REVIEW: Split [2017]

“In the sun we find our purpose” It doesn’t get better than The Village where M. Night Shyamalan is concerned. That film was a perfect confluence of his screenwriting and directing capabilities, a tale of love and protection through drastic measures as metaphor for the struggles of parenthood steeped in heavy emotion and guilt without regret. A marketing campaign billing it “horror” ruined any chance for success with audiences unwilling to look past the auteur’s penchant for twists. Its target demographic is perhaps still unaware of how much they’d enjoy…

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FANTASIA16 REVIEW: The Alchemist Cookbook [2016]

“This human form, which I was born, I now repent” I have no clue why Sean (Ty Hickson) messes with the titular book in Joel Potrykus‘ The Alchemist Cookbook. He doesn’t seem to care about money while living as a hermit inside a hidden trailer deep within the woods—bill collectors “no longer owning him”—so gold is out of the question. It might be for an elixir of immortality, his ritualistic incantations recalling satanic verse in search of dealing with a demonic presence that only pentagrams and dead animals hope to…

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REVIEW: The Visit [2015]

“Swerve” It’s no secret that M. Night Shyamalan needed a winner after a string of box office and commercial failures. Firmly in the minority saying The Village and Lady in the Water are his two best—the former is one of my all-time favorites—my idea of his failings doesn’t necessarily coincide with the movie-going public, but I was relishing the thought of seeing what the embattled artist could do with a stripped-down, found footage horror. With reviews seemingly positive and financials proving lucrative at ten times the budget and counting, it…

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REVIEW: 思い出のマーニー [Omoide no Mânî] [When Marnie Was There] [2014]

“I wish for a normal life everyday” If Studio Ghibli ends up closing shop as announced, we can be glad their final film is a winner with the heart and soul we’ve come to love from Hayao Miyazaki and the team. I’m surely in the minority, but I’d even say Hiromasa Yonebayaski‘s When Marnie Was There is better than last year’s Oscar nominee The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. While bringing the aesthetic back to the studio’s customary style a la Spirited Away does remove some of the awe Isao…

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TIFF12 REVIEW: 2012 Short Cuts Canada Programmes

Programme 1 “So a TV killed your father” What do you get when you mix the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the ancient metallurgical science of alchemy, and the namesake of inventor Philo Farnsworth? The answer is Connor Gaston‘s short film Bardo Light—titled for the bright glow none of us can avoid at the end of our lives. Told via the police interrogation of the younger Farnsworth (Shaan Rahman) after his adopted father (Bill Gaston) was found suffocated to death in their cabin, we quickly learn of successful experiments using…

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REVIEW: The Cabin in the Woods [2012]

“He has the husband bulge” After reading all the Twitter hoopla and angry comments about spoilers, I thought The Cabin in the Woods was going to have some amazing, unforeseen twist to do more than just bend genres like we all knew it would. I made sure to avoid all reviews and news, retaining my fresh, untainted mind that yearned to be excited, perplexed, and possibly even confused. And then the opening scene rendered any ideas of being kept in the dark moot as Sitterson (Richard Jenkins), Hadley (Bradley Whitford),…

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REVIEW: Κυνόδοντας [Dogtooth] [2009]

“Soon your mother will give birth to two children and a dog” Sometimes a film comes along that disarms you by its originality while completely disturbing you to the point where watching again may be too much to handle. The Greek Κυνόδοντας [Dogtooth] is just such a work. Co-writers Efthymis Filippou and Yorgos Lanthimos—who also directs—take us into the isolated world of a nameless family forsaking society for its own experimental existence. Beginning with a look at the three children living inside a fenced in estate whose borders hold dangers…

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REVIEW: The Last Airbender [2010]

“You stand alone; that was always your weakness” Ok, The Happening was a piece of crap. There’s no denying this fact, so get on with your lives and forget Marky Mark ever attempted to be a science teacher. Many think that wasn’t M. Night Shyamalan’s first misstep, though, people have fallen away from his work since The Village—a movie I am proud to call one of my all-time favorite cinematic artworks of style, tone, and emotion. Perhaps audiences got spoiled and pigeonholed the man into a spot he could never…

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REVIEW: The Cell [2000]

“Where do you come from?” After being enraptured by its trailer and what looked to be some nightmarishly stunning visuals, it has taken me ten years to finally see Tarsem Singh’s The Cell. Every time I had the desire to rent it, the words of so many around me saying not to waste the effort always killed the idea. But I am the kind of person who can love a movie strictly from its aesthetics, whether the story is coherent or just barely interesting. Having the same feelings after watching…

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The Most Anticipated Films of 2010

2010 looks to be a very intriguing year for the film world. A lot of big name directors are coming in with new work, hopefully continuing on their winning ways, while others are returning to perhaps erase some recent blunders and get back on track. There are two true sequels on the list, four depending on your definition, (and Harry Potter isn’t one since I’m not quite sure what to think, being only a Part I of a final chapter), a couple television shows getting big screen love, and a…

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REVIEW: Two Lovers [2009]

“You deserve to be loved” Leave it to Joaquin Phoenix to quit the business after giving his finest performance to date. The role of Leonard Kraditor in James Gray’s Two Lovers is an amazing turn from someone that has been usually relegated to the cool, confident leading man. Yes, I know, his portrayal of Johnny Cash had its moments of vulnerability, but the closest character I can compare this to would be Lucius Hunt from The Village, a shy, kind-hearted soul in love, yet unable to quite find his voice.…

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