Author: Andrew Parker

Review: Burden

Cutting edge and controversial American artist Chris Burden (who passed away from cancer in 2015) is a perfect subject for a documentary. He was beloved as much as he was hated and feared, and as much as he was revered. For every person who thought his frequently off-putting or baffling pieces of performance art were brilliant, there were just as many who found them worthless. No two opinions of Chris Burden are the same, whether people loved him or hated him. Similarly, as depicted and interviewed in his later years by documentarians Richard Dewey and Timothy Marrinan, the older...

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Review: Kong: Skull Island

The fun but exhausting Kong: Skull Island should be successful enough with most viewers keen to see a wildly different take on everyone’s favourite massive ape, but it’s also a film that’s so deeply in love with its own sense of scale and cleverness that it will probably annoy just as many people as it enthralls. Overall, it ends up mostly in positive territory, but the first major studio blockbuster from American indie director Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer) expends a maximum amount of effort to get there, and not always in the best possible ways. It is...

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Standard operating procedure: an interview with Hello Destroyer filmmaker Kevan Funk

It’s the opening weekend of the Toronto International Film Festival and the basement level of the downtown Intercontinental Hotel feels a lot like a locker room. It’s quietly buzzing downstairs; certainly a lot less chaotic in this area near the underground parking area than it is upstairs around the meeting halls and reception areas. It’s a scene both familiar and strangely removed as people scuttle about, looking to compose themselves for a moment, many of them stopping to change jackets or switch out dressier footwear for more sensible options. Everyone on this level of the hotel at this chaotic...

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Review: Antarctica: Ice and Sky

A mixture of personal recollections and subtle looks towards the future, the stunning and sometimes harrowing documentary Antarctica: Ice and Sky looks at Earth’s most mysterious and inhospitable continent, and how scientists risked their lives to parse the ecological and geological secrets hidden beneath its craggy, snow swept landscapes and luminous ice formations. French filmmaker Luc Jacquet (March of the Penguins) joins scientist and climate change researcher Claude Lorius for an intimate look back on some of the first large scale fact finding missions to Antarctica. Now 82, but still active in his advocacy of climate change issues, Lorius...

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Review: The Last Laugh

Are there certain things that people shouldn’t make fun of? Are there atrocities, tragedies, and crimes that should be off limits for comedians?  What if the person telling that joke is part of a persecuted minority looking back on the history of their people? Has this member of a visible sexual, racial, or religious minority earned the right to confront their disenfranchisement by making others uncomfortable? These are questions that have plagued creators, artists, pundits, and philosophers for as long as anyone can remember, and Ferne Pearlstein’s documentary The Last Laugh doesn’t hold any answers, but it does offer...

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Review: Hello Destroyer

With his award nominated and acclaimed debut feature, Hello Destroyer, Vancouver filmmaker Kevan Funk has created one of the most pointed, poignant, and subtly unnerving films about Canada’s tenuous relationship to its unofficial national sport and greatest pastime. By using a tragic incident during a hockey game as a catalyst for a uniquely Canadian character study, Funk takes an in-depth and emotionally resounding look at a nation built on “institutions” and “traditions” that refuses to look at the problematic nature of such cultural touchstones. It’s a subtle, rigorous experience and unquestionably one of the best Canadian films of the year. Tyson...

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Review: Saigon Bodyguards

A smash-hit in Vietnam upon its release this past December – where it outgrossed Star Wars: Rogue One in its opening weekend – the Vietnamese-Canadian-American-Swedish-Japanese-Korean co-production Saigon Bodyguards is an unambitious throwback to buddy cop comedies of the ’80s and ’90s with little originality or deviation. It’s moderately fun in its best moments, if that’s what you’re in the mood for. Otherwise, Saigon Bodyguards is what it is, and that’s sadly not very much. Trinh (Kim Ly, also one of the film’s producers) and Vien (Thai Hoa) are partners working for an elite bodyguard firm. Trinh is the dashingly...

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