VIFF 2014 Review: Preggoland

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You know that moment when you realize you’re so deep into a lie there’s no easy way to turn back? Preggoland is exactly that. Except it’s also much more than that.

Sonja Bennett stars as Ruth, a single 30 something who lives at home with her dad. All of her friends are married with kids and her younger sister is the bane of her existence, making Ruth feel like a teenager and in a way, she is. She works at a local grocery store where she’s worked since high school, she hangs out with co-workers who are half her age and generally doesn’t appear to be doing much with her life. And then she’s mistaken for being pregnant. And she goes along with it. But then she tells her friends she’s pregnant and then suddenly her life seems to be taking on some meaning and actually moving forward except the whole time she’s living one big sham and lying to everyone.

The idea of going along with a misconception isn’t exactly new but Bennett, who also wrote the script, brings a charm and likability to Preggoland which I haven’t seen in other movies which feature the female version of the “man child.” Part of it is Bennett herself who fully commits to the role an delivers a great performance complete with outstanding comedic timing, but there’s also the script which takes a ridiculous premise and goes in some interesting directions with it exploring everything from friendship to strange and complicated family relationships and though it ends with a sort of happily ever after, it earns that ending.

Preggoland reminded me a little of Starbuck, that other Canadian gem from a few years ago. It features similar characters with similar story arcs about growing up and becoming better versions of themselves and I expect that when this lands a Hollywood re-make, it will turn out just as badly as the Starbuck one did. Thankfully, we’ll always have the original.

Preggoland has been picked up by Mongrel Media who will open the film Spring 2015.

VIFF 2014 Review: Elephant Song

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If there is one person winning at VIFF this year, it’s got to be Canadian bad boy Xavier Dolan. Not only has he impressed the crowd with his stunning directorial effort Mommy but he’s appeared in no less than two other films screening at the festival. The first, a middling drama from Daniel Grou (the only memorable part of that film are the performances, particularly that of Dolan) and now Elephant Song, a period drama based on a play of the same name.

Directed by Charles Binamé, Elephant Song stars Dolan as Michael Aleen, a troubled young man committed to an asylum and his afternoon chat with Dr. Toby Green (Bruce Greenwood). Dr. Green isn’t Michael’s regular shrink but he’s been asked to speak to the boy to try and find out where his regular doctor has disappeared to. In the two hours that follow, Dolan and Greenwood banter back and forth, mostly in circles, and Michael slowly shares personal details about his past. Apparently Greenwood can’t just read the file because he left his glasses at home…yeah.
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Trailer: ABCs of Death 2

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OK, so the first one wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be, in spite of a TIFF Midnight Madness bow and considering nearly every major up-and-coming indie horror director did a segment. And yet, word is that the second one branches out a lot more from horror and gore and easy gags, and there is actually some quality stuff contained there-in

More importantly, for this writer, my son is one of the two leads in Astron-6 FX guru Steve Kostanski’s segment which kicks off the trailer. Yup, the boy has an IMDb page consisting of horror movies, and makes a father proud.

The rest of the trailer features a lot of mayhem, pain, a little comedy, and a fair bit of gristly imagery. Give it a look.

Trailer: Bang Bang Baby

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And now for something completely different, a very stylized 1960s do-wop musical with a purple mist-factor leaking toxic waste into the water, Peter Stormare as an overbearing dad, classic cars, and romantic musings on Government space-missle programmes. It’s playing TIFF, and this is an excerpt from the programme guide:

In the fictional Canadian town of Lonely Arms in 1963, sweet and prim high-schooler Stepphy devotedly cares for her alcoholic father, tends to his auto-service shop, and, like most girls her age, adores heartthrob singer Bobby Shore. Having long dreamt of getting out of Lonely Arms and making it in the music biz, Stepphy seems one step closer when she is accepted into the American Ingénue Singing Competition in Manhattan — until her father refuses to allow her to go. Miserable, her dreams dashed, and forced to fend off the advances of Fabian, the creepy proprietor of the local Purple Mist plant — which has recently sprung a mysterious and ominous leak — Stepphy seems stuck in her go-nowhere town for good… until none other than Bobby Shore himself rolls into Lonely Arms with a car that needs repair.

Trailer: Map To The Stars

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After watching this trailer, I’m still not sure entirely what the latest David Cronenberg film is actually about, but it has Julianne Moore trying to recapture her youth, and an ambitious Mia Wasikowska with burn scar-tissue on her face. In orbit these two are John Cusack, Olivia Williams, Carrie Fisher, Sarah Gadon and Robert Pattinson. Map To The Stars is described as “A tour into the heart of a Hollywood family chasing celebrity, one another and the relentless ghosts of their pasts.” I’m liking Cronenberg in dry/hysterics comedy mode, and that it polarized the Cannes audience last May is only a positive in my book. Check it out below.

No Trailer posted for Toronto Rom-Com “What If”

We are happy to recommend Michael Dowse’s wonderful rom-com, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan. In Canada it is called The F Word and in the US it is now titled the far more safe and generic What If. Movie selling folks and skittish would-be audiences, the F is for Friend.

To further add insult to injury, this freshly cut trailer squeezes out at least two of the films most wonderful surprises, is needlessly 3 and a half minutes in length, and in short, quite pisses us off. The love-letter to Toronto aspect is in full display, and this pleases us to some extent in light of all the other marketing shenanigans, but we still cannot show you in good conscience. Just go in knowing with Dowse (Goon, Fubar, It’s All Gone Pete Tong) you are in excellent hands.

Review: Spaces and Reservations

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Director: Brendan Prost (Coch, Generation Why)
Screenplay: Brendan Prost
Producer: Brendan Prost
Starring: Zach White, Taylor Hastings, Jennifer Kobelt, Arianna McGregor
MPAA Rating: NR
Running time: 140 min.


Somewhere in Brendan Prost’s Spaces and Reservations is a really great story about relationships and the difficulties of falling out of love with your best friend. What’s frustrating is that the brilliant movie isn’t even buried but rather lost in a second act that goes on forever.

Clocking in at well over two hours, Spaces and Reservations opens with a wonderful story of two individuals who are in love but whose relationship is stagnant. Jamie and Kacie have been together for four years and living together for some time and they have a well worn routine that makes their life predictable. Jamie seems completely comfortable with this life; once a shy introvert who was pulled out of his shell by his now girlfriend he seems content dividing his time between work, home and the occasional visit to his sister’s. Kacie, on the other hand, looks tired and sad. The pair don’t kiss and they almost don’t touch, in some instances it almost looks like they avoid coming into physical contact with each other; a clear indication that all is not well in their relationship.

It’s clear that Spaces and Reservations is about what happens next in this relationship the problem is that the movie’s second hour becomes as stagnant as the relationship it depicts. The second act goes on for ever and the movie loses nearly all of the momentum in builds in the opening. The only thing that keeps the story afloat, though just barely, are the performances from Zach White and Taylor Hastings as Jamie and Kacie respectively. There’s a natural chemistry to the pair and their characterizations are brilliant, traversing from the comfortable to the cold and back into amiable friendship with ease. Not only are they the highlight of the movie, their chemistry and relationship is the only thing that manages to keep the movie afloat after a near disastrous second hour when Spaces and Reservations seems stuck in a repeating loop where nothing happens.

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Exclusive: Extended Clip from Indie RomCom Sex After Kids!

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I admit it: Jeremy Lalonde’s Sex After Kids initially caught my attention because of the cast. Not one but three “Lost Girl” cast members? Where do I send my money?

Turns out Lalonde’s movie isn’t simply a playground for “Lost Girl” cast members on summer filming break but quite honestly a very charming and funny romantic comedy the likes of which only Canada can produce. After all, where else could you see the very talented Zoie Palmer (complete with British accent) trying to keep the interest of a potential lover by bringing up Margaret Atwood? And that’s only scraping the surface!

Along with Palmer, Sex After Kids also stars Kris Holden-Ried, Paul Amos, Katie Boland, Jay Brazeau and the superbly talented Gordon Pinsent.

Sex After Kids is now available on iTunes and other VOD platforms in the US and to celebrate, the good folks at Filmbuff have been nice enough to provide us with this very amusinc extended clip from the movie!

My original review from February tucked under the seats!

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How To Build A Time Machine Trailer

Friend of the site and occasional Cincecast guest, Jay Cheel is hard at work on his second documentary feature, How To Build a Time Machine. For its 2012 HotDocs DocIgnite crowd-funding, the film had a focus on controversial future-man and conspiracy theory hoaxer John Titor. The project has evolved in a somewhat different direction (as is the wont of documentary film making) and that element has dropped away in favour of two more down to earth approaches to humanities collective dream/obsession of travelling through time.

The focus of the film appears to be on two men. Rob Niosi has been painstakingly re-creating a replica of the time machine from the classic 1960 film The Time Machine, for over a decade, but (perhaps paradoxically) dreams more of travelling to the future than the past. Ronald Mallett, PhD physicist and author follows his dream of the mathematics and practical considerations of time travel as it will be in the future, even if it is (also paradoxically) grounded in his desire to visit his deceased father in the past.

As with all of Cheel’s work, the cinematography and craft is of the highest order, check it out below.