|Director Igor Drljača attends the Canadian Screen Awards.|
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.
(USA, 90 min.)
Dir. Paco Cabezas, Writ. Max Landis
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Anna Kendrick, Tim Roth, James Ransone, RZA
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.
(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
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.
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
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.
(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.
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
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.
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
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.
|Marion Cotillard and Xavier Dolan on the shoot of It's Only the End of the World. |
An eOne Films Release.
|Photo courtesy of Max Films|
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
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.
(Canada, 96 min.)
Written and directed by Adam Garnet Jones
Starring: Andrew Martin, Jennifer Podemski, Harley Legarde, Mary Galloway
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.
|Sophie Nélisse stars as Casey in Mean Dreams. |
Courtesy of Elevation Pictures.
A Bigger Splash
(Italy/France, 124 min.)
Dir. Luca Guadagnino, Writ. David Kajganich
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Matthias Schoenaerts, Dakota Johnson
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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!