REVIEW: Rebecca [2020]

I don’t believe in ghosts. Despite David O. Selznick‘s desire to keep his cinematic adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier‘s novel Rebecca as true to the source novel as possible and not alienate its built-in fan base, at least one change was unavoidable en route to passing Hollywood’s “Hayes Code.” Because it concerns a late-arriving revelation that would spoil things, I won’t say what it was. Just know that this seemingly small alteration on paper beneficially reverberates throughout the entirety of what Selznick and director Alfred Hitchcock put onscreen by allowing…

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REVIEW: Sightseers [2012]

It was an accident, Mum. It’s always the quiet ones—those introverted, socially inept (when not talking about their preferred topic of choice), and downtrodden souls rejecting their unjust position within a hierarchy outside of their control. They’re the ones who trade a lack of entitlement to do whatever they want for the festering entitlement of believing they’re more righteous than those who do exactly that. These are the civil servants who snap after being stepped on too many times; the selfless adult children of aging parents who are trapped by…

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TIFF16 REVIEW: Free Fire [2017]

“Talk about a fucking sledgehammer to crack a nut” TIFF’s Colin Geddes was correct when introducing Ben Wheatley‘s bottle episode of a film Free Fire with the words: “This will wake you up.” The gunfire alone risks perforating your eardrums as John Denver blares from a 1978-era van’s eight-track, but I think it’s the surprising wealth of comedy that ultimately gets the blood pumping and synapses triggering. Wheatley and wife/writer Amy Jump‘s latest isn’t for everyone—fair warning to Hardcore Henry detractors, Sharlto Copley refuses to quit—but those willing to break…

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FANTASIA16 REVIEW: Tank 432 [2016]

“Suck it in, remember your training, and get on with it” Director Ben Wheatley is showing his eye for talent by putting his name behind a guy who’s worked closely with him since 2011’s Kill List. A filmmaker in his own right, camera operator Nick Gillespie has stayed by Wheatley’s side on every subsequent project up to and including the forthcoming Free Fire. This time around it’s he who’s providing the claustrophobic thriller as writer and director of Tank 432 (formerly known as Belly of the Bulldog). It’s a doozy…

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TIFF15 REVIEW: High-Rise [2016]

“I think he’s lost his focus” As soon as the voice of Tom Hiddleston‘s Dr. Robert Laing was heard speaking narration above his weathered and crazed visage manically moving from cluttered, dirty room to darkened feverish corner, my mind started racing. Terry Gilliam‘s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas popped into my consciousness and then his Brazil after a quick title card shoves us back in time to watch as Laing enters his new concrete behemoth of a housing structure oppressively standing above a vast and still parking lot. Add…

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TIFF13 REVIEW: A Field in England [2013]

“Open up and let the devil in” A coward becomes a man. I guess this is the crux of Ben Wheatley’s newest thriller, A Field in England. We find Whitehead (Reece Shearsmith) hiding in the bushes while mortars explode around him during battle, weeping and praying to God to keep him hidden now that his mission to find an elusive old comrade seems all but futile and way too dangerous. He runs, meets a few other deserters in a mid-17th century English Civil War pitting the Parliamentarians against the Royalist…

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VIFF11 REVIEW: Kill List [2011]

“Was that twenty minutes?” Some films find a way to surprise, intrigue, and confound all at once, leading you down a rabbit hole that becomes bleaker with every step as it uncovers secrets you’re ill prepared to understand because the characters themselves are too. What starts off as though a psychological horror, burning slow to introduce a seemingly normal suburban family going through a rough patch with the British economy in recession soon turns into a bloody romp that is almost too serious in its actions. Between the over-the-top marital…

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