Category Archives: Luke Sneyd
TIFF’s been doing a retrospective on the German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder. A prodigious wunderkind of the seventies German New Wave, he died of a drug overdose at 37, leaving behind over 40 features and television mini-series made in a brief 15-year career. (Cocaine is a powerful drug in the right nose.) In that burgeoning output, Fassbinder made only one science fiction film. World on a Wire appeared in 1973, a made-for-TV two-parter that virtually disappeared soon after its release. Steeped in a 1970s futurist aesthetic, the film is both wildly dated and amazingly anticipatory, a speculative plunge into the world of virtual reality fully 36 years ahead of The Matrix. Turns out Neo wasn’t the only one popping pills to see what’s really going on.
Ed Gass-Donnelly’s got style and atmosphere to burn, that’s for sure. In the opening moments of his new elegiac horror-thriller Lavender, we track into a frozen tableau of police investigating a grim crime scene in a rustic farmhouse. The cops hover like statues over sheet-draped bodies as the camera glides between them, coming to rest on a petrified girl slumped against a bedroom wall, clutching a bloody razor. As she stares blankly into us, we wonder, is this girl a killer? Why would she do such terrible things?
Well we’re deep into the spooky season with Halloween just a few days away. You’ve watched Friday the 13th and The Exorcist. You were beaten senseless by The Walking Dead’s latest round of audience trolling. Maybe it’s time to mix it up, head off the well-trodden path and get a little weird with your scary. So I give you a few words to roll around in anticipation. Kurt Russell. Western. Cannibal troglodytes. Piqued your curiosity? Then saddle up, hoss. We’re gonna ride and have a jaw about Bone Tomahawk.
Halfway to Halloween, and here in Toronto, the scarestivities are well underway. The Toronto After Dark Film Festival is bringing the shivers to the Scotiabank Theatre for the next week. And this weekend, the third annual Horror-Rama Canada convention is turning the Hyatt Regency into a horror hotel.
High winds took a bite out of the weekend, Hurricane Matthew knocking nearly 10% off the weekend’s box office totals, compared to last year. But The Girl on the Train was the engine that could, topping the weekend grosses handily.
This weekend’s shaping up to be a little all over the place, with slaves, trains and hurricanes. Nate Parker’s controversial, critically-acclaimed The Birth of a Nation is taking on Tate Taylor’s thriller The Girl on the Train, but Hurricane Matthew might have something to say before the weekend box office is tallied up. Close the storm windows, grab the candles and let’s head to the cellar to figure this all out.
A mad dictator obsessed with film kidnaps the best director and actress of a rival country, so that his nation can make its movies world-class. In two years, the captive pair churn out seventeen movies, before escaping to freedom. Oh, and they’re married. That’s not the ludicrous pitch to the next Coen Brothers flick. It’s actually a true story. In a limited theatrical run and just released to iTunes today, The Lovers and the Despot lays out the ludicrous details in a fascinating, strange documentary.
The big Hollywood musical is alive and well. Sure, it’s an endangered species, but Damien Chazelle’s vibrant La La Land is about as fine a specimen as you can find. Chosen by Toronto’s filmgoing horde as the best film at TIFF this year, La La Land is a throwback tour de force.
Werner Herzog is a living legend, a madman director who insists he’s “the only sane filmmaker.” The director of the eighties remake of Nosferatu and the surreal “let’s drag an entire steamship over a mountain” movie Fitzcaraldo (plus countless others) has largely turned his attention to documentary in the past twenty years. His latest explores a subject close to his fevered, compulsive mind. Into the Inferno follows Herzog and co-director and vulcanologist Clive Oppenheimer as they traipse around the globe, visiting the world’s mightiest volcanoes.
Amy Adams is having a pretty great year. It’s only going to get better. With two top-flight films at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, she’s this year’s Benedict Cumberbatch. I already wrote about her note-perfect performance as the love-lorn gallery curator in Tom Ford’s chilly noir Nocturnal Animals. Her role in Denis Villeneuve’s cerebral sci-fi feature Arrival is even better. The movie is pretty great, too. But Amy, she should clear some space on her mantle.