Movies

Review: ‘Joker’ is a joke without a punchline

Posted by Matthew on October 05, 2019
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Joker

Let’s get this out of the way: I did not like this movie. Todd Phillips has made a movie about a horribly abused man who lives in a world full of assholes and who also has mental health issues and who also has a condition who also has some terrible impulses and through the course of the movie starts acting on those impulses, and places the blame literally everywhere but on him, but doesn’t really make a compelling argument about any of these ideas.

Joker is an essay without a thesis or a joke without a punchline. There’s a lot going on but no actual payoff. I couldn’t tell you who Joker is actually for, but I worry that one of the worst crowds on the internet is going to hold it up as inspirational.

In a word: yikes.

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Awesome News: Jordan Peele is making more movies, Martin Scorsese has opinions about movies, Tom Holland maybe saved a movie​, and more.

Posted by Matthew on October 05, 2019
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Kenneth Branagh as Poirot

There wasn’t a ton of news I found totally interesting this week but Jordan Peele making more movies and Martin Scorsese having opinions about movies are certainly interesting tidbits. Let’s take a look.

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VIFF Review: ‘The Whistlers’ convoluted plot keeps it from engaging.

Posted by Matthew on October 04, 2019
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The Whistlers / VIFF 2019

Cristi (Vlad Ivanov) is a cop. You won’t know that immediately, but you’ll know it soon enough. He’s not a good cop, in fact, he’s as dirty as they come. He’s arrived on La Gomera, one of the Canary Islands, to learn an aboriginal whistling language in order to communicate right under the noses of the Romanian police.

I’m not going to go into the actual plot here because as a slick neo-noir film the plot has so many twists and turns that telling you anything might be giving something away. Suffice to say that there is Christi and there is a femme fatale (Catrinel Marlon as Gilda) and there is a whole slew of bad people on either side of the law.

There’s just one problem: It’s kind of boring.

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VIFF Review: ‘Koko-di Koko-da’ is stuck in a time loop with self-loathing

Posted by Matthew on October 04, 2019
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Koko-di Koko-Da // VIFF 2019

One moment. It only takes one moment to shatter a person. Everyone has a different breaking point, but we all surely have one. For Tobias and Elin, theirs came whilst on a family holiday, during a routine meal for three with their daughter. It’s Elin who gets sick, swelling up and turning red and eventually the reason they are airlifted to a nearby hospital. They stay the night and wake up early to sing happy birthday only to be devastated to find their daughter has passed in the night.

To say this is a gut-punch would be an understatement. The film jumps three years ahead to the couple on their way to a camping trip. A few days away from their lives but isolated together with their mutual grief and self-loathing.

What follows is a surreal misadventure, one that leans heavily into metaphor and is —to put it mildly— difficult to watch. As they wake up in the morning they are accosted by three individuals (a woman with a hunting dog, a unibrowed brute carrying a dead dog, and an old-timey carnival barker) who proceed to humiliate and murder them. And then it happens again. And again. And again.

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VIFF Review: ‘The Realm’ is a fast-paced​ and satisfying political thriller

Posted by Matthew on October 03, 2019
Movies, Reviews / 1 Comment
The Realm / VIFF 2019

The opening scene of The Realm follows Manuel (Antonio de la Torre) from a quiet beach, through a noisy kitchen, and to a table full of friends enjoying wine and seafood. There is laughter and toasting and inside jokes, and a great time being had by all. It’s a joyous scene but these men and women are no mere friends, they are all government officials and their good time comes at the expense of t​he people they have been elected to represent.

This is the world of The Realm, one in which it seems that nearly all government officials are corrupt to some extent and Manuel –our hero– is perhaps the worst of them. He has been living the high life for the last fifteen years off bribes, kickbacks, and graft, but when some of said graft comes to light his political party ousts him.

That’s a hell of a setup for a story but does the movie equal the potential? Yes, it mostly does.

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Poster Gallery: An Ice Queen, A King’s Man, A Laundry Service, A Clown, A Whodunnit, and a whole mess of survivors

Posted by Matthew on October 03, 2019
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So many new movie posters! There’s a new Disney Animated film, a new prequel in a fun franchise, a whole slew of character posters for a zombie movie, and a great poster for an upcoming war movie. Can you dig it? Let’s dive right in.

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Trailer Roundup: Jesse Pinkman is Back, Elsa is Back, Nic Cage is Back, Godzilla is Back, The Kingsmen are back, and Martin Scorsese is Back (with Robert De Niro, to boot)

Posted by Matthew on October 01, 2019
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MPAA Green Band

This week we take a look at Frozen 2, American Son, Uncut Gems, El Camino, Dollface, Sweetheart, Primal, Wounds, Criterion #1000, Godzilla: The Complete Shōwa Era Films, The King’s Man, and Martin Scorsese’s latest The Irishman.

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VIFF Review: ‘The Lighthouse’ is on a journey into madness and it’s taking you with it

Posted by Matthew on September 29, 2019
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The Lighthouse / VIFF 2019

Robert Eggers has made two movies now. Both with predominantly natural light, both with a confident eye and camera, and period set using actual dialogue from sources contemporary to said setting.

The man has a style, is what I’m saying. But whereas The Witch was a good old fashioned horror movie about a family terrorized by their own inadequacies and also a witch, The Lighthouse is something different altogether. It’s a chronicle of two men descending into madness, tortured by their utter solitude but also each other’s persistent company.

It’s tense, it’s absurd, it features two powerhouse performances, it’s overwhelming, and it’s an absolute must-see.

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VIFF Review: ‘Who You Think I Am’, in which Juliette Binoche dazzles

Posted by Matthew on September 28, 2019
Movies, Reviews / 1 Comment
Who You Think I Am

Loneliness is a painful emotion. Whether you’re surrounded by people or not, the feeling that you are truly alone can cause even the most rational people to do all kinds of things. We are, after all, all human and subject to the whims of our emotions.

Enter Juliette Binoche as Claire, a 50ish publisher and professor and divorcée who is making her way unhappily through life. After she is spurned by Ludo –the younger man she has been seeing– when she suggests they spend some real time together she decides she would like to enact some revenge upon him. To that end she creates Clara, a gorgeous 24 year old avatar to bait Ludo with. After several glasses of wine and friend requests she receives a message, but it’s not Ludo she’s hooked, it’s his roommate Alex.

This is where things start to go a little sideways, and also where I am going to do my best to stop speaking about the plot as this one has many twists and turns and I don’t want to spoil any of them.

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Awesome News: Spider-Man is back in the MCU, Kevin Feige Takes to the Stars War, VIFF 2019 is in full effect, the return of the trifecta, and more!

Posted by Matthew on September 28, 2019
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Spider-Man

There really is a whole lot of news each week, isn’t there? This week has seem some pretty big bombs drop such as Kevin Feige working on a Star Wars, VIFF starting up, Jurassic World 3 casting news, Jason Bateman directing news, Phoebe Waller-Bridge gets a truck load of cash from Amazon news, Batman news, Wes Anderson news, and Spider-man is back in the MCU news. Let’s dive right in!

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VIFF Review: ‘Amare Amaro’, bitter love indeed

Posted by Matthew on September 27, 2019
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Amare Amano / VIFF 2019

Tragedy is defined as a form of drama, based on human suffering, that invokes an accompanying catharsis for the audience. A story in which the characters suffer, and no one ends up happy, and maybe we learn something along the way.

Amare Amaro is, very loosely, an adaptation of the Greek tragedy Antigone, in which the heroine attempts to secure a proper burial for one of her brothersin defiance of the king. Her brother was killed in battle, fighting for the wrong side, and fought to the mutual death against his own brother. This is not a happy story, in case the genre didn’t tip you off.

The updated story, in which Antigone is removed and one of the dead brothers is now the protagonist, has been transposed to modern times and results in a beautifully shot but melancholy picture about the lengths we’ll go to for the honour of the people we love.

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VIFF Review: ‘Babysplitters’ has some great moments but overstays its welcome

Posted by Matthew on September 26, 2019
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Babysplitters / VIFF

Having a baby is an overwhelming life change. I’m stating the obvious here, but it is the inciting idea behind the plot of Babysplitters, in which two couples who are divided on their intentions to have a child get together and decide that if the four of them have one baby together, then the burden might not be quite so life changing.

That right there is a pretty great setup for a comedy. There’s plenty of room for hi-jinx as the four people make the decisions that two normally would, as double the normal number of values and undisclosed religious backgrounds and other exiting biases and expectations clash together.

Add a great cast and you’ve have a hell of movie. Luckily, this movies has that too with Danny Pudi (Community) and Emily Chang in the lead roles. Together they enjoy an easy and sincere chemistry as a married couple at odds over whether to have a child (she wants one, he’s not so sure). Once they learn that their best friends (Maiara Walsh and Eddie Alfano) are in the same boat (but with the roles switched) the plot and hi-jinx ensue. But also it’s where the films problems begin.

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VIFF Review: ‘Assholes: A Theory’ is a disappointment

Posted by Matthew on September 25, 2019
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Assholes: A Theory / VIFF 2019

Everyone knows one. A friend or acquaintance you tolerate because a shared history or friend circle. He’s an asshole, but he’s your asshole. But why is he such an asshole?

Assholes: A Theory wants to explore the this segment of society. Why are people Assholes? How are they assholes? Can we distinguish different kinds of assholes? What kind of behaviour is asshole behaviour? What can we do about it?

A documentary with such a strong setup could be equal parts fascinating and hilarious. Unfortunately this is not that documentary, as while there are a few laughs and a few interesting examinations, the film peters out before it starts to hit the meat of the problem.

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Trailer Roundup: Secret Gardens, Dark Waters, Rhythm Sections, Multiple Paul Rudds, and more Knives Out

Posted by Matthew on September 24, 2019
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MPAA Green Band

Welcome to Trailer Tuesday folks. There’s a wide variety of film advertising to look at this week. Here are the new trailers for The Secret Garden, Dark Waters, The Rhythm Section, Living With Yourself, In The Tall Grass, Fractured, The Politician, and Knives Out.

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VIFF Review: “Ursula von Rydingsvard: Into Her Own” highlights a lifetime of art

Posted by Matthew on September 24, 2019
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Ursula von Rydingsvard: Into Her Own / VIFF 2019

Documentaries are a difficult thing. The amount of time spent with the subject and the amount of footage shot compared to what’s used in the finished product, are both monumental. One needs a compelling subject with a compelling story to tell, and those are not as easy to come by as many would probably assume.

Luckily, Ursula von Rydingsvard is a compelling subject. A woman at the forefront of the contemporary art scene creating massive sculptures of cedar wood, bronze, and copper, she has been a creative force since the 1970s. She felt a life long determination to be an artist, a drive recalled by everyone in the film from her brother to to her patrons, but with a runtime of only 57 minutes this film a little light on the details of the story of this drive.

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