Author

Mark McConaghy

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China behind the headlines: Lou Ye and the vitality of Chinese independent cinema

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Canadians are daily inundated with news reports concerning the “rise of China,” as visions of that country’s latest economic mega-project flood our television screens. Universities and governments have flocked to China, both literally and figuratively, producing mountains of discourse concerning the new “global superpower” and how Canada should interact with it. Yet how can an average Canadian...

Borderless Cinema: Edward Yang’s YiYi

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Inaugurating “Borderless Cinema,” our new series profiling lesser-known gems of world cinema, this essay reviews “YiYi”, written and directed by Edward Yang. Starring Nien-Jen Wu, Elaine Jin, and Issei Ogata. Running time 173 minutes. Available on DVD via Criterion Collection. Edward Yang’s Yi Yi (A One and a Two) is the final work of one of the most important Taiwanese...

Hope at life’s end: Michael Haneke’s Amour

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Reviewed in this Essay: Amour. Written and Directed by Michael Haneke. Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuele Riva, and Isabelle Huppert. Running time: 127 minutes. Mainstream cinema often treats death with cosmic reverence or ignores it altogether, but Michael Haneke’s Amour forces its viewers to confront mortality, as intimately and physically as possible. The film is nominated for five...

Slavery, cinema, and sensitivity: Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained

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Reviewed in this essay: Django Unchained. Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, and Leonardo DiCaprio. Running time 165 minutes. Now playing in Toronto theaters. In recent weeks, moviegoers have been treated to two radically different films about American slavery, each of them trying to unpack the burden of that violent historical episode in their own...

Forgoing truth for drama: Kathryn Bigelow’s not-so-true story Zero Dark Thirty

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Reviewed in this essay: Zero Dark Thirty, written by Mark Boal. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow. Starring Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, and Kyle Chandler. Running Time: 157 minutes. Opening in Toronto Jan. 11. Kathryn Bigelow’s Academy Award-winning The Hurt Locker (2009) succeeded as a straightforward study of military bomb disarmers. Although the film was set during the second Iraq War, Bigelow...

Man-boy fury: A review of Tim and Eric’s The Comedy

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Reviewed in this essay: The Comedy, written by Rick Alverson, Robert Donne, and Colm O’leary. Directed by Rick Alverson. Starring Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim, and James Murphy. Running Time: 94 minutes. Available for Download on Itunes immediately. Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim are the two most interesting comedians working in America today. Best known for their sketch show Tim and Eric...

Confoundingly Wonderful: Martin McDonagh’s “Seven Psychopaths”

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Reviewed in this essay: Seven Psychopaths, written and directed by Martin McDonagh. Starring Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, and Woody Harrelson. Running time: 110 minutes. The trailers for Irish playwright Martin McDonagh’s third film, Seven Psychopaths, are wonderfully misleading: they present the film as a quirky gangster comedy about a dog kidnapping gone wrong. They are so upbeat...

Visions of Conservative Triumph: Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises

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Reviewed in this essay: The Dark Knight Rises, directed by Christopher Nolan. Running Time: 164 minutes. With a quarter of a billion dollar budget, nearly three hours of screen time, and creative carte blanche, one could not but hope for a masterpiece from Christopher Nolan’s long awaited The Dark Knight Rises. One is sad to report, however, that behind the film’s sensuous visuality, grand set...

TRB Podcast: John Fraser and The Secret of the Crown on the Eh List

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Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser. On Thursday, April 26th noted Canadian journalist, author, and Master of Massey College John Fraser talked about his new book The Secret of the Crown: Canada’s Affair with Royalty at the Barbara Frum branch of the...

Our Neoliberal Inheritance: Visions of Crisis in Detropia

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Reviewed in this essay: Detropia, directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. Running Time: 94 minutes. Screened at Toronto Hot Docs Film Festival. Toronto general release in September. 91 minutes.  All non-fiction seeks to use a close engagement with a specific subject as a lens to tell a story about larger, abstract issues. Filmmakers have no choice: the abstract must be made concrete and...

From Monarchist Nostalgia to Postcolonial Reality: Reading John Fraser’s The Secret of the Crown

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Reviewed in this essay: John Fraser’s The Secret of the Crown (Anansi, 2012) Whatever else one can say about John Fraser’s newest book, it is certainly an invaluable opportunity to learn about a certain form of Canadian monarchism that has, it seems, gained a new lease on life. Fraser argues that with the spectacular popularity of the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middelton last year...

A World Sans Salvation: Oren Moverman’s Rampart

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Reviewed in this essay: Rampart, directed by Oren Moverman, written by Moverman and James Ellroy. Starring Woody Harrelson, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Foster, Anne Heche, Cynthia Nixon, Steve Buschemi, and Ned Beatty. Running Time: 108 minutes. Now playing at the Carleton Cinema. There are two ways to think about director Oren Moverman’s film Rampart: it is either a unrelentingly gripping journey into...