Tom Charity

Ex Libris – The New York Public Library (Frederick Wiseman, US)

By Tom Charity / September 28, 2017

  By Tom Charity Let’s start with this: the transitions in Fred Wiseman’s new film (and there are many) have a simple and specific beauty. They double as establishing shots, each comprising a brief cluster of New York street views, usually including an intersection sign to pin us to one of the 88 branches in…

Read More

Ex Libris – The New York Public Library (Frederick Wiseman, USA) — TIFF Docs

By Tom Charity / September 5, 2017

By Tom Charity Published in Cinema Scope 72 (Fall 2017) Let’s start with this: the transitions in Fred Wiseman’s new film (and there are many) have a simple and specific beauty. They double as establishing shots, each comprising a brief cluster of New York street views, usually including an intersection sign to pin us to…

Read More

High-Rise (Ben Wheatley, UK)

By Tom Charity / September 22, 2015

By Tom Charity “Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr. Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous three months.” That, friends, is an opening sentence: J.G. Ballard at his best. And damn if Ben Wheatley doesn’t find just the…

Read More

TIFF 2015 | No Men Beyond This Point (Mark Sawers, Canada)—Vanguard

By Tom Charity / September 18, 2015

By Tom Charity Providing a welcome counterpoint to the pregnant pre-teen boys in Evolution, Mark Sawers’ documentary traces the rise of the Virgin Birth in the latter half of the 20th century, the redundancy of the male sex, and anticipates man’s imminent extinction as womankind inherits the planet. This is all in jest, of course—a mockumentary,…

Read More

TIFF 2015 | Full Contact (David Verbeek, Netherlands/Croatia)—Platform

By Tom Charity / September 16, 2015

By Tom Charity Dutch filmmaker David Verbeek adopts an (initially) opaque, almost Apichatpongian tri-partite structure in this boldly visualized response to the alienated nature of the War on Terror. French-born lieutenant Ivan Delphine (Claire Denis fixture Grégoire Colin) “pilots” drones, calling down missile strikes on unsuspecting al-Qaeda targets in the Middle East from the security…

Read More

TIFF 2015 | Jack (Elisabeth Scharang, Austria)—Contemporary World Cinema

By Tom Charity / September 14, 2015

By Tom Charity About three-quarters through Elisabeth Scharang’s film about the Austrian murderer turned literary sensation Jack Unterweger, the reformed and released killer is excited to meet with a leading European filmmaker (identified as “Neumann”). Neumann receives him politely, but not with the enthusiasm Jack has become accustomed to. “Don’t try to be an artist,”…

Read More

TIFF 2015 | Our Last Tango (German Kral, Germany/Argentina)—TIFF Docs

By Tom Charity / September 13, 2015

By Tom Charity We all know it takes two to tango, and that’s a problem for this mildly engaging but lop-sided strut down memory lane with Maria Nieves Rego and Juan Carlos Copes, the Ginger and Fred of Argentine tango. Maria, at 80, is eager to revisit the past, reminiscing about dancing with the broom…

Read More

TIFF 2015 | This Changes Everything (Avi Lewis, Canada/USA)—TIFF Docs

By Tom Charity / September 9, 2015

By Tom Charity Apocalyptic fantasies are in heavy rotation these days at both the multiplex and the art-house. In this climate-change documentary, anti-capitalist crusader Naomi Klein pronounces herself a late convert to saving the world, and gets things rolling with the disconcerting admission that she doesn’t much care for climate-change documentaries. Heck, next thing you…

Read More

TIFF 2015 | Cinema Scope 64 Preview | High-Rise (Ben Wheatley, UK)—Platform

By Tom Charity / September 7, 2015

By Tom Charity Originally published in Cinema Scope 64 (Fall 2015). “Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr. Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous three months.” That, friends, is an opening sentence: J.G. Ballard at his best. And…

Read More

TIFF 2014 | Timbuktu (Abderrahmane Sissako, France/Mauritania/Mali) — Masters

By Tom Charity / August 31, 2014

By Tom Charity Abderrahmane Sissako’s first feature since 2007’s Bamako is a fleet, forceful response to the brief but traumatic few months in 2013 when foreign jihadists seized control of the northern Malian city and imposed Sharia law (an incursion that was eventually repelled by the former colonial power, France, which is where Sissako now…

Read More

Cannes 2014 | The Wonders (Alice Rohrwacher, Italy/Switzerland/Germany)

By Tom Charity / June 25, 2014

By Tom Charity For those “in the know,” the Grand Jury Prize accorded to Alice Rohrwacher’s second film was the one surprise on a night where Jane Campion’s jury otherwise played things safe and sure, dispensing awards with dutiful nods to all sides. (Libération described it as the one prize with the flavour of a…

Read More

TIFF 2013 | Tracks (John Curran, UK/Australia)—Special Presentation

By Tom Charity / September 10, 2013

By Tom Charity In 1977, Robyn Davidson set off to walk 1700 miles from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean with her dog and four camels. This quixotic endeavour clearly must have meant something—not only to the 25-year-old but to the many thousands of readers who made her memoir a bestseller at the time and…

Read More

TIFF 2013 | A Field in England (Ben Wheatley, UK)—Wavelengths

By Tom Charity / September 8, 2013

By Tom Charity “Open up and let the devil in!” With four movies in four years, Ben Wheatley seems set on giving Michael Winterbottom a run for his money as the most prolific filmmaker in Britain, and the devil take the hindmost. Unlike the versatile and self-effacing Winterbottom, however, Wheatley immediately stamped a distinctive authorial signature…

Read More

Post Tenebras Lux (Carlos Reygadas, Mexico)

By Tom Charity / June 24, 2012

By Tom Charity Hand it to Cannes: where else do art films get booed? On the rest of the planet, your typically well-adjusted art-house aficionado understands to appreciate whatever challenges the filmmaker has set…or the viewer walks out. To be sure, there are walkouts here too, but a good many hardier souls take it upon…

Read More

DVD Bonus | Light Show: Bill Douglas’ Comrades

By Tom Charity / September 12, 2009

By Tom Charity British cinema is notoriously careless with its visionaries, as students of Derek Jarman, Terence Davies, and Peter Greenaway will recognize. Some eight or nine years their senior, Bill Douglas belongs in this company of nonconformists, and certainly merits wider attention both within the UK and abroad. The belated release of his three…

Read More

Features | Regarding John Wayne

By Tom Charity / September 3, 2009

By Tom Charity John Wayne turned one hundred years old in May, an occasion Hollywood marked with several DVD releases. The Cannes Film Festival showcased a restored version of Hondo (1953) in 3-D. Newspapers and many bloggers dutifully doffed their hats. And Patrick Wayne bulldozed a gas station in Winterset, Iowa, to make way for…

Read More

Currency | There Will Be Blood

By Tom Charity / September 1, 2009

There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, US) By Tom Charity In the beginning there is darkness. And, in the darkness, a man with a pickaxe claws at the earth as if he’s looking for the way back in. He grunts from such heavy labour, but keeps digging, driven. Anderson’s Fifth shapes up like this,…

Read More

Interviews | As Far As the Eye Can See: Lance Hammer’s Ballast

By Tom Charity / September 1, 2009

By Tom Charity The last person I met on the way out of Sundance—in fact it was at Salt Lake City airport—was the Portland novelist Chuck Palahniuk. I’d seen the adaptation of his novel Choke just the night before, a scrappy, uneven but funny, ballsy movie with Sam Rockwell as a sex addict perturbed to…

Read More