Call for Feature Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

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Tuesday, Sep 11, 2012
Day two of our TIFF coverage features a take on the Salman Rushdie novel Midnight's Children, Ken Burns' doc about the Central Park Five, and the sex-positive The Sessions.

Midnight’s Children
Canada/UK—Dir. Deepa Mehta


I read Salman Rushdie’s much-admired, multi-award-winning masterpiece Midnight’s Children about 12 years ago while on a trip through Laos. I recall being stunned into a kind of page-turning reverie. This was a book that managed to overlay elements of political satire, magical realism, cultural history, religious parable, and human drama into a hugely entertaining (if enormous and complicated) mosaic. It is an experience you remember, reading that book. Such a shame that one cannot say the same for the film adaptation.


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Monday, Sep 10, 2012
PopMatters begins daily coverage of the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, this last major festival before awards season.

Amour
France—Michael Haneke


A cheery octogenarian couple (Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant) return home from a night at the symphony. They chat, they laugh, they bicker. It’s adorable. And then, despite making what should have been the mood-shattering discovery that someone has tried (and failed) to break in while they were out, the husband gently tells his wife not to let it “spoil your good mood”. These are not the kind of people who let obstacles prevent them from moving forward.


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Friday, Sep 23, 2011
David Cronenberg's latest is a chilly study of the creative and competitive triangle between Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen), Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender), and the lesser-known Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightly) in the early years of the 20th century.

A DANGEROUS METHOD
Director: David Cronenberg
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, Sarah Gadon, Vincent Cassel
Country: Germany / Canada


David Cronenberg’s latest is a chilly study of the creative and competitive triangle between Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen), Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender), and the lesser-known Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightly) in the early years of the 20th century. Christopher Hampton’s cunningly constructed script—he is the man behind Dangerous Liaisons and Atonement) paints the early history of psychoanalysis as a precarious moment, a time when brave innovators faced the collective disapproval of their peers for their forays to the edges of science. In many ways, this is a film about acceptance, about fitting in, and about the ways one muct repress one’s desires in order to do so.


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Friday, Sep 23, 2011
Can a cannibal ever truly be redeemed? For the answer to this Augustinian question I guess you could watch The Day, but it's probably better to just let that be one of life's unaswerables.

THE DAY
Director: Doug Aarniokoski
Cast: Shawn Ashmore, Ashley Bell Cory Hardrict, Dominic Monaghan, Shannyn Sossamon
Country: USA


Can a cannibal ever truly be redeemed? For the answer to this Augustinian question I guess you could watch The Day, but it’s probably better to just let that be one of life’s unaswerables. This execrable film follows a group of survivors of some unnamed holocaust as they wander around and try not to get eaten by roving bands of cannibals. The plot is, basically, well, have you ever seen Night of the Living Dead? How about The Road? OK. So, add those together, and then subtract all the subtext, social commentary, scary bad guys, clever script, and character development.


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Thursday, Sep 15, 2011
An exquisite, terrifying, and marvelously vertiginous film, Martha Marcy May Marlene is my favourite movie of the Festival, and may stand up as my favourite picture of the year.

MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE
Director: Sean Durkin
Cast: Elizabeth Olsen, Christopher Abbott, Brady Corbet, Hugh Dancy, Maria Dizzia, Julia Garner, John Hawkes, Louisa Krause, Sarah Paulson
Country: USA


An exquisite, terrifying, and marvelously vertiginous film, Martha Marcy May Marlene is my favourite movie of the Festival, and may stand up as my favourite picture of the year. A meditative study of a young woman (a dazzling Elizabeth Olsen) during the first weeks after she escapes from a cult, the narrative moves back and forth in time, juxtaposing her struggle reconnecting with her relatives on the outside world with scenes demonstrating the relative ease she had connecting with the “family” at their farm.


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