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Articles by Mark Barber

Reviews

Two Heads Creek

Jesse O’Brien’s horror/comedy Two Heads Creek aims to tackle the swelling issue of racism and nationalism in Australia and the United Kingdom through the most unusual of means: cannibalism.  Though it’s hard not to appreciate the attempt, Two Heads Creek’s absurd premise often overtakes the seriousness of the threat posed by racism and nationalism.

Reviews

The Accompanist

Director, writer, and star Frederick Keeve demonstrates a strong imagination but a weak sense of dramatic ability in his feature The Accompanist, a story about a gay piano accompanist who becomes infatuated with a male ballerina amidst a series of tragedies that befall both men.

Reviews

A White, White Day

Fresh off the festival circuit, Hlynur Pálmason’s A White, White Day rapturously yet bleakly explores familiar themes of grief and loss.  Pálmason’s second feature offers a clinical, appropriately distanced character study, while maintaining a coherent sense of the character’s interiority.

Reviews

Castle in the Ground

As the world struggles under this catastrophic pandemic, it seems prudent to remind us of another epidemic currently ravaging North America: the opioid epidemic.  Consequently, Joey Klein’s timely Castle in the Ground depicts a band of young people struggling with addiction amid the trauma of their personal lives.  While dramatically powerful and compellingly acted, the film has surprisingly little to say about the structural issues surrounding addiction and mental illness.

Reviews

Resistance

Jonathan Jakubowicz’s Resistance comes at a time of surging interest in more action-oriented films relating to the Holocaust, World War II, anti-Semitism, and Nazism.  Unlike recent media like Amazon’s Hunters and HBO’s The Plot Against America, Resistance doesn’t participate in any overt historical or genre revisionism, though it is hard to ignore its slight devotion to the thriller genre.

Reviews

Luba

Caley Wilson’s Luba explores the intersection of single motherhood, addiction, and abuse.  While its heart is in the right place, Luba struggles to give equal and equitable attention to all of these issues, earnestly yet questionably prioritizing some over others.

Reviews

Anthem of a Teenage Prophet

The melodic title of Robin Hays’ Anthem of a Teenage Prophet suggests, at the very least, a kind of experimental approach to tragedy and trauma.  Instead, this adaptation of Joanne Proulx’s award-winning novel Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet is surprisingly familiar;  replete with the traditional rebellious drug-fueled angst we’ve come to expect from cinematic representations of teenage life in the suburbs.

Reviews

Harpoon

The intersection of comedy and thriller do not often mix well, especially in survivalist narratives.  But Harpoon, even with its familiar survivalist tropes on display, evenly balances the two in an intense, frequently unpleasant, but endlessly watchable nightmare-at-sea.

Reviews

Mine 9

Eddie Mensore’s environmental thriller Mine 9 is a succinct depiction of trapped coal miners in Appalachia.  Coming at a time when the preservation of the coal mining industry is improbably and invariably debated, thanks to a political climate incapable of addressing an alternative to fossil fuels, Mine 9 satisfyingly addresses worker’s safety, while interrogating large corporations who allow fatal accidents like this to happen.

Reviews

Astronaut

Sending the unlikeliest of people into space–from Jason Voorhees to Homer Simpson–has always been a crowd-pleasing move.  So it should come as no surprise that Shelagh McLeod finds the same results in her feature directorial debut Astronaut, which sends seventy-one year old Richard Dreyfuss into the heavens, in perhaps the Oscar winner’s best performance in years.