Archive for the ‘Canadian films’ Tag

Cube²: Hypercube (2002)   1 comment

A handful of strangers awaken in a cube. They have no idea how they got there. The cube is attached to other cubes and they climb from one to the other in a vain attempt to figure out who put them there and how to get out.

“We’ll call the cubes Tom, Dick, and Harry. No, wait.”

Ok. I’ll admit it. I saw Cube and thought it was an interesting concept. It was more interesting when Pirandello, Sartre, and Serling thought of it, but no matter. The film had some bright spots, but it didn’t quite gel. I thought maybe they’d nail it down in Cube²: Hypercube. My hopes were dashed about four minutes into the film.

“What’s my motivation?”

In the first film, I cared somewhat about a couple of the characters and was drawn into their struggle to find the key to their Rubik’s Cube prison. In the second film, I just wanted it to end. The characters, all connected in different ways to the company, Izon, which is obviously evil because they produce armaments and their employees know math, are so completely underdeveloped, it’s tough to care about them. Then, there’s the dialogue. Cribbed from any number of ‘scenes for actors’ type books and probably workshopped in an improv studio somewhere in Toronto, the conversations reeked of cheesy experimental community theatre and the acting, from much of the cast, carried the same stench. Kari Matchett and Geraint Wyn Davies, both familiar faces, were the exceptions. They’re both solid character actors who must have felt hoodwinked after reading the script.

“I found the stage directions. The characters climb into another cube and talk some more.”

Anyway, the cube denizens move from cube to cube trying to avoid the evil, and sharp tesseracts that appear and expand and oh I don’t care. Mean computer-generated shapes attack people we don’t care about and then the same characters reappear because parallel universes! Yep. The gang bandy about terms like quantum and gravity shift and draw pictures of cubes and all I thought about was how smart it was for the filmmakers to choose a big cube for the set because they’d only have to make one.

“I knew I hated geometry for a reason.”

There was a twist at the end which didn’t make sense and served no purpose and I didn’t care about anyway. Something something evil corporation experimental cube? I have no idea. I get when a film purposely withholds closure to make a point. I feel like in this case, the lack of a satisfying ending was less by design and more by “Hey, I know! We’ll make the whole thing a conspiracy and junk.”
“Great idea, Tad.”

“Mrs. Paley, you’re smudging the prism.”

No one connected to the film is called Tad, but it fit. The trouble with a conspiracy film without a well-defined conspiracy is you at least need Elliott Gould or Mel Gibson to liven things up and they need something lucid to say. Cube 2: Electric Boogaloo fails on both counts.

“She’s right, you know.”

Cube²: Hypercube lasts an hour and thirty-four minutes. You’re better off spending an extra twenty-one minutes and watching Con Air.

“Turn the channel or the bunny gets it.”



Pontypool (2008)   5 comments


Wow.  After seeing PONTYPOOL on a bunch of best of lists, I finally watched it.  What a fantastic film!  A talk-radio disc jockey, his engineer, and producer broadcast their usual morning news/talk show with a difference.  On this particular morning, the sleepy, rural town of Pontypool, Ontario has a tiny problem.  Hordes of people run amok and no one knows why.  As the three contact their usual news sources and their field reporter to get to the bottom of this weird phenomenon, their initial cynicism gives way to worry, then abject fear.  Why is this happening?  The three main characters remain in the dark until Dr. Mendez (Hrant Alianak) climbs into the basement window of the radio station and joins the party.  The doctor has a sensible theory as to why the local population has started to lose it.  It has to do with language and affection and words and stuff.  Is that the answer?

“Can you stop repeating that?”

PONTYPOOL is a play-like film.  The majority of it takes place in a radio station basement.  I love play-like films.  I’d rather watch a few well-developed characters exchange words than see a truckload of lens flares and an impossible stunt, but that’s me.  The four main characters hold your attention without getting shrill or desperate.  Writer Tony Burgess gives us a character-driven story with true suspense and he does it in a classic film way.  Ripping pages from the books of Jacques Tourneur’s film CAT PEOPLE and Steven Spielberg’s modern classic, JAWS, PONTYPOOL tells its horror story subtlely, without revealing too much.  The script takes its time.  We meet the small cast and get to know them so when they’re in danger, we care.

“We’re gonna need a bigger radio station.”

I don’t want to give away any of the clever plot so I’ll say this.  PONTYTPOOL is one of the best films of any genre I’ve seen in years.  It’s witty and intelligent and real.  Real scary, that is.  Stephen McHattie owns this film.  His DJ, Grant Mazzy is a messy, arrogant, and whip-smart alcoholic and we can’t wait to hear what he has to say.  His engineer, Laurel-Ann Drummond (Georgina Reilly) is a smart, capable woman, and his producer, Sydney Briar (Lisa Houle), is responsible, intelligent, and kind.  It’s rare that I like all the major players in a horror film, but there it is.

“I’ve always relied on the kindness of DJs.”

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t want to reveal the surprises in PONTYPOOL and you’ll enjoy it a lot more if I don’t.  Trust me, you want to see this.  Parts of the film stand out.  Apart from the amazing performances by all four of the major cast members, there’s also the off camera role Rick Roberts plays as field reporter, Ken Loney.  Without ever appearing on screen, Roberts paints a picture.  The obituary segment which appears mid-film is also incredibly effective using only still photographs and narration.  Just amazing.  I love  PONTYPOOL.  Many films show up on must-see lists.  This film truly belongs there.




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