|Patricia Clarkson and Scott Speedman star in Ruba Nadda's October Gale.|
Lawrence & Holloman
(Canada, 89 min.)
Dir. Matthew Kowalchuk, Writ. Daniel Arnold, Matthew Kowalchuk
Starring: Ben Cotton, Daniel Arnold, Katherine Isabelle, Amy Matysio, Christine Willes.
They say opposites attract. One couldn’t find a bigger pair of opposites than in Lawrence and Holloman, the frenemies of the anti-buddy comedy that bears their names. Lawrence and Holloman are polar opposites in just about every way. There’s no attraction between the two, though. They’re more like magnets in reverse: the tension becomes stronger the closer they come together.
|Monsoon, one of the Canada features at TIFF. Photo courtesy of TIFF.|
Frankie & Alice
(Canada, 100 min.)
Dir. Geoffrey Sax, Writ. Cheryl Edwards, Marko King, Mary King, Jonathan Watters, Jo Shrapnel, Anna Waterhouse.
Starring: Halle Berry, Stellan Skarsgard, Phylicia Rashad, Chandra Wilson.
What’s the deal with Frankie & Alice? This Canadian drama carries a well-deserved Golden Globe nomination for Halle Berry that it received when Frankie & Alice had a qualifying run in the awards race of 2010. Audiences may now see the merit in Berry’s nomination now that Frankie & Alice has a home video release, but it’s weird to watch the film and wonder what exactly made it linger on the shelf for four years when it obviously had a sliver of support. Berry gives a searing performance in her turn as Frankie Murdoch, a woman who suffers from multiple personality, so it’s an absolute shame that distributors threw Frankie & Alice under the bus.
(Canada, 88 min.)
Dir. Marie-Hélène Cousineau and Madeline Ivalu, Writ. Marie-Hélène Cousineau
Starring: Marianne Farley, Lukasi Forrest, Travis Kunnuk, Paka Innuksuk, Madeline Ivalu, Peter-Henry Arnatsiaq, Carol Kunnuk .
Take a trip to Igloolik, Nunavut, in the striking melodrama Uvanga. Uvanga, directed by Marie-Hélène Cousineau and Madeline Ivalu, two members of the Arnait Video Collective and the winners of the Best Canadian First Feature Film award at the2008 Toronto International Film Festival for Before Tomorrow, takes an age-old story of a return to one’s roots to reclaim what is missing. The story could literally take place anywhere, but Uvanga, shot entirely in Nunavut during the season of twenty-four hour sunlight, feels both universal and specific.
(USA, 90 min.)
Written and directed by John Turturro
Starring: John Turturro, Woody Allen, Vanessa Paradis, Sharon Stone, Sofia Vergara, Liev Schreiber
John Turturro makes a decent stab at making a Woody Allen movie with his latest picture, Fading Gigolo. Fading Gigolo is an enjoyably unconventional take on the oldest profession. Woody Allen has always fancied himself a man with the ladies, casting himself in progressively wider May-December romances with everyone from Helen Hunt to Scarlett Johansson, but Fading Gigolo fashions the Woodman in an age-appropriate role as the seasoned neurotic pimping his friend (Turturro) out to a pair of bombshell New Yorkers played by Sharon Stone and Sofia Vergara. Any Allen fan will undoubtedly appreciate Woody’s turn on the screen. He appears in front of the camera less and less these days, and a role this fun is worth the curiosity alone.
TIFF Completes Massive Line-up with Mavericks and More Titles, plus a Guest List and Official Schedule.
|Juliette Binoche (Clouds of Sils Maria) gets a Mavericks talk! |
Photo courtesy of TIFF.
|Mommy. Photo courtesy of TIFF.|
The annual question arises now that the Toronto International Film Festival has announced its Canadian line-up: What film will be Canada’s Oscar pick? That question, however, seems awfully redundant as we approach the best launching pad for Canadian films and Oscar hopefuls alike on the fall festival circuit. The real question for Canadian film fans and Oscar junkies circa TIFF 2014 is really, “Can anything top Mommy?”
(USA, 90 min.)
Dir. Phillip Noyce, Writ. Michael Mitnick and Robert B. Weide
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Brenton Thwaites, Alexander Skarsgard, Katie Holmes, Odeya Rush, Cameron Monaghan, Taylor Swift.
Dystopian flicks are all the rage for the teen crowd nowadays. This business of art sees something viable in the franchises of futuristic young adult novels that offer readily cinematic adventures, so the rationale behind the recent surge of sameness becomes apparent no sooner than one can utter the word “Katniss.” Katniss has a predecessor, though, and his name is Jonas. Crowds of complacent cogs of YA dystopia chant his name in Lois Lowry’s 1994 Newberry Medal winning novel The Giver and the success of Lowry’s novel exceeds all of the successors that follow in its wake—if not commercially then at least critically. It’s therefore only fitting for the novel that started the trend to receive its own big screen adaptation.
(France, 89 min.)
Written and directed by Luc Besson
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Choi Min-sik, Amr Waked.
Scientists say that humans use only ten percent of the brain's cerebral capacity. Science fiction writers, on the other hand, wonder what happens when humans maximize their intellectual potential. The result is a freak show that could never happen in real life. Be thankful for that.
|Jennifer Connelly in Shelter. Photo courtesy of TIFF.|
(Canada, 90 min.)
Written and directed by Aaron Houston
Starring: Amitai Marmorstein, Kacey Rohl, Patrick Gilmour, Ben Cotton, Peter New (Donald Dirk), Johannah Newmarck.
If some lucky film buff discovered a crude puppet film made by Christopher Guest in the 1980s, it might look a lot like Sunflower Hour. Sunflower Hour, a 2011(ish) micro-budget mockumentary by director Aaron Houston, certainly owes a tip of the hat to Guest's backstage opus Waiting for Guffman and its funny play on the true/fictional farce of amateur performing artists. Sunflower Hour is raucous entertainment as the mockumentary follows four aspiring contestants in a talent contest for a hit children's show called “The Sunflower Hour.” Sunflower Hour features all sorts of cuddly puppets, but the plush playthings are anything but child-friendly. This R-rated comedy is definitely for the eighteen-and-over crowd.
Magic in the Moonlight
(USA, 98 min.)
Written and directed by Woody Allen
Starring: Eileen Atkins, Colin Firth, Marcia Gay Harden, Hamish Linklater, Simon McBurney, Emma Stone, Jacki Weaver.
|Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie. |
Photo by Jack English © 2014 Gravier Productions, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
Woody’s parabolic filmography continues with the enjoyable, if slight, Magic in the Moonlight. Magic in the Moonlight, Woody Allen’s 44th film as a director, is a fun bit of summer escapism and has all the magic for which one comes to love Allen’s films, but even a die-hard Allen fan must realize this film as an admittedly lesser entry in a very strong career. Second-rate Allen is still better than most, though, and Magic in the Moonlight mostly suffers only because it comes out in the midst of one of Allen’s hottest comebacks following the one-two punch of five-star gems like 2011’s Midnight in Paris and 2013’s Blue Jasmine, which rank among the best films he’s ever made. Magic in the Moonlight is a step above 2012’s pleasant summer diversion To Rome with Love, though, which came sandwiched between the aforementioned pair of Oscar winners, so this dip down in Allen’s oeuvre leaves one anticipating the winner he’ll crank out next year.
The F Word
(Canada, 97 min.)
Dir. Michael Dowse, Writ. Elan Mastai
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Megan Park, Adam Driver, Mackenzie Davis, Rafe Spall.
Okay, I’m just going to come out and say it: I love The F Word! It’s literally been years since anyone delivered a romantic comedy that feels so refreshingly authentic and true, and I just can’t help but fall head over heels for this charming, warm, and infectiously feel-good-funny film. This Toronto-shot (and Toronto-set!) rom-com hits all the right notes as Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan give a pair of winning performances as two star-crossed friends who might ultimately be the perfect match. The F Word might be the best romantic comedy this country has ever produced.
Here come the ghouls! Cellar Door Film Festival wants Ottawa filmgoers to be on high alert! Westboro will be crawling with zombies when CDFF hosts an outdoor screening of George A. Romero’s horror classic Night of the Living Dead in Lion’s Park on August 15th. The event is just a short zombiewalk away from Westboro Station, so please come see the film that started the whole craze of the walking dead! And make sure to come early: there’ll be zombie trivia and door prizes, so make sure to bring your braaaaaaains!
(USA, 107 min.)
Written and directed by Mike Cahill
Starring: Michael Pitt, Brit Marling, Astrid Bergèse-Frisbey, Steven Yeun, Archie Panjabi.
There are so many origin stories at the movies these days. New Batman, new Superman, and new Spiderman (again) litter the screens. It's only natural, then, for a new film to look to the origin of all origins. The root of the matter, however, differs greatly whether one relies on science or faith to explain the full story. Writer/director Mike Cahill confronts the science/faith debate directly in his metaphysical drama, I Origins. The film delivers upon the considerable promise hinted at in Cahill's debut Another Earth, and it asks provocative questions with inquisitive indie flair.
|Wet Bum. Photo courtesy of TIFF.|
(USA, 165 min.)
Written and directed by Richard Linklater
Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater
|Patricia Arquette (Olivia) and Ellar Coltrane (Mason) in Boyhood. |
Photo Credit: Matt Lankes. Courtesy of IFC Films.
It's so weird to hear “Soulja Boy” serve as a time stamp in a period piece. “2008 as a time piece? That can't be right,” one might respond. Richard Linklater's contemporary time capsule Boyhood, however, remains acutely aware of time with each second of the story that passes. The soundtrack itself is like a watch marking intervals of time with greatest his as Mason (Ellar Coltrane) grows up from being a little kid riding his bike to the tune of Sheryl Crowe's “Soak Up the Sun” to a school age boy learning to be cool to the grove of “Soulja Boy.” When the Arcade Fire's The Suburbs marks time, however, then one really feels old as Mason readies himself for college. They grow up so fast, don't they?
(Canada, 85 min.)
Dir. Ted Bezaire, Writ. Ted Bezaire, Michael Stasko
Starring: Tom Cavanagh, Mark Rendall, Jamie Spilchuck , Tommie-Amber Pirie, Cassidy Renee, Graham Greene, Fred Willard.
This bizarre phenomenon occurs at my cottage whenever any member of my family goes kayaking. No matter the day and no matter their skills with the paddle, my relatives become expert birders the second they kayak around the nice cottage area on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River. Keohanes paddle about identifying ducks, osprey, pomerants, and loons with the naked eye. (They’re all loons, if you ask me.) Perhaps it’s the wilderness or the unpolluted air, but birds bring out a wholesome childlike enthusiasm in even the sternest of paddlers. They can watch them for hours! And when a family of American bald eagles moved in the Bay, well, the shit, as they say, most definitely hit the fan.