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Shahbaz Khayambashi

Festival Coverage

Toronto After Dark 2019: Shorts After Dark

The biggest strength of Toronto After Dark is, and always has been, the importance given to short films.  Shorts are given their own programs, but they also play before features.  Due to genre cinema’s specific limitations, shorts are both useful as a way to make a name for oneself and as a storytelling medium.  As such, it’s important to look at what is happening in that world.  Let’s take a look at the good, the…

Festival Coverage

Toronto After Dark 2019: ‘Enhanced’, ‘Werewolf’ and ‘The Wretched’

Enhanced (DIR. James Mark) The idea of a low budget superhero film is an undeniably commendable one.  Superheroes are incredibly generic, and there is nothing that necessitates the bloated budgets that they tend to cost, so the idea of telling those stories with less waste should be celebrated.  Unfortunately, the films that come out of this practice tend to be underwhelming.  Case in point: James Mark’s Enhanced.

One-on-Ones

Wylie Writes’ One-On-One with Robert Eggers

“This makes me want to puke.  Sorry, this came into my head.  Sorry.”  These were the words spoken by Robert Eggers, before he made a point about the relationship between Andrej Tarkovsky and Fyodor Dostoevsky.  The singular voice behind the instant classic The Witch and The Lighthouse provided evidence of two important parts of his personality: the first being his self-effacing tendencies despite how well-read he is—after all, any great artist is first a great student—and…

Festival Coverage

Toronto After Dark 2019: ‘8’, ‘The Assent’ and ‘The Mortuary Collection’

8 (DIR. Harold Holscher) Horror can be found just about anywhere, however not all horror is equal.  This is why films that incorporate real-life horrors must be particularly aware of how they incorporate the various elements.  Former TAD presentation Under the Shadow is a great example of how to do this correctly.  But, this is why Harold Holscher’s 8 is so conflicting.  It doesn’t really have much to say about its source events, creating a final product…

Festival Coverage

Toronto After Dark 2019: ‘Contracts’ and ‘Paradise Hills’

Contracts (DIR. Alex Chung) Critics Jean-Luc Comolli and Paul Narboni once suggested that all films were inherently political because, even when a film lacks an overt political bent, its refusal to question the politics of its world is an acceptance of said politics.  This lesson in film theory may sound like it is coming out of nowhere, but it serves a purpose, namely in explaining that Alex Chung’s Contracts—which had its world premiere at Toronto After…

Reviews

Jojo Rabbit

World War II has been done!  This is hardly a controversial claim when it comes to cinema;  everyone and their mother has already made a film about World War II—whether about how bad the war was or how heroic—and seemingly every possible angle has already been covered.  Filmmaker Taika Waititi, however, finds a way to stand out with Jojo Rabbit, a movie that refuses to be about the war at all, instead using his unique brand…

Reviews

The Lighthouse

When Robert Eggers appeared on the cinematic scene with The Witch at 2015’s Sundance Film Festival, he exposed untold new ways to tell horror stories.  So, what can someone who has already reinvented a genre do to follow up such a work?  Eggers decided to use a similar formula—mainly the research of authentic historical documents that went into the screenplay’s creation of horror—to tell a brand-new story.  The results are great.

Festival Coverage

Toronto After Dark 2019: ‘The Furies’ and ‘Mutant Blast’

The Furies (DIR. Tony D’Aquino) So, there are these seven women and seven monsters.  The women are tasked with staying alive, while the monsters attempt to kill them.  This plot could either be attached to a self-aware bit of amazing cinematic trash, or it could take itself too seriously and fail.  Tony D’Aquino’s The Furies falls firmly into the latter category.

Festival Coverage

Toronto After Dark 2019: ‘Blood Machines’ and ‘Homewrecker’

Blood Machines (DIR. Seth Ickerman) The cinema is a visual and narrative medium, but the narrative is often king.  Way too many films will give up on the visuals to tell a story, leading to slightly stagnant results.  As such, it is sometimes oddly refreshing to get a film which will sacrifice narrative cohesion in order to produce a spectacle of light and sound.  Seth Ickerman is such a filmmaker and Blood Machines, a collaboration between…

Festival Coverage

Toronto After Dark 2019: ‘Extra Ordinary’

Ghosts are just ordinary people who have died.  Surely, that means they are all around us, right?  Extra Ordinary starts with this quirky concept and adds satanism, post-domestic abuse, and driving school experience to turn the weirdness up to eleven.  The film’s weirdness isn’t its only trick, however, because Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman’s film is roaringly funny despite that.