A veteran actress reflects on herself while preparing for a play in Clouds of Sils Maria. Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche) is a successful middle-aged actress, who is best known for performing the role of Sigrid in the play and film Maloja Snake twenty years ago. Maria is asked to star in a new revival of the play, except in the older role of Helena, with the role of Sigrid to be played by young tabloid-gracing starlet Jo-Ann Ellis (Chloë Grace Moretz). Maria reluctantly agrees to the role and goes with her personal assistant Valentine (Kristen Stewart) to a house in Sils Maria, Switzerland to prepare for the role and in doing so has to come to terms with her status as an aging actress.
Filmmaker Hal Hartley concludes his trilogy of films about the Grim family with Ned Rifle. Labelled a terrorist by the media, Fay Grim (Parker Posey) is sentenced to life in prison. Shortly afterwards, her son Ned Rifle (Liam Aiken), who has been living under witness protection with a reverend and his family, decides to search for and kill his father Henry Fool (Thomas Jay Ryan), in retaliation for ruining his mother’s life. Ned finds himself joined in his search by a girl named Susan Weber (Aubrey Plaza), who has her own reasons for finding Henry.
Last week, quintessential character actor Dick Miller was in Toronto, along with his wife Laine, to promote the release of the documentary That Guy Dick Miller, which is now playing at the Carlton Cinema. Dick Miller has had a long career of nearly 60 years, starring in at least 300 films, which includes being a recurring actor in the films by Roger Corman and Joe Dante, as well as appearances in films such as The Terminator and Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight. At 86 years old, there probably isn’t too much gas left in Dick Miller’s tank, however he still has plenty stories to tell about his long and storied career, with him telling me some of them when I sat down to talk to him about the release of the documentary.
The death of physical media is a growing conversation piece in film circles. It seems that a lot more people, including hardcore cinephiles, are opting to acquire films digitally than continue to take up shelf space with DVDs and blu-rays. In fact, some folks are not only converting to digital, but they are actually selling off their DVD collections. I personally do not see myself fully converting to digital. Part of this comes from how I have always been a holdout when it came to changing home video formats. I didn’t begin switching from VHS to DVD until the summer of 2002 and I did not get a blu-ray player until the spring of 2010. While I have taken baby steps into the digital frontier, such as subscribing to Netflix, renting movies from Google Play, and buying a Chromecast, I do not plan on going fully digital, unless I have no other choice. Let me explain why.
In 1981 a British historical drama named Chariots of Fire won the People’s Choice award at the Festival of Festivals. The film would then go on to win four Academy Awards, including Best Picture. This marks the beginning of the People’s Choice Award’s association with Oscar glory, with many of the winners of this award going on to get nominated for or win Best Picture. The films focuses on two athletes, Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross) and Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), as they compete against each other and train to represent Great Britain in the 1924 Olympics in Paris.
This was my third year covering the Canadian Film Fest. This year, I managed to see every feature film and all but one of the shorts. Still a relatively small festival, I consider my coverage of this festival to be a warm-up for the larger film festivals I cover throughout the year, particularly Hot Docs in about a month. However, that doesn’t undermine the quality of the films at this festival and I enjoy coming back every year and supporting independent Canadian film.
A woman with insomnia develops a connection with a sleepwalker in Nocturne. Cindy (Mary Krohnert) is woman, whose anxiety prevents her from sleeping. Cindy notices some odd behaviour in her co-worker Armen (Knickoy Robinson), who turns out to be a sleepwalker. Cindy begins to follow Armen around at night and the two begin have an unlikely connection, especially as Cindy begins to piece together what the various actions he performs mean.
A 30 year old man decides that he is going to remain at home indefinitely in Ben’s at Home. Ben (Dan Abramovici) is a young man, who has just turned 30 and is coping with a recent break-up. Deciding that he does not like going out and socializing with his friends, Ben decides that he is never going to leave his home again. With his dog to keep him company, Ben spends his time playing video games, browsing the web, and meeting girls online. However, with a friend’s wedding coming up and a growing connection with his delivery girl Jess (Jessica Embro), Ben has to decide whether it’s worth it for him to stay a shut-in.
A lifestyle blogger rushes to have the perfect wedding in the dead of winter in Barn Wedding. Emma (Emily Coutts) is preparing to wed Colin (Brett Donahue), her boyfriend of five years. Emma’s best friend and roommate Jessie (Kelly McCormack) returns from travelling abroad and is asked to be Emma’s maid of honour. With Colin receiving a new job in Fort McMurray, Emma is forced to move the wedding and she, Colin, Jessie, and various friends and family travel up to a barn in the country to have the wedding.
Here are my thoughts on seven of the eight shorts that will be playing as part of the Canadian Film Fest’s Homegrown Shorts showcase.
A man struggles with the anxieties of a new relationship in the romantic comedy Pretend We’re Kissing. Benny (Dov Tiefenbach) is an awkward man, who is always worrying about how to act in front of girls. Benny’s roommate Autumn (Zoë Kravitz) tells him to “stop being a Benny” and just allow himself to be himself. One weekend, Benny has a connection with a girl named Jordon (Tommie-Amber Pirie) and the two begin a whirlwind romance with each other.
It is horror mayhem on basic cable in the anthology film Late Night Double Feature. Following the nightly news, viewers of TV13 in Peterborough are treated to Dr. Nasty’s Cavalcade of Horror, where Dr. Nasty (Brian Scott Carleton) and his assistant Nurse Nasty (Jamie Elizabeth Sampson) present a double bill of terror. In the first film Dinner for Monsters, a chef (Nick Smyth) is brought in to cook a meal for a group of six. However, he is shocked by the main ingredient. Then in Slit, a man named Brad (Colin Price) is hired by people to cut into them. However, he gets more than he bargained for with his latest client.
The plus sized owner of a bed & breakfast tries to find a date for her sister’s wedding in Relative Happiness. Lexie Ivy (Melissa Bergland) is the proprietor of the Ivy Cottage Bed & Breakfast in a small town in Nova Scotia. Lexie’s sister Gabby (Molly Dunsworth) is about to get married and her family keeps bugging Ivy about whether or not she’ll have a date. The most immediate possibility is Joss (Aaron Poole), the man fixing her roof, though Lexie can’t stand his behaviour. Things seem look up for Lexie when a handsome guest named Adrian (Johnathan Sousa) checks into the B&B, however things quickly become complicated.
A girl is infected with a sexually transmitted haunting in the horror film It Follows. After getting intimate one night with her new beau Hugh (Jake Weary), Jay (Maika Monroe) finds herself tied to a chair and told by Hugh that he passed along an infection and that “It” will start coming after Jay, until she passes it on herself (or dies). While initially excused as a sick case of sexual abuse, Jay soon finds herself being pursued by “It,” who can take the form of anyone. With the help her friends, including sister Kelly (Lili Sepe) and best friend Paul (Keir Gilchrist), Jay desperately searches for a way to break this curse, before it is too late.
Go behind the scenes of the most offensive movie ever with
High School Shooting: The Musical. A documentary crew is making a film about life after film school for a number of recent graduates, many of whom could not get jobs within the film industry. Adam Baxter (Bruce Novakowski) is one of these recent graduates, who decides to leverage the suicide of his roommate Max into the opportunity to make a film. Adam takes Max’s final script and re-writes it into a musical about a high school shooting. The fellow graduates gather together to make the film, despite worries about the subject matter.