JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Toronto Urban Film Festival - Fears (Guest Judge: Mark McKinney) - September 8, 2008

Toronto Urban Film Festival - Fears

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Urban Fears

Back Handed Man
David Rendall
Three stars
This trip to the inner workings of a male torso—shot in beautiful black-and-white to render the blood as dark as the final void—may provide some queasy moments for the squeamish but lust for more from those who enjoy all ghoulish things. Its urban link seemed more imagined than real.

Disposal World
Lena Chun
Four and one-half stars
Who needs the job of sex and nine months incubation when babies can be chosen like a soft drink and then, voilà!—they pop out of a vending machine. Much subtext in the apparent insanity: everyone’s white, all of the babies are identical (hello there stem cell research and superior-race enthusiasts!). But a sudden last-minute switch in point-of-view gives this quick flick a very strong finish.

Nathan Saliwonchyk and Anuta Skrypnychengo
Three stars
Myriad black-and-white labels floating wordily above full-colour cityscapes.What might newcomers fear most when venturing out into Canada’s largest metropolis? The language or the vital signposts along the journey?

Losing Streak
Cameron Moffat and Daina Hodgson
Four and one-half stars
This sixty-second public dash for the privacy and comfort of a home toilet (rather than, er, face a throne chock-a-block full of germs or worse) is a hilarious bowel-pressured gem. With all manner of waterworks encountered on the pee-driven trek, anyone who’s ever had second thoughts about going where others have gone before (but may not have wiped) can’t help but smile—all the way to the end of the roll.

Geneviève Sideleau
Two stars
Flickerings of black-and-white; a dream world that is all light and shadows; a touch mesmerizing; easy to sink into. Intriguing concept, a bit lite on the realization, but isn’t that what dreams are?

Positive Reinforcement Therapy
Michael Stecky
One star
A talking head once removed from the psychoanalysts couch. Repeat after me: Advertisements are not films.

Midi Onodera
Four and one-half stars
Marvellous. The distorted world as seen through an apartment’s security “peep hole.” So many people live in isolation, fear of “going out” or picking up a ringing telephone. Naturally, none of them will see this film; they’re all inside.

Sin Salida (No Way Out)
Andres Victorero Rey
One-half star
A blurry journey on the way to “Do Not Enter.” That advice should be taken.

Urban Zombie
Linda Matarasso
Five stars
The real power of caffeine is richly demonstrated. Initially, the survivors from the dark side of night invade a purveyor of coffee with looks that say “My double-double includes O-positive blood.” Once the first drops of life-sustaining crushed beans from a cauldron of boiling water have done their magic, the rejuvenated undead are ready to walk amongst the living. Fantastic idea, well executed!

Withered City Soul
Nathan Zimmerman
Four stars
Ah, what could have been, what transpired, what’s left. Those lucky enough to grow old will appreciate this essay of survival—right down to the Afghan comforter. The rest—as always—will never realize what they’ve missed. Something for all here. JWR

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Toronto Urban Film Festival