Articles by Mark Barber

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.

Reviews

The Witch

The Witch is an unconventional horror film in execution and in subtext.  Rarely do horror films so actively interrogate colonial and contemporary gender politics in such an illuminating and liberating way.

Reviews

Fifty Shades of Black

The sad state of the parody film is reflected in Fifty Shades of Black, the latest from A Haunted House director Michael Tiddes and Scary Movie alumnus Marlon Wayans.  A spoof of the Fifty Shades of Grey film released last year, Fifty Shades of Black relies mostly on an inventory of aged pop culture references and unfunny scatological humour rather than interrogating the problems with its source material.

Reviews

Stonewall

Stonewall quickly came and went.  It was played at TIFF last year, and screened in the U.S. markets for a short time.  Critically and popularly reviled, Roland Emmerich’s pet project is completely different from his usual disaster films like Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow.  Indeed, Stonewall is a heavily whitewashed take on the famous New York riots that played an integral part in formalizing the LGBTQ equality movement.

Festival Coverage

Blood in the Snow 2015: ‘The Dark Stranger’

By: Mark Barber Chris Trebilcock’s The Dark Stranger understands that the power of horror is derived in part not from its tonal seriousness but from its ability to confront the issues in ways that are creatively charged.  Taking on the issue of depression, The Dark Stranger might take some flak for what at times feels like a facile exploration of depression.  However, Trebilcock deserves praise for creatively literalizing the demons we face as a means…

Festival Coverage

TIFF 2015: ‘Dégradé’

Trapped in a hair salon while chaos ensues outside, the characters of Arab and Tarzan Nasser’s tensely-written Dégradé are confronted by the worsening socio-economic conditions of Palestine: frequent brownouts, lack of security, armed conflict, and ideological extremism.  The Nasser twins use their diverse range of female characters – all differing in terms of devoutness, personality, and in some cases cultural background – to weave together a flowing, stimulating dialogue on the political and social climate…