profile image

Stuart Henderson

Cultural Historian and Creative Consultant


Emmylou Harris' Wrecking Ball: A Ghostly Light in This Sweet Old World

Emmylou Harris' Wrecking Ball came out in 1995, when I was 17 years old, and remains for me among the most influential albums I've ever heard. I have gone on to become a music historian, a rock critic, and a musician, and though I probably would have done all of those things with my life, it's tough to imagine the way my musical education would have progressed had it not been for Wrecking Ball.
04/17/2014 02:43 EDT

TIFF Review: 'Under the Skin' Doesn't Go Deep Enough

Under the Skin is simply a brilliant, complex novel, awash in metaphor and allegory, concerned with high philosophy. Faber's novel could have made for a memorable, thoughtful thriller. Unfortunately, that's not exactly what director Jonathan Glazer has offered us.
09/14/2013 10:28 EDT

Quick TIFF Reviews: Prisoners (Dir. Denis Villeneuve)

This film, Denis Villeneuve's first in English, demonstrates a stirring talent on the rise. The tension, the anxiety, and even the damp cool of the late November air are delivered to us through a heap of well-chosen images, daring shot construction, and carefully-managed set design.
09/11/2013 06:03 EDT

Quick TIFF Reviews: Gravity (Dir. Alfonso Cuarón)

A quick-paced, hard-charging adrenaline ride of a movie, Gravity takes us into the heart of an infinite darkness and then leads us home. As exciting as it is technically virtuosic, it invites us to reconsider the possibilities of the "popcorn movie." Thank god for that.
09/10/2013 12:20 EDT

Quick TIFF Reviews: Enough Said (Dir. Nicole Holofcener)

Despite the utter unlikelihood of the plotting, everything about Enough Said feels lived in and true. Sparkling, light and yet awash in thoughtful insight into the particular challenges of new love in middle age, this was easily my favourite comedy of the festival so far.
09/10/2013 12:13 EDT

Quick TIFF Reviews: R100 (Dir. Hitoshi Matsumoto)

Like some psychedelic mash-up of Eyes Wide Shut, The Trial and Naked Lunch, R100 is by turns disgusting, hilarious, and tedious. For the most part the audience must surrender to the demented flow of the thing in order to have any fun.
09/10/2013 12:09 EDT

Quick TIFF Reviews: Night Moves (Dir. Kelly Reichardt)

Kelly Reichardt has made her career on the fringes of the Hollywood system, making complex, austere films on tiny budgets, and building up a reputation for a singular vision. But, with Night Moves, a generic take on the moral questions associated with terrorism, Reichardt's vision feels blinkered.
09/10/2013 06:03 EDT

Quick TIFF Reviews: 12 Years a Slave (Dir. Steve McQueen)

Between long, punishing shots of brutal whippings, lynchings, hangings, and rape, and the pervasive repugnance of the situation more generally, Steve McQueen has mounted the most affecting film about American slavery that has ever been made. But, does that in and of itself recommend it?
09/09/2013 05:37 EDT

TIFF Reviews: Closed Curtain

A middle-aged man arrives at a seaside cottage. He closes the doors, hangs heavy black curtains over all of the windows, and then opens a duffle bag to reveal a little brown mutt. Soon thereafter, we learn that in his (unnamed) Islamic Republic, dogs have been banned. This is just the start of a thrilling, complex journey directed by infamous Iranian filmmaker, Jafar Panahi. It may be the biggest film I saw at TIFF.
09/08/2013 08:52 EDT

Quick TIFF Reviews: The Fifth Estate (Dir: Bill Condon)

So much for all the buzz around The Fifth Estate, Bill Condon's frustratingly flat dramatization of the formation, triumphs, and sundering of WikiLeaks, the anarchist information-sharing website. Relying on tight close-ups and lengthy speeches, there is a distinctly made-for-TV feel to the proceedings which even great performances couldn't have overcome. But sadly, the biggest misstep falls on the shoulders of Benedict Cumberbatch.
09/08/2013 08:52 EDT

Quick TIFF Reviews: Young and Beautiful (Dir: Francois Ozon)

Francois Ozon is interested in sex, and Young and Beautiful doesn't let him stray far from his favourite subject. However, his latest film -- a year in the life of a teenage prostitute -- is empty where it should be haunting, and baffling where it should be enigmatic, leading to a confusing misfire from an otherwise thoughtful director.
09/08/2013 08:52 EDT

Dephending Phish: It's Not Them, It's You

I'm not saying Phish is inherently better than other bands, or that the Phish concert experience is superior to the typical rock concert. But I am saying that a bad Phish concert is infinitely more interesting than a bad show by, say, Jay Z. Because even a bad Phish show is bound to offer at least a few moments of firecracker brilliance.
07/25/2013 02:28 EDT