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Articles by Shahbaz Khayambashi

Reviews

Exit: Music

Nazis plundering art has been a subject of much consideration and curiosity ever since the objects began to be recovered.  Plenty of focus has been placed on paintings that were lost and found in this way, and the reasons for it are plain to be seen: the paintings have famous, long-deceased names attached and, due to their singular status, they can only be experienced by a limited number of people and can be valued at…

Reviews

The Founder

Director John Lee Hancock and his company on The Founder have proven themselves to be geniuses for one reason: without a hint of pretense, they have managed to make people pay them to watch a feature length McDonald’s advertisement. 

Reviews

Under the Shadow

Horror cinema is often limited to its wheelhouse of established fears – ghosts, demons, strangers, monsters, or disturbing details.  Horror hounds are always looking for different scares though, and are always welcoming of a filmmaker’s ambition.  Failure is still an option, but the best case scenario is that these directorial risks pay off and make lasting provocative impressions – much like Babak Anvari’s Under the Shadow.  It’s an incredible horror film that deals with not just the supernatural, but also…

Reviews

La La Land

In this age of postmodernism, filmmakers are always willing to go back to the well and make films which are heavy on pastiche from an earlier Hollywood – these tributes are very hit-or-miss.  Damien Chazelle’s La La Land is a strange film that succeeds at its recreations, but fails at everything else.

Reviews

Lion

There is a genre which developed in the western “enlightened” post-9/11 world which proves that neo-colonialist sensibilities are alive and well.  It’s characterized by representations of poverty and suffering in the third world which are set up in a way as to suggest that the citizens of these countries are complicit in their own suffering.  Humanity is afforded to some characters, but they are the minority amongst human garbage.

Reviews

Jean of the Joneses

While Jean of the Joneses may be predictable, the film is the work of an exciting new voice in cinema.  Writer/director Stella Meghie truly knows how to write fully developed, sympathetic characters;  it’s an absolute pleasure to spend 82-minutes with her creations.

Reviews

Gimme Danger

Gimme Danger is by no means a groundbreaking documentary.  It’s by-the-book filmmaking, full of talking heads and archival footage, and very much reminiscent of the punk rock films of Don Letts.  The Letts comment, of course, is not a negative at all.  Don Letts is a great person to emulate when searching for cinematic punk rock aesthetics.

Festival Coverage

Toronto After Dark 2016: ‘The Lure’ and ‘The Void’

The Lure (DIR. Agnieszka Smoczynska) Often, a film that has a convoluted plot is trying to hide the fact that it has nothing else going for it.  Thus, it is absolutely understandable if someone were to question whether or not to see a Polish horror-musical about a pair of human-eating mermaid sisters who work in a cabaret show, partially based on the original Hans Christian Andersen version of “The Little Mermaid”.  Thankfully, Agnieszka Smoczynska’s The Lure is…

Festival Coverage

Toronto After Dark 2016: ‘Antibirth’ and ‘From a House on Willow Street’

Antibirth (DIR. Danny Perez) Antibirth is the feature film debut of Danny Perez, someone who has – until now – worked exclusively in music videos, and it shows.  The film has a chaotic punk rock aesthetic and beautiful imagery, but not much else going for it.  Just like a music video, Antibirth is all about getting from one image to the next, only this time with several minutes of dead air between each visual. The film follows Lou (Natasha…