Cast Your Vote for the Canadian Comedy Awards

Corner Gas: The Movie
Cast your vote in the Canadian Comedy Awards! The nominees are out today and audiences may vote in five categories including two for film: Best Feature and Best Comedy Special or Short. The nominations include a full slate of awards from the industry side, and this side of nominations suggests that half the voters only saw one Canadian comedy this year: Corner Gas: The Movie, which (somehow) leads the pack with nine nominations including three in each acting category. A major LOL, for sure.

Big shout out also goes to the hilarious mockumentary A Mile in These Hooves for the nom!

The list of film nominees are:

For Canada Day: Is 'Atlantic City' the 'Forgotten' Canadian Film?

Burt Lancaster and Susan Sarandon star in Atlantic City
Happy Canada Day! Celebrate July 1st by taking in some great Canadian movies. This year’s Canada Day celebrations coincide with the Canadian Open Vault presentations of films selected for the Toronto International Film Festival’s recurring poll of the top ten Canadian Films of all time. Screening for free are Mon Oncle Antoine (introduced by Ingrid Veninger), Atanarjuat (introduced by TIFF’s Jesse Wente), and Jesus of Montréal (introduced by Jason Gorber). You can also rent top tenees The Sweet Hereafter at Canada Screens and Stories We Tell at the NFB.


Biff Naked

Biff Wellington
(Canada, 145 min.)
Written and directed by Vincent Valentino
Starring: Vincent Valentino, Randy Mars, Andrew Gordon Johnson, Angela Parent, Delaney Hinds, Donna Lynn, Ron Jeremy.
Vincent Valentino and Ron Jeremy star in Biff Wellington.

Biff Wellington, as far as I know, is the first local production to feature both Ron Jeremy and an exorcism. Take that, House at the End of the Street! Jennifer Lawrence is no longer the benchmark for what Ottawa films can offer.


2015 in Review: The Best Films of the Year so Far

Sunshine Superman
The noise for 2015 is loudest for the loudest movies, but this year is all about the indies. Mad Max: Fury Road shakes the multiplex with more bass and fury than all the other releases of the year combined, and there’s no doubt that it’s a landmark Hollywood blockbuster with its badass heroin Furiosa and the madcap direction by George Miller. It’s the most entertaining film of the year, but it’s not quite the best.

First Images for Philippe Falardeau's Ottawa-shot 'Guibord s'ven va-t-en guerre'

Photo: Guibord (Patrick Huard) ©Ronald Plante.
The first images are out for Philippe Falardeau’s latest film, Guibord s’en va-t-en-guerre (Guibord Goes to War). The Monsieur Lazhar Oscar nominee returns in one of the bigger Québécois comedies of the year as Guibord brings Starbuck’s Patrick Huard in a larger-than-life leading role as a federal incumbent fighting for his seat in the next election, which seems timely for the films October 2nd release as Canadians are heading to the polls. Guibord was shot in an around Ottawa earlier this year and features Suzanne Clément and Micheline Lanctôt.


When Everything Feels Like the Movies

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
(USA, 105 min.)
Dir. Alejandro Gomez-Rejon, Writ. Jesse Andrews
Starring: Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon, Nick Offerman, Jon Bernthal
Olivia Cooke as Rachel and Thomas Mann as Greg in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.
Photo by Anne Marie Fox / Fox Searchlight Pictures
Back to back summer cancer movies? Is this a trend? Teen movies sometimes get a bad rap, like when they tackle mortality with hipster coyness in the maudlin mush of, say, The Fault in Our Stars, but here comes Me and Earl and the Dying Girl as a perfect remedy to the benign tumor of Stars. Beyond the simplified plot element of “boy meets girl with cancer,” the films couldn’t be more different. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a teen movie for grown-ups. It’s a mature, poignant, and funny film with a wisdom beyond its years.


Teetering on the Edge with Suzanne

Sitting on the Edge of Marlene
(Canada, 92 min.)
Written and directed by Ana Valine
Starring: Suzanne Clément, Paloma Kwiatkowski and Callum Keith Rennie
Suzanne Clément is Marlene Bell in Sitting on the Edge of Marlene, an Entertainment One release.

Suzanne Clément does a whole lot of acting in Sitting on the Edge of Marlene and it’s pretty darn spectacular. The Mommy star finds a ferocious vehicle for her dramatic chops in this promising feature debut by writer/director Ana Valine. Performances as big, dynamic, and full of life as Clément’s Marlene are often of the love-it-or-leave-it variety, but Clément’s bold and gutsy turn as the phony baloney mama is a fascinating performance. It’s one of the best performances yet from an actress who continually surprises.


This is the Part Where RJ Cyler and Me Talk 'Me and Earl and the Dying Girl'

RJ Cyler as Earl and Thomas Mann as Greg in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.
Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures.
“It’s like going up to the girl you see in school and you really, really like her, and you actually talk to her, and it goes way, way out the first time,” says actor RJ Cyler when asked about the success of his first film Me and Earl and the Dying Girl during our recent phone interview. Cyler, who plays Earl in the film, doesn’t seem the least bit phased by the extraordinary success of the film. The film is now playing in theatres (it opens in Ottawa this week) after a thunderous debut at the Sundance Film Festival where it scored both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award, and stirred a bidding war. “It’s crazy and unreal,” he adds, “I couldn’t ask for a better blessing to start off my career.”

Happy Birthday, Meryl Streep!

Meryl Streep in Death Becomes Her.

Happy 66th, Meryl!
Cheers to you.


Deli Doc a Hearty Meal

Deli Man
(USA, 91 min.)
Dir. Erik Greenberg Anjou
Om nom nom! Bring an empty belly to Deli Man and get ready to have it filled! This fun and scrumptious doc from Erik Anjou piles on the pastrami, and Deli Man offers a hearty meal for moviegoers.


Contest: Win 'After the Ball' on DVD! (Contest Closed)

Put on your fancy pants and dress to impress with After the Ball! After the Ball, a fun Cinderella story with a Devil Wears Prada twist, comes to DVD next week after a successful run in theatres earlier this year. The film hits shelves on Tuesday, June 23 from Pacific Northwest Pictures, and Cinemablographer has a copy of After the Ball to give away to two lucky readers. Answer the trivia below for your chance to win!

'The Calling' Leads Directors Guild of Canada Nominations

Director Jason Stone on the set of The Calling.
eOne Films.
The nominees for the 2015 Directors Guild of Canada are a varied and overall unexpected bunch. Some of 2014’s biggest Canadian films like Mommy and Maps to the Stars are well represented here from the pool of 250 submissions, although, surprisingly, neither Xavier Dolan nor David Cronenberg are among the nominees. The 2015 DGC awards mostly spotlight under-the-radar talents and films feature film categories that didn’t quite get their due, like Fall or The Calling, the latter of which leads the film nominations with three kudos including noms in the top categories. Maps and Pompeii also have 3 noms, but only in tech categories. Other pleasant and well-deserved nominations include Sturla Gunnarsson’s Monsoon on the doc front and Michelle Latimer’s The Underground in the shorts category, while a lone nomination for The Witch is a surprise, since the USA/Canada co-pro hasn’t hit theatres yet after its acclaimed debut at Sundance in January. (Elevation Pictures will release the film later this year.) The leaders on the TV side include The Book of Negroes, Orphan Black, and Schitt’s Creek.


Bigger, Louder, Meaner

Jurassic World
(USA, 124 min.)
Dir. Colin Trevorrow, Writ. Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver and Colin Trevorrow & Derek Connolly
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Nick Robinson, Ty Simpkins, Vincent D’Onofrio, Irrfan Khan, Omar Sy, Judy Greer.
Jurassic World makes the dinosaurs bigger, louder, meaner, and scarier, but it doesn’t make them better. Park jumped the shark with the third Jurassic movie, and this fourth installment arguably returns the franchise to a respectable-enough level, yet the magic of the Jurassic world is gone. The loss is ironic, since the gist of Jurassic World is that audiences don’t find dinosaurs very exciting, so their scientists and corporate stiffs need to amp up the crazy and unleash a new monster upon the masses every now and then. The idea follows the same business plan: give an old film an extra shot of adrenaline, a lot of obvious product placement, and some more CGI, and audiences flock to the theatre like kids seeing a new dino. Jurassic World goes Godzilla the fourth time around as it roars and bares its teeth: if only the scientists behind the genetic engineering gave it a bigger brain.


Love Never Dies

(USA, 105 min.)
Dir. Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead, Writ. Justin Benson
Starring: Lou Taylor Pucci, Nadia Hilker
Love never dies. Vampires, werewolves, and other monsters of lore make horror one of the most romantic genres even if it usually entails bloods, guts, and gore. Love hurts, right?


Cold as Ice

(Spain/Canada/France, 112 min.)
Written and directed by Claudia Llosa
Starring: Jennifer Connelly, Cillian Murphy, Mélanie Laurent, Willem Shimmell, Zen McGrath, Winta McGrath
Jennifer Connelly as Nana.
Photo by Jose Haro, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.
Claudia Llosa blows some Canadian Tire money with the new age nonsense of Aloft. The film’s a minority co-pro with Spain (only 20% of the change is Canadian), so the loss is no biggie on the commercial front. Artistically, however, Aloft is hugely disappointing. The film’s one of the more prominent art-house co-Canadian efforts with frequent Guy Maddin collaborator Phyllis Laing (My Winnipeg) producing with some of the minds behind Spain’s Blancanieves. And with the viable talent of Llosa (director of 2009’s Peruvian Oscar nominee The Milk of Sorrow) in the director’s seat with Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly starring alongside Cillian Murphy and Mélanie Laurent, Aloft should, at the very least, be engaging. However, it’s as cold and unwelcoming as a frozen tundra.


Hoss is the Bauss

(Germany, 98 min.)
Written and directed by Christian Petzold
Starring: Nina Hoss, Ronald Zehrfeld, Nina Kunzendorf
Nina Hoss in Phoenix. Photo: Films We Like

Nina Hoss is the bauss. The ever-enigmatic German actress gives a powerhouse performance as Nelly, the fiercely seductive survivor of Christian Petzold’s post-war drama Phoenix. Hoss reunites with her Barbara director in this mysterious and ambiguous neo-noir, and the role is tailor made for her beguiling screen presence. Marlene Dietrich couldn’t have played it better.

Israeli Film Fest Review: 'The Dove Flyer'

The Dove Flyer (Mafriah Yonim)
(Israel, 105 min.)
Written and directed by Nissim Dayan
Starring: Daniel Gad, Igal Naor, Uri Gabriel, Yasmin Ayoun, Ahuva Keren, Eli Dor Haim
Baghdad, 1950. A young man named Kabi (Daniel Gad) sees his family as the final turn of a legacy seventy generations in the making. His family faces the news that the Jewish community is being forced to leave Iraq and depart the land where their ancestors lived for many years. Kabi’s family explodes both from within and from without, and The Dove Flyer looks at the world through the eyes of one young man whose perspective shifts constantly. How can one make any sense of the world when there’s nowhere to go and nowhere to be free?


Boys, Pups, Men.

We Were Wolves
(Canada, 94 min.)
Dir. Jordan Canning, Writ. Jordan Canning, Steve Cochrane
Starring: Peter Mooney, Steve Cochrane, Lynda Boyd
Peter Mooney and Lynda Boyd in We Were Wolves

Brothers Nick (Peter Mooney) and Danny (Steve Cochrane) grow up in the wild when they return to their family cottage to sort through their late father’s belongings. The brothers, long estranged, are pups who act like men. Nick needs the cottage weekend as a getaway from his wife and kids, but when Danny, a mooch who appears only when in need of scraps, shows up at the cottage, the brothers revisit old wounds and reconnect lost ties. The smart slice-of-life drama We Were Wolves deftly explores the bonds of brotherhood and the ever-freeing pull of the wild.


Enjoy Movies in the Park at Centretown Movies this Summer

Moonrise Kingdom
Get ready for movies under the stars! Centretown Movies released the schedule for its annual outdoor movie fest, and this year brings a mix of contemporary and classic films to Ottawa. All films screen at Dundonald Park and begin at 9:00 pm. Bring a chair and/or blanket and enough popcorn to share!


Trailer for Atom Egoyan's 'Remember'

A new trailer is out from Les Films Séville for Atom Egoyan’s upcoming film Remember. Remember, one of this blog's most anticipated titles of 2015, reunites Egoyan with Canada’s finest actor, Christopher Plummer, after working together on 2002’s Ararat. This new revenge thriller sees Plummer on a quest to settle the past and avenge his family against the Nazi who killed . Egoyan’s been a bit off his game lately with Devil’s Knot and The Captive (the latter of which even I didn’t see), but Remember certainly looks promising. The film was recently cited in an exclusive scoop by Screen as one of the potential films by Canadian directors that the Toronto International Film Festival is circling for opening night. Other rumours include Deepa Mehta’s Beeba Boys, Jean-Marc Vallée’s Demolition and Paul Gross’s Hyena Road. Is Egoyan the one to kick off TIFF’s 40th birthday party?

The Enlightened Screen: Brandon Cronenberg

Antiviral Writer, Director Brandon Cronenberg.
Photo: eOne Films
The CFI gets speculative in their latest edition of The Enlightened Screen! The Canadian Film Institute welcomes filmmaker Brandon Cronenberg to the ongoing Canadian independent film series The Enlightened Screen, which invites Canuck filmmakers to engage with Ottawa audiences following a film screening. Cronenberg, son of Canadian film icon David Cronenberg, brings the next generation of body horror to the CFI with a special screening of his 2012 film Antiviral and two of his recent short films. The screening on June 20th should be especially of interest to local cinephiles since Cronenberg will present a re-edited version of Antiviral. (I have a wedding that night, so unfortunately I can’t attend, but would love to hear feedback from anyone who makes it!) Previous guests of The Enlightened Screen include William D. MacGillivray, Catherine Martin, and Peter Mettler.

This Not-so-Dark World

Dark Star: HR Giger’s World
(Switzerland, 95 min.)
Written and directed by Belinda Salin
Featuring: HR Giger, Carmen Maria Scheifele
Dark Star - H.R. Gigers World
Credit: Courtesy of Icarus Films
If something seems alien about the work and world of Hans Reudi Giger, then Belinda Salin did her job just right. HR Giger, the late artist, is perhaps best known for his iconic creation of the aliens in Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979). His work deservedly won an Oscar, but there’s a lot more to his oeuvre than the one tall creepy thing that terrorized Sigourney Weaver. His art is dark and speculative, yet Salin captures a man who was perfectly normal in spite of the superficial abnormality of his work. Dark Star: HR Giger’s World leaves the audience wanting to learn how such a seemingly gentle man could create such seemingly morbid artwork.


Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

After the Ball
(Canada, 101 min.)
Dir. Sean Garrity, Writ. Kate Melville, Jason Sherman
Starring: Portia Doubleday, Marc-André Grondin, Chris Noth, Lauren Holly, Anna Hopkins, Natalie Krill, Mimi Kucyk, Carlo Rota, Colin Mochrie
Cinderella meets The Devil Wears Prada in After the Ball. This new film by Sean Garrity (My Awkward Sexual Adventure) with a script from Kate Melville (Picture Day) and Jason Sherman (The Best Laid Plans) alters the Cinderella story anew (ish) with a few sprinkles of magic dust as it sets the tale in the world of Montreal fashion. “Fairy tales never go out of fashion,” After the Ball advertises and it’s true. The sweet escape of happily-ever-after is a shoe that always fit whenever one is in the mood for harmless magic.


Why Don't We Have Films Like 'The Dead Lands' in Canada?

The Dead Lands (Hautoa)
(New Zealand/UK, 107 min.)
Dir. Toa Fraser, Writ. Glenn Standring
Starring: James Rolleston, Lawrence Makoare, Te Kohe Tuhaka, Xavier Horan, Rakura Turei
Lawrence Makoare in The Dead Lands.
Photo courtesy of Video Services Corp.

Why don’t we have films like The Dead Lands in Canada? Screening in Ottawa at The ByTowne the very week that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission finally brought serious discussions about the treatment of First Nations persons to the forefront, the power of seeing The Dead Lands on the big screen offers a reminder that Canadian cinema doesn’t give full representation to the history and heritage on which this nation stands. One can literally count on one finger the number of kick-ass First Nations dramas we have in Canada (Rhymes for Young Ghouls) and only a few other fingers account for pre-colonial dramatizations of First Nations communities (Maïna, which is not good, and Atanarjuat, a landmark film, for sure). A film like The Dead Lands gives a rich, thrilling, and decidedly cinematic dramatization of indigenous culture. The film is a game-changer not for its spectacular action, but for the way it weaves myth, folklore, and tribal codes into the power dynamics that fuel the drama. This wild and accessible action film is another example for why Canada should look to New Zealand and Australia for cinematic inspiration.


Meryl Streep and Carey Mulligan's 'Suffragette' Gets New Trailer

A great new trailer is out for Meryl Streep's big fall movie Suffragette. Streep co-stars in this film headlined by Far from the Madding Crowd's Carey Mulligan that tells the story of the fight for women's rights in the UK. The film, directed by Sarah Gavron (Brick Lane), reunites Streep with Iron Lady screenwriter Abi Morgan.


Entourage: The Big Screen Brodown

(USA, 104 min.)
Dir. Doug Ellin, Writ. Doug Ellin, Rob Weiss
Starring: Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara, Jeremy Piven
Entourage throws the party of the week and everyone’s invited. This continuation of the popular HBO series carries on where the show left off after eight seasons. Entourage fans are bound to love it, since the film is basically a special double-episode that offers more of the same. It’s a belated series finale, or epilogue, rather, that looks at where Vince Chase (Adrian Grenier) and his crew stand after the credits rolled over on HBO. Moviegoers who aren’t familiar with the show, however, aren’t going to have as good of a time: Entourage is akin to watching any two random consecutive episodes of a series without any prior knowledge of what happens beforehand. The experience is a lot like going to a roaring party where one doesn’t know anyone. It has its moments, but it tires quickly.

Three Little Pigs and a Big Bad Wolf

Berkshire County
(Canada, 83 min.)
Dir. Audrey Cummings, Writ. Chris Gamble
Starring: Alysa King, Samora Smallwood, Bart Rochon, Aaron Chartrand, Madison Ferguson, Christophe Gallander, Robert Nolan
When the little pig saw what the wolf was about, he hung on the pot full of water, made up a blazing fire, and, just as the wolf was coming down, took off the cover, and in fell the wolf; so the little pig put on the cover again in an instant, boiled him up, and ate him for supper, and lived happy ever afterwards.
-The Three Little Pigs


Let Them Eat Mangiacake

(Canada, 81 min.)
Dir. Nathan Estabrooks, Writ. Christina Cuffari, Nathan Estabrooks
Starring: Melanie Scrofano, Christina Cuffari, Jocelyne Zucco, Paula MacPherson

MangiaCake: (mengah-kek) Italian translation: 'Cake eater.'
A derogatory term used by Italo-Canadians to describe non-Italians.
Synonyms: tête-carée, wasp, white bread, bland, boring