Ian Barr

The Wild Pear Tree (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey/France/Germany/ Bulgaria) — Masters

By Ian Barr / September 7, 2018

By Ian Barr It wasn’t too far into his filmography that Nuri Bilge Ceylan began to express a sense of petulance (albeit in the form of waggish self-reflexivity) regarding his own growing reputation as one of the major heirs apparent to an older tradition of modernist cinema. In his breakthrough Distant, the film’s protag played…

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Border (Ali Abbasi, Denmark/Sweden) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Ian Barr / August 31, 2018

By Ian Barr Based on a short story from Let the Right One In author John Ajvide Lindqvist, this naturalistically fantastique sophomore feature from writer-director Ali Abbasi similarly depicts the romantic union of two outcasts whose mythological origins are teasingly parcelled out. Vaguely lupine-looking at first glance, and blessed with a heightened sense of smell,…

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The Rehearsal (Alison McLean, New Zealand) — Contemporary World Cinema

By Ian Barr / September 6, 2016

By Ian Barr Based on Eleanor Catton’s acclaimed 2008 novel, The Rehearsal largely transpires under perpetually overcast Auckland skies or within sterile drama classrooms, in direct correlation with its story’s murkiness. First-year acting student Stanley (James Rolleston) is seen early on receiving a humiliating dressing-down from his teacher Hannah (Kerry Fox) for repeatedly offering a…

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Goldstone (Ivan Sen, Australia) — Platform

By Ian Barr / September 2, 2016

By Ian Barr The eponymous setting of Ivan Sen’s Goldstone—the director’s follow-up and loose sequel to Mystery Road (2013), which sees the return of Indigenous detective Jay Swan (Aaron Pedersen)—is a small Outback Australian locale that’s less a town than a palimpsest. Within the tenuously bordered area and its scattering of dilapidated shacks, caravans and demountable…

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TIFF 2015 | The Devil’s Candy (Sean Byrne, US)—Midnight Madness

By Ian Barr / September 16, 2015

By Ian Barr Sean Byrne’s 2009 prom-night chamber-horror comedy The Loved Ones was a promising debut feature. This belated follow-up—a satanic haunted-house chiller, with Shining references galore and a droning Sunn O))) score—is equally promising, further suggesting that Byrne will eventually deliver a film worthy of his already distinctive wit and stylistic virtuosity. One’s enjoyment…

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TIFF 2015 | Homesick (Anne Sewitsky, Norway)—Contemporary World Cinema

By Ian Barr / September 13, 2015

By Ian Barr The catch-all programme title “Contemporary World Cinema” carries with it a threat of homogeneity, and films like Anne Sewitsky’s incest drama Homesick do little to dispel that impression. The film’s first warning bell is an overly convenient therapy-session opening scene, in which Charlotte (newcomer Ine Marie Wilmann) attempts to evade her shrink’s…

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TIFF 2014 | The Little Death (Josh Lawson, Australia) — Discovery

By Ian Barr / September 10, 2014

By Ian Barr If nothing else, this Antipodean mash-up of Love, Actually and Neil LaBute’s Your Friends and Neighbors—a combo surely everyone was clamouring for—makes a convincing argument that “edginess” is the least appreciable thing that any text in any medium can strive for. Kicking off the first of its four not-really-criss-crossing subplots, Paul (played…

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TIFF 2014 | Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (Mark Hartley, Australia) — Midnight Madness

By Ian Barr / September 2, 2014

By Ian Barr Mark Hartley’s 2008 documentary Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! was a ribald, enjoyably jocular chronicle of Australian cinema’s disreputable forgotten years, leading up to its middlebrow heyday in the late ’70s. With Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films, Hartley facetiously recycles the earlier title’s adjectives…

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