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Eden Review


Good

Director-cowriter Megan Griffiths refuses to sensationalise the tabloid aspects of this harrowing true story about human trafficking within the USA. As she follows the central character into a nightmare of forced prostitution, the film could have easily exploited the sexual situations. Instead, she takes a matter-of-fact approach that's deeply unsettling. The filmmaking may sometimes feel a little simplistic, but it raises issues in ways we never expect.

The true story begins in 1994 New Mexico, where 18-year-old Hyun Jae (Chung) goes on a date with a seemingly nice guy (Mechlowicz) and is suddenly sold into black-market slavery. She's renamed Eden and forced to work as a prostitute alongside much younger girls. Living in a series of warehouses overseen by crooked cop Bob (Bridges), Eden continually tries to escape and is met with brutal punishment as a result. Finally, she decides that her only hope is to get close to their pimp Vaughan (O'Leary), a young veteran with a drug-addiction problem. But as she gets to know him, she realises that he's trapped as well.

The film explores much more complex aspects of the captive-captor relationship, as Eden becomes increasingly close to Vaughan, helping him with his work and even ratting out some of the other girls who break the rules. Of course, there's an event that snaps Eden back to attention, leading to the necessary confrontation. But all the way through, filmmaker Griffiths focuses on the psychological and emotional side of the story, leaving much of the actual violence and sexual abuse off-screen. Just a bit more detail, and a clearer sense of the chain of events, might have made the film's gut-punch much stronger.

Continue reading: Eden Review

Picture - Tantoo Cardinal Toronto, Canada, Wednesday 19th October 2011

Tantoo Cardinal Wednesday 19th October 2011 2011 imagineNative Film + Media Arts Festival opening night arrival at TIFF Bell Lightbox Toronto, Canada

Dances With Wolves Review


Extraordinary
Upon the release of the four-hour Dances with Wolves, the question naturally arises: Why?

That's not me, talking, that's producers Kevin Costner and Jim Wilson, writing in the promo material for the multi-disc DVD release of their watershed film about a man who goes a little native after the end of the Civil War. Sent on a questionable "mission" by an insane major (Maury Chaykin), John Dunbar (Costner) finds himself alone in a remote outpost on the frontier, where the Sioux still rule. Already a little suicidal (having surivived his last Civil War battle by openly goading the Confederate army -- twice), Dubar's right at home amid the fear of being scalped, buffalo stampedes, and of course the threat posed by the white man when it's found he's befriended the Indians.

Continue reading: Dances With Wolves Review

Dances With Wolves Review


Extraordinary
Upon the release of the four-hour Dances with Wolves, the question naturally arises: Why?

That's not me, talking, that's producers Kevin Costner and Jim Wilson, writing in the promo material for the multi-disc DVD release of their watershed film about a man who goes a little native after the end of the Civil War. Sent on a questionable "mission" by an insane major (Maury Chaykin), John Dunbar (Costner) finds himself alone in a remote outpost on the frontier, where the Sioux still rule. Already a little suicidal (having surivived his last Civil War battle by openly goading the Confederate army -- twice), Dubar's right at home amid the fear of being scalped, buffalo stampedes, and of course the threat posed by the white man when it's found he's befriended the Indians.

Continue reading: Dances With Wolves Review

Black Robe Review


Good
A Jesuit in a black robe travels to remote 1600s Canada, trying to reach a mission to the Huron tribe deep in the wintry Quebec country. Guided by Algonquins and encountering troublesome Iroquois, our hero as the brush which is used to paint a nuanced picture of historical time few people know very much about. Though the film tends to wander in its latter half, the stunning winter sets and excellent score generally transcend its weaknesses.

The Hi-Line Review


Excellent
Everyone wants to be a director. Actors, producers, writers, actresses, sometimes even critics. But sound mixers? Shoot me if I see a film written and directed by The Dust Brothers.

Yet I have just finished watching The Hi-Line, an incredible simple narrative ditty by two-time Academy Award winning sound guy Ronald Judkins (Jurassic Park, Schindler's List, and Saving Private Ryan), and, much to my surprise, the film wasn't all that bad.

Continue reading: The Hi-Line Review

Smoke Signals Review


Excellent
To those who think the world of watching movies as a job all fun and games, remember that it is a chore as well. You are forced to sit through numerous bad movies, forced to lose faith slowly and surely in the film industry until it is almost gone. The cynicism you harbor eats you up inside until you have nothing left but your own cruel intentions towards an industry that you have no affinity left for.

Then, as hope has dwindled to an almost non-existent point, you sit back and watch a film like Smoke Signals. Smoke Signals is one of those rare movies that you never hear a bad word about. It is one of those films that comes out of nowhere, has no big names or bad lines, and is a completely original story... in short, the main things most movies lack.

Continue reading: Smoke Signals Review

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