CdnFilm at TIFF: New Clips from 'October Gale' and 'Wet Bum'

Patricia Clarkson and Scott Speedman star in Ruba Nadda's October Gale.
We have first looks for two Canadian films making their world premieres at TIFF 2014! First clips were released today for Ruba Nadda’s October Gale, which reunites her with the great Patricia Clarkson after their TIFF 2009 winner for Best Canadian Film, Cairo Time. October Gale continues Nadda’s turn into thriller territory following 2012’s Inescapable. If the first look at a strong, gun-totin’ Patricia Clarkson isn’t enough to entice you to catch a screening of October Gale at TIFF, well, shame on you.


Opposites Attract?

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.


Watch: Trailers for the Canadian Features at TIFF '14

Monsoon, one of the Canada features at TIFF. Photo courtesy of TIFF.
Making your TIFF picks? The Sophie's Choice decisions of the opening weekend and Single Ticket Day are inevitable, but the folks at Telefilm Canada have a handy tool to help keep some Can Con in your line-up. They've complied a playlist of all the available trailers for feature-length Canadian films screening at TIFF this year. This list includes a handful of trailers not listed on TIFF's own playlist of stuff to see at the festival, so make sure to take a peek! (Although a trailer for the ingenious doc The Wanted 18 isn't there, so watch that too!) What Canadian films are filling you line-up for TIFF '14?


What's the Deal with 'Frankie & Alice'?

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.


Uvanga: Myself

(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 .
Lukasi Forrest (Thomas) and Travis Kunnuk (Travis). Courtesy of Mongrel Media.

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.


The Pimp and the Protégé

Fading Gigolo
(USA, 90 min.)
Written and directed by John Turturro
Starring: John Turturro, Woody Allen, Vanessa Paradis, Sharon Stone, Sofia Vergara, Liev Schreiber
John Turturro (Fioravante) and Woody Allen. Photo courtesy of Mongrel Media.

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.


Ottawa Int'l Animation Festival Celebrates Disney at OIAF 2014

Disney's Feast.
It might be time to declare the Ottawa International Animation Festival the happiest place on the festival circuit this fall. OIAF announced today that the 2014 edition of the festival includes a spotlight celebration of the world’s most beloved and prolific animation studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios. “It’s only natural,” says OIAF Artistic Director, Chris Robinson, in a press release from OIAF, “that we debut our new Pioneers of Animation series with a tribute to the most successful, innovative and influential animation studio in the world. Founded in 1923, the 91-year old studio has had a profound and widespread impact on animation and global culture.” The tribute, presented with the support of Celebrate Ontario and Walt Disney Animation Studios series includes screenings, talks, exhibitions, and legendary Disney animators.


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.
The Toronto International Film Festival adds some more films to its line-up and it seems it saved the best for last. TIFF today named the Mavericks selections that form the most impressive wave of its massive programming line-up for 2014. The Mavericks programme offers the fullest festival experience for TIFF-goers with extended conversations with some of the hottest stars and filmmakers involved with some of the TIFF’s biggest films. This year’s Mavericks programme includes extended conversations with Oscar winners Juliette Binoche (Clouds of Sils Maria), Reese Witherspoon (Wild, The Good Lie), Denzel Washington (The Equalizer) and Robert Duvall (The Judge), along with filmmakers Julie Taymor (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Antoine Fuqua (The Equalizer), and Jon Stewart (Rosewater).


Contest: Win Tickets to see 'The Captive' in Toronto!

Acclaimed Canadian director Atom Egoyan returns with The Captive, which features an all-star cast of Ryan Reynolds, Scott Speedman, Rosario Dawson, Mireille Enos, Kevin Durand, Alexia Fast, Arsinée Khanjian, and Bruce Greenwood. The Captive opens in theatres September 5 from eOne Films, but if you want tickets to a Toronto sneak peek with Atom Egoyan in attendance, then you are in luck! Answer the trivia below to be entered to win!

Canada, TIFF, and the Oscar Race: Can Anything Top 'Mommy'?

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?”


'Thank you for your childhood.'

The Giver
(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.
Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges star in The Giver.
Photo courtesy of The Weinstein Company.

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.


'Lucy' is a Brain Fart

(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.


Contest: Win Tickets to see 'Swearnet' in Toronto!

Bust out some quarters for the swear jar! The Trailer Park Boys are back in Swearnet and they’re bringing 76 “shits,” 79 “cocks,” 935 “fucks,” and more R-rated shenanigans than you can count! (Especially if you’re from the park!) Swearnet opens in theatres August 29th from eOne Films, but if you can’t fuckin’ wait to see it, then ‘yer in luck! Answer the trivia below to win tickets to a Toronto sneak peek in Toronto with the Trailer Park Boys in attendance!


TIFF Unveils International Spectrum with More Galas, Special Presentions, Shorts, and World Cinema

Jennifer Connelly in Shelter. Photo courtesy of TIFF.
There’s a big wave of titles for the next (and presumably final) installment of programming announcements for the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. Today’s line-up offers the full international scope of the festival with more biggies slated for the Gala and Special Presentation programmes including—yay!—new films by Thomas McCarthy (The Visitor) and Lynne Shelton (Touchy Feely). The Gala additions also include World Premieres of the latest films starring Jean Dujardin and Canada’s Christopher Plummer, while Special Presentations features some very exciting Cannes hits (Marion Cotillard’s Two Days, One Night and Olivia Assayas’s Clouds of Sils Maria) as well as World Premieres of hot titles like Paul Bettany’s Shelter starring Jennifer Connelly, Madame Bovary starring Mia Wasikowska, and Welcome to Me, which I’m really excited to see and hope to catch in the annual “Friday afternoon Kristen Wiig slot.”


Earmuffs, Children!

Sunflower Hour
(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.


'Moonlight' is Fun in the Sun

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.

I Love 'The F Word'!

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.
Zoe Kazan plays Chantry and Daniel Radcliffe plays Wallace in THE F WORD,
an eOne Films release

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.


CDFF Hosts Outdoor Screening of 'Night of the Living Dead'!

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!


The Origin Story of All Origins Stories

I Origins
(USA, 107 min.)
Written and directed by Mike Cahill
Starring: Michael Pitt, Brit Marling, Astrid Bergèse-Frisbey, Steven Yeun, Archie Panjabi.
Brit Marling as Karen, Michael Pitt as Dr. Ian Grey and Steven Yeun as Kenny in I Origins.

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.


TIFF Showcases New Talent with Canadian Line-up

Wet Bum. Photo courtesy of TIFF.
As expected, this year’s Toronto International Film Festival looks to be a year of discovery on the Canadian front. TIFF’s announcement today of the Canadian features and shorts that will screen at the 2014 festival offers an impressive range of new talents alongside seasoned vets of Canadiana. New filmmakers get the spotlight this year, though, since 2014’s Canadian line-up includes a whopping eleven first features in the Discovery programme alone. That’s an impressive rise from last year’s tally of three Canuck Discovery films. Most promising in the list are Bang Bang Baby, the feature debut of Jeffrey St. Jules, whose masterful short Let the Daylight Into the Swamp was a TIFF 2012 highlight; Backcountry, a grizzly thriller in the vein of Open Water; Big Muddy starring Nadia Litz and Stephen McHattie; the FLQ drama Corbo; and Wet Bum, whose lead actress Julia Sarah Stone is one of this year’s TIFF Rising Stars. The other rising stars hoping to be discovered by the international scope of TIFF are Sophie Desmarais (Sarah Prefers to Run), Alexandre Landry (Gabrielle) and Shannon Kook (Dark Places). Discovering new voices is what a festival is all about, so it’s very exciting to wonder which of these up-and-comers could be the next be thing in Canadian film.


They Grow Up So Fast

(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?


Contest: Win a DVD of 'Cas & Dylan' Starring Tatiana Maslany and Richard Dreyfuss!

Hey, Orphan Black fans, do you want to see another side of the talented Tatiana Maslany? Maslany scores another winner with her vibrant performance as Dylan alongside Oscar-winner Richard Dreyfuss in Cas & Dylan. Cas & Dylan, the directorial narrative feature debut of Jason Priestley, comes to home video August 12 from TVA Films and Pacific Northwest Pictures. If you want a chance to check out more of Maslany’s dynamic work, you are in luck! Answer the trivia below for your chance to win a copy of Cas & Dylan on DVD!


Birds of a Feather Laugh Together

The Birder
(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.