'Les affamés' is the Best Canadian Horror Film in Years

Les affamés (The Ravenous)
(Canada, 96 min.)
Written and directed by Robin Aubert
Starring: Marc-André Grondin, Monia Chokri, Charlotte St-Martin, Micheline Lanctôt, Brigitte Poupart, Marie-Ginette Guay, Robert Brouillette
Robin Aubert's Les affames (The Ravenous)
Marc-André Grondin in Les affamés
Emmanuel Crombez / Les Films Séville
Some call it home and others call it cottage country, but what often draws one to the rural regions of Canada is the silence. The quiet and leafy countryside can be an idyllic reminder of a way of life that seems forgotten in the fast-paced and impersonal cities to which everyone flocks. There’s something truly beautiful, however, about sitting back and watching the sunset over grassy plains rather than through tightly packed condos, smelling pine-scented air rather than carcinogenic smog, or being in a neighbourhood where people wave rather than accuse randomly you of offending them. The sound of silence rather than the din of traffic. This image of “Canada” doesn’t really fit the cultural imagination anymore, but it hasn’t died away.


The Family that Slays Together

Mom and Dad
(USA, 83 min.)
Written and directed by Brian Taylor
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Selma Blair, Anne Winters, Zackary Arthur, Robert Cunningham  
Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair star in Mom and Dad
VVS Films
Why would anyone have kids? They whine. They’re messy. They’re expensive. They’re noisy. They completely consume one’s life and one’s identity. These points could all be positives provided one’s the paternal/maternal type and/or up for a challenge. If not, kids might be one-way tickets to crazy town. Having just raised a kitten, I don’t know how or why people do it when it comes to human children.


Memo to the Academy: For Your Consideration

Oscar voters should consider Margot Robbie, Dunkirk, Christopher Plummer,
The Post, On Body and Soul, and The Breadwinner

Oscar ballots are in the mail! February 20th marks the beginning of the final round of voting for this year’s Academy Awards race. Best Picture still looks to be a nail-biter with The Shape of Water and Three Billboards going neck-and-neck and their distributor Fox Searchlight laughing all the way to the bank, while the four acting categories look locked for Gary Oldman, Frances McDormand, Allison Janney, and Sam Rockwell. But last year’s upset proves that no frontrunner is secure, so let’s send the annual memo to the Academy with cases to be made for some of this year’s most worthy contenders:


TIFF Next Wave Review: 'Fake Tattoos'

Fake Tattoos (Les faux tatouages)
(Canada, 87 min.)
Written and directed by Pascale Plante
Starring: Anthony Therrien, Rose-Marie Perrault                            
Courtesy of TIFF
Fake Tattoos is the real deal. This raw and intimate film from Pascale Plante deserves to be in the spotlight. It’s easily the best feature dramatic debut from the Canadian circuit in 2017 and director Pascale Plante shows the most overall finesse in fusing the authenticity of style with storytelling. This rugged and easygoing love story is Once meets Nuit #1 for the indie rock crowd. It’s Sleeping Giant for people who came of age in grungy concerts or in their bedrooms listening to music on late summer nights instead of getting to bask in the sunlight of cottage country. Find love and lose it in the freeing summers of youth with this bittersweet number that pulses with passion, adrenaline, and pain.


In Between: Lives of Girls and Women in Tel Aviv

In Between (Bar Bahar)
(Israel/France, 103 min.)
Written and directed by Maysaloun Hamoud
Starring: Mouna Hawa, Sana Jammelieh, Shaden Kanboura, Henry Andrawes, Mahmud Shalaby
Discover a voice in writer/director Maysaloun Hamoud. Her feature debut In Between is a welcome drama about Arab women negotiating love and independence within a male-dominated society. Set in the Arab quarters of Israel, In Between presents three women who are outsiders among outsiders in a world wrestling with change. It’s a bold and funny tale of female friendship and women’s rights.


TIFF Next Wave Review: 'High Fantasy'

High Fantasy
(South Africa/Luxembourg, 71 min.)
Dir. Jenna Bass
Starring: Qondiswa James, Nala Khumalo, Francesca Varrie Michel, Liza Scholtz
Qondiswa James, Nala Khumalo, Francesca Varrie Michel, Liza Scholtz
Courtesy of TIFF
The concept of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes is getting a bit worn in the heel. Why not try something bigger, like wearing someone else’s pants, (clean) undies, or skin?  


Blu-Ray Review: 'All I See Is You'

All I See Is You
(USA, 109 min.)
Dir. Marc Forster, Writ.
Starring: Blake Lively, Jason Clarke, Ahna O’Reilly, Miquel Fernández, Danny Houston, Wes Chatham
Blake Lively and Jason Clarke star in All I See Is You
VVS Films
Jason Clarke is a sad sight in All I See Is You. One has to hand it to an actor for letting his mug be the face of disappointment as James, the pathetic and controlling husband in this new drama from Marc Forster (World War Z). Just look at the blank reaction of James’s wife, Gina (Blake Lively), when she regains her sight for the first time in their marriage. The film introduces Gina as she makes love to James, whom she imagines as a hunky Latin lover delighting her amidst a CGI orgy of bodies writhing in a kaleidoscopic field of fantasies. Then, when she opens her eyes and sees her husband for the first time, Gina wears a vague expression that reads, “I married this?”


Oscar Live Action Shorts: Not a Stinker in the Bunch

My Nephew Emmett
Courtesy of TIFF
It often happens that the five Oscar nominees for Best Animated Short are significantly stronger than their live action counterparts are. Such is not the case this year. While there is an air of familiarity to the quintet of nominees for Best Live Action Short, this year’s Oscar contenders are a solid group. There isn’t a stinker in the bunch.

Oscar Animated Shorts: 'Negative Space' for Gold!

Negative Space
What a delightful crop of films one finds among this year’s Oscar nominees for Best Animated Short! These five films illustrate a spectrum of animation techniques and styles, so picking a winner is no easy feat and, to some extent, simply a matter of taste. From hand-drawn sketches of life to a 3D gong show and from a personal stop-motion fable to a dark reimagining of nursery rhymes, there’s something for everyone in this field of contenders. Add the novelty of the phrase “Academy Award nominee Kobe Bryant,” and a ticket for the programme is money well spent.


'Permission': On the Town

(USA, 96 min.)
Written and directed by Brian Crano
Starring: Rebecca Hall, Dan Stevens, Morgan Spector, David Joseph Craig, François Arnaud, Gina Gershon, Jason Sudeikis
Dan Stevens Rebecca Hall
Dan Stevens and Rebecca Hall in Permission
Pacific Northwest Pictures
There’s a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode somewhere to which Anna (Rebecca Hall) and Will (Dan Stevens) could have been referred. That episode sees Cheryl give Larry an odd birthday present in the form of her permission to sleep with another woman. Anyone with a subscription to HBO could draw from Larry’s experience and tell Anna and/or Will a four-word relationship survival guide: just don’t do it.


Talking 'Entanglement' with Director Jason James

Did an interview with month with director Jason James (That Burning Feeling) on the new Vancouver-shot dramedy Entanglement. Read a chat in Beatroute (or pick up a copy if you're in Vancouver!) to learn more about James's approach to research, creating the worlds of his characters, and finding the right pieces of the city to bring the film to life.