You Can Dress a Girl Up...

The Dressmaker
(Australia, 118 min.)
Dir. Jocelyn Moorhouse, Writ. PJ Hogan, Jocelyn Moorhouse
Starring: Kate Winslet, a Hemsworth, Judy Davis, Hugo Weaving, Sarah Snook
Kate Winslet stars as Myrtle 'Tilly' Dunnage in The Dressmaker, an Entertainment One release.

You can dress a girl up, but you can’t take her to the Outback. Kate Winslet gives a feisty performance as voluptuous Aussie seamstress Myrtle ‘Tilly’ Dunnage in the dark comedy The Dressmaker. Winslet is a hoot as the she-devil from Down Under in this oddball film from Jocelyn Moorhouse. When Winslet arrives dressed in Tilly’s best, smoking a cigarette like a femme fatale and taking in the fictional Podunk town of Dungatar, she’s the catalyst for a zany fish-out-of-water comedy. This film is completely out to lunch and is an absolute riot if one goes along with its eccentric style. It’s the hottest mess of the season.

Ottawa International Animation Festival Announces Award Winners

I Like Girls. Courtesy of the NFB
The Ottawa International Animation Festival has announced its winners for 2016. On the 40th birthday of Ottawa’s top festival and the largest animation showcase in North America, OIAF fêted a nice contingent of Canadian films with Canuck flicks earning both top jury prizes. (I had planned to attend this year, but wasn’t able to make it, unfortunately, due to various commitments/unexpected hitches.)


Canada Sends 'It's Only the End of the World' to the Oscars

Gaspard Ulliel in Xavier Dolan's It's Only the End of the World.
Shane Laverdière, courtesy of eOne Films.
Canada is sending Xavier Dolan to the Oscars once again! In an announcement made today via Facebook livestream, Telefilm Canada honcho Carole Brabant confirmed that Dolan’s It’s Only the End of the World would be our official submission to the Oscars in the category of Best Foreign Language Film. (Read the Cinemablographer review of It’s Only the End of the World here.) The event arguably the largest international platform to expose a Canadian film to audiences worldwide and the selection was decided by the Pan-Canadian committee of industry peers chaired by Telefilm. 

It’s Only the End of the World marks the third time that a film by the 27-year-old director has represented Canada in the Oscar race after his 2009 debut I Killed My Mother and 2014 hit Mommy, which was a surprise omission from the December shortlist. Other submissions this year include My Life as a Courgette (Switzerland), Very Big Shot (Lebanon) , Port of Call (Hong Kong), The Age of Shadows (South Korea), Eva Nova (Slovakia), and frontrunner Toni Erdmann (Germany).

'Leave Ottawa'

Words of wisdom from Nepean homegirl Sandra Oh:


TIFF 2016: Festival Wrap-Up and Picks for 'Best of the Fest'

Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves.
Courtesy of TIFF
That’s a wrap for the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival! TIFF ended its biggest, loudest, and most energetic edition yet in the years I’ve been attending. The quality of films was up overall with few of the titles I attended or screened failing to deliver. There’s a lot of chatter and the volume of industry is deafening, but TIFF is still a great cultural experience if one can tune out the noise and enjoy the embarrassment of riches.

TIFF Review: 'Arrival'

(USA, 116 min.)
Dir. Denis Villeneuve, Writ. Eric Heisserer
Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker
Programme: Galas (Canadian Premiere)
Courtesy of TIFF

One must hand it to Denis Villeneuve. The best Canadian director working in the movies today hasn’t lost his touch since moving away from his home and native land. Arrival marks Villeneuve’s third Hollywood film after Prisoners and the superior Sicario, and it’s both his biggest and best work since grabbing international attention with Canada’s Oscar nominee Incendies. The unique voice that Villeneuve developed in his Canadian work, however, infiltrates every frame of Arrival as the film evokes the visual power, emotional rawness, and speculative thrill of his previous works. Arrival has echoes of Enemy in the octopussy aliens that recall the spindly web of this 2013 mind-game and there are even shades of his gothic buffet Next Floor in the dark allegorical layers of this far-out world. Working on his biggest canvas yet, Villeneuve stretches his talents to their full potential: It’s the best mainstream film so far this year.

TIFF Reviews: 'Moonlight', 'Paris Can Wait', 'Okafor's Law'

Capsule catch-up continues with a trio of diverse love stories:

(USA, 110 min.)
Written and directed by Barry Jenkins
Starring: Trevante Rhodes, Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Ashton Sanders, André Holland, Janelle Monáe
Programme: Platform (International Premiere)
Courtesy of TIFF

Moonlight shines with understated passion. This sophomore feature from writer/director Barry Jenkins (Medicine for Melancholy) is a film of quiet power. This visually arresting film offers a Miami awash with colour as Jenkins harnesses the glow of the city in compositions of stark, poetic realism.

TIFF Review: 'Frantz'

(France/Germany, 113 min.)
Written and directed by François Ozon
Starring: Paula Beer, Pierre Niney, Marie Gruber, Ernst Stötzner
Programme: Special Presentations (Canadian Premiere)
Courtesy of TIFF

Viva la Frantz! This new work from French master François Ozon (In the House, The New Girlfriend) showcases the director at his atmospheric best. Frantz is an anomaly from the titillating tales of the Ozon oeuvre, as his work tends to focus on the dark seeds of debauchery that exist within us all, but the film carries numerous marks of the director as subtle pangs of longing and desire waft through this finely-sketched period drama. This historical tale has the trappings of a ghost story as grieving widow Anna (Paula Beer in a heartbreaking performance) recovers from the loss of her husband Frantz during the Great War. But when Adrien (Pierre Niney), a teary-eyed Frenchman, arrives to pay his respects at the grave of Anna’s deceased German husband, the stranger reopens wounds between the two nations that are only beginning to heal in the aftermath of war.

TIFF Review: 'Nelly'

(Canada, 101 min.)
Written and directed by Anne Émond
Starring: Mylène Mackay, Mylia Corbeil-Gavreau, Mickaël Gouin, Francis Leplay
Programme: Vanguard (World Premiere)
Courtesy Les Films Séville
Anne Émond’s Nelly will haunt you. The director of Nuit #1 and Les êtres chers returns with her most provocative film yet. Nelly brings together themes and tendencies of Émond’s previous films in a singular work as she envisions an avant-garde biography of late writer Nelly Arcan in a dark, tempestuous illustration of the author’s fractured psyche. It’s a hypnotic portrait of a complicated and elusive figure.

Contest! Win Tickets to See 'Masterminds' Across Canada!

New from the director of Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre comes Masterminds. This laugh-out-loud action-comedy stars Zach Galiafianakis and Kristen Wiig as a pair of harebrained criminals who undertake a foolhardy heist plan. Masterminds opens Friday, Sept. 30 from eOne Films, and Cinemablographer has tickets to sneak peeks around Canada! Answer the trivia below for your chance to win a tickets!

TIFF Reviews: 'Maudie', 'Age of Shadows', 'Jesus'

Catching up on coverage with some capsule reviews! First up: Can-con, an Oscar contender, and one unfortunate blight on this year’s programming.

(Canada/Ireland, 115 min.)
Dir. Aisling Walsh, Writ. Sherry White
Starring: Sally Hawkins, Ethan Hawke
Programme: Special Presentations (Canadian Premiere)
Courtesy of TIFF


TIFF Review: 'Hello Destroyer'

Hello Destroyer
(Canada, 110 min.)
Written and directed by Kevan Funk
Starring: Jared Abrahamson
Programme: Discovery (World Premiere)
Courtesy of TIFF
Hello Destroyer introduces a promising new voice on the Canadian film scene with its tale of hockey hosers and angry young men. The film marks the feature debut of Kevan Funk after a string of shorts and while it doesn't always work and runs half an hour too long, it hints at a talent of great potential. Funk proves himself adept at speaking volumes without having his characters say much, or anything at all, as Tyson (Jared Abrahamson, one if this year’s TIFF Rising Stars) percolates with angst and energy. Hello Destroyer looks at the dark underside of Canada’s favourite pastime as Funk taps into the pervasive violence that many players and fans simply accept as part of the sport. The film puts the audience right into Tyson’s head as the inescapable machismo of hockey culture permeates him and alters his DNA. There’s only so long one can endure boot camp-like aggression without losing one’s grasp of the consequences that come with expressing one’s rage through brute force.

TIFF Review: 'Maliglutit (Searchers)'

Maliglutit (Searchers)
(Canada, 94 min.)
Dir. Zacharias Kunuk, Writ. Zacharias Kunuk, Norman Cohn
Starring: Benjamin Kunuk, Karen Ivalu, John Qunaq
Programme: Platform (World Premiere)
Courtesy of TIFF
The tables have turned on the western. The popular genre has roots in colonial power as it draws upon the myths of Manifest Destiny and American expansionism. The arid landscape of the frontier is a limitless space ready for settlers to cultivate and pillage. Progress comes at any cost and without concern for the people who built a relationship with the land long before the settlers’ arrival. The western frontier is therefore a hostile territory for Indigenous characters, best known as “savages” from the days of the early talkies, as the world of the western is no country for non-white men.


TIFF Review: 'The Edge of Seventeen'

The Edge of Seventeen
(USA, 102 min.)
Written and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig
Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgwick, Haley Lu Richardson, Blake Jenner, Hayden Szeto
Programme Galas – Closing Night Selection (World Premiere)
Courtesy VVS Films.

Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) learns the truth at seventeen. Love is for beauty queens, girls with clear-skinned smiles and all that. High school sucks. It’s miserable, awkward, and frustrating for a girl like Nadine who struggles to fit in at school in the shadow of her much cooler brother Darian (Blake Jenner). Darian loves working out so much that muscles ripple out of his V-necked shirts and make Nadine’s classmates swoon, but Nadine is still growing out of her Vote for Pedro haircut and finding her own style. Luckily, though, she has her BFF Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) who could easily have her pick of any girl in the school to be her wingman. Besties for life, these two are, in this comedy full of sass and humour.

TIFF Review: 'Nocturnal Animals'

Nocturnal Animals
(USA/UK, 116 min.)
Written and directed by Tom Ford
Starring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Karl Glusman, Armie Hammer, Laura Linney, Andrea Riseborough, Michael Sheen, Ellie Bamber
Programme: Special Presentations (North American Premiere)
Courtesy of TIFF
Tom Ford is in this season. The fashion designer turned filmmaker follows up his debut feature A Single Man with an equally fine cut of cinema. Thrilling, intoxicating, gruelling, and devastating, Nocturnal Animals proves Ford to be one of the best new voices in filmmaking today.