GREG KLYMKIW - THE CURMUDGEON OF CINEMA

Greg Klymkiw’s 35+ years in the movie business include journalism, screenwriting, script editing, producing iconoclastic work by Guy Maddin, Bruno Lazaro Pacheco, Alan Zweig, etc, 14 years as senior creative consultant and producer-in-residence @ Norman Jewison's Canadian Film Centre, nurturing international recognition for prairie post-modernist films with his guerrilla campaigns as the Winnipeg Film Group’s Marketing Director, writing for Film Corner, Daily Film Dose, POV, Phantom of the Movies' VIDEOSCOPE, Electric Sheep UK - a deviant view of cinema, Take One Magazine, Cinema Canada & he's currently completing 3 new books about cinema. He's the subject of Ryan McKenna’s 2013 documentary "Survival Lessons: The Greg Klymkiw Story". At last count Klymkiw had seen over 30,000 feature films. GUIDE TO RATINGS: ***** Masterpiece/MasterpiecePotential **** Excellent ***1/2 Very Good *** Good **1/2 Not Bad ** Whatever *½ Poor * Raw Sewage. If a film is not up to earning 1 star, it will earn at least: 1 Pubic Hair. If, God forbid, the movie is worse than 1 Pubic Hair, the absolute lowest rating will be: The Turd found behind Harry's Charbroil and Dining Lounge.


PLEASE NOTE: AS OF JULY, 2014, THE FILM CORNER'S STAR RATING IS LOCATED AT THE END OF THE REVIEW.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

THE ABCs OF DEATH 2 - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Canadian Premiere at Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2014, followed by a wide Canadian release on October 31, 2014 via VSC

A whole whack of directors to
deliver 26 whacks (and then some)
The ABCs of Death 2 (2014)
Dirs. Evan Katz, Julian Barratt, Julian Gilbey, Robert Morgan, Alejandro Brugués, Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado, Jim Hosking, Bill Plympton, Erik Matti, Dennison Ramalho, Kristina Buozyte, Bruno Samper, Lancelot Imasuen, Robert Boocheck, Larry Fessenden, Hajime Ohata, Todd Rohal, Rodney Ascher, Marven Kren, Juan Martinez Moreno, Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska, Vincenzo Natali, Jerome Sable, Steven Kostanski, Julien Maury, Alexandre Bustillo, Soichi Umezawa, Chris Nash.

Starring: Tristan Risk, Conor Sweeney, Béatrice Dalle, Nina Iordanova and shitloads of others

Review By Greg Klymkiw

This second followup to the popular anthology feature The ABCs of Death is a marked improvement over the previous outing, but it shares similar, albeit less egregious obstacles to total appreciation.

This is a full-length amalgam of 26 thematically-linked shorts, each representing letters of the English alphabet which stand for a word that delivers a solid "kill" within a short narrative, each of which expunged upon celluloid by 26 directors.

Sounds interesting enough, but the whole package is a serious slog. Amidst the stuff that works, you're forced to watch a whack o' titles that range from ambition-exceeding-their-delivery (but worth seeing) to just plain middle-of-the-road (but watchable) to sucking a dirty, sweaty scrotum.

With this in mind, I'm going to primarily concentrate on letters of the alphabet that deliver good, better than good or just plain terrific short genre films.

And, of course, kills of the highest order. Jesus, for all of my kvetching, what's not to like?

"D" is for Deloused is UK director Robert Morgan's delightfully baroque animated short about a repulsive bug assisting a creepy gent get some mega-payback upon those who were responsible for his execution. Morgan's palette is wadded with globules of the most odious colours which he's skilfully wielded with abandon, aplomb and appropriate nausea appeal. Lots of disgusting viscera on display and a whack of decidedly dark laughs are the hallmarks of this outlandishly imaginative cartoon for kiddies of all ages who desire plenty of viscous fluids with their breakfast cereal (or as their breakfast cereal).

The Film Corner Rating: ****


"H" is for Head Games has been spewed from whatever orifices Master Animator Bill Plympton chooses to release his brilliantly unhinged images and ideas. Here, two people engage in the simple, passionate act of kissing. Imagine if you will, the scandal caused by all 47-seconds of Edison's famous 1896 filmed re-enactment depicting a kiss twixt the somewhat disgusting May Irwin and John Rice then blend it together with Raymond Carver's short story "Popular Mechanics" in which two parents play tug-of-war with their child. You get the drift.

The Film Corner Rating: *****


"Q" is for Questionnaire is belched out from the ultra-cool Rodney Ascher who delivered the phenomenal conspiracy theory documentary Room 237 about the more brilliantly psychotic theories behind Stanley Kubrick's much-loved and oft-debated horror masterpiece The Shining. In the grand tradition of documentary direct cinema, cross-pollinated with zero-budgeted 50s/60s "brain" genre films, he presents two sides of a delightful coin as he bounces twixt an intelligence test and a man's brain being transplanted into the head of a gorilla. The only thing missing is the gorilla leeringly emitting a Jack Nicholson-like "Heeeeeeerrrrrrreeeee's Johnny!"

The Film Corner Rating: ***1/2


"S" is for Split is an ideal short genre film and makes clever, literal and metaphorical use of its title. Juan Martinez Moreno creates a numbing nightmare involving a cel phone conversation twixt a hubby and wife whilst a killer invades the family home and proceeds to search out and murder one of the significant others on view in a series of horrifically effective split screens that would make Brian De Palma proud if they didn't give the man a run for his money.

The Film Corner Rating: ***


Astron-6 Stud-Thesp Conor Sweeney
is about to learn the meaning of
PAYBACK!!!
"T" is for Torture Porn comes to us courtesy of the Soska Twins, Jen and Sylvia, those two nice Hungarian girls from British Columbia who are continually on the cutting edge of reinventing, revitalizing and just plain knocking the ball out of the genre film park. They're an important force, not just in the world of genre, but in the world of cinema period. From their crazy micro-budgeted Dead Hooker in a Trunk to the astonishing low budget sophomore effort American Mary, the Soska Sisters (aka "The Twisted Twins") were naturals for this anthology feature. Their special blend of feminist splatter is taking the world by storm. Their films are stylish, dark, funny and have plenty to say about the world we live in. Herewith, the legend continues as the ladies wear metaphor on their sleeves in a winning fashion. Astron-6's prime thespian stud Conor Sweeney presides over a grim audition for torture porn and proceeds to debase a young actress (the great Tristan Risk) in the most despicable fashion. Payback is inevitable. Happily for the abused actress and the audience, the Soskas unleash payback of the Most Delicious Urotsukidōji Kind. Scumbags Beware!!! There's a vengeful new Overfiend in town and SHE's not interested in raping little schoolgirls in uniform.

The Film Corner Rating: ***1/2


"U" is for Utopia is pure Vincenzo (Cube, Splice, Haunter) Natali. The man has a distinctive voice you can detect within seconds of seeing his seemingly cold, clinical, horrifying and mordantly funny work. Here we face a dystopian world of public execution (in malls, no less) and for the most egregious of crimes (in a perfect world, of course). Imagine, if you will, a dash of Kubrick, a sprinkling of Jean-Baptiste Leonetti, a few drops of Harlan Ellison via L.Q. Jones ('natch) and a few buckets o' Pure Natali. It's tasty!

The Film Corner Rating: ***1/2


"W" is for Wish is the latest cinematic chub o' kielbassa from that Winnipeg Wunderkind of the Astron-6 persuasion, the one, the only, Steven Kostanski. The madman behind Manborg serves up a delicious blend of his delightfully retro special effects and the kind of wonder we all felt as kids (and that those of us, who've never grown up, still feel). Kostanski's operating on similar ground to the Soskas here by wearing metaphor proudly (and entertainingly on his sleeve). The less said about this gem, the better. Suffice to say, we're given a dose, through the eyes of children, of how the things we wish for might come terrifyingly true. Mega-Bravo!

The Film Corner Rating: ****


"X" is for Xylophone by Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo features Béatrice Dalle, the still sexy Betty Blue girl herself, the incomparable muse of Jean-Jacques Beineix and every strapping young 70s/80s lad's mega-masturbation fantasy. Here, she's a somewhat long-in-tooth babysitter being driven to places she'd rather not traverse to, courtesy of an annoying child plunking on a fucking xylophone. Xylophone's in the hands of babes are fine, but only in moderation and this goddamn kid just doesn't know the meaning of the word.

The Film Corner Rating: ***


Refrain from ingesting your guitar.
"Y" is for Youth is what's been barfed up from within the diseased mind of ace Japanese makeup and SFX whiz Soichi Umezawa. His cinematic blown chunks reveal an equally diseased mind - that of a young woman fantasizing violent payback for those in her family who would dare abuse her. If you've a fetish for sword swallowing electric guitars, viscous pustules, juicy white worms and other taste treats, you're sure to be dazzled by the fantasies of this demented young missy exploring the true extert of her desires for vengeance.

The overriding question is this: Is fantasy reality? O! Land of Nippon! I love thee!

The Film Corner Rating: ***


"Z" is for Zygote is the last short in the anthology and it's the surprise treat of ABCs of Death 2. The less said about the plot and/or content of Chris Nash's creepily eerie and downright brilliant shocker, the better. Just let it work its savoury magic upon you whilst rivalling the pus sucks hanging from Samantha Eggar's tummy in David Cronenberg's The Brood.

Storytelling and shocks at their very best.

The Film Corner Rating: ****


So there you have it: 10 fine films out of 26. Titles where the ambition of the filmmakers either exceeds their reach as filmmakers and/or falls short in the delivery department, but are worth seeing include "C" is for Capital Punishment, "F" is for Falling, "J" is for Jesus, "L" is for Legacy and "O" is for Ochlocracy. Adding these titles to the list increases the watchability-factor to 15 out of 26 titles. Adding middle of the road mediocrity (no need to point fingers on this inevitability) increases watchability to 19 out of 26 titles. The most horrendously disappointing film is master filmmaker Larry Fessenden's lazy effort "N" is for Nexus. The number of shorts that suck dirty, sweaty scrotum (including Fessenden's) are a mere 7 out of 26 titles. Not too bad at all when you get right down to it. Add to this mix cool opening and closing title sequences to the whole anthology and The ABCs of Death 2 yields a fine genre treat for horror lovers - especially as Halloween is looming.

THE FILM CORNER RATING for all 10 titles in the 3-5-Star Range: **** 4-Stars
THE FILM CORNER RATING for all 19 titles in the 2-5-Star Range: *** 3-Stars
THE FILM CORNER RATING for the whole 26-title package: **½ 2-and-a-half Stars

The ABCs of Death 2 had its Canuck launch at the 2014 edition of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival. It will be released theatrically in Canada (and via VOD and digital platforms) on October 31, 2014 through everyone's have Canuck indie distributor VSC. Playdates include the following:

On Demand and iTunes October 20, In Theatres October 31

Opens October 31
Toronto – Carlton Cinema, 20 Carlton Street
Calgary – Globe Cinema, 617 8th Avenue Southwest

Opens November 1
Vancouver – Rio Theatre, 1660 East Broadway

Opens November 5
Montreal – Centre PHI, 407 Rue Saint Pierre

Opens November 7
Ottawa – The Mayfair Theatre, 1074 Bank Street

Magnet Releasing is handling the distribution honours in USA

Friday, 17 October 2014

DeadSnow2REDvsDEADakaDødSnø2 ReviewByGregKlymkiw 2014TorontoAfterDarkFilmFestivalOct18@9:30pm

A rotting, flesh-eating Obergruppenführer der
Einsatzgruppen der Sicherheitspolizei Zombie
Waffen is no mere wurst einen Gehackte Leber!
Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead
aka"Død snø 2" (2014)
Dir. Tommy Wirkola
Starring: Vegar Hoel, Ørjan Gamst, Martin Starr, Jocelyn DeBoer, Ingrid Haas, Stig Frode Henriksen, Jesper Sundnes, Tage Guddingsmo, Charlotte Frogner

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Those plucky Nazi Zombies have returned to invade contemporary Norway, but there's little need to see the precursor to this sequel, since the first instalment wasn't especially good to begin with, nor is there any real need to get up to speed with it. All one needs to know is that the latest shenanigans of Der Führer's rotting, flesh-eating Waffen-SS in Død snø 2, is a truly jaw-agape treat of the highest order.

Martin (Vegar Hoel) is hell bent on avenging his girlfriend's death from the first Nazi Zombie outing. However, a major screw-up finds zombie Kommandant Herzog's (Orjan Gamst) hand sewn onto Martin's arm. Herzog, in turn, now sports Martin's hand. Complications ensue from the swap and lead to laughs-a-plenty and a running homage to Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead.

Herzog's goal is to complete a mission ordered by Der Führer - a major offensive against Norway. With the help of Zombie-Squad basement-dwelling geeks from America and resurrecting Soviet zombies, it doesn't take too long for an all-out battle on Norwegian soil. Carnage ultimately rules the day. The movie has a few shock-cut scares, but for the most part, it's very existence is rooted in non-stop gross-out gags, thus solidifying Død snø 2 as a madcap farce, replete with a barrage of Zucker-Abrams-Zucker-like one-liners and slapstick humour. There's nothing really scary about the picture, but it's a damn joyous one.

Amusingly, the movie features a very strange homage to Star Wars and manages to sneak in famous lines of dialogue into the proceedings. I'm no fan of Lucas's blockbuster space opera, but the geek-meter in me still hit the top bubble when I encountered the dialogue in what feels like virtually every scene in Dead Snow 2. God knows I found this movie way more entertaining than any of the Star Wars movies (and, for that matter, many others), but then again, how could any movie that feels like Braveheart with Nazi Zombies and Norwegians, not be anything less than captivating?

With movies like this one, there was a halcyon time when you used to be able to say, with a bit of tongue-in-cheek, "Oh, those crazy Germans!" Given the oddball movie output of Norway in recent years, one is more likely to emit the friendly chiding, "Oh, those crazy Norwegians!"

(And, of course, as this film is Norwegian, but shot in bloody Iceland, feel free to add, "Oh, those crazy Goolies!")

THE FILM CORNER RATING: *** 3-Stars

>Død snø 2 plays the 2014 Toronto After Dark Film Festival. Visit the TADFF website HERE!

THE GUEST - Review By Greg Klymkiw - New Wingard Thriller opens theatrically in Toronto on October 17, 2014

Good thrillers ALWAYS have
BABES & HUNKS
(in addition to being, uh, good).
The Guest (2014)
Dir. Adam Wingard
Starring: Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe

Review By Greg Klymkiw

This creepy, edge-of-you-seat thriller is a cool contemporary take on Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt. It ain't Hitchcock (what is?) and The Master would never let scribe Simon Barrett get away with the disappointing, too-predictable "shocker" reveal that slides its way into the proceedings, but director Wingard more-than-ably puts his terrific thespians through decent blood-soaked gymnastics.

David (Dan Stevens) is an old army pal of a young fella who bravely died in Afghanistan. When he returns after his tour of duty in, David pays a surprise visit to the lad's grieving family to convey his sympathy, but also to relay verbal messages croaked out during his friend's death rattles. The family is so charmed by the handsome, but kind of "off" David, that he's invited into their home to stay.

Caleb's little sister, the babe-o-licious Anna (Maika Monroe, also leading the casting charge in It Follows) is certainly enamoured with David's buff, hunky good looks, but as the film progresses, she's able to see there's something not all together right with The Guest. Danger looms, as does the bloodletting.

When it's revealed that David might not entirely be telling the truth, she keeps her eye on him and eventually realizes her family might be at risk of being iced. This is not only a good deal for thriller fans, but it's a nice contemporary spin on Hitch's classic by utilizing the whole backdrop of psychos-in-the-army, post-traumatic stress disorder and, of course, America's ridiculous waste of human life in their moronic "war on terror".

Wingard's direction here is more taut and assured than You're Next, his previous outing and even when the plot veers into please-don't-go-there territory (a similar problem that afflicted the aforementioned 2011 thriller), it's still a sheer delight to see how well he manages the carnage, action and suspense. No need to be a total grumpy-pants about the disenchantment with the turns eventually taken by the plot, as The Guest is a corker of a thriller that'll more than satisfy one's need to accidentally expunge waste matter in one's panties.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: *** 3-Stars

The Guest is a Dfilms release opening theatrically in Toronto with, hopefully, a wider release to follow.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

EVERYTHING & EVERYTHING & EVERYTHING, HAPPY B-DAY, INVADERS, SWORDFIGHTS, HE TOOK HIS SKIN OFF FOR ME Reviews by Greg Klymkiw - SHORTS AFTER DARK, 2014 TORONTO AFTER DARK FILM FESTIVAL, October18@4:15pm

Shorts After Dark is a stellar lineup of international shorts of the genre-persuasion that make the majority of pieces in the ABCs of Death and VHS anthology features look like so much swill floating in sewage treatment plants. Here's a few reviews of the TADFF offering of bite-sized bloody treats.

Blue Pyramid Expunges Doorknobs
Everything & Everything & Everything (2014)
Dir. Alberto Roldán
Starring: Shane Carruth, Makeda Declet

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Morgan (Shane Carruth, director/actor Primer, Upstream Color) is a slacker. When a blue pyramid appears in his living room, his life morphs into one of ever-increasing corporate greed and adherence to the shackles of corruptible capitalism.

You see, it's all those damned doorknobs that the glowing, almost-monolithic tchochka keeps crapping out, which provide profits and work for a myriad of slackers that Morgan is forced to hire (and offer shares, profits and points to). Alas, corporate culture swallows the slackers whole with far more gluttony than a zombie seeking brains. This clever and funny American indie satire is a daring, deadpan delight.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: *** 3-stars


A flaxen Frau offers a B-Day surprise
Happy B-Day (2013)
Dir. Holger Frick
Starring: Gabriel Raab, Isabel Thierauch

Review By Greg Klymkiw

The handsome young man (Gabriel Raab) taking a leisurely jog through a wintry German woodland is blissfully at peace. Fluffy blankets of snow adorn the flora of Der Fatherland on this, his hallowed day of birth. He's an easy-going fellow, but he absolutely hates surprises. Alas, he gets more than a few shockers he hadn't planned on when his babe-o-licious GF (Isabel Thierauch) appears out of nowhere.

Like some flaxen, winter-parka-adorned Kriemhild out of Die Nibelungen, the comely ice-queen inadvertently instigates a series of blood-soaked treats. Holger Frick's amusing shocker offers up more than its fair share of surprises and buckets of crimson nectar, but it also sneaks in a perversely dark layer of, uh, heart. It's a gutsy film, in more ways than one.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: ***1/2 3-and-a-half Stars


Swords Must Be Drawn
Is Virgin Deflowering an
art or craft? 
Swordfights! (2013)
Dir. Nasos Gatzoulis
Starring: Thanos Alexiou, Dimitris Liolios

Review By Greg Klymkiw

A gentleman visits his psychiatrist. During their session, one man reveals that he's professional deflowerer of virgins. The other admits he deflowers them for sport. The battle lines are clear. A duel is inevitable. Swords must be drawn. Swordfights! is an outrageously funny, gorgeously photographed (in monochrome) one-note joke, but it's a downright hilarious one.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: *** 3-Stars


HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY,
MOTHERFUCKERS!
BLARNEY STONES UP YER ARSES!
Invaders (2014)
Dir. Jason Kupfer
Starring: Ricky Wayne, Jordan Woods-Robinson

Review By Greg Klymkiw

A pair of bumbling home invaders argue about what masks will freak out their potential victims the most. They settle on identical masks that'd definitely instil major freak-outs once a homeowner opens the door - the humungous axes being quite an added adornment. A bloodbath ensues. A most unexpected and knee-slappingly funny expulsion of blood at that.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: *** 3-Stars


DO NOT REMOVE YOUR SKIN!
YOU CAN'T JUST PASTE IT BACK!
He Took His Skin Off For Me (2014)
Dir. Ben Aston Writer: Maria Hummer
Starring: Anna Maguire, Sebastian Armrest

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Having seen more short films than anyone in their right mind should (in addition to the ludicrous number of features I've seen in my life), it's especially gratifying to see a polished gem like this one - and not just polished, not just a gem, but a film that brilliantly contributes to expanding cinema's boundaries.

After spending 13 years as a senior creative consultant and teacher at Uncle Norman Jewison's film school the Canadian Film Centre and presiding over the mentorship of Jesus-H-Christ-Knows-How-Many short films, I'm relatively well versed in what it takes for young filmmakers to generate truly original and cutting-edge work in such a setting (often quite impossible given the pressure placed on them by - ugh - "industry stakeholders"). Since the mid-90s, far too many burgeoning filmmakers have squandered the opportunity (especially, though not exclusively in North America) to generate short films that work, quite simply, as good, if not great, films - period. Too many have been drawn to the "Look Ma, I can use a dolly, but have nothing to say" calling card nonsense which allows them a shot at camera jockeying series television (not too egregious in Jolly Old Blighty, though) or worse, making short-form versions of feature films they almost never end up making. It's enough to make a movie lover sick to the stomach. Once in awhile, though, once in a Blue Moon, once upon a mattress (as it were), a short film comes along - from a film student in an academic setting - that blows the living pants off everyone who sees it. He Took His Skin Off For Me is just such a film.

Based on a short story and screenplay by Maria Hummer, director Ben Aston has crafted a delectably creepy, darkly hilarious and jaw-droppingly perverse love story which traverses the mine fields of contemporary notions of sacrifice within the context of male-female relationships (though, frankly, any significant other coupling might well apply). Sacrifice in relationships has always been at the forefront of any deeply passionate and lasting union, but in recent decades, with the steady collapse of traditional family units and the rightful advance of women in modern societies, sacrifice, it seems can often take on the most ludicrous extremes. Here, Hummer and Aston, cleverly focus on the more traditional aspects of a relationship - one that seems to be a reflection of the kinds of traditions which can spell death for any relationship - where the rituals of what it means to be "traditional" settle into a kind of dull-as-dishwater existence of comfort and expectation.

Here, we have a couple who seek to put some pizzaz and pep back into their love. When the hubby makes an extreme sacrifice to literally remove his outer layer of flesh, things are clearly new and exciting, but once the relationship begins to settle back into familiar territory, it seems that the irreversible sacrifice is all for nought.

There are several elements which make the film work as well as it does. First and foremost is the simple approach it takes to rendering the tale. The filmmakers do not shy away from utilizing a borderline literary voiceover which is not only deftly scribed, but played with a delicate deadpan. The actions of the characters are also played straight and if there's any tongue-in-cheek at all, it seeps quite naturally from the proceedings due to the Buster-Keaton-like visages applied by both leads. The almost matter-of-fact acceptance of the inconvenience-factor in having no skin (trails and stains of blood that need to be endlessly cleaned) is what has us alternately laughing and grimacing. Aston's compositions and colour-schemes are also imbued with an aplomb that borders on muted - not unlike the approach David Lynch takes in his best work where the utterly insane proceedings are all the more insane because nobody on screen (or off, for that matter) is going out of their way to point a finger at it.

It's also gratifying to see that the special makeup effects are rendered without digital manipulations. This always adds a remarkably naturalistic touch to tales of the fantastical. This is especially important here given the fact that the film is often rooted in a kind of skewed realism that reflects the lives of so many (if not all).

This is a thesis film generated at the London Film School.

Bravo! It's a great short film no matter how, when or why it was generated. That it is the work of young talents, however, speaks volumes about their considerable talent, promise and yes, any powers-that-be that allowed them the freedom to create a work of singular and lasting value.

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

Shorts After Dark at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival includes the aforementioned delights in addition to four others. For further info, visit the TADFF website HERE.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

SUBURBAN GOTHIC - Review By Greg Klymkiw - TORONTO AFTER DARK 2014 - Toronto Premiere Oct15@9:45pm

Something's not quite right in the
SUBURBS.
Tell me something
I don't know.
Suburban Gothic (2014)
Dir. Richard Bates Jr.
Starring: Matthew Gray Gubler, Kat Dennings, Ray Wise, Barbara Niven, Mel Rodriguez, John Waters, Sally Kirkland, Jeffrey Combs, Mackenzie Phillips, Jennifer Lynch, Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Muse Watson

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Suburbia is one of the easiest targets in the world to wrench a few laughs from, but when the aim is true, as it is in the cool, funny and sexy horror comedy Suburban Gothic, then a spirited romp through familiar territory can indeed seem new and decidedly fun again. Helmer Richard Bates Jr. and co-scribe Richard Bruner serve up a wild phantasm of slacker ennui amidst the scares in this tale of the un/under-employed-un-employable mop-haired MBA grad Richard (Matthew Gray Gubler) who's forced by a lack of finances to move in with his horrendously straight-laced parents (Ray Wise, Barbara Niven) in their bungalow ensconced in the dull domain of the leafy, sun-dappled 'burbs.

Richard's got a problem. Well, he has many problems: a nagging, bullying jock Dad, a spin-cycle Mom and that annoying employment (or lack thereof) issue, but the real spanner in the works is that he's got a disturbingly paranormal tendency to connect with the dead.

The family home is undergoing massive landscaping renovations via a sleaze-ball contractor (Mel Rodriguez) whose prolonged topographical desecrations are raising the ire of the dearly departed. Richard seeks solace in the local watering hole where he connects romantically with the goth-chick bartender Becca (Kat Dennings). In no time at all, the anti-establishment couple are making like an amalgam of Shaggy, Freddie, Daphne, Velma and Scooby-Dooby-Doo in order to get to the bottom of the ghostly apparitions and dead bodies terrorizing the town.

The script is chock-full of fun banter, zippy one-liners and spirited (in more ways than one) characters. The terrific cast is more than up to the challenge of spitting out their dialogue with all the requisite screwball skill and helmer Bates Jr. fills his frame with garish 80s colour schemes to allow for splashes of suitably grotesque backdrops for all the verbal jousting. Adding to the mix is a sprightly score and grungy songs, providing added oomph to the whole buoyant affair.

Though the plot races perfunctorily to an expected conclusion during the final third of the running time, we tend to be overly forgiving of this flaw since so much of the movie is just downright diverting. Thankfully, all the aforementioned is played straight by the leads, especially the uber-hilarious Ray Wise. The filmmakers happily cram a month-of-Sundays worth of cool cameos by an all-star assemblage of popular filmmakers (John Waters and the babe-o-licious Soska Sisters) and cult-stars of yesteryear (gotta love Sally Kirkland and Jeffrey Combs) to make the picture a geeky, gosh-golly-gee fanboys' delight.

Let the nocturnal emissions begin.

Suburban Gothic is in town.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: *** 3-Stars

Suburban Gothic enjoys its Toronto Preniere at the 2o14 edition of Toronto's After Dark Film Festival. For further info, visit the TADFF 2014 website HERE.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

TIME LAPSE - Review By Greg Klymkiw - TORONTO AFTER DARK 2014 - Toronto Premiere: Oct. 21/2014 @ 9:30pm

Time Lapse (2014)
Dir. Bradley King
Writers: King and B.P. Cooper
Starring: Danielle Panabaker, Matt O'Leary, George Finn, Amin Joseph, Jason Spisak, John Rhys-Davies

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Originality rules the day in this cool, clever, compulsively suspenseful and slow-burning science fiction shocker. The superb screenplay by co-producer B.P. Cooper and helmer Bradley King puts the accent on character and creepy-crawly chills. Focusing on a Fine Arts grad (Matt O'Leary), his hot-babe significant other (Danielle Panabaker) and their roommate, a charming slacker bro-mantic buddy (George Finn), the happy-go-lucky troika happen upon a mysterious camera that seems to have the power to capture images from the future.

Coming up with the mad plan to use their secret discovery to score big at the dog races seems like a good idea, but in Richard-Matheson-like Twilight Zone fashion, all does not go according to plan. Whilst buoyant shenanigans and considerable profits follow, mounting greed, sexual tension and backstabbing eventually ooze into the trio's good fortunes. When we're introduced to a suspiciously malevolent scum-bucket bookie (Jason Spisak), his tough psycho henchman (David Figlioli) and a too-curious security guard turned cop (Amin Joseph), sci-fi starts dipping its toe into the film noir territory of a criminal underbelly. Genre-bending murder and mayhem aren’t far behind.

Tautly directed and magnificently acted, Time Lapse is as good, if not better than most studio pictures that might have attempted similar high concept approaches. Unlike most studio efforts, the accent on atmosphere and some provocative thematic concerns dealing with friendship and morality would have given way, no doubt, to empty bombast.

Thankfully, true independence has yielded a terrific little picture that proves how talented mavericks can move a mountain. Time Lapse manages to move not one mere mountain, but several mighty ranges to yield a killer thriller.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: ***½ Three-and-a-half Stars Time Lapse has its Toronto Premiere at the 2014 edition of Toronto After Dark

Monday, 13 October 2014

THE DROWNSMAN - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2014 - October 19, 2014 @ 4:15pm

The old "Red Rose Tea" slogan:
"Only in Canada, you say? A pity."
The Drownsman (2014)
Dir. Chad Archibald
Script. Archibald & Cody Calahan
Starring: Michelle Mylett, Caroline Korycki, Gemma Bird Matheson, Sydney Kondruss, Clare Bastable, Ry Barrett, JoAnn Nordstrom, Breanne TeBoekhorst

Review By Greg Klymkiw

The Canuck creative team responsible for last year’s modest apocalyptic “infection” thriller Antisocial are virtual poster boys for the (not-so) stereotypical notion that Canadians are indeed quaintly polite. The Drownsman, their all-new idiosyncratic, almost politically mindful and artistically fetishistic lunatic will never fill the mighty shoes of 70s/80s slicers-and-dicers like Jason Voorhees, Freddie Kreuger and Michael Myers. He has, it seems, no interest in stalking, hacking and/or maiming his nubile victims. His needs are simple. He wishes to drown them. Like the old Commonwealth adage, "No sex, please, we're British," The Drownsman revels in its colonial roots with, “No bloodletting, please, we're Canadian (though drowning will do very nicely with our maple syrup, thanks).”

Delivering what amounts to an origin story for a fatally flawed franchise-to-be, the opening few minutes find us in a dank chamber where our title wacko (Ry Barrett), a hulking, greasily bedraggled rogue hauls a fetching babe into a metal tub. He shoves her head into the water, but it turns out to be the fruitcake's lucky day. Our harassed honey, desperate to survive, proposes he make love to her. The sneaky vixen allows the bounder to expunge his unholy seed within her loins. Whilst he shudders in post-orgasmic bliss, the lithe lassie is able to plunge the creep into the water and drown him.

Twenty-or-so years pass. Hannah (Caroline Korycki) hustles her hot BFF Madison (burgeoning Canuck Scream-Queen Michelle Mylett from Antisocial) to a dock just below the country home where an engagement party is raging. The gals look deeply into each other's eyes and though Sapphic gymnastics loom tantalizingly, we’re instead treated to a "bestie" hug. Hannah asks Madison to be her Maid of Honor then immediately excuses herself to go off and take a slash, thus allowing Madison to conveniently slip, fall, whack her noggin on the floor of the dock and roll into the water. A rotting ghostly version of the drowned psycho-water-fetishist from the picture’s opening offers Madison a malevolent howdy-doo, but she’s plucked handily out of harm’s way by a gaggle of rescue-minded babes. How safe she or her friends will eventually be remains to be seen when it's revealed that the purulent, waterlogged drowning-aficionado is her biological Dad (lest we forget the vaginal pounding he delivered).

One year later, on the night of Hannah's wedding, Madison quivers under the blankets in her bedroom as it rains cats and dogs outdoors. Hannah unexpectedly bursts in. It seems our troubled heroine has skipped her Maid of Honor duties and the blushing bride is crimson with anger. Since her brush with the Drownsman, Madison has been a basket case. She's now so terrified of water that she can't even drink it, requiring a constant I.V. to keep her flush with fluids. Since her fear of water nixes showers and bathtubs, why Hannah would want a foul, rank, unwashed Maid of Honor, albeit one who looks surprisingly scrubbed and gorgeous at all times, is perhaps the film's greatest mystery. The next evening Madison’s babe pals plan to cure her hydrophobia once and for all by dunking her in a tub full of H2O.

At this point, one might be thinking, "Horror movies don't all have to be stupid, do they?"

Though it’s tempting to applaud the film’s makers for trying to create a new 70s/80s-style signature killer, there’s something a touch imbecilic about one who literally sucks babes through the drain pipes of pretty much any receptacle that holds water so he can drown them. Sadly, he never once has the good humour to use a toilet bowl or bidet. This is indeed, the trouble. The movie is so deadly serious and completely without humour (a hallmark of classic horror-meisters, especially Wes Craven) that the meandering screenplay by helmer Chad Archibald and co-scribe Cody Calahan barely generates any shivers. Worse yet, The Drownsman doesn't even qualify as unintentionally funny. It’s simply a style-bereft misfire.

Some of its tech credits hold up admirably under the weight of the film’s low budget and general artistic malaise. The design of the title psycho ghost is suitably grotesque, the lensing and lighting prove adequately sharp, a creepily effective musical score manages to rise above its stock origins and leading lassie Michelle Mylett is clearly a decent actress whom the camera truly loves. She’ll no doubt be in demand for much better work. The uninspired film’s life, however, seems destined to play-off for bamboozled horror fans who make the mistake of choosing to partake via the usual home entertainment platforms this should be handily relegated to.

And you know, it seems somewhat egregious when filmmakers deliver a no-to-low-budget horror movie replete with babes and none of them are naked - or hell, even attired more aggressively in their undies. This is the nadir of stupidity.

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

The Drownsman has its Toronto Premiere at the 2014 edition of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

DIRTY WEEKEND - Review By Greg Klymkiw - UK-France Co-Pro Crime-triple-hander not just lame, but legless.

The movie is as good as its poster.
Dirty Weekend (2013)
Dir. Christopher Granier-Deferre
Starring: Kirsty Oswald, Jamie Parker, Pierre Perrier, Bernard Blancan, Didier Vinson

Review By Greg Klymkiw

A singularly unattractive British couple (Kirsty Oswald, Jamie Parker) - not just skin-deep ugliness, either - have their weekend of illicit amore in a country cottage in France scuttled by the appearance of a murderous scumbag (Pierre Perrier) who's in possession of a whack of stolen gold coins. The couple sees dollar signs in their eyes and a drawn-out cat and mouse game ensues, replete with a surfeit of poorly-scribed (by Geoffrey Gunn) yakking, familiar story tropes and clumsily-wrought "suspense".

The only respite from this plodding mediocrity is the appearance of two seemingly bumbling gendarmes (Bernard Blancan, Didier Vinson) who bring some wit to the proceedings. The performances of the leads are imbued with competence, but the characters give them little to do but try to breathe life into ever-so familiar stick figures.

This dreadfully inconsequent film might play for bleary-eyed viewers with little taste in the middle of the night on VOD. The rest of us, should probably cut our toenails instead.

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


levelFILM will release Dirty Weekend on VOD & digital in Canada & the USA on October 14, 2014.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Klymkiw Reviews 3 short films U can't miss at FNC (Festival international du nouveau cinéma de Montréal) - AVEC LE TEMPS (aka BEFORE I GO), MYNARSKI DEATH PLUMMET, THE WEATHERMAN AND THE SHADOWBOXER

WHITE LIGHT OF SNOW
LIGHT OF NATURAL WORLD
LIGHT OF FLASH FRAME
LIGHT OF FLASH FRAME SHADOW
LIGHT OF SPIRIT
AVEC LE TEMPS
aka Before I Go (2014)
Dir. Mark Morgenstern

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Mark Morgenstern's exquisite new film reminds us of the oft-neglected poetic qualities of cinema. Avec le temps/Before I Go also happens to be a real film. It's "real" in that it was actually shot on real film. Its beauty and importance lies in the evocation of the greatest narrative of all - life, death and the seasonal journey of every beat of our lives. Like a short end, life is like a series of leftover bits, seemingly unused and discarded, yet there to be used and to comprise the whole of our existence. Like a flash frame, life is also adorned with those mistakes of perception that are very real, but are so fleeting that we might only be aware of them in times of either repose, reflection and/or death. Like Tom Berner, life only has meaning when we give selflessly to the passion which drives us and, in turn, drives those who receive the benefit of gifts given by those with no other agenda other than to do what has to be done in order to make life richer.

A "short end" is unexposed motion picture negative that is left over at the end of a film roll when the next take cannot be achieved with the amount of stock actually left on the roll. Over the course of shooting any film, especially a series of shorts or a single feature, there can be enough "short ends" to make a whole new film out of. A "flash frame" occurs when the camera is stopped while the gate is still open, leaving a blank frame of extremely overexposed stock. Even better is when the camera takes a few pubic hairs to get up to speed before cranking and allows a frame or two of "flashes", which are, essentially, blasted out frames which include picture. A "Tom Berner" is a man who made independent film a reality for several generations of artists. On the surface, he was a lab rep at Toronto's Film House and Deluxe, but beneath the layers of flesh, he was the spirit of cinema in Canada during a time when it needed him most. It still needs him, but he retired in 2001 and passed away in 2004.

Those whose lives were touched by his, will hopefully be able to infuse others with their own touches of self-sacrificing devotion to the art of film. If cinema is not consecration, it's nothing.

Avec le temps/Before I Go begins with the image of nature resting under a fluffy blanket of snow. The film moves into an interior where faceless shadows appear furtively amidst objects of both beauty and decay. The film has quite literally been constructed with short ends. With occasional flashes of fleeting frames the movie ultimately leaves us with the words "for Tom Berner" on its final frames before the end title credits.

Throughout Morgenstern's haunting, yet joyous and yes, occasionally and alternately creepy film is the light of day through the windows. The light changes as do the seasons - from darkness into light. Ultimately, we're left with the whiteness we began with. No longer is it the chilly scenes of winter, but the warmth and spirit of life itself, which is, ultimately death - a new stage in the journey of existence. A montage of flash frames and extremely short ends (shots), blow our mind during the film's climax, like Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey Stargate sequence, albeit with neo-realist dollops, which lead to and leave us with the dedication to the late Tom Berner, enveloped, of course, by light.

We're reminded of two other key moments in cinema.

1. Clarence, the guardian angel's words to George Bailey in Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life:

"Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives.
When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?"

2. Most evocatively, Morgenstern's film reminds us of Gabriel's voice-over at the conclusion of John Huston's immortal film adaptation of James Joyce's short story The Dead:

"One by one, we're all becoming shades. Better to pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age. . . Think of all those who ever were, back to the start of time. And me, transient as they, flickering out as well into their grey world. Like everything around me, this solid world itself which they reared and lived in, is dwindling and dissolving. Snow is falling. . . Falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living, and the dead."

Avec le temps/Before I Go is 12 minutes long. Morgenstern evokes a lifetime in that 12 minutes. It's proof positive of cinema's gifts and how they must not be squandered, but used to their absolute fullest.

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

Canada's Great War Hero, Andrew Mynarski VC,
Shooting Star of Selfless Sacrifice, a man of Bronze.
Mynarski Death Plummet (2014)
Dir. Matthew Rankin
Starring: Alek Rzeszowski, Annie St-Pierre, Robert Vilar, Louis Negin

Review By Greg Klymkiw

The true promise, the very future of the great Dominion of Canada and La Belle Province lies beneath the soil of France and Belgium. Between World Wars I and II, Canada lost close to 2% of its population, the vast majority of whom were the country's youngest and brightest from the ages of 16 to 30. Canadian lads bravely served on the front lines, well ahead of the glory-grabbing Americans, the Yankee Doodle mop-up crew that dandily sauntered overseas after all the hard work was paid for by the blood spilled upon European soil by the very heart and soul of Canada's future and that of so many other countries not bearing the Red, White and Blue emblem of puffery. As a matter of fact, any of the best and bravest in Canada came from Winnipeg and if you had to pick only one hero of the Great Wars from anywhere in the country, Andrew Mynarski, a gunner in the famed Moose Squadron, would be the one, the only. He is the subject of Matthew Rankin's perfect gem of a film, the one, the only genuine cinematic work of art to detail the valiant sacrifice, the one, the only, the unforgettable Mynarski Death Plummet.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: ***** 5-Stars
Read the full review HERE

A maze begins in childhood & never ends.
The Weatherman and the Shadowboxer (2014)
Dir. Randall Okita

Review By Greg Klymkiw

One of Canada's national filmmaking treasures, Randall Okita (Portrait as a Random Act of Violence), takes the very simple story of two brothers and charts how a tragic event in childhood placed them on very different, yet equally haunted (and haunting) paths.

Fusing live action that ranges from noir-like, shadowy, rain-splattered locales to the strange, colourful (yet antiseptically so) world of busy, high-tech, yet empty reportage, mixing it up with reversal-stock-like home movie footage, binding it altogether in a kind of cinematic mixmaster with eye popping animation and we're offered-up a simple tale that provides a myriad of levels to tantalize, intrigue and finally, catch us totally off-guard and wind us on a staggering emotional level.

Winner of the Toronto International Film Festival's 2014 Grand Prize for Best Canadian Short Film.
THE FILM CORNER RATING:
**** 4-Stars

Read the full review HERE

For further information visit the FNC - Festival international du nouveau cinéma de Montréal website HERE

Monday, 6 October 2014

Klymkiw reviews 3 Classics presented as retrospective screenings at the 2014 (FNC) Festival du nouveau cinéma in Montreal. Samuel Fuller's THE BIG RED ONE, Ken Russell's CRIMES OF PASSION, King Hu's DRAGON INN

From D-Day to the Liberation of the
Death Camps, LEE MARVIN leads an
all-star cast in SAMUEL FULLER'S
autobiographical masterpiece of
WORLD WAR II.
The Big Red One: The Reconstruction (1980/2004)
Dir. Samuel Fuller
Starring: Lee Marvin, Mark Hamill, Robert Carradine, Bobby Di Cicco, Kelly Ward, Siegfried Rauch, Stéphane Audran

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Samuel Fuller made films that pulsated with the stuff of life and yet, at the same time, crackled with the pulpy, hard-boiled crispness of paperback potboilers and tabloid news rags. The guy was a true original and his 1980 classic The Big Red One practically reeks with the stench of death.

It's one of the great war movies of all time and is quite possibly one of the few explorations of men in battle to benefit from an exquisite amalgam of both the terrible truths it conveys and Fuller's terse, almost machine-gun-like style of presentation. Fuller, of course brought the life experience of being an investigative reporter to bear upon all his films, but he also infused them with his horrific exposure to the senseless waste of humanity during his years as an infantryman in the legendary Big Red One of the title.

Fuller himself was present at D-Day and made it to the liberation of Nazi Death Camps. He knew what it was like to be in battle and he especially understood both male camaraderie and the sickening heartache of encountering the remnants of massive genocide. He put all of this into The Big Red One.

Though he approved a much shorter version of the picture for theatrical release, he always regretted not holding out for his lengthier version. Thanks to a shooting script, detailed notes and the dogged persistence of film critic Richard Schickel, we're now able to experience a version of the film that's much closer to what Fuller intended.

It's one corker of a war movie - touching, exciting, wildly humorous and finally, deeply moving. With gruff Lee Marvin leading the charge, Robert Carradine as a cigar-chomping Fuller surrogate and a post-Star Wars Mark Hamill, we're told the tale of several survivors through a harrowing tour of duty. Bodies blow to bits, blood splashes liberally, tanks creak over raw terrain and finally, we experience the charred remains in Nazi Death Ovens.

Fuller hands us one episode after another that evokes the horror of war. Lee Marvin, especially, gives the performance of a lifetime. Seeing him befriend a starving child-survivor of the Death Camp is proof positive of Marvin's versatility.

It might also be the only time Lee Marvin will have you in tears.

NOTE: Samuel Fuller's daughter Samantha, who played a war orphan in The Big Red One, will be present at the FNC screening to introduce the film and engage in a question and answer session.

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



I WILL KILL YOU! I WILL SAVE YOU!
HARLOT!
Crimes of Passion (1984)
Dir. Ken Russell
Starring: Kathleen Turner, Anthony Perkins

Review By Greg Klymkiw

This is a rare opportunity to see Ken Russell's deliciously scary, funny and perverse thriller in 35mm, thanks to screenwriter Barry Sandler's collection at the Academy Film Archive. (Sandler will also be present for the screening.) It's sometimes hard to believe certain films are as old as they are. Crimes of Passion turns 30-years-of-age and it feels as insanely cutting-edge and over-the-top as it did when I first saw it first-run. FNC will be screening the rare director’s cut which has been available on DVD, but I can assure you, there's nothing like seeing its grotesque colours and glorious grain on actual film. You'll be able to thrill to Kathleen Turner's sexually-explicit, no-holds-barred performance as a repressed housewife who transforms herself by night into the ultra-hote-babe China Blue.

This alluring, albeit low-track street hooker, engages in all manner of aggressive sexual gymnastics as an addictive, though empty antidote to frigidity. Matching Turner's brilliant, outrageous performance is everyone's favourite Psycho Anthony Perkins as a demented preacher malevolently stalking her. He will save China Blue, even if he has to eventually snuff her out. She has another stalker, though. He wants to love her. Oh, what's a $50-per-trick hooker supposed to do? Decisions. Decisions.

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

Beware sneaky, sword-wielding EUNUCHS!!!
Dragon Inn (1967)
Dir. King Hu
Starring: Bai Ying, Miao Tien, Han Ying-chieh, Shih Chun, Cho Kin, Hsieh Han

Review By Greg Klymkiw

In the middle of nowhere lies the last outpost before the border, a godforsaken hellhole called the Dragon Gate Inn. This is where political exiles are banished to during the Ming Dynasty of ancient China. When the cruel Emperor executes one of his officials, the unfortunate's family are booted out of town and sent packing to the ends of the earth. Sadly, exile isn't their only problem since the big bad ruler has sent a nasty eunuch to spy on them and eventually effect their deathly eradication from the planet. Like some mad kung-fu spaghetti western, a whole passel of deadly killers descend upon the Inn and we're treated to intrigue and action. King Hu was one of the grand masters of cinema and his masterpiece Dragon Inn was recently afforded a gorgeous 4K digital restoration - all the better to take in the sumptuous vistas, cleverly composed (and designed) interiors and the astounding choreography and direction of some of the most stirring sword fights and hand-to-hand combat ever wrought within martial arts movies. Hu's frame is always lively, his moves masterful and his sense of spatial geography always dead-on. Here you'll have the opportunity to witness a director at the peak of his considerable powers, working in tandem with ace choreographer and action helmer Han Ying-chieh. Between the two of them, Dragon Inn is one of the most thriller martial arts pictures of all time - one which influenced Tsui Hark, John Woo, Jacky Chan, Ang Lee, Zhang Yimou and yes, Quentin Tarantino. It's a classic in all respects. Best of all, it feels like it could have been made yesterday.

The skill and technique on display has not dated one single, solitary bit and you'll constantly be catching your breath, doing double takes and needing to pinch yourself to make sure you're not dreaming. And even though it feels as modern as all get-out in terms of its movie-making sophistication and savvy, the fact truly remains that they actually don't make 'em like this anymore.

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

For further information visit the FNC - Festival international du nouveau cinéma de Montréal website HERE.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

LEFT BEHIND - Review By Greg Klymkiw - The Best Comedy of 2014 save for nutty Christian fundamentalists

Here's some dialogue that might have improved the
already-loathsome, though often hilarious dialogue

in this dreadful God Squad disaster debacle.
Left Behind (2014)
Dir. Vic Armstrong
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Chad Michael Murray, Nicky Whelan, Cassi Thomson, Lea Thompson, Jordin Sparks, Michael Klebba, Alec Rayne, Quinton Aaron

Review By Greg Klymkiw

There are movies more dreadful than Left Behind, but few as funny. It's a slightly bigger budgeted reboot of an early 90s version starring Kirk Cameron which, I've not seen but is perhaps even funnier than this one, but until I partake of that, this will do nicely. What we're dealing with is a cellar-dweller disaster movie with an inept screenplay, oh-so blessed with an irredeemably Christian fundamentalist slant.

A somnambulist airline pilot (Nicholas Cage) contemplates an adulterous tryst with a hot stewardess (Nicky Whelan) because his loopy wife (Lea Thompson) has found Jesus H. Christ. Cage's hot daughter (Cassi Thomson) isn't too crazy about Mom's new marriage to the Son o' God, either, but she's still cheesed at Dad for never being at home and ogling a young lady who's young enough to be his daughter and, uh, bears a not-too-dissimilar look to her (blond, perky, sexy and well-proportioned for humping).

It seems Daughter Dearest is wet for a hunky journalist (Chad Michael Murray) who'll be flying in first class aboard Daddy's plane, but not before the two potential sack-mates engage in an interminable conversation within an airport cafe (which is supposed to be LaGuardia in Queens, but looks suspiciously like no airport in New York State). Once the plane heads across the pond to Blighty, Cage's daughter goes to their suburban family home, looking suspiciously like a neighbourhood nowhere near the isle of Manhattan.

As Mom prays to Jesus, Darling Daughter grabs her little brother and heads to the mall, looking like no mall from the neck o' the woods in which the movie is supposedly set. Soon, the fake airplane Cage flies is sailing through the skies and we cross-cut twixt this locale and the mall. And wouldn't you know it, but on the plane and at the mall - at the same time, no less - every single child and quite a few adults completely vanish into thin air, leaving behind piles of their previously-adorned (though freshly-cleaned-and-pressed) clothing. Seems like something sinister is afoot.

God only knows what.

Speaking of God, He, as in God, the Father, that is, appears to be the Holy Culprit behind this mystery. The fake airplane encounters major troubles and the leafy, suburban paradise in New York is hit with all manner of Hellish activity and hysteria. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that, Our Lord has snatched up all the Believers to keep them safe in Heaven, while all the non-Believers suffer disaster and violence within a veritable apocalypse, rendered not-too convincingly on the movie's supposed budget, most of which has clearly been spent on Nicholas Cage's salary. Given that Cage expresses only two emotions (I'll not spoil them for you), one suspects the producers might have been financially cold-cocked by his agents.

In addition to one hilariously unintentional line of dialogue after another, the movie delivers a midget who is a racist and a devout Muslim who is NOT saved by God because, he is, well, a Muslim.

And this, believers and non-believers alike, is how this awful(ly) funny movie rolls. Christians, especially of the fundamentalist variety, are not too bright to begin with, but any of them who swallow this bilge water are no doubt completely and utterly bereft of brain.

The rest of us, though, can have ourselves a good, old, knee-slapping frolic through The Rapture.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: * One-Star

Left Behind is in wide theatrical release via eOne.

Friday, 3 October 2014

MY OLD LADY - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Israel Horovitz adapts own play for feature directing debut at age 75

Maggie Smith. Kevin Kline. Head of boar.
What could possibly go wrong?
My Old Lady (2014)
Dir. Israel Horovitz
Starring: Maggie Smith, Kevin Kline, Kristin Scott-Thomas

Review By Greg Klymkiw

That 75-year-old writer Israel Horovitz has remain tethered to the theatrical roots of adapting his play to the big screen is not the main problem plaguing his belated feature-length directorial debut. The source material and, by extension, his screenplay for My Old Lady, is afflicted with a kind of narrative schizophrenia.

It's not, however, without some merit.

When we first meet Mathias Gold (Kevin Kline), he's penniless. Happily, his rudderless life in New York is behind him as he's depleted what little dough he had to fly across the pond and secure the Parisian home willed to him by his estranged and recently deceased father. Real estate values in Gay-Paree being sky's the limit, especially the choice property he's come into, Mathias feels like he's finally hit the freedom-58 jackpot.

His series of failed marriages, unpublished novels and flopper-roo suicide attempt seem like so many dust bunnies sucked up into a vacuum cleaner. Before hitting the big 6-0, maybe, just maybe, he's going to do some real living.

This, however, proves easier said than done. He is, after all, in France. It seems dear, departed daddy purchased the property under the perverse real estate laws of le beau pays de la romance and he's stuck with the original owner, the 92-year-old Mathilde (Maggie Smith), until she dies. Now, at this ripe age, you'd think it wouldn't be a problem, but the terms of such a purchase, known as a viager, stipulates that the rightful property owner must pay the original owner a generous monthly stipend. If these payments ever go into default, the buyer loses the property to the original owner.

Mathias has no money. None. Zip. Nada. He also has no home. Until he can figure out how to make the monthly payments, he's also forced into renting a room from the old lady. They do snipe ever-so amusingly and eruditely at one another. Never fear, though, Horovitz doesn't take us into some kind of sickening Harold and Maude wannabe territory. Mathilde, you see, has an unmarried, middle-aged, but super-hot daughter Chloé (Kristin Scott Thomas). She hates Mathias's guts, almost from the second she lays eyes on him, but I think you know where all this is going to lead, mais non?

Hmmmm, can love be round the corner? Well, not soon enough.

If My Old Lady simply settled into a drawing room romantic comedy with the trio verbally jousting until a few spanners in the works are overcome and everybody just damn well lived happily-ever-after, then we'd have been handed an innocuous well-played trifle. This would not have been the end of the world. Even I could have lived with that.

Unfortunately, a whole series of dark secrets begin to unfurl and plunges us into a half-baked melodrama we're supposed to swallow. Don't get me wrong, I love melodrama and I respect Horovitz for trying something akin to dramatic suicide, but the fact remains is that it simply doesn't work. The movie goes off the rails quite dreadfully and just keeps chugging its wheels until tedium and utter disbelief becomes the order of the day.

The movie does, thankfully, wrap itself into a nice bow with some funny bits just as we're about to throw in the towel, but it's too little too late. As a film director, though, Horovitz does manage to jockey things smoothly until his writing begins to tumble into a murky abyss. The verbiage, when it's funny, is pretty crisp and even the monologues (when they're not too deathly serious) don't feel stilted. Horovitz opens his play up - it is Paris, after all, so why not get a few good eyefuls of it, but occasionally he errs in opening up, seemingly for the sake of opening up. This is never something I'm happy to see when it feels forced and here it's too often shoved down our throats.

By the picture's end, we're left with a bit of a dog's breakfast, but when things click, they do so very nicely indeed. Finally, though, the glue that holds the entire thing together is the presence of Smith, Kline and Thomas who give it their all. It's not quite enough to save the picture, but I do suspect admirers of this trio will find some morsels of engagement in their very solid performances.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: **½ Two-and-a-half Stars

My Old Lady is in a modest theatrical release throughout Canada via dFilms.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

5 Preview Capsule Reviews of the 43rd Edition of FNC - Festival Du Nouveau Cinema (2014) - By Greg Klymkiw

We all know what Uncle Teo in Amarcord wants! What do YOU want?
The Festival Du Nouveau Cinema (FNC) in Montreal (the greatest city in Canada, Quebec and the World) is celebrating its 43rd year since the inimitable, flamboyant and visionary Claude "Boum Boum" Chamberlan co-founded this important cultural event with the suave, low-key, yet equally passionate man of cinema Dimitri Eipidès.

In my own journey through life as a filmmaker, producer, promoter, repertory cinema programmer and writer, I've always maintained a natural "fuck you" attitude to everything I've ever done. To me, "Fuck you" is everything, is lifeblood and lifeblood is what I keep seeing on display every fall in Montreal.

Though I am hesitant to ascribe every element of the "fuck you" aesthetic to FNC, one thing I have always admired about its programming is the festival's decided "fuck you" to the Status Quo. In that sense, I shall dispense with the trappings of English Canadian politeness, I will shed the shackles of hesitancy and I will declare that, YES, the FNC embodies the "fuck you" qualities that are vital to the celebration and even survival of cinema.

I love the mainstream as much as the next fellow, but junk food does not enrich my body and soul - I WANT NOURISHMENT! NOURISHMENT, goddamnit! This, I declare with the same vigour as Uncle Teo does from the top of a tree in Fellini's Amarcord:

"Voglio una donna!"

"Я хочу жінку!"

"איך ווילן אַ פרוי !"

"Je veux une femme!"

"I want a woman!"

YES! I am ROCK HARD and I WANT A WOMAN and THE WOMAN'S NAME is CINEMA!!!

This, I feel is achievable with the likes of FNC's Executive Director Nicolas Gerard Deltruc, the honourable Messrs Chamberlan and Eipidès, plus the formidable team of programmers scouring the globe of tantalizing "fuck you" delights. And I must admit, with all passion, that this upcoming edition of FNC has me salivating with even greater richness and bounty than my Neo-Mastiff when she's presented with a lovely, choice cut of steak. So if you, like I, seek cinema that is going to consistently nail your feet to the floor, clasp your eyes ever-open to the big screen, cold-cock you in the mug with a mighty roundhouse and send your sorry ass to the floor whilst bellowing a hearty, blessed "fuck you", then there is no need to look further than FNC.

Running October 8-19, 2014, the festival is erupting with delights and I hope to cover a few choice morsels for you amidst FNC's bevy of premieres and retrospectives. In the meantime, I present to you 5 movies I've seen earlier which make their debuts in the great nation of Quebec - 5 movies you cannot afford to miss! Below are capsule summaries, my ratings and links to the full reviews published earlier. In the meantime, though, do consider a move to Montreal, or at least a visit, to sample the very best in 'fuck you" cinema!


A true indie filmmaker will wipe the asshole
of his leading man. On the set of his latest work,
GARBANZO GAS, the story of a cow in a motel.
Giuseppe Makes A Movie (2014)
Dir. Adam Rifkin
Starring: Giuseppe Andrews

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Giuseppe Andrews makes Ed Wood and early John Waters look completely mainstream, but like them, he's a true original. Nobody, but nobody will ever make films like Andrews who makes movies with his own brand of joy, obsession and artistic aplomb. To say it's infectious is an understatement. A doff of my hat in Adam Rifkin's direction for taking time away from his prolific family-movie screenwriting career (Small Soldiers, Underdog) to craft this wild, wooly and supremely entertaining documentary on Andrews. Giuseppe appeared as a kld in Rifkin's own Detroit Rock City as well as playing bits in Pleasantville, American History X, Independence Day, Never Been Kissed and the first two Cabin Fever movies. As steady acting gigs got fewer and far-betweener, Giuseppe's real claim to fame came as a filmmaker, directing over 30 micro-budgeted underground films. Andrews is a fringe-player of the highest order. Out of his fevered imagination, he crafts work that captures a very desperate, real and sad truth about America's fringes as the country descends even deeper into a kind of Third World divide twixt rich and poor. Through Rifkin's lens we see America according to Andrews, a country rife with abject poverty, alcoholism, exploitation, cruelty and violence. Trailer parks and cheap motels provide the visual backdrop by which Andrews etches his original portraits of depravity (but always tinged with humanity).

FILM CORNER RATING: **** READ THE FULL REVIEW FROM MY HOT DOCS 2014 COVERAGE HERE


A daughter whose child can never be hers.
A mother whose daughter is everything.
A woman who comes between them.
A baby that binds all 3 for eternity.
In Her Place (2014)
Dir. Albert Shin
Script: Shin & Pearl Ball-Harding
Prods. Igor Drljaca, Yoon Hyun Chan
Starring: Yoon Da Kyung, Ahn Ji Hye, Kil Hae Yeon, Kim Sung Cheol, Kim Chang Hwan, Kim Kyung Ik

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Now and again, I find myself seeing a movie that feels so perfect, so lacking in anything resembling a single false note and so affecting on every level that I'm compelled to constantly pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming. In Her Place is a dream, but most decidedly of the dream-come-true variety. This is exactly the sort of film that restores my faith in the poetic properties of cinema and how the simplest of tales, at their surface, allow its artists to dig deep and yield the treasures inherent in the picture's soul. When a film is imbued with an inner spirit as this one is, you know you're watching something that hasn't been machine-tooled strictly for ephemeral needs. In Her Place is a film about yearning, love and the extraordinary tears and magic that are borne out of the company and shared experience of women. And, it is exquisite.

A childless couple nearing the early stages of middle-age, cut a private deal to adopt outside the purview of an official agency, which, they're convinced, will be the ideal no-muss-no-fuss arrangement. The Wife (Yoon Da-kyung), having been previously afflicted with serious health issues, especially wants the world to think she's the biological birth-mother of the adopted newborn. Staying on an isolated farm, her hosts are The Mother (Kil Hae-yeon), widowed and forced to run the sprawling acreage on her own and her daughter, a shy, pregnant teenage Girl (Ahn Ji-hye). For a substantial sum, this financially needy rural family agrees to give up the baby to the well-to-do couple from the big city. Alas, complications slowly surface and threaten to scuttle an otherwise perfect plan.

In Her Place so quietly rips our hearts to shreds. We are included in the emotional journeys of a daughter whose child can never be hers, a mother whose daughter is everything to her but comes to this realization when it's too late and a woman who has come between them because her own desire to love and nurture is so strong and true. Finally, it's all about a baby - a new life that binds all three women for what will be an eternity. This is a great picture. See it.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: ***** READ THE FULL REVIEW FROM MY TIFF 2014 COVERAGE HERE


IT is transmitted sexually. IT follows. IT kills.
It Follows (2014)
Dir. David Robert Mitchell
Starring: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Daniel Zovatto, Jake Weary, Olivia Luccardi, Lili Sepe

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Jay (Maika Monroe) lives in a 'burb o' Detroit and when she goes on a date with a hot hunk, she's so charmed, she hops into the back seat of his car, tosses off her panties and lets him deliver one right royal solid boning. Alas, she's afflicted with a horrific curse and the only way to get rid of IT is to pass IT on through sexual intercourse. The stud who drills her offers Jay a bit of solace when he says that IT should be no problem for her to pass on since, she's a girl and most red-blooded males will want to nail her.

Once she convinces her friends that she's cursed, they all make like Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo to get to the bottom of this mystery. Delightfully enough, the notion of passing on the curse sexually allows for some added boinkage in addition to the carnage and shock-til-you-jump jolts. And, of course, the movie gives us IT.

Though the movie doesn't quite go into the sickeningly, darkly hilarious territory of David Cronenberg's Shivers or Rabid (both involving sexually transmitted horror), It Follows is a solidly directed shocker with plenty of homages to John Carpenter's output from the late 70s to early 80s. Most of all, it has what any horror movie needs - babes, root-slipping and killing.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: *** READ THE FULL REVIEW FROM MY TIFF 2014 COVERAGE HERE


A 200-minute Bruno Dumont COMEDY (!!!)
focusing on the lives of rural inbreds (what else?).
P'tit Quinquin) (2014)
Dir. Bruno Dumont
Starring: Alane Delhaye, Lucy Caron, Bernard Pruvost, Philippe Jore

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Focusing upon the pug-ugly title character and his friendship with a pretty little girl, one gets a sense of how mundane their lives are in the tiny one-horse village they live in and their antics are not without amusement value. Dumont's social observations seem less heavy-handed than usual and I daresay he's crafted a pretty darn successful outing this time round. The boy and girl, in addition to a few local kids, happen upon the strange sight of a murder scene being investigated by the local police chief (an Inspector Clouseau-like idiot). The murder victims have been hacked up and their body parts appear to be shoved deep into the assholes of dead cows. Quinquin, strictly through his boredom and powers of observation proves to be an unwitting partner in the investigation.

The movie is often knee-slappingly hilarious and its stately pace (200 minutes worth) takes on a kind of clever deadpan. The performances of the kids are delightfully natural and the adults are all suitably bumbling or ignorant.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: *** READ THE FULL REVIEW FROM MY TIFF 2014 COVERAGE HERE


Russia's continued oppression of Ukraine
batters the most vulnerable victims.
The Tribe (2014)
Dir. Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy
Starring: Yana Novikova, Grigoriy Fesenko, Rosa Babiy, Alexander Dsiadevich, Yaroslav Biletskiy, Ivan Tishko, Alexander Sidelnikov

Set in a special boarding school, writer-director Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy, paints an evocative portrait of students living within a tribal societal structure (literally as per the title) where adult supervision is minimal at best and even culpable in the desecration of youth. Living in an insular world, carved out by years of developing survival skills in this institutional environment, the kids have a long-established criminal gang culture and they engage in all manner of nefarious activities including, but not limited to thieving, black marketeering and pimping. Slaboshpytskiy's mise-en-scène includes long, superbly composed shots and a stately, but never dull pace. This allows the film's audience to contemplate - in tandem with the narrative's forward movement - both the almost matter-of-fact horrors its young protagonists accept, live with and even excel at while also getting a profound sense of the ebbs and flows of life in this drab, dingy institutional setting. In a sense, the movie evokes life as it seems to unfold.

The violence is often brutal and the film never shies away from explicit sexual frankness. We watch the beautiful teenage girls being pimped out at overnight truck stops, engaging in degrading acts of wham-bam without protection, perpetrated against their various orifices by truckers who shell out cash for the privilege of doing so. As well, the same girls are cum-receptacles for their fellow male students.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: ***** READ THE FULL REVIEW FROM MY TIFF 2014 COVERAGE HERE

FNC runs October 8-19, 2014 in Montreal. Visit the website for more details HERE

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