Author: Becky Belzile

Bangarang! Hook Turns 25

Originally published December 12, 2016.  Hook was the first movie I ever saw in a theater. I was just three years old when the magic of the experience was made known to me. I was enamoured with those thick plush seats, the enormous screen, and the smorgasbord of treats available. More importantly, it was Steven Spielberg who introduced me through Hook to the joy and awe of being transported somewhere unbelievable when its magical scenes were first burned into my tiny toddler mind. It’s because of memories like these that this film holds a special place in the hearts...

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Netflix Hidden Gem #88: The Paperboy

The Paperboy (2012) Director: Lee Daniels Genre: Drama Millenium Films Synopsis: A writer and his partner investigate a murder that put a potentially innocent man on death row. Overview: Every person on this earth probably likes a movie that’s objectively bad. The Paperboy isn’t exactly unique for being booed at Cannes, but that should give some indication of its questionable appeal. The Paperboy is an absolutely southern-fried finger-licking guilty pleasure; It’s trashy, sweaty, and dirty – literally. The heat is palpable and everyone is sweatin’ up a storm. It was the summer of 1969 and “it was so hot God...

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Netflix Gem #87: Stake Land

Stake Land (2011) Director: Jim Mickle Genre: Horror Dark Sky Films Synopsis: A vampire hunter and his teen apprentice seek a free life in the wake of a vampiric apocalypse. Overview: The Walking Dead premiered in 2010 amidst a slew of post-apocalyptic scenarios. As an obvious artistic response to culture, audiences were both enthralled with watching the fall of mankind and inspired by the will to survive they saw onscreen. This isn’t a new phenomenon; since humanity was able to comprehend life and death we’ve been fascinated or afraid of our own end. Unfortunately this theme of apocalyptic horror has...

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Criterion Discovery: Mon Oncle

Background: Mon Oncle is a French comedy film released in 1958 by Jacques Tati. There are two Criterion versions; the first released in 2001 now out of print, and the second as part of The Complete Jacques Tati Criterion set in 2014 (Spine #729). It is one of three of Tati’s films (and the first in colour) centered on a lovable, bumbling mime-like character Monsieur Hulot. Mon Oncle is his most widely celebrated work, receiving both the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and Special Prize at the Cannes Film Festival among other awards. Story: Monsieur Hulot enjoys...

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Three Rivers Film Festival: Apprentice Packs a Punch That Leaves You Bruised

Overview: A man transitioning from the army to work in a prison is given a weighty opportunity to assist an executioner. Akanga Film Productions; 2016; Not Rated; 115 minutes. The Cupboard: Aiman (Firdaus Rahman) lives with his older sister in an apartment which mirrors the prison he works in: restrictive and grey. Suhaila (Mastura Ahmad) cares for their ailing grandmother and lovingly nags like only an older sister can. They’re in each other’s hair and each other’s business at all times, each making choices the other doesn’t agree with. Aiman struggles with his sister’s romantic relationship, fearing abandonment but...

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Netflix Hidden Gem #85: Cosmos

Cosmos (2015) Director: Andrzej Żuławski Genre: Drama Kino Lorber Synopsis: Two men at a crossroads looking for some time away to refocus rent a room in a strange family’s home and find themselves solving one important mystery: who hung the sparrow? Overview: It had been fifteen years since Andrzej Żuławski gifted us with a film, and then Cosmos came along. Knowing his work, there couldn’t possibly be a better swan song for his sad passing in February of this year. Cosmos is an adaptation of the book by the same name by Witold Gombrowicz,  “A dark, quasi-detective novel, Cosmos follows...

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Netflix Hidden Gem #84: Sun Choke

Sun Choke (2015) Director: Ben Cresciman Genre: Drama XLrator Media Synopsis: A troubled young woman is subjected to strange treatments while developing a dangerous obsession with a stranger. Overview: Fans with their eye on a festival horror roundup have been anticipating the streaming release of Sun Choke for quite some time. This art house gem is gorgeous to look at with with its sterile, clean white palette and hazy dream-like sequences. Sarah Hagan plays Janie, a woman who may be suffering from an undisclosed mental health issue and recovering from a psychotic break. You might remember her as Millie, the well-meaning...

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Demon Takes Effort to See Through the Darkness

Overview: On the eve of his wedding, a man discovers a secret that once kept to himself possesses his mind and body. The Orchard; 2015; Rated R; 94 minutes. Tragedy: Any viewing of Demon comes with extra weight when one considers the tragic suicide of its director, Marcin Wrona. The director himself called the atmosphere of the film “suicidal” and took his own life at a film festival where Demon screened. This fact adds to the already-chilling atmosphere of Swierze Górne, Poland, a small village awash in browns and greys and saturated in a heavy fog. Peter (Itay Tiran)...

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Everlasting is a Feisty Little Mystery

Overview: Distraught by his girlfriend’s murder, a teen uses his school video project to track down the killer. Indie Rights; 2016; Not Rated; 85 minutes. People We Know: Everyone knew a girl like Jessie Martell in high school. She’s young and beautiful, marred by the all-too-common story of divorce, an absent father, and an unquenchable thirst for attention and fame. Shot after shot shows her hunger for the camera as she dramatically pouts and poses, practicing for her dream modelling job in LA. Like any troubled teen, she holds a fascination with death and darkness, a vague interest in...

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Is It Still Scary: Dumbo Pink Elephants on Parade Scene

You might be wondering why Dumbo is being considered for the question, “Is It Still Scary?” If you were a sensitive child who remembers the “Pink Elephants on Parade” scene, you already know why, and you’re nodding your head emphatically in affirmation. Besides the fact that it’s bizarre and scary that we still have circus animals in 2016, that scene scarred childhoods and imprinted itself in many memories. As a child you have a pretty limited understanding of what inebriation is. You’re not quite sure if someone can get drunk from soapy water or if you should be worried...

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We Are the Flesh is Art at Its Most Disgusting

Overview: A brother and sister stumble into an abandoned building inhabited by a strange man who tempts their deepest desires. Arrow Films; 2016; Not Rated; 79 minutes. Surgery Channel: Perhaps the best indicator of what We Are the Flesh entails happened to be in a conversation overheard in the auditorium before the screening began. “I hear for this one you’re supposed to have a really strong stomach,” he said. “Oh, I’ll be fine,” she replied, “I used to watch the surgery channel.” Unfortunately, watching the surgery channel is not enough to prepare you for We Are The Flesh, a film...

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20 Horror Movies from 20 Countries

Horror is thriving around the world and is enjoyed by people from every country. Some of the best is produced outside of North America, so sometimes it’s necessary to take a little trip to find something fresh and fun. Join us on a trip across the map (from East to West) with 20 horror movies from 20 countries – there’s something for everyone here no matter what kind of fear you prefer to indulge in. Australia: The Loved Ones (2009) Lola wants a prom date, and she’ll make you pay for turning her down. Not to be confused with...

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Lavender is an Ambitious Hometown Horror

Overview: After suffering an accident, a young woman returns to her childhood home to confront her demons. AMBI Group; 2016; Rated PG; 92 minutes. Diorama: Lavender begins ambitiously with a stylish still-life look at a farmhouse in bloody chaos. Flash forward 25 years later to photographer Jane (Abbie Cornish) who exclusively photographs old abandoned farmhouses. Frequently suffering bouts of memory loss and episodes of prolonged vacant staring, Jane’s childhood has affected her life deeply even though she doesn’t know why. After a dreamy slow-motion car accident that aggravates old injuries, Jane is encouraged by her psychiatrist to visit her...

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Under The Shadow: Wrapped Up in Layers of Fear

Overview: Under The Shadow is the story of a mother and child coping with the realities of war while being haunted by something much more sinister. Netflix; 2016; Rated PG-13; 84 minutes. The Big Debut: This year, the Vancouver International Film Festival boasted over 300 titles, several of which are promising horror contenders timed perfectly for our month of HÆlloween. First on the list is Under The Shadow, an Iranian debut directed by Babak Anvari that follows a mother and child under the threat of the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. Anvari uses ghostly Arabic folklore and political issues to...

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Blue Velvet 30th Anniversary Retrospective

Blue Velvet is the type of film that lingers in your mind long after your first viewing. One that inspires focused and passionate discussion amongst friends. Love it or hate it, it still has people talking to this day, 30 years after its initial controversial release. My friend Eddie says it best: “I don’t like how this movie makes me feel.” Neither did Roger Ebert, by the looks of his infamous scathing review in which he referred to Blue Velvet as “…a story that’s marred by sophomoric satire and cheap shots” but many viewers today find his opinion somewhat misinformed. To...

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