Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 13, No. 3, 2014
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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Bernard Dubé
  Contributing Editors
David Solway
Louis René Beres
Nancy Snipper
Farzana Hassan
Daniel Charchuk
Samuel Burd
Andrée Lafontaine
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
  Music Editor
Serge Gamache
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Chantal Levesque
Denis Beaumont
Marcel Dubois
Emanuel Pordes
  Film Reviews
  Bowling for Columbine
Shanghai Ghetto
Talk to Her
City of God
Magdalene Sisters
Dirty Pretty Things
Barbarian Invasions
Fog of War
Blind Shaft
The Corporation
Station Agent
The Agronomist
Maria Full of Grace
Man Without a Past
In This World
Buffalo Boy
Shake Hands with the Devil
Born into Brothels
The Edukators
Big Sugar
A Long Walk
An Inconvenient Truth
Sisters In Law
Send a Bullet
Banking on Heaven
Chinese Botanist's Daugher
Ben X
La Zona
The Legacy
Irina Palm
4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days
Poor Boys Game
Finn's Girl
Leaving the Fold
The Mourning Forest
Beneath the Rooftops of Paris
Before Tomorrow
Paraiso Travel
Necessities of Life
For a Moment of Freedom
Blood River
By the Will of Genghis Kahn
The Concert
Weaving Girl
Into Eternity
When We Leave
Le Havre
Presumed Guilty
A Separation
Take This Waltz
Beyond The Walls
The Place Beyond the Pines




So far, A & O film critics Nancy Snipper and Dan Charchuk have seen the following films. Here are their ratings, always out of 4, reserving 2.5 or more for a noteworthy film, 3.5 for an exceptional film, 4 for a classic.


2.9 -- THE SEARCH FOR WENG WENG, Andrew Leavold
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] Diminutive Filipino action star Weng Weng, star of obscure ‘80s James Bond spoofs For Y’ur Height Only and Agent 00, is the object of the eponymous search, conducted by cult movie fiend and documentarian Leavold. Encountering and interviewing a great diversity of Filipino cinema figures – from directors and editors to even the former dictator’s wife – in order to find out what happened to Weng Weng, Leavold’s film plays out less like a structured biography than an archeological excavation, discovering scraps of information along the way. Though this allows the movie to feel fresher than your conventional bio-doc, it also gives it a rough, shaggy feel that hews closer to the types of B-movie exploitation flicks it’s honouring. This coherence of content and form, however unpolished, elevates the work, if ever so slightly, from a typical cult icon portrait to something more fascinating and essential.

3.1 -- FRANK, Andrew Leavold
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] Struggling songwriter Jon (Domnhall Gleeson, son of Brendan) witnesses an attempted suicide by drowning one day and spontaneously replaces the man as keyboardist in an oddball band, complete with unpronounceable name, strange (yet singular) sound, and a frontman sporting a giant plaster head (the Frank of the title, played by Michael Fassbender). It’s just the kind of high-concept, off-kilter indie comedy so popular of late at the Sundance and SXSW film festivals, though it at least has the added benefit of being drawn from reality (co-writer Jon Ronson based the script on his experiences with Frank Sidebottom’s band in the ‘80s). Forcibly weird, bordering on annoying, with a collection of unlikeable performances, the film is saved by Fassbender, who – even under a giant cartoon face – emotes more genuine pathos and elicits more empathy than the rest of the cast combined. The plot is standard quirkiness mixed with heart, as the band must learn to overcome their differences to play a climactic show at SXSW (of all places), but Frank’s charisma and coolness lift the material above cliché.

2.1 -- CLOSER TO GOD, Billy Senese
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] In this contemporary science fiction film, a genetic scientist successfully clones the first human child, leading to a series of ethical debates and mass protests that don’t look all that dissimilar from modern-day medical controversies. And writer/director Senese clearly has topicality on his mind, adopting a clinical, low-key approach that resembles small-scale character dramas much more than high-concept sci-fi. But for all of the film’s moralizing and didacticism, there’s not much of a plot supporting the hefty ideas, leaving a collection of dissenting views and righteous speechmaking without much else. As the Frankensteinian Dr. Victor Reed, actor Jeremy Childs exudes an off-putting strangeness that serves his mysterious character well, but the rest of the cast collectively radiate the mannered performativity of untrained thespians. However thought-provoking the film purports to be, by its finale there’s not much left to think about that hasn’t already been spoon-fed to us by the director.

2.4 -- THE DESERT, Christoph Behl
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] It’s the inevitable zombie apocalypse, and three lucky survivors (two men, one woman) are holed up in a house in the Argentine desert, attempting to eke out a living and gradually becoming entangled in an ill-fated love triangle. Obviously not your typical brand of zombie movie, the film relocates its focus from blood and guts to human interactions and relationships – made thuddingly obvious with the series of video confessional diaries that make up a big chunk of the limited plot. Writer/director Behl has crafted a fully-realized world, with the oppressive heat and buzzing flies all too palpable, but his characters are uncompelling, unlikeable figures – and certainly not people who you’d like to be stuck with during the end of the world. The narrative – such as it is – eventually builds to an empty, meaningless conclusion, with nothing ventured, nothing gained and nothing understood.

2.6 -- DEAD SNOW 2: RED VS. DEAD, Christoph Behl
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] Picking up right where its Nazi zombie predecessor left off, this is the rare horror sequel to actually improve and expand on the original, introducing a new cast of characters (including Martin Starr as the leader of an American zombie-hunting squad) and broadening the geographical scope. Though still suffering from the same problems as the original – offensive humour (this time of the homophobic variety) and an inconsistent tone – it’s just generally a lot more fun, upping the inventive kills and easing up on the misogyny. And with its premise of a second battalion of zombie soldiers, these ones Russian, it’s likely the first film in history to end with a massive battle between opposing zombie forces, echoing countless war movies. If nothing else, that grants it ingenuity and freshness – at least as much as a zombie flick can get these days.

2.6 -- ZOMBEAVERS, Jordan Rubin
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] A triumvirate of sorority sisters, looking to escape the city and their respective frat boyfriends, head up to the archetypal cabin in the woods for a weekend of rest and relaxation, only to be disturbed by two unwanted groups: first, their boyfriends, drunk and horny; and second, the rabid, flesh-eating, undead creatures of the title. At once both a homage to and a spoof of ‘80s horror, the film is a hilariously awful and over-the-top affair, with ridiculously fake-looking beavers and exaggerated death scenes. Of course, what else would one expect, with a title like that? There’s also plentiful sophomoric humour, female nudity, and gun-toting rednecks – everything you’d want from a woodland-set horror/comedy. It’s certainly not an objectively good movie, but for pure entertainment value, it’s hard to be topped.

[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] The Marvel Cinematic Universe expands into cosmos with this adaptation of one of their lesser-known comic series, focusing on the titular ragtag group of interstellar outlaws. Ostensibly led by abducted Earthling Peter 'Star-Lord' Quill (Chris Pratt, finally becoming an action star), the team – also including green-skinned Gamora (Zoë Saldana), tattooed thug Drax (Dave Bautista), talking raccoon Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), and humanoid tree Groot (Vin Diesel) – bands together to escape from space prison and stop archvillain Ronan the Accuser from acquiring a mystical Infinity Stone and destroying the galaxy. Though the plot is typical Marvel nonsense, writer/director Gunn infuses the familiar proceedings with enough wit and verve to somewhat undercut the usual solemnity of the superhero film and make the genre fun again. And, indeed, with its cast of literally colourful characters, inventive galactic locales, and roguish sense of humour, the movie resembles popular space operas Star Wars and Firefly much more than the latest Captain America adventure, giving one hope that the genre isn’t quite artistically bankrupt just yet. It isn’t a perfect representation of the light-hearted comic-book movie, but it is quite a bit breezier.

2.6 -- THE CREEPING GARDEN, Tim Grabham & Jasper Sharp
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] The bizarre, fascinating world of slime mould is chronicled in this unusual documentary, detailing the research history and biological characteristics of an organism that’s neither plant nor fungus. Interviewing a wide range of strange individuals, from mycologists to graphic artists, co-directors Grabham and Sharp clearly lay out the strange features of the mould, including the freakish ‘crawling’ (captured via time-lapse photograph) that gives it a living, breathing appearance. While also presenting the debate over whether it is an intelligent being or merely a mechanistic organism responding to stimuli, the film is mostly concerned with the odd band of scientists studying the mould, from behavioural researchers to musical experimenters. However, though the images of its creeping growth are stunningly surreal, and the accompanying score is appropriately atonal, too often the directors adopt a conventional nature-doc approach that’s all too familiar.

1.9 -- AUX YEUX DES VIVANTS, Julien Maury & Alexandre Bustillo
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] French directing duo Maury and Bustillo’s 2007 horror À l’intérieur was a revelation of the New French Extremity wave: a supremely gruesome work that elevated the use of gore to pure art. It’s quite disappointing, then, that their second follow-up (after 2011’s Livide) is a shockingly tame affair, devoid of any of the aesthetic grotesqueness that characterized their previous film. Following three pubescent boys as they ditch the last day of school and explore an abandoned movie studio lot in the countryside, only to stumble across a horrific secret, the film is also remarkably generic, turning into a rather staid slasher flick with little narrative or formal creativity. Maury and Bustillo are still master horror craftsmen, but their use of gore this time around is downright mild, lacking the operatic beauty of À l’intérieur, and the plot is so standard it barely qualifies as original. That may be enough to stand out from the recent crop of American horrors, but for the French, it’s simply not good enough.

3.0 -- INTO THE STORM, Steven Quale
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] Old-fashioned, cheesy disaster flicks are something of a rarity these days – especially relative to their heyday in the ‘70s – so it’s refreshing to see one embrace its history and indulge its ridiculousness. Employing a kind of found-footage/faux-documentary style that makes it feel like one of those IMAX films about stormchasers, it indeed follows a group of tornado hunters and researchers as they converge on a small Oklahoma town about to be ravaged by the biggest storm in history. As in the grand tradition of the genre, stock characters and half-baked love stories abound, but the real appeal, of course, is in the eye-popping visual effects. Nearly twenty years after Twister blew moviegoers away, digital wizardry has progressed enough to convincingly create a whole assortment of cyclones, including a monster one that seems to measure a square city block in diameter. The acting is wooden and the dialogue hamfisted, but who cares? This is large-scale disaster filmmaking done right.

3.0 -- TO BE TAKEI, Jennifer M. Kroot
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] Star Trek actor George Takei has become a celebrity icon in the past decade with his gay rights activism and social media popularity, and thus his compelling and uncommon life story is appropriately chronicled in a biographical documentary that’s probably funnier than intended. Jumping around in time between Takei’s childhood in a Japanese-American internment camp, his early struggles as a minority actor, and his recent political efforts, the tone frequently wavers between serious and silly (especially in the scenes between Takei and his husband Brad), and director Kroot and editor Bill Weber aren’t always successful at structuring the film properly. But Takei is an obviously winning presence, and the bickering between him and Brad is more amusing than annoying, showcasing the complexities of marriage better than a hundred romcoms and sitcoms. Interviews with William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and others are illuminating and insightful, and Takei himself is such a terrific storyteller that it goes a long way. If nothing else, the film should help in furthering his noble cause, even if the format itself is rather conventional.

2.7 -- AT THE DEVIL’S DOOR, Nicholas McCarthy
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] A young real estate agent (Colombian actress Catalina Sandino Moreno) attempting to sell a foreclosed house comes across a young woman who may be the former tenants’ missing daughter -- or something far more supernatural. Writer/director McCarthy keeps the viewer guessing throughout his slow-burn horror, gradually shifting protagonists and points of focus while building an undertone that evolves from spooky to downright sinister. As in his previous feature, The Pact, the director isn’t terribly good at directing actors – leading to some rather woeful line readings – but he’s quite talented at crafting an atmosphere and heightening suspense, establishing a pervading sense of dread that lasts for almost the entire film. And the narrative’s final conceit, though a bit clichéd, is nonetheless so uncompromisingly bleak and disturbing that it retroactively makes the rest of the film better. Though not a polished work, it’s undoubtedly an unsettling one.

3.3 -- CYBERNATURAL, Leo Gabriadze
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] Just when you think that found-footage horror has run out of tricks, along comes a brand new illusion: a film taking place entirely on one girl’s computer desktop as she Skype calls with friends, chats online, and generally partakes in what we all do on the Internet. Though it threatens to turn into a high-concept gimmick, director Gabriadze avoids stagnancy by introducing a paranormal element in the guise of a former classmate, who committed suicide exactly one year prior (after an embarrassing video of her went viral) and has seemingly returned from beyond the grave to virtually haunt the group. At once both scarily incisive about our online-obsessed culture and damned terrifying in its own right, the film is a genre revelation, and may come to signal a new wave of cyber-horror in the same way that The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Blair Witch Project, and Saw spawned new subsets of the form. More than anything, though, it’s just a totally compelling and thrilling work, endlessly inventive and ingenuously involving; anyone can easily see themselves as the invisible protagonist behind the screen, making it all the scarier.

0.3 -- THE GREEN INFERNO, Eli Roth
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] Director Roth returns to the horror genre seven years after Hostel Part II, helming an ostensible tribute to the classic Italian cannibal flicks of the ‘70s and ‘80s (the title even comes from an alternate name for Cannibal Holocaust II). Unfortunately, Roth’s cinematic abilities are severely lacking, resulting in a work that’s just as abhorrently incompetent as it is repulsively stomach-turning. Following a group of do-gooder New York City students who travel to Peru to help protect a primitive tribe from encroaching industrialization, only to be captured by that very tribe, it’s a clear condemnation of both hypocritical environmentalism and first-world privilege, but Roth’s perverse twist on the material – including jokes about everything from diarrhea to masturbation – debase it from mere gruesomeness to frank atrociousness. It doesn’t help that the film is rather shoddily constructed – poor acting, inane characters, hack camerawork, etc. – giving itself little reason to exist. Roth may emulate his buddy Quentin Tarantino in his filmic tributes to cult movies and obscure genres, but he lacks both the chops and the taste to even remotely follow in his footsteps.

[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] This graphic gourmet gore feast film may change the thinking of an activist group fighting for Aboriginal rights in Peru's Amazon jungle. If anything, it certainly will make us all think twice before wanting to take a trip down the Amazon or tread into the jungle. In this cannibal flick, a group of ultraistic students led by Alexandro -- the sleaziest of corrupt creeps -- follow his bidding to pull off a publicity stunt for the world to watch. All are convinced he is doing great things, risking his life (and theirs) to head for the jungle. They fly into a specific spot in the jungle, chain themselves to trees to stop in-your-face bulldozers from demolishing the area and record the bulldozers approaching them on their cell phones phones. One of the girls Justine is the heroine who has a gun pulled to her head. Alexandro shows no concern back on the plane when everyone is heading home. But the plane crashes near some incredibly flesh-hungry-eating dudes and dolls. We find out, this plane crash was caused by an explosion, part of the plan to divert one competitor to claim the jungle area over another, and Alexandro seems to know about such things and has a part in it. Anyway, they all get picked up by these kidnapping cannibal tribe. They are taken by boat to their huts, except for those lucky enough to have been killed in the crash. One by one, they get slaughtered. Of course the movie shows about seven ways how to kill and eat humans. Justine escapes, and when picked up by a plane, and brought home, she lies to her father and his buds who are connected with the UN. She tells them she was well treated, and that there was no cannibalism. Guess she was a true believer in letting wild dogs live and lie - even when they are blood thirsty beasts. I'm sure tourism in Peru will drop dramatically after people see this movie, and although Peru's food is rated the best in the world, it's a given, that no one will be rushing to catch a meal after the film's credits roll.

3.1 -- THE ONE I LOVE, Charlie McDowell
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] Unhappily married couple Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) have exhausted all means of counselling, so their therapist (Ted Danson) suggests a getaway to a retreat in the countryside, complete with swimming pool and guesthouse. Once there, however, the pair discovers something strange and potentially otherworldly about the property, launching them into a week full of discovery, reflection, and awareness about themselves and their marriage. Director McDowell and writer Justin Lader – both making their feature debuts – keep the proceedings relatively light and breezy, while still delving into substantive notions about relationships, personalities, and humanity itself, and both Moss and Duplass come across as likeable, charming individuals, sharing an easy rapport that makes their romance clear even amongst the quarrelling. Without spoiling too much, the twists that the plot takes in the final act elevate the film from mere ‘what if’ fantasy into something more dark and meaningful, preventing it from remaining just another enjoyable indie comedy.

3.4 -- WELCOME TO NEW YORK, Abel Ferrara
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] The incendiary and provocative Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair is retold on film, a mere three years after the incident and with all pertinent names changed. That grand enfant terrible of French cinema, Gérard Depardieu himself, embodies the lead role of Devereux, a carnal monster whose sexual appetite is eclipsed only by his raging ego, while Jacqueline Bisset, still as gorgeous as ever, coldly opposes him as wife and bankroller. Noted director Ferrara, a true New Yorker, adopts a clinical, procedural look to the proceedings, depicting Devereux’s every transgressive act in exacting detail, and avoids the media circus surrounding the trial in favour of an incisive portrait of a heinous individual. The film’s purpose seems not so much indictment and conviction as introspection and analysis, and Depardieu bares it all (quite literally) in his portrayal of the character; one can even sense more than a hint of autobiography in the performance, further enriching the film’s greatness.

0.2 -- THE CREEP BEHIND THE CAMERA, Pete Schuermann
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] Part-documentary, part-reenactment, this hybridized tribute to The Creeping Terror – a 1964 monster movie considered one of the worst films of all time – is itself an atrocious affair, fully exemplifying the blissful ignorance and sheer incompetence of bad filmmaking. Though similar in conceit to Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, the starkest difference comes in the personas of the directorial subjects themselves: Wood was naïve and foolish, but at least he had a genuine love for cinema and moviegoers; by contrast, Vic Savage (aka AJ Nelson) is a foul, repugnant, abusive con artist, raising funds by scamming aspiring actresses and frequently beating his wife. Why his story deserves to be told is baffling, but at least director Schuermann chooses an aesthetic to match his ugly protagonist: a highly artificial, cheap-looking, TV-quality look that seems more suited for an episode of Unsolved Mysteries. It’s only fitting that such a repulsive individual is given such an awful cinematic tribute, as inept as it is off-putting, but such congruency does not forgive the film its sins.

3.2 -- STEREO, Maximilian Erlenwein
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] A German character drama with elements of crime thriller and supernatural horror, concerning a strong, silent motorcycle mechanic who begins seeing an ominous hooded figure following him and starts questioning his sanity. Writer/director Erlenwein doesn’t break any new ground narratively or stylistically, but simply takes a familiar story and executes it remarkably well. Though obviously derivative of certain Hollywood works, the film’s commitment to its unwaveringly dark tone and brutal themes prevent it from coming off as merely a German version of an American movie. Lead Jürgen Vogel embodies the haunted man with an unknown past well, but it’s really sardonic Moritz Bleibtreu and his laid-back humour that steals the film – a ray of light amidst all the bleakness. Its character introspection and psychoanalyzing is nothing new for anyone who’s watched their share of cerebral thrillers, but the film thankfully avoids overexplanation and didacticism in favour of solid genre fare.

3.2 -- WHEN ANIMALS DREAM, Jonas Alexander Amby
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] When a young Danish woman in a small fishing village begins exhibiting the same symptoms of an illness that has crippled her mother, she is forced to come to terms with both her own burgeoning adulthood and the strange secret shared by the village elders. Resembling by more than a shadow the languid pace and slow-burn supernatural reveal of fellow Scandinavian horror Let the Right One In – only with the central mythical creature swapped out – it doesn’t quite reach the Swedish film’s artistic crescendo, but comes off as a very worthy successor. Deeply emotional, with a nakedly vulnerable performance at its core and a remarkably assured sense of self, it’s further evidence that Denmark is putting out some of the best genre cinema of today. Although a bit too brief, it’s nonetheless a powerful, affecting work that seems sure to leave an impression.

[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] Essentially a South Korean version of True Lies, in which a super-spy is forced to keep his true occupation secret from his nagging, dissatisfied wife, only to see her become entangled to his latest endeavour in saving the world. Though aping the parodic tone and goofy antics of James Cameron’s action/comedy (itself a remake of the French film La Totale!), the movie also aims for some real-world relevancy via a convoluted plot involving North Korea, the CIA and forced reunification of the Korean peninsula. These flailing attempts at topicality obviously don’t jive with the spoof humour, and indeed the movie oscillates wildly between low comedy and high melodrama. But it’s still an enjoyably dumb work, funny and exciting in equal measure, if rather derivative (narratively and formally) of Hollywood action flicks, seemingly abandoning its own sense of cultural identity in favour of American genre fare. A bit more Korean flavour would’ve sufficed.

[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] With a sword and fighting according to tradition, Evil Shishio is set on controlling Japan in every brutal way possible. This miraculous film with its rich plot, intriguing characters and brilliant sets truly mesmerize us while capturing the classic good and evil theme in a non-stereotypic comic-book way; (it is based on the manga trilogy series). The plot is daring with subtle twists, the hero stunning to watch, and the fight scenes incredible. Moreover, the entire work gives us a glimpse into Japan's real village and city life in 1878. The film impacts emotionally, the costumes are realistic and the soundtrack adds majestic import to this epic film, without resorting to unnecessary special effects and over-the-top acting..

3.0 -- ZOMBEAVERS, Jordan Rublin Dean
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] A whacky but wonderful horror show convinces the Canadian Mint to put a halt to putting the beaver on our nickel. Three sassy sorority gals are staying at a lake cabin where things go awfully wrong. Unbeknownst to them, two guys driving a pickup with a barrel of toxic chemicals in the back flips, spilling the contents into the lake. Their boyfriends decide to arrive -- uninvited. Beavers grow vicious and big and tear them all to pieces, except one who manages to not get bitten -- thereby not turning into a zombie with huge beaver teeth and weird nail-claws eager to chew up people besides wood. It's a ridiculous premise, but the film is so well made that you'll find yourself screaming more than once -- not with laughter, but fear. I think I'll cancel that reservation I made at that lake where I heard there are a lot of beaver dams.

4.0. -- THERMAE ROMAE ll, Hideaki Takeuchi
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Hilariously clever, the outstanding zany action centers on architect, Lucius -- star Roman bath designer and builder -- a dedicated hero for most Romans, except the Senate who is anti-pax and their emperor. Lucius enters into a world of both gladiator gore and modern gadgets, barrels, hot springs and pipes -- all to find the perfect bath that he can replicate in Rome for his emperor. To the chagrin of the Senate, Emperor Hadrianus is perfectly peace-loving and he wants to quell the violence and hot temper of his people. He knows the answer lies in building a great bathhouse that instills peace in all who experience it. Once again, Lucius is flushed, whirlpooled and thrown into all kinds of watery bodies that hurdle him and eject him into Japan and Korea. His amazement over modern technology, food and the power of Sumo wrestlers expands his knowledge, but can he translate what he sees into his own non-technological, non-electrical world? A little manga comic talent in Japan has a big crush on him and gets carried away (in every sense of the word). She ends up with him back in Rome, as do the Sumo sensations during one of the episodes that catapult them all back and forth between the modern Asian world and the ancient Roman one. Lucius is not the only one who gets confused. Evidently, Hadrianus has a successor named Ceionius, and he has a twin evil brother. Looks like everyone needs to relax and come clean with their real identities. In the end, all the Romans indulge in a bounteous bathfest that brings all Lucius' inventions together. A must-see, instant comedic classic.

[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] This made-in Marvel studio epic sci-fi adventure goes into a space of infinity that no other super brave set of heroes have ever gone - -The Galaxy and beyond where the cosmos is doing well -- except for a remarkably evil power-hungry guy named Ronin. The brash hero adventurer, Peter Quill, who would die for a particular 1988 tune he loves and dances to -- now made into a tape, and handed to him by his mother on her death bed -- is being hunted down for this orb which he stole a while back. He is determined to retrieve a coveted orb that -- in anyone's hands -- provides enough power to run the universe. To get back his orb which Ronin's men stole from Quill, he must align himself with some old-time thugs whose leader wants that orb for himself. The group of Galaxy saviours is made up of Quill, Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon who is rather ingenious at tech stuff, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, Drax, the Destroyper and Gamora, a fist-slinging, kick-high, lithe lady who (Zoe Saldana) is desperate to get that orb out of her dad's hands. The special effects and gore factor contribute to the funny cult madness of its lycanthropy theme. In this high-end film, Hollywood has exceeded the boundaries of FX, and it does so with humour, attitude and non-stop action that is kiddish yet entertaining.

2.8-- HASEE TOH PHASEE, Vinil Mathew
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] A light-hearted romantic comedy with lots of Bollywood perks to enrich the cute story. Handsome Nikhil has his hands full with Karishma, his demanding beautiful fiancée who loves him, but not his lack of money. Seven years, prior to the wedding date, Nikhil bumped into her sister, Meeta, as she jumped over the family's house barbed wire fence. Nikhil rescued her, not knowing she was the sister of his bride to be. Meeta was running away from the family the day of her brother's wedding. She is a kook with all kinds of health issues, but that seem to come with her big science oriented brain. Her dad refused to give her money to fund her engineering projects concerning small ball magnetism. The rejection of her request for money also spurred her on to flee. But she misses her dad terribly, despite the fact everyone has disowned her. They are ashamed of her. In India, you gotta be beautiful to pass the grade with some wealthy families, and her dad is wealthy. She spends more time with Nihil than her sister does, and eventually Nihil realizes he's in love with her. Meeta knew long ago the minute she first bumped into him that he was meant for her, and she tells him. The story has some wonderful comedic twists that cleverly show the real object of your affections is not the one you think it is.

1.9 -- KOO! KIN-OZA-OZA, Georgiy Daneliya & Tatiana Ilyina
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] I can't believe this bizarre animation won the 2013 Pacific Screen Awards. The entertainment value is close to zero. Incredibly boring, improperly edited, too long and ridiculous without any plot climax, the film makes reference to its predecessor Kin-Dza-Dza which was released, in 1986 -- a period of anti-capitalism, economic and family dysfunction and corruption. Perhaps, this film would have resonated more with the Russian public, but even Fantasia fans were leaving the theatre puzzled and fatigued. The 90 minutes droned on interminably, and despite the marvelous animation, no one wants to keep watching rusty machines in sand and people talking to each other excessively repeating the word, 'Koo.' In short, the plot details a cellist who meets a stranger (his nephew in fact) and by pressing the wrong dial on a cell phone -- both are catapulted to the barren planet of Pluke. All the weird entities there are humanoid rascals, but two in particular use a robot, who is as shady and immoral as they come, to do some of their dirty work. The film is colourless in all ways, and if you take a good look at the noses of the characters on Pluke, you'll realize why there is a lexicon super defining the mean of 'Koo' (obscene). It attempts to makes a scathing comment with attacks on Russia, but it's all covertly presented, so despite how cutely cloaked these attacks are via the vehicle of animation, the message is lost somewhere in that desert populated by selfish villains. Presented in such a bizarre way, Koo, the film, might as well stay up on Pluke. So insane is the film, one can't help but think of the country where it was created: no wonder, Russia is causing disastrous social and political upheavals in the world.

3.4-- KABIESERA, Alfonso Torre lll
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] This is great film that turns a humble Filipino family-loving fisherman named Andres into a drug-driven kingpin. He becomes totally obsessed with providing more for his family, and ensuring his daughter never marries the man with whom she is living in Manila. Spurred on by his wife, Dindin, he decides to call in his best friend Jose to start dealing for him as the up front guy. It all starts when Andres discovers two boxes floating in the sea, and inside is a ton of crystal meth. Andres is a man deeply influenced by people – his wife and Pedro, a cop who join Jose and him to make money by selling the drugs. The cop – supposedly Jose’s friend and protector -- begins to plant ideas in Andres’ mind that Jose will rat on Andres because the police searched Jose’s house upon recvoering the bullet Jose put into the body of a guy working for the three who ratted on them in retaliation of getting rid of him for ”using.” He was a loose canon and untrustworthy. Paranoia and mistrust cut into the friendship of Andres and Jose. We learn it was Jose who got Andres out of jail years ago, but we also learn Jose once had Dindin as his lady. The mistrust grows deeper when Andres is told by the cop that it was Jose that planned the car accident of Andres’ son. Is it true or not, or does Pedro want to get rid of Jose whom he sees as a liability? To think that Jose and Pedro are friends and that Andres and Jose are longtime friends is true, but what they all do to each other shows just how despicable people get when drugs are involved. Andres hangs up his fishing rod and becomes a big-time kingpin. It’s tragic and the manner which the events develop and change people’s perceptions is highly compelling. Incredible performances make this movie a Jury Award winner at the recent Cinema One Originals Film Festival.

2.5 -- THE INFINITE MAN, Hugh Sullivan
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] In the desolate Australian outback, a nerdy young man tries to create the perfect anniversary weekend for his girlfriend by constructing a time machine, allowing the couple to travel back and fix any problems that may beset them. Of course, in the grand tradition of all time travel stories, their meddling in the past winds up trapping them in an infinite temporal loop, with multiple versions of the characters interacting in a mind-bending, amusing manner. An obvious attempt to cross the technical jargon of Primer with the romantic headiness of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind results in a lame, borderline offensive work that does neither film justice. As far as 'boy uses time travel to trick girl into loving him' movies go, it’s not quite as objectionable as About Time, but a similar feel of male chauvinism and misogyny runs throughout. The female lead is not a character of agency, but rather just the object of desire, free to be manipulated and deceived at will.

3.3 -- PREDESTINATION, Michael & Peter Spierig
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] Robert A. Heinlein’s landmark sci-fi short story “–All You Zombies–“ is finally turned into a feature film, directed by the Spierig twins and starring Ethan Hawke as a temporal agent traveling throughout the 20th century to stop a New York City terrorist known as the ‘Fizzle Bomber.’ Hawke is solid as always as the ostensible lead, but the real standout is little-known Aussie actress Sarah Snook as a mysterious bar patron who may be the key to the entire mystery. Those familiar with the short story will know how the plot twists and turns play out, but the Spierigs have a few tricks up their collective sleeve, adding a few kinks to keep things interesting and giving the ‘50s story a distinctive ‘70s spin. Unlike most time travel narratives, it’s never really that hard to figure out what’s going on -- the directors telegraph everything far too clearly -- and so much of the fun comes from watching the events play out exactly as expected; for a film about the inevitability of fate, it’s oddly fitting.

3.1 -- WHITE BIRD IN A BLIZZARD, Gregg Araki
[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] A teenage girl (burgeoning star Shailene Woodley) growing up in SoCal in the late ‘80s finds her world turned upside down when her mother mysteriously vanishes one day. Director Araki, adapting the Laura Kasischke novel, takes this melodramatic premise and turns everything to eleven, heightening emotions and affect by adopting an artificial, near-satirical tone. It comes across almost like a serious drama filmed as a sitcom (sans laugh track), and it manages to turn an otherwise rudimentary affair into something outrageous and hilarious. Eva Green kills as the dissatisfied housewife who just up and disappears, equally over-the-top and inscrutable, and Christopher Meloni is just as impressive as her meek, ineffectual husband with a secret. But the real star is Woodley in her first real ‘adult’ role; narrating with a bitter edge and unafraid to bare all (quite literally), it’s her first performance that truly shows she has the acting chops to stick around. The plotline may read tragedy, but make no doubt: this is a dark, dark comedy.

[reviewed by Daniel Charchuk] Viewing a VHS tape of the Coen Brothers’ masterpiece Fargo, lonely Tokyo secretary Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi) believes the dark crime film to be a true story and sets out for Minnesota to locate the money buried in the snow at the movie’s end. Though attempting a blackly comic tone of a piece with the Coens’ style, director Zellner (who also co-scripted with his brother Nathan) adopts a far more languid approach, stretching Kumiko’s journey from the farcical to the absurd and only allowing a few moments of bone-dry humour to slip through. Kikuchi is marvelous as the strange, resolute protagonist, and it’s a testament to her performance that the film’s as compelling as it is, considering the number of dialogue-free long takes. With a concept such as this, it would be all to easy to merely ape the Coens’ tone, but the Zellners are more easy-going, gently ribbing Midwestern culture and avoiding the trademark accents altogether; instead, they tell a story of isolation, determination and imagination, set across the backdrop of a frozen tundra and guided by an eccentric Japanese girl. America’s reputation abroad may have soured in the past few decades, but for many, it’s still the land of opportunity.

3.9-- GIOVANNI'S ISLAND, Mizuho Nishikubo
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] This enchanting Japanese animation is a flashback that vividly recaptures the hardship of the Japanese families living on the small fishing island of Shikotan off the coast of Hokkaido, part of the Kuril archipelago between Japan and eastern Russia. After the war, Junpei and his wife are returning to their island on which they endured incredible hardship as children. The film introduces us to Junpei and his young brother Kanta whose childhoods are quickly dashed out by the coming of the Russians to their island. Giovanni is the name Junpei gives himself because Russians can say it. Sadly, their home is taken over and they are forced ot live in the stables of the home. Junpei befriends Tanya, the daughter of the Russian commander who lives in their house. Junpei draws her and spends lovely times with her. There is one scene that amidst the hardships, the Japanese kids are singing on song in their classroom and in the adjacent one, we hear the Russian kids singing theirs. Each is trying to sing louder than the other group through the wall. However, as friendships develop between the kids, the Japanese sing that Russia song, and the Russian kids sing the Japanese one -- again heard through the classroom wall. Suh touching moments occur through out this film. As kids, Junpei's dad gave him a book, called Night on The Galactic Railroad -- a lovely fantasy about traveling to the heavens by train, This book has symbolic meaning in the film, and the animated parts for segments when the story is read is magical. Hardships of every kind affect the lives of the two boys and their auntie who has them in her guardianship, as their father is sent to a camp. Their quest to find and see him is heart-breaking. The film ends where it began. Junpei now an old man has come back. He meets Tanya's daughter and granddaughter, but Tanya has died. Junpei gives the grandchild a special gift, and anyone reading this review can guess what it was.

4.0 -- THE WHITE STORM, Benny Chan
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Absolutley the most clever and most diabolical drug busting epic movie to come out of Hong Kong this year. Three longtime friends who are the Narcotics Bureau's brightest and best find themselves embroiled in betrayal and dangerous events that keep twisting up the ante into lofty thriller action excitement. The bonds of friendship centering around the main cop hero Chow who wants out of the trio to give more love to his wife who is now pregnant wife, adds multi-layers to this already complicated film. The 134 minutes speed by as chockfull climatic episodes -- many caught in a vocal hum (they all share a favourite song) keep piling up as do the bodies and never-ending dupes that prove Benny Chan is a master of the game.

3.7 -- KRRISH 3, Rakesh Roshanfly
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] A total Bollywood package wrapped in Superman glossy paper. Krrish is a heroic savior; he flies, lifts billion- pound buildings, and he'll do anything to help others. He wears a mask and a cape, but can't hold down an ordinary day job. Only his wife and brilliant yet slow-speaking mentally weird dad know he is Krishna during the day and Krissh when he's saving someone. An evil brother created in a lab by an evil lab researcher spreads a virus and the antidote he sells for millions. There are a slew of antics and evil deeds that are full of irony; we know what is going on but the good guys don't. It is so entertaining and the plot is an anything-is-possible, action packed laugh out loud hoot. The special effects and set designs were as great as the Taj Mahal.

3.0 -- DEALER, Jean-Luc Herbulot
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Compelling, cruddy stinging stuff that vividly shows the treacherous lethal life of dealing drugs in Paris, and in this semi-biographical film based on the brilliant director's experience on the streets, the underworld of the City of Lights becomes intensely dark. A single father whose wife has custody of the daughter, Dan is a longtime dealer. He dreams of taking his young daughter to Australia, and he's saving up for it; but when he gets pushed into a corner to do one last dangerous deal involving the white powder substance, Dan accepts reluctantly. He doesn't deal in coke; it is not the kind of drug he likes selling. Everything goes bad; the drugs he gets from a Black uber-cruel pervert and his side-kick Cartouche -- who might as well have been born as a big bullet -- go missing from the apartment where Dan had hidden the stuff. His whore gal lives there, and she is accused of stealing it. Dan is on the rampage. Where is the stuff? When his seller gets the news that the coke has been stolen, he is not totally cool with the news, and he tortures Dan's companion who is along for the ride. The seller tells Dan he's got to find 70,000 Euros; it's owed to him. The film has Dan narrating the rules using voice-over in several edgy scenes that reveal his own mistakes and the traps set for him that nearly push him over an invisible jagged cliff that leaves us all hanging while gritting our teeth. This is a very good film of violent volcanic energy, and its speedy pace punched with hard-edged dialogue magnifies how crazily insane most are who live and die in the brutal 'biz.'

1.2 -- WOLFCOP, Lowell Dean
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] This creature feature flick is certainly not leader of the pack for wolf men characters who have clawed their way into the big screen. It turns out that life has some weird things going on: people who appear to be ordinary in daily life are not what they seem to be -- especially at night. Even the mayor morphs into a pretty bartender during the day and an alien creature of sorts as the sun sets. Sad thing is, the WolfCop's best buddy is a baddie too. This is a kitsch film that might make it into lycanthropy cult movies, if for no other reason than the special effects and gore factor is effectively funny.

[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Katrina's mother, Eve - a total beauty -- is a bit of a bored bitchy mom and wife. Her husband is a wimp, and this is rather funny, considering the role is assumed by hunk macho man Christopher Maloni of Special Sex Crime Unit division on the popular TV series. He does a great job though of convincing us that he is heart broken when his wife goes missing. His daughter is equally concerned, though her mom did show grave signs Kat takes up with her neighbour who one suspects begins to take up with Eve. Kat has an affair with the cop investigating the case, and the finer begins to point to her father. There's a freezer downstairs, and guess who's in it? The ending is totally surprising -- a real shocker that even surpasses Eve's disappearance. The movie is slow moving, but rather compelling.

3.3-- CHEATIN', Bill Plympton
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Yes, it's clever, but this animation fantasy goes on far too long. Plympton may be trying to catch time gone during his 5-year hiatus. This is his first feature-length film. The plot is crazy but cute. Ella meets a muscle-bound man who saves her from being electrocuted during a bout of bump cars at a carnival. However, he mistakenly thinks she has betrayed him, and so he goes on a sex spree, and Ella is heart-broken. Still she finds a way to seek revenge, but in the end, love proves stronger than misunderstandings. Highly imaginative with so many animation morphs that carry all kinds of love images also features plot twists, and characterizations. Gags, gorgeous dames, and goofball grotesqueries make their appearance in this outstandingly original animation. But it is not my favourite.

2.3 -- THE MAN IN THE ORANGE JACKET, Aik Karapetian
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper A wealthy executive has sold his company and he pays for it dearly. A man wearing an orange jacket slaughters both the director and his wife in their stunning mansion in a town in Latvia. The assassin assumes the identity of the dead man, taking his car, using his clothes, and eating a exclusive restaurants. When a man turns up at the house and states his purpose - to buy the "box", the murderer poses as the dead man's son and tells the stranger that the father is away and has decided not to sell the box. He begins to see the ghost of the murdered girl. Paranoia is in full swing.The house has noises, and now he is terrorized, but then he's at it again. One of the call girls he orders finds the dead wife in the woods; she has gotten away, but dies in the girl's arm, but the bad maniac is walking towards the call girl in his orange jacket with his box of slaying tools. She hides in the woods, but he is after her. He ties her up and kills her, stabbing her with a sharp iron object. Then, the hammer appears. Then she's alive again in the pool with her call girl friend. The ending is so weird, but the slasher gets his comeuppance - by none other than the dead wife, or is hse dead? It's a Kafkaesque repugnant horror piece that shows the deprived class is also depraved; this slasher movie has a message: the poor will do about just about anything to get money, the girls and all the goods they see the rich have. It's a formidable fright flick that surpasses most of this genre. The slow building pace with its strategic editing blurs the lines between reality and that which resides in our mind while scaring the bijillies out of us. The director is Armenian, but he could be related to Lars Von Trier. The film is a world premiere that brings ambiguity to the screen in awesome way.

3.3 -- THE SEARCH FOR WENG WENG, Andrew Leavold
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Few documentaries bring to light in such a big way, the sad and incredible story of the littlest Pilipino in history - who in fact made film history as an actor, stuntman and kung fu expert. Like a mini-James Bond, his film name was 00. His real name was Ernesto de la Cruz, and he became a huge star, but he was never paid. His greatest film, For Your Height Only, was a movie sensation that actually was purchased for $2000 by an American distributor during the film festival held in Manila - an event started by Imelda Marcos that put filmmakers into the world of great stars from abroad. Leavold spent six years tracking down the story of Weng Weng, and in so doing, his journey takes him into a world of lost actors whose 1970s' fame in the industry died with American Pie and with the drying up Marco's empirical control over the country. Manila's film industry at one time was making 300 movies a year, and it was Weng Weng who stole the hearts of everyone who watched his films and who worked with him. He was even invited to stay with the Marcos couple. In fact, Leavold is treated to an invitation to come to the elegant lady's 83rd birthday party, and then invited back. One eerie scene occurs when Imelda Marcos takes Leavold with her to visit the embalmed body of her husband. This documentary lines up a host of now-has-been VIPS that once stood at the vanguard of Manila's great film industry. Imeldos's daughter also talks about the industry and the grand-stand style cultural contribution her mother gave to the arts. Despite our own perception of the shoe-obsessed regal robber, Imelda did love the arts and worked to get her country's talents known. Leavold is the owner of am Australian specialty video club. He became obsessed with finding out about little Weng Weng over 40 years ago when he first saw "For Your Height Only". The sad thing is the little actor died in poverty, penniless and very lonely. People feel that he was the little Jesus held in the Virgin's arms - immortalized religious icons that grace almost every shack, house and mansion in Manila.

3.7 --COLD IN JULY, Jim Mickle
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] veritable Fantasia film that crawls up on you like a slow moving worm. I can only say "WOW" about this film. In a small Texan town, Michael Hall of Dexter fame plays a family man who shoots an intruder, and is stalked by the intruder's ex-con who in fact gets into the house despite police protection. Who would have thought this is a film about vengeance in reverse and at the centre is father/son violent conflict. The police are lying to Michael about the name of the man whom he shot that night in his house, and through the most unlikely encounters ends up helping the ex-con whom he once feared. The plot, and suspense are deliciously lightened by Don Johnsons's amusing delivery in his role as a private detective. He has not lost his charm. The father sets out to find out who he really shot that night in his house and this is what sets all ensuing nearly incredulous action. The film delivers suspense in a thousand and one ways that edge into both absurdity and fear. I loved the film, and it made me want to become a Dexter watcher of the famous TV series. Gritty, simple and complex in plot curves, this film is a one-of-a-kind experience that at one moment has the viewer laughing and then biting his nails.

[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] This is a hilarious take-off on James Bond, Get Smart and Mission Impossible rolled into one big save-the-world from the massive bomb disaster. Kim Chul (Sol Kyung-gu) is a top secret agent who has no time to make his darling but complaining wife pregnant. He often arrives late at family functions due to just completing a mission in countries far away for Korea. His wife has no idea what he's really doing or how important his job is. She thinks he holds a boring job. She is a flight attendant who ends up in Thailand and gets spends time with a devilish guy named Ryan. He has his own private agenda and it involves her. It is Ryan who plans to blow the world apart by inciting the two Koreas into war. There are so many comedy of errors in this laugh-out-loud little gem of a film, that turns coincidence into catastrophes and lucky rescues. A total delight with non-stop action and very amusing characters.

3.5 -- RED FAMILY, Lee-Ju-hyoung
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Four North Koreans pose as a happy family to spy and annihilate people upon the orders of the chief. Heading the family is a tough beautiful comrade. Her fake husband, her father and daughter are equally cruel - at least at the beginning of the film. Soon, they befriend their neighbours, and because the "mother" of this North Korean family decided to initiate the killing of a man whom she thought was a spy, the fake family is told they will all die for this by the chief boss. In fact, she killed a North Korean spy posing for the other side. This fake family begins to form bonds and feel emotions for each other and for their neighbours. The amazing ending shows that love and family win out in the end, and that no matter hwo committed to the cause one is, it is bonds of caring and love that this is the invisible and most powerful weaponry against those who love only their country's leader. It was so credible, it was spooky. A searing yet calm portrayal of a ruthless country breeding dangerously brainwashed - North Korea.  

3.3 -- UGLY, Anurag Kashyap
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] The amazing Japanese artist, Masamune Shirow has created a hard-hitting, high-tech dystopian thriller, launching this gritty cyberpunk manga movie under Aramaki’s direction. The animation is more powerful than had the events been portrayed by flesh-fighting actors playing the heroes and villains that populate this slick production. In the film, New York is ruled by a two-horned monster dude, named Two-Horns. He looks like a bulldog on two legs and, in his bully role, rules do-gooders Deunan and her Cyborg friend, Briareros. Under some kind of debt, Two Horns gets them to get rid of gangs and wayward drones that threaten his power. While doing that, the pair meet Iris and Olson who come from the fortress city Olympus, and all four find themselves embroiled in a fight to save the world from a terrible monster machine controlled by foes – one of which Olson trained with, as both come from Olympus. The plot touches on themes of hope, idealism and courage in the face of doom. This is super entertaining and riveting animation magic that turns the ordinarily flat formula of good guys versus bad guys into a jam-packed flick of palpable power fueled by emotional suspense.

4.0 -- APPLESEED ALPHA, Shinju Aramaki
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] The amazing Japanese artist, Masamune Shirow, has created a hard-hitting, high-tech dystopian thriller, launching this gritty cyperpunk manga movie under Aramaki's direction. The animation is more powerful than had the events been portrayed by flesh-fighting actors playing the heroes and villains that populate this slick production. In the film, New York is ruled by a two-horned monster dude named Two-Horns. He looks like a bulldog on two legs and, in his bully role, rules do-gooders Deunan and her Cyborg friend, Briareros. Under some kind of debt, Two Horns gets them to get rid of gangs and wayward drones that threaten his power. While doing that, the pair meet Iris and Olson who come from the fortress city Olympus, and all four find themselves embroiled in a fight to save the world from a terrible monster machine controlled by foes -- one of which Olson trained with, as both come from Olympus. The plot touches on themes of hope, idealism and courage in the face of doom. This is super entertaining and riveting animation magic that turns the ordinarily flat formula of good guys versus bad guys into jam-packed flick of palpable power fueled by emotional suspense.

[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] An absurd, clever dark comedy spiced with deadpan Swedish humour. The characters embody eccentric traits of people we have met in our life. An old man has spent most of his life fascinated by blowing up things, and by chance and invitation he helps Stalin, Roosevelt, Reagan and Franco. He is totally dull and not smart, but his philosophy is: Don't think, just take what is there and live it. Such was what his mother taught him before she passed away when he was a kid. He spends time in a retirement home but on his birthday, he climbs out the window to go anywhere fate takes him. He really is born under a lucky star, for despite wars he's participated in, a gulag he is stuck in, and Oppenheimer's Manhattan Project in which by pure accident finds a way to make the bomb work, he wishes to keep on traveling. We are not sure how he got it, but he carries around a suitcase full of lots of money, so a group of thugs are after him; each time he is near death, fortune turns in his favour, and the bad guys get what's coming to them. The film seems to say that life can be reduced to a series of random events -- some lucky and unlucky, and that those who take it as it comes will end up happy and even rich. It was a very funny film with acting that is not easy to forget -- unless of course you are 100 years old.

3.8-- I ORIGINS, Mike Cahill
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Dr. Ian Grey (Micahel Pitt) is a molecular biologist trying to find a creature with no eyes in order to reconstruct the evolution of the eye. He is joined by lab colleague Karen (Brit Marling) who is more determined than ever to go through every living organism to find one that does not see; she succeeds. It's a worm, and they are able to implant 'eyes.' Meanwhile Ian is about to get married to Sophie. It was her eyes that cast their spell on him. A terrible accident in an elevator kills her, and Ian ends up marrying Karen. A trip to India becomes a crucial point in Ian's research. His experience there proves that Sophie, who did not believe in science but in God and soul connections throughout time, was right; it turns Ian's life around. The eyes of a little Indian girl may indeed hold the proof that reincarnation does exist. Themes of transformation, coincidence and science versus religion weave throughout this remarkably powerful, multi-layered film - one which will most probably inspire the world to think about eyes in a whole new way.  

1.5 -- THE SNOW WHITE MURDER CASE, Shirayuki Hime Satsujin Jikena
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Noriko, a stunning executive for the Japanese Snow White Soap company, has been stabbed and torched. Her body is found in a forest, and there is no evidence at the crime scene. The number one suspect is her colleague. Internet twitters point the finger at her – the accusations coming from all colleagues who worked with her, especially one gal who starts the rumours going by calling her ex-boyfriend who works at a TV station. The movie replays each colleague’s version of what they think happened, and to this end, the same scenes at the office are replayed for us ad nauseum. After all, at least six different people go on camera, saying pretty much the same thing – except one who was best friend of the accused. Gossip and Internet contagion poison the police, until the real culprit comes to light. The who-did-it game did not hook me. The movie’s content plays out like a slow-moving turtle that keeps backtracking. This film is a bore, despite its obvious attempt to show how dangerous the Internet is in so powerfully misleading to the world.




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