Timothy Penner

  • Melodrama and strange plot twists

    Any actor given the task of portraying a character with a debilitating disease such as Tourette’s syndrome has to walk a fine line between realism and caricature.

  • Thanks for the memories?

    Without running the risk of slipping into hyperbole, it is safe to say that Star Wars has spawned the sort of fanatical devotion generally reserved for cult leaders and teen pop stars.

  • Deeply moving and expertly executed

    Fall is fast approaching, and with the change of temperature comes a change of pace at your local movie theatre as studios begin pushing their prestige pictures in hopes of being recognized during the upcoming award season.

  • My Winnipeg love/hate

    In honour of the plethora of ongoing film shoots taking place in our fair city, it’s time to take a look back at how the ‘Peg has fared on film in the past.

  • The civil rights movement of the 1950s and ‘60s, under the leadership of Rev. Martin Luther Ki

    “A film with the passion of Tennessee Williams” and “The best picture of the year” are two unaccredited “reviews” that flash across the screen during the trailer for Tommy Wiseau’s The Room.

  • Going off the rails

    Lixin Fan’s documentary film Last Train Home is many things: an exploration of China’s migrant worker culture, a study in multinational economics and a contemplation of the struggle between work and leisure.

  • The art of capitalism

    In the U.S. the average person is bombarded by 5,000 advertisements a day, we are told early on in Doug Pray’s documentary Art & Copy.

  • This one belongs at the Oscars

    On every year’s Best Picture Oscar list there are films which obviously belong and films which do not. With the change in rules this year to 10 nominees, there are far more of the latter than in previous years. Thankfully, Lee Daniels’ film Precious is decidedly the former.

  • Public Enemy Number One

    Portions of the Pentagon Papers were first published in a New York Times exposé June 13, 1971. The series of monumentally important articles would lead to an increasing freedom of the press in the United States, a shattering of trust in public officials, the eventual end of the Vietnam War and the end of Richard Nixon’s presidency.

  • A David and Goliath story made in Manitoba

    Generally, the term made-for-TV-movie evokes in my mind a parade of images of melodramatic narratives presented with only the most banal of filmic techniques. Thankfully, this is not the case with Elijah, the story of Native political leader Elijah Harper.

  • The dark heart of the truth

    In the early ‘90s, Norway was beset by a rash of church burnings and other violent crimes (including murder), all associated with what was dubbed a “satanic” music scene known as Black Metal. Aaron Aites and Audrey Ewell’s film Until the Light Takes Us is an exploration of these events as told by the musicians who were in the midst of the controversy.

  • Determined but weak

    Early in the film determiNATION Songs, a new documentary by Michelle Smith and Paul Rickard, the members of the band CerAmony extol the power art has to carry a message in a way that politics cannot. It’s a good thought – and one that the filmmakers should have heeded.

  • Three generations with a whole lotta love for six strings

    Early in Davis Guggenheim’s new documentary, It Might get Loud, Jack White (the boundary-pushing guitarist behind the The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather) states that he’s “always worried about becoming satisfied. When you become satisfied you die.”

  • Wailing with emotional power

    For the sake of full disclosure, I should mention at the beginning of this review that I am a white, middle-class male, born and raised in the heart of suburbia; however, this minor setback did not keep me from thoroughly enjoying Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae, a documentary showing this week at the Cinematheque.

  • Ode to a short-lived love affair

    Films centred on historical figures often tend to keep audiences at a distance, owing to the fact that the average filmgoer may not be familiar enough with the characters to care. This is not the case with the latest film from Jane Campion, the Academy Award-winning director of The Piano.

  • Latest Egoyan film a reminder of the writer/director’s talent

    Adoration, the latest film from Canadian auteur Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter), works to bring into the digital age the proverbial notion of returning squeezed toothpaste to its tube.

  • Coming of age classic well worth a watch

    As a part of their fantastic Repertory program, the Cinematheque this month is showing the 1973 Italian surrealistic masterpiece Amarcord, directed by that nation’s greatest ambassador of cinema, Federico Fellini.

  • The art of silent comedy

    Given that most of what passes for comedy these days is built around the repetition of the dirtiest lines Judd Apatow can concoct, it’s refreshing to see that some filmmakers have rediscovered the art of silent comedy.

  • Top of the class

    From Blackboard Jungle to To Sir, With Love to Dangerous Minds to Freedom Writers the “idealistic teacher thrown into the inner-city classroom full of hardened sarcastic kids” story is probably one of the most overdone tales in cinematic history. So tired is this type of story that it seems only the French could redeem it.

  • Not just another killing machine

    The first thing I should admit as I begin this review is that I am not a fan of ‘80s action movies. I’ve always felt there’s something rather odd about invincible-supermen-killing-machines reinforcing stereotypes about foreigners in disturbingly formulaic (and Reagan-tastic) ways.

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