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Articles by Mark Barber

Reviews

Art Bastard

Victor Kanefsky’s Art Bastard asks broad questions about the relationship between art and politics.  Its subject, American artist Robert Cenedella, serves a micro-answer to some of these broad questions.  Although Kanefsky is successful in arguing for Cenedella’s work as critical satirical representations of U.S. political culture, the film lacks energy.

Festival Coverage

TIFF 2016: ‘The Unknown Girl’

The Unknown Girl marks another incredible achievement by Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne.  Following up their equally brilliant Two Days, One Night, the Daredennes deploy their clinically austere style to great means in The Unknown Girl, which doubly serves as an investigation and character study.

Festival Coverage

Wylie Writes @ Hitchcock/Truffaut: Magnificent Obsessions

Contemporary cinephilia places – at times – undue emphasis on the auteur in relation to their work and in relation to the works of others.  Intertwined authorship and intertextuality are the two most recurrent approaches in film criticism.  As such, it’s easy to rationalize the existence of the Hitchcock/Truffaut: Magnificent Obsessions retrospective at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, given the sheer amount of discourse written on the famous relationship of Alfred Hitchcock and François Truffaut.

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…