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Articles by Mark Barber

Reviews

The Limehouse Golem

The tagline for The Limehouse Golem boasts that its fictional Victorian London serial killer precedes the infamous Jack the Ripper.  We have yet to see a compelling cinematic take on the Ripper murders (including the Hughes Brothers’ tragically underwhelming Johnny Depp vehicle From Hell).  Though it merely draws inspiration from the Ripper, The Limehouse Golem suggests that we may have to wait a bit longer.

Reviews

School Life

Neasa Ní Chianáin and David Rane’s observational documentary, School Life, is an intimate look at the daily life at Headfort, a centuries old primary Irish boarding school.  The school is run by John and Amanda Leydon, who instruct their young students on a the usual range of disciplines – math, science, languages, sport, and music.

Reviews

Brigsby Bear

Reintegrating kidnappees into society is familiar territory, but Dave McCary’s Brigsby Bear adds a charming, unique twist to the narrative.  With a cast and crew populated by Saturday Night Live staff (including director Dave McCary, co-writer and star Kyle Mooney, and producer and co-star Andy Samberg), Brigsby Bear lacks the cynicism typically associated with themes of nostalgia;  instead, Brigsby is rather heartwarming in its absurdity.

Reviews

From the Land of the Moon

Marion Cotillard is a talented actress whose career has seen a steady increase in forgettable dramas over the years.  For every The Immigrant and Two Days, One Night, there’s a Rust and Bone and an It’s Only the End of the World (though, I confess, I like the latter film, but it is unquestionably Dolan’s weakest film).  Nicole Garcia’s From the Land of the Moon, which was in competition at Cannes last year, is yet another…

Reviews

Score: A Film Music Documentary

There’s not much to say about Matt Schrader’s ever imaginatively titled Score: A Film Music Documentary.  A documentary made in praise of the Hollywood elite composers (who, to be fair, deserve the praise), Score has the presentation quality of a TV special or DVD bonus feature with no original thoughts about its subject.

Reviews

The Dinner

On paper, Oren Moverman’s The Dinner, based on the novel by Dutch author Herman Koch, sounds similar to the 1981 chamber piece My Dinner with Andre, but with a darker twist.  The intellectual wit of Andre isn’t present here, replaced instead with elements of thriller and drama.

Reviews

Hello Destroyer

Kevan Funk’s Hello Destroyer, a complicated and clinical disclosure of the underlying traumas associated with hockey, was well-received at TIFF last year for a good reason: there aren’t many films brave enough to de-mythologize Canada’s national sport.

Reviews

A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove, adapted from the novel by Frederik Backman, is a charming, yet slightly familiar dramedy about a grieving widow and his budding friendship with his new neighbours in a gated community.  Recently nominated for two Academy Awards (Best Foreign Language Film and Best Makeup), Hannes Holm’s adaptation is a digestible and likeable, but hardly transcendent film.

Reviews

Hacksaw Ridge

After a long, ten-year stint in filmmaker jail, Mel Gibson has returned with Hacksaw Ridge: a gruesomely violent WWII biopic about Desmond Doss, a medic and devout Seventh Day Adventist, who saved the lives of over 75 soldiers during the Battle of Okinawa without killing a single enemy combatant.  Hacksaw Ridge features Gibson’s typical heavy-handed religious symbolism to great effect here, and serves as an unnerving contrast to the graphic violence in the film’s third…