The Family that Slays Together

Mom and Dad
(USA, 83 min.)
Written and directed by Brian Taylor
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Selma Blair, Anne Winters, Zackary Arthur, Robert Cunningham  
Nicholas Cage and Selma Blair star in Mom and Dad
VVS Films
Why would anyone have kids? They whine. They’re messy. They’re expensive. They’re noisy. They completely consume one’s life and one’s identity. These points could all be positives provided one’s the paternal/maternal type and/or up for a challenge. If not, kids might be one-way tickets to crazy town. Having just raised a kitten, I don’t know how or why people do it when it comes to human children.


Memo to the Academy: For Your Consideration

Oscar voters should consider Margot Robbie, Dunkirk, Christopher Plummer,
The Post, On Body and Soul, and The Breadwinner

Oscar ballots are in the mail! February 20th marks the beginning of the final round of voting for this year’s Academy Awards race. Best Picture still looks to be a nail-biter with The Shape of Water and Three Billboards going neck-and-neck and their distributor Fox Searchlight laughing all the way to the bank, while the four acting categories look locked for Gary Oldman, Frances McDormand, Allison Janney, and Sam Rockwell. But last year’s upset proves that no frontrunner is secure, so let’s send the annual memo to the Academy with cases to be made for some of this year’s most worthy contenders:


TIFF Next Wave Review: 'Fake Tattoos'

Fake Tattoos (Les faux tatouages)
(Canada, 87 min.)
Written and directed by Pascale Plante
Starring: Anthony Therrien, Rose-Marie Perrault                            
Courtesy of TIFF
Fake Tattoos is the real deal. This raw and intimate film from Pascale Plante deserves to be in the spotlight. It’s easily the best feature dramatic debut from the Canadian circuit in 2017 and director Pascale Plante shows the most overall finesse in fusing the authenticity of style with storytelling. This rugged and easygoing love story is Once meets Nuit #1 for the indie rock crowd. It’s Sleeping Giant for people who came of age in grungy concerts or in their bedrooms listening to music on late summer nights instead of getting to bask in the sunlight of cottage country. Find love and lose it in the freeing summers of youth with this bittersweet number that pulses with passion, adrenaline, and pain.


In Between: Lives of Girls and Women in Tel Aviv

In Between (Bar Bahar)
(Israel/France, 103 min.)
Written and directed by Maysaloun Hamoud
Starring: Mouna Hawa, Sana Jammelieh, Shaden Kanboura, Henry Andrawes, Mahmud Shalaby
Discover a voice in writer/director Maysaloun Hamoud. Her feature debut In Between is a welcome drama about Arab women negotiating love and independence within a male-dominated society. Set in the Arab quarters of Israel, In Between presents three women who are outsiders among outsiders in a world wrestling with change. It’s a bold and funny tale of female friendship and women’s rights.


TIFF Next Wave Review: 'High Fantasy'

High Fantasy
(South Africa/Luxembourg, 71 min.)
Dir. Jenna Bass
Starring: Qondiswa James, Nala Khumalo, Francesca Varrie Michel, Liza Scholtz
Qondiswa James, Nala Khumalo, Francesca Varrie Michel, Liza Scholtz
Courtesy of TIFF
The concept of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes is getting a bit worn in the heel. Why not try something bigger, like wearing someone else’s pants, (clean) undies, or skin?  


Blu-Ray Review: 'All I See Is You'

All I See Is You
(USA, 109 min.)
Dir. Marc Forster, Writ.
Starring: Blake Lively, Jason Clarke, Ahna O’Reilly, Miquel Fernández, Danny Houston, Wes Chatham
Blake Lively and Jason Clarke star in All I See Is You
VVS Films
Jason Clarke is a sad sight in All I See Is You. One has to hand it to an actor for letting his mug be the face of disappointment as James, the pathetic and controlling husband in this new drama from Marc Forster (World War Z). Just look at the blank reaction of James’s wife, Gina (Blake Lively), when she regains her sight for the first time in their marriage. The film introduces Gina as she makes love to James, whom she imagines as a hunky Latin lover delighting her amidst a CGI orgy of bodies writhing in a kaleidoscopic field of fantasies. Then, when she opens her eyes and sees her husband for the first time, Gina wears a vague expression that reads, “I married this?”


Oscar Live Action Shorts: Not a Stinker in the Bunch

My Nephew Emmett
Courtesy of TIFF
It often happens that the five Oscar nominees for Best Animated Short are significantly stronger than their live action counterparts are. Such is not the case this year. While there is an air of familiarity to the quintet of nominees for Best Live Action Short, this year’s Oscar contenders are a solid group. There isn’t a stinker in the bunch.

Oscar Animated Shorts: 'Negative Space' for Gold!

Negative Space
What a delightful crop of films one finds among this year’s Oscar nominees for Best Animated Short! These five films illustrate a spectrum of animation techniques and styles, so picking a winner is no easy feat and, to some extent, simply a matter of taste. From hand-drawn sketches of life to a 3D gong show and from a personal stop-motion fable to a dark reimagining of nursery rhymes, there’s something for everyone in this field of contenders. Add the novelty of the phrase “Academy Award nominee Kobe Bryant,” and a ticket for the programme is money well spent.


'Permission': On the Town

(USA, 96 min.)
Written and directed by Brian Crano
Starring: Rebecca Hall, Dan Stevens, Morgan Spector, David Joseph Craig, François Arnaud, Gina Gershon, Jason Sudeikis
Dan Stevens Rebecca Hall
Dan Stevens and Rebecca Hall in Permission
Pacific Northwest Pictures
There’s a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode somewhere to which Anna (Rebecca Hall) and Will (Dan Stevens) could have been referred. That episode sees Cheryl give Larry an odd birthday present in the form of her permission to sleep with another woman. Anyone with a subscription to HBO could draw from Larry’s experience and tell Anna and/or Will a four-word relationship survival guide: just don’t do it.


Talking 'Entanglement' with Director Jason James

Did an interview with month with director Jason James (That Burning Feeling) on the new Vancouver-shot dramedy Entanglement. Read a chat in Beatroute (or pick up a copy if you're in Vancouver!) to learn more about James's approach to research, creating the worlds of his characters, and finding the right pieces of the city to bring the film to life.


The New Almódovar?

A Fantastic Woman (Una mujer fantástica)
(Chile/Germany/Spain/USA, 104 min.)
Dir. Sebastían Lelio, Writ. Sebastían Lelio, Gonzalo Maza
Starring: Daniela Vega, Francisco Reyes, Luis Genecco, Aline Küppenheim, Nicholás Saavedra
una mujer fantastica daniela vega
Daniela Vega in A Fantastic Woman
Is Sebastían Lelio the new Pedro Almódovar? The Chilean director already met the Spanish auteur by giving praise to older women in 2013’s festival hit Gloria, but he matches the master filmmaker’s intoxicating visual sense and sensitivity to queer stories with the outstanding new drama A Fantastic Woman. The film, produced by various hands behind Jackie, Spotlight and Toni Erdmann, is a worthy nominee for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Oscars and its Almódovar-esque passion is bound to satiate film buffs hungry for another hit from the Spanish director. The film proves Lelio to be one of international art cinema’s next auteurs.


'The Insult' Navigates a Minefield

The Insult (L’insulte)
(Lebanon/France, 112 min.)
Written and directed by Ziad Doueiri
Starring: Abdel Karam, Kamel El Basha, Camille Salamé, Christine Choueiri
Cohen Media Group
The Insult is a nominee for Best Foreign Language Film this year and come March 4th it could be the winner. Lebanon’s contender The Insult is a thrilling, gripping, and thought-provoking essay on collective trauma and letting go. The film is both a riveting courtroom drama and a powerful moral fable as writer/director Ziad Doueiri constructs a taut grudge match packed tight like a bomb. There are shards of hate and prejudice wedged deeply within the explosive that threatens to go off at any moment, and this volatile thriller dexterously defuses the bomb. Breathe a sigh of relief and let old wounds heal.


A Heaping Plate of WTF

All You Can Eat Buddha
(Canada, 88 min.)
Written and directed by Ian Lagarde
Starring: Sylvio Arriola, Ludovic Berthillot, Yaite Ruiz, David La Haye, Alexander Guerrero
Ian Lagarde serves a heaping plate of WTF in All You Can Eat Buddha. The film marks Lagarde’s first feature as a director after helming a handful of shorts and serving as cinematographer on a variety of projects including Denis Côté’s Vic + Flo Saw a Bear. All You Can Eat Buddha fits the context of Lagarde’s greater filmography since it’s staged and delivered with the sparsity and economy of a short work with dense and rich visuals. This strange beast needs a while to digest.


The Good, the Bad, and the 'Jane' Snub: Thoughts on the Oscar Nominations

The Shape of Water leads the nominations
There was a little something for everyone as Oscar voters shared the wealth today. Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water led the nominations with 13 citations including Best Picture. The top category had nine spots this year and once again fell short of filling out the potential tenth Best Picture berths. If it didn’t happen this year, it’s probably never going to be a full house. The other films that landed with The Shape of Water in the Best Picture race were Dunkirk (woohoo!), Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri, Darkest Hour, Call Me By Your Name, Lady Bird, Get Out, Phantom Thread, and the film that had me on edge throughout the nominations, The Post.


Oscar Predictions: Round 3 - Five Categories with Women to Watch

Clockwise from top: On Body and Soul; I, Tonya; Unrest, Mudbound, First They Killed My Father, The Beguiled
What a year, what a year. A lot had happened since we last checked in on the Oscars. And I mean, a lot.