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Articles by Mark Barber

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.

Reviews

Blackbear

The synopsis of Blackbear vaguely reminds one of the 2006 film Annapolis–a film that, if you recall (and if so, good for you), was marketed as a recruit training film in the vein of A Gentleman and an Officer, but was actually, secretly, a boxing film.  Blackbear is similar: it starts off as a war film, with the two central characters as captives by ISIS, only to quickly become a boxing film within the film’s…

Reviews

Man Running

Gary Burns’ Man Running, which modestly premiered at the 2018 Whistler Film Festival, follows Jim (Gord Rand) as he participates in a 24-hour marathon.  The laborious journey he takes is vertiginously interspersed with flashbacks and hallucinations, suggesting a double struggle for the main character: one physical, one emotional.

Reviews

Finding Hygge

Finding Hygge explores the Danish concept of hygge, which a quick Google search tells me has to do with comfort, wellness, and happiness.  I was forced to Google, because at no point in this ninety-minute long documentary is the concept distilled or defined in a coherent manner.

Reviews

A Breath Away

A Breath Away emerges in the midst of a growing number of films dedicated to portraying the horrors of environmental disaster.  Timely as it is horrifying, A Breath Away is an emotionally-charged thriller that broadly follows the algorithmic pattern set by previous disaster films, and has little to say ideologically about its central issues.

Reviews

Searching for Ingmar Bergman

Searching for Ingmar Bergman, a new documentary from renowned German filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta, is an intimate portrait of the famed Swedish filmmaker’s life and legacy, focusing both on his voluminous oeuvre (Bergman’s first film credit as a screenwriter in the early 1940s to his last film, Saraband, in 2004) and his family life.

Reviews

Number 37

Number 37, which recently premiered this summer at the Fantasia Festival, proves an old argument: some films should not be remade.  In this case, director Nosipho Dumisa has updated and resituated Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller Rear Window within the generic contours of the gangster sub-genre.

Reviews

Alright Now

Jamie Adams’ Alright Now, a romantic dramedy following a rock star following a particularly brutal double breakup, boasts that it is completely improvised.  Here’s the funny thing about improvisation: you need actors who are good at it.