Author: Andrew Parker

Review: Ballerina

The Canadian-French animated co-production Ballerina (which will make its debut south of the border later in the spring under the title Leap!, and comes to English speaking Canada in a dubbed version different from the French release late last year) is a nice film about nice things. It isn’t original or challenging, and it can’t even get period details right, which could make Ballerina easy to pick on for a critic (and indeed, I do know some who have). Then you realize that this is a solid enough tale of believing in yourself, learning the benefits of hard work,...

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Review: Bitter Harvest

Bitter Harvest earnestly wants to tell the story of one of history’s greatest forgotten and overlooked atrocities: the Holodomor. In 1932 and 1933, the Russian government under the leadership of Joseph Stalin purposefully created a man made famine by taxing the Ukrainian people within an inch of their lives, forcing them to produce crops solely for use by the Soviets and leaving almost nothing for their own people. Millions of Ukrainians died during the Holodomor, a genocide that the Russian government denied for decades. It’s wrenching to think about and worthy of a serious cinematic examination, but the melodramatic...

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Review: The Shack

One of the most dreary and dreadful films to come out of this new wave of Christian oriented cinema, the baffling “feel good” fantasy The Shack – based on a bestseller from Canadian novelist William P. Young – tells viewers that there’s no tragedy that can’t be overcome by retreating away from everyone you love, never opening up to them, refusing therapy or medical treatment as a form of help, and confiding in the Lord when in reality you might have a serious head injury. In short, it’s dangerous, ill informed bollocks and as morally deep and insightful as...

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Review: Before I Fall

Director Ry Russo-Young’s teen drama Before I Fall starts in not one, but two well worn places that many filmgoers are familiar with and possibly sick of seeing. But before they write it off based on a recitation of the premise or watching the trailer, they’d be remiss if they didn’t give this thoughtful little film a chance. Small town Pacific Northwest teenager Samantha Kingston (Zoey Deutch) has a pretty great life. She’s a senior in high school with her whole life ahead of her. She has a loving family that cares about her and supports her. She runs...

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Review: Eva Hesse

One of the greatest artists to make a major impact in only roughly a decade of working on a professional level, New York visual artist Eva Hesse, the subject of filmmaker Marcie Begleiter’s rudimentary but remarkably comprehensive and compassionate documentary of the same name, is a name that even casual art buffs should know and respect. A mainstay of the New York City arts scene in the 1960s – which was no small feat given the male dominated art culture of the time – German born Hesse dabbled in everything between minimalism and maximalism, and although she was best...

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Review: The Lego Batman Movie

The Lego Batman Movie isn’t so much an animated sequel to the unexpectedly delightful 2014 smash hit, The Lego Movie, but rather another playful, metatextual riff on a well known building block toy and its ties to a lot of different licensees. It still suffers a bit in comparison to what has immediately come before it, and those comparisons are sadly inevitable and necessary. Made entirely without the input of the writing team that created The Lego Movie, this spin-off has plenty of delightful moments, but lacks the heart and dizzying comedic heights of its predecessor. It’s not a...

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Review: 2017 Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts

Perseverance and finding the strength to carry on are the key themes throughout this year’s Oscar nominees for Best Animated Short, all of which will screen as part of a package with several bonus, noteworthy shorts to round out a theatrical exhibition package. The bonus films – The Head Vanishes, Asteria, and The Happy End – were not available for preview, and this year’s proper nominees in the category are slightly disappointing (although I don’t many other films that would have been more worthy of inclusion here), but there’s still some strong visual and narrative effort shown in this...

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