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26 reviews in total 
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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Indelible Image, 1 July 2006

It's very rare that a film manages to sear an image into one's mind powerful enough to stay for years. This simple little film from Newfoundland/Labrador really managed to do that for me. I first saw this film back in... I'm pretty sure it was in elementary school. Anyway, the storyline itself is very straightforward and plays with some fairly familiar 'human-centric' thematics. This focus on emotion can surely be appreciated on the narrative level. And, sure, the acting is commendable.

But the best films surely have something more than storyline/acting/narrative elements going for them. The best films have a *uniquely cinematic* element as well. A purely visual element. To my surprise, this unassuming film turned out to have that cinematic element. Or I've certainly realized so over the years, as it has stuck in my mind. Or one image in particular certainly has. As you're perhaps aware, there are a few things in life that are 'inherently cinematic', one could say. Fireworks? Human faces? Automobiles? ... Water. This film might actually contain the best use of water as an inherently cinematic element. It only comes near the end, if I'm recalling correctly, and involves the house in question.

You'll know it when you see it. It sticks in the mind. It's memorable as hell. ... So this is most certainly a sadly neglected film. Even when Canadian cinema is discussed, this very rarely gets mentioned. Well, fine, then it can always be remembered as an overlooked gem.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Not entirely uninteresting..., 14 May 2006

Definitely on the messy side but at least there seem to be some ideas behind this... they remain latent, however, and never really coming to the surface. Much of the film is terrible looking, not managing to escape the 'videoy' look throughout many shots... a very blown-out, over-exposed look much of the time. Fairly lame dialogue. Misguided acting.

This 'Ingrid Veninger' is surely one of the most unappealing actresses I've ever laid eyes on and I do not mean just in appearance. Not a good screen presence, to say the least. Peter Stebbings, however, seems to have some potential...

There seems to be a lot of diversity going on within the Canadian cinema community.... an eclectic mixture, definitely. Before long we'll begin to see some more really notable projects appearing if we continue to encourage experimentation and stray away from attempts at Hollywood emulation (Foolproof) and 'identity movies' (Men with Brooms)... This isn't exactly a notable movie in and of itself but the spirit of the thing should at least be commended.

8 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Thrilling, 2 January 2006

well previous comments that suggest that this is merely a catalogue or showcase for Greenaway's graphic work are entirely mistaken. This is easily one of the most thrilling and totally enjoyable films I've ever seen. When discussing I would compare this to feature films as - aside from its length - this short film feels as complete and expansive in scope as any epic out there. Certainly a lot of this is due to Greenaway's encyclopedic approach to things. There is a lot to take in here.

A mention should also be given to its technical competence - certainly some of the loveliest rostrum photography you'll see anywhere (Bert Walker) and the seamless camera movements at the film's beginning and end are admirable for such an early project.

Death in the Seine (1989) (TV)
7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
incredible visual layering, 17 December 2005

how sad that this little masterwork appears to have not even gained distribution. Because of this, I unfortunately had to seek it out online as it seemed quite interesting... I've not seen a short project so worthy of easier availability.

What incredible layering of imagery! ... visuals blending and merging into and out of one another totally seamlessly. I will not even attempt to surmise the amount of time that must've been put into this editing. A comment should be made toward the lighting as well. Very nicely done.

one minor criticism might be that while I do acknowledge Greenaway's explanation for the body's explicit movements I still think it would've been better for them to have convincingly emulated dead bodies.

10/10 nonetheless

Blood (2004)
11 out of 25 people found the following review useful:
visually inventive, 11 August 2005

visually inventive, which is more than can be said about most films... incredibly sordid storyline/character dynamics however and without the aforementioned inventiveness it would probably be a bit too much to take. good collaborative acting b/w the two cast members also... 8/10 get this flick a poster image; it deserves at least that

*sigh* ten lines minimum now all of a sudden ? OK then... what else can i say... this really isn't a good idea. certain people are good at being concise and five lines are all they really need. why force people to be superfluous? not a good decision on the behalf of the IMDb webmasters i'm afraid... am i there yet... ?

5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
frustrating potential, 19 September 2004

OK. Once again Mettler shows (after Scissere) his gift for striking visual composition. There are certainly some mesmerizing scenes in this film - particularly the last few minutes involving the protagonist and a set of swinging strobe lights. But once again Mettler also forgets that in order for a substantial amount of people to find appreciation in a film there has to be enough of the familiar (not necessarily predictable.) Otherwise people are just going to lose patience with the film regardless of how skillful the cinematic technique is. Your film will fade into obscurity, as this one has. There also has to be more of a focus. If your main goal is to present striking visual imagery then that is admirable and fine - however, the film can't meander as much as this one does. There is no logical foundation here for a viewer to grasp ahold of.

That is not to say everything has to be clearcut. But here we have such a radically obscure presentation that the filmmaker is asking a little bit too much of his audience.

Scissere (1982)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Youthful competence too abstract for fame, 10 September 2004

This is impressively intelligent film-making from a roughly 24 year old Mettler. We have a film that basically matches its subject matter with its form (about drugged perception, structured in a drugged manner). This form=matter notion alone is rare enough for a young filmmaker to deliver and deserves applause. But the actual subject matter could have been chosen more intelligently - the three story lines within the main frame aren't of much interest, particularly the entymologist one... and things could have been drawn out a bit more clearly. It seems sometimes as if Mettler was shooting for obscurity. But the same ideas could've been carried out in a clearer manner nonetheless.

The last few minutes of the film are quite thrilling in terms of editing and shooting and it's all very well amplified by the sound. That final shot is still poignant even if it could've carried more meaning. A credit to Canadian cinema... too bad audiences just aren't willing to go through much of this abstraction in cinema. And evidently never were and this is unfortunately still pretty obscure.

8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Resonant Atmosphere; Frustrating Disconnectedness, 15 August 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Warning: Spoiler in Final Paragraph This film could easily be torn apart by someone who isn't a major fan of filmic loose ends, red herrings, dues ex machinas, splintered editing, and/or vague storytelling. But Roeg's ‘psychic thriller' still manages to hold up as far as confusing creepiness goes, and it actually does make some worthwhile statements concerning the irrepressible trauma that sudden bereavement may cause (especially of a young child,) and the destruction which all of that may lead to.

Roeg's bizarre editing style frustrated me at first, but then I managed to constitute it to an actual theme of the film – he fragments a ‘future scene' within a current scene in order to provide his actual narrative structure with the psychical ambience of the actual storyline (ex: the infamous sex scene.) I, however, am not much of a fan of Roeg's incessant insistence to simply insert distractions into his plot that ultimately never develop into holding any coherent meaning – a red herring should at least eventually come to make sense, but Roeg simply throws odd scenes in for the sake of confusion here (ex: the laughing psychics.)

The plot contains evident elements of a classic Oedipus-like tragedy, where the blind are capable of seeing the truth and the ones who can actually see stubbornly blind themselves from it. Even though I understand the intention behind it – that John was too ‘blinded' by emotional trauma to even consider otherwise – the ending relies slightly too heavily upon an abrupt coincidence for my taste. It's an interesting notion that if one doesn't embrace their ‘power' or ‘gift' then it'll ultimately deceive and work against you (as it does to John, who actually foresees his own death but doesn't realize it.) The film is fraught with an excellent aura of mystery; however, much of it never really connects, which is truly unfortunate.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Overblown Pseudo-Intellectualism + Tangled Plotting = Ominous Mixture, 12 August 2003

‘Donnie Darko' is a film that consists mainly of overblown pseudo-intellectualism under the guise of tangled plotting. The film has garnered a bit of a ‘cult following' for itself – mostly of the teenage demographic – probably because they consider it to be a profoundly brilliant examination of a guy who's become disillusioned by the banality and ignorance of those surrounding him with an equally brilliant sci-fi context (with a doomed love story thrown in for good measure.) I suppose I can see how those who are easily impressed could see this film in that light.

And – just to clarify – no, I don't dislike this film because I lack the intelligence to decipher the plot and/or what exactly it's trying to say. I will even acknowledge that the plot – up to a certain point – is actually quite interesting. Donnie – our protagonist – is saved from getting crushed by a jet engine when a demonic life-sized rabbit guides him out of bed. We come to realize that this rabbit is from a possible future (or an ‘alternate reality') that Donnie must eventually alter by travelling back in time and – ultimately – saving his mother, little sister, girlfriend, and a few other characters from death.

But my biggest problem with the film is Kelly's painfully amateurish (or perhaps unintentional?) effort to mix satire into the film as well. It would've been a good idea to at least embed all of his characters with a believable degree of authenticity, but some just aren't. For instance, the school/dance teacher is so overblown with her ridiculous aversion toward Graham Greene and her idiotic ‘fear/love' teaching lessons that she seems like nothing more than a poorly written caricature. Kelly also doesn't stray away from the cliché – an elderly person is once again presented as a pinnacle of esoteric knowledge and truth.

What did I like about ‘Donnie Darko'? I liked Kelly's choice to set it within the interesting milieu of the 1980s – this is certainly a refreshing change from the dull modernism of most new films that look like ‘Donnie Darko.' This provides a great backdrop for Kelly to display his eye for detail, within both dialogue and appearance. The tragic circumstances surrounding the relationship between Donnie and Gretchen are also done quite originally.

Director Richard Kelly's way of presenting events in an ill-defined way – expecting us to interpret our own grand meaning to these curiosities – isn't a good cinematic technique; it's just far too easy to simply switch your character around through time and space with pretty visuals upon the idea of time travel, expecting it to all seem appropriate in the end. Kelly tries so hard to make his film contemplative that it demands its viewers to ask far too many questions whilst it provides too few concrete answers – all theories inevitably remain objectionable. Clever ambiguousness is one thing and awkward ambiguousness is another. Unfortunately, ‘Donnie Darko' falls under the latter category.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A Thrilling-Yet-Imperfect Achievement for Psychological Horror, 11 August 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Warning: Spoilers Throughout This is most definitely an extremely creepy film and just about deserves each and every accolade that it has received over the years. I think that the main reason for its effectiveness is the superficially innocent layer that it holds over each horrific event as it unfolds, always suspending the audience's disbelief – there is always the notion that, perhaps, Rosemary is just insane. Characters are presented as ostensibly harmless people as an insidious theme of evil lurking beneath the surface is achieved in such a subtly convincing way that it makes David Lynch's work look amateurish by comparison.

The film also works well on levels of alienation and existentialism – there is even some satire present (Guy's willingness to cross over to the ‘dark side' in exchange for fame/fortune makes for quite a severe shot at the psychological effects of entertainment industry.) But the film's ever-present atmosphere of dreary cynicism eventually crosses over the realm of plausibility and into the absurd. By the end, Polanski's unwavering refusal to provide any shred of hope or optimism toward humanity becomes unnecessarily depressing and ultimately left me feeling quite empty.

We're left with a cold statement basically telling us that evil is simply inviolable and will ultimately consume even the most innocent of people, in favor of an annoyingly overwrought depiction of motherly love, and in doing so Polanski appears to unintentionally glorify Satanism as well. I'm not suggesting that there should have been bloodshed to resolve anything, but perhaps this whole thing would've worked out better had Rosemary been depicted as rejecting Catholicism rather than simply ignoring it. There also happens to be a gaping plot hole in this resolution – why would Rosemary show affection for the devil child if she already knows that it's going to be sacrificed ‘by flesh and blood' anyway – as revealed earlier in the film?

With all of these complaints aside, I still consider ‘Rosemary's Baby' to be one of the finest psychological horror films that I've ever seen. Polanski manages to provide us with subtle hints that never really provide clear-cut answers but allow us to think back and piece everything together quite neatly in the end.

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