Category Archives: movie review
In October, 2014, a tourist visiting Yellowknife disappeared. Atsumi Yoshikubo seemed like a typical Japanese vacationer, visiting for the majestic creaking pines and the ethereal beauty of the northern lights. Five days after arriving, she walked out of town and into the woods, never to be seen again. Award-winning producer, writer and director Geoff Morrison’s The Missing Tourist delves into the mystery of Yoshikubo’s vanishing. With no signs of criminality, or much hard evidence at all, could Atsumi have traveled all that way just to slip silently out of the world?
They don’t come around all that often, but the movies love a charismatically gruff old man. From the goofy classic Grumpy Old Men with Jack Lemon and Walter Matthau to Clint Eastwood’s racist curmudgeon in Gran Turino, there’s a strange appeal to bitter old cranks. At least, when they discover they have a heart after all. Hannes Holm’s A Man Called Ove, from the novel by Fredrik Backman, follows in the genre’s creaky, recalcitrant footsteps. With a wonderful performance as the titular Ove from Rolf Lassgård, the film hits all the right irascible notes. Nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Foreign Film category, and another for Makeup and Hairstyling, A Man Called Ove has been an unlikely success.
Sometimes a talent is so oversized it’s like a bomb waiting to go off. One look at ballet’s enfant terrible Sergei Polunin and you can see the talent, his mesmerizing form crackling with electricity. You don’t need to know anything about ballet as Polunin launches his wiry frame impossibly high into the air to know that this kid’s got it. Dancer, the documentary from Steven Cantor (loudQUIETloud: A Film About the Pixies) follows Polunin’s evolution, from child prodigy to hard partying success to burnt-out superstar. It’s an interesting if conventional portrait of an artist with tremendous gifts, lacking the tools to sustain a career.
The Canadian Western has to be the smallest of film genres. Philip Borsos’ The Grey Fox (1982) pretty much begins and ends the genre. It’s small because Canadians don’t really think we had a western frontier, in the same way America did. That’s not entirely true, but misses a larger point, that really almost all of Canada is frontier. Still. And most of that frontier isn’t west. It’s north. Inuk director Zacharias Kunuk corrects that oversight with an arctic reimagining of John Ford’s classic western The Searchers (1956). Spare and evocative, Kunuk’s Maliglutit brings the Western to the snowbound north with arresting results.
This Christmas Day was a little bit different for me. It was the first as an officially separated dad. Last year, while my former Queen and I had already decided to part ways (amicably, by the way – she’s a good lady and we get along great), we were still living in the same house with our little princess, and while we spent the afternoon apart, we still had the morning and evening together. This year, the three of us did morning presents together and then I went on my way, as the two gals had church and the Queen’s family to visit with.
How would I keep busy? This year it seemed important to have a place to be, for at least a few hours, anyway. Last year, in the separate time, I went to visit former BBP writer P-dawg and his family, where we partook in the traditional Jewish Christmas meal – Chinese food. With my buddy off and away, this time out my hangout partner wound up being my mom. The two of us decided to take in a movie, the biggest buzz film of awards season – La La Land.
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.
Throw on some jazz, pour a glass of Giggle Water, and curl up with your favorite bowtruckle, we’re talking Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, on this spoiler-free review.
Simone Estrin’s 26-minute documentary, A Shift in the Landscape, is now playing at the Ryerson Image Centre’s (RIC) Student Gallery. As soon as the house lights dim, the colossal abstract sculptures of Richard Serra flood the screen. It is an immediate meditation on art and how it inhabits the environment.
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?
My knowledge of Eli Roth’s film career is fairly limited. That said, I loved 2002’s Cabin Fever (just watched it a few years ago) and thought Roth was great in both that and in 2009’s Inglourious Basterds. So I was looking forward to seeing what Hostel had to offer.
When the condescending label “torture porn” was being thrown at films like Saw and Hostel back in the early years of the new millennium, I was unable to weigh in on it, as I had not seen either film. Saw is a cleverly plotted thriller that transcends such restrictive and unimaginative criticisms; would Hostel be equally, if not more, intriguing?
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