5/17/2018

Mommy Issues Haunt 'The Child Remains'

The Child Remains
(Canada, 107 min.)
Written and directed by Michael Melski
Starring: Suzanne Clément, Allan Hawco, Shelley Thompson
Allan Hawco and Suzanne Clément in The Child Remains
Suzanne Clément checks into the East Coast branch of the Bates’ Motel in The Child Remains. The Mommy star encounters mommy issues at a creepy B&B in Nova Scotia, but they’re more of the Gus Van Sant variety than the Alfred Hitchcock pedigree. Despite an eerie setting and an earnest attempt to provide old-school horror on a shoestring budget, The Child Remains struggles to chill. Yelp reviews are often more terrifying.


Cannes Review: 'The Gentle Indifference of the World'

The Gentle Indifference of the World
(Kazakhstan/France, 100 min.)
Dir. Adilkhan Yerzhanov, Writ. Adilkhan Yerzhanov, Roelof Jan Minneboo
Starring: Dinara Baktybayeva, Kuandyk Dyussembayev  
Adilkhan Yerzhanov, Dinara Baktybayeva, Kuandyk Dyussembayev
Courtesy Cannes
As if that blind rage had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myself…I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again.
-Albert Camus, The Stranger


4/20/2018

Hot Docs Coverage at POV!

Apologies for the radio silence! We've been busy with Hot Docs preparations at POV including the new issue, which features a snazzy redesign and...baby's first cover story! Pick up a copy to read about new Hot Docs features like Grant Baldwin's This Mountain Life and Shasha Nakhai's Take Light, as well as picks for the hottest films from the first 25 years of Hot Docs.

Coverage:

-Food for Thought: Maya Gallus's The Heat - Chatting with the director of Hot Docs' opening night film about female chefs breaking through a male-dominated field.

-A Song of Reconciliation: The Power of Gurrumul - Director Paul Williams and producer Shannon Swan discuss their film about the late Australian singer.

-"Rocky Mountain High: Grant Baldwin's The Mountain Life" - Be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the mountains in this visually stunning trek with a mother-daughter duo.

-"Ain't that America: The Films of Barbara Kopple" - a look at the career of Barbara Kopple, this year's Outstanding Achievement Retrospective subject at Hot Docs. She's easily my favourite documentary filmmaker. Harlan County, USA is my pick for the best doc ever made.

-"An Acadian Tragedy: Samara Chadwick's 1999": chatted with director Samara Chadwick about her haunting film that returns to her high school in Moncton, New Brunswick, which saw a wave of suicides at the eve of the new Millennium.

- "Tube Stakes: Michael Sparaga's United We Fan": Director Michael Sparaga discusses his film about passionate TV fans who campaign to save their favourite shows.

Reviews:
-The American Meme
-Andy Irons: Kissed by God
-Anote's Ark
-Bathtubs Over Broadway
-Call Her Ganda
-Constructing Albert  
-Don't Be Nice
-Eternity Never Surrendered
-Grit
-Harvest Moon
-The Heat
-I Used to Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story
-Letter from Masanjia
-Love, Gilda 
-McQueen 
-Netizens
-On Her Shoulders
-Pick of the Litter
-Playing Hard
-The Reckoning: Hollywood's Worst Kept Secret
-Shorts: Prince's Tale and Turning Tables
-Snowbirds
-The Strange Sound of Happiness
-Witkin & Witkin

4/02/2018

'Boost': Between the Tiles of the Mosaic

Boost
(Canada, 95 min.)
Written and directed by Darren Curtis
Starring: Nabil Rajo, Jahmil French, Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine, Oluniké Adeliyi, Fanny Mallette, Brent Skagford, Théo Pellerin
Boost Darren Curtis
Screenie winner Nabil Rajo stars as Hakeem
One of my guilty pleasure when it comes to cheap Canadian cinema nobody’s heard of is Darren Curtis and Pat Kiely’s cracked-out and ridiculous comedy Who is KK Downey? A wonderful discovery at the 2008 Kingston Canadian Film Festival that some of my friends still cite as a reason why they won’t see Canadian films with me, KK Downey is a riotously silly parody of faux-author JT LeRoy who gained fame by penning a bestseller allegedly based on a previous life as a truck stop hustler. It’s a hoot largely due to its madcap direction and to Curtis’s fearlessly looney performance as the privileged white guy who crafts a story of oppression to sell his shitty book.


3/22/2018

Doggy Style

Isle of Dogs
(USA, 101 min.)
Written and directed by Wes Anderson
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Koyu Rankin, Liev Schreiber, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Bob Balaban, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Courtney B. Vance, F. Murray Abraham, Yoko Ono
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Give Wes Anderson a bone! His latest film Isle of Dogs is pooch perfection. Even a die-hard cat person will fall head over heels in love with this movie and leave the theatre doing little back flips whilst yapping for joy.


3/11/2018

Canadian Screen Award Film Winners (In Progress)

Sally Hawkins stars in Maudie
Mongrel Media
Maudie leads this year's Canadian Screen Awards haul with seven honours. The Canadian-Irish co-production scooped the Best Picture prize along with honours for UK-based director Aisling Walsh. Brit Sally Hawkins won a well-deserved Best Actress award for her astonishing transformation as folk painter Maud Lewis, who suffered from crippling arthritis. Hawkins' impeccable performance added to a great contribution to Canadian film by the actress, who starred in this year's Best Picture Oscar winner The Shape of Water, which was shot in Toronto and Hamilton. Maudie also scored an acting gong for Ethan Hawke, who really should have won last year too for his performance as Chet Baker in the biopic Born to Be Blue.


Canadian Screen Awards Preview: Picks and Foolish Predictions

Brigitte Poupart in Les affamés - the only Best Picture nominee that's truly excellent
Emmanuel Crombez / Les Films Séville
The Canadian Screen Awards are tonight and it’s an evening to quietly celebrate a so-so year in Canadian film. The roster of nominees indicates that the nomination committees went out of their way to find a diverse group of contenders and unearthed some buried nuggets, but few of these films screened theatrically and some of them barely made a peep on the festival circuit. A lot of the best Canadian work was short changed. The blink-and-you’ll-miss-it qualifying runs don’t help much either when it comes to giving audiences a chance to see the films. Canadian television seems to be picking up steam with Schitt's Creek and Alias Grace expanding their wow factors beyond the land of the maple leaf, but our films are struggling.


3/10/2018

Doesn't Stir the Heart

The Heart is What Dies Last (C’est le cœur qui meurt en dernier)
(Canada, 105 min.)
Dir. Alexis Durand-Brault, Writ. Gabriel Sabourin
Starring: Gabriel Sabourin, Denise Filiatrault, Paul Doucet, Geneviève Rioux, Céline Bonnier, Sophie Lorain
Denise Filiatrault in The Heart is What Dies Last
Les Films Séville
This year’s totally random Canadian Screen Award nominee for Best Picture is The Heart is What Dies Last. It’s titled less awkwardly as C’est le coeur quit meurt en dernier in its native français, but presenters probably won’t be stumbling over syntax while ripping open the envelopes. It’s a fine, decently acted drama, but nothing to make the heart stir.

3/08/2018

Henderson Doesn't Miss a Beat

Never Steady, Never Still
(Canada, 112 min.)
Written and directed by Kathleen Hepburn
Starring: Shirley Henderson, Théodore Pellerin, Mary Galloway, Nicholas Campbell, Jared Abrahamson, Lorne Cardinal
Kathleen Hepburn Never Steady Never Still
Shirley Henderson stars as Judy in Never Steady, Never Still
Shirley Henderson, the actress with the squeaky voice, is a tremendous force in Never Steady, Never Still. This debut feature from Kathleen Hepburn gives the British actress an outstanding lead role as Judy, a woman living in oil country, BC, who experiences a tragic illness because of contamination from the fields. Judy suffers from crippling tremors having lived with Parkinson’s disease for twenty years and Henderson finds in the character the same empathy and strength that Sally Hawkins brought to her performance as severely arthritic painter Maud Lewis in Maudie. The physical power of this performance is incredible, but the emotional might is even greater.


3/05/2018

Safe, but Sound: Thoughts on Last Night's Oscars


“This is a really long show,” said Jimmy Kimmel while introducing last night’s Academy Awards broadcast. Kimmel started on the wrong note. The Oscars never seemed to end, but the duration wasn’t the problem. The monotony was. I could barely hear much of the show at the Oscar party I attended, and after a while, that wasn’t a bad thing because the banter in the room was often much livelier than the telecast. There wasn’t any big hiccup in the show, yet Kimmel kept apologizing and asking folks to move it along when he had no reason to say sorry. The absence of Envelopegate 2 stressed a big takeaway from the evening: safe doesn’t make for great TV.

3/04/2018

Oscar Party: Menu and Playlist

The ballots are printed, the predictions are set, and the red carpet is ready! A laid back atmosphere can make or break any good Oscar party as friends become rivals when battle lines are drawn between Three Billboards, Lady Bird, and Get Out. (Anyone without a stake in the race should take a bathroom break during Best Original Screenplay.) Help create a cozy and convivial mood with some themed Oscar noms for this year’s contenders. Draw out the finer points of the films over bubbly and have a good laugh: tonight’s for celebrating.

3/01/2018

Oscar Predictions: Final Round - Will Win/Should Win

Billboards, Lady Bird, Darkest Hour, The Post, The Shape of Water, and I, Tonya
For every ‘yup’ there’s a ‘but.’ This year’s Best Picture race is an unlikely field. Some major stat looks to be broken since all the contenders have a bit of baggage that decreases the odds of a confident win. Get ready for the Oscars to break the Internet on Sunday night! Awards season ends its six-month grind of toxic mudslinging on March 4th when either Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri or The Shape of Water takes Best Picture. It’s a tight race with Get Out, Dunkirk, and Lady Bird having adoring fans, and after last year’s crazy finale, the memory of #OscarsSoWhite, the shadow of Harvey Weinstein, the stench of Donald Trump, and the energy of #TimesUp, it feels as if there are many factors percolating with the usual stats and precursors. With an open mind, let’s look at who will win and should win in the top categories!


2/23/2018

'Les affamés' is the Best Canadian Horror Film in Years

Les affamés (The Ravenous)
(Canada, 96 min.)
Written and directed by Robin Aubert
Starring: Marc-André Grondin, Monia Chokri, Charlotte St-Martin, Micheline Lanctôt, Brigitte Poupart, Marie-Ginette Guay, Robert Brouillette
Robin Aubert's Les affames (The Ravenous)
Marc-André Grondin in Les affamés
Emmanuel Crombez / Les Films Séville
Some call it home and others call it cottage country, but what often draws one to the rural regions of Canada is the silence. The quiet and leafy countryside can be an idyllic reminder of a way of life that seems forgotten in the fast-paced and impersonal cities to which everyone flocks. There’s something truly beautiful, however, about sitting back and watching the sunset over grassy plains rather than through tightly packed condos, smelling pine-scented air rather than carcinogenic smog, or being in a neighbourhood where people wave rather than accuse randomly you of offending them. The sound of silence rather than the din of traffic. This image of “Canada” doesn’t really fit the cultural imagination anymore, but it hasn’t died away.

2/22/2018

The Family that Slays Together

Mom and Dad
(USA, 83 min.)
Written and directed by Brian Taylor
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Selma Blair, Anne Winters, Zackary Arthur, Robert Cunningham  
Nicolas 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.


2/20/2018

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: