Pulling Focus: Carrie (1976)


“Carrie effortlessly straddles, and frequently blurs, the line between exploitation trash and serious-minded cinema” – Paul O’Callaghan, BFI   They’re all gonna laugh at you! Following after the minor successes of Sisters (1973), Phantom of the Paradise (1974)––which would eventually have a substantial cult following––and Obsession (1976), Carrie would prove, once and for all, that […]

Pulling Focus: Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)

Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)

“Death is not the worst. There are things more horrible than death.” – Count Dracula (played by Klaus Kinski)   Blood on your cool Pronounced and menacing, Werner Herzog’s redaction of Nosferatu should not be viewed, as he insists, as a remake of F.W. Murnau’s 1922 horror classic of German silent cinema––what Herzog describes as […]

Personal Shopper – VIFF 2016 Review


Olivier Assayas’ latest film, Personal Shopper, is an eccentric ghost story, expertly told, and gauging by the up-and-down reception it garnered at Cannes earlier this year (frequent boos followed by a standing ovation) it’s fair to say that this film is also something of a misunderstood masterpiece. Teaming for a second time with with the […]

Suntan – VIFF 2016 Review


Suntan is the third feature film after Bank Bag (2008) and Wasted Youth (2011) from Greek director Argyris Papadimitropoulos, and it’s a dark doozy. Kostis (Efthymis Papadimitriou) is a 42-year-old doctor who has just arrived at Antiparos, a Cycladic Greek island with a winter population hovering around 800 folks. Disembarking from the ferry, he’s the […]

Elle – VIFF 2016 Review


You’d think by age 78 that firebrand Dutch director Paul Verhoeven would venture less into areas most filmmakers would never dare, but you’d be wrong. With Elle, Verhoeven’s first film in a decade, a rape-revenge fantasy thriller unfolds with generous drops of comedy and subtlety. While many filmmakers have explored and exploited similar transgressive territory, […]

The Girl With All The Gifts – VIFF 2016 Review


Scottish director Colm McCarthy (perhaps best known for his work on Sherlock and Peaky Blinders) offers up a tense, intelligent, and chillingly provocative British horror film in The Girl With All The Gifts. Ably assisted by screenwriter Mike Carey, adapting his own bestseller from 2014, their film takes the elaborately overdone zombie genre and resuscitates […]

The Love Witch – VIFF 2016 Review


“I’m scared,” admits Wayne (Jeffrey Vincent Parise), “I’m not used to feeling things so strongly.” Poor, clueless, not-long-for-this-world Wayne, for Elaine (Samantha Robinson, excellent), a vivacious young witch, has already seduced and worked her brand black magic on him in Anna Biller’s amazingly audacious second feature, The Love Witch. Wayne’s not the first, nor will […]

Julieta – VIFF 2016 Review


Gestating since 2009 when Pedro Almodóvar acquired the rights to a trio of celebrated Canadian writer Alice Munro’s short stories (they all come from the same 2004 collection, “Runaway”), Julieta marks the provocative Spanish filmmakers 20th feature. Alternately beautiful and sad, Julieta is also obvious and self-indulgent, but is nonetheless a ravishing cinematic experience where […]

American Honey – VIFF 2016 Review


“What’s your dream?” asks an even-tempered cattle-truck driver to Star (Sasha Lane) as they drive down the highway. She’s surprised by this near-stranger’s charitable question and says, “Nobody’s ever asked me that before.” There’s many moments like this in a film that seems to move from one desultory random moment to the next; arranged with […]

The Handmaiden – VIFF 2016 Review


From South Korea’s provocateur and sensual stylist extraordinaire Park Chan-wook comes The Handmaiden, a stunning if somewhat strained fetish revenge tale set in 1930s Korea. Following 2013’s Hitchcockian horror-thriller Stoker, Park’s latest continues to plumb female sexuality and the female experience of sex with men absent, and The Handmaiden is all the more effective when […]