Wylie Writes @ TIFF Kids 2014: School of Babel


By: Addison Wylie

Following a recent trend of year-in-the-life-of-a-high-schooler documentaries, School of Babel marks the movement’s first forgettable entry.  It serves a purpose and the events in Julie Bertuccelli’s doc will undoubtably affect the featured students, but the impact on the audience is muted by vacant direction and a slow pace.

In Paris at La Grange-aux-Belles secondary school, a class of diverse teens learn the French language while inhabiting the new culture.  It’s always so refreshing to see a doc capture realness amongst a curious class.  Each student is different in their own ways and have traveled from different parts of the word, yet they have no problem conversing and listening to everyone’s views no matter how large the contrast is.

Bertuccelli got very lucky with this class of amiable kids.  They all have their own distinct voice that is heard openly throughout School of Babel, and they’re all a pleasure to watch.  Even though the doc isn’t particularly engaging, you grow attached to these students strictly because of how approachable everyone is. Continue reading

A Haunted House 2

By: Addison WylieAHH2Poster

Why do we have a sequel to last year’s poorly reviewed A Haunted House?  Well, some people – including me – thought the first outing was a dumb unadulterated comedy that was actually a really funny send-up to the recent trend of horror flicks involving possessions and the devil.  Because of the giggly reception and a profitable box office, director Michael Tiddes and partner-in-crime Marlon Wayans have decided to throw another spoof our way.

A Haunted House was crass and lowbrow with humour that was either physical, irreverent, or both.  It was also very stereotypical with exaggerated characters and language involving different races.  It wasn’t everyone’s cup o’ tea, that’s for sure.

It’s expected that A Haunted House 2 would follow through with a similar string of funnies.  It does and it’s still amusing, though this comedic chapter isn’t as strong as its predecessor.  Mostly because Tiddes and Wayans are still clueless as to when to end a joke. Continue reading

The Battery

By: Addison WylieTheBatteryposter

Jeremy Gardner’s slow burn horror The Battery has earned crowds of cheers reaching back to its early film festival days from genre movie goers.  Even though I wasn’t sold on this flabby flick, that’s great news for the filmmaker.  It’s a zombie movie that hardly shows you any of the walking dead.  That’s a tough sell!

You see limited amounts of zombies because Gardner wants to set his sights more on the dynamic between his two abandoned leads.  Ben and Mickey (played by Gardner and Adam Cronheim) are two former baseball players who have a hard time meshing with each other.  They run out each other’s patience and have mannerisms that act as pet peeves to one another.

However, as much as they are getting fed up with their company, they realize they need each other for survival.  They can usually find each other on the same wavelength during a game of catch or scavenging through this new post-apocalyptic life. Continue reading

Wylie Writes @ TIFF KIDS 2014: The House of Magic


By: Addison Wylie

The House of Magic is an abundantly likeable film, and will certainly be a memorable pick at this year’s TIFF Kids.  On the surface, the bouncy flick has all the ingredients for a smiling good time at the theatre.  There’s an adorable cat, whimsical magic, and stunning animation paired with incredible use of 3D technology.

It’s to be warned that Jérémie Degruson and Ben Stassen’s film isn’t all sunshine and rainbows for the first few scenes.  The House of Magic follows older Disney fodder by introducing furry feline Thunder to the audience in an unfortunate way.  He’s abandoned and unwanted by nearly everybody, which instantly has us vying to see some sort of affection towards him.

The film steps into its own circuit when The House of Magic puts the audience into the small-scale perspective from Thunder.  These point-of-view shots basically turns Degruson and Stassen’s movie into a video game, but The House of Magic doesn’t feel as gimmicky as you’d expect. Continue reading

The Nut Job

By: Addison Wyliethenutjobposter

I have a theory about animated films aimed towards children that are headlined by The Weinstein Company.  And, The Nut Job gives me more material to work with.

The Nut Job further solidifies my opinion that: the Weinsteins are severely out of touch with the youth of today, they think your children are dolts who will lap up anything animated, and they think you – the parent – are nothing more than a money tree who will have to shell out moolah in order to keep your kids happy.

It’ll sound like I’m being cynical on something that should be deemed as innocent child fare, but I’ve had enough. Continue reading

Journey to the West

By: Addison WylieJTTWposter

As times change, a filmmaker is faced with the potential to grow within their craft.  I haven’t seen or heard from writer/director Stephen Chow since 2004′s fantastically insane Kung Fu Hustle, so I suppose I forgot that he would have to face this fork-in-the-road in his career if he continued to make movies.

I see that advancement in his latest effort Journey to the West, but it’s not in the film’s tone.  He hasn’t lost his surge of childlike energy and imagination when putting together awing action and absurd characters.  This is still a film where masters in the martial arts punch someone to slowly and hilariously reveal that they’re a repugnant swine in disguise.

That growth is within the punchy characters and the film’s script.  Chow, co-director Derek Kwok, and a team of co-writers have strung together an adapted classic that brings philosophies and genuine perseverance into development while alternately forming a crazier version of Ghostbusters. Continue reading


By: Addison WylieAlgonquinPoster

For better or for worse, Algonquin is unpredictable.  What starts as Canada’s independent answer to last year’s Academy Award nominee Nebraska finds unique footing after a detour in its narrative.

I suppose any film related site listing the synopsis for Jonathan Hayes’ feature film debut would give away this major turn.  Because I certainly didn’t see it coming, I’ll back away from that specific spoiler.  It’s an example of how Hayes isn’t afraid of making a big move to progress his script in a direction that challenges his characters.  Especially when the pivotal crisis involves an absentee father and his bitter son.

Nicholas Campbell plays the distracted father Leif with a kind of charm that’s charismatic, funny, and understandably discouraging to anyone who’s been stiffed by him.  Jake (played by Mark Rendall) feels like one of these suckers after being abandoned by Leif at a young age and invited back into his life years later to help co-write a new book his Dad is cooking up.  Leif proposes that the book is written in Algonquin Park- where the Roulette family had a cabin. Continue reading

Wylie Writes @ TIFF KIDS 2014: The Numberlys


By: Addison Wylie

William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg return to TIFF Kids.  This time, they’re not here to make me blubber like a baby (see: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore).  The filmmakers are here to make me laugh and impress me with wit.

Based on an iTunes app also called The Numberlys, the short film features five employees who are fed up with creating the same boring numbers at their factory job.  One night after work, the builders stay behind to create a new hybrid series of symbols – the alphabet.

The Numberlys has been produced with a black-and-white template to represent how drab the conformity is.  The film is also presented in a very slim aspect ratio.  This either is supposed to represent how shallow their existence is, or to recreate the feel of playing an app.  Either way, people are going to like the look, or detest it. Continue reading

CrowdFUNding: James Evans’ DIY Shakespeare



By: Addison Wylie

I’ve always seen a bright future for actor James Evans.  James and I attended the same high school and we were fortunate to take part in a few stage productions together.  He’s  a really sharp and talented guy who – to my memory – does a spot-on Don Knotts.

Where James and I differ is with Shakespeare.  I’ve always had a difficult time grasping onto William Shakespeare’s writing.  Evans not only understands the work, but cherishes it and uses it to forward his aspirations.

The classic writing has inspired him to make DIY Shakespeare, a studio that is “dedicated to bringing key works of Shakespeare to the screen in a short film format”. Continue reading


By: Addison WylieOculusPoster

Mike Flanagan’s off-shoot elaboration of his short film Oculus: Chapter 3 – The Man with the Plan turns into a movie where things happen.  Things that aren’t really interesting or thrilling.  Just a lot of stuff that may or may not be real.  This is because Oculus is a horror film with no tension.

Oculus is a movie that makes me appreciate Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2.  It’s a sequel that unfairly gets frowned upon and shoved aside too easily.  Book of Shadows was about a group of hardcore fans of The Blair Witch Project who then ventured into the woods to get a taste of the spookiness.  Slowly, the woods become a puzzle and the troupe turns cuckoo on each other.

It’s a film that plays with the mind and proposes that a supernatural force can alter your perspective of reality without you knowing it.  Book of Shadows problematically runs its sense of paranoia into the ground, but if you go for the ride, you believe that an embroiling evil exists in the story.

Oculus takes similar scary subject matter and works it in reverse.  Flanagan lays all his cards on the table, and starts giving away too much too soon. Continue reading