Atom Egoyan – Next of Kin (1984)

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Marking Atom Egoyan’s first feature film, Next of Kin a visually assured, lucid, and thoughtful exposition on alienation, displacement, and the amorphous nature of home and family. Incorporating innovative narrative devices of circular structure and video imaging, Egoyan explores the dichotomous role of technology as both a convenient tool for communication and an impersonal barrier to true human connection (a modern-day existential angst that is similarly portrayed in Mike Nichols’ The Graduate, to which Egoyan pays homage in the film’s early sequence): Peter’s voice-over that is visually reinforced by the recurring shots of an airport baggage carousel, reflecting his sense of aimlessness and disorientation; the Foster’s videotaped counseling session that ironically serves, not to facilitate dialogue, but to further alienate the self-conscious Peter from his family; the tape recorder that becomes a literal surrogate to Peter’s articulated thoughts. Furthermore, in illustrating the residual trauma caused the Deryan’s ‘lost’ son Bedros, Egoyan introduces his recurring theme of the absent child – an unresolved emotional fracture that would propel the psychological (and emotional) trajectory of his seminal films, Exotica and The Sweet Hereafter. By exploring the dynamic – and often necessary – function of compassionate role-playing and deception in social and familial relationships, Egoyan creates a haunting and affectionate contemporary humanist fable on identity, impersonation, and connection. Continue reading

Atom Egoyan – Remember (2015)

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Atom Egoyan’s ongoing search for his own best form makes no real breakthrough in “Remember,” a state-hopping Nazi-hunt mystery that puts a creditably sincere spin on material that is silly at best. At worst, tyro writer Benjamin August’s screenplay is a crass attempt to fashion a “Memento”-style puzzle narrative from post-Holocaust trauma. Toggling variables of disguised identity and dementia, as Christopher Plummer’s ailing German widower travels across North America in search of the camp commander he recalls from his time in Auschwitz, the pic is riddled with lapses in logic even before a stakes-shifting twist that many viewers might see coming. Crafted in utilitarian fashion by Egoyan, “Remember” does little to earn the poignancy of Plummer’s stricken performance — though that asset, plus a button-pushing premise, could attract reasonable interest from older arthouse auds. Continue reading

Atom Egoyan – Exotica (1994)

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In this cryptic, moody film, seemingly unrelated tales ultimately dovetail to reveal the shared past of a tortured government tax auditor (Bruce Greenwood), a gay pet-shop proprietor (Don McKellar), a sultry young stripper (Mia Kischner) and her co-workers. The characters’ focal point is a kitsch Toronto strip joint called Exotica, where the club’s dancer’s strut their stuff to satisfy the sale clientele’s voyeuristic and emotional needs. Continue reading

Atom Egoyan – The Sweet Hereafter [+Extras] (1997)

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The Sweet Hereafter deals with the effects of a tragic school bus crash on a ravishingly beautiful small town set amid the scenic mountains of British Columbia. Outsider Ian Holm arrives, much like the Pied Piper, a lawyer trying to lure the citizens of the town into a class-action suit that would allow the mourning parents to try to sate their immense loss with the small solace of cash. Where Egoyan has dealt with emotional traumas of different sorts of outsiders and marginal characters in the past, with this adaptation, he has made a stirring portrait of the effects of loss within a community. –Ray Pride Continue reading

Atom Egoyan – Ararat (2002)

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From All Movie Guide:

Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan explores his Armenian heritage, and how the country’s tragic history has touched several generations of the nation’s expatriates, in this ambitious drama. Edward Saroyan (Charles Aznavour), a veteran filmmaker of Armenian descent, is in Toronto shooting a film about the Siege of Van, in which invading Ottoman armies forced the evacuation of Armenian communities in 1915, leading to the genocide of over a million Armenian people at the hands of Turkish troops. Twenty-one-year-old Raffi (David Alpay) has been sent to Turkey to shoot background footage for the film; Raffi’s mother Ani (Arsinee Khanjian), an author and historian, is also involved in the project as a consultant. Lately Raffi and Ani have been at odds; Raffi has been dating Celia (Marie-Josee Croze), Ani’s stepdaughter, who is convinced that Ani is somehow responsible for the death of her father. Ani’s first husband, who was Raffi’s father, is also dead, after taking part in an assassination attempt on a Turkish political leader. As Raffi attempts to re-enter Canada with cans of exposed film, he’s detained by David (Christopher Plummer), a suspicious customs official who has his own tenuous link to Saroyan’s film — David is struggling to come to terms with the gay lifestyle of his son Philip (Brent Carver), whose lover Ali (Elias Koteas) is playing the villain in the picture. Ararat also features Eric Bogosian and Bruce Greenwood. Continue reading

Atom Egoyan – Calendar [+Extras] (1993)

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Atom Egoyan directs and stars in this painfully honest account of an Armenian photographer’s search for love in spite of himself. His marriage in tatters, he starts dating again, but can’t quite jump in with both feet, and his heart, first. With every date, he puts the women through the paces, asking them to make sexually charged phone calls to others. When he finally meets his match, his ex suddenly comes back into the already murky picture.
-netflix synopsis Continue reading

Atom Egoyan – Where the Truth Lies (2005)

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From AMG:

A reporter unexpectedly gets a personal perspective on a legendary show-business story in this adaptation of Rupert Holmes’ novel, scripted and directed by noted Canadian independent filmmaker Atom Egoyan. In the mid-’50s, Lanny Morris (Kevin Bacon) and Vince Collins (Colin Firth) were a wildly popular comedy team who suddenly and unexpectedly broke up at the peak of their popularity. Fifteen years after Morris and Collins called it quits, journalist Karen O’Connor (Alison Lohman), who has earned a reputation for her celebrity exposés, wants to write about the true story of what happened with Morris and Collins — and to her surprise, her publisher tells her Collins has agreed to co-author the book for a cool million dollars. The only catch is that Collins has to tell the full truth about a very large skeleton in the team’s closet — a beautiful naked woman was found drowned in the bathtub of Morris and Collins’ hotel suite shortly before they broke up the act, and while the comics were cleared of any wrongdoing, rumors about the incident followed them for years. As O’Connor and Collins complete their book, they learn to their surprise that Morris has opted to write a book of his own about the team’s career; eager to learn what Morris has to say, O’Connor meets him posing as a schoolteacher, and soon falls into an unexpected romantic relationship with him. O’Connor soon finds herself playing two sides against one another as she tried to learn the truth about two men with dark and scandalous pasts. Where the Truth Lies became the subject of unexpected controversy when the MPAA gave the film an NC-17 rating due to a brief scene involving a ménage à trois; the film earned significantly more lenient rating in other countries. Continue reading