesy, throwaway ACHTUNG-era lyric, but Bono’s work has always lacked real poetry. Nah, let’s call this thing what its – THE MAKING OF U2’s ACHTUNG BABY AND STUFF THAT HAPPENED DURING THAT TIME PERIOD. No, that might be worse. At any rate, FTSD […]

THE MOTH DIARIES

I admit upfront to not necessarily fitting the demographic that this film is intended for. I’m not an adolescent girl, riding this newest wave of Vampire works. I belong to no “team”, a la TWILIGHT, nor do I read books that are clearly as dreadful as the source that spawned THE MOTH DIARIES. That being […]

UNDEFEATED

A great sports documentary can capture everything ones loves about a given game – if done well, it doesn’t need fireworks or manipulation to craft something both special and memorable. Sure, the added tension of any competition (be it as diverse as a spelling bee or a Teen music competition) makes for added drama, but […]

HELENO

A moody, lugubrious rumination on Brazilian football player, HELENO traces the life and career of Heleno de Freitas (Rodrigo Santoro) as he captures the spirit of his nation, the last great Brazilian superstar before a young upstart named Pele would capture world acclaim. Easy comparisons could be made to RAGING BULL – like the Scorsese […]

LOVELY MOLLY

There’s not a heck of a lot worth saying about LOVELY MOLLY, save that it certainly didn’t live up to the title. Helmed by Eduardo Sánchez, one half of the duo that brought the BLAIR WITCH onslaught to the masses, this film owes more to the much derided sequel. Promising to “reinvent” the found footage […]

SNOWTOWN

SNOWTOWN is remarkable for a number of reasons. First, it is an astonishingly fresh debut from Kurzel, a steady and sure directorial effort. The ensemble cast is also excellent, a mix of amateurs and local talent that bring a depth and richness to the film. Finally, there’s the story itself – harrowing, horrific, made all […]

DAMSELS IN DISTRESS

Stillman’s back after a dozen years in the wilderness, this time with a strange, film-out-of-time look at College, cliques and the goings on of young neurotics. DAMSELS sinks or swims if you buy into its world, and for me the film worked its charms from early on. Greta Gerwig is pitch perfect as Violet, the […]

NEIL YOUNG JOURNEYS

The third Demme doc involving Neil Young  in as many years, NEIL YOUNG JOURNEYS is perhaps the most slight in terms of actually “documentary” form. We see Neil (and his brother, leading the way in a vintage Cadillac) traipsing through his home town of Omemee, Ontario, languidly trolling the places where he spent his early […]