Canuck Classic 'The Luck of Ginger Coffey' Screens on 35mm

Canadian film fans in the National Capital will want to check out Lost Dominion’ Screening Collective’s screening of The Luck of Ginger Coffey when it screens tomorrow night at The ByTowne in a rare 35mm presentation of a hidden gem. Ginger Coffey holds a place in Canadian film history as the 1964 winner for Best Feature at the Canadian Film Awards and as one of the most significant early works to start the conversation of what constitutes a “Canadian film” given its Canadian source material, production company, and setting along with its American director (Irvin Kershner, who went on to direct The Empire Strike Back) and foreign stars, most significantly Robert Shaw.


Cinemalinks: Weekly Reads

Lol, Furious 7 at the Oscars?
It’s been a busy two weeks since I last posted a link round-up, but there’s lots to review. The big topic in movieland is the impending decision from the Academy as it decides the fate of the Best Picture category. Will they revert back to five nominees? If so, does this mean we can finally agree that The Reader got in over The Dark Knight on merit??? Either way, this flexible 5-10 thing needs to go. A firm five or a firm ten, please!


IFFO Review: 'Song of the Sea'

Song of the Sea
(Ireland/Luxembourg/Belgium/France/Denmark, 93 min.)
Dir. Tomm Moore, Writ. Will Collins
Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Fionnula Flanagan, David Rawle, Pat Shrott, Jon Kenny
Come explore the world of Cartoon Saloon when the breathtaking animated feature Song of the Sea has its Ottawa premiere today at Irish Film Festival Ottawa. The film carries a nomination from this year’s Oscars, but it would have been a worthy winner. Song is Cartoon Saloon’s latest animated feature following 2010’s equally beautiful The Secret of Kells, and if the animation world worries about a dearth of classically-composed animation given the uncertain forecast of Studio Ghibli, then Song of the Sea shows that this Irish animation house could be the future of the art form. It’s simply one of the enjoyable and most visually striking animated films in some time.

RAFF Review: 'Patron Saint'

Patron Saint
(Canada, 71 min.)
Written and directed by Michael Kainer
Various interviewees in the documentary Patron Saint refer to subject Dr. Janusz Dukszta as “vain.” Other interviewees call him “eccentric,” “narcissistic,” “a force,” "a patron of the arts," and “a closet altruist.” A man such as Dr. Dukszta embodies the facets of all these characteristics: when one has almost one hundred portraits of oneself painted over fifty years, one needs to be a little bit crazy, a little bit vain, and a little bit passionate about supporting the arts.


Win Tickets to 'While We're Young' in Toronto and Vancouver! (CONTEST CLOSED)

Life goes by so fast! Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) returns with While We’re Young, starring Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts, in mature portrait of youth and marriage. The film opens beginning April 3rd from Elevation Pictures, but if you want to attend a sneak peek in Toronto or Vancouver, you are in luck! Answer the trivia below to win tickets!

RAFF Review: 'Cartoonists: Footsoldiers of Democracy'

Cartoonists: Footsoldiers of Democracy? (Caricaturists, fantassins de la démocraties?)
(France, 106 min.)
Dir. Stéphanie Valloatto, Writ. Radu Mihaileanu, Stéphanie Valloatto
Plantu - Cartoonists: Footsoldiers of Democracy
The January 2015 murder of satirical cartoonist Stéphane ‘Charb’ Charbonnier arguably makes Cartoonists: Footsoldiers of Democracy? more relevant to audiences than it was when it premiered at Cannes back in 2014. #JeSuisCharlie might not be trending anymore now that the masses have turned their attention to the latest cause, One Direction, but the outcry over Charbonnier’s death and the deaths of his colleagues at the Charlie Hebdo headquarters makes this documentary an urgent essay for anyone who cares about free speech.


Queen Liz & King John: Long May They Reign.

Queen & Country
(Ireland/France/Romania, 115 min.)
Written and directed by John Boorman
Starring: Callum Turner, Caleb Landry Jones, David Thewlis, Richard E. Grant, Tamsin Egerton, Brian F. O’Byrne.
Shortly after watching Queen & Country, I hit up the Google to see the year in which Queen Elizabeth II became as Britain’s sovereign. By some fortunate timing, the folks at The Telegraph had just posted a lengthy essay debating whether England should through a roaring party to commemorate the Queen. It turns out that this year marks a landmark for the Queen, for Liz seems poised to become the longest reigning monarch in the nation’s history. Odds are she’ll make it since she’s in excellent health.

Irish Film Festival Ottawa Launches this Weekend!

Song of the Sea
Get ready to say “Top of the morning!” to a new film festival when the Irish Film Festival Ottawa launches this weekend. The inaugural IFFO brings a range of films from the Emerald Isla to the 613 including the local premiere of the Oscar-nominated animated feature Song of the Sea, which is easily the must-see film of the line-up. The event also includes Skype Q&As with the directors of Good Vibrations, The Pipe and The Bachelor Weekend following their respective screenings. Screenings happen at the Arts Court Theatre and run from March 27-29.


Reel Artists Film Fest Kicks Off with 'Beltracchi'

Beltracchi: The Art of Forgery
(Germany, 93 min.)
Dir. Arne Birkenstock
“You don’t have to be a genius to do a painting like that,” says painter Wolfgang Beltracchi as he observes one of his own beautiful canvasses hanging on his studio wall.  Beltracchi is a virtuoso with his paintbrush, but he also happens to be a master forger. Anyone can paint a Max Ernst, he implies as he looks upon the “Max Ernst” painting of his own creation. As for whether Beltracchi is a painterly genius or a true artist is another matter, though, as Beltracchi: The Art of Forgery paints an ingenious portrait of the way we perceive art. Beltracchi opens Toronto’s Reel Artists Film Festival on Thursday, and it’s bound to stimulate a healthy debate over what constitutes “real art.” The film provocatively asks if artistic genius resides in technique or in inspiration.


Contest! Win Tickets to See 'Woman in Gold' Across Canada!

An unlikely pair changes history in the true story of Woman in Gold, which is the latest film from director Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn). Woman in Gold makes its own kind of history as it stars the unlikely pair of Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds as elderly Jewish refugee Maria Altmann and her keen young lawyer, Randy Schoneberg. Woman in Gold opens in theatres on April 3 from +eOne Films, but if you want to attend a sneak peek across Canada, you are in luck! Answer the trivia below for your chance to win tickets!


The Best Canadian Films of the Decade so Far

Stories We Tell, Incendies, Mommy, and Barney's Version are some of Canada's best films.
Now that the Oscars and the Canadian Screen Awards have passed, it’s time to survey the field of films that this decade has offered so far. I think that the current decade offers a promising trajectory for Canadian films. Canadian films seem to have enjoyed a significant growth in terms of quality, reach, and exposure in the past five years. It’s easier to find a good Canadian film than ever whether it’s on Netflix, iTunes, the token screen at the movie theatre, or at a red carpet event at TIFF.


Two Ottawa Projects Compete in CineCoup

The second year of CineCoup is underway! CineCoup, the latest variation on crowdsourcing, draws audiences into the filmmaking process from the beginning by inviting them to judge the films they’d most like to see in theatres. The contest puts filmmakers through the gamut of the film biz by challenging them to pre-production missions that pitch their projects to the public. The winner gets up to one million in production financing and a release in Cineplex theatres, and the added bonus of a ready-made audience eager to see the film.


Oscar's Animated Shorts Come to Town!

Feast, winner of the Oscar for Best Animated Short
The days are getting longer, but the films are getting shorter! Maybe the extra brightness is just the golden sheen of Oscar reflecting off the shorts screening in the Oscar-nominated Animated Shorts package. The top dog here, of course, is the well-deserved winner Feast (Dir. Patrick Osborne; USA, 6 min.), which scored five stars from this blog back when it screened at the Ottawa International Animation Festival. Feast is a worthy winner for the category because it beautifully brings to life the simple concept of people coming together through food with the help of an adorable and beautifully rendered dog named Winston, who grows and acquires more sophisticated taste as the years go on. Feast is one of the best shorts that Disney animation has ever made. As I said back at OIAF:


Sean Penn, Humanitarian Killing Machine

The Gunman
(Spain/UK/France 115 min.)
Dir. Pierre Morel, Writ. Don MacPherson, Pete Travis, Sean Penn
Starring: Sean Penn, Idris Elba, Ray Winstone, Mark Rylance, Jasmine Trinca, and Javier Bardem.

Sean Penn wades into Liam Neeson territory in the ultraviolent new humanitarian revenge thriller and The Gunman. The humanitarian revenge thriller is a strange genre. A do-gooder with a sniper and sweet biceps works on wells as his day job and pumps lead into the machete-wielding and corporate suits by night? That’s weird. A lack of genetic compatibility offers a least one reason for which Craig Kielburger and Arnold Schwarzenegger will never have a child.


Echoing the Mockingjay

The Divergent Series: Insurgent
(USA, 119 min.)
Dir. Robert Schwentke, Writ. Brian Duffield, Akiva Goldsman, Mark Bomback
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Ansel Elgort, Miles Teller, Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer.
Theo James as Four and Shailene Woodley as Tris in The Divergent Series: Insurgent.
eOne Films.

It’s once more unto the breach for Young Adult fiction. The Divergent series continues with Insurgent, which is a mostly satisfying second instalment of the series based on the books by Veronica Roth. This film sometimes improves on its predecessor now that all the exposition is out of the way—Divergent lays a lot of groundwork—but the fast-paced Insurgent requires full knowledge of the film that came before it. Brush up on why Tris (Shailene Woodley) and company live in a world divided into Factions—Candor, Erudite, Dauntless, Amity, and Abnegation—and you’ll be fine. Tris, a renegade Divergent who embodies the qualities of multiple Factions, is poised to lead the revolution against the oppressive forces of social determination.