Point and Shoot


By: Gesilayefa Azorbo

The first question Point and Shoot director Marshall Curry asks his subject off-camera is, “So how did a guy from Baltimore end up fighting in the Libyan revolution?”  This is likely the question on the minds of every audience member who sits down to watch this film. And, it’s this question that the film itself repeatedly returns to examine through a mix of personal interviews and exposition via first-person video footage shot over the years by Curry’s subject, Matthew VanDyke.

The film begins with VanDyke standing in front of a plain white wall, demonstrating the virtues of the various knives he carries on his person, as well as an armoured flak jacket in desert camouflage colours.  It almost looks like a training video for would-be mercenaries, until he begins to talk about the camera mount on his motorcycle helmet.

The film cuts away from that clip to a scene in a Baltimore home.  A novice VanDyke – with a shorter haircut and in very different clothes – is about to tell his incredible story. Continue reading

Dumb and Dumber To

By: Addison WylieDumb and Dumber To poster

Misunderstandings are a common thread in movies directed by the Farrelly Brothers.  With Dumb and Dumber To, misunderstandings have exceeded past plot and the dimwitted characters.

Since Dumb and Dumber To has the filmmakers returning to the past, let’s take a look at their flawed filmography.

The 90′s were very kind towards the brothers with Dumb and Dumber, KIngpin, and There’s Something About Mary scoring mightily with audiences.  In 2003, matters started taking a shaky turn with the conjoined twin comedy Stuck on You and finally hitting rough turbulence with The Heartbreak Kid in 2007.  They were too distracted with trying to recapture lightning in a bottle that it took a toll on their comedic timing and delivery.  They redeemed themselves somewhat with Hall Pass and The Three Stooges, but it was Peter Farrelly who spewed bad taste with the star-studded whatchamacallit Movie 43.  Bobby was wise to keep his distance from that one. Continue reading


By: Addison WylieMaleficentPoster

“I think I liked that movie…”

As soon as Maleficent’s credits rolled, those were the lukewarm words that scrolled across my brain like a news ticker reporting a traffic jam at three in the morning.  Robert Stromberg’s reimagining of one of Disney’s villains had me entertained and interested throughout.  But, do modern day revisions have to be this heavy?  This is more of a question directed towards Disney and screenwriter Linda Woolverton.

When Maleficent was making its rounds and pleasing audiences worldwide, Angelina Jolie – who plays the title role with transfixing fierceness – stated in an interview that one of the film’s first climactic beats has an underlining correlation to rape.

The next piece could be considered a spoiler, so proceed with caution.  Although, it’s a plot point that occurs early into the story and evokes Maleficent to further this tale of betrayal. Continue reading

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

By: Addison WylieSpider Man 2 poster

Anyone can review The Amazing Spider-Man 2.  It’s a popular property that accumulates truckloads of moolah, merchandise, and movie goers.  It’s an easy film to seek out and watch, and afterwards, the consensus is measured on whether that audience was thrilled enough.  Marc Webb’s sequel is popcorn entertainment that either comes through or doesn’t.  There’s no middle ground.

Instead of using this space to write about how much I was thrilled during The Amazing Spider-Man 2, I’m going to use this opportunity as a plea to Sony Pictures – the studio behind this Marvel yarn.  Or, at least, the seven producers behind this rebooted series.

Whether the movies have quality to them or not, Sony Pictures is confident with most of its filmography.  Just look at how much good will they shell out towards Happy Madison.  However, the web slinging superhero is that one character that has the suits shaking in their boots.  Producers and screenwriters become hesitant when further developing Spider-Man, and waffling opinions have the tendency to make these movies uneven. Continue reading

Palo Alto

By: Addison WyliePalo Alto poster

It’s dangerous for a film like Palo Alto to have a character openly confess that movies nowadays are pointless.  You expect that character to look straight into the camera and sigh.

I was left sighing while I watched Gia Coppola’s feature film debut.  I was also skeptically furrowing my eyebrows and skewing expressions in my stupor.  Palo Alto could easily be resold as a workout video for voice actors.

Coppola has taken stories written by actor James Franco and worked them into a halfhearted, disjointed movie.  In reality, instead of crossbreeding all these slices of life, Palo Alto should’ve taken the route The Rules of Attraction travels in its first ten minutes.  Each story should’ve been given its own time to shine, but Coppola refuses to allow her film to be an anthology piece, and would rather pitch all these stories as a blanketed coming-of-age tale set in senior high. Continue reading

It’s Good to Be the King: Blazing Saddles

Blazing Saddles (1974) Directed by Mel Brooks Shown: Cleavon Little (as Bart)

By: Addison Wylie

This November and December, TIFF pays tribute to one of comedy’s most influential talents.  Mel Brooks: It’s Good to Be the King gives movie goers the chance to relive Brooks’ hilarious masterpieces through pristine prints.

TIFF kicks off the retrospective on November 15 with screenings of The Producers (5:00 p.m. at the TIFF Bell Lightbox) and Young Frankenstein (7:30 p.m. at the TIFF Bell Lightbox).  However, I’m going to focus on the politically incorrect Western spoof Blazing Saddles, which screens the next day.

I first watched Blazing Saddles at an age where I understood the broad humour, but didn’t really click with Brooks’ farcical toying with Western tropes.  I ended up owning Blazing Saddles during my days working at a video store, but I never got around to giving it that second go. Continue reading

Emptying the Skies


By: Addison Wylie

Emptying the Skies finds itself in a scenario where the message is greater than the film its wrapped up in.

Douglas and Roger Kass have strewn together interviews and clips from conspicuous raids and tense confrontations to make an eye-opening film chronicling the ever-growing problem of bird poaching in southern Europe.  The kindheartedness and tenacity of CABS (which stands for: Committee Against Bird Slaughter) is seen throughout, and their hearts remain open and on their sleeve.  Many would mark the brigade’s fearlessness as extraordinary, while some would label their hands-on approach to stopping poachers to be impassioned but immature.

The seen willpower of CABS is what keeps Emptying the Skies interesting.  Without their dominance covering the issue, the filmmakers would’ve had an even harder time controlling their project.  Movie goers would just be left with one-on-ones with journalist Jonathan Franzen, who’s essay inspired this film.  For some reason though, Franzen wants to impress us with his answers and his sentiment towards his aviary friends.  He comes off as one of those strange fellas you’d find Eugene Levy playing in a Christopher Guest movie. Continue reading

The Better Angels

By: Addison WylieTheBetterAngelsposter

Terrence Malick is a filmmaker who marches to the beat of his own drum.  His unorthodox work has made audiences ponder, and his unique direction and screenwriting has challenged the actors he’s worked with.  He’s certainly a one-of-a-kind with a sixth sense for beauty.

I imagine collaborating under his mentorship would provide an artful view of how to express yourself using poetic language and imagery.  However, the point of being a protege is for that specific apprentice to draw influences from their admired hero, and use those new skills to find their own individual voice.  A.J. Edwards was that collaborator and that hero was Malick.  And, although his directorial debut packs all the serenity of Malick, Edwards’ film is strictly – and sadly – all surface.

The Better Angels looks and sounds the part, but everything is almost too uncanny.  Instead of Edwards breaking out of his own shell, his final product is a loose copycat of Malick’s abstract storytelling and hovering camerawork. Continue reading


By: Addison WyliePropaganda poster

I began watching Propganda not knowing of its satirical backbone, and my head nearly exploded.  I’m glad I stopped the film to get caught up on Slavko Martinov’s faux-doc for it may have rendered me utterly speechless.  My regret after reading the press release was turning the film back on to finish it.

It takes a lunatic to make a “movie” as blunt, sarcastic, and grim as this one.  That madman is Martinov, who shall not be stopped, censored, or smothered in order to make an ironic jab.  Although his involvement with Propaganda was intentionally disguised for a year as many were fooled by the film’s packaging.

Propaganda’s curtness is supposed to add to the film’s premise (a truthful perspective on Western civilization fed to North Koreans), but you can’t help but notice the New Zealand filmmaker’s frustrations towards North American’s consumerism and the numbness felt by Western leaders towards war and the casualties that follow.  It’s a little too aggresive.  If you watch South Park, it’s kind of like watching an episode of the cartoon and realizing how irked Trey Parker and Matt Stone really are towards modern stupidity. Continue reading

Gone Girl

By: Addison WylieGone Girl poster

David Fincher is a masterful filmmaker, but he’s even better at spinning a web of mystery and suspense.  Numerous films in his catalogue deal with puzzling content, and not once have I seen him drop the ball.

He’s also a fantastic handler of, shall we say, hidden motivations.  Gone Girl is an extremely difficult film to delve into without giving away too much – bear with me.

There are people in Fincher’s film that aren’t whom they say they are.  They’ve been triggered by years of contempt by their significant other despite others seeing their relationship as pristine and romantic.  Finally, they’ve let their pent up emotion burst with a big bang, followed by meticulous planning to cover their gutless personality. Continue reading