The Last Impresario

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By: Addison Wylie

Gracie Otto’s The Last Impresario was a documentary I wanted to like. But, I simply had a hard time buying it.

I like her film’s subject, Michael White, and I’ve grown to like a lot of the projects he’s produced.  I admire his eye for originality, and how far he bent his back to make sure provocative artists were heard.  He took underdog productions like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Cambridge Circus, and Oh! Calcutta! and gave them outlets to introduce them to mainstream crowds.  The work sent paying patrons into a state of shock and awe, but everyone could agree they had seen nothing like it.

White had a sharp sense for projects that would have longevity – whether that was intentional or not.  The Rocky Horror Picture Show would go on to have a highly successful film adaptation that raked in over 100-million dollars at the US box office, and White’s contribution to Monty Python and the Holy Grail helped keep the oddball comedy afloat to cult status. Continue reading

Blood in the Snow ’14: Queen of Blood

Queen of Blood (DIR. Chris Alexander)

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By: Addison Wylie

Two years ago, Fangoria’s editor-in-chief Chris Alexander rocked the Blood in the Snow Film Festival with his filmmaking debut Blood For Irina.  He called it an “experience” and said the best way to view the film is by locking yourself in with it.  He was absolutely right.  His atmospheric silent film was a masterpiece and a sensory whirlwind; utilizing ominous music and smouldering cinematography to pull the movie goer into a dreamlike haze.  It still remains as one of my favourite moviegoing experiences.  There was nothing quite like it.

Alexander returns to the film festival with his follow-up Queen of Blood.  The film has the artist pulling off the same types of mesmerizing tricks (a painstaking crawling pace paired with frightening imagery and a masterful performance by Shauna Henry), but because of how loose the experimental narrative is this time around, Queen of Blood is a haphazard endeavour.

Irina returns and she’s hungry.  Or, thirsty.  Or, both.  She wanders the woods and when she finds someone to prey on, she locks on to them and drains them of their blood.  We watch Irina hunt and wander, and hunt and wander some more.  And, so on. Continue reading

Heartbeat

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By: Addison Wylie

Heartbeat is a nice party guest that’s too shy to say anything.  After a while, you’re a little annoyed that they haven’t involved themselves more.  And when they finally speak up, they fish for compliments in a coy manner but also try and convince you that they have low self esteem.  By the end of the night, cleaning up crushed red cups and mopping up spilled brew is more fun than trying to initiate a spark of interest with this particular person.

The film’s lead character, Justine, fits this bill as well, and we feel the same sort of frustration as we follow her around and wait for her inevitable enlightenment.  Justine (played by Tanya Davis) is a musician who is running low on gumption and courage.  She faints in front of a crowd of barflies when faced with an open mic, and she is always leaving her guitar at her on-again-off-again boyfriend’s place.

When faced with an off-beat lead, the audience has to have reason to care for their quirky personality.  Napoleon Dynamite and few offsprings like Eagle vs. Shark and Me and You and Everyone We Know have bent the rules, but those films were funny and oddly heartfelt.  Heartbeat is a Xerox of a photocopy of those three films, and Justine’s perkiness is just plain pesky. Continue reading

Blood in the Snow ’14: Serpent’s Lullaby & Berkshire County

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As movie goers prepare for the season’s holiday offerings, horror fans buckle up for a round of Canadian talent at this year’s Blood in the Snow Film Festival.

The festival, founded by Kelly Michael Stewart, features the cream of the genre crop.  Blood in the Snow’s selections range from unsettling slow burns to the visually grotesque.  It’s a competently passionate showcase that gives indie filmmakers a fantastic opportunity to premiere their work, and hands audiences a rare chance to see these film on the big screen.

This year, the Blood in the Snow Film Festival takes place at Toronto’s Carlton Cinema and begins on November 28 and ends on November 30.  Wylie Writes’ coverage commences with reviews of what movie goers will see on opening night. Continue reading

Edge of Tomorrow

By: Addison WylieEOTposter

Edge of Tomorrow owes some gratitude towards video game culture.  Doug Liman’s exciting movie emulates the entire process of playing a challenging level against inhuman hoodlums, failing it, and then having to repeat your steps.  It also searches through that option of having to find an alternate route in order to complete your mission.

When people compare movies to video games, it’s usually to knock the film down a couple of pegs.  It’s never a good sign.  Criticizers will compare the experience to watching someone play a video game, providing the assumption that the movie denies a viewer’s opportunity to immerse themselves.

Edge of Tomorrow has to be the first movie in a very long time that could be compared to watching someone play a video game, and work that angle as a compliment. Continue reading

Point and Shoot

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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

Maleficent

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