Contest: Win 'Birdman' Prize Packs!

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is a hit! Thanks to all the readers who made the last Birdman contest explode with such fury, our friends at Fox Searchlight and Regency Enterprises are putting up the Bird Signal once again, but this time Ottawa readers get to take the call! If you want to win an amazing Birdman prize pack, including some cool T-shirts and a copy of the film’s jazzy soundtrack, enter the trivia below for your chance to win!

'How Much Do You Want It?'

(USA, 117 min.)
Written and directed by Dan Gilroy
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, Bill Pullman
“How much do you want it,” asks Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) to Nina (Rene Russo) during a tense encounter in which the slimy freelance videographer negotiates with the TV news producer over a particularly titillating piece of footage. Lou, a petty thief and lowlife who catches a bug for capturing sensational news stories after stumbling upon a fiery car wreck, graduates to the league of news agents known as nightcrawlers who chase ambulances and feed producers like Nina who live by the motto, “If it bleeds, it leads.” Nina, actually, lives by the sensationalist FOX News-era philosophy that pushes hard news to the point of fiction. Her idea of news, she says, is a white woman running and screaming with blood spurting out of a gouge in her throat. Nightcrawler knows how much audiences have a taste for the rough stuff, and it gives them exactly what they want.

'Mommy' and 'Maps to the Stars' Open Today!

Antoine Olivier-Pilon in Mommy
It’s a big day for film as festival favourites Mommy and Maps to the Stars! Xavier Dolan’s Mommy, Canada’s Oscar contender and a frontrunner in the Best Foreign Language Film category, finally makes its way to Ottawa after taking festivals around the world by storm and the lighting up the Canadian box office. The film is one of my favourites from this year’s Toronto International Film Festival where it made its Canadian debut after premiering at Cannes where it won Dolan the Jury Prize. He should have won the Palme since Mommy is such a masterful force of raw, distinctly cinematic emotion. Read the 5-star review of Mommy (which I was just invited to have reproduced in a textbook… so cool!). Mommy opens today at The ByTowne. Buy a membership, since you’ll want to see it a few times for Anne Dorval alone.


The Urban Planet and Tent Town, USA

Slums: Cities of Tomorrow
(Canada, 81 min.)
Written and directed by Jean-Nicholas Orhon
The slums of the world have assumed a mystical, if not fetishistic, quality in the movies ever since Slumdog Millionaire took the world by storm in 2008. Slumdog thrillingly, if problematically, entrances audiences with its rags-to-riches romance that whizzes through the slums of Mumbai. Settings of exotic poverty are frequent in the movies, but few films actually tackle the significance of slums beyond the character and life that breathes in these overlooked corners of the world. They’re unacknowledged cities, really, as filmmaker Jean-Nicholas Orhon argues in the insightful documentary Slums: Cities of Tomorrow. This sobering film takes a matter-of-fact portrait of slums, which are rapidly growing as some of the most populous places on Earth.


Bill Murray, Patron Saint of Comedy

St. Vincent
(USA, 103 min.)
Written and directed by Theodore Melfi
Starring: Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Jaeden Lieberher
Bill Murray puts the F in ‘Bill F***ing Murray’ with his colourfully cuss-laden turn in the charming crowd-pleaser, St. Vincent. St. Vincent, which opened at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this year on the festive celebration of Bill Murray Day, canonizes Murray as one of the patron saints of comedy. Murray has been on something of a latter act reinvention of his career since 2003’s Lost in Translation brought his a well-deserved Oscar nod, and his turn as the grumpy Vin in St. Vincent might be one of the finer fusions of his sophisticated dramatic streak with his Caddyshack swagger. It’s a competitive year for actors, but there’s reason to believe that a few comedy fans will nominate their saint in the months ahead. St. Vincent sees Murray at his curmudgeonly best.


'Enemy', 'Grand Seduction' Top Directors Guild of Canada Winners

The Directors Guild of Canada awards were handed out in Toronto tonight. Enemy leads with three prizes, although Don McKellar scooped the prize for Best Director for The Grand Seduction. Oddly enough, Denis Villeneuve won the Canadian Screen Award for Best Director when Enemy led the CSA haul despite losing the top prize to Gabrielle, which went home from the DGAs empty handed. The winners are as follows:

Presented by Platinum Sponsor, Technicolor

Presented by Gold Sponsor, Deluxe

Don McKellar – The Grand Seduction
Presented by Silver Sponsor Rogers Group of Funds

Watermark – Jennifer Baichwal

The Golden Ticket – Patrick Hagarty

Presented by Silver Sponsor Pinewood Studios Group

Patrice Vermette - Enemy         

Matthew Hannam – Enemy

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones - Kevin Banks, Stephen Barden, Alex Bullick, Nelson Ferreira, J. R. Fountain, Rose Gregoris, Jill Purdy, Nathan Robitaille and Tyler Whitham

Please visit www.dgc.ca for the.complete list of winners including television categories.

Don Draper Makes a Pitch

Million Dollar Arm
(USA, 129 min.)
Dir. Craig Gillespie, Writ. Tom McCarthy
Starring: Jon Hamm, Aasif Mandvi, Madhur Mittal, Suraj Sharma, Lake Bell, Alan Arkin.
Don Draper knows how to make a pitch, so it’s no wonder that “Mad Men” star Jon Hamm gamely steps to the mound in the feel-good sports flick Million Dollar Arm. There’s some Madison Avenue drive and showmanship behind the pitch that Hamm’s sports agent JB makes to save his business in the film. The key to success, he thinks, is to breed a new culture of fandom for American baseball and the best resource lies in the untapped market of India where cricket fans are ideally suited for the American pastime of hitting a ball with a bat. From Lucky Strikes to three strikes, though, Hamm sells it with conviction.


Oscar Predictions: Round 2 - Could Oscar Season Revive These Contenders?

Marion Cotillard in The Immigrant
A month goes by quickly and a few corners are taking shape in the early rumblings of the Oscar race. Gone Girl is certifiably in after a month of booming box office and intelligent debate about gender roles in film (for the better) and has clearly tapped into a conversation that people need and want to have. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is definitely in, especially since the film is already earning cries of “Give Michael Keaton the Oscar,” although Keaton and company won’tbe available for much early campaigning, but, as THR notes, the film’s in good company with Fox Searchlight. Twitter’s losing its sh*t over Interstellar, but the film is so embargoed up the wazoo that nothing is really clear except that a bunch of people on the Internet are going crazy over a Christopher Nolan movie. (Because that never happens, right?) CITIZENFOUR, finally, also seems to be sparking major conversations with reliable writers like Anne Thompson callingit the frontrunner for Best Documentary Feature. I personally can’t see anything edging out the Roger Ebert doc Life Itself in the doc category, though, but I have yet to see CITIZENFOUR.

Planet in Focus Announces Nominees for Green Screen and Green Pitch Awards

Producer and Just Eat It film subject Jen Rustemeyer looks over a pile of rescued food. 
Toronto’s Planet in Focus kicks off in just two weeks, but a few nominees have been announced for some of the festival’s industry awards to be handed out during the festival. Planet in Focus, which runs Nov. 7-9, is Toronto’s largest and longest-running environmental film festival. Today’s nominees include the films competing for the Harold Greenberg Fund’s Green Screen Award nominees, which recognizes films and televisions works that display “best environmental practices during production.” PIF’s other batch of nominees, for the William F. White International’s Green Pitch, assists in the creation and support for notable green films by providing in-kind services and $1000 for the development of environmentally themed films. The winner and runner up for the Green Screen prize will be named during PIF’s award ceremony at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema on Nov. 9 while the Green Pitch winner will be named during the PIF Industry Day on Nov. 7. This year’s Planet in Focus opens Nov. 7 with Sturla Gunnarsson’s stunning doc Monsoon.


Ottawa's Inside Out Film Festival Runs Oct. 23-26!

Tru Love opens Inside Out tonight at The ByTowne.
Ottawa gears up for another festival as the local edition of Inside Out starts today at The ByTowne. Inside Out, Ottawa’s largest LGBT film festival and an offshoot of the larger Toronto festival, seems like a great alternative for Ottawans looking for a warm and inviting atmosphere to cheer them up. This year’s festival boasts an impressive line-up of features and shorts, including two Oscar contenders from Brazil and Switzerland, plus the opening night screening of the Canadian film Tru Love. The festival moves to The ByTowne as its home for most screenings (some are also at Club SAW) now that the defunct World Exchange is sitting empty. (But it’s still a great source for free parking on weekends, FYI.) ByTowne previously hosted the Inside Out closing night screening of Blue is the Warmest Colour to a packed audience, so hopefully the move means that more cinephiles will come out for a few screenings and help the festival get bigger and better as it grows!


Festival Japan Offers Free Films in Ottawa Oct. 24 & 25

Until the Break of Dawn screens free at Festival Japan on Oct. 24.
Fans of world cinema in the National Capital may look forward to a pair of free screenings this weekend courtesy of the Canadian Film Institute (CFI) when Festival Japan screens Oct. 24 and 25. Festival Japan, presented by the CFI in collaboration with the Embassy of Japan and The Japan Foundation, offers two contemporary Japanese films for Ottawa cinephiles. Both films screen in the new River Building at Carleton University, which will be the new home to many future CFI screenings to come. Take a parking tip from a thrifty Carleton grad, though, before heading to the fest: there is no free parking on campus, but anyone willing to walk five minutes may find ample free parking on the other side of Bronson Avenue at Brewer Park. Why spend money on parking when you can take a brisk walk (use the tunnels if it’s cold!) and then go for drinks afterwards?

Tickets Now on Sale for Ottawa's Cellar Door Film Festival!

The Canadian horror film Dys- screens at Ottawa's Cellar Door Film Festival
with director Maude Michaud in attendance on Nov. 8.
Trick or treat yourself to something sinister this Halloween season when Ottawa's Cellar Door Film Festival screens a fantastic line-up of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy films Nov. 7-9. Advance tickets are now available for the festival, and CDFF offers film fans an early bird rate of $9 a ticket for online sales (with an additional 5% off if you share via Uniiverse). Tickets are $12 at the door on the day of the event. All screenings take place at Club SAW, the funky cellar of Ottawa's film scene, located in Arts Court at 67 Nicholas St, just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the transit-friendly Rideau Centre.


'Mommy' Becomes Highest Grossing Quebecois Film of 2014

Xavier Dolan and Anne Dorval on the set for Mommy.
Photo: Shayne Laverdière, courtesy Les Films Séville.
Here's some more good news for Mommy as awards season approaches: La presse reports that the Xavier Dolan film and Canada's Oscar submission has handily become the highest grossing Québécois film of 2014. (Read the 5-star review of Mommy here.)  

OIFF 2014: Festival Wrap-up and 'Best of the Fest'

A Mile in These Hooves
The fifth annual Ottawa International Film Festival is officially a wrap! It’s nice to see the festival going strong in its fifth year. OIFF 2014 is my fourth year covering the festival and this year arguably marks the most well attended festival since I first caught the local fest at the now-defunct World Exchange in 2011. (I’m only using a visual gauge of the crowds, for official attendance numbers have not yet been released.) The surest sign of the festival going strong is its comfy new home at Ottawa’s Mayfair Theatre, which marks a much more appealing home than previous venues both in terms of atmosphere, access, and a/v quality.


OIFF Review: Shorts Programme 2

The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
The second shorts programme at the 2014 Ottawa InternationalFilm Festival doesn’t quite match the overall caliber of the first one, but the excellent doc The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life (Dir. Malcolm Clarke; USA/Canada/UK, 39 min.) more than gamely ensures that this screening lives up to expectations. This winner of the 2013 Academy Award for Best Documentary, Short Subject is an outstandingly inspiring affirmation of life. It’s worth the admission alone.

OIFF Review: 'In the Turn'

In the Turn
(USA/Canada, 90 min.)
Written and directed by Erica Tremblay
Ah, now here’s an empowering documentary for audiences at the 2014 International Film Festival. Ottawa audiences will love this story about Crystal, a ten-your-old girl from Timmins, who struggles while growing up in a small town that hesitates to accept people who challenge their idea of normalcy. Crystal’s mom introduces her daughter and explains how life in the snowy Shania Twain town isn’t easy for Crystal, who first expressed thoughts of suicide in relation to her gender dysphoria at the age of five. Crystal’s trouble at school, her mom explains, sums itself up best/worst with the school’s decision to deny Crystal the ability to play on sports teams because they don’t know whether to put her with the boys or with the girls.


OIFF Review: 'The Lost Key'

The Lost Key
(USA/Venezuela, 88 min.)
Dir. Ricardo Adler, Ricardo Korda, Belin Orsini
You know a doc’s a dud when it preaches about sex and intimacy and the only take away from the film is the thought, “Whatever happened to Meg Ryan?” The unfortunately absent has-been star of the 1990s appears in a fleeting snippet of one of her romantic comedies with Tom Hanks in the dismal documentary The Lost Key. Time is better spent watching Ryan’s Hanging Up than this one.

OIFF Review: Short Programme 1

A Mile in These Hooves
The first shorts programme of the 2014 Ottawa International Film Festival offers a playlist of great films. These eight shorts show how much the Festival has grown in its fifth year. It also shows how far Ottawa film has come in the age of OIFF, for this programme contains arguably the best Ottawa short production of the past five years alongside a film from The Weinstein Company. Yes, local talents are in the same block of shorts as a film that credits Mr. Oscar Campaigner himself, Harvey Weinstein, as Executive Producer. The real thrill is that the local short is undeniably the better film of the two. To be honest, though, there isn't a bad film in the bunch!


OIFF Review: 'American Descent' and 'Subsurface Flow'

American Descent
(Canada, 83 min.)
Dir. Brooks Hunter, Writ. Brooks Hunter, Robert Menzies, Maggie Newton
Starring: Eva Link, Madeline Link, Olivier Suprenant, Caedan Lawrence, Mark Slacke, Rachel Cairns, Katherine Dines, Timothy Paul Coderre.
Found footage strikes again. American Descent, the latest film from Brooks Hunter, director of OIFF 2011 alumnus and 2011 turkey train runner-up Kennyville, makes an admirable stab at mockumentary but falls victim to the same tired clichés and conventions that make found footage one of the most insufferable forms of filmmaking. American Descent, which should really be titled Stupid People: The Movie, is so dumb, dull, and repulsive that a not even cheerleader for local content could love it.

OIFF Review: 'My Father and the Man in Black'

My Father and the Man in Black
(Canada, 87 min.)
Written and directed by Jonathan Holiff
Johnny Cash is an American icon, so it only makes sense that the untold story of the man behind the Man in Black is the story of a Canadian. The late Saul Holiff, reserved and modest(ish), receives a posthumous tribute from his son, Jonathan, who mines the archive of his father's life in the folksy documentary My Father and the Man in Black. This personal Canada production, which screened at the Ottawa International Film Festival on Friday, walks the line between sweetness and sentimentality, but Holiff provides both an intimate tale of fathers and sons and a revealing glimpse into music history.


Trailer for 'Elephant Song' Starring Bruce Greenwood, Xavier Dolan and Catherine Keener

Photo: Les Films Séville
Les Films Séville released a trailer for the upcoming drama Elephant Song starring Bruce Greenwood, Xavier Dolan, and Catherine Keener. Elephant Song features a trio of strong performances in this stage to screen adaptation from director Charles Binamé. The film comes to Canadian theatres February 20th, 2015, which will hopefully be hot on the heels of an Oscar nomination (and maybe even a win) for Xavier Dolan's Mommy in the Best Foreign Language Film race. Mommy recently passed the $2 million dollar mark, which is significant for a Canadian film, and should encourage healthy domestic and foreign interest in the English-language Elephant Song. This release date also makes Elephant Song eligible for Canadian Screen Award nominations. (Expect the three actors to be nom'd.) Elephant Song had its world premiere at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival (review here) and recently had a swanky Ottawa screening hosted by Heritage Minister Sheila Glover.

OIFF Review: 'Girlhouse'

(Canada, 99 min.)
Dir. Trevor Matthews, John Knautz; Writ. Nick Gordon
Starring: Ali Corbin, Adam DiMarco, Erin Agostino, Chasty Ballesteros, Alyson Bath, Alice Hunter, Slaine.
Sexy coeds get porked and butchered in the local slasher Girlhouse and the result is pretty nasty. Girlhouse, which had its world premiere as the opening night selection of the 2014 Ottawa International Film Festival to an energetic and decently-sized crowd at the Mayfair Theatre, certainly marks one of the most professionally assembled and commercially viable genre flicks to emerge from the local film scene. A heaping dose of sex and violence makes this diversionary gore-fest a prime contender for the Netflix queue, although audiences outside of the local film scene might not be as forgiving of the clichés and overall derivativeness of the film. Still, Ottawa audiences should appreciate the technical efforts of their peers while teen target demos could bring some interest akin to the locally shot moneymaker House at the End of the Street.


'Citizen Marc': A Grassroots Campaign (of Sorts)

Citizen Marc
(Canada, 93 min.)
Dir. Roger Larry, Writ. Roger Larry, Sandra Tomc
Civil disobedience goes up in smoke in the raucous documentary Citizen Marc as famed and/or notorious marijuana activist Marc Emery positions himself as the Gandhi of ganja. Yes, that statement sounds like hyperbole, or like the words of a guy taking a toke, but Marc irreverently positions his cause as something akin to a holy war. Citizen Marc playfully magnifies this large-than-life character and posits his grandiose narcissism as one of his superhuman strengths. Marc’s delusions might also be his kryptonite, for director Roger Larry frames the story of Marc’s fight for marijuana rights within his recent legal battle and extradition to the United States for selling pot seeds across the border. This sassy doc asks if such a brazen personality is ultimately a help or a hindrance for cultivating social change.


Ottawa International Film Festival Runs Oct. 15-19!

The Ottawa International Film Festival returns this week! Running from Oct. 15-19, Ottawa’s little festival that could makes a big step forward in its fifth year. This year’s OIFF features the largest line-up yet with an impressive six features and 17 shorts from a mix of local, national and international talents. Even more impressive is OIFF’s new residency at Ottawa’s historic Mayfair Theatre, which gives the festival a new home with more seating capacity (and far better popcorn!) than its previous homes at the now-defunct World Exchange Plaza and other venues around the city. OIFF is not without its humble origins, as anyone starting up a project in Ottawa’s arts scene needs to keep in mind, but year five shows that business is a boomin’ for the local film scene!


Contest: Win Tickets to 'The Best of Me' in Ottawa and Toronto! (CONTEST CLOSED)

Alright, Nicholas Sparks fans! The latest adaptation of the romantic author comes to the screen with the bittersweet drama The Best of Me starring James Marsden, Michelle Monaghan, Liane Liberto, and Luke Bracey. The Best of Me opens in theatres October 17 from eOne Films, but if you live in Ottawa and/or Toronto and you want tickets to a sneak peek, you are in luck! Answer the trivia below for your chance to win!


'Nolo Contendre'

The Judge
(USA, 141 min.)
Dir. David Dobkin, Writ. Nick Schenk, Bill Dubuque
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr. , Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong.
How many high stakes courtroom flicks plead ‘no contest’? The legal plea lets a defendant play it safe by neither admitting to charges nor fighting them. It saves a potentially dramatic episode of legal proceedings as one avoids disputing one’s guilt. It’s dignified, I guess, if the potentially guilty party has nothing to prove.


Contest! Win Tickets to see 'Birdman' in Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver! (CONTEST CLOSED)

The Oscar race is on! Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) has had critics and audiences flapping their wings with praise ever since it opened at the Venice Film Festival this summer. Birdman, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu and starring Michael Keaton, opens in Canadian theatres from Fox Searchlight Pictures Canada beginning Oct. 24, but if you live in Toronto, Calgary, or Vancouver and want to catch a sneak peek of Birdman, you are in luck! Answer the trivia below for your chance to see Birdman before it hits theatres!


Cellar Door Film Festival Announces Line-up

The Bulgarian horror/thriller Roseville opens the 2014 Cellar Door Film Festival.
Ottawa’s Cellar Door Film Festival is excited to announce the line-up for its inaugural festival, which screens in Ottawa November 7-9, 2014. (Full disclosure: I’m one of the programmers and I’m very pleased to be sharing this news!) All screenings take place at Club SAW and are generously supported by CDFF’s presenting sponsor, The School for Studies in Art and Culture at Carleton University, as well as supporting sponsors the Alumni Association of Carleton University, GNA Heating and Cooling, The Haunted Walk of Ottawa, and Used Ottawa. CDFF presents Ottawans with their first festival of speculative cinema with four feature films and eleven short films across the genres of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy. These films were chosen from a healthy group of submissions that came from twenty-six countries across four continents. Pretty good for a first time festival!


Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage (and Then a Lot More Hateship)

Gone Girl
(USA, 149 min.)
Dir. David Fincher, Writ. Gillian Flynn
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Kim Dickens, Carrie Coon.
The adaptation of Gone Girl employs near clinical fidelity to its source material, yet one feels like an adulterer watching the delicious drama unfold onscreen. The book by Gillian Flynn inspires me to be on Amy’s side of the affair for every page of the novel from beginning to end, yet the film by David Fincher puts me on Team Nick for every frame of the movie from open to close. Gillian Flynn writes both versions and they’re nearly identical in terms of words, story and structure, so this adaptation poses a fascination re-reading by the film author that draws out all the social resonance embedded within Flynn’s texts. This wicked thriller by David Fincher is one of his best films yet.


uOttawa Human Rights Film Fest Review: 'I am a Girl'

I am a Girl
(Australia, 98 min.)
Written and directed by Rebecca Barry
This second University of Ottawa Human Rights Film Festival closes with the nice and timely documentary I am a Girl from Australian director Rebecca Barry. Barry follows six girls in different pockets of the world—Australia, USA, Afghanistan, Cameroon, Cambodia, and Papua New Guinea—and provides a global snapshot of what it means to be a young woman in the contemporary world. I am a Girl takes these six stories and weaves together an optimistic outlook for girls around the globe.


uOttawa Human Rights Film Fest Review: 'For Those Who Can Tell No Tales'

For Those Who Can Tell No Tales
(Bosnia and Herzegovina, 73 min.)
Dir. Jasmila Zbanic, Writ. Jasmila Zbanic, Kym Vercoe, Zoran Solomun
Starring: Kym Vercoe, Boris Isakovic, Simon McBurney, Sasa Orucevic

Well, here’s a fascinating film that Ottawans should see at the University of Ottawa Human Rights Film Festival. For Those Who Can Tell No Tales is arguably the best film of the fest. This film blends art and life as it follows Australian performance artists Kym Vercoe (played by Australian performance artist Kym Vercoe) as she travels to Bosnia and finds herself shell-shocked when she learns the truth about one of her picturesque stops recommended in her travel guide. Vercoe, adapting her own play Seven Kilometers North East about her own travels in Bosnia, strips back the veil of touristic ignorance behind which citizens of developed countries often hide. For Those Who Can Tell No Tales is powerful in its haunting realization of trauma and memory, and especially for how it honours victims of violence by sharing their story as art.

uOttawa Human Rights Film Fest Review: 'Portraits in a Sea of Lies'

Portraits in a Sea of Lies (Retrators en un Mar de Mentiras)
(Colombia, 91 min.)
Written and directed by Carlos Gaviria
Starring: Paola Baldion, Julián Román

Portraits in a Sea of Lies easily has the most poetic title of all the films screening at this year’s University of Ottawa Human Rights Film Festival. Like most books of poetry, though, Portraits is a bit tricky. This well-intentioned film by Carlos Gaviria easily delivers more on the message than it does the medium, but the multi-award-winning Portrait in a Sea of Lies smartly lets the lessons of the film leave a lasting impression. The film takes audiences to a contemporary Colombia where, as the final titles cards of the film reveal, an estimated ten percent of the population is displaced by violence. What begins as a run-of-the-mill road movie ends as a compelling essay on forced migration.


uOttawa Human Rights Film Fest Review: 'El Huaso'

El Huaso
(Canada/Chile, 78 min.)
Dir. Carlo Guillermo Proto
El Huaso: 1. a Chilean countryman and skilled horseman from the Quechan work huakcha, meaning orphan, not belonging to a community, hence free.
                2. a man of wealth and nobility, a free horseman
                3. an unsophisticated country bumpkin

“The one certainty in life is death,” says Gustavo Proto towards the end of El Huaso. “Taking your life is a natural death.”

'Left Behind': Or the Top Ten Signs that Nic Cage is the Rapture

Left Behind
(USA, 110 min.)
Dir. Vic Armstrong, Writ. Paul Lalonde, John Patus
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Lea Thompson, Chad Michael Murray, Nicky Whelan, Cassi Thomson.
“Either I’m going crazy or the whole world is insane,” says Rayford Steele (Nic Cage) as he commands an airplane against the violent headwinds of the rapture in the spiritually-themed disaster flick Left Behind. It’s a little from Column A and a little from Column B on both sides of the crazy scale, Rayford, since our fascination with Nic Cage craziness is in top flight in Left Behind. Some moviegoers might want to bust out the origami vomit bags they made with the screenplay of Flight (that other weirdly religious airplane disaster) while others upchuck their popcorn in the so-bad-it’s-goodness of Left Behind. Left Behind, however, remains enjoyably ridiculous thanks to the canon of Nic Cage craziness in which viewers inevitably approach it. Left Behind features a much more subdued, wholesome Cage as he navigates the family-friendly flight path of Left Behind, so the question remains up in the air whether Nic Cage is going to save filmgoers from the rapture or whether he himself is the rapture.


Contest! Win Tickets to see 'John Wick' Across Canada! (CONTEST CLOSED)

Whoa! Keanu Reeves is back in John Wick and it looks like a wild ride! John Wick, which is already netting great reviews and looks like a potential sleeper/cult hit of the fall, opens in theatres October 24 from eOne Films, but readers across Canada can win tickets to sneak peeks! If you live in Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, or Winnipeg, answer the trivia below for your chance to win!


Contest! Win Tickets to See 'St. Vincent' Across Canada! (CONTEST CLOSED)

Who are the saints of Hollywood? Bill Murray is a saint. I nominate him. The man hails from comedy heaven and his latest film, St. Vincent, is proof of that. The film keeps earning cries of “halleluiah!” and Oscar buzz galore ever since it had its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this fall where it won a runner-up prize in the race for the People’s Choice Award. (Heck, Bill Murray is such a saint that the Festival even named a whole day after him!) Audiences can see St. Bill in action when St. Vincent opens in theatres October 24th from eOne Films, but lucky readers can win tickets to sneak peeks of the film across Canada! Answer the trivia below to win!

uOttawa Human Rights Film Fest Review: 'The Supreme Price'

The Supreme Price
(USA/Nigeria, 75 min.)
Written and directed by Joanne Lipper
Hafsat Abiola has a political conviction that runs through her blood. It’s a life force, fuelled by the loss of both her mother and father to violence as they fought for democracy in Nigeria. Her parents paid the titular supreme price as The Supreme Price chronicles Hafsat’s own motivation to continue fighting oppression for a cause she believes in. How many lives the cause is worth fighting for remains the ultimate question of the film, but Hafsat’s plight, director Joanne Lipper shows, argues that at least one more life is worth the wager.

Can You Guess These Cellar Door Films?

Some friends and I have been working on a film festival over the past year or so. Cellar Door Film Festival, as the story goes, started as a little film club where Carleton students got together and watched some horror movies. We then got together as a festival when Gina, our Festival Coordinator, proposed taking the project to the next level. It's been daunting and a lot of time/work, but also a lot of fun--and a great opportunity to make one's experience in Ottawa where festival gigs are few and the arts community, strong as it is, is hard to break into.