Not a Sad Clown Story: Igor Drljača Talks 'The Waiting Room'

Director Igor Drljača attends the Canadian Screen Awards.
Director Igor Drljača returns with The Waiting Room, a thematic companion piece to his acclaimed 2012 Krivina. The Waiting Room is the fourth feature from Drljača’s production company TimeLapse Pictures, which Drljača co-founded with Albert Shin and recently earned wide praise for their Canadian Screen Award nominee In Her Place. As with the previous works, The Waiting Room adds to the growing spectrum of Canadian films that link Canadian stories within larger global themes and narratives of migration. The film stars Jasmin Geljo in a bold, dark, and deeply funny performance as an actor playing the part of the immigrant on the Toronto film scene as a new role brings back memories of the past. (Geljo received a Canadian Screen Award nomination for his performance, as did co-star Cynthia Ashperger.) In a bit of art imitating life, The Waiting Room draws on Geljo’s experience as Drljača observes an actor finding himself through the roles he plays.



Love & Friendship
(Ireland/France/Netherlands, 92 min.)
Written and directed by Whit Stillman
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Chloë Sevigny, Morfydd Clark, Xavier Samuel, Tom Bennett, Lochlann O’Mearáin
Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale) in Whit Stillman's Jane Austen adaptation Love & Friendship.
Photo by Bernard Walsh, Blinder Films.

Jane Austen gets a quick-witted counterpart in Love & Friendship. This film marks the first page-to-screen adventure by Whit Stillman, the writer/director of hip New Yorker indies like Metropolitan, The Last Days of Disco, and Damsels in Distress, and the world of lady Jane is a perfect fit for Stillman. Love & Marriage seamlessly transports a comedy of manners over two centuries after its original author put paper to pen thanks to the sharpness and contemporary sensibility of Whit’s wit. Love & Friendship might be Stillman’s first adaptation, but it’s one of his best and most original works.


'Mr. Right' Puts Happily-Ever-After in the Crosshairs

Mr. Right
(USA, 90 min.)
Dir. Paco Cabezas, Writ. Max Landis
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Anna Kendrick, Tim Roth, James Ransone, RZA
Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell star in Mr. Right.
Courtesy of VVS Films.

Trips through the dating world often bring a little baggage. Maybe a prospective mate has some weird habits, like eating tin foil or couch cushion stuffing, or perhaps someone seems like the perfect match until he or she pulls out a bunch of kids that one just isn’t ready to raise. Alternatively, maybe, like Martha (Anna Kendrick) experiences when she finds Mr. Right, her perfect man kills people for a living. That’s some awfully big baggage, but Martha, in typically endearing Anna Kendrick fashion, brushes off Mr. Right’s blood-spattered shortcoming with a hop, skip, and a shrug.

'Revenge' is a Dish that Leaves Cold

Revenge (Hevn)
(Norway/Canada, 100 min.)
Dir. Kjersti Steinsbø; Writ. Ingvar Ambjørnsen, Kjersti Steinsbø
Starring: Siren Jørgensen, Frode Winther, Maria Bock, Anders Baasmo Christensen, Tron Espen Seim, Helene Bergsholm, Kine Botheim Jentoft
Maria Bock and Siren Jørgensen star in Revenege.
Courtesy of Alcina Pictures

If revenge is a dish best served cold, then one can hardly find a better match for icy chefs than a Canuck and a Nordic. Revenge, a rare co-production between Canada and Norway, chills with steely tenacity as it makes an idyllic Norwegian getaway a haven for past crimes. Siren Jørgensen stars as in a eerily detached performance as Rebekka, a woman who travels to the fjords of Norway under the false pretense that she is a travel writing aiming to profile a quaint little hotel in a picturesque, but sleepy, little town. In the vein of recent cold-blooded Scandinavian thrillers like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, though, Revenge is a tale of men who hate women as this thriller builds a complicated rape culture parable that nips, but leaves cold.


Canada at Cannes: 'Oh What a Wonderful Feeling' Review

Oh What a Wonderful Feeling
(Canada, 16 min.)
Written and directed by François Jaros
Starring: Karelle Tremblay, Frédérike Bédard, Catherine Hughes, Tania Kontoyanni, Ellen David, Patrice Beauchesne, Louis Negin
Oh, what a wonderful feeling it is to experience an exciting new Canadian director. Quebecois filmmaker François Jaros already has a steady list of accomplishments in his career with back to back Jutra Gala Cinema awards for the shorts Life’s a Bitch (2014) and Maurice (2015), but it’s nice to discover his work following its breakout on the international scene. Jaros’s new Cannes debut Oh What a Wonderful Feeling is a dark, allusive, and playfully demonic work of art.


The Tiger Roars

(France, 115 min.)
Dir. Jacques Audiard, Writ. Jacques Audiard, Thomas Bidegain, Noé Debré
Starring: Antonythasan Jesuthasan, Kalieaswari Srinivasan, Claudine Vinasithamby
Jesuthasan Antonythasan (Dheepan) behind the car in Jaques Audiard’s Dheepan.
Courtesy of Paul Arnaud.
Dheepan finally hits theatres a year after its mildly controversial win of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. The hubbub around Dheepan wasn’t one of sex, violence, or politics about its tale of migration and Tamil Tigers, but rather one of merit. Did this new film from Jacques Audiard really deserve the prize over hotly tipped critical favourite Sonof Saul, people asked.

Canada at Cannes: Xavier Dolan Wins Grand Prix

Well, here's a surprise! Canadian wunderkind Xavier Dolan wasn't this year Palme d'Or winner, but his trophy shelf got a Cannes upgrade. Dolan's It's Only the End of the World the the Grand Prix at this year's Cannes Film Festival. The prize, essentially the festival's runner-up honours, are upgrade from the Jury Prize he received for 2014's Mommy. Coming in second was an impressive feat for a film that was largely expected to go home empty handed. The big winner was Ken Loach, who earned his second Palme after 2006's The Wind that Shakes the Barley, for I, Daniel Blake.


'The People Garden' Needs a Good Tilling

The People Garden
(Canada/Japan, 80 min.)
Written and directed by Nadia Litz
Starring: Dree Hemingway, Pamela Anderson, François Arnaud, James Le Gros, Jai West, Geneviève Brouillette, Liane Balaban
Courtesy of PNP

The People Garden gets lost in the woods as young wanderer Sweetpea (Dree Hemingway, While We’re Young) paces circles around her own fate. This second feature by Nadia Litz (Hotel Congress, plus the great short How to Rid Your Lover of a Negative Emotion Caused By You!) never quite finds its full potential as a convoluted path and a drab lead bring it to a dead end. The People Garden needs a good tilling.

Suzanne Clément Toasts 'L'chaim!'

À la vie (To Life)
(France, 105 min.)
Dir. Jean-Jacques Zilberman, Writ. Danièle D’Antoni, Jean-Jacques Zilberman
Starring: Julie Depardieu, Johanna Ter Steege, Suzanne Clément, Hippolyte Giradot
Johanna Ter Steege, Suzanne Clément and Julie Depardieu star in À la vie

Suzanne Clément toasts l’chaim! in the French post-war drama À la vie. Clément plays Rose, an Auschwitz survivor who returns to France from Montreal when her friend Hélène (Julie Depardieu) seeks out her friends from the camp. L’chaim, like À la vie, translates to the film’s English title To Life (although the film generally goes by its French title here) and the Mommy star/muse of the Xavier Dolan oeuvre is easily the life of this fine film about friends repairing wounds left by World War II.


Canada at Cannes: First Reactions to Xavier Dolan's 'It's Only the End of the World' (Updated)

Marion Cotillard and Xavier Dolan on the shoot of It's Only the End of the World.
An eOne Films Release.
Well, it looks as if Xavier Dolan isn’t winning the Palme he should have won for Mommy. The 27-year-old Quebecois master is getting so pummelled by critics one would swear that Atom Egoyan just debuted a new flick at Cannes. Dolan’s It’s Only the End of the World has critics calling it “excruciating,” “shrill,” “disappointing,” and then some, although the Toronto Star’s Peter Howell taps it as a Cannes contender. For a film that seemed poised to be a contender for Canada’s Oscar bid in the Best Foreign Language Film race with a TIFF/award season friendly release date of September 21, It’s Only the End of the World seems to be out, unless magic happens when it screens for the public tomorrow.

Canada at Cannes: First Reactions to 'Two Lovers and a Bear'

Photo courtesy of Max Films
Canada’s second turn to bat at Cannes seems to be a hit. Reports say that War Witch director Kim Nguyen’s Two Lovers and a Bear premiered to great applause on Wednesday. The reviews are largely positive with special praise going to Nguyen’s use of magical realism and evocative use of the arctic landscape, while the performances by Tatiana Maslany and Dane DeHaan are drawing strong notices. Critics and Croisette-goers also seem to like the appearance of Gordon Pinsent as a talking bear, which is a surprise previously unrevealed in the film’s coverage. Here are the first reactions and we’ll update as more Two Lovers and a Bear news comes in. Peter Howell speculates on a TIFF slot, so we’ll keep fingers crossed for the film’s North American Premiere.


Blu-Ray Review: 'Jane Got a Gun'

Jane Got a Gun
(USA, 98 min.)
Dir. Gavin O’Connor, Writ. Brian Duffield and Anthony Tambakis & Joel Edgerton
Starring: Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, Ewan McGregor, Noah Emmerich
Natalie Portman stars in Jane Got a Gun.
Courtesy of VVS Films.

Give a three-gun salute to Mandy Walker. The Aussie cinematographer behind the lens of Baz Luhrmann’s Australia and John Curran’s Tracks once again proves herself among the best camerapersons on the frontier. She’s one sharp shooter.


'Fire Song': A Tale of Love and Death

Fire Song
(Canada, 96 min.)
Written and directed by Adam Garnet Jones
Starring: Andrew Martin, Jennifer Podemski, Harley Legarde, Mary Galloway
Andrew Martin and Jennifer Podemski star in Fire Song.
Fire Song bravely tells a story of love and death within a tightly knit First Nations community. The intimacy of the Anishnabe neighbourhood is essential here because each death of Fire Song takes its toll, while the close proximity of family and friends tightens this tale of forbidden love in Northern Ontario. Fire Song is one of the first Canadian films to offer two-spirited characters as Shane (Andrew Martin) wrestles with his love for David (Harley Legarde) while keeping up appearances as boyfriend to Tara (Mary Galloway). Tara’s a perfectly nice girl, and she’s clearly head-over-heels for Shane, but her college-bound boyfriend would much rather head to school in Toronto with his boyfriend, who happens to be a rising star amongst the young residents in the eyes of the bandleaders. Shane and David profess their love to one another long before Fire Song begins, but their fear of sharing their love with others only adds to the complexity of life in their small poverty-stricken community.

Canada at Cannes: First 'Mean Dreams' Reactions (Updated)

Sophie Nélisse stars as Casey in Mean Dreams.
Courtesy of Elevation Pictures.
Nathan Morlando’s Mean Dreams is Canada’s first feature to screen at Cannes this week. The response is disappointing. This second feature from the director of the 2011 breakout Edwin Boyd: Citizen Gangster stars Monsieur Lazhar’s Sophie Nélisse, Josh Wiggins, Colm Feore, and Bill Paxton, the latter of whom is drawing especially negative remarks for what’s said to be a brutally over-the-top performance. (Why do we keep casting him?) The response from the film’s Sunday premiere at the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes is generally mixed with reviews generally calling the film handsomely shot but derivative. Most reactions cite Terrence Malick’s Badlands as an influence, but the few reviews to emerge cite so many perceptible homages that the derivativeness seems to be the one consensus across the board. Reactions on social media seem stronger than those in the trades, so we’ll update this post as the film has additional screenings at Cannes.


Swinton and Guadagnino Make Waves Once Again

A Bigger Splash
(Italy/France, 124 min.)
Dir. Luca Guadagnino, Writ. David Kajganich
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Matthias Schoenaerts, Dakota Johnson
Matthias Schoenaerts and Tilda Swinton star in A Bigger Splash.
Courtesy of Elevation Pictures.

Tilda Swinton and Luca Guadagnino make waves once again. The actor/director team of 2010’s scrumptious I am Love returns with the sizzling drama A Bigger Splash. The film once again brings audiences to the sweltering sexiness of Italy as Swinton stars as rocker Marianne Lane, who recuperates on scenic Pantelleria Island following vocal cord surgery. Swinton is a near-silent marvel here and she’s matched by a strong trio of actors as Ralph Fiennes, Matthias Schoenaerts, and Dakota Johnson all craft deliciously complex characters within this dark and atmospheric slice of Italian sexytime. Fun, bubbly, and artfully debauched, A Bigger Splash is one of the year’s better leaps for alternative indie fare.


Canada at Cannes: New Stills from Kim Nguyen's 'Two Lovers and a Bear'

Kim Nguyen’s Two Lovers and a Bear is one of several Canadian films hitting Cannes over the next week. The director returns with his first drama since 2012’s Oscar nominee War Witch. This Nunavut-shot film star’s Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany alongside Life’s Dane DeHaan and Canuck icon Gordon Pinsent. Distributor Les Films Séville recently released a whack of images before the film’s premiere at the Directors' Fortnight at the Croisette. Stay tuned for more coverage of Two Lovers and a Bear and other Canadian films at Cannes as Cinemablographer rounds-up news from the world’s biggest film festival. Spoiler alert: unlike Vic + Flo, it seems as if these lovers actually see the bear.

Team Clooney/Roberts Hits the Money

Money Monster
(USA, 98 min.)
Dir. Jodie Foster, Writ. Jamie Linden, Alan DiFiore, Jim Kouf
Starring: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’Connell
Gandhi's famous line says that an eye for an eye makes the whole would blind. Money Monster, however, argues the opposite theory. If a party in power does the little guy wrong, pop him in the pupil to give him some perspective.

Trailer for Patricia Rozema's 'Into the Forest' Starring Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood

A trailer is out for Patricia Rozema's dystopian drama Into the Forest. Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood star in this stunning new film from the Canuck director. Forest  sees Rozema adapt Jean Hegland's novel about two sisters who endure the elements when society collapses. The film opens in Canada June 3 from Elevation Pictures. I caught the film during its Canada's Top Ten run this January and am a big fan of Into the Forest. It's easily my favourite film among the Canadian releases this year, so it's one to catch if you can.


'Rainbow Kid' Doesn't Find Gold

The Rainbow Kid
(Canada, 93 min.)
Written and directed by Kire Paputts
Starring: Dylan Harman, Julian Richings, Nicholas Campbell, Krystal Hope Nausbaum
The Rainbow Kid is one of those movies that a reviewer will really wants to get behind, but just can’t. This festival film has admirable intentions. It hits theatres when the demand for diverse stories is louder than ever, so dismissing it is an awkward gamble, yet championing The Rainbow Kid seems like an empty and lost cause. This drama about a young man with Down syndrome ambitiously puts actors and characters with special needs front and centre in the frame of their own story. However, the noble intentions of The Rainbow Kid don’t inherently make it a good film. It’s a rambling, contrived jaunt down the Yellow Brick Road that ultimately offers a pat on the head.


Contest: Win 'Dirty Grandpa' on Blu-Ray!

The naughty hijinks of Dirty Grandpa gets a second wind as the irreverent Robert De Niro and Zac Efron comedy  hits Blu-ray and DVD on May 17 from VVS Films. Lucky readers looking to tap that can win a copy of Dirty Grandpa on Blu-ray. Answer the trivia below for your chance to win a copy!