Category Archives: movie review
The great filmmakers are often celebrated for their extraordinary control: the exacting science of Hitchcock’s suspense, the omnipresent symmetry of Kubrick’s vision, the dour Wagnerian pomp of Christopher Nolan. But there’s a lot to be said for id, too. The chaotic subconscious mind is its own glorious school, a place for the likes of Peter Jackson, Sam Raimi and David Lynch to stretch out and just, you know, get really fucking crazy. With Spain’s Alex de la Iglesia, add one more to that subversive list. TIFF is running a retrospective of de la Iglesia’s films from January 30th to March 28th, and amid all the batshit bonkers onscreen are some really indelible moments of brilliance. From the apocalyptic satanic horror of The Day of the Beast (1995) to the jet-black comedy of A Ferpect Crime (2004), de la Iglesia isn’t for everyone, but if putting the words wild satirical dark guignol together gets you salivating like Pavlov’s dog on a leash, you’re gonna wanna dive into this head-first.
With the Farrelly Brothers Dumb and Dumber To (2014) bumbling into theatres now, it’s fitting that TIFF has chosen this moment to look back at one of the great purveyors of goofball comedy, the legendary Mel Brooks. With films like The Producers (1967), Blazing Saddles (1974), and Spaceballs (1987), Brooks has carved out a huge swath of send-up satire that comedy directors today are enormously indebted to. Too?
No matter how hungry you get, there is one food source that is strictly taboo, firmly off-limits, and definitely not for civilized consumption. So it’s no wonder that gorging on human flesh is too harrowing and far too repulsive an act to ever consider – no matter how dire the (pardon the pun) stakes.
The idea literally turns our stomachs.
And that’s what makes the 1999 dark humour horror film, Ravenous, so much fun!
Any film from Studio Ghibli is a treat. The Japanese anime house has put out some great movies over the years, including Hayao Miyazake’s films Princess Mononoke (1997), Spirited Away (2001), and Howl’s Moving Castle (2004). Now officially retired, Miyazake’s worked slowly but steadily, putting out a film every five years or so. His Studio Ghibli cofounder Isao Takahata is even less prolific. The director of the masterful WWII story Grave of the Fireflies (1988) has only made three films since, his last My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999) released over fourteen years ago. His return at age 78 with The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2014) shows that Takahata hasn’t missed a beat. Beautiful and moving, he delivers another anime masterpiece.
Think of the high pitched screech of metal across metal, the low guttural growl of a wild animal or the rapid plucking of violin strings again and again to illicit a sense of tension. Undoubtedly, one of the most important elements of any horror film is sound: both in music score and in effects.
Still, visceral imagery and the underlying text that a film is based upon can have an enormous affect on the mindset of a viewer.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, at the origin of the art form we call film, the black and white L’Inferno, released in 1911, silent and arresting, tested the relevance of this treatise. The result was an overwhelmingly popular and horrifying experience for all of those that viewed the film then, as well as those that view it today.
“Whatever you do… don’t fall asleep.”
Yeah. That’s gonna work. Talk about an absolute classic catchphrase. Parents of newborns, late night essay crammers and insomniacs all know how weird your head can get without enough sleep. I’m in the mad throes of a rushed move myself, packing and running around at all hours, and I am spaced. If someone said that to me right now, in a dead serious hushed whisper, I can tell you, I’d freak the fuck out. Freddie Krueger knows where we all live, at night, when our eyes are closed and we’re most vulnerable. But he’s not real, it’s okay. That horribly burnt, disfigured face isn’t real. Those razor claws aren’t real. Have another cup of coffee. We’re fine. Let’s talk about the original A Nightmare on Elm Street, I’m just going to lean back, and… did you hear something? Never mind. It’s probably… just… the wind…
Of course, innumerable amounts of people have written about their fascination with England’s most notoriously unknown murderer. We here at Biff Bam Pop! have done our part, too. Whether it’s a physical walk, book, poem, or a drawing, film has always had a fascination for the villain.
Although not a horror movie, Murder By Decree announces its intent through its opening scene: a rolling panorama of 1888 London during an October sunset, a fog rising, and the night’s first policeman whistles as Big Ben chimes in the distance.
Suspense and dread. That’s what the film offers. Oh! And a solving of the crime by fiction’s greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes!
Genre-bending is a real Korean specialty. From the family drama monster movie hybrid of Bong Joon-Ho’s The Host to the madcap martial arts western of Kim Jee-Woon’s The Good, The Bad, The Weird, films like these turn on a dime. You just never know what to expect. One big Korean film at the Toronto International Film Festival this year is Haemoo, directed by Shim Sung-bo. Relatively unknown, the first-time director co-wrote Memories of Murder in 2003 with Bong Joon-Ho, who returns the favour here producing and co-writing Haemoo. Not bad having the director of Snowpiercer in your corner. It isn’t all smooth sailing with Shim Sung-bo’s debut, though. Climb aboard, matey, and I’ll tell you the tale.