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Articles by Shahbaz Khayambashi

Reviews

King Cohen

There is a police parade walking down the street.  Dozens of men in uniform are walking in formation, surrounded by revelers.  Suddenly, Andy Kaufman pulls out a gun and shoots someone down.  He is subdued and shot.  With his last breath, he says “God told me to.”  I have only seen one Larry Cohen film, and yet it managed to contain one scene which placed itself directly into my brain.  Cohen has spent decades writing…

Reviews

Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood

If you have ever read Vito Russo’s The Celluloid Closet or have seen the 1995 documentary based on the book, you would know quite well that Hollywood was full of closeted queer individuals working as actors, directors, producers and everything else;  trying their hardest to live their truest lives, while also keeping the truth hidden.  Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood tells another side of that story.

Festival Coverage

Wylie Writes @ TIFF ’18

TIFF returns for another year, pushed along by their Tuesday announcement of gala and special presentation films.  This first slate has the same level of films that frequently find their way into the earliest announcement: films that will eventually be nominated for Oscars, or be ignored for Oscars, or find their way into hot take articles about how they should have been nominated for Oscars.

Reviews

Catwalk: Tales from the Catshow Circuit

Last year’s Kedi, one of the best films of the year, showed us just how much potential there is in cat documentaries.  This year, CBC Docs attempted to follow that nascent tradition in Canada with Catwalk: Tales from the Catshow Circuit, a study of people and their pets who participate in such performances.  And, yes, there’s a healthy dose of cute cat action.

Reviews

The Death of Stalin

Across the past couple decades, Armando Iannucci has repeatedly shown himself to be one of the most important voices working in comedy.  Whether we are discussing his hand in the creation of Alan Partridge or his blatantly political work in The Thick of It and Veep, Iannucci has shown that he has his hand on the comedic pulse of whatever age he may be in.  Now, he’s decided to take on a new experiment: a…

Reviews

Learning to See: The World of Insects

One thing that tends to endear viewers to a film is something that has been described as a “personal” style of filmmaking.  When the director finds something that they have a deep personal connection with and they present it to us in an authentic, unpretentious way, that is usually something to be commended.  Unfortunately, it is also possible to become too personal, giving up certain aesthetic qualities in favour of familiarity.  When that happens, the…

Events

Wylie Writes @ Ulrike Ottinger in Asia

All of us should occasionally stop and consider how lucky we are to have the TIFF Bell Lightbox.  On top of the populist arthouse fare that populates the majority of their schedule, the Lightbox occasionally introduces a brand-new audience to underrated, underappreciated, or simply underseen filmmakers.  The latest addition to this tradition is the Goethe Institute-curated mini-retrospective, Ulrike Ottinger in Asia;  a program of four features, three of which are Ottinger’s celebrations of various Asian cultures (the…

Reviews

Loveless

There are some things that Andrey Zvyagintsev is very good at, such as political commentary.  There are some things that Zvyagintsev is awful at, such as portrayals (or occasionally even the inclusion) of women in his films.  So, what happens when Zvyagintsev makes a political film with a female lead?  You end up with a disappointing monstrosity;  one that could have been a masterpiece if a good forty percent was discarded.  You end up with…

Reviews

Happy End

It has been five years since Michael Haneke’s last film, the Palme d’Or and Oscar-winning Amour.  In that time, the world has been witness to ISIS execution videos, murders on Facebook Live, and the livestreaming of someone’s brutal death after an auto accident.  With that much material, Haneke has returned with Isabelle Huppert and Jean-Louis Trintignant to gift the world Happy End, a film that looks at modern technology’s ability to capture atrocities, set within…