REVIEW: Murder! [1930]

You can’t run the world on sentiment. A lot needs to go wrong for Alfred Hitchcock‘s Murder! to go right. I say this because Diana Baring (Norah Baring) would never have been arrested in a perfect world. Why? For all the reasons Sir John Menier (Herbert Marshall) lays out about two-thirds of the way through. No one asked her what she thought happened. No one demanded she give the name of the man she and the deceased (Edna Druce, a performer in Diana’s acting troupe with which she had a…

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REVIEW: Blackmail [1929]

I don’t like waiting about for you. Originally green-lit as a silent film, I’ve read differing accounts as far as Alfred Hitchcock‘s feelings about his producer deciding to shift gears and make Blackmail Europe’s first successful “talkie.” Some say he hated the idea and thus the silent cut (Hitchcock finished two versions of the film so it could be played in theaters ill-equipped to handle synchronized sound) is the definitive variant. Others say he hated the idea that he was allowed to only shoot “some” of it with dialogue, choosing…

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REVIEW: Strangers on a Train [1951]

I certainly admire people who do things. The idea is a provocative one. Two strangers meet and talk about a person in their lives that would objectively be better to them dead than alive. The conversation evolves towards murder in seeming jest until one presents the possibility that they could trade targets and do the other’s dirty work. With nothing connecting them, displaced motives, and airtight alibis thanks to neither actually killing the object of their personal vitriol, it revealed itself to be a perfectly drunken plan. Where things get…

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TIFF15 REVIEW: The Ones Below [2016]

“You’re happier on the outside looking in” With comparisons to Hitchcock and Polanski, David Farr‘s directorial debut The Ones Below starts behind the eight ball straight away. There are definite moments that conjure both masters of suspense, but I’m not sure how much further they reach beyond simply sharing a genre. This isn’t the fault of the idea or actors—the former providing room for thrills and the latter enthralling in duplicitous and psychologically damaged roles—but Farr’s inexperience behind the camera. He often shifts abruptly through time in a disjointed fashion,…

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Posterized Propaganda November 2013: ‘Ender’s Game,’ ‘Nebraska,’ ‘Frozen,’ ‘Oldboy’ & More

“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” is a proverb whose simple existence proves the fact impressionable souls will do so without fail. This monthly column focuses on the film industry’s willingness to capitalize on this truth, releasing one-sheets to serve as not representations of what audiences are to expect, but as propaganda to fill seats. Oftentimes they fail miserably. Summer is here! Well, at least the summer we hoped to have when the sun was still shining out my window. Yes, the requisite Oscar bait arrives with a few…

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INTERVIEW: Adam Brody, star of Some Girl(s)

Best known as geeky Seth Cohen on “The O.C.”, Adam Brody has become a familiar comedic face in Hollywood over the past decade. With a recent turn in Whit Stillman‘s Damsels in Distress and now this Neil LaBute adaptation from his own play Some Girl(s), however, he’s beginning to branch out towards scripts and filmmakers with more palpable weight. It’s a welcome evolution that I believe he’s embraced and excelled at. Taking the time to talk to us—and being nice enough to call back after his first attempts came while…

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REVIEW: Dans la maison [In the House] [2012]

“What’s a perfect family’s house like?” What happens inside one’s home is sacred. Your skeletons are exposed, carefully manufactured façades rest for the night, and pent up frustrations boil to the surface in a cathartic outburst of unchecked emotion and fatigued spirit. This is why voyeurism has such a psychologically sensual appeal in its incomparable way of satisfying one’s desires, fantasies, and curiosity. When our lives hit a rut of dull monotony we find ourselves searching for outside entertainment—through books, movies, videogames, hobbies, or that unavoidable satisfaction of stumbling upon…

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INTERVIEW: Nacho Vigalondo, writer/director of Extraterrestrial

After finding great international success with his debut feature film Timecrimes in 2007, writer/director Nacho Vigalondo performed a bit of a 180 for his sophomore effort. Coming to the Toronto International Film Festival last year with a romantic comedy set to the backdrop of an alien invasion, his Extraterrestrial showed he would not be pigeonholed to dark thrillers with twists a la M. Night Shyamalan. It’s a move that showed his versatility and creative story-telling approach—two things that must have appealed to Hollywood with him now attached to direct an…

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REVIEW: This Means War [2012]

“Why is she listening to that old man?” It’s really too bad that Timothy Dowling, Marcus Gautesen, and Simon Kinberg decided their script for This Means War needed to include romance. I don’t know if they were trying to create the ever-elusive film men and women can enjoy equally, but throw Chris Pine and Tom Hardy in the CIA hit squad thread for the full 97 minutes and this could be a great flick. The problem McG has that James Mangold didn’t with his highly enjoyable romp Knight and Day…

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REVIEW: Horrible Bosses [2011]

“How you like ‘dem nipples?” I had such high hopes. Between Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day being the leads, Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, and Jennifer Aniston the supporters, and Jamie Foxx as the comedy’s comic relief, how could it have gone wrong? It must have been the writing, right? The trio tasked to tackle this tale of men trapped in jobs with the worst bosses possible, who hatch a plan to murder them all, ended up falling prey to the easy desire of catering the characters to the…

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REVIEW: My Dad is 100 Years Old [2005]

“Like is not the measure of right” I have caught the Guy Maddin bug. And it is all My Dad is 100 Years Old’s fault. Is Isabella Rossellini’s love letter to her father overdone, pretentious, and unnecessary? Probably yes on all counts, however, none of that detracts from the achievement it also creates. Why film an interview, static and uninteresting, when you can hire an auteur to use his eye and add a flair for the dramatic? Cinema is about drawing the viewer in, right—to cause the audience to think,…

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