David Hemblen

David Hemblen

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Speaking Parts Review


Excellent
With Speaking Parts, Atom Egoyan showed that his long-simmering promise as a great filmmaker had finally been fulfilled. Early movies like Family Viewing were earnest but rough. Here, Egoyan crafts a meticulous and dazzlingly confusing tale of love, prostitution, obsession, technology, coldness, death, and potential incest, all wrapped into a tight 90 minutes. A plot synopsis would consume the better part of your afternoon, and would spoil too much for you -- just figuring out what's going on is have the fun of the film. Solid performances by a band of unknowns improve the film beyond typical low-budget experiences.

Mesmer Review


Grim
Fantastic! The best movie I've ever seen! This portrayal of 1800s hypnotist Franz Anton Mesmer is killer! Alan Rickman is fantastic, whispering those lines with self-assured grace. He wasn't a wacko -- his strange energy experiments were legit! He got a bum rap! Costumes! Drama! It's... it's... it's incredible!

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The Sweet Hereafter Review


Excellent
It's been over two years since Canadian auteur Atom Egoyan first came to my attention with his breakthrough film Exotica. Since then, I've become something of an aficionado of his works through home video, and it was with breathless anticipation that I awaited what was sure to be the movie that pushed him into the mainstream: The Sweet Hereafter.

Maybe I over-hyped it in my mind, becoming too hopeful in the face of overwhelming praise for the film. Or maybe I know Egoyan's tricks too well by now. Either way, I left the film extremely pleased but depressed: partly because the movie is such a downer, and partly because I know Egoyan can do even better.

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Exotica Review


Essential
Exotica is a new dramatic thriller from Canadian director Atom Egoyan, who brings us this fascinating glimpse into the life of Francis Brown (Bruce Greenwood), a Canadian tax auditor whose life intertwines with a his brother and niece, an exotic animal smuggler, and, most importantly, the denizens of a strip joint called Exotica.

The action in Exotica jumps from one character to another, from location to location, and back into Brown's past occasionally, teasing the viewer with bits of information about how these people's lives are eventually going to gel into a cohesive story. As the story progresses, there are plenty of blanks left for the viewer to fill in as the action springs around. The seamless editing makes this seem natural, albeit a bit overdone at times, but eventually it all comes together to make perfect sense in the end.

Continue reading: Exotica Review

Family Viewing Review


OK
Early Atom Egoyan, before he quite figured out his style and before he had much of a budget. This is the story of a family obsessed with video -- and obsessed in general -- we've got a kid involved with his father's girlfriend and his father's phone-sex girl (he doesn't know about the latter coincidence -- it's just that both his grandmother and her mother are in the same room at the local nursing home). Not sure how well this succeeds in its quest to damn contemporary communication breakdowns, but it sure is screwed up. Shot partly on various video formats -- a sort of testament to how the then-nascent format (this was 1987, for Pete's sake!) was making relationships impersonal and generally screwing up life (dad erases childhood videos to make room for his homemade sex tapes). The DVD includes Egoyan's Next of Kin as well as a handful of his very early short films -- all very amusing and curious.
David Hemblen

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