Category Archives: Film
Man. I guess people were so depressed in the seventies they’d try just about anything. As we live through a fast-forward remix of the Watergate scandal, it’s interesting to take a look back at those strange, hungover times. The Commune is a Danish film set in the seventies, so a rather different milieu than Nixon’s America. But societal malaise was pervasive in Western culture at that time. From the talented but uneven director Thomas Vinterberg (The Celebration, The Hunt), The Commune is a loosely autobiographical film of his own experiences growing up in that era. It’s a spare tale of a marriage pushed too far, veering into melodrama.
Anyone who watches Mr. Robot knows how hypnotic Rami Malek’s presence can be. He’s mastered an aura of complicated blankness, his glinting, buggy eyes set deep in his flatly inexpressive face. Malek calls on that same bright, disturbed facade to propel the shambolic, disjointed thriller Buster’s Mal Heart from director Sarah Adina Smith. A head-scratcher with a twisty split narrative, the film’s an uneven study of one man’s descent into madness, held together by the force of Malek’s commanding distance.
Without a doubt, the biggest movie coming out this weekend is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 from Marvel Studios. The first movie in this franchise within a franchise was a surprise hit, and one of the best of the Marvel movies. How did its sequel hold up? Meet me after the hyperspatial jump for my thoughts. Heed my warning, folks, there be spoilers ahead.
Gaming culture’s gotten huge. It’s easy to miss, but the gaming industry makes more than either the movie or music industries. Hot Docs in Toronto plugs into the gaming world this year with two very different documentaries. Living the Game takes a revealing look at the world’s best competitive Street Fighter players, while Ukiyo-e Heroes is a subtler portrait of an unlikely collaboration, as an elderly master of Japanese woodblock carving teams up with a graphic designer to make classical Japanese prints of modern gaming characters.
With his passing on Wednesday, I sat down to watch a couple of Jonathan Demme’s best films. Demme’s never been in the pantheon; he’s not one of the revered directors of his generation like Martin Scorsese or Francis Ford Coppola. But with films like Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia, and his superb music docs on the likes of Neil Young, Talking Heads and Bruce Springsteen, he made an indelible mark on popular culture.
Get a small group of people together with a common interest, it’s going to get competitive. Give it a little time, it’ll get political and weird, too. Christopher Guest’s Best In Show is the epitome of competitive subculture movies, barking up the tree of conformation dog shows. But if you thought dog shows were weird, you haven’t lived till you’ve seen a chicken pageant. While Best in Show is a mockumentary, Pecking Order is the real thing. Watching the chicken breeders of Christchurch, New Zealand strut, preen and scheme against one another is giddily surreal, enough to make you cluck and crow.
Here on planet earth, it’s a different story! Screams of fright, horror and joy abound when we’re talking about the Alien film franchise. You know, the one made famous by directors Ridley Scott and James Cameron: Alien in 1979 and Aliens in 1986. They were the first R-rated films that an under-age me needed to see. Well, those two and Canadian classic, Porky’s.
Those two highlight films have spun-off a flurry of pop culture gold that includes five other Alien-centered films of varying quality (two of which enthusiastically co-star the sci-fi classic Predator creature) with a new and eagerly-anticipated film in the horror franchise only a month away from release.
There’s even a day of the year dedicated to the Alien franchise, an unofficial holiday for fans around this planet: #AlienDay is today, April 26! Tweet out those chest-busters!
With pop culture supremacy, of course, come loads of comic books. Appropriately, then, today sees the release of the first issue of a new mini-series…Aliens: Dead Orbit #1, the perfect accompaniment to a day dedicated to everyone’s favourite xenomorph!
The TIFF Kids International Film Festival is close to wrapping up, but there’s a few gems that are still worth checking out. While teens are unlikely to be moved by the charmingly chill ghost flick Room 213, it’s perfect for a younger audience, with a simple story and zero horror histrionics.
High school dramas are back with a vengeance. There’s the noir soap opera shenanigans of Archie, Betty and Veronica on Riverdale, and the sharply observed teen pathos of Thirteen Reasons Why. Both series paint a portrait of high school about fifty shades darker than the quaint distractions of a John Hughes movie. Out on the big screen in limited release this weekend is My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea, joining the class of 2017 with a surrealistic romp fusing teen comedy and disaster movies to hilarious effect.