October 24, 2014

Toronto After Dark Capsule Review: The Town That Dreaded Sundown


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Murder in the moonlight...

A couple pull their vehicle into a secluded wooded area, looking to steal some time alone together. A masked stranger emerges from the darkness, brandishing a large hunting knife. He orders the young lovers out of the car, forces the boy onto the ground, then repeatedly plunges the blade into his back, while the girl flees screaming into the night. It's the kind of scene that ought to be familiar to fans of the slasher genre, but this isn't just any old slasher film. This is The Town That Dreaded Sundown — 2014 edition — not a sequel, not a remake, but a metafictional homage, if you will.

Eagle-Eyed Film Review: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)


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The phoenix rises...

How do you begin to describe Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)? Part fantastic fable, part redemption tale, this dark comedy from acclaimed filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel, 21 Grams) is unlike anything in the director's previous repertoire. It's also being hailed as the second coming of its star, Michael Keaton. The actor — best known for his turn as Bruce Wayne/Batman twenty-five years ago — has been on a bit of a comeback streak lately, and Birdman may just be the crowning achievement of his career.

The Backbeat of a Film Review: Whiplash


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Bang the drum (not so) slowly...

Drive. Perseverance. Commitment. This is the stuff that turns dreams into reality. And Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) has got it in spades. Motivated by a single purpose — to be one of jazz music's greats — he pushes himself to his physical and mental limits, sacrificing relationships and even his own well-being, all for the sake of perfecting his craft. But how far is too far? Under the intense tutelage of wily-eyed music professor Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) — maestro and masochist extraordinaire — Andrew will discover the answer.

A Film Review with a Vengeance: John Wick


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Wick-ed fun...

To say Keanu Reeves kicks ass in his latest film is a serious understatement. Hitting cinema screens over a decade after Reeves closed the curtain on his most iconic action role — playing Neo in The Matrix trilogy — John Wick sees the actor back in black and once again venturing deep into action-hero territory. Er, better make that action anti-hero territory. This time, he's suiting up to play a reformed bad guy who wages all-out war on even badder guys — all in the name of a stolen '69 Ford Mustang and a murdered beagle named Daisy.

October 22, 2014

Toronto After Dark Capsule Review: Predestination


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Right place, wrong time...

Back to the Future may have set the bar for time travel sci-fi, but at the same time it's hard to argue against a movie like Timecop. After all, what's not to like about the Muscles from Brussels as a kickboxing, time-traveling cop? Fast forward two decades, and here we are again, with another film that, at a glance, appears to be in the same vein. But though it may be tempting to discount the Spierig Brothers' Predestination — a movie about a temporal agent trying to stop a criminal mastermind — as just another piece of throwaway sci-fi filmmaking, it's really the furthest thing from.