…and the quest to see everything

Posts tagged “Canada

Hot Docs: Sex Saves World

I’ve written about this year’s Hot Docs selections. Two of them are about the future in their own way – I Am Breathing and Future My Love, both of which I’ve written about in Entertainment Maven. The Other two are about how their subjects are trying to save the world. The first in the latter group is James Franco and Travis Mathews’ Interior: Leather Bar, which I wrote about for The Film Experience (link below).


The second is Michal Marczak’s Fuck For Forest. I totally forgot that doc’s third Canadian connection. In the movie we see the titular group’s clashes against some of the people during the Berlin SlutWalk, a global movement that started when two Toronto police officers held a seminar in York University telling the co-eds not to dress slutty to avoid rape. Some of SlutWalk’s 2.5th feminist movement marchers sees FFF’s aggressively pro-sexual recruitment tendencies as anti-women, which is a totally understandable angle in seeing the former group. Click here to read my post on Entertainment Maven and judge for yourself if the doc – or my writing :S – gives these misunderstood idealists any justice.


Post-VDay Movie: Cafe de Flore

Don’t be mistaken – I like Jean-Marc Vallee’s Cafe de Flore. A friend of mine criticized its ‘acid trip aesthetics’ but I like how it flows, showing osmosis between oceans and generations, characters dancing to variations of the same life, like the song sharing the same title as the movie. It visualizes the present and the different healing practices of a complex middle class Montreal family – yoga, jogging, floating in an incubated tub, reading about dreams and past lives, the odd joint. The family’s head is Antoine (Kevin Parent), a man with an ex-wife and girlfriend, a DJ nonetheless who has to work with lights and laptops and music of different tangible and data formats. The objects around him are disposable yet still beautiful.

Antoine’s story is an intertwining half of another taking place forty years beforehand, where Jacqueline (Vanessa Paradis) cares for her son, Laurent, with Down syndrome. If the present day scenes scream ‘The future is now,’  the portions may be set in 1969 but might as well have been any other decade, Jacqueline and child in earth tones walking the unwashed cobblestone of Paris. Her working class conditions also seem impervious to the Yves Saint Laurent Mondrian dress that another mother in her school wears.

Its implicit worldview also concerns itself with the hierarchy of boundaries. The middle class are supposedly better than the poor, the present an improvement of the past. Jacqueline feels inferior because of Laurent, studying ways to improve his brain, subconsciously thinking that educating and raising him properly will lead to a cure. That while the present day characters, surrounded by their comfortable, manicured property, disregard what someone like Jacqueline would have worked hard for while being petty and vindictive towards each other.

The movie eventually connects both plots, bringing us to flaw number three, that the mysticism that Antoine’s wife dabbles ends up revealing her ‘punishment’ and the justification for his adultery. It imposes this viewpoint upon her while she suffers through mental issues while all he has to do is to fall in love. This new family situation is also imposed on Antoine’s children who prefer her as the parent. But I’m making it seem more one-sided than it really is, as Antoine and his ex-wife explore their pasts, within memory or otherwise, portrayed as vividly in flashbacks. His new girlfriend joins in with the introspection, questioning the replaceable aspect of love and lovers and searching for the happiness and stability within it.

Bad Movie: Moon Point

For the opening sequences of this Canadian movie, we have to set our attention to the Strozkas, a loathsome suburban family, and their black sheep, Darryl (Nick McKinlay). There’s tension between the two camps that could easily be solved by better people skills or better writing.

For example, the Strozkas don’t have to verbally pounce on Darryl – the writer’s pass this off as comedy, by the way – or make fun of him for not having a driver’s license like Margaret Thatcher would. They could, instead use nepotism to get him a job so that he won’t stand out within the family or society.

Likewise, if Darryl didn’t compare employed people to Hitler, because that comparison hasn’t been used before,  or if he didn’t have delusions about his childhood sweetheart still loving him, maybe I wouldn’t hate him as a main character so much. Isn’t he tired of being a loser?

Darryl’s old flame happens to be shooting a movie at the titular Moon Point, the same title Sean Cisterna’s movie a hundred miles away from him and his hateful family. So he goes on a trip with his paraplegic and recently MIT-admitted friend Femur (Kyle Mac) on the latter’s mobility device and the cart attached to it.

It would have been painful if the audience had to stick with the annoying Darryl and the whiny Femur so they inadvertently pick up a third for their journey. Along the road is a broken down car owned by boyfriend escaping Kristin (Paula Brancati). Her Sophie’s Choice to go on her way is to either an ice cream vendor who’s also a sex offender or the cart.

Kristin decides the latter and the three are on their way. Brancati is a glowing presence onscreen,a change from her gloomy yet equally powerful turn in “Degrassi TNG.” But her outgoing personality collides with her new dependence and attachment to these men, especially passive towards Darryl’s lies and amateur psychoanalysis. Why is she taking this from a stranger?

The movie has solid attempts towards being cartoony and this is a good thing, distracting from the character’s misanthropy.

This exists on flashbacks as a Darryl’s younger version reminisces about the love of his childhood’s life, drawn hearts and tears and all. These sequences have an off-kilter heart, as these pint-sized versions of the character mix age-inappropriate body, birds and bees humour with good old puppy love.

Darryl is himself a cartoon character, his lanky frame flailing around situations too strange and occasionally funny to be true. With Kristin he meets psychotic innkeepers of a Victorian-styled hotel and a AA costume party.

Another break from the messed up characters and plot happens near the end when Darryl finally meets his woman and not in the way he expects. She’s a fantasy, a woman who, despite her budding career apparently doesn’t care if her girlhood sweetheart is unemployed because she’s a good person and he is too.

This movie just affirms a man’s perceived and undeserved right for instant and consequence-free companionship, and it’s really sad that straight male nerds still think like this.

Television: Made in Canada (Documentary)

Not to be confused with the Rick Mercer show, the documentary “Made in Canada” is coming out on SunTV at the fall. It’s so cool it doesn’t have an iMDb page yet. Well, it is fall now, and I hope my fellow countrymen sees director Scott Boyd’s journey into making a film in his land. He brushes us up on Canada’s film history and the ridiculous quest for Canadian public funding centred in Toronto (film) and Banff (television). Boyd interviews the people running the system and those defeated by it, as well as discussing the fate and reception of the material that does get approved. Although there’s a lot of footage of Boyd in a funding conference, cringing in a large chair with a drink in one hand, there should be an optimistic end to this rainbow. Like him, the people he interviews have a great sense of humour about the system and the marketing of Canadian films, a quality that helps them in their journey to get their stories out.

This documentary also takes me back (remember “ZedTV?”)when I actually watched the real films in Showcase in my high school years when the channel was still cool. The latter channel, as much as they showed worldwide and Amerindie fare, also introduced me to the work of Vincenzo Natali and is the reason Don McKellar, pre-Grey’s Sandra Oh and Sarah Polley, not interviewed in the doc, are still my heroes. Thus, the defeatist tone of the film’s first half differs from my experience, because the same people who say that Canadian films suck are the same people who say that Toronto is boring, which, get out there, you’re wrong. Which brings us to the people who don’t give Canadian content a chance who get ‘fair’ representation in the documentary.

It wasn’t until watching “Made in Canada” that I realized if any of those movies made money in theatres where it’s supposed to count. And like every other boring film fan, there’s a few screenplays dancing inside my head, and if writing it feels like walking a mile, getting it out there will feel like a thousand. Good luck to us all.

Seminal Television: SYTYCD Canada

This makes me want to watch contemporary dance performances more. Mia Michaels is a goddess and a genius. And if anyone can find the video of season 2’s top 4 girls dancing to Dr. Feelgood and choreographed by Sean Cheesman, that would be greatly appreciated. Not the British version, that one sucked.

Lost and Delirious

In any film set in high school, the kids would be reading a text that the teacher would interpret blandly while an exceptional child muses on how that old text surprisingly has meaning in his or her young life. But in Lost and Delirious we have a teacher who exclaims the word LOVE! to sum up William Shakespeare’sAntony and Cleopatra,” so giddy about the word even if it destroys those characters. I feel bad for her students and their parents, the latter working hard only to have wasted their money on such cheap erudition. ‘What if the movie is about characters who are oblivious on how love’s damages on those who feel it?’ No, I don’t think the film or its director Lea Pool is conscious enough of this disconnect.

Unfortunately someone’s rabbit ears have tunes into this Literature teacher, who for some reason only wants to teach her kids Shakespeare without mixing it up with texts from other forms and eras. Anyway, these rabbit ears belong to Paulie (Piper Perabo), the strong-willed rebellious orphan who is also one of half of a homosexual relationship between her and her roommate and Victoria or ‘Torrie’ (Jessica Pare). Torrie eventually breaks off the relationship and chooses a young man from the all male private school next door, sending Paulie in a downward spiral that’s veering into clichéd territory. When the new girl and third roommate Mary (Mischa Barton) tries to tell Paulie that Torrie’s not a ‘lesbian,’ she says ‘I’m not a lesbian. I’m Paulie in love with Torrie and Torrie is in love with me!’ renouncing the label and still believes that their young love is beyond gender. And most of us have been there, straight or gay, having to deal with the difficulty of rejection and she’s not carrying that burden well, knowing her family situation or lack thereof.

There are also moments of brilliance with these performances, when Perabo expressing herself as that troubled child, the words struggling from her mouth like it would with other young people. Pare as Torrie in the scene with the teary-eyed confession to Mary, telling the latter that her conservative family’s rejection might be more painful than leaving Torrie. Barton as Mary jogging with her awkward hands, receptive to the insular yet eye-opening private school world in which her father and stepmother have thrust her in. Graham Greene being more than the clichéd First Nations mystic, his character, a gardener, is a guy who flubs jokes and is a good father figure to Mary. But then the last scenes come and Torrie wears a suit like gay girls in movies do and pretends she’s Hamlet, making us feel ambivalent about tragedies we’ve seen too many times before.