Thursday, 27 August 2015

OUR LITTLE SISTER + MUSTANG - Reviews By Greg Klymkiw - Mongrel Media's Must-See Sister Act - The Film Corner's Handy-Dandy *****TIFF 2015 TOP PICKS***** continue.

MONGREL MEDIA'S MUST-SEE SISTER ACT AT TIFF 2015
Our Little Sister (above)
Mustang (below)

Our Little Sister (2015)
Dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda
Starring: Haruka Ayase, Masami Nagasawa, Kaho, Suzu Hirose

Review By Greg Klymkiw

When three sisters attend the funeral of their long-estranged father, they meet his daughter from a second marriage, the little sister they never met. They welcome her with open arms and she leaves her father's third wife, a step mother, to live with them. For the first time in her life, she feels what it means to have family you can love and count on.


As far as I'm concerned, director Hirokazu Kore-eda (After Life, Nobody Knows, Still Walking, Like Father Like Son) has no equals in contemporary Japanese Cinema. He seems to be the one true and genuine successor to the legacy of Yasujiro (Tokyo Story) Ozu, the master of the groundbreaking tatami shots, long takes, figures moving in and out of frame, a stately pace allowing for deep contemplation of the dramas unfolding, a deep sense of humanity, a love for the properties of melodrama and an unflagging commitment to examining the intricacies of family. To a certain extent, the aforementioned Ozu grocery list of unbeatable properties seems not dissimilar to the work of Kore-eda.

Kore=eda, however, differs on two fronts. He downplays sentiment almost to the extent of eschewing it completely, but then, when you least expect it, he's not afraid of using melodrama sparingly as a legitimate storytelling tool (usually with a wallop to the solar plexus). Secondly, though Kore-eda is also primarily interested in the dynamics of family, he adds his own special thematic element, dealing heartbreakingly with the theme and dramatic action of abandonment.

Our Little Sister has got "abandonment" almost literally spilling out of its ears and he allows us to be privy to three, then four sisters filling various voids in their hearts with their love for each other. At times, his new film feels like nothing much is really happening, but "it" most certainly is - in tiny, delicate and subtle ways. He allows us time to luxuriate in each sister's unique qualities and how they play off of each other.

He slowly builds to a handful of scenes during the final stretch of the picture that inspire overwhelming emotions in the hearts of its audiences. I bawled like a baby and still can't shake or forget its uplifts which are never machine-tooled, but burst forth naturally from within his film's very big heart.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: **** 4-Stars

Our Little Sister plays in the TIFF Masters program during TIFF 2015. For dates, times and tix, visit the TIFF website HERE.


Mustang (2014)
Dir. Deniz Gamze Ergüven
Starring: Gunes Sensoy, Dogba Doguslu, Tugba Sunguroglu,
Elit Iscan, Ilayda Akdogan, Ayberk Pekcan, Nihal Koldas

Review By Greg Klymkiw

The events depicted in Mustang are so horrific and harrowing, it's sometimes more unbearable to experience an equal number of actions which are infused with fun, love, kindness, pleasurable abandon and humour since they're such powerful juxtapositions to the tragedy of the situation presented.

In a small Turkish coastal town on the Black Sea, a repressed, deeply traditional busybody neighbour spies five orphan sisters having fun on the last day of school. Their innocent actions are deemed obscene. Their grandmother and stern uncle hit the roof and what should have been a glorious summer vacation for the girls turns into a living nightmare.

They're immediately locked in the house, stripped of all items which could be considered immoral, informed that their education has come to an end and thrown into a rigorous indoctrination to be loyal, subservient wives. Parades of potential suitors are brought in to inspect their "wares" and the goal is to have all the girls, ranging in age from 12 to 16, to be married off by the end of summer.

The youngest sister proves to be the craftiest and most rebellious. When she masterminds a brief escape for the girls to watch a soccer match, the happiness is short lived when they're eventually caught in the act by their guardians.

At this point, all bets are off. The home is then transformed into a literal prison replete with iron bars on all the windows, extra locks, barbed wire atop the walls surrounding the house and an intensified chaperoned courting/match-making process. In addition to the threat of physical and even sexual abuse, the girls are treated like so much chattel instead of as individuals with minds of their own.

The first two-thirds of Mustang is so superbly directed and acted, it's a shame the screenplay takes a fairly conventional turn in its final act. What transpires comes close to negating the power of the rest of the film.

Though some will find the denouement inspiring in all the right ways, it ultimately contradicts the reality of these girls' lives and offers up hope where none, in reality, would ever exist. During one of the final set-pieces, first-time feature filmmaker Ergüven directs the proceedings with the urgent, nerve-jangling skill of a master. The suspense is virtually unbearable, but it's almost rendered moot when the yellow-brick-road to happiness rears its ugly head.

Of course we want the girls to escape, but deep down we know a happy end to their short lives of freedom must surely be an impossibility. When these tables turn, it's not so much a cause for celebration, but a lament for honesty.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: *** 3-Stars

Mustang is a TIFF 2015 Special Presentation. For dates, times and tix, visit the TIFF website HERE.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

THE WAITING ROOM - Review by Greg Klymkiw - Yugo Noir: *****TIFF 2015 TOP PICK*****


The Waiting Room (2015)
Dir. Igor Drljača
Starring: Jasmin Geljo, Zeljko Kecojevic

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Even when a war is 20-years-ago and thousands of miles away, it sears its ugly imprint upon your soul forever. It's even worse if you've been forced to abandon all you know and love for a new country with few prospects for immigrants and refugees.

Jasmin (Jasmin Geljo, a tough, pug-faced Buster Keaton) knows this all too well. The popular actor and playwright fled the violent dismantlement of the former Yugoslavia and settled in Toronto. Estranged from his first wife, he still finds time to visit her in the terminal cancer ward, alternating the death-watch with his youthful adult daughter. Married to a much younger woman, with whom he's sired two children, Jasmin grows increasingly distant from her.

Eking out a living as a construction labourer whilst endlessly auditioning for stereotypical television roles requiring Eastern European gangster "types", he dreams of recapturing former glories (of the thespian kind) by returning to Sarajevo to mount the hilariously bawdy theatrical comedy he's been performing for Toronto's Yugoslavian community.


War, however, forces dreams to either die hard or at best, reside in a kind of purgatory. His attempts to move forward seem to create an ever-increasing stasis. Taking part in the filmed portion of a political avant-garde art installation about the turbulent events two decades earlier is what finally ignites memories of the war he's tried so hard to closet. One repression usually leads to another and Jasmin's purgatory intensifies.


Writer-director Igor Drljača has taken several astonishing leaps forward from his dazzling 2012 debut feature Krivina.

This sophomore effort is even more richly layered, but on this occasion, he's splashed the movie with healthy sprinklings of (mostly sardonic) humour amidst the angst. What consumes us, though, is Drljača's rich mise-en-scène - gorgeously composed still-life shots, the drab, grey Toronto juxtaposed with a fake backdrop of the gorgeous Yugoslavian countryside. The pace is miraculously measured and calculated; so much so that the picture's guaranteed to mesmerize.

Like his first feature, Drljača has crafted a devastating film about war with nary a single shot fired from a gun, nor a single bomb exploded. The echoes, explosions and shots heard round the world are burrowed in the film's devastating silence and the pain etched into the faces of those suffering strangers in a strange land are like silent screams ever-reminding us of the true casualties of war - those who live a living death.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: ***** Five Stars

The Waiting Room plays at TIFF 2015 in the Contemporary World Cinema program. For dates, times and tix, visit the festival's website HERE.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

HURT - Review capsule by Greg Klymkiw - Fonyo Noir *****TIFF 2015 TOP PICK*****

HURT (2015)
Dir. Alan Zweig

Starring: Steve Fonyo, Gabor Maté


Review Capsule By Greg Klymkiw



During the 80s, 18-year-old Steve Fonyo ran 8000 km across Canada with a prosthetic leg. Raising $14 million for cancer research, he received the Order of Canada. After suffering three decades from abject poverty and various addictions within the dark underbelly of the criminal class, this Canadian Hero was transformed into a pariah by pencil-pushers in the nation’s capitol and turfed from the country’s highest recognition.




HURT has its masterpiece status guaranteed.


Charting one year in Fonyo’s life, Alan Zweig pulls off a miracle. This stunning documentary is as narratively searing and artistically compelling as the grim and gritty 70s cinematic forays into crime, punishment and atonement, not unlike Scorsese’s Raging Bull and Yates’s The Friends of Eddie Coyle.

The very process of filmmaking and Zweig’s intervention as both artist and humanitarian offers the promise of healing and redemption. The picture cold-cocks you as frequently as it wrenches tears.


A FILM CORNER TIFF 2015 MUST-SEE!

THE FILM CORNER RATING ***** 5-Stars


HURT receives its World Premiere in Platform, TIFF's all-new and highly exclusive new programme comprised of up to 12 films of high artistic merit that demonstrate a strong directorial vision by significant international filmmakers. For dates, times and tix, visit the TIFF 2015 website HERE.

Monday, 24 August 2015

BROOKLYN - Review By Greg Klymkiw *****TIFF 2015 MUST-NOT-SEE*****

As you can see, impish colleen immigrants
do not require hands to provide good service
in the better department stores of Brooklyn.
Brooklyn (2015)
Dir. John Crowley
Scr. Nick Hornby
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen,
Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters, Jessie Paré

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Save for the pleasing cast of babes (Saoirse Ronan, Jessie Paré) and hunks (Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson) providing ample scenery (in addition to the general period production design) and a couple of old Brit stalwarts (Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters) ham-boning to the hilt, about the best I can say about Brooklyn is that my Mother (God rest her soul) would have enjoyed it thoroughly. She was, however, uh, like, old.

The aforementioned are what the film has going for it. I was less inclined to favour the alternately sad and jaunty Irish folk music elements of the syrupy score, the dull, style-bereft miniseries camera-jockey direction and a screenplay playing out like a muted soap opera with about as much conflict as having to choose twixt Aunt Jemima pancakes and Rice Crispies at breakfast time.

Gorgeous Saoirse Ronan, with the help of her big sister and Jim Broadbent's Father Flanagan-like priest, leaves behind the lack of opportunities in Ireland and hits the big boat for the wide-open shores of America. The good Father sets her up in a lovely boarding house for young ladies run by an endlessly quipping Julie Walters, then he gets her a good job in a nice department store where she's mentored by the STUNNINGLY gorgeous Jessica Paré and, Faith and Begorrah, our jovial, benevolent man of the cloth pays for her tuition at business college.

Sounds like being a gorgeous Irish immigrant of the female persuasion is a good deal. Oh sure, you have to go to endless dances to land a prospective husband and quite often, you get homesick for Ireland, but truth be told, it's a cakewalk. Hell, Saoirse even falls in love with a mouth-wateringly handsome Italian stud-muffin (Emory Cohen) in Brooklyn and upon visiting her old Irish home, she meets a yummy prim and proper rich boy (Domhnall Gleeson).

And here you have it, ladies and gents, the only conflict in the whole movie.

Must be nice.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: ** 2-Stars

Brooklyn is a TIFF 2015 Special Presentation. For dates, times and tix, visit the TIFF website HERE.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

BANG BANG BABY, THE AMINA PROFILE, VENDETTA - Reviews By Greg Klymkiw - Canucks make cool movies y'all can see this week and I be tellin' you why y'all should see them

3 Canucks Make Cool Movies 2 C now!

BANG BANG BABY

Bang Bang Baby
Dir. Jeffrey St. Jules
Starring: Jane Levy, Justin Chatwin, Peter Stormare, David Reale

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Bang Bang Baby is easily one of the strangest movie musical romantic comedies ever made. Of course, it's Canadian. No surprise here, given that le pays de castor, l'orignal et le sirop d'érable, has already generated filmmakers like John Paizs, Guy Maddin and David Cronenberg.

Set in some perversely accurate 50s-60s studio musical version of rural Canada (basically, anywhere above the 49th that isn't Toronto), this is one lively, imaginatively-directed bonbon of a picture, if you, that is, think of yummy candies as multi-coloured Haribo gummies meeting Monty Python's "Whizzo Quality Assortment" featuring delectable sweet-meat comestibles described by company owner and everyone's favourite sweetie purveyor Mr. Milton (looking not surprisingly like Terry Jones) as "Spring Surprise", in which steel bolts spring out from the chocky to "plunge straight through both cheeks" or "Crunchy Frog, the finest baby frogs, dew picked and flown from Iraq, cleansed in finest quality spring water, lightly killed, and then sealed in a succulent Swiss quintuple smooth treble cream milk chocolate envelope" and, lest we forget the chocky featuring "fresh Cornish Ram's bladder" that's been "emptied, steamed, flavoured with sesame seeds whipped into a fondue and garnished with lark's vomit.

Yes, the bonbon is that tasty.

Indeed Bang Bang Baby, in the parlance of "high concept" (Canuck-style, 'natch), is a kind of cross twixt Mario Lanza-Elvis Preseley-Gidget-Tammy-with-dashes-of-David Byrne's True Stories with a few generous dollops of Orgy of the Blood Parasites (an early title of Cronenberg's Shivers).

Lonely Arms, a magical, mythical town in a Canada we no longer know (but desperately want to) is the sleepy-time Canuck home of high-school senior and car mechanic Steffy (the drop-dead gorgeous Canuckian Kitten-with-a-whip, Jane Levy), who lives with her bitter, alcoholic former musician Dad (Peter Stormare, the man who shoved Steve Buscemi into a wood chipper in Fargo).

Steffy has the voice of an angel (as does actress Levy) and her dream is to enter an American "Ingenue of the Year" Contest. When she's selected as a finalist, Dad fears her virtue will be at stake and he unfairly (but well-meaningly) scuttles her shot at stardom. Our gal resigns herself to a life of provincial Canadian mediocrity, pumping gas for her tender-loving-lying-in-puddles-of-his-own-vomit Dad, grudgingly heading off to a school dance and drunkenly going against her otherwise good judgement and eventually accompanying a creepy rich boy (David Reale, proving again why he's one of Canada's best and funniest character actors) for a late-night drive to his family's forbidding factory on the outskirts of town. A mysterious purple-fogged chemical leak leaves poor Steffy alone on a dark country road.

Out of the mist, appears, the Elvis-like American superstar Bobby Shore (Justin Chatwin) whose car has broken down after missing a turn to Omaha and ending up in Canada. (Our American neighbours are not always too bright.) Not only is she the lad's biggest fan, but she can fix his car.

Once she starts belting out her show-stopping tunes, it doesn't take Bobby too long to realize that she's quite the catch. Crooning and dancing against a plethora of gorgeously fake old-movie-studio-style backdrops, our made-for-each-other couple look like they're going to find happiness and live happily ever after.

However, I hope you haven't forgotten the aforementioned chemical leak from the factory. If you think this movie is weird, I can assure you, in the words of Al Jolson, "You ain't seen nothing yet!"

Without spoiling the rest of the picture for you, I will only say this: icky parasites begin to grown within the bodies of the citizenry of Lonely Arms.

And they are mutating.

Oops, mutants on the way.

Bang Bang Baby won last year's Best Canadian First Feature Film Award at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF 2014). Clearly the Awards Jury were swept away by director St. Jules's cornucopia of imagination. And yes, said mad vision runs gloriously rampant through the picture.

Still, its period and post-modern details only partially work. Many of the film's oddball touches are stunning, but an equal number of them feel forced and even occasionally anachronistic in many of the wrong ways. The usually reliable Stormare feels like he's sleepwalking through his role (looking aimlessly for the punch-clock and pay cheque) and though Chatwin makes for a decent romantic lead, I was a bit thrown off by his look, especially the Elsa Lanchester Bride of Frankenstein-like hairdo.

The film's inherent silliness is always a treat, though, and wisely, St. Jules never plunges into the kind of over-the-top that might have been swathed in globs of horrendous whimsy. Besides, leading lady Levy delivers a knock 'em dead performance and the genuinely great song-score has the kind of hum-ability to annoy you in all the right ways - as in, you can't get the bloody tunes out of your noggin, especially the title number.

Oh, and there are mutants. As a Canadian, I accept this.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: ***½ 3-and-a-half-stars

Bang Bang Baby is a Search Engine Films release that plays from August 21 at Toronto's Varsity, Vancouver's Fifth Avenue and Montreal's Forum, with expanded release in other Canadian cities to follow.

*NOTE* In an earlier version of this article, I reported how shocked I was that Bang Bang Baby won the Best Canadian Feature Film prize over Albert Shin's In Her Place. This was a huge error as BBB was the recipient of the Best First Feature Film Prize, which makes total sense. (Shin's film is not a first feature.) I had successfully managed to repress all knowledge of the ever-so-slight Felix and Meira which did win the overall best feature prize. Pardon the brain fart, but I do tend to shuttle some films deep into a dark closet - not because they're bad, but because they're so egregiously unmemorable.

THE AMINA PROFILE

The Amina Profile (2015)
Dir. Sophie Deraspe

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Set against the turbulent backdrop of war-and-revolution in contemporary Syria we meet Sandra Bagaria, one hot French-Canadian babe in Montreal and Amina Arraf, one hot Syrian-American babe in Damascus. They meet online. They're young. They're in love. They're lesbians. Okay. That's it. Go see the movie.

READ THE FULL REVIEW of The Amina Profile from Hot Docs 2015 HERE

THE FILM CORNER RATING: **** Four Stars

The Amina Profile is a Les Films du 3 mars presentation opening theatrically August 21, 2015 at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. For dates, times and fix, visit the cinema's website HERE

VENDETTA

Vendetta (2015)
Dir. Jen and Sylvia Soska
Scr. Justin Shady
Starring: Dean Cain, Paul "The Big Show" Wight, Michael Eklund, Kyra Zagorsky

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Let's get to the meat of the matter in this kick-ass prison picture by everyone's favourite Beautiful and Talented Hungarian-Canadian twins in Beautiful British Columbia - the action and violence. The Soska Sisters (American Mary) do not disappoint in this regard. Their direction goes far beyond just covering the thwacks, whacks, kicks, testicle-twisting and gore in a perfunctory manner, nor do they resort to the usual wham-bam with no sense of spatiality. I was delighted that they placed a fair degree of faith in actors who could clearly fight, some superb stunt choreography/coordination and a few occasional frissons like the makeshift "brass" knuckles Danvers creates and uses with sweet abandon.

As a side note, it is incumbent of me to point out that the one prison movie cliche sadly missing from Vendetta are a few instances of forcible sodomy and blow jobs. Most disappointing. What gives? Even a dull, inexplicably beloved piece of crap like The Shawshank Redemption had a decent anal rape scene.

But, I digress.

READ THE FULL REVIEW of Vendetta HERE

THE FILM CORNER RATING: ***½

Vendetta is now available on BLU-RAY via Lions Gate.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

THE FRONT PAGE - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Great Kino-Lorber Blu-Ray of 1931 Classic


The Front Page (1931)
Dir. Lewis Milestone
Starring: Adolphe Menjou, Pat O'Brien, Mary Brian, Mae Clark, Frank McHugh,
Edward Everett Horton, Slim Summerville, Clarence Wilson, George E. Stone,
Frank McHugh, Maurice Black, Clarence H. Wilson, Gustav von Seyffertitz

Review By Greg Klymkiw
Bro-o-o-omance, nothing really gay about it
Not, that there's anything wrong with being gay
Ay-ay-ay!
Bromance ,
Shouldn't be ashamed or hide it
I love you in the most heterosexual way.
- Chester See & Ryan Higa
Everyone knows and loves the Howard Hawks-directed screwball romantic comedy His Girl Friday, a great picture about shady Chicago editor Walter Burns (Cary Grant) and his attempts to keep his best reporter Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) from getting married and leaving the newspaper business, especially when a big story is breaking; the hanging of a convicted murderer who claims innocence, escapes and hides in the courthouse press room. Of course, Walter loves Hildy and deep down she loves him too. If anything, Walter's real modus operandi is to scuttle the marriage of Hildy to her straight-laced fiancé played by Ralph Bellamy.

How many of you are familiar with The Front Page? Based on the hit play by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur and directed by Lewis (All Quiet on the Western Front) Milestone, it's a great picture about shady Chicago editor Walter Burns (Adolphe Menjou) and his attempts to keep his best reporter Hildy Johnson (Pat O'Brien) from getting married and leaving the newspaper business, especially when a big story is breaking; the hanging of a convicted murderer who claims innocence, escapes and hides in the courthouse press room. Walter loves Hildy and deep down he loves him too. If anything, Walter's real modus operandi is to scuttle the marriage of Hildy to his straight-laced fiancé played by Mary Brian.

Even though The Front Page falls within the relaxed pre-Code days and all manner of not-so-subtle homoeroticism could have crept into the film, this is never the intent (well, not mostly). The Front Page might well be the first BRO-mance in American cinema. Walter and Hildy have no intention of sucking face or slamming their respective schwances up each other's Hershey Highways (though if given half the chance, they might).

They love each other, like men - REAL MEN! And not to disparage homoeroticism at all, but to describe Walter and Hildy's love, allow me to present a few more lyrics from the See/Higa song:
If I loved you more I might be a gay
And when I'm feeling down
You know just what to say
You my homie,
Yeah you know me
And if you ever need a wingman
I'd let any girl blow me off
Cuz you're more important than the rest
Milestone's film, produced by Howard Hughes, fell into public domain and has been duped and duped from dupes from dupes and then from other dupes so many times over the years, that inferior copies have had a clear effect upon making the picture seem creaky and vaguely unwatchable.

Not anymore. With this restoration we can now delight in what really makes this picture tick. And boy, does it tick. Like a time bomb and then some.

In the play, all of the action takes place in the courthouse press room. Director Milestone and screenwriters Bartlett Cormack and Charles Lederer (the latter being the scenarist responsible for His Girl Friday) stay relatively true to the play, but occasionally open things up, but only in the most naturalistic manner. The dialogue blasts a few million miles per second and the milieu is appropriately grungy, replete with plenty of garbage strewn about and clouds of cigarette smoke.

The cast is full of terrific character actor mugs, wrapping their lips around the sharp-edged lines with all the snap, crackle and pop money could by. These men are inveterate bad husbands, gamblers, drunks, lice of the highest order, BUT they are great journalists, laying in wait for the kill like a pack of hyenas.

Milestone's camera brilliantly captures the claustrophobic atmosphere of the setting without choking us on theatrical sawdust. His camera moves deftly and fluidly, but when he needs to, he lets it sit to let the great dialogue do the talking - knowing full well that there's nothing more cinematic than scintillating banter. On stage, the importance of the telephones connected to the reporters' various outlets could not be stressed enough, but with Milestone's direction, it's not only paramount, but his coverage of moments when the men all grab the phones has the rat-a-tat-tat power of a machine gun.


Pat O'Brien, who spent most of his career as a happy go lucky Irishman and/or priest, gets a rare opportunity here to indulge in his manner-than-manly qualities as Hildy. The dapper Adolphe Menjou is easily matched with Cary Grant's eventual shot at the role of the scurrilous newspaper editor Walter Burns. A supporting standout is the persnickety Edward Everett Horton as the fey reporter with a cleanliness fixation. Mary Brian acquits herself beautifully as O'Brien's lady in love and Mae Clark (known as the Baron's wife in James Whale's Frankenstein and as the moll whom Chaney pulverizes in the face with a grapefruit in The Public Enemy delivers one of the film's best performances as Molly Malloy, the hapless hooker with a heart of gold who desperately attempts to protect the innocent killer. She's so moving, it's hard not to get choked up over her selflessness and kindness.

Where The Front Page really crackles is its deeply black humour and satirical jabs at the entire business of both the media and politics. One hilariously nasty scene has reporter Frank McHugh questioning a woman victimized by a Peeping Tom while all the other guys in the press room bellow out catcalls and lewd, rude remarks. Another scene has a boneheaded Austrian psychiatrist (a great little cameo by Gustav von Seyffertitz) ordered to do a final examination of the falsely convicted killer. He wants the killer to recreate his crime and moronically requests the sheriff's gun (who even more moronically gives it up) and then hands the loaded pistol to the condemned man who, partially in fear and partially under hypnosis, fills the court-appointed psychiatrist full of lead. Even more hilarious is when Walter gets his hired thug Diamond Lou (a deliciously sleazy Maurice Black) kidnap Hildy's future mother-in-law to keep her trap shut when she discovers the secret behind the big scoop the boys are onto.

Bitingly funny and oddly prescient is the fact that the poor condemned man is being railroaded by the Mayor and Sheriff to garner the African-American vote since the murder victim was one of Chicago's very few Black police officers. Neither clearly cares about any of this, save for getting re-elected. To see a film 85 years old, a comedy no less, dealing with such charged political material makes one realize just how bad and empty most comedies are today.

Dark political humour aside, The Front Page, like its gender-switching remake His Girl Friday IS about love: love for the newspaper business, love for the company of other men and most of all, love between Walter and Hildy. Don't get me wrong, The Front Page allows us, like the cake we can have and eat it too, male-female romance in addition to the aforementioned manly BRO-mantic hijinx. I have to admit, though, that the machinations of Walter Burns to keep Hildy Johnson in the business, as well as a remarkable scene where the two men begin to reminisce about all their adventures together, IS downright warm, funny AND romantic.

For those who know and love His Girl Friday, The Front Page makes a lovely companion piece. You might even learn to love it just as much. If you don't know either, watch Milestone's film first, then Hawks', then cherish both forever.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: ***** 5 Stars

The Front Page is available on a gorgeous Blu-Ray from Kino-Lorber. The picture and sound have never looked this good, however, the source material will eventually require an insanely meticulous, frame-by-frame going-over to remove over 85 years of wear and tear. The extras are simple, but such a thing of beauty, that this is probably one of the outstanding Blu-Ray home entertainment releases of the year. In addition to the inclusion of promo materials, two original radio broadcasts (one starring Walter Winchell) and a great little documentary about the Library of Congress film restoration program, this release features one of the best commentary tracks I've heard in years for any classic motion picture. Filmmaker, historian and home entertainment producer Bret Wood delivers a track that's entirely free of the usual crap on these things: no stupid anecdotal stuff, tons of great info about the film that even I didn't know before (and that takes some doing) and I thoroughly appreciated the variety of sources he uses (including whether they're corroborated or not). Wood's track is not only superbly researched, but his delivery is also terrific: clear, enthusiastic, but without sounding like a fanboy and NOT (thank God) sounding dry and academic. This is a stellar Blu-Ray that's well worth owning. It's a keeper!!!

Monday, 17 August 2015

PINK FLAMINGOS - Review By Greg Klymkiw in "Electric Sheep - a deviant view of cinema"


PINK FLAMINGOS is screening as part of
It isn’t Very Pretty…
The Complete Films of John Waters (Every Goddam One of Them…)

6, 19, 25 September 2015 at BFI Southbank


Here's an excerpt from Greg Klymkiw's review of
John Waters' Pink Flamingos featured in the
latest issue of UK's coolest online movie mag


‘Just look at these,’ the Egg Man beams proudly. ‘Eggs so fresh you could hardly believe it. How about it, Edie? What will it be for the lady that the eggs like the most?’ Though Edie is placated, her ‘egg paranoia’ seems to rear its head once more, this time in the Egg Man’s presence as she begins to shudder desperately, almost orgasmically, screaming ‘Oh God, Oh God!’ However, the Egg Man will have none of it when he declares, ‘Miss Edie, as long as there are chickens laying and trucks driving and my feet walking, you can be sure that l will bring you the finest of the fine, the largest of the large and the whitest of the white. ln other words, that thin-shelled ovum of the domestic fowl will never be safe as long as there are chickens laying. I am your Egg Man and there ain’t a better one in town!’

So, does anyone reading this summary of egg obsession feel like the events are perfectly normal?

Oh, good. I’m glad you think so too.

READ THE FULL REVIEW BY CLICKING HERE

Sunday, 16 August 2015

A MASTER BUILDER - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Wallace Shawn knocks another one out of the park with his great Ibsen adaptation, now on Criterion Blu-Ray



A Master Builder (2014)
Scr. Wallace Shawn
Dir. Jonathan Demme
Starring: Wallace Shawn, Julie Hagerty, Lisa Joyce,
Larry Pine, Andre Gregory, Emily Cass McDonnell, Jeff Biehl

Review By Greg Klymkiw

This marvellous Henrik Ibsen theatrical reverie has been beautifully adapted by screenwriter Wallace (My Dinner With Andre) Shawn and tuned into a compelling, funny and moving feature film by Jonathan Demme. It is at once the imagining of Hilde Wangel (Lisa Joyce), a young woman who was once inappropriately wooed as a child by the film's male protagonist, the famed architect and developer Halvard Solness (Wallace Shawn).

The film is as much a trance-like meditation as it is a death dream, though played out quite naturalistically as a linear narrative until the dreams of both the living and the dead slowly, subtly take over and we're plunged into a heartbreaking lament for the lost dreams of youth and old age.

Shawn's screenplay wisely does not betray the theatrical roots of the piece by unnecessarily opening it up, but keeping the action centred and played-out within the majestic Holness estate. Halvard built the home to replace the one which burned down, destroying all of the family heirlooms and memories along with his own children. It is within this comfortable new house in which he's he's been living with his long-loyal-and-suffering wife Aline (Julie Hagerty), whilst working with an assistant, Kaia Fosli (Emily Cass McDonnell), the fiancé of his young architectural junior partner Ragnar Brovik (Jeff Biehl) who is, in turn, the gifted son of Halvard's aging former partner and best friend Knut (Andre Gregory, the "Andre" of the aforementioned film masterpiece and theatrical director of the stage version).

The brainy, beautiful, ethereal Hilde comes into both the strained professional and personal lives of the ailing Halvard, She's more than a match for the cranky, dweebish, toad-like, yet brilliant old architect and much of the drama plays out in a combination of fractious relations from fifteen years earlier in their lives. A strange intellectual discourse seems to overtake her reminiscences of the clearly uncomfortable wooing Halvard attempted upon Hilde when she was just 14-years-old. What she reminds him of, finally, is not the pedophiliac overtures, but rather, the moment when his senses took hold of him and he instead urged her to come into his life when she was an adult. Most notably, Halvard promised Hilde the dazzling notion of "castles in the sky". In a nutshell, she's held this promise close to her heart these many long years and she's come to collect.

Director Jonathan Demme attempts to maintain the stylistic approach brought by the late, great filmmaker Louis Malle (Au revoir les enfants, Atlantic City, Pretty Baby) to both My Dinner With Andre and its followup, Vanya on 42nd Street.

Demme plays out scenes in nice, generous takes, often in two-shots and only in claustrophobic closeups when absolutely necessary and his overall visual design allows for cuts and punch-ins so judicious that rather than jarring us, they appear as grand punctuation marks to infuse the work with an ideal sense of shock/surprise to be both showy (intentionally so) and to move the drama ever forward.


Eschewing the fastidious, though middle of the road craft he employed on work like the ludicrously overrated Silence of the Lambs and the execrable Philadelphia, Demme comes much closer in tone and spirit to his concert films with the Talking Heads and Neil Young, as well as his delicate touches on work like Melvin and Howard and Handle With Care, Demme is faced here with the seemingly unenviable task of carrying Malle's torch, but ultimately making the film his own.

The pace of the film is modulated with a delicacy that allows us to take in the gorgeous performances and dazzling interplay between the actors. The writing is so solid that it provides a superb roadmap for Demme's sensitive direction that at several points we're jarred, not by cuts, but by performances which, mostly via Shawn and Joyce, take place within gorgeously composed shots with little or no camera movement and yet exploding kinetically with some of the strangest bursts of cacophonous laughter between two characters as the film progresses.

Though the visual, tonal shifts into reverie are subtle, they're also plainly obvious if you are looking for them, allowing us to enjoy the relationships between the film's characters as they would and/or could have been, but without any false trick pony "surprises".

The film is finally as hypnotic as the two other works in the Wallace Shawn/Andre Gregory canon that even as we watch this touching tale of love, yearning and redemption, we do indeed forget that the dramatic arc is one of reverie and when it culminates as such, our emotions are genuinely tweaked because we're both astounded by the consummate artistry of the work as much as we are by the sheer, unalterable humanity of this great, great film.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: ***** Five Stars

A Master Builder is available on a great Criterion Blu-Ray, one its own or in a fabulous box which includes My Dinner With Andre and Vanya on 42nd Street. The gorgeously produced Blu-Ray for this film comes with a lovely high-definition digital master, supervised by director of photography Declan Quinn, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray, a ew interview with director Jonathan Demme, stage director–actor André Gregory, and writer-actor Wallace Shawn, conducted by film critic David Edelstein, a ew conversation between actors Julie Hagerty and Lisa Joyce, a new program featuring Gregory, Shawn, and their friend, author Fran Lebowitz in conversation. There is a trailer and an excellent essay by film critic Michael Sragow

Feel Free To Order the film from the following links on this page and contribute to the ongoing maintenance of The Film Corner.

In Canada, buy HERE


In USA, buy HERE


In UK, buy HERE

Saturday, 15 August 2015

PART TWO: WHY I HATE (MOST) CONTEMPORARY TV DRAMA - An Ultra-Grumpy-Pants Film Corner Editorial Commentary by Greg Klymkiw


Part Two: Why I Hate (Most) Contemporary TV Drama

Film Corner Editorial Commentary By Greg Klymkiw

In 1977 I bore witness, along with millions upon millions of others, to the birth of event television - the mini-series that started it all, Roots. Alex Haley's fictionalized recounting of his slave ancestry was a must-see and I waited with the kind of anticipation I've seldom ever experienced for anything.

Everyone just knew you couldn't miss this event - a powerful, brutal, reality-based series of the slave trade: from the jungles of Africa, to the horrendous slave ship journey, the demeaning slave auctions and the eventual life of misery on the plantations of Southern Whitey, spanning decades and eventually ending with the freedom of the slaves after the Civil War. The mini-series hammered home what we all knew about, but had never before experienced in such stark detail in any dramatic rendering of this shameful period of American history. Night after night, millions of us returned to our TV sets faithfully as the drama unfurled with all the compulsive qualities great drama must have.

Still, even as a kid, I remember feeling my attention flagging a bit, and then a lot, from the mid-point and onwards. You still had to keep watching, though, because you were now so emotionally invested in the characters and mostly because this was the cutting edge - the first major TV event to take the perspective of the African-American slaves.

I knew, though, that something wasn't quite right with Roots anymore and damned if I could figure it out. Eventually it didn't matter because the series delivered a major wallop in the final episode that was the thing that stayed with me and millions of others.

That was the first and only time I saw Roots until about five years ago when I purchased a DVD box-set of the whole series. The first three instalments were as chilling and compelling as I remembered, but then the sag occurred and it didn't take long to figure out why I had lost all interest in the series and investment in the characters.

The narrative settled into a soap opera - a kind of General Hospital or As the World Turns on the old plantations. This certainly wasn't the horrific, mind-bending melodrama of Richard Fleischer's feature film of Mandingo, but a kind of creaky, lazy and dull piece of television that retained one's interest by the sheer weight of TV-storytelling tropes - the emotional cliff-hangers, if you will. And damn, you not only experienced a letdown, but you knew exactly what it was that kept you watching, only this time, I was able to see the stitching and believe you me, it was a mighty sloppy job in the garment factory for the remaining episodes.

At least cliffhangers in the serials of the 30s and 40s were infused with dazzling derring do and not the oodles of soap suds found in serial-styled TV series.


This, of course, is the very thing that turned me off to television's so-called "New Golden Age". Like clockwork, everything felt like a bit of hook 'em, reel 'em in and toss 'em in the nets from which it was impossible to escape. This time, though, I was having none of it. Escape I did.

Why? Because I didn't sign up for soap opera. Hell, if I want soap suds, I'm just going to slap on a Douglas Sirk movie and watch the very best - one that's rooted in the genuine post-war ennui of the very times in which the films were made.

So, this brings me to True Detective, another series that everyone and their dog - people whose tastes and opinions I respect - began the mantra I'd been experiencing for so long about this serialized form of contemporary TV drama, this so-called "novelistic" approach to visual storytelling with an accent on character, supposedly great writing and stellar performances.

Happily, I did not succumb to Season One of True Detective, but an opportunity presented itself to me with respect to Season Two. A dear friend of mine, much younger, but highly educated and intelligent, mentioned he was going to be watching an episode from the Second Season. He suggested I absolutely had to give it a whirl and for once, I didn't argue. I said, "Yeah, sounds great."

However, before the show began to unspool, my friend insisted he explain a few things about the characters and the plot thus far.

"No, please don't."

He insisted I needed this tutelage since he was sure I'd have no idea what was going to be happening.

"Don't worry," I assured him. "I'll figured it out all too quickly and easily."

And guess what? I did.

I didn't need to know any of the machine-tooled storytelling gymnastics of the previous episodes, they were all too apparent. (This kind of surprised me because it was the kind of thing I delighted in when I watched great 60s crime shows like Perry Mason, though where it seems like great writing there, here, it just seemed like sloppy writing.)

A trio of rogue undercover cops are hanging out in a seedy motel as they uncover a huge conspiracy involving the Russian mob and politicians of all stripes, including a highly influential and respected Attorney General figure. I learned in short order that Colin Farrell was used by a scumbag mob boss to bump off a bad egg in the syndicate under the ludicrous pretence that he was in fact whacking the man who raped his now-estranged wife. Colin is now under this scumbag's thumb, but he's working shit out in order to get back in the good graces with both his conscience and the police force.


The scumbag mob boss is played by Vince Vaughn. Even though he's saddled with a whole lot of terrible dialogue, he strikes an imposing figure nonetheless. His performance might be the best and only watchable element of this whole series. At least he gets a genuinely great scene where he interrogates a scumbag who's betrayed him, smashes a whiskey glass into his face, pounds the shit out of him, shoots him in the gut and then watches him die in agony while he pours himself a fresh tumbler of booze. Alas, this isn't a kickass feature length crime picture from a real director like David Ayer and starring Vince Vaughn as the main character, a sleazy, reptilian, but kind of sexy killer.

This is just another TV show.

Taylor Kitsch is along for the ride as a cop being blackmailed for his penchant for homosexual dalliances. His wifey doesn't know, of course, and he doesn't want her to find out. Worse yet, Taylor's in so deep on this idiotically convoluted situation with Colin, that he fears for his wife's safety and needs to place her in hiding. Wifey whines about it and just keeps up with the pressures being placed on their marriage by hubby's activities.

And then, we get the most ridiculous character of all played by Rachel McAdams. Oh boy, does she get herself an opportunity to act up a storm here. She's not only a rogue undercover cop, but she's trying to come down from a drug-induced high when she attended some weird-ass Russian Mob orgy as a "prostitute". She keeps going on about all the weird things she saw and participated in, but we figure out that nothing really happened to her at all. Even though she was pumped full of drugs and booze, she was still able to escape being porked by some slimy old man and is now feeling guilty about killing a scumbag lower-drawer thug.

Worse yet, she has "intimacy" issues. Oh Christ, help me! At one point she tries to get some Colin Farrell schwance twixt her thighs, but it dissipates into nothing. We get the brilliant dialogue in which she blames the drugs and Colin justifying not boning her because she's out of his league.

Fuck, this was getting stupid.


I finally had to laugh uproariously when the tough, but sensitive McAdams goes to visit her weak-ass father played by David Morse. We find out how he was kind of responsible for her being abducted and raped as a kid and Morse, with considerable sorrow, self-pityingly blames himself for everything. Morse also seems to be adorned with the stupidest looking hippy tresses I've ever seen, adding, no doubt, to the hilarity of every dreadful line he must utter.

In fact, some of the dreadful dialogue in this scene has been seared into my brain with a branding iron.

"God damn everything,” Daddy laments.

McAdams brilliantly-scribed retort is, "That’s what I say."

Give these writers an Emmy!

Jesus H. Christ! That's what I say? Did a monkey write this dialogue?

And then comes the pièce de résistance. Morse asks his daughter if she'll turn herself in for the killing, but he makes the stupid gaffe of not even querying her if she really did it. This kind of pisses her off and she wonders why he wouldn't ask. Guess what his brilliantly written reply is.

"I don't have to," he says with more than a touch of regret, guilt and paternal love in his voice. He looks at her soulfully before uttering the next knee-slapper which is, "You’re the most innocent person I know."

COME ON. ARE THESE WRITERS ON LITHIUM?

You’re the most innocent person I know?????????

This is beyond the pale. Not even the worst poverty-row noir picture, not even the most abominable 70s crime picture, not even the most godawful TV cop procedural has ever stooped to such hackneyed, soapy dialogue.

At this point, I got up and announced to my friend that I needed to take a crap. He kindly offered to pause the program. "No need," I said, perhaps a bit too smugly. "I know where all this is going."

I stumbled into the water closet, plopped myself down on the throne and enjoyed a healthy expunging of putrid faecal matter whilst I enjoyed a few games of Scrabble on my iPhone.


Once again, I am agog at what constitutes great television and convinced even more that great television these days might well be one of the biggest oxymorons in the history of oxymora.

Ah well, I'm still happily ploughing through The Wire. And yeah, I'm still pissed off at how long it's taking to slog through, but at least I'm enjoying every second of it and have at least one example of contemporary TV drama I like so I'm not totally accused of being a big, fat, grumpy pants.

For further elaboration on my "history" with TV and a review of the Criterion Collection GOLDEN AGE OF AMERICAN TELEVISION, please visit the super-cool online UK-based film mag: "Electric Sheep - a deviant view of cinema" and read my in-depth article in my very first COLONIAL REPORT (ON CINEMA) FROM THE DOMINION OF CANADA column from 2010, pictured left, by clicking HERE.

Friday, 14 August 2015

PART ONE: WHY I HATE (MOST) CONTEMPORARY TV DRAMA - Grumpy-Pants Film Corner Editorial Commentary By Greg Klymkiw


Why I Hate (Most) Contemporary TV Drama

Film Corner Editorial Commentary By Greg Klymkiw

I pretty much stopped watching television in the 1980s. There were, mind you, a few exceptions to the rule. In Canada, our public broadcaster, the CBC, used to have great news and public affairs programming on both regional and national levels. In recent years, this has not been the case. Regional coverage has plummeted and the style of presentation became so much glitzier (in that pathetic Canadian way of "glitzy").

I was also enamoured with some of the CBC's original dramatic productions.

To this day, Jerry Ciccoritti's Trudeau holds up as one of the best movies for television - ever, Canadian or otherwise. The solid writing by Wayne Grigsby and a superb cast went a long way to making it riveting viewing, but most brilliantly, the epic film was endowed with a directorial voice. Replicating the styles of filmmakers Richard Lester, Costa-Gavras, Bernardo Bertolucci and Alan J. Pakula, director Ciccoritti deftly captured four key periods in the life of Canada's superstar Prime Minister. This was not mere replication, either, but a stylistic springboard to visually capture Trudeau's personal and political life over two decades. Trudeau was imbued with the kind of stakes, scope and directorial razzle-dazzle that felt like genuine cinema - much like the phenomenal 70s run of ABC's Movies of the Week (Spielberg's Duel being a case in point).


Dramatic series at the CBC during this period also put a nail in the coffin of its horrifically folksy Canadiana like "The Beachcombers" and Kevin Sullivan's wretch-inducing L.M. Montgomery adaptations with limited series like Ken Finkleman's meta-satire The Newsroom, Bruce McDonald and Don McKellar's insane Kensington Market-set Twitch City and William D. MacGillivray's sadly short-lived comedy about Maritime cabbies, Gullages.

For a time, TV seemed cool again and shockingly, it was Canadian, and even more jaw-dropping was that it was coming from one of the most uncool broadcasting entities in the history of television, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Alas, the new millennium brought horrendous changes to the public corporation and supposed "vision" began to turn it into a pallid ratings-grabber of the lowest order (albeit politely vulgar as this was Canada).

As well, I found myself enamoured with truly cutting edge educational, documentary and kids programming at the publicly funded TV Ontario (TVO) and over at upstart Showcase came the most truly, genuinely vulgar (in all the best ways) comedy The Trailer Park Boys.

As a Canadian, it made me feel mighty good that my disdain for television continued with American programming, but that Canada was bursting at the seams with product that made everything else look as awful and unwatchable as it was. For years I proudly proclaimed I had never bothered watching even a single episode of Seinfeld, but one night in a hotel room, I succumbed to that single episode, hoping that maybe I was just being a big grumpy-pants and that maybe, just maybe, I would watch more. I didn't. I sat there agog at what had been proclaimed great television. It wasn't funny and I had no idea what the show was about. I didn't want to know.


During the 90s and 2000s, a new wave of television began to take hold. Programs like The Sopranos, Deadwood and Six Feet Under - supposedly "adult", character-driven and "novelistic" series-TV became all the rage. I refused to succumb. Then, after enough people (whom I believe in retrospect should have known better) urged me to give this stuff a whirl, so I did. The Sopranos felt like bargain-basement Scorsese, Deadwood felt like bargain-basement Sam Peckinpah (astoundingly it even felt like bargain-basement Walter Hill, the show's chief cook and bottle washer) and most egregiously Six Feet Under felt like a horrendous rip-off of a talented young Canadian filmmaker's acclaimed short film, Exhuming Tyler, an original, darkly funny little film that should have been made into a hit series, but was never taken beyond the development stages and dropped like a hot potato for being derivative of Six Feet Under. I still feel for Merlin Dervisevic, the filmmaker of that little short film.

So again, none of this acclaimed stuff did it for me. As the new millennium forged forward, programs like The Wire, Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire and most recently, True Detective were trotted out to me by friends and colleagues as being the kind of television I should watch, that it made mincemeat out of the new Hollywood feature film penchant for empty roller coaster rides. Aside from The Wire, it didn't happen for me. Hell, even The Wire is pissing me off because of the time-investment I need to make in order to follow its labyrinthian serial-styled drama.

Hilariously, this is the very thing people keep telling me - that I need to watch more than a handful of episodes for them to take hold. Uh, no. Life is short. Besides, I can put on an episode of Perry Mason from the 60s and know immediately who its main characters are and instead of following their story arcs, I'm able to follow their exploits with a different story and guest star every episode. The 50s and 60s delivered the ideal form of series television drama - it was anthology-styled, delivering a new story every week with new characters. And of course, there were straight-up anthology series like the long form Playhouse 90 and phenomenal genre anthology programs like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. What hooked you here was the revolving door of characters and stories, not the dull time-wasting crap which too many refer to as the "New Golden Age of TV". It might be gold-plated at best, but for the most part, it's bronze.

For me, I'm not interested in having to slog through the lugubrious, serialized, near soap-operatic nonsense puked up as "character-driven, novelistic" drama. It's nothing of the kind. It's all bargain-basement attempts to replicate feature film drama, but over a much longer period of time. Uh, who wants that? Life is short. The only way I'm going to commit to this sort of thing is when it's truly cutting edge like Fassbinder's Berlin Alexanderplatz or Edgar Reitz's Heimat or Lars von Trier's The Kingdom - work that lives beyond the notion of "great television", but is, in fact, "great drama" with strong directorial voices.

Some argue that I'm clearly not interested in character-driven drama and in fact, prefer plot-driven drama. "Hogwash!" is my response to this. The characters in this "new wave" seem like machine-tooled archetypes who overstay their welcome in properties designed solely to keep me watching as if I were some brain-dead content junkie.


Where TV is indeed excelling, especially over at HBO and CNN Films, is the stream of superb feature documentaries from the likes of Nick Broomfield (TALES OF THE GRIM SLEEPER) and Joe Berlinger, as well as feature length movies like Beyond the Candelabra and The Normal Heart, movies so good they should have been released theatrically first (which, thankfully, WHITEY: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA V. JAMES J. BULGER indeed was).

Some argue that feature films today are awful because the studios only do roller coaster rides and/or comedies which are little more than glorified television. To the latter I'll admit to hating it when I go to the movies just to watch TV, but some of the best comedies never feel that way - they have scope and strong directorial voices. As for roller coaster rides, they only bug me when they're miserably directed by clowns who have no aptitude for delivering the goods (Christopher Nolan, Sam Mendes). Even here, though, the exceptions to the rule belonged to George Miller, who knocked us on our butts this summer with Mad Max: Fury Road, just as Christopher McQuarrie knocked it out of the park with Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.

Besides, what's with holding up studio dross as the be-all-end-all of cinema? Does anyone bother to look at independent American cinema and, God Forbid, movies in other languages that aren't English? The past few years have yielded a myriad of genuinely great feature films from all over the world (The Tribe, anyone?).


I have maintained a regimen, since early childhood of watching at least one feature film per day, often more. This is where it's at. TV ultimately can't hold a candle to the joys inherent in films which are crafted by real filmmakers and not, ugh, "show runners" (even the phrase "show runner" makes me want to gag).

TV stinks. Face it.

If you don't face up to it, you're buying into what the Man wants you to buy into. Me, I'm going to pop on an episode of Perry Mason right now!

TO READ PART 2 (TWO) OF WHY I HATE (MOST) CONTEMPORARY TV DRAMA (WHEREIN WE CRAP ALL OVER TRUE DETECTIVE), CLICK HERE.


For further elaboration on my "history" with TV and a review of the Criterion Collection GOLDEN AGE OF AMERICAN TELEVISION, please visit the super-cool online UK-based film mag: "Electric Sheep - a deviant view of cinema" and read my in-depth article in my very first COLONIAL REPORT (ON CINEMA) FROM THE DOMINION OF CANADA column from 2010, pictured left, by clicking HERE.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER - Reviews By Greg Klymkiw - Creepy Ode to Artistic Genius


The Kindergarten Teacher (2014)
Dir. Nadav Lapid
Starring: Sarit Larry, Avi Shnaidman

Review By Greg Klymkiw

The world is so full of mediocrity, conformity and ugliness that to discover pure beauty in artistic expression makes one want to hold on to it and never let go in order to preserve the delicacy and shelter it from all that could possibly shatter, tatter and tarnish the perfection. This is what faces the title character of Nadav Lapid's extraordinary film.

Nira (Sarit Larry) is a hard-working kindergarten teacher committed to making sure her students get everything they need to enrich their minds. When she discovers that one of her students, five-year-old Yoav (Avi Shnaidman) has the mysterious ability to plunge, almost trancelike into creating some of the most astonishing poetry she's ever heard, Nira begins to spend an inordinate amount of her time with the child for fear that she'll miss an opportunity to hear him recite works of exquisite maturity and observation. She begins writing down his verse in order to preserve it.

This is all well and good until she begins to shield Yoav from the other kids in class, fearing they'll taint his genius with their normalcy. In addition to reading his work aloud in an evening adult education creative writing class - claiming it as her own, Nira even takes to unhealthily prying into the child's home life, assuming his parents are ill-equipped to nurture his artistic genius.


Nira decides the best thing she can do, is kidnap Yoav and take him away from anything she believes will be a bad influence.

Writer-director Lapid creates a creepily compelling portrait of a teacher's love for her student's genius with a steadily mounting sense of unease. This is not a traditional thriller in any sense of the word, but at times, it sure feels like a wrenching psychodrama in the tradition of early Roman Polanski.

Sarit Larry and Avi Shnaidman have a terrific onscreen chemistry and their performances are so compelling that they create, with camera-loves-them intensity, the kind of images of beauty, inspiration and even modulated terror that stay with you long after the film ends.

The film is strikingly original storytelling, never taking expected turns and always, through the sheer force of its carefully layered characterization, writing and controlled (but never "showy") direction, knocking you for several loops along the way and like all great films, compelling you to see it again and again.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: **** 4 Stars

The Kindergarten Teacher is in theatrical release via VSC (Video Services Corp.) It plays from August 14 at the Carlton Cinema in Toronto and the Cinema du Parc and Cinema Beaubien in Montreal.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

GUIDANCE - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Funny Pat Mills Comedy plays TIFF Bell Lightbox from August 14, 2015, launches NYC August 21 (Village East) and LA on August 28 (Sundance Sunset Cinema)

Guidance (2014)
Dir. Pat Mills
Starring: Pat Mills, Zahra Bentham,
Laytrel McMullen, Alex Ozerov, Kevin Hanchard, Tracey Hoyt

Review Excerpt By Greg Klymkiw

David Gold (Pat Mills) is a loser. He's a former child star reduced to taking non-union voice gigs, the latest of which he gets fired from because of his haughty, petulant, pretentious attitude. This is bad news because he's way behind on his share of the rent and on the verge of being turfed. He's got serious drug and alcohol problems and he's so deeply in the closet he won't even admit to himself that he's gay. Oh yeah, he's been diagnosed with late-stage skin cancer. None of this phases our hero. For us, the audience, it's one hell of a good deal because Guidance (the feature debut of writer, director and star Pat Mills) is all about David's hilarious decision to bamboozle his way into a job he's not qualified for, but thinks will be perfect for him. Cribbing from a child psychologist YouTube guru, David lands a cushy dream job that will not only pay well, but give him a chance to help teenagers which, for utterly insane reasons, he believes he'll be good at. He becomes the new Guidance Counsellor of Grusin High.

READ THE FULL REVIEW of Guidance from TIFF 2014 HERE

THE FILM CORNER RATING: *** Three Stars

Guidance is playing theatrically from August 14, 2015 at TIFF BELL LIGHTBOX via Search Engine Films. For further info, please visit the festival's website by clicking HERE. It also launches in the USA via Strand Releasing, August 21 (Village East) and LA on August 28 (Sundance Sunset Cinema), followed by a national release.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

SAMUEL BECKETT AND BUSTER KEATON!!! TOGETHER AGAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME!!! IF YOU CROWD FINANCE ONE PROJECT THIS YEAR, THIS IS THE ONE!!!! YOU HAVE 2 (TWO) DAYS TO ASSIST IN SUPPLEMENTING THE FINISHING OF THIS IMPORTANT WORK AND TO ENSURE THE INCLUSION OF RARE SPECIAL MATERIALS FOR THE HOME ENTERTAINMENT RELEASE!!! Footage Long Considered Lost From Legendary Film Directed By the Late Samuel Beckett Found Under a Sink in Fourth Floor Walkup Apartment in New York City - Visionary Film Distribution Company Milestone Film and Video Undertakes Its First Film Production to Document The Making of this Historical Work and Restore the Long Lost Scene That Was To Comprise One-Third of the Picture - Report By Greg Klymkiw



ATTENTION: ANYONE AND EVERYONE WHO CARES ABOUT CINEMA, HERE IS A RARE OPPORTUNITY TO BECOME INVOLVED IN THE RESTORATION OF THE ONLY FILM MADE BY PLAYWRIGHT SAMUEL BECKETT AND USING FOOTAGE RECENTLY DISCOVERED AND A DETAILED DOCUMENTARY FILM ABOUT THE MAKING OF BECKETT'S FILM (DRAWING FROM A WEALTH OF SOUND - YES, SOUND!!! - RECORDINGS FEATURING BECKETT HIMSELF, A MAJOR FIND SINCE VERY FEW RECORDINGS OF BECKETT ACTUALLY EXIST) ALL OF WHICH WAS FOUND - NO KIDDING - IN A CUPBOARD UNDER A SINK IN A FOURTH STORY WALKUP APARTMENT IN NEW YORK CITY. FILMMAKERS, FILM LOVERS, FILM PROGRAMMERS, FILMMAKING CO-OPERATIVES, MEMBERS OF SAID CO-OPERATIVES, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKERS, DOCUMENTARY PRODUCTION COMPANIES, BROADCAST EXECUTIVES, CULTURAL FUNDING OFFICIALS - ANYONE AND EVERYONE WHO CARES ABOUT FILM - READ THIS AND THE ATTACHED LINKS AND MAKE THIS PROJECT A REALITY. IT'S FOR YOU AND FUTURE GENERATIONS!

WHAT'S ESPECIALLY WONDERFUL ABOUT CONTRIBUTING TO THE KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN IS THAT THIS IS NOT ONLY ABOUT FINISHING FUNDS FOR THIS HISTORICALLY IMPORTANT PROJECT, BUT TO ACTUALLY ASSIST WITH THE WEALTH OF GREAT AND RARE BONUS MATERIALS FOR THE BLU-RAY/DVD RELEASE LIKE:

Buster Keaton and Film:
A Conversation with James Karen
A Meeting With Samuel Beckett:
A Conversation with Kevin Brownlow
Memories of Alan Schneider:
A Conversation with Jean Schneider

NOTFILM, is the title of what will prove to be one of the most anticipated documentary films over the next year or so. The movie will explore the making of the classic 1965 film entitled, FILM. NOTFILM will focus upon the historic collaborative process between the greatest playwright of the 20th Century, Samuel Beckett, silent film actor Buster Keaton, Grove Press publishing magnate Barney Rossett, theatre director Alan Schneider (director of over 100 theatrical productions including the American premieres of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Waiting For Godot), legendary film, TV and theatre actor James Karen (movie fans will never forget his performances in Return of the Living Dead and Wall Street), editor and director Sidney Meyers (responsible for such groundbreaking films as The Quiet One, Edge of the City and The Savage Eye) and last, but not least, Academy-Award-Winning cinematographer (and brother of Dziga Vertov) Boris Kaufman (who fought with the French army against the Nazis, escaped to Canada where he worked with John Grierson at the National Film Board and shot many of the most important films of all time including Zéro de conduit, L'Atalante, Zou-Zou, On The Waterfront, 12 Angry Men, The Fugitive Kind, Long Day's Journey Into Night, The World of Henry Orient and The Pawnbroker).

Milestone Film and Video continues its important, visionary and groundbreaking work in the restoration of important cinema with its first official foray into film production with an extraordinary project. Milestone was formed in 1990 by Dennis Doros and Amy Heller and since then, they've been the go-to-diviners for all cineastes to revel in work of the greatest importance in the development of film as the miracle art form it is. For me, I cannot even begin to imagine a world of cinema without them.

My own life and love for movies and even that of my family has been so enriched by the great work we've been able to experience from Milestone. The list of phenomenal work that graces our library and continues to give joy on repeated viewings includes Lionel Rogosin’s On the Bowery, Mikhail Kalatozov’s I Am Cuba, Marcel Ophuls’s The Sorrow and the Pity, Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep, all the phenomenal collections of Nell Shipman, Mary Pickford, Charley Chase. the phenomenal early silent and sound documentaries set in far flung exotic locales - the list goes on and on. This is a library of lovingly curated and restored work that speaks volumes to how passion and commitment to cinema CAN be a viable business proposition for those who truly have the right stuff in the movie business - a business that has become so lazy and ephemeral in its desire to provide mere content for the lowest possible cost and the least amount of effort.

Of course, this wouldn't be possible for Milestone without great collaborators like Ross Lipman, the legendary UCLA Film & Television Archive restorationist who has painstakingly and exquisitely brought so many lost, damaged and/or worn classic movies back to life which, in turn have been disseminated to the world via Milestone.



Lipman and Milestone are the key collaborators on NOTFILM, the director and producer respectively.

The importance of this project has seldom been paralleled in the recent history of film restoration. That footage thought to be long-ago lost will now be lovingly restored to a version of Beckett's FILM which was discarded by the Master in considerable haste and under major pressure.

PLEASE consider a crowd-funded donation of any amount to this important project. The goodies available at various levels of support are extremely generous and valuable, but most importantly, you will be integral to preserving a vital piece of film history.



The KICKSTARTER site for the film is HERE.

A great site on both FILM and NOTFILM can be found HERE. The Milestone Film and Video website, to give you a full account of the phenomenal work this company has done (and maybe, to even consider buying some of their great titles is HERE.

Some of THE FILM CORNER reviews of previous Milestone releases can be found at the following:

Shirley Clarke's immortal contribution to Gay Cinema History PORTRAIT OF JASON review is HERE

Schoedsack and Cooper's ARAYA review is HERE

Schoedsack and Cooper's GRASS: A NATION'S BATTLE FOR LIFE review is HERE

COME BACK AFRICA: The Films of Lionel Rogosin Vol. 2 review is HERE

BABY PEGGY: THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM review is HERE

MARY PICKFORD: RAGS & RICHES COLLECTION - THE POOR LITTLE RICH GIRL, THE HOODLUM, SPARROWS review is HERE

CUT TO THE CHASE: THE CHARLEY CHASE COLLECTION (One of Greg Klymkiw's Ten Best DVD/Blu-Ray Releases of 2012) review is HERE

ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S "BON VOYAGE" and "AVENTURE MALGACHE" is HERE

ON THE BOWERY - "The Films of Lionel Rogosin Volume 1" review HERE

Sessue Hayakawa's THE DRAGON PAINTER review HERE

Article about the Milestone Restoration of Shirley Clarke's "PORTRAIT OF JASON" - The CLASSIC 1967 DOC on BEING GAY and OF COLOUR in AMERICA made Greg Klymkiw's List of Great 2012 CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS at THE FILM CORNER can be found HERE