2014 in Review: The Best So Far

The Grand Budapest Hotel
We’re halfway through the movie year and I’ll admit that I’m a bit disappointed with 2014. Perhaps 2012 and 2013 are simply tough acts to follow—they’re two of the best movie years in recent memory—but the films released this year aren’t quite on par. Admittedly, my tally for the year so far is lower at the midpoint of 2014 than it was in 2013. I’m trailing 2013 by over 30 films at this point in the year, but that’s because I’ve devoted a good deal of time to some volunteer projects that don’t leave much time for writing. (But they’re great experience!) Having less time for moviegoing, however, means that I’ve been more discerning about what I screen and review, so I’ll have to be extra careful when screener season comes in November and I’ll make sure to catch second runs of films like Finding Vivian Meier, Ida, Nymphomaniac, Fading Gigolo, and Belle that I missed on their first runs. I’ll have more time to go to the movies in a few weeks, so I’ll have to play catch-up!


'The Camel Lady and Her Black Dog'

(Australia, 110 min.)
Dir. John Curran, Writ. Marion Nelson
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Adam Driver
Mia Wasikowska in Tracks. Courtesy of Transmission Films.
What’s the deal with camels? Camels don’t figure into the pictures much outside of advertisements for cigarettes or as icons of exotic places. The animals with the humps rarely receive prime billing in the movies even though they have an inherently cinematic quality to their peculiar frame. Tall, but not as tall giraffes, camels don’t need a long shot to share the screen with a fantastic actress. Their long, gangly frame also suits widescreen perfectly as they stretch across the screen with a dynamic hump in the middle that reaches for the sky. They seem like a cinematographer’s best friend! Also, they spit.


Losin' It, Ozon-Style

Young & Beautiful (Jeune & jolie)
(France, 95 min.)
Written and directed by François Ozon
Starring: Marine Vacht, Géraldine Pailhas, Frédéric Pierrot, Fantin Ravat, Johan Leysen, Charlotte Rampling.
Marine Vacht (Isabelle) in Jeune & Jolie. Courtesy of Mongrel Media.
How funny is it that Young & Beautiful is basically a feature film version of the song “Young and Beautiful” that Lana Del Rey sings as the Daisy theme in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby? Young & Beautiful, a worthwhile, if mildly disappointing offering from  director François Ozon after the spectacular In the House (which made this blog’s list of the BestFilms of 2013), and “Young and Beautiful” both tell of girls who’ve seen the word, done it all, and had their cake now. They’ve enjoyed the world as their stage on summer nights, but youth fades and both tales end by asking how men view women when they’ve reached their golden years. By the time one is Charlotte Rampling with grey hair and nothing but her aching soul, youth and beauty don’t seem like hot commodities. The saucy Young & Beautiful is a François Ozon film, though, so it’s inevitable that the great Miss Rampling will reign over some hot young thing, but it’s fascinating to watch the director play newcomer Marine Vacht like a child in this unnerving tale of lost innocence.


Contest: Win Tickets to see 'Begin Again' in Ottawa! (CONTEST CLOSED)

Any fans of Once here on Cinemablographer? Yes? There’d better be! Director John Carney made a true breakout with 2007’s acoustic love balled Once and he’s finally back in movie musical territory with the sweet ditty Begin Again. Begin Again opens in theatres July 11 from eOne Films, but if you want to win tickets for an Ottawa sneak peek (along with some cool swag!), answer the trivia below to enter!


Changes for 2015 Canadian Screen Awards

A still from Watermark ©Edward Burtynsky,
courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto / Howard Greenberg & Bryce Wolkowitz, New York
They listened! The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television announced some notable changes for the next edition of the Canadian Screen Awards. The awards, which are only in their third year as a combined celebration of  film, TV, and digital media, have revised the rules and categories in order to improve the ceremonies as they progress. This year's changes include some notable additions for documentary craft including Best Cinematography and Best Editing in a Feature Length Documentary. Previous editions of the CSAs restricted eligibility for docs to the Best Feature Length Documentary award alone, and the lack of recognition for documentary crafts even received a comment from Sarah Polley accepted the doc prize for 2012's Stories We Tell. This is a great step for the Canadian Screen Awards., especially since Canuck docs frequently include outstanding artistic and technical work, such as last year's winner Watermark, which could have had a cinematography win in the bag for Edward Burtynsky.


Ottawa International Animation Festival Announces Short Animation and Series for Kids Competition

"The Christmas Log"
The Ottawa International Animation Festival has the first set of shorts that will be screening at the festival come September. OIAF recently announced the finalists for the competition of Short Films for Kids and Series for Kids. The two line-ups include a variety of animated shorts from around the world with a heavy dose of France, especially in the Series for Kids competition. Series for Kids competition also includes a return from last year’s winner in the category, JG Quintel, who brings another entry from The Regular Show (“The Last Laserdisc Player”). The competition also includes an entry from two directors of the recent Oscar-nominee Ernest and Celestine, Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar, with “The Christmas Log” from A Town Called Panic.

The selected films are as follows.


“I Wonder What Adam Shankman Could Have Done with That.”

Jersey Boys
(USA, 134 min.)
Dir. Clint Eastwood, Writ. Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice
Starring: John Lloyd Young, Vincent Piazza, Michael Lomeda, Erich Bergen, Christopher Walken.
Jersey Boys marks the first—and hopefully only—time I have left a movie thinking, “Gee, I wonder what Adam Shankman could have done with that.” Yes, even Mr. Hairspray might have been a far better fit for this Broadway adaptation than the great Clint Eastwood. Jersey Boys sure looks and feels like a Clint Eastwood movie, though, for it’s sombre, serious, and dark, yet the chocolate-malt-and-jukebox-vibe of the material might simply be better suited to the bubbly candyfloss direction of filmmaker who better understands the energy of the genre. Jersey Boys is possibly the most inert and lifeless musical ever put to screen.


Great Representation, Poor Dramatization

(Canada, 102 min.)
Dir. Michel Poulette, Writ. Pierre Billon
Starring: Roseanne Supernault, Ipellie Ootoova, Uapshkuss Thernish, Tantoo Cardinal, Graham Greene, Eric Schweig, Natar Ungalaaq.
When the Innu and Inuit first met, the first major meeting of cultures on Canadian soil was a giant case of boy trouble. An essential chapter of this nation’s history receives a rare telling in Maïna, a Best Picture nominee at the Canadian Screen Awards earlier this year, and the result is a disappointing hybrid of soap opera romance and those Canadian heritage minutes that used to play during the commercial breaks of Hockey Night in Canada. Maïna tells a story that predates the arrival of European colonists, but the encounter between Aboriginal tribes doesn’t receive the treatment it deserves. This well-intentioned film makes admirable leaps in terms of representing Aboriginal customers, cultures, and practices, yet it belittles its subject with its melodramatic treatment.

The Enlightened Screen: Carl Bessai

Carl Bessai on the set of No Clue, an eOne Films release.
The Canadian Film Institute’s ongoing series “The Enlightened Screen” continues this week with a special double-bill of films by Canadian independent filmmaker Carl Bessai. The one-night event includes Bessai’s recent comedy-caper No Clue starring Corner Gas’s Brent Butt and Amy Smart and will be preceded by Bessai’s 2008 film Mothers & Daughters starring Gabrielle Rose, Tantoo Cardinal, and the late Babz Chula. Mothers & Daughters is the first film in Bessai’s “family trilogy” that includes Fathers & Sons (2010) and Sisters & Brothers (2011). Bessai will be on hand at the CFI to discuss No Clue and Mothers & Daughters with CFI Executive Director and CBC Ottawa Morning film critic Tom McSorley.


'Reasons' Keeps it Real

All the Wrong Reasons
(Canada, 118 min.)
Written and directed by Gia Milani
Starring: Karine Vanasse, Cory Monteith, Emily Hampshire, Kevin Zegers
(L to R) Cory Monteith and Emily Hampshire in All the Wrong Reasons.

Ah, the big box store. It’s the place where everything is easy and accessible. Life is one-stop shopping with groceries, clothes, and electronics only a few aisles away and all for low, low prices. If only life could be so perfect!

Happy Birthday, Meryl Streep!

Meryl Streep in One True Thing
This summer is filled with talk about what a tear-jerker The Fault in Our Stars is, but give me One True Thing any day. Long before Hazel came along, Meryl Streep gave arguably her most underrated performance in this 1998 sob-fest. Her subtle performance as the caring mother in One True Thing is the antithesis of her acid-tongued matriach in last year's August: Osage County, so I must tip my hat to the queen of the Cancer Weepies. I hope you ring in your 65th birthday by celebrating over fifteen-years of quality plate-smashing as cancer-stricken mothers. Party hearty by starting off with a healthy plate of catfish (smash that) and then make a cherry pie for dessert (smash that too). Nobody smashes plates better than you, Meryl! Happy Birthday!



Israeli Film Fest Review: 'The Wonders'

The Wonders
(Israel, 112 min.)
Dir. Avi Nesher, Writ. Avi Nesher, Shanaan Street
Starring: Ori Hizkiah, Yehuda Levi, Adir Miller, Yuval Scharf
The 2014 Israeli Film Festival closes by taking audiences down a strange and wonderful rabbit hole in Avi Nesher’s The Wonders. The Wonders, not to be confused with Alice Rohrwacher’s Cannes film of the same name, is an amusing oddity. What exactly Avi Nesher is up to in this film is a wonder itself. The Wonders is an intriguing noir/adventure/comedy with a splash of the strange and unusual (a few splashes in the unusual department, actually) as a stoner-slacker named Ariel (Ori Hizakiah) finds himself embroiled in a bizarre espionage game involving a shady private investigator, a sultry femme, and a rabbi with supposedly wondrous powers. Deciphering which of these four players is the greatest charlatan of them all is half the fun, but Nesher might pull the biggest con of the lot with his generic hodgepodge and smart misdirection.


Contest: Win Tickets to See 'Obvious Child' in Ottawa! (CONTEST CLOSED)

People raved after enjoying a Toronto sneak peek of ObviousChild earlier this week. Now Obvious Child wants to warm the hearts (and butter) of Ottawa readers. Obvious Child opens in Ottawa this July, but a few lucky readers may win tickets to a sneak peek of this summer’s breakout indie comedy starring Jenny Slate! Answer the trivia below for your chance to win.


'The Grand Seduction' and 'Enemy' Lead Directors Guild of Canada Awards Nominations

Brendan Gleeson and Gordon Pinsent in The Grand Seduction, an eOne Films release
The nominees for the Directors Guild of Canada were announced today with Enemy and The Grand Seduction leading the pack with three nominations apiece including Best Feature Film. The Grand Seduction’s Don McKellar gets a nomination for Best Direction to go along with the Best Film citation, yet Enemy’s Denis Villeneuve doesn’t, which is both curious and unsurprising given the film’s love-it-or-hate-it artiness. Also earning three nominations in the technical categories are The Art of the Steal and, sigh, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, which continues to demolish Canuck kudos despite being the fattest turkey this nation has produced in some time. Disappointingly absent are Louise Archambault and Jeff Barnaby from the Best Direction category for Gabrielle and Rhymes for Young Ghouls, respectively, although Gabrielle has one lone nomination for Best Feature Film. The awards will be handed out later in October, which gives folks time to catch The F-Word when it opens in August.

The nominations for the feature film categories are:

Israeli Film Fest Review: 'A Place in Heaven'

A Place in Heaven
(Israel, 117 min.)
Written and directed by Yossi Madmony
Starring: Alon Aboutboul, Tom Graziani, Sophia Ostritsky, Karen Beger, Rotem Zisman-Cohen
A soldier, hungry in the battlefield, might do something drastic to save himself. Alternatively, a soldier looking for redemption might do anything to be saved when his life is on the line. An odd transaction—mutually beneficial it seems—happens almost anecdotally in Yossi Madmony’s sprawling A Place in Heaven as two soldiers strike a quick bargain during a repose from battle. Their deal follows an odd precept of Jewish law that permits a person to sell his or her place in heaven. The afterlife should cost a great deal, but a soldier named Bambi (Alon Aboutboul), the hero-of-the-moment after a risky mission, trades his soul for a plate of eggs. The deal occurs quickly and hurriedly like two friends trading a stick of gum for a cigarette. The nonchalant air with which Madmony dramatizes this transaction doesn’t bode well for the egg hungry man.


Contest: Win 'All the Wrong Reasons' on DVD! (CONTEST CLOSED)

All the Wrong Reasons had a bittersweet debut when it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last year. The acclaimed film scooped the 2013 Grolsch Film Works Discovery Prize for writer/director Gia Milani, but as the film marked an introduction to a bold new filmmaker, it also offered a sad farewell to a popular Canadian star, Cory Moneith. Monteith’s fans will be pleased to see a different side of the Glee star in this fine ensemble film that features several of Canada’s hottest talents including Karine Vanasse (Polytechnique), Emily Hampshire (My Awkward Sexual Adventure), and Kevin Zegers (The Colony). All the Wrong Reasons comes to home video June 23rd from TVA Films and Pacific Northwest Pictures, but two lucky readers may take home a copy of the film on DVD. Answer the trivia below for your chance to win!

Hobnobbing: The Movie

Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon
(USA, 84 min.)
Dir. Mike Myers, Beth Alla
Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon is basically Hobnobbing: The Movie. That isn’t really a bad thing if one considers the smorgasbord of celebrities that Mike Myers trucks out for this fun talking heads documentary about Hollywood manager Shep Gordon. The amiable, laid-back atmosphere Myers creates as the A-listers tell stories about the legendary mensch is much like a group of friends reminiscing about good times at a party, trading stories and finding links in order to build some kind of rapport. Rubbing elbows and shaking hands is only a fraction of a manager’s job, but people need to like you if you want to get ahead in the biz. And people clearly like Shep Gordon. A lot.


'A Long Way Down' Falls with a Splat.

A Long Way Down
(UK/Germany, 96 min.)
Dir. Pascal Chaumeil, Writ. Jack Thorne
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Aaron Paul, Imogen Poots.
Nick Hornby’s novel A Long Way Down is one of those irresistible books that can save your life. The film adaptation by Pascal Chaumeil, however, is one of those dreadful films that kill a good book. A great cast goes to waste in this staggeringly disappointing misfire. A Long Way Down, the movie, jumps from the ledge of greatness and falls with a splat into the abyss of adaptation hell. It’s a long way down from its potential and the result ain’t pretty.


The Joy of Cooking

(USA, 114 min.)
Written and directed by Jon Favreau
Starring: Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Sofia Vergara, Bobby Cannavale, Emjay Anthony, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt, Robert Downey Jr.
There is no pleasure in writing a terrible review. Sure, it’s fun to trash empty derivative garbage once in a while, but even that feels like an insufferable waste of time since one could spend those hours seeking out valuable fare. A reviewer certainly finds some level of amusement crafting clever witticisms to make the medicine go down with a spoonful of sugar, but drafting a nasty review never feels as satisfying as crafting a glowing rave that encourages a reader to run out and discover something as value. A level of disappointment underlies harsh reviews, too, since one almost inevitably feels let down when one sees a talented artist fail to deliver upon the standards of which he or she is capable. Bad reviews leave a sour aftertaste for everyone.


'Obvious Child' Takes Back the Rom Com in New Featurette

“Romantic comedies tend to write even the male character as a perfect, too good to be true kind of guy, and I don’t like that guy. I like the guy who pees and farts,” says writer/director Gillian Robespierre while describing the authenticity of her characters in a featurette the upcoming comedy Obvious Child. Obvious Child takes back the rom com and does away with silly brides, candyfloss, and Katherine Heigl. No relationship is perfect, so this unconventionally sweet film takes the rom com for a loop by asking if the perfect baby daddy—and maybe even Mr. Right—is actually that everyday guy who pees and farts on a date.

Spectacular Ensemble in Tale of Faith and Fate

(Canada, 110 min.)
Dir. Daniel Grou, Writ. Gabriel Sabourin
Starring: Xavier Dolan, Marilyn Castonguay, Robin Aubert, Anne Dorval, Louise Turcot, Julien Poulin, Jean-Nicolas Verreault, Gabriel Sabourin, Gilbert Sicotte.
Xavier Dolan and Marilyn Castonguay in Miraculum.
Photo: Les Films Séville.
A flurry of excitement is boosting Canadian film ever since Mommy premiered at Cannes in May, so eager beavers will undoubtedly want to see Miraculum, which is this year’s other major Canadian film starring the hot director/star team of Mommy, Xavier Dolan and Anne Dorval. Dolan and Dorval share not a single frame of the film, but they both give exceptionally strong performances within the solid cast of Québécois actors who fill the roles of this intricately plotted drama. Miraculum sees Dolan and Dorval within two separate time-lines in this multi-narrative kaleidoscope that sees fates intersect with one devastating plane crash. It’s an elaborate drama in the vein of Crash and 21 Grams, and the powerhouse performances are reason alone to see this thoughtful film.

Ottawa Film Exclusive: 'A Good Madness: The Dance of Rachel Browne'

Rachel Browne, 1992. Photo Credit: Randal Newman
Dance fans and film buffs in the National Capital may enjoy an Ottawa film exclusive this weekend as the Canada Dance Festival includes a special sneak peek of the upcoming documentary A Good Madness: The Dance of Rachel Browne from director Danielle Sturk. The film screens at the festival on Friday, June 13 at the National Gallery of Canada. If films like Pina inspire toe-tapping film going, then this is definitely an event for you!


Israeli Film Fest Review: 'Farewell, Herr Schwarz'

Farewell, Herr Schwarz
(Israel/Germany, 96 min.)
Written and directed by Yael Reuveny
Writer/director Yael Reuveny scores a winner with her remarkable feature debut Farewell, Herr Schwarz. This powerful documentary, which screens Thursday as part of the Canadian Film Institute’s ongoing Israeli Film Festival, is a moving exploration of family history. Reuveny’s approach is beautifully intimate and delicate in its simplicity. Farewell, Herr Schwarz is a deeply personal film—almost uncomfortably so in its emotional frankness—yet the candor and vulnerability of the filmmaker fuels one’s desire to learn more.

Start Your Planning, TIFFgoers: Dates and Ticket Packages for #TIFF14!

The Festival is just 85 days away! The Toronto International Film Festival released the dates and ticket packages today, so TIFFgoers can start their planning! Choosing the right ticket package for the optimal festival experience can be daunting, but there’s enough choice and variety that festivalgoers can expect to be satisfied with their screenings regardless of the package they choose.


The 'Doctor' Disappoints

The German Doctor (Wakolda)
(Argentina/Spain, 93 min.)
Written and directed by Lucía Puenzo
Starring: Àlex Brendemühl, Natalia Oreiro, Diego Peretti, Elena Roger, Florencia Bado.
The German Doctor lives and dies by its status of being inspiring by true events. This might seem like an unfair diagnosis for the film, which repped Argentina in the most recent Oscar race for Best Foreign Language Film, but much of the power, horror, resonance, and disappointment one feels while watching The German Doctor almost inevitably pertain to the true events that intersect with the narrative. The German Doctor is a frequently satisfying and occasionally chilling tale of Nazi hunting, but the title cards that end the film and fill in the gaps are almost fatal punctuation marks for how much further writer/direct Lucía Puenzo (XXY) could have taken this intriguing story.


Israeli Film Fest Review: 'Hunting Elephants'

Hunting Elephants
(Israel/USA, 107 min.)
Dir. Reshef Levi, Writ. Reshef Levi, Regev Levi
Starring: Sasson Gagai, Moni Moshonov, Patrick Stewart, Gil Blank, Yaël Abecassis.
They say an elephant never forgets, but the reputation of the elderly flows in the opposite direction. Memory is a funny thing. The three old cards in Hunting Elephants, which opens the Canadian Film Institute’s 11th annual Israeli Film Festival on June 8th, have more wrinkles than most elephants do, but they haven’t forgotten how to put on a good show. This fun, light-hearted crime comedy is a geriatric caper in the vein of RED, but like the machine gun toting’ Helen Mirren pic, Hunting Elephants sees some grey-haired grifters with a few tricks stashed away in their trunks, so this consistently delightful film should please viewers young and old.

'Live, Die, Repeat': Star Performers and the Accidental Metaphor

Edge of Tomorrow
(USA/Australia, 113 min.)
Dir. Doug Liman, Writ. Christopher McQuarrie and Jez Butterworth & John Henry Butterworth
Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Brendan Gleeson, Bill Paxton.
“Live, die, repeat,” is the tagline for Edge of Tomorrow, but it just as easily serves as a motto for a star operating under the Hollywood system. An inevitable machine of sameness, for better or for worse, allows actors to find a niche, build an audience, and rise to the top. Tom Cruise is one such star who has competently navigated Hollywood star economies to assert himself as a bona fide action star. From Top Gun to Days of Thunder and a few heroic dramas in between, the 1980s and 1990s easily establish a base that positions Cruise as an all-time star. Hollywood formulas, however, die by the virtue of their sameness just as easily as they succeed by them.


Contest: Win Tickets to see 'Obvious Child' in Toronto! (CONTEST CLOSED)

Every summer needs a breakout indie comedy and this year’s bun in the summer oven looks like Obvious Child. Obvious Child, a hit at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, stars “Saturday Night Live” and “Parks and Recreation” comedienne Jenny Slate in a star-making performance of self-discovery. The film opens in Toronto June 20th, but a few lucky readers may win tickets to a sneak peek (with Jenny Slate in attendance)! You won’t have to murder-suicide anyone, but you will have to answer some trivia.

'Enemy', 'Orphan Black' Top Canadian Cinema Editors Awards

Melanie Laurent stars in Enemy
Quick bit of Canadian film awards news for you to enjoy this morning. The winners for the Canadian Cinema Editors awards were announced this morning. Matthew Hannam scooped the feature film prize for Denis Villeneuve's Enemy, which took home the same prize at the Canadian Screen Awards earlier this year. Other winners include Orphan Black and the Screenie/TIFF winning short Noah. The awards were handed out in Toronto last night at a ceremony hosted by film critic Richard Crouse.

The winners are:


Israeli Film Festival Screens in Ottawa June 8 - 22

Patrick Stewart stars in the Israeli Film Festival opener Hunting Elephants.
It’s been a strong year for Israeli cinema so far with films like Bethlehem and Big Bad Wolves enjoying both critical and commercial success. Fans of either film—or cinephiles looking to explore new terrain—should be sure to attend the Canadian Film Institute’s upcoming Israeli Film Festival. The Israeli Film Festival, which runs June 8 to June 22, offers a diverse quartet of films from The Holy Land. This year’s IFF has everything from drama to documentary to even Patrick Stewart. That’s right, Professor Xavier appears in one the festival films!

'The Animal Project' Opens June 6!

The Lion (Aaron Poole) and the Beaver (Joey Klein) in The Animal Project.
  Photo by John Gundy. Courtesy of Mongrel Media.
Hey everyone, The Animal Project, one of my favourite Canadian films from the festival circuit last year, comes out this Friday and you all should watch it. The Animal Project is the latest (and greatest) film from Toronto DIY indie darling Ingrid Veninger. If films that take risks and do something innovative and new are scarce these days, then The Animal Project ensures at least one movie will be fresh this weekend.


New Trailer for 'The Giver' Delivers Epic Streep in Black and White

I finished reading Lois Lowry's The Giver on the weekend and I was struck with two thoughts regarding the upcoming adaptation: 1) The film indeed needs to be in black and white and 2) The Giver needs more Streep. A new trailer for The Giver was released today and it seems that The Weinstein Company agrees.

It's not a Total Disaster

(Canada/Germany, 105 min.)
Dir. Paul W.S. Anderson, Writ. Janet Scott Batchler & Lee Batchler and Michael Robert Johnson
Starring: Kit Harington, Emily Browning, Carrie-Anne Moss, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jessica Lucas, Jared Harris, Kiefer Sutherland.
Kit Harington and Emily Browning star in Pompeii
Pompeii might actually be the only film that improves the more it enters Roland Emmerich territory. There’s a compliment in there somewhere.


Xavier Dolan's 'Mommy' Gets Oscar-Friendly Release Date

Mommy director Xavier Dolan.  Photo credit: Shayne Laverdière.
Gear up, Oscar junkies and Canadian film fans! Xavier Dolan’s Mommy just got a very Oscar friendly release date of September 19. The film’s Quebec distributor, Les Films Séville, announced the date today. The film will open in Quebec on Sept 19, which probably means that a North American premiere at TIFF is inevitable if the film wants to add to its Cannes buzz and Jury Prize. Dates for the rest of Canada have yet to be announced from partner distributor eOne Films. The Academy has yet to release its qualifying dates for the upcoming Oscar race, but last year’s contest required films to open in their native country by September 30, 2013.

'The F Word' Trailer

I missed this over the weekend, but eOne released a trailer for the upcoming Canadian rom-com The F Word starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan. The film, titled What If in America for audiences with dirty minds ('F’can be for ‘friend’, people!), is one of the buzziest Canuck titles from last year’s Toronto International Film Festival. Some of the reviews, like Twitch, say ‘F’ can be for ‘Fresh’ while Now makes favourable references to When Harry Met Sally… and with critics like Black Sheep even calling it the best film to date from director Michael Dowse. Sounds F-ing great!


Canadian Film Review Signs Off

The Sweet Hereafter
It's sad to see a peer on the Canadian film scene move on. Canadian Film Review, perhaps the most enthusiastic champion for Canuck cinema on the web, is signing off. Editor-in-chief Kindah Mardam Bey offers her farewell--and fittingly titled--post 'The Sweet Hereafter' and notes the invaluable success CFR has contributed in terms of creating exposure and connecting Canadian films with Canadian audiences:

This decision comes at a high point for the Canadian Film Review. After developing a successful publication, TV show and web series, the CFR has not only accomplished what it set out to do, but it shattered myths that these types of things could not be done. We are extremely popular with Canadian audiences. I am so incredibly proud of what my team and I have accomplished. We have proven that Canadians love Canadian content and there is an audience out there for it. This is groundbreaking in the eyes of the entertainment industry but it isn’t enough. 
(The post makes some necessary observations on the state of Canadian film and is worth reading in full here.)

CFI Presents the Ecuador Film Series in Ottawa June 5-7

In the Name of the Girl
Fans of the Latin American Film Festival may enjoy a second helping of Ecuadorian films this week as the Canadian Film Institute (CFI), in collaboration with the Embassy of Ecuador in Ottawa, presents the Ecuador Film Series beginning June 5th. The series opens with the Canadian premiere of The Facilitator (El Facilitador) directed by Víctor Arregui. On June 7th, the CFI invites cinephiles for back-to-back screenings of Deporting Prometeo (Prometeo Deportado) by Fernando Mieles and In the Name of the Girl (En el nombre de la hija) by Tania Hermida. Girl was Ecuador’s offering at this year’s LAFF and its return to Library and Archives Canada gives local cinephiles a second chance to catch this delightful crowdpleaser. The Embassy of Ecuador will also host a wine and cheese reception between the two films on Saturday the 7th, if one needs an added incentive!

The programme for the Ecuador Film Series is as follows:       


Jolie Reigns as Maleficent

(USA, 97 min.)
Dir. Writ. Linda Woolverton
Starring: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley, Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Brenton Thwaites.
Angelina Jolie retains her title as the reigning Queen of Badassdom with Maleficent. The Oscar winning bad-girl-turned-Supermommy assembles many of the facets of star persona, plus some extravagantly accentuated cheekbones, and delivers a deliciously malevolent Maleficent who is both hero and villain alike. The film somewhat disappoints overall, but Jolie’s inspired incarnation on the beloved Disney baddie ensures that Maleficent at least lives up to some of the expectations.