Archive for August, 2010

This week’s releases all feature death as a significant element in the stories’ plots, whether it’s caused by vigilante justice, psychotropic murder, zombie hunger or vampiric necessity.

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Star Wars' Chewbacca impersonatorAnother Fan Expo has come and gone, leaving memories of celebrity encounters, elaborate and immaculately developed costumes, indescribable artistry, engaging Q&As and panel discussions … and long lines. But if you managed to get into the show, it was everything fan boys and girls could ask for.

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This week’s releases have a little something for everyone, including a complete television series, a late actress’ final performance, a film noir, an existential film from a Hungarian auteur, and a comedy romance.

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Robert the tire faces off against the police in RubberRubber is quickly becoming known as “the killer tire movie.” But it’s not a b-movie nor does it resemble rolling killer tomatoes (see 1978’s Attack of the Killer Tomatoes). Yes, it’s about a telekinetic tire, but there’s a lot more happening that goes beyond this simplistic plot. A genre festival like Toronto After Dark Film Festival could be criticized for programming a film that is more thought-provoking than expected – but it’s so entertaining, there’s nothing fans can really complain about.

Robert is a tire. Born from the desert sand, he begins life modestly, attempting to stay upright and roll in his desired direction. When he finds his path blocked by an object, he discovers he can easily roll over it. But when Robert’s attempts to squish a glass beer bottle repeatedly fail, his frustration leads him to destroy it with his mind. From then on, nothing can stand in Robert’s way. However, he soon begins to direct his power at humans; especially when he witnesses his brethren being unsympathetically burned in piles. In the meantime, a group of people that resemble ill-placed bird watchers bear witness to Robert’s activities while commenting on the act of watching.

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Sarah Butler takes revenge in I Spit on your GraveIt’s rare for a film to attract this much attention two months before its wide release, but the announcement of an I Spit on your Grave remake was like releasing moths to a flame. The 1978 original was called everything from misogynistic trash to high art, so it came as no surprise when reactions to the new version ranged from appalled to excited. In the end, the only way to truly generate an informed opinion is to see the film. Therefore when Toronto After Dark Film Festival included it in their program, it presented the perfect opportunity to somewhat force myself to do just that.

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The result of necromancy in Black DeathBlack Death is a medieval horror story, but its monsters are more human than supernatural. It forces its characters to question their core beliefs as devout men. But it also examines people’s capacity to blindly follow religious leaders without considering the consequences or their legitimacy. This Toronto After Dark Film Festival selection is an interesting exploration of human nature and the overall concept of religious dedication.

With Medieval England consumed by the black plague, the Bishop is disturbed by reports of an isolated pagan village that remains untouched by the disease. Suspecting the work of witchcraft, a young monk named Osmund (Eddie Redmayne) is charged to guide a detachment of mercenaries to this remote community. Led by Ulric (Sean Bean), a famed and feared witch-hunter, their quest is to hunt down a necromancer – someone able to revive the dead – and beat God back into the rest of the inhabitants. Osmund is suddenly on a perilous journey that will test his faith and moral compass as he finds himself torn between his love for God and the love of a young woman.

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Jim Sturgess and Joseph Mawle in Philip Ridley's HeartlessHeartless is a dark tale of love, betrayal, faith, sin and chaos – but it is so much more than that. The Toronto After Dark Film Festival hosted the Toronto premiere of director Philip Ridley’s return to the screen after a 14-year hiatus. His previous films, The Passion of Darkly Noon and The Reflecting Skin, were critical successes and Ridley proves his absence did not weaken his remarkable abilities in the slightest.

Jamie Morgan (Jim Sturgess) was born with a disfiguring, heart-shaped birthmark across his face, making him an outcast in his rough East London neighbourhood. While wandering abandoned yards and empty streets taking photographs of the ruin, Jamie comes across a gang of thugs responsible for recent monstrous crimes. However, as his curiosity thrusts him closer to the danger, Jamie discovers the perpetrators are something more than human. He is eventually led into a Faustian deal that grants his deepest desire, but also sees him become a part of the terrifying chaos around him. The world Jamie thought was so meaningless and ugly is suddenly made important and beautiful, but the cost of such a transformation may prove too much for him in the end.

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