VERSUS: Our Critics
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VERSUS: Our Critics

Calum Marsh. Andrew Parker. JCVD. Steven Seagal. It's the throwdown of the century at the Lightbox. Meet the combatants.

  • VERSUS: Our Critics

    For #TeamSeagal: Andrew Parker

    VERSUS CRITIC: Andrew Parker | Van Damme vs Seagal | 2014
    by TIFF via YouTube


    Hi guys! I’m Andrew Parker, Film and Performing Arts Editor for Dork Shelf, and you can catch me defending Steven Seagal at TIFF Versus starting on November 11th against Calum Marsh and his defense of Jean-Claude Van Damme. Really, the true defense (and the better movies) begin with my defense of Above the Law on November 15th. But seriously come out to the opening night when I’ll still be victorious no matter what movie is showing?

    Why Seagal over a worldwide treasure like Van Damme, you might ask? I don’t want to give away too much for free and because I think viewers are going to have a blast at the screenings watching the two of us go at it. I will say that to a great degree, Seagal’s films are a lot more genuine, a lot less forced, and even though you wouldn’t necessarily think so, a lot more original. I find it hard to believe that someone could love Van Damme’s films so strenuously and not have the same respect for what Seagal did during the same era. Also, three out of four of the Van Damme films screening are decidedly bad. (Where’s Timecop? Where’s Sudden Death?)

    Also, and perhaps most importantly, I believe that film criticism should be fun and something everyone can get excited by, and I think many of Van Damme’s critical defenders are coming from a place of ironic detachment and not from a critical perspective.

    Want to know more? Ask away. Or better yet, come on out to the critical throwdown.


    For #TeamVanDamme

    VERSUS CRITIC: Calum Marsh | Van Damme vs Seagal | 2014
    by TIFF via YouTube
    My name is Calum Marsh, and I am a freelance essayist and critic born in Great Britain and based in Toronto. I am a contributing film critic at the National Post in Toronto and the Village Voice in New York, and my writings on other subjects have appeared in such periodicals as the New Yorker, the Atlantic, the Paris Review and Playboy magazine. Beginning on November 11th I will be representing Jean-Claude Van Damme in the inaugural edition of TIFF's new Versus series. 

    I've been a fan of Jean-Claude Van Damme's for many years, and I'm excited to talk about his work before an audience at such an illustrious venue. I imagine many of JCVD's admirers were introduced to his early films on home video or cable TV, so it will be a real treat indeed to see them projected theatrically. 

    Van Damme made his motion picture debut at a time when martial artists were often asked to appear in action movies for their physicality. In his early films, especially, it's abundantly clear that he is an athlete rather than an actor, but part of the appeal for me is that despite his inexperience, he has what critics often call "presence". There's an earnestness to Van Damme's nonprofessional performances -- a sort of wide-eyed approach to making movies that I've always found very endearing. That's the quality of Van Damme's work that most excites me, and I hope that audiences come out to enjoy that too. 

    To vote for your favourite combatant, visit our Live VERSUS page
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