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Articles by Shahbaz Khayambashi

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…

Festival Coverage

Toronto After Dark 2016: ‘As the Gods Will’ and ‘In a Valley of Violence’

As the Gods Will (DIR. Takashi Miike) Takashi Miike has two modes of filmmaking: a deadly serious style that’s evident in films like Audition, and a goofy, over-the-top style visible in films like Ichi the Killer.  In As the Gods Will, it takes the viewer mere minutes to figure out which category Miike’s latest falls into (for me, it was the moment when a student gets decapitated and bleeds red marbles).

Festival Coverage

Toronto After Dark 2016: Shahbaz on Short Films

Shorts After Dark – a program of carefully selected international short films – returned to the Toronto After Dark Film Festival on Saturday, October 15.  In the past, these shorts usually run the gamut of subgenres, as well as the gamut of quality, with the spectrum ranging from brilliance to downright horrendous.  This year’s selection was solid.  Even in comparison to past showcases, this year’s worst short was still better than former duds that have made the cut.