REVIEW: Welcome to Happiness [2016]

“But then …” When you think of short stories like W.W. Jacobs‘ “The Monkey’s Paw” or Richard Matheson‘s “Button, Button” (adapted to the small screen for “The Twilight Zone” and big for Richard Kelly‘s underrated The Box), dark images of death are conjured. The consequences of earning personal reward come at great cost to those you may or may not know. They concern selfish acts that will incite chaos and a purveyor of their too-good-to-be-true opportunities who relishes in watching the destructive path cut by fate’s unyielding need to balance…

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REVIEW: Fear and Desire [1953]

“Rafts always float” I love that legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick began his career with a dud so misguided he was rumored to have tried to destroy every print in existence. In his words it was a “bumbling amateur film exercise” and he’s not wrong. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering he was a twenty-five year old recently quit photographer from Look magazine with two short films under his belt. Unlike Quentin Tarantino‘s My Best Friend’s Birthday, however, Fear and Desire wasn’t some movie made on a whim. Kubrick…

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TIFF13 REVIEW: 2013 Short Cuts Canada Programmes

Programme 1 A far cry from the documentary short Joda—a visual letter to Jafar Panahi—that was included in the TIFF Short Cuts Canada Programme last year, graphic designer turned filmmaker Theodore Ushev’s Gloria Victoria is all about the visceral and aural capabilities of film without something as unnecessary as words. Full of sumptuous textured layers formed by sketch drawings, Russian Constructivist elements, what I believe were faces from Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, and more, the rising crescendo of Shostakovich’s “Invasion” from Symphony No. 7 helps spur on an emotive war in…

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REVIEW: Bad Teacher [2011]

“Peanut Butter everywhere …” I wasn’t the biggest fan when it was called Bad Santa and took place in a department store, so, suffice it to say, Bad Teacher’s foul-mouthed comedy never quite hit home. Scribed by writers from “The Office” and, what is sadly much lower on my anticipation list now, Ghostbusters III, Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg have one thing going for them—laughs. If it weren’t for a healthy amount of laugh-out-loud instances, the void of any engaging conflict coupled with the broadest performances I’ve seen in quite…

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BNFF11 REVIEW: Zombie Bankers [2011]

“Welcome to America, prick” And now comes the kind of review I hate to write. Being as independent oriented as the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival is, you will have to see some local productions if you plan on taking on a large portion of the schedule. What happens, though, is that oftentimes the amateur work shown in this category just doesn’t come close to the production, budget, or talent of its more polished brethren. I know how much hard work went into the horror comedy Zombie Bankers and I applaud…

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REVIEW: The Box [2009]

“You have blood on your hands” Does anyone not push the button? What can I say about Richard Kelly’s supposed turn to mainstream cinema? Three things, and they are as follows: One, the marketing for The Box has to be some of the worst in the history of film. Warner Brothers is selling a completely different movie than what is shown on screen. This isn’t a thriller against the clock for a yuppie couple; it’s a fight for the salvation of the human race. Hell, it takes place in 1976…

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REVIEW: Twilight [2008]

“I don’t have the strength to stay away from you anymore” It’s a case of which came first for me—Twilight or The Southern Vampire Mysteries? After watching the film Twilight I couldn’t help but think about the stellar HBO drama series based on the latter. For some reason, vampires are making a huge comeback and while the youngsters can’t watch the swearing and nudity featured with Sookie Stackhouse, they can swoon over Edward Cullen and wish to be Bella Swan. And unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately in a purely entertaining, surreal…

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REVIEW: The Happening [2008]

“Cheese and crackers” Ah, M. Night Shyamalan. The man who was overrated until I saw the masterpiece that was The Village, followed up by the beautiful fairy-tale Lady in the Water, vaulting him into my must-see echelon, no matter what preconceptions I have based on trailers or word-of-mouth. Well, my blind faith has somewhat let me down in this instance. No, it wasn’t the left wing agenda that is subtly prevalent throughout, nor the blatant “news brief” used to shove said agenda down our throats at the end. What happened…

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