The real faces of ISIS: Sally Armstrong reports from Iraq

In a prison in northern Iraq, captured ISIS soldiers discuss their crimes and what drove them to their murderous ideology

The 10 best films of 2013

Brian D. Johnson picks the flicks to watch over the holidays

12 Years a Slave voted most popular film at TIFF 2013

The winners, the pleasers, plus Brian D. Johnson’s hot list

The best of TIFF: 28 films, one festival

Film critic Brian. D. Johnson on his favourites of the fest

Denis Villeneuve makes a stunning Hollywood debut with ‘Prisoners’

I was trapped in a movie called Prisoners yesterday, and like a good book that you can’t put down, it was a place I didn’t want to leave. This intense thriller is one of two TIFF entries that mark Denis Villeneuve’s double-barrelled English language debut—both starring Jake Gyllenhaal. The other is Enemy. While Enemy is a small Canadian film set in the existential wastelands of Toronto and Mississauga, Prisoners is a studio picture set in America’s heartland. It arrives at TIFF on a wave of positive momentum from the Venice festival. And it catapults Quebec’s hottest director into the major league of Hollywood directors. It’s an exceptionally dark and harrowing story about the abduction of two young girls—a grisly suspense picture that verges on horror. Gyllenhaal gives the performance of his career as a laconic, tight-wound police detective trying to crack the case; the same can be said of Hugh Jackman, who is scarily explosive as a father who abducts a mentally handicapped man initially linked to his daughter’s disappearance (Paul Dano). We are deep in David Fincher territory. As a genre clinician, Villeneuve shows he’s in Fincher’s class, yet achieves a more profound level of intimacy and gravitas. As a diabolical genre piece, his film recalls Silence of the Lambs and Fincher’s Zodiac. But its stark, wintry compositions also remind us that this is the director who dramatized the Montreal massacre in Polytechnique (2009). Occasionally I got lost in the labyrinthine plot twists, but at almost two-and-a-half hours there’s not an ounce of fat on its gripping narrative. From the opening scene of hunting venison for Thanksgiving—an grim echo of The Deerhunter set to the Lord’s Prayer—it begins a procedural descent into an American darkness of unquestioning faith and almost biblical violence. And if there’s any justice in that America, Villeneuve, who was Oscar-nominated for Incendies, should see his film score in major categories. A nomination for Jackman at least seems inevitable.

The buzz list: TIFF 2013

‘Gravity’ and ’12 Years A Slave’ top BDJ’s list the festival’s most hotly anticipated movies

Seeing double at TIFF 2013

Doppelgängers and duplicates abound in this year’s line-up — in more ways than one

Welcome to prison email, hot chick

Welcome to prison email, hot chick

Email allows inmates who have never written much more than a bad cheque or dodgy prescription to keep in touch with the outside world


What are we going to do with all these prisoners?

While some worry that a change of wording may lead to more prisoner abuse, prison guards worry about overcrowding.


‘At this point there is no program to vaccinate detainees’

Global gets a statement from National Defence.


About those Geneva Conventions

The military says prisoners in Afghanistan will be offered the H1N1 vaccine. The military says this is in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq says this is outrageous. Canadian Press says Canada doesn’t recognize the mission in Afghanistan as falling under the Geneva Conventions.