Wylie Writes at Toronto After Dark ’14: Wyrmwood and Foxed!

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By: Addison Wylie

Wyrmwood charges through our senses.  It’s easily the scariest, most affective zombie flick audiences will have seen as of late.

Kiah Roache-Turner uses a dangerous form of filmmaking that is rarely seen in modern cinema.  Mostly due to the fact that it’s an insane style that could go belly-up if the audience isn’t ready for its shocking invasiveness.

Roache-Turner throws movie goers in the centre of the intense life-or-death face-offs.  He positions the camera incredibly close to his actors to emphasize the claustrophobic nature of the featured apocalypse to highlight that a means to escape is slim.  Not many daredevils are able to get away with this “in-your-face” type of filmmaking, but Roache-Turner knows how to appropriately supply the right context.  The end product looks like the spawn of Dawn of the Dead and Crank. Continue reading

White Bird in a Blizzard

By: Addison WylieWBIABposter

White Bird in a Blizzard hits you with a wallop pivotal enough to make you concussed.  You walk away having appreciated Gregg Araki’s latest film, but it doesn’t entirely settle well, and its difficult to come up with reasonings as to why.

Now thinking of it though, the Araki films I’ve caught (Mysterious Skin and Smiley Face) have had the same effect.  Mysterious Skin is a distraught story of a troubled teenage hustler with a sensitive soul, but lacked caution when meeting up with Johns.  Smiley Face is about a blitzed-out chick who’s only goal is to get to the beach.  I like both of those movies and they’re incredibly different in tone, but their unique artistic approach is why they stuck with me.  With both of these examples, this particular filmmaker has shown audiences that he has talent with serious stories and shallow dreams.

White Bird in a Blizzard is an attempt to bring Araki’s rawness into his fever dreams.  The going gets tough with scenes that bounce from authentic family turmoil to live action dioramas, but somewhere within the film’s second act, Araki finds his groove. Continue reading

Wylie Writes at Toronto After Dark ’14: Refuge

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By: Addison Wylie

A dangerous plague has wiped out most of humanity within wide proximity of Refuge’s main family.  The secluded family has stowed themselves away in their crumbling abode as life around them breaks down and dawns a bleak future.

Refuge isn’t a film where the infected are on the hunt for the living.  Andrew Robertson’s slow burn is a study of survival as the human race turns on each other.  Unkempt gangs roam the vacantness in search of goods, and take out whoever may be in their way.  In a new world with no consequences, who needs morals, right?

If you’re reading this break down of the film, lost interest, and started thinking about your errands you have do today, you’re forgiven.  I don’t blame you!  Robertson’s Refuge is a derivative dystopian invasion flick with plain villains and an interchangeable group of good guys.  It’s easy to lose track of the film once you’ve seen it due to the fact that Refuge offers nothing new. Continue reading

Born To Fly: Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity

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By: Gesilayefa Azorbo

Born to Fly: Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity is a comprehensive portrait of a controversial figure in the dance world and beyond.

Director Catherine Gund has created an in-depth exploration of the principles and people behind a unique dance ideology, pop action, which was created and developed by dancer and choreographer Elizabeth Streb beginning in the 1980s in New York City.  Streb is the founder of Streb Extreme Action Company, a dance troupe that performs exhilarating, gravity defying stunts, working out of a former industrial building in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Through a series of fascinating interviews with the charismatic, perennially black-clad choreographer and her eclectic mix of dancers, as well as archival footage from the early days of her practice, you begin to get a sense of what pop action essentially means to them. Continue reading

Listen Up Philip

By: Addison WylieLUPposter

Alex Ross Perry’s Listen Up Philip is decently crafted by biting dialogue and watchable performances.  However, I’m unsure what audiences are supposed to “get” out of the film.

Perry certainly pulls us in with an atmosphere reminiscent of films made during the 70′s.  He has the correct details lined within his style, as well as the rebellious glimmers in his filmmaking.  However, once we’re invested and get on board with the film’s pithy tone, we have fun for a bit but that interest slowly dissipates and focuses on tinier elements in the background.  They story is no longer worth listening to, but we notice the nice costuming.

You either despise someone like Philip Lewis Friedman, or find him entertaining in a schadenfreuden sort of way.  He’s an eccentric fellow who finds exhilaration in being cruel.  Jason Schwartzman admirably plays Friedman as an unlikable stooge with a purposeful lack of empathy.  Partly because he knows his character is trying to be fascinating in order to gain respect from his idol, author Ike Zimmerman (played by Jonathan Pryce). Continue reading

Mall

By: Addison WylieMallPoster

I don’t know a heck of a lot about Linkin Park turntablist Joseph Hahn.  His feature film debut Mall could provide some insight;  although I hope I’m mistaken.

Hahn could’ve been that someone who grew up resenting authority.  His teenage peers could’ve been burn outs and pot heads who had no aspirations.  Meanwhile, his own observations bloomed into cynical opinions about the culture around him.  To him, he might’ve been the smartest guy in the room drowning in a sea of bong water.

Of course, I’m telling tales out of school.  But, how else am I supposed to interpret Mall?  Hahn set out to make a semi-serious flick about crumbling personalities who use the local shopping centre to project their own weaknesses and maybe relate to others bumming around.  Instead, he’s made a holy spill of a film.  The only thing that’s focused in Mall is the camera, and even that statement is pushing it. Continue reading

Wylie Writes at Toronto After Dark ’14: ABCs of Death 2

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By: Addison Wylie

With recent horror anthologies, it seems as though the first instalment serves as an extreme experimental period.  There’s a foreboding feeling of failure when making a project that draws in different visions from all over a filmmaking pallet, but horror nuts who are true to their craft will let their audacious attitudes plow through anything resembling an obstacle.

This was a clear example for the V/H/S series – an easy comparison to the ABCs of Death films.  V/H/S had problems stringing together its short films, and figuring out ways to skip redundant exposition.  The creators received the feedback, ironed out their format, and along came the much more successful and scary V/H/S/2.

The ABCs of Death was a swift scattershot flick and a real mixed bag.  For every home run, there would be a tasteless mess to counter it.  It lacked a producer’s voice of reason to sort out the crudities, but this also allowed filmmakers to let their imaginations run wild.  The anthology was neither good or bad.  It was an interesting experiment that had brighter prospects if a sequel came along. Continue reading

Eternity: The Movie

By: Addison WylieEternityTheMovieposter

Not everything in Eternity: The Movie works.  However, filmmaker Ian Thorpe shows audiences that clean comedy leads to the best kind of laughs with this lo-fi send-up to the 1980′s.

Barrett Crake plays Todd Lucas, because – I suppose – Jon Heder had a busy schedule.  Lucas is new to the Californian lifestyle.  Instead of one-night stands with bodacious babes, he wishes to escape the business and get to know a girl by sparking conversations.  He’s weepy when someone dumps him, and he’s sensitive to a point where crying doves would roll their eyes.

Myko Olivier plays B.J. Fairchild, because – I suppose – the film couldn’t afford Paul Rudd.  Fairchild isn’t rude or crude, but he’s all for free love.  When he’s not blaring TV theme songs on his saxophone, he’s trying to score.  While the opposite sex doesn’t find him threatening or intimidating, they would rather steer clear of his dorky hormones altogether. Continue reading

Wylie Writes at Toronto After Dark ’14: Time Lapse

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By: Addison Wylie

The manipulation of time can lend itself to enticing stories and conflicted characters.  Time Lapse would’ve delivered on both of those, but filmmaker Bradley King’s melodramatic presentation robs the audience of anything intriguing.

Time Lapse wisely keeps its narrative between three leads.  Those roles are filled out by Matt O’Leary, Danielle Panabaker, and George Finn who all appear and act as if their characters should be a few years older.  Those close-knit friends stumble upon a machine that provides a special photograph every day.  It’s a look into the future. Continue reading

Wylie Writes at Toronto After Dark ’14: Wolves

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By: Addison Wylie

It’s funny to see Entertainment One attached to Wolves.  It almost acts as an apology to werewolf fanatics who may have been bothered by the studio’s Twilight series.

Even though Wolves wipes our memories of Taylor Lautner and his chiseled abs sprinting through the woods, David Hayter’s toothy flick isn’t anything too special.  It’s a serviceable film with pop-up gems.

Cayden is at that usual stage a young man hits in his teens: he’s misunderstood and has the urge to transform into a wolf when provoked.  When an incident during a football game and an accident at home send him into a confused state, Cayden hits the road and becomes a drifter.  Soon, he’s befriended by an unusual barfly named Wild Joe (played by John Pyper-Ferguson) and told to head to Lupine Ridge for answers regarding his killer condition. Continue reading