Articles by Mark Barber

Reviews

Now You See Me 2

It’s been three years since audiences flocked to the largely forgettable yet surprising box office hit Now You See Me, a crime thriller about a Robin Hood-esque band of highly skilled magicians who perform elaborate cons to rob the rich of their money.  After taking in roughly $350 million worldwide, the film has apparently merited a sequel – the equally forgettable Now You See Me 2.

Reviews

Sunset Song

After a 5-year hiatus, English filmmaker Terence Davies returns with Sunset Song, an adaptation of the seminal Scottish novel by Lewis Grassic Gibbon.  Davies’ traditionally melodramatic and stilted approach to writing drama is on display here, and a great hindrance to this adaptation.

Reviews

Francofonia

Aleksandr Sokurov’s Francofonia is a spiritual successor to his innovative 2002 film Russian Ark, more so thematically than aesthetically.  Russian Ark was a narrativized tour of The Hermitage that doubly served as a re-enactment of parts of Russian history.  The most important fact about Russian Ark, however, is that it was shot entirely in one take – a formal element missing from Sokurov’s new film.

Reviews

Demolition

Still hot off the success of his previous two accolade-winning films (Dallas Buyers Club [2013] and Wild [2014]), Jean-Marc Vallée explores similar themes in a less formulaic way with his latest dramedy Demolition.

Reviews

Darling

Darling is a small, unusual, indescribable thriller about a girl’s quick descent into madness.  Lauren Ashley Carter plays the eponymous “Darling,” who becomes the caretaker of a supposedly haunted New York home owned by the wealthy Madame (Sean Young).

Reviews

The Divergent Series: Allegiant

The Divergent film series – based on the Young Adult trilogy by Veronica Roth – immediately felt like a cash-in on the success of The Hunger Games film franchise.  Divergent is painful in its complexity: set in a typical YA post-apocalyptic future, Tris (Shailene Woodley) must navigate the walled city of Chicago, where factions are systemized by certain characteristics – Erudite is made up of the intelligentsia, Dauntless are warriors, etc.  Initiates take a test…

Reviews

London Has Fallen

In 2013, audiences were treated to two movies involving hostage situations in the White House: Antoine Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen and Roland Emmerich’s White House Down.  The former performed well enough at the box office to merit a sequel, while the other languished in obscurity, likely due to its director’s notorious incompetence.  And yet, much like its predecessor, London Has Fallen shows that in terms of quality, White House Down triumphed where Olympus had fallen.

Reviews

Gods of Egypt

Australian filmmaker Alex Proyas had a terrific output in the 1990’s: the gothic comic book adaptation, The Crow, and the superlative neo-noir/sci-fi film Dark City.  Since then, however, Proyas has made few noteworthy cinematic contributions, and his latest, the 3D fantasy/adventure film Gods of Egypt, is abundant in imagination but lacking in novelty.

Reviews

The Reflecting Skin

British filmmaker Philip Ridley’s The Reflecting Skin hasn’t screened in Toronto since its Canadian premiere at TIFF in 1990.  Given its vibrant formalism and unconventional approach to genre, Ridley’s first feature simply may have been unable to find a broader audience.  However, the film works well for cult film audiences.