As much as I love Breaking Bad, The Wire, Mad Men and Twin Peaks, as great and as groundbreaking as those shows were, they still are not cinema. The recent explosion of quality long-form cable series has taken the TV form to a new level of artistry and craftsmanship. A show like Mad Men is not only thrilling because of its commentary on its era, but because of the zeitgeist energy created by everyone watching the show, talking about it and sharing opinions on social media. Today, perhaps more than ever, a new season of a quality show becomes a […]by Mike S. Ryan on Jul 23, 2015
Through my late teens, my Sunday mass of choice was the 1pm. I was lucky to belong to Catholic parish that was built in the turn of the century; I loved the dark wood, red velvet, shadowy vibe and how it contrasted to the sunny bustle out on the street. Later in life, as I gained the courage to face reality without a dogmatic crutch, I still longed for that peaceful hour spent in quiet reflection in the middle of the day. At 1pm this Sunday, a TIFF 150-seat theater was filled with a festival audience that remained totally still […]by Mike S. Ryan on Sep 11, 2013
One of the more anticipated films of a very strong Wavelengths section, Ben Rivers and Ben Russell’s A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness unspooled Saturday night to a packed house at the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Jackman Hall. A true collaborative effort by two major filmmakers, the feature follows a black guitar player, Robert A.A. Lowe, from a northern Finland commune through a solitary journey across a lake into an isolated wilderness to the climactic scene on a stage in Estonia, where he performs with a black metal band. The film is less of a character study than it is the […]by Mike S. Ryan on Sep 8, 2013
(Kiss of the Damned world premiered at the 2012 Venice Film Festival. It becomes available on VOD on March 28, 2013, and opens theatrically on May 3rd. Visit the film’s page at Magnet Releasing to learn more. NOTE: This review was written in conjunction with the film’s North American premiere at the 2013 SXSW Film Festival.) One of the most accomplished and engaging North American premieres I saw at the 2013 SXSW Film Festival was a genre film, the first fiction feature by Xan Cassavetes. Xan is the daughter of cinema legends John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands. Her first film, Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession, was a documentary about […]by Mike S. Ryan on Mar 28, 2013
(Gun Hill Road world premiered in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, which is when the original version of this review was first published at Hammer To Nail. It was picked up for distribution by Motion Film Group and opens theatrically in New York City on Friday, August 5, 2011, and Los Angeles on Friday, August 12th. Visit the film’s Facebook page and official website to learn more.) A late work by the Cuban director Tomas Gutierrez Alea called Strawberry And Chocolate is one of the few films I’ve ever seen to confront the strange relationship […]by Mike S. Ryan on Aug 4, 2011
(Distributed by Screen Media, 3 Backyards opens theatrically in NYC at the IFC Center on Friday, March 11, 2011. Visit the film’s official website to learn more.) What do you want from a film experience? If I am going to schlep into Manhattan and pay money for a ticket I want the large-screen experience to be something specifically cinematic. I don’t need any William Castle-like “transmedia” gimmicks or 3D to prod me into the seat. I just need to know that I will be in the hands of a director who understands that narrative cinema can operate in a space […]by Mike S. Ryan on Mar 10, 2011
by Mike S. Ryan on Jun 24, 2010
Producer Mike S. Ryan challenges the current preoccupations of our independent film scene.