8/16/2018

Eggs Splattered on the Floor

Never Saw It Coming
(Canada, 83 min.)
Dir. Gail Harvey, Writ. Linwood Barclay
Starring: Emily Hampshire, Eric Roberts, Tamara Podemski, Shaun Benson, Katie Boland, Nick Serino
Emily Hampshire and Eric Roberts star in Never Saw It Coming
Keisha Ceylon is a small town charlatan. She moonlights as a psychic, helping families of the small snowy town of Sorrow Bay find their missing loved ones, but only after she gets their cash. Five grand nets a few easily plucked clues and everyone generally leaves the transaction happy.

Marky Mark and the Bloody Bunch

Mile 22
(USA, 95 min.)
Dir. Peter Berg; Writ. Lea Carpenter, Graham Roland (story)
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Lauren Cohan, John Malkovich, Iwo Uwais, Rhonda Rousey, Peter Berg
Mark Wahlberg stars in Mile 22
VVS Films
Mile 22 opens with a bang and doesn’t let up. Mark Wahlberg and company deliver high octane, heavy calibre entertainment playing a group of covert operatives on a dangerous mission to transport and protect a key witness. Mile 22 is a slick, swift, and energetic thrill ride. It is also relentlessly, savagely, and exhaustingly violent. The flick’s going to please its target audience, but I just don’t have the stomach for this kind of movie anymore.

8/09/2018

Talking 'Blindspotting' with Daveed Diggs

two guys in a convenience store
Daveed Diggs (right) stars in Blindspotting with Rafael Casal
VVS Films
New interview! Pick up a copy of BeatRoute if you’re in the Vancouver area this month to read a funchat with Daveed Diggs, the star and co-writer of the new urban drama Blindspotting. Diggs, who won a Tony and a Grammy for his work in the Broadway game-changer Hamilton, stars as Collin, an Oakland native who returns emerges from prison to see his city transformed in a state of rapid gentrification. It’s an urgent film, as Collin witnesses a police shooting of an unarmed Black man and navigates the deeply entrenched systems of inequality while trying to find middle ground between justice for his fallen brother and safety for his own life. With the beat of the city and the pulse of true poetry, Blindspotting is not to be missed.



8/01/2018

Xavier Dolan Steals TIFF's Canadian Conference (Again)

Jacob Tremblay in Xavier Dolan's The Death and Life of John F. Donovan
Jacob Tremblay in Xavier Dolan's The Death and Life of John F. Donovan Courtesy of TIFF
I tip my hat to Xavier Dolan! The Québécois wunderkind stole the TIFF Canadian press conference two years in a row with the same movie. TIFF Artistic Director Cameron Bailey pulled a rabbit out of his hat by making the surprise announcement that Dolan’s long-awaited English-language debut The Death and Life of John F. Donovan would World Premiere as a Special Presentation. The news was confirmed by the festival press office via a release sent immediately following the announcement.


TIFF Unveils CanCon for 2018: Arcand, Sweeney, Giroux headline dramatic front


Bruce Sweeney's Kingsway is among the notable Canadian premieres
TIFF
The TIFF Canadian line-up is and it’s…a bit underwhelming. There’s some good stuff, to be sure, like the documentaries including the World Premieres of Rob Stewart’s Sharkwater: Extinction and Igor Drljaca’s The Stone Speakers. (Readmore about the docs at POV.) But, beyond those titles, TIFF might have been smart to reserve some of the four Canadian films announced last week, like Patricia Rozema’s Moutpiece and Don McKellar’s Through Black Spruce for today. They’re doing the media line, anyways, and are bound to dominate the coverage.

7/27/2018

Filling Meryl's Muumuu

Shock and Awe
(USA, 89 min.)
Dir. Rob Reiner, Writ. Joey Hartstone
Starring: Woody Harrelson, James Marsden, Rob Reiner, Tommy Lee Jones, Jessica Biel, Milla Jovovich, Luke Tennie
News editor at his desk
Rob Reiner stars in Shock and Awe
Rob Reiner really should have worn a caftan during his rousing “yay, journalism!” moment in Shock and Awe. The director and star of Shock and Awe has a big golden muumuu to fill coming to theatres on the heels of The Post. Reiner simply proves that when it comes to acting, he’s no Meryl Streep and when it comes to directing, he’s no Steven Spielberg.


7/17/2018

Taking the First Step

Mary Goes Round
(Canada, 84 min.)
Written and directed by Molly McGlynn
Starring: Aya Cash, John Ralston, Sara Waisglass, Melanie Nicholls-King
Girl in a toque on a merry go round
Her name is Mary and she’s an alcoholic.


7/12/2018

Having Their Cake and Eating It Too

The Death (and Life) of Carl Naardlinger
(Canada, 92 min.)
Written and directed by Katherine Schlemmer
Starring: Matt Baram, Grace Lynn Kung, Mark Forward 
Unhappy couple eating dinner
This week’s quirky microbudget Canadian dramedy opening at the Carlton is The Death (and Life) of Carl Naardlinger. Not to be confused with Xavier Dolan’s always-in-the-works The Death and Life of John F. Donovan starring Kit Harrington, Natalie Portman, Jessica Chastain, and Susan Sarandon, this offbeat little oddity is as far away from the visual panache of the Dolan world as one can get. Writer/director Katherine Schlemmer concentrates on the characters and “what if” scenarios of connection and chance that her slightly speculative film develops. Most of the budget probably went to catering, but to Naardlinger’s credit, this is a rare Canadian film in which the actors actually eat their spring mix instead of just pushing it around their plates.


7/11/2018

"I'm No Spring Chicken"

Where is Kyra?
(USA, 98 min.)
Written and directed by Andrew Dosunmu
Starring: Michelle Pfeiffer, Kiefer Sutherland 
Catwoman ages gracefully
“I’m no spring chicken!” quips Kyra late in this film. She struggles to get work two years after losing her job, at which she was supposedly quite successful, and now she toils the demoralizing grind of unemployment. Few people, unfortunately, want an overqualified woman with wrinkles on the payroll. Pfeiffer dives deeply into this character study that demands every inch of her maturity as an actress. It’s a quietly powerful and immersive performance—one of Pfeiffer’s most surprisingly turns and arguably one of her strongest.


7/09/2018

Chatting 'Sorry to Bother You' with Boots Riley

New interview! Chatting Sorry to Bother You with director Boots Riley over at BeatRoute. You can catch this zany comedy in theatres starting Friday.

 

7/02/2018

2018 in Review: The Best Films of the Year so Far

Won't You Be My Neighbor?, Isle of Dogs, Fake Tattoos, Meditation Park, American Animals,
and Sweet Country rank as some of the year's best films so far.
2018 slept in, but what started as a slow year for movies has become a strong one. I’ll admit that I’m still not covering as many films as I’d like to here, but there are a lot of films worth championing that I’ve let slip through the cracks and want to take the time to spotlight.


6/28/2018

A Tale of Two Genre Films

Aden Young in The Unseen and Oluniké Adeliyi in Darken
Canadians make a lot of special effects driven movies, but they’re often for Hollywood producers. Genre films made with Canadian dollar aren’t particularly rare, either, but good ones often are. The works of David Cronenberg, Splice, Enemy, Pontypool, and most recently Les affamés, which must be the contemporary hallmark for great Canadian horror, are standouts. These titles are arguably auteur-driven films rather than genre pieces, and few of the films in between aren’t memorable. But they shouldn’t be the exception to the rule.

6/27/2018

'Marlina' Cooks Up Bloody Good Revenge

Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts
(Indonesia/Malaysia/France, 93 min.)
Dir. Mouly Surya; Writ. Mouly Surya, Garin Nugroho, Rama Adi
Starring: Marsha Timothy, Egy Fedly, Dea Panendra
A woman sits around the table as men lie on the floor
They say revenge is a dish best served cold. A tepid lunch honestly doesn’t benefit anyone and revenge, like cooking, is best served piping hot with fiery gusto. That’s how Marlina cooks up a four-course meal of wrathful revenge. Let the last meal for any man who wrongs her be a heaping portion of incendiary, tongue-burning rage. 


6/21/2018

Interview: Chatting 'American Animals' with Bart Layton for the TFCA

Catch one of the best films of the year so far when American Animals hits theatres starting this week. It's a lively heist hybrid movie, a fascinating slice of true crime from director Bart Layton, whose The Imposter has to be one of the wildest films I've seen at Hot Docs. I had the pleasure of interviewing  Layton for the Toronto Film Critics Association and we chatted about hybrids, heist films, and going beyond the sentimental cheap shot of "true" stories.

Millennials and Marriage

Paper Year
(Canada, 90 min.)
Written and directed by Rebecca Addelman
Starring: Eve Hewson, Avan Jogia, Andie MacDowell, Hamish Linklater, Grace Glowicki
Pacific Northwest Pictures
The traditional gift for one’s first anniversary is paper. Maybe a card, a certificate, or a photograph might find its way into some wrappings as newlyweds celebrate their first year of marriage. Franny (Eve Hewson, Enough Said) and Dan (Avan Jogia, Ghost Wars) gift themselves an ironic piece of paper when Paper Year takes stock at their first year of marriage. This dramedy from Ottawa-born filmmaker Rebecca Addelman illustrates with bittersweet humour how the best gifts are often paper—and by that, I mean receipts.