Anomalisa Review | VIFF 2015

Charlie Kaufman is one of America’s preeminent writers of existentialism and nearly all other forms of humanity. Anomalisa is another example of Kaufman’s look into the droll life of a man, but with his usual quirks and outlooks on love and infidelity added in. With this film being served to the audiences in Kaufman’s first use of animation, there is sure to be some worry among his fans on whether his style can be translated in a different visual medium. It’s safe to say that being lost in this droll, ugly world has never looked so beautiful. Continue reading

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Chevalier Review | VIFF 2015

Greek cinema has started a small, but powerful movement in film satire. As I mentioned in my review for The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos, and Chevalier director, Athina Rachel Tsangari, came into the arthouse scene by storm with the Oscar nominated Dogtooth, and Tsangari’s equally transgressive debut, Attenberg. Tsangari proved to be as big a talent as Lanthimos with her tale of sexuality and grief, ultimately gaining attention at the Venice Film Festival with a nomination for the Golden Lion. With Chevalier, Tsangari creates another story with sadness and reality, but doesn’t lose the humour that are found in the repertoire of the previous films in the Greek new wave, perhaps with even more laughs than before. Continue reading

Dheepan Review | VIFF 2015

Jacques Audiard has created visceral, yet deep films that stay with you. He first came to worldwide attention with the intense A Prophet – an effective and heart-wrenching film about the underworld of prison and it’s corruption on humanity. What was a stunning drama led to the melodramatic romance, Rust and Bone. While I didn’t find myself interested in a romance between a bare-knuckle boxer and a killer whale trainer, audiences ate it up and a large saving grace was the performances from Matthias Schoenaerts and Marion Cotillard. Now Audiard is back with his Palme D’or winning Dheepan – what might be his best film to date. Continue reading

The Assassin Review | VIFF 2015

I’m just gonna say it right here. I’m not well versed in either wuxia films or the filmography of Hou Hsiao-Hsien. Not that either set of films don’t interest me, but I’ve never really put in the time or effort. After The Assassin, I might understand why. I am all for pretentious movies (Upstream Color and Under the Skin are a couple of my favourite movies of the past couple years), but The Assassin focuses on a thin plot and even thinner characters in the hopes that you’ll be interested enough in the beauty of the filmmaking. And I was almost fooled too.

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The Lobster Review | VIFF 2015

With Dogtooth, Yorgos Lanthimos created a new wave of filmmaking that is still rarely seen from anywhere outside of Greek cinema. After an Oscar nomination for best foreign language film and another acclaimed film in the warped Alps, Lanthimos has crafted another dark comedy in his English language debut, The Lobster. Audiences familiar to his style will expect the deadpan sense of delivery and pitch-black humour from the director, but it is hard to understand and, in some cases, may be seen as impenetrable emotionally, but this strips The Lobster down to its essential message and tone. Anyone that is worried about the jump from Greek to English should be put at ease. Continue reading

Room Review | VIFF 2015

Room may come across as a divisive film. Brie Larson is incredibly talented and her role here as Ma or Joy Newsom is another piece of evidence to support that. Jack, as played by Vancouver native Jacob Tremblay, is an engrossing character and he is played to an extraordinary standard by the young actor. In fact, all facets of acting are near perfect. But this movie seems to exist as an actors showcase and that’s it.

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Louder Than Bombs Review | VIFF 2015

Have I witnessed the continuation of one of the world’s exciting new filmmakers? Joachim Trier’s directorial debut, Reprise, wasn’t exactly what I would call a stunner, but it received critical attention, as well as becoming Norway’s official foreign language entry to the Academy Awards. It wasn’t until Oslo, August 31st that I saw a filmmaker I wanted to keep an eye on. While a dour film, Oslo manages to be a devestatingly horrific portrait of drug addiction and the past. But you’d expect that from a film loosely based on The Fire Within. Continue reading