Toronto Palestine Film Festival

Fantastic Fest: ‘Victoria’ – a technical marvel

Victoria is a movie with a gimmick. This is not to say that Victoria isn’t a worthwhile film or that it’s a film that can’t stand on its own, but the gimmick it carries is undeniable or rather, the gimmick carries the film.

Fantastic Fest 2014: ‘Nightcrawler’ is undone by a clumsy approach to satire

Nightcrawler, the directorial debut of screenwriter Dan Gilroy, has a strong kinship with Sidney Lumet’s Network. Both take a satirical view of broadcast journalism, portraying the profession as a cold-blooded environment where sensationalism takes center stage. If there is one difference that separates the newer film from its 1976 predecessor, though, it is that the former possesses none of the latter’s biting wit. Nightcrawler is incredibly heavy-handed with its message, and the satirical dialogue is far from profound.

Cub

Fantastic Fest 2014: ‘Cub’ succeeds when it embraces the craziness of its premise

Cub scouts and crazed killers are are such a wacky combination for a horror film, and therefore viewers should be able to expect a fair amount of insanity from Jonas Govaerts’ debut feature; however, it is only in its final act that Cub finally achieves the appropriate atmosphere. Those last 20 minutes are exhilarating, and they more than make up for the first 65. It is not that the first two thirds of Cub are terrible; they just don’t really lead anywhere.

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Fantastic Fest 2014: ‘The Town That Dreaded Sundown’ is a dreadfully uninspired slasher film

The Cabin in the Woods was the final frontier for slasher films… or at least it should have been. Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon’s 2011 horror-comedy took all of the subgenre’s tropes and turned them on their head. It acknowledged every character stereotype and rejected each one. The slasher film received a complete deconstruction, and now it may be best to simply pack it away. Sadly, The Town That Dreaded Sundown heralds an uninspired return to form. It just may be the blandest movie to feature violent homicide and ruthless killers.

Fantastic Fest 2014: ‘The Babadook’ is as much an exploration of grief as it is a terrifying horror film

In the 2010 film Rabbit Hole, a character compares grief to a stone that you carry around in your pocket. There are times when it is easy to forget about this extra weight, but then one day you reach into your jacket and suddenly remember that it’s there. The grief of losing a loved one can never fully vanish. It will always be there in some form, whether it be as a stone in your pocket or as a spindly fingered, top hat-wearing boogeyman. If that latter comparison makes little sense, then you should see Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook. In addition to being a thoroughly satisfying horror film, it is an extraordinary character-driven story about a woman trying to recover from the loss of her husband.

Fantastic Fest 2014: ‘When Animals Dream’ brings a gripping atmosphere to this coming-of-age story

It is never clear what exactly Marie is turning into. The sudden manifestation of thick body hair would seem to suggest a werewolf, but When Animals Dream does not follow the normal werewolf mythology; there are no full moons or silver bullets to be found here. Regardless of its ambiguity, though, the story of Marie’s transformation makes for a wonderfully atmospheric horror film. When Animals Dream may suffer due to an underdeveloped screenplay, but it never loses touch with its profound spookiness and suspense.

Fantastic Fest 2014: ‘ABCs of Death 2’ is always watchable but rarely memorable

It seems only natural for an expansive anthology like ABCs of Death 2 to offer up such a mixed bag
of short films. There are 26 in total, each running for approximately four to five minutes. Such the-abcs-of-death-2-stills-3time constraints act as a hindrance to many of the directors involved in the project. A large number of the shorts are either underdeveloped or conventional in terms of their story. However, there are a handful of standouts that make the viewing experience worthwhile.

Fantastic Fest 2014: ‘Blind’ is one of the most astonishing character studies in recent memory

Blindness is a difficult affliction to understand. By simply closing their eyes and walking around, people could easily comprehend the act of not being able to see, but they would probably be unable to grasp the loneliness and isolation that occurs when the world is permanently cast into darkness. With Blind, Eskil Vogt has provided viewers with a thorough exploration of a woman and the ailment that confines her to her apartment. His character study is immensely thoughtful, and it allows the viewer to immerse oneself in an unusual new world.

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Fantastic Fest 2014: ‘Darkness by Day’ is both lethargic and empty

With a scant running time of 76 minutes, Darkness by Day cannot afford to waste any time in revealing its story. Regardless of such tight constraints, though, the film spends most of its time on uninspired dialogue and vague character interactions. It claims to be a horror story, but its moments of fear are often too fleeting to have much of an effect.

Fantastic Fest 2014: ‘Alleluia’ adds a visceral touch to an infamous story

When it comes to amour fou, no case may be more famous than that of the Lonely Hearts Killers. Two middle-aged lovers, Raymond Fernandez and Martha Beck, posed as brother and sister in order to con widows out of their money. Raymond would marry the women and attempt to gain control of their assets, but Martha always ended up killing them in a jealous rage. When they were finally caught, the two murderers mocked society for not understanding the purity of their love.

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