Wednesday 30 November 2016

Spotlight on first-rate independent Canuck Cinema by female directors at the visionary Whistler Film Festival 2016 - THE DEATH (AND LIFE) OF CARL NAARDLINGER by Katherine Schlemmer - Review By Greg Klymkiw

The Death (and Life) of Carl Naardlinger (2016)
Scr/Dir. Katherine Schlemmer
Prod/Ed. Carl Laudan

Starring: Matt Baram, Grace Lynn Kung, Mark Forward
Anand Rajaram, Beatriz Yuste, Ryan F. Hughes

Review By Greg Klymkiw

For a schlub who spends eight hours a day taking telephone complaints under the glare of fluorescent lights in a nondescript office-cum-hovel, the geeky, gawky Carl Naardlinger (Matt Baram) lives a very charmed life. With Pam (Grace Lynn Kung), a babe-o-licious, uber-real-estate-seller of a wife who loves him madly, this is a guy who seems to have it all. And so, he thinks he does, until his birthday celebrations are interrupted by a doorbell ring of fate. A detective (Anand Rajaram) has appeared at the front porch of the lovely suburban bliss of Chez Naardlinger to investigate a missing person's case. And just who's missing?

Carl Naardlinger, of course.

The only problem is that Carl is not missing. An even bigger problem, is that there appears to be someone bearing his unique appellate who is missing. Carl, should leave well enough alone, but he slowly becomes obsessed with investigating the disappearance of the other Carl Naardlinger (Mark Forward), a pudgy, schlubby baker who roomed with an almost insanely schlubby married couple (Beatriz Yuste, Ryan F. Hughes).

Oh, and to add to the morass, it appears as if the baker Naardlinger has a doppelgänger.

Katherine Schlemmer's sprightly directorial debut yields a queerly delightful comedy of coincidence which leads its characters and the audience on an odyssey into the very heart of what it means to be human in a seemingly apportioned world that, below its surface, roils with crises of identity. Much of the film is delivered by its superb cast in perfect deadpan, so much so, that at one point, when the film explodes into a volcano of mad, manic overlapping dialogue, the effect is as jolting as it is hilarious.

One of the fascinating elements of the film is that much of its running time is set within a ravine cutting its way through the cold, cement of the city and we get a real sense of two physical solitudes which mirror those of the emotional variety. This is both clever and oddly moving.

Given the importance of coincidence within the framework of the narrative, there is a point during the final third of the film where one wants the picture to soar into a kind of reverie that goes well beyond the simple coincidence of the story. It almost gets there when we follow one of the Naardlinger doppelgängers though a kind of natural fantasia amidst the greenery of the ravine. Reality, however, rears its head. This is hardly a flaw, though, as it forces us to soar on a completely new plane.

It defies expectations and if anything, this is what makes this delicious ugly duckling of a movie both loveable and irresistibly piquant.


The Death (and Life) of Carl Naardlinger plays at the 2016 edition of the Whistler Film Festival.

Sunday 27 November 2016


More SHUDDER Mayhem Reviewed Below:
I tried Netflix for the free one-month service. It took one day to realize I would never pay for it. Shudder launched October 20, 2016 (in Canada, the UK and Ireland). It took about one hour to decide it would stay with me forever. Netflix was stuffed with unimaginatively programmed product: bad television, (mostly) awful mainstream movies, a lame selection of classics, indie and foreign cinema, plus the most cumbersome browsing interface imaginable. Shudder, on the other hand, is overflowing with a magnificently curated selection of classics, indie, foreign and mainstream cinema, plus a first rate browsing and navigation interface which allows for simple alphabetical listings as well as a handful of very simple curated menus. Yes, Shudder is all horror, all the time, but a vast majority of the product is first rate and, depending upon your definition of horror, there is plenty to discover here that's just plain great cinema!

Who can resist a babe in an open window?
Open Windows (2014) ***
Dir. Nacho Vigalondo

Starring: Elijah Wood, Sasha Grey, Neil Maskell

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Open Windows is the clever title of the equally clever and often nail-bitingly suspenseful thriller by the young Oscar-nominated Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes, Extraterrestrial). It's his first English language film and a definite corker. Dazzlingly directed and acted with aplomb by all concerned, this drawer-filling cyber thriller achieves the near impossible by placing much of the onscreen action within a myriad of "open windows" on a computer screen. Read my full Film Corner review HERE.

Time to kill some zombies, mais non?
The Battery (2013) **1/2
Dir. Jeremy Gardner
Starring: Jeremy Gardner, Adam Cronheim, Niels Bolle, Alana O'Brien

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Before the New England zombie apocalypse, Ben (Jeremy Gardner) and Mickey (Adam Cronheim) were pro baseball players, but these days they're moving surreptitiously through the woods and backroads, their only contact with anything resembling a human being is the occasional zombie which, of course, will need to be dispatched. Predictably, the guys are polar opposites. Ben's no-nonsense "gotta-keep-moving-like-a-shark" attitude is what keeps them alive and his insistence that they always make time for games of pitch-and-catch is what keeps them human. For Ben, baseball, or at least the vestiges of the once great unifying force of America is the only thing as important as staying alive. The sheer relaxing physicality of it offers a kind of Zen to their seemingly pointless lives. Read my full Film Corner review HERE.

Serial killers worship
the John Paizs cult classic CRIME WAVE.
The Editor (2014) *****
Dir. Adam Brooks, Matthew Kennedy (Astron-6)

Starring: Adam Brooks, Matthew Kennedy, Paz de le Huerta, Udo Kier, Laurence R. Harvey, Tristan Risk, Samantha Hill, Conor Sweeney, Brent Neale, Kevin Anderson, Mackenzie Murdock, John Paizs

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Okay, ladies and gents, strap-on your biggest vibrating butt-plugs and get ready to plop your ass cheeks upon your theatre seat and glue your eyeballs upon The Editor, the newest and most triumphant Astron-6 production to date and easily the greatest thrill ride since Italy spewed out the likes of Tenebre, Inferno, Opera, The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh, The Beyond, Strip Nude For Your Killer, Don't Torture a Duckling, Hitch-Hike, Shock, Blood and Black Lace, Twitch of the Death Nerve, Kill Baby Kill and, of course, Hatchet for the Honeymoon. You'll relive, beyond your wildest dreams, those films which scorched silver screens the world over during those lazy, hazy, summer days of Giallo. But, be prepared! The Editor is no mere copycat, homage and/or parody - well, it is all three, but more! Directors Adam Brooks and Matthew Kennedy have created a modern work that holds its own with the greatest gialli of all time. Read my full Film Corner review HERE.

Decent demon possession mock-doc 4 U.
The Last Exorcism (2010) ***
dir. Daniel Stamm
Starring: Patrick Fabian, Ashley Bell, Iris Bahr, Louis Herthum, Caleb Landry Jones and Tony Bentley

Review By Greg Klymkiw

I suppose we have to thank The Blair Witch Project for all the mock-doc shaky-cam thrillers of the past 15-or-so years. I don't even like it much. The movie had a vague visceral effectiveness upon a first viewing, but the real test for all these pictures is how pictures hold up on repeated viewings. The original Blair Witch Project doesn't hold up to that kind of scrutiny at all. And now we have, from producer Eli (The Bear Jew) Roth, a very effective horror picture directed by Daniel Stamm which, presents its nerve jangling tale of demonic possession with a reasonable degree of intelligence and style. It's also held up nicely to repeated viewings. Read my full Film Corner review HERE.

THE LAST DAYS ON MARS gives new meaning to
the appellate, "the red planet" - blood red.
The Last Days On Mars (2013) ***
Dir: Ruairi Robinson
Starring Liev Schreiber, Elias Koteas, Olivia Williams, Romola Garai

Review By Greg Klymkiw

An international crew exploring Mars for signs of life have sadly come up short. In their last days, however, a natural disaster on the planet loosens up a living entity that begins to wreak unexpected havoc. Well, we do expect havoc, but the manner in which it grips the crew is deliciously, scarily unexpected. Life, of course, does not have to mean tangible upright forms - it can also be bacteria, disease and/or mutation. Whilst some might find elements of the tale derivative of Alien and/or The Thing (among others), the writing is generally infused with intelligence and strong attention to character. Besides, familiarity does not always breed contempt. Read my full Film Corner review HERE.

She's Hot. She's Deadly.
She's Artificial Intelligence.
She has a Moral Centre.
Watch the fuck out.
The Machine (2013) Dir. Caradog W. James ***1/2
Starring: Caity Lotz, Toby Stephens, Sam Hazeldine

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Two scientists. One's a babe (Caity Lotz). The other's a handsome single Dad (Toby Stephens). Once they're teamed up to develop artificial intelligence, they become a formidable force. They're working for a scumbag (Sam Hazeldine) who wants to use their research and development to create ultra-weapons to go to war with China. The Babe is getting too peace-nikky for the scum-wad's liking and is assassinated. Handsome Single Dad transforms her into a walking, talking, killing machine.

Hell will break loose. And it indeed, does.

And indeed, with The Machine, we get another intelligent, thrilling, well-written science fiction film on a shoestring from dear old Blighty that puts studio-generated product to shame and even provides a sort of unofficial prequel to Blade Runner, but without that film's pretension. Read my full Film Corner review HERE.

NETFLIX is poo, SHUDDER is gold.
SHUDDER is the all-new streaming service devoted to horror. Available in Canada, UK and USA, SHUDDER is expertly CURATED by programmers who know their shit (and then some), including TIFF's magnificent Midnight Madness king of creepy (and head honcho of Toronto's Royal Cinema, the best goddamn repertory/art cinema in Canada), Colin Geddes. It's fucking cheap and notably, cheaper than that crapola Netflix. Get more info and order it RIGHT FUCKING NOW by clicking HERE!!!

Saturday 26 November 2016


The Sublet (2015)
Dir. John Ainslie
Scr. Alyson Richards, John Ainslie

Starring: Tianna Nori, Mark Matechuk, Krista Madison,
Rachel Sellan, Liv Collins, Mary-Elizabeth Willcott

Review By Greg Klymkiw

There are many creepy things about The Sublet. One of the creepiest is the sublet itself and everything it represents. When a young couple (Tianna Nori, Mark Matechuk) and newborn baby move into a mysterious walk-up flat, they should in all likelihood, have figured out that something wasn't quite right.

Sometimes in life and almost always in the movies, such ciphering proves elusive.

Besides, the price and location are right and the place itself is so spacious and comfortable that eccentricities like communicating with a landlord by note might be weird, but what's a bit of eccentricity when everything else seems so perfect?

But that's not all. The place is graced with furniture and tchockes from the previous longtime tenant. Most of it seems just fine, but some of it clearly belongs to someone (or, God forbid, something) that's completely and utterly bunyip.

Queerly, it turns out the flat's address is not even registered as an address with any of the local cable, phone and internet companies. Yeah, that is weird, but it could also be seen as a blessing in disguise.

One of the ickier elements in the flat is the one locked door and no key to go with it. Our couple assume the room is storing private property. Curiosity will, however, eventually rear its ugly head. And curiosity, as we all know, is what killed the cat.

All of this aside, what might really worry me, is the disturbingly ghoulish homeless woman who always stands outside, looking up and drilling holes of both fury and despair into the flat's windows. One might always be wondering, fearing if the lady's acquaintance will be made. If so, will it be benign? Or something unimaginably horrifying?

The aforementioned comprise some of the more familiar, though delightfully oddball genre elements of the screenplay by Alison Richards and director Ainslie, but where they really come into play is in the areas the picture excels in. This is, in many ways a story of deep loneliness and how it manifests itself into sheer, unrelenting horror.

Our stay-at-home Mom grapples with her feelings of postpartum worthlessness and body image as her self-absorbed, pretentious actor husband provides plenty of reasons for wifey to be jealous, suspicious and downright angry. In retaliation she grasps out for any reality beyond the mundane, even if said reality is either a manifestation of mental illness or something altogether paranormal, or perhaps even both.

As a director, Ainslie is clearly playing in the Roman Polanski sandbox of horrific delights, bringing an atmospheric, measured pace, thick with dread and dappled with unexpected bursts of thick liquid crimson during moments of sickening violence which may or may not be real.

His mise-en-scene brings to mind Repulsion, Rosemary's Baby and The Tenant with dollops of Don't Look Now for good measure. None of this, however, is derivative, nor is it displayed in geek fanboy homage. It's designed to deliver jolts that are rooted specifically in the dramatic elements of the screenplay and if anything, to provide a springboard for what Ainslie learned from the Masters to offer-up chills and thrills that are all his own.

There are a few trifling problems with the film. One of the supporting performances is so godawful that you can't believe the performer wasn't fired after uttering one clunky line reading after another. Luckily there is a little pot of gold at the end of this otherwise wretched rainbow that no matter how mind-numbingly incompetent the performance is, you're distracted by the exotic sex-drenched look of the thespian in question.

There is one story element involving the discovery of a secret diary and the readings from it are annoyingly on-point, exemplifying audience hand-holding of the most egregious kind. Worse yet are elements in the tail end of the picture which you'll occasionally realize are distinct possibilities for how it'll all tie up, but you hope and pray the picture won't go there. When it does, the heart sinks.

It is possible, however, that most audiences these days are so stupid they won't see it coming, but even so, it's never a good idea to shoehorn such obvious elements into what is mostly a very unique experience. It gives short shrift even to the dribbling idiots of the Great Unwashed.

I've seen enough movies in my life to sense in cases like this where filmmakers have been forced to compromise their vision by one or more of the following: boneheaded producers, boneheaded financiers, boneheaded distributors and/or broadcasters, boneheaded government funding mavens and all the other boneheaded holders-of-purse-strings types.

All I dare add to this most learned assumption of mine is that the lack of artistic acumen amongst the aforementioned head honchos does indeed place them on the same level as The Great Unwashed.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: ***1/2 3-and-a-Half Stars

The Sublet is the Closing Night Gala at the 2016 Blood in the Snow Film Festival (BITS)

Friday 25 November 2016


The Unseen (2016)
Dir. Geoff Redknapp
Starring: Aden Young, Julia Sarah Stone

Review By Greg Klymkiw

The first time I encountered the astonishing Australian-Canadian actor Aden Young was in the late, great Paul Cox's 1994 Tasmanian-set classic Exile. In that film, Young plays a man exiled for stealing a few sheep, which not only embodied his character, but did so in perfect tandem with the director’s trademark humanity. Young's performance in the film left me a shuddering mass of tears, as well as a kind of transcendent elation.

British Columbia-based Canadian writer-director Geoff Redknapp has chosen Young to star in his very odd blend of thriller and family drama (with dollops of Cronenberg-like body-decimation horror). Young's performance binds the picture's disparate mélange of genre elements together. When he's on-screen, which thankfully is a lot, the picture transcends some of its more TV-movie-esque family drama elements.

Young plays Bob Langmore, a northern British Columbia laborer estranged from his wife and teenage daughter, Eva (Julia Sarah Stone). When she goes missing, he must re-assess his responsibilities as a man and father, as well as his ties to a criminal underworld. Adding insult to injury, Bob’s cursed - as is Eva. To reveal the nature of this curse, or rather, affliction, would spoil the picture, but it's worth mentioning that first-time feature director Redknapp is a highly acclaimed and sought-after special effects veteran. Use your imagination here until you see the film.

The film, in spite of its thriller/horror elements, is not especially thrilling, nor is it even scary. It is, however, occasionally creepy, and that’s always a good thing.

The picture works its magic best when it focuses on the working class/crime elements of the story as they impact the father-daughter relationship. Again, Young proves why he's one of the world's greatest actors - we can't take our eyes off the guy and he continues his Paul-Cox-enflamed ability to move us deeply. That said, he's given a run for his money by the compelling performance of Julia Sarah Stone as his daughter. The camera loves her and she's got definite star potential.

Redknapp’s picture feels like his screenplay, especially with the domestic issues, was been worked over one too many times by a few story “experts,” but, as a filmmaker to watch, he’s got the potential to go the distance.


The Unseen makes its Toronto Premiere at the Blood in the Snow Film Festival 2016.

Thursday 24 November 2016


Kidnap Capital (2016)
Dir. Felipe Rodriguez
Starring: Paulino Nunes, Johnathan Sousa, Michael Reventar, Pedro Miguel Arce

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Canadian-born filmmaker Felipe Rodriguez and a top-tier ensemble cast deliver a riveting "horror" film rooted in the horrendous reality of an Arizona Drop House. Ruthless, organized criminals kidnap Latin American illegal immigrants who are tortured, raped and even murdered. The goal of the mobsters is to secure ransom money. Alas, many of those they kidnap are forced into begging for their lives to friends and family members who are hardly equipped to fork over cash and must, in turn, go into deep debt to rescue their loved ones.

The film focuses upon a basement full of victims, and Rodriguez directs his claustrophobic thriller with a blend of neo-realism and straight-up, nail-biting tension. That the stories are rooted in factual accounts is sickening enough, but the reality of the film's expertly-delivered mise-en-scene is what keeps our jaws agape.

What we experience in Kidnap Capital as mere viewers is happening to people each and everyday. Hats off to Rodriguez and team for making a movie that represents the exploited in a film, one that is not only exposing a terrible injustice, but does so with the highest levels of artistry.


Kidnap Capital enjoys its Toronto Premiere at the Blood in the Snow (BITS) Film Festival 2016.

Saturday 19 November 2016

ONE-EYED JACKS - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Criterion Collection Blu-Ray Does Brando Proud!

You will hear Marlon Brando utter the words:
"Get up, you scum suckin' pig!"
And then, your life will be full.
One-Eyed Jacks (1961)
Dir. Marlon Brando
Scr. Guy Trosper, Calder Willingham
Starring: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Katy Jurado, Pina Pellicer, Ben Johnson,
Sam Gilman, Larry Duran, Slim Pickens, Timothy Carey, Elisha Cook, Hank Worden

Review By Greg Klymkiw

I love One-Eyed Jacks, but there are three things about it that make me sad.

First, it was originally developed with a Sam Peckinpah screenplay for director Stanley Kubrick. A blood-soaked revenge drama in the Old West from those two dudes and starring Marlon Brando is the stuff grand, wild daydreams are made of.

Secondly, given that the aforementioned writer and director were dumped in favour of a new script that would serve as the directorial debut of Brando himself (and that it yielded such a great picture) is all well and good, but what really inspires me to hang my head in sorrow is the legendary 300-minute Brando director's cut that no longer exists in any way, shape or form. That, my friends, is sad. 300 minutes of Brando's mad, inspired and solid direction - lost forever - is not unlike what the world would have been like without Michael Cimino's full cut of Heaven's Gate. Luckily, that does exist and what remains of One-Eyed Jacks is one great 141-minute western.

Finally, we should all lament the fact that Brando directed only one picture.

But what a picture!

The movie opens with Rio (Marlon Brando), his pal/mentor Dad Longworth (Karl Malden) and Doc (the delightful Hank Worden) robbing a bank in Sonora, Mexico. Old Doc is gunned down by Mexican rurales and our two above-the-title stars find themselves holed up on a mountain as the lawmen close in. They only have one horse between them. Rio entrusts Dad to hightail down the hill, get a fresh horse and come back so they can both make their escape.

Ah, but Dad Longworth has other plans. He abandons poor Rio who spends five years of hard time in a Mexican prison. Rio befriends Chico Modesto (Larry Duran) and he's hell-bent on revenge. When he meets scuzzballs Bob Emory (Ben Johnson) and Harvey Johnson (Sam Gilman), he learns than Dad has set himself up nicely in Monterey, California with a big, new, sprawling house, beautiful wife Maria (Katy Jurado) and her "bastard" daughter, the even more beautiful Louisa (Pina Pellicer). Even more galling to Rio is that Dad has become "respectable". He is the Sheriff of Monterey.

This is perfect. Rio plans to rob the Monterey Bank and kill Dad Longworth. As fate would have it, though, Rio falls in love with Louisa. After deflowering her, Dad not only whips Rio viciously in public, but smashes our hero's shooting hand to a pulp.

But this is the Old West - a time when men were men and didn't let things like a broken hand stop them. Time heals all wounds, after all, and once the wounds are healed, a deadly showdown is imminent.

This is one rip-snorting western. Brando's direction is super-taut and the movie is rife with all manner of interesting character details - especially in terms of friendship and loyalty (and lack thereof). The exchanges between Rio and Dad in Monterey are always simmering with a bizarre combination of love and hatred. When Brando accuses Dad of being a "one-eyed Jack" (after all, Dad only shows most people one side of him while always keeping his eye on number one), Rio eventually cuts deep when he coldly looks the villain in the eye and says, "I've seen the other side of your face."

Oh yeah, Dad Longworth is one dirty, two-faced sonofabitch. (And by the way, how come movies today don't have characters with names like "Dad Longworth"?)

Brando's performance is, of course, delightfully insane. Throughout the picture he engages in all sorts of strangely beautiful actions and gestures. He's a hero, alright, but a hero with a difference. Our first taste of Brando is delicious. He's utterly charming, sexy and definitely dangerous. During the initial bank robbery, Rio sits casually on the bank counter eating bananas. Bananas, folks! He's robbing a bank and casually eating bananas. As if this isn't oddball enough, there's a classic Brando moment when he tosses a banana skin on one of the bank's gold scales. He doesn't cotton to things being lopsided. Rio polishes off his second banana and tosses it on the other scale.

Rio believes in balance.

We get other wonderful displays of this. There's an amazing sequence when Rio is appalled with the manner in which a dirty pimp (the great Timothy Carey, so memorable in Kubrick's Paths of Glory) is treating his whore and he exacts just the sort of justice necessary to bring balance to the situation. And who in their right mind could ever forget the scene in which Rio challenges foul Bob Emory to a showdown? "Get up," Rio demands. "Get up you scum suckin' pig."

Good westerns are a dime a dozen. One-Eyed Jacks is a great western. It's easily worth those two saddlebags full of gold that Rio and Dad Longworth steal at the beginning of movie - two bags of gold that lead to plenty of lust, love and blood under those sunny, blue Monterey skies.


One-Eyed Jacks is available on the Criterion Collection with a new 4K digital restoration, undertaken by Universal Pictures in partnership with The Film Foundation and in consultation with filmmakers Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray, a new introduction by Scorsese, excerpts from voice recordings director and star Marlon Brando made during the development of the film’s script, new video essays on the film, a trailer, an essay by film critic Howard Hampton and new cover art by Robert Hunt.