SLEEPNESS NIGHT

I can’t think of a film that’s made me more physically uneasy than SLEEPLESS NIGHT, a testament both to its unique setting and the skills of its filmmakers. The film starts with a bang, literally. Gunshots ring out as a car is hijacked for its lucrative shipment. In the mélee, one of the attackers has […]

THE INCIDENT

THE INCIDENT opens with three stoner buddies gathered together to craft some tunes to churn out a record. There’s bickering and gnashing of teeth, then they disband in order to prepare for work the next day. Following this patently useless prologue, we see the same crew don their gear for another day at work – […]

ELLES

The ever lovely Juliette Binoche stars in this strange twist on the usual midlife crisis film. Writing for ELLE magazine in Paris, Binoche’s character is writing an article about young prostitutes. Drawn to two of her subjects – one a striking Polish girl, the other from one of Paris’ outlying housing estates, she quickly finds […]

GOD BLESS AMERICA

Bobcat Goldthwait – the name conjures up Muppet-voiced standup comedy and manic turns in a slew of POLICE ACADEMY films. Of late he’s dropped the shtick in favour of directing a bunch of edgy TV shows and the Robin Williams starrer and cheekily named WORLDS GREATEST DAD. Obviously this was his first visit to Midnight […]

DARK HORSE

Seems that Solondz is almost getting mellow as he matures – DARK HORSE could be confused by some as a middle-of-the-road ensemble comedy. There remain certain flourishes and idiosyncrasies that have separated his films from the mainstream, but in this, his most accessible film in years, it’s a story that unfolds in almost a straight […]

PARADISE LOST 3: PURGATORY

Back in the early 90s, a group of three teenagers were arrested and convicted after a brutal crime of child murder was uncovered in a small Arkansas town. Throughout the trial, the “West Memphis Three” plead their innocence. In the mid-90s, an HBO documentary brought the story of the victims, their families, and the accused […]

ANONYMOUS

There will be lots working against a positive reception of ANOYMOUS. The first is the filmmaker, a name that’s been stricken from almost all promotional material leading up to the films late-fall wide release. Sure, Emmerich has made some of the most bombastic, most egregious films ever made, but who’s to say a shlock meister […]

HYSTERIA

Hysteria is one of those delightful, ribald-yet-accessible Brit comedies like The Full Monty. It’s salacious enough to be interesting, yet accessible enough that only the most prudish will be offended. Not bad, then, that the film takes as its subject matter the development of the electric genital massager, or vibrator. We start in London in […]

SAMSARA

Ron Fricke is back with more of his nature porn, along the lines of his BARAKA and films his shot like KOYAANISQATSI. The title derives from the Tibetan (“the ever turning wheel of life”), and Fricke’s wheel is as epic as the globe itself. Shot over four years, visiting almost two dozen countries and capturing […]

LIVID

Few films have confounded me this fest as LIVID – by all measure I should absolutely loathe this film. To call it “deliberate” would do it injustice, this film is slooowww, a single factor that’s usually death for any film at Midnight mid-fest (my seventh film of the day, this was). The film involves witch […]

DRIVE

If the trailers were to believed, and they so rarely are, Winding Refn’s English debut is an offshoot of the FAST AND FURIOUS franchise. Quick cuts, slickly shot car chases and Ryan “Where the Hell Was I when this guy became the -it guy- heartthrob” Gosling all in two minutes of schlocky silliness. I knew […]

HEADHUNTERS

HEADHUNTERS (Hodejegerne in Norwegian, which just looks cooler) is a brisk, taught Scandinavian thriller of the first order. With a sleek, glossy look mixed with mud-strewn exteriors, it manages to remain compelling despite some pretty clear signals regarding the film’s eventual outcome. Roger (Aksel Hennie) is the headhunter for a group of companies, juggling a […]

PEARL JAM TWENTY

“[The Who’s] THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT is fucking genius, this is just about us” – Random member of Pearl Jam midway through this doc There’s lots to like about PEARL JAM TWENTY, particularly if you’re already a fan of the band. There’s lots of performances, some behind-the-scenes stories, and oodles of photos and clips from […]

MONEYBALL

The term “inside baseball” is often bandied about as a metaphor for the appreciation of the esoteric nature of an activity, where one requires specific and expert knowledge to really “get” what’s behind the superficial nature of a given game. Stats are talked about in other sports, but it’s baseball that dove into the statistical […]

IDES OF MARCH

IDES OF MARCH joins a list of Clooney’s other throw-back films. It seems that the projects that draw him to direct (and often star in) are often drawn from the films of decades previous. His debut with CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND hinted at his talent behind the camera, and is stunning GOOD NIGHT AND […]

140 Character Reviews – 2011

THE LAST GLADIATORS has the core of an excellent doc – well produced and shot exploration of hockey enforcers, it loses steam by end #tiff11 THE BOY WHO WAS A KING, a decent if not very compelling doc that following story a man who went from child King to PM of Bulgaria #TIFF11 PAUL WILLIAMS […]

YOU’RE NEXT

For the first twenty minutes, I was completely dreading YOU’RE NEXT. Having avoided all pre-film synopsis, it seemed pretty clear to me early on that this was going to be a long, dreary slog. A piss-poor pre-credit sequence echoed the worst parts of 80s horror – shock siren effects, coitus interrupted by spooky masked men […]

THE ARTIST

Sure to capture a slew of Awards by year’s end, THE ARTIST is a pitch perfect lovestory to the era of silent filmmaking. George Valentin (played to perfection by Jean Dujardin) is a toothy star of 20s Cinema who parades through Hollywood with a swagger. Oblivious to the coming tide of the talkie, he ruins […]

THE HUNTER

There’s a decent movie in here somewhere, I swear – we’ve got wilderness, crazy locals, an unhinged leading actor and the stalking on an elusive beast. In surer hands this could be an epic man-vs-nature plight, or even a grand allegory about the diminishing wilderness. Instead, we get a pretty, if pretty plodding, ride into […]

URBANIZED

Following on his examinations of a typeface (HELVETICA) and Industrial Design (OBJECTIFIED), Director Hustwit turns his attention to urban planning. The documentary brings together planners, architects, citizens and politicians as they discuss what it takes to make a city really work. The film travels the world looking for successful strategies, from reclaimed elevated railways in […]

THE RAID

Over the last decade or so, Midnight Madness audiences have been privileged to encounter some extraordinary events. We were doled out barf bags for the screening of ICHI THE KILLER, and witnessed an unprecedented cinematic onslaught. We were there when ONG BAK took the Uptown by storm, throwing the tired martial arts genre on its […]

RESTLESS

Joining a slew of Cancer-themed films as part of this year’s TIFF-slate, RESTLESS manages quite well to balance the story of young love with the tragic undercurrent running throughout the film. Enoch is a young man who crashes funerals as part of a regular ritual, finding comfort it seems in the company of strangers gathered […]

THE LOVE WE MAKE

On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, Sir Paul McCartney sat on the tarmac waiting to fly back to the UK. The pilot came over the speaker to announce that there had been an accident, and that the trade centres had been hit (viewable out the port side of the plane). As they taxied […]

KEYHOLE

It comes as no surprise that Guy Maddin’s latest film is a commission by an art gallery. KEYHOLE is equal parts startling images, incoherent moments, skewed camera angles with an oblique and barely comprehensible narrative. In other words, it’s another in a growing line of Maddin works, a contribution to his run of cinema-out-of-time oeuvres […]

A DANGEROUS METHOD

Cronenberg has spent much of his career delving into the darker depths of cinematic expression, from exploding heads to stomach vaginas, from typewriters talking out of their assholes to the fetishisation of car accidents. Over the decades, then, audiences have been conditioned as to what to expect from a Cronenberg film. What’s most interesting about […]

A FUNNY MAN

Humour is a funny thing, as it were. Too broad or slapstick, it appears childish and fatuous. Too dependent on wit and the charm can get lost in translation. A FUNNY MAN betrays its title in a number of ways. This is a high concept biopic of Dirch Passer, a celebrated post-vaudevillian that seems, in […]

AIRIRANG

I admit upfront to having a soft spot for Kim Ki Duk – ever since THE ISLE showed me things I’d never seen before (and images too brutal and beautiful to forget), I’ve followed his releases as they’ve shown up year to year at TIFF. DREAM, his most recent fiction film, was made in 2008. […]

MELANCHOLIA

In Von Trier’s latest, we’re greeted again with another luminous, cinematic prologue shaped in a similar fashion to his previous work ANTICHRIST. Sweeping, poignant scenes play out to a balletic score, with super slow motion giving and eerie, monstrous quality to many of the images. When we finally see the world consumed in a fiery […]