Category Archives: movie review
There are those who might not be aware of “Nordic Noir,” a term used to describe the recent influx of Nordic genre films and television, but if the quality of genre fare coming out of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Finland continues to remain high, that should change soon. The latest film added to this list is Lake Bodom, from director Taneli Mustonen, who co-wrote the script with Aleksi Hyvärinen.
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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.
There was a time when The Ring was the scariest film franchise going.
Based on the Japanese novel Ringu, written by Kôji Suzuki and its own cinematic adaptation by Hideo Nakata, the 2002 film introduced North American audiences to the character of Samara and a director named Gore Verbiniski, who would go on to spearhead the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise for Disney. The film was a box office success and scared the pants of audiences, so of course there was a sequel. The Ring Two didn’t make as much money as the first, even with Japanese director Najata at the helm, and the franchise was put on ice.
Until this year, and the third entry in the series, Rings. Which didn’t do very well at the box office and which critics hated.
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.
It seems unbelievable that a masterpiece like Peeping Tom seriously derailed Michael Powell’s career, but that is just what happened. Peeping Tom was a departure for the director, known for his collaborations with Emeric Pressburger (Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes) over the course of three decades. Thankfully, thanks to critics like Raymond Durgnant and filmmakers like Martin Scorsese, there was a backlash to the backlash, and Peeping Tom is now considered not only a classic of British cinema, but also of the often-derided slasher subgenre in horror.
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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.
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.
Don’t trust anybody.
That’s the lesson the Teen Titans learn in the new Warner Brothers Animation/DC Universe Original Movie, Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, which hits Blu-ray/DVD this Tuesday.
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.