REVIEW: Blue Velvet [1986]

“Now it’s dark” After finding critical and commercial success with The Elephant Man—earning his first Oscar nominations for directing and screenplay—David Lynch became bankable enough to mount what would end up a large-scale disaster in Dune. Whereas many would probably count the latter as a failure across the board, the truth is that the sci-fi epic is much more attuned to the auteur’s sensibilities. Anyone who had seen his debut feature Eraserhead in all its strange surrealistic glory would concur, but by that time there were surely not many (and…

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REVIEW: Joy [2015]

“No, I don’t need a prince” There’s a reason you don’t hear “Mangano” throughout David O. Russell‘s supposed biography of Miracle Mop inventor Joy Mangano and it’s because Joy isn’t real. Whether original scribe Annie Mumolo intended this aesthetic—she reportedly fought tooth and nail to retain her credit—or Russell retooled its tone, what could have been an empowering rags-to-riches drama proves a hyper-stylized comic fairy tale instead. So when Joy’s (Jennifer Lawrence) attending a professional business meeting introducing herself to people she hopes will take a chance on her ideas,…

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TIFF15 REVIEW: Closet Monster [2016]

“Don’t be a wimp” Writer/director Stephen Dunn‘s feature debut Closet Monster cares little about convention to tell the story of Oscar Madly (Connor Jessup) growing up with a psychological revulsion to his sexual urges all thanks to an extremely disturbing event witnessed as a child. This prologue glimpse at his youth (played by Jack Fulton) is a mash-up of tough coming-of-age-dramatics and a dark-edged imaginative whimsy that intrigues to draw you closer. It will be divisive with an idyllic world’s caring father (Aaron Abrams‘ Peter) “pushing” dreams into his son’s…

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REVIEW: Enemy [2014]

“Chaos is order yet undeciphered” When you read a synopsis for the late Nobel Prize-winning author José Saramago’s The Double you’ll find a very straightforward tale of doppelgangers. There’s the alpha, the pushover, and the innocent victims caught between; the insanity of seeing an exact replica in the flesh paired with the infinite possibilities such a discovery could mean. One is married; one has a girlfriend. The latter injects himself into the former’s world through curiosity, the first into the second’s purely for unfounded revenge and sexual desire. They exist…

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REVIEW: Keyhole [2012]

“I’m returning what was lost” Like the crackled overlay of two radio stations playing from a dial meticulously tuned equidistantly between them, Guy Maddin‘s haunting Keyhole concurrently projects the tenuous holds of reality, dream, and afterlife onto its fixed environment inside the Picks’ residence. Apparently the return of the household’s patriarch after an extended absence, we watch as the shadows, walls, and objects within stir up ingrained memories he had otherwise forgotten. But as this stranger shakes the cloud of erased time, the tale shifts to take the form of…

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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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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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