Tag Archives: Fayssal Bazzi

After the Break: Dr. Joyce Brothers and a Demon!

Late Night with the Devil

by George Wolf

Who remembers The Amazing Randi?

He was that magician, author and “professional skeptic” who would come on the Johnny Carson show to debunk anyone claiming to have supernatural, paranormal or occult powers.

Memories of Randi aren’t required to feel the pull of Late Night with the Devil, but if you grew up around 1970s TV, you’re likely to have an even deeper appreciation for this high-concept homage from filmmakers Cameron and Colin Cairnes.

The Australian brothers who gave us the terrific low budget horror 100 Bloody Acres have essentially crafted their found footage genre entry, all centered around broadcast and BTS footage from the last episode of Night Owls with Jack Delroy, a nighttime talk show trying to compete with Carson.

The film’s prologue—featuring foreboding narration from Michael Ironside—tells us that by the late 70s, Delroy (a terrific David Dastmalchian) had been worried about the future of the show, which led to a fateful gamble.

Cue the footage!

Delroy’s “Randi” is Carmichael Haig (Ian Bliss, perfectly smug), who condescendingly debunks the show’s first guest, clairvoyant Christou (Fayssal Bazzi). Haig is then ready to do the same to Dr. June Ross-Mitchell’s (Laura Gordon) claim that her young patient Lilly (Ingrid Torelli) is possessed by a demon.

But Lilly’s got a surprise for sweeps week.

Cameron and Colin share the writing/directing duties, and they set an effective time stamp early on through solid production design and patient editing. The mood is one of appropriately cheesy humor amid some uneasy dread.

After all, we know what these wide-lapeled jokesters don’t: something nasty is about to go down.

The Cairnes boys take their time getting there, letting Dastmalchian reel us into Delroy’s easy charm and increasingly questionable backstory. Dastmalchian—a longtime supporting MVP blessed with a memorable face—is finally getting his chance to carry a film, and he does not disappoint.

Kudos also go out the effects department, rolling out a (mostly) practical finale that serves as a perfect capper to the film’s finely tuned aesthetic. Computer wizardry has no place in this world, and the Cairneses keep it refreshingly real.

Ultimately, what Late Night with the Devil has in mind is more like an R-rated Twilight Zone, with a twisty moral backed up by blood. Expect devilish fireworks and frisky throwback fun, even if you’re not scared out of your bellbottoms.

Anguish for Anguish

Measure for Measure

by Cat McAlpine

In this modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s play by the same name, Measure for Measure follows a large cast of characters all tied to the same horrific event. A man high on meth goes on a racially charged shooting spree in a housing commission tower. Angelo sold him the drugs. Farouk might have sold him the gun. Claudio and Jaiwara were simply lucky enough to survive. What really connects the tenants of the dreary flats is not a single act violence, but the fact that their lives are rife with it.

Director Paul Ireland uses trauma as connective tissue, highlighting the theme with repeated showings of August Friedrich Schenck’s “Anguish.” The painting shows a ewe crying out over the body of her dead lamb, encircled by waiting crows. It is trauma, and vulnerability, like this that pushes characters together and rips them apart, with carrion birds waiting to swoop in.

The script, penned by Ireland and Damian Hill (to whom the film is dedicated), is strongest when it strays from Shakespeare. The addition of an immigrant family to the story adds dimension to the types of trauma we face and how it shapes the next generation. The love story of Ireland and Hill’s Measure for Measure is much more straightforward than Shakespeare’s. If anything, the film would’ve improved from even further deviation.

What truly carries the production are its strong performances. Hugo Weaving is great as Duke, endlessly watchable. His manic foil Angelo (Mark Leonard Winter) is also fantastic, even when the script doesn’t support him. Farouk (Fayssal Bazzi) starts as a stereotypical baddie, but Bazzi finds complicated depth in him later on. Harrison Gilbertson and Megan Smart build great chemistry together as Claudio and Jaiwara, despite a bit of a montaged love story at the start.

Measure for Measure is a worthy effort to take the endlessly classic nature of Shakespeare and frame it in a modern retelling with new resonance. Its focus on loss, vengeance, and love are undeniably relatable, while still telling a fresh story in an old frame.