Author: Nicole Frangos

Review: Command and Control

Command and Control is a documentary that examines the 1980 Damascus Titan missile explosion. The Titan II missile, which was buried in an underground silo, was maintained by a missile combat crew and Propellant Transfer Team (PTS). On September 19, 1980, an accident occurred during a maintenance service: when PTS member Dave Powell was servicing the missile’s oxygen tank, he dropped a socket onto the silo’s floor, where it bounced into the side of the Titan II, creating a fuel leak that lead to the inevitable explosion. A man was killed, others seriously injured, and the launch complex was completely destroyed. The film is based on Eric Schlosser’s book of the same title. Director Robert Kenner does an excellent job retelling the story of that fateful day, and his documentary is a compelling look at how quickly – and easily – something can go wrong on a nuclear level. Dramatic recreations of the incident bring it to life on the screen. When Dave Powell tells the story of how he dropped the socket, the dramatic recreation brings us to that exact moment and it’s almost as tense as the actual moment he describes. A big part of that tension comes from the excellent recreations, which are interspersed throughout the documentary as well as direct statements from people who were actually there. Why was this dangerous weapon just sitting so vulnerably...

Read More

TIFF 2016 Review: Paterson

Adam Driver is a hardworking bus driver who likes Emily Dickinson in Paterson, Jim Jarmusch’s latest festival contribution. Driver’s eponymous Paterson drives a bus in the small town of Paterson, New Jersey and is married to a free-spirited woman with flitting creative energy. They have a solid marriage and they’re in love. Every day, though, Paterson wakes up and goes through the motions of his routine-filled life. His passion is his poetry – he’s a talented poet who spends much of his free time writing in his ‘secret notebook.’ Paterson spends a week in the life of this poet. Jarmusch’s final product is a subtle, sweet and ennui-filled glimpse into the life of the titular character. Driver is great as Paterson, his usual bravado toned down for a role that makes him seem a decade older than he is. At around 2 hours in length, the director has the time to spend focusing on the details that make up Paterson’s life – even the minor ones. The film shows how time is fleeting, and ultimately underscores the importance of spending one’s time on things they love. For Paterson, he loves his wife and poetry, and his whole world is coloured by this, despite the boredom that can overcome the life of a bus driver in a small town. Every moment, for Paterson, is an inspiration to a poem –...

Read More

Review: Don’t Breathe

In Don’t Breathe, three thieves choose the wrong house to burglarize. After a series of semi-successful runs, they target the house of an Iraq war vet who they suspect is stashing a lot of cash after his daughter’s wrongful death. It seems like the perfect theft: the man’s house is in the middle of an abandoned residential street in Detroit, and he’s blind. Unfortunately for the trio, this man is like a very sinister mixture of Rambo and Kevin from Home Alone. Once they’re in the house, they do everything they can to get back out. For horror or thriller movies with a quick and dirty premise and a predictable, tense plot like this one, it’s easy to fall in the trap of time awareness. Meaning, the premise is predictable enough that you know the next step and become anxious to get it over with. Don’t Breathe doesn’t fall into this trap. The action happens at a good pace and the characters’ behaviour is not always completely predictable. There are plenty of scenes that increase the tension, as well as a few jump scares to remind you that this movie is definitely part of the horror genre. There are also a few twists that elevate this movie from a straightforward cat and mouse chase. In a film like this, the characters are an afterthought to the action. Still, though,...

Read More

Review: Standing Tall

Catherine Deneuve plays Florence Blaque, a juvenile judge who is overseeing the case of a young delinquent, Malony (Rod Paradot), in Standing Tall. Malony was briefly abandoned by his mother as a toddler, and is stuck in a self-destructive life of thievery and violence. At only 15-years-old, and with a growing list of offences, he is provided a counsellor (Benoît Magimel) who, along with Blaque, wants to help save the delinquent from himself before its too late. Deneuve is the powerhouse star in this film, a legend of French cinema for over 50 years. She is wonderful in the role as the stern but loving judge; however, Paradot steals the show as the troubled Malony. A quick glance at his resume shows that this is the young actor’s first film credit; however, his work in this film is excellent. He plays the troubled teen with a convincing amount of rage and sensitivity. Here is a young man whose odds were against him since he was a toddler. He is not always the most sympathetic character, but you’re constantly compelled by what is happening on screen, in part due to Paradot’s great job with the character. The film portrays the issues that exist in the world of juvenile delinquency. The judge and counsellor’s debate on whether to send Malony to a juvenile detention centre or prison is an interesting and...

Read More

Harsh beauty: interview with Edge of Winter director Rob Connolly

Rob Connolly is no stranger to film. He has a long history of work behind the camera – he’s worked as a grip, gaffer, camera operator and cinematographer. In Edge of Winter, his first full-length film in the director’s chair, he has created a slightly sinister thriller set in a stark, wintry landscape. Speaking over the phone, Connolly revealed that he immediately gravitated to the film, which was pitched to him by writer Kyle Mann. Connolly was intrigued by Mann’s first draft of the film, and he knew immediately what he wanted to do with it. The final piece, as Connolly says, is “focused on the characters. It’s a character study.” And he’s right: the film is small and contained, and packs a lot of tension in its 90 minutes. The film was shot in Sudbury, Ontario during the winter months of February and March in 2015. “We spent a lot of time looking for locations,” says Connolly. The film was actually originally set in BC, but they changed it up since they needed a location that had a lot of snow – this didn’t necessarily make for a comfortable shoot. “The weather was so extreme,” Connolly says. “Nobody was comfortable the entire time we were shooting.” Perhaps that ended up being a good thing, though, because it pulled great performances from the actors in this tense thriller. Edge...

Read More

Review: Ben-Hur

Hollywood has a remake problem. Whether it’s a lack of imagination, laziness, or the desire to milk the cash cow (the latter being the most likely reason), studios are pumping out remakes, reboots, sequels and re-imaginings at an alarming rate. Sometimes it works and sometimes it’s a disaster. Especially tricky territory is remaking a beloved classic, since it is exactly that. In the case of Ben-Hur, filmmakers had an even harder task at hand. The 1959 version of the film – which is in fact a remake of the 1925 film – still holds the most Oscar wins for a film. The soaring epic occupies a special spot in film history. Director Timur Bekmambetov had some pretty large shoes to fill with the 2016 remake. He filled them pretty well as 2016’s Ben-Hur is a decent movie. Full-disclosure: this writer here has never seen the 1959 version and was only familiar with the story through the parallel Jesus Christ/Julius Caesar plot. I was able to view the film with the fresh eyes of a 2016 moviegoer, not those of a devotee to the original film, so perhaps this affects my opinion slightly. Some fellow moviegoers proclaimed, “This wasn’t as good as the original” upon exiting the theatre, but generally everyone seemed to enjoy the epic story of Judah Ben-Hur (Jack Huston), a Prince from Jerusalem during Roman rule who...

Read More

Review: Edge of Winter

What begins as a tentative reunion trip between a father (Joel Kinnaman) and his two sons quickly turns into something sinister in Edge of Winter. Brad (Tom Holland) and Caleb (Percy Hynes White) are dropped off at their father’s house, after not seeing him for quite some time, by their mother who is going on a trip with her new husband. The father takes the boys on a hunting trip up north. After a few moments of uneasy bonding, the trio’s car gets stuck in the snow and they become stranded at a remote cabin. As their father slowly becomes unhinged, the siblings need to fight for their survival. Edge of Winter was filmed in Sudbury, Ontario, so the snowy forests will be familiar for many Torontonians. The film’s blanket of snow is a still landscape that belies the conflict that’s slowly unfurling between the father and his two sons. Kinnaman is menacing without trying too hard; Elliot’s interactions with his sons are at times terrifying and tender. It’s a small cast of actors, so a major load is placed on the shoulders of Holland and Hynes White, but they easily carry this weight. As the protagonists of the film, we can relate to their fight for survival, in addition to their conflict surrounding their father. They easily give in to many of his increasingly disturbing suggestions, but we...

Read More

Recent Tweets

Pin It on Pinterest