Frenemies? Movies reviewed: The Host, Ginger and Rosa

Posted in 1960s, CND, Cold War, Coming of Age, Cultural Mining, Movies, Politics, Protest, Romance, Science Fiction, UK, Uncategorized, US by CulturalMining.com on March 29, 2013

Hi, this is Daniel Garber at the Movies for culturalmining.com and CIUT 89.5 FM, looking at high-brow and low-brow movies, indie, cult, foreign, festival, documentary, genre and mainstream films, helping you see movies with good taste, movies that taste good, and how to tell the difference.

Do you have a “frenemy”? Maybe someone who is part of your circle but secretly hates you. Or a best friend who becomes a rival, or, maybe, a bitter enemy who turns out to be someone you can depend on. Well, this week I’m looking at two very different movies about young women and their frenemies. One is set in the future where two women’s souls share the same body; the other is set in the past, in the 1960’s, where two best friends become rivals when a certain man comes between them.

AV9D9769.CR2The Host

Dir: Andrew Niccol

It’s the future. Aliens have beamed down to the earth from outer space, in the form of glowing, sperm-like liquid crystals. They travel in little silver clam shells and burrow into the brains of their hosts – that’s us — and instantly take over. Pretty soon we’ve all turned into those emotionless aliens. They look just like you and me, except for their eyes: they have glowing rings embedded in their irises.

But one young woman, Melanie, (Saorise Ronan) is a fighter. When her mind gets taken over by an alien called the Wanderer, the internal Melanie refuses to give up. Her boyfriend, Jared, and her little brother are still out there somewhere and she has to save them… So now there are two rivals living in one body – but only one of them can speak to the outside world.

In a crucial mental battle, Melanie wins out over the Wanderer, and they manage to locate the rebels’ AV9D9558.CR2hideaway – a redneck, survivalist utopia, full of guns and wheat fields and special mirrors as an energy source —  that’s hidden between two mountains in the desert. But Melanie is shocked to be attacked by her loved ones. The rebels only see that alien ring in her eyes, but not Melanie’s soul buried somewhere deep inside. So they lock her up in a cave and treat her worse than an animal.

Gradually, the Wanderer (aka Wanda), becomes more like humans with actual emotions. Wanda has eyes for a guy in the desert hideaway, Kyle, but the internal Melanie still loves Jared (Max Irons). Melanie wonders: if Jared kisses her, would he be cheating? Since, even though she looks just like Melanie, he knows her body is occupied by Wanda’s soul. Melanie forces Wanda’s hand to slap Jared’s face when he seems to be enjoying the kiss too much.

THE HOSTMeanwhile, The Seeker (Diane Kruger) an ice blonde she-wolf of the SS, is in charge of finding the rebels and blasting them into submission or even wiping them out. Will the rebels win or the evil aliens? Will they realize Melanie is still alive? And who will win this split personality’s love – Ryan or Jarrod?

The Host, is a romance set within in a science-fiction/action movie.

It’s written by Stephanie Meyers, who brought us the insipid Twilight series (teen romances disguised as vampire movies). I like the main story, but whenever tension starts to build, it turns back into a sexless romance, where the main topic is Will he kiss me, and Does he really, really love me? and Why is he looking at me that way?

It wavers between a not-bad action drama and a romance suitable for a pre-teen bible camp. Saorise Ronan is quite good as the dual-personality alien, as is Diane Kruger as the Seeker, but the male romantic leads are boring and bland.

See The Host if you loved Twilight and want the same thing but with a bit more action, and a science fiction twist. Otherwise, give it a miss.

GINGER AND ROSA by Sally PotterGinger and Rosa

Dir: Sally Potter

Ginger and Rosa are best friends. They share everything with each other. They were born in a London hospital in 1945, with their mothers giving birth, side by side, just as the atom bombs were falling on Hiroshima. Fast forward to 1962: it’s the Cuban Missile Crisis, they’re both 17 now, and everyone thinks the atomic bombs are about to wipe everyone out.

Red-haired Ginger (Elle Fanning) is a political activist who writes poetry and goes to protest marches. She sleeps with a peace sign over her bed. She lives with her depressed but beautiful mum (Charlotte Hendricks) but thinks she’s boring and bourgeois. She idolizes her handsome and free-spirited dad (Allesando Nivola), who is an intellectual, a pacifist, and an activist. She also has an extended family, with two gay godparents, Mark and Mark 2, and various protesters, radicals, political organizers, artists and thinkers who hover around her home.

Dark-haired Rosa (Alice Englert) lives with her single mother. She’s Catholic and sexualized. She GINGER AND ROSA by Sally Potterteaches Ginger about sex, boys, making out, and the church. Ginger, in turn, takes Rosa to demos and CND ban the Bomb youth meetings.

But something is amiss in their friendship. Someone they both know well is attracted to Rosa (the feelings are mutual), and that secret relationship threatens to mess up both their lives and turn them from best friends to rivals.

This is a fantastic movie for so many reasons. Sally Potters film captures the mood of a newly radicalized London youth movement, and the very real fear of nuclear apocalypse. But it’s also a very moving story, a coming-of-age in an era fraught with changes. The acting, the moving story, the historical accuracy, even the period jazz music – just amazing. It’s Sally Potter at the top of her game.

I strongly recommend this movie.

The Host and Ginger and Rosa both  open today – check your local listings. Also opening is Spring Breakers, a unique and highly entertaining in a style that only Harmony Korine (Trash Humpers, Gummo) could pull off. And coming soon are Images, Cinefranco, Real World, TJFF, and Hot Docs.

This is Daniel Garber at the Movies, each Friday morning on CIUT 89.5 FM and on my website,culturalmining.com

Daniel Garber speaks with JULIA VARGA about her film CHECK CHECK POTO

Posted in Art, Cultural Mining, documentary, France, Movies, Uncategorized by CulturalMining.com on March 28, 2013

https://danielgarber.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/garber-march28-13-interview.mp3

julia varga

Hi, this is Daniel Garber at the Movies for culturalmining.com and CIUT 89.5 FM, looking at high-brow and low-brow movies, indie, cult, foreign, festival, documentary, genre and mainstream films, helping you see movies with good taste, movies that taste good, and how to tell the difference.

When does life become art and art life? Is there a clear border? What is the role of the observer in the lives of the observed or the influence of a filmmaker on the film’s subjects? More specifically, what about the lives of the residents of the banlieux, the working-class suburbs that ring Paris, with their ethnically diverse  but largely immigrant population?

They are a large and important part of France but are almost invisible in popular culture; if you see them at all in North America,  its usually on the news or in a story about demonstrations, riots, or protests against the police actions there.

Well there’s a film, an observational documentary called CHECK CHECK POTO, that gives a look at their everyday lives over the course of a few years. This fascinating, funny and always surprising film records the teenagers at a public drop-in centre called Mosaique, in the Villette Quatre  Chemins a Aubervilliers. It was made by artist, filmmaker and documentarian Julia Varga, known for her projects, films, and exhibitions in France, Egypt, and on-line.

Julia Vargas speaks with me in studio after her KODAK Lecture at Ryerson University. (For more information about the artist, please contact Elegoa.)

Not Safe at Home. Movies Reviewed: Home Again, Olympus Has Fallen

Posted in Action, Canada, Crime, Cultural Mining, Disaster, Drama, drugs, Jamaica, Korea, Movies, Politics, Poverty, Terrorism, Uncategorized, US, violence by CulturalMining.com on March 23, 2013

Hi, this is Daniel Garber at the Movies for culturalmining.com and CIUT 89.5 FM, looking at high-brow and low-brow movies, indie, cult, foreign, festival, documentary, genre and mainstream films, helping you see movies with good taste, movies that taste good, and how to tell the difference.

OHF_04104.NEFFestival season is gearing up now, with Hot Docs, Images, and Cinefranco announcing this year’s line-up – fantastic stuff to come. But in the meantime, here are some non-festival releases. Today I’m looking at an action/thriller about one man inside a big house who wants to save the world; and a drama about three people stranded on an island who just want to survive.

Olympus Has Fallen

Dir: Antione Fuqua

Mike Banning (played by perpetually gruff and surly Scot, Gerard Butler) was once a big man in the Secret Service. But when the First Lady is killed in an accident, he loses his status as a presidential guard. So he’s not at the White House when strange things start happening one morning. An errant gunner pilot flies a plane over the mall in Washington DC, mowing down random tourists, and knocking down OHF_09772.NEFAmerica’s most famous penis, the Washington monument. Then, a group of tubby but ruthless terrorists manage to capture the White House, including the president and hold him captive. The American Empire is teetering on the brink…

Who are these bad guys? Al Qaeda? Al Shabab? Iraq? Iran? No! It’s the Zeppo of Bush’s “Axis of Evil” – the Koreans!

The other Secret Service agents all look like part-time tenors in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. (Boy are they white!) But only tough-as-nails Mike is qualified for disasters like this. He gets to the White House on his own and OHF_13131.NEFopens up communication with his boss (Angela Bassett) and the grumpy, southern Speaker of the House (Morgan Freeman).

The chief bad guy, Kang (Rick Yune), holds all the cards. He is determined to learn the Cerberus defence code (known only to a few top officials). And he demands the DMZ be taken down and the Korean peninsula unified. With his crack team of super-shooters (inexplicably wearing silly Gilligan hats and bandanas over their faces) and computer experts, along with some American traitors, he’s unbeatable. Or is he?

It’s up to Banning to single-handedly beat all the bad guys, rescue the President (Aaron Eckhardt who is much more a Romney than an Obama), his young son, Connor, and the feisty Secretary of State (Melissa Leo). And, while he’s at it, free the White House, and save the world from an imminent disaster. He accomplishes this with old fashioned American know-how, brutal fighting skills, and brutish come-back lines. (Best line: “Kang, let’sOHF_10923.NEF play a round of f*ck off — you go first.”) He improvises, like Bruce Willis in Die Hard, using things he finds on the way. Like smashing in a terrorist’s head using a marble bust of Lincoln. As a Secret Service agent Banning knows every cubbyhole, every secret passageway in the White House.

Antoine Fuqua made the very good movie Training Day, but this is absolutely nothing like that one in style or plot. None of the movie is even vaguely plausible, but it doesn’t need a deep read to understand it. It’s hilariously awful at times, but tense and exciting at others. It’s a classic action movie, complete with explosions, shoot-outs and a virtually unwatchable close-up fight scene with a hand-held camera jiggly enough to make you lose your chili nachos in the lap of the guy in the next seat.

Watch it, laugh at it, and then forget it.

0134_lqxemynyGoing Home

Dir: Sudz Sutherland

Due to a change of laws, the US, Canada and the UK are now in the habit of deporting people — landed immigrants who moved to these countries as small children – back to their birthplaces after being convicted even of relatively minor crimes. This drama follows the different paths the three of them take as they are unceremoniously dumped in Jamaica with just a suitcase.

Dunstan (Canadian actor Lyric Bent) is a likeable, big guy from New York. His cousin helps set him up as security at a meth lab in Greenwich Farms, (a tough part of Kingston). He’s working for The Don, a hairy-eyeball young gangster who operates like a high court judge in his neighbourhood, punishing or helping the people there, as he sees fit. Soon he meets the pretty but stand-offish Cherry C. (pop star Fefe Dobson) and likes her a lot. Wants to get to know her much better. But she wants nothing to do with a Deportee.

0024_vysosif1Everton (played by Torontonian Stephan James) is a clean-cut and naïve, upper-middle-class student from London. He arrives in Kingston like a fish just waiting to be caught. His uncle Sam, who he’s supposed to meet in Trenchtown, isn’t there. He meets up with a cute high school girl, but things just get worse and worse. He soon finds himself homeless and penniless waiting for his mother to rescue him. But she’s a continent away and he can only reach her by long distant phone calls.

And finally Marva from Toronto (Tatyana Ali) was separated from her two young children when she was deported. She can’t find work because no one will trust a deportee. Forced to live with her relatives — a cruel aunt and a skeezy uncle (very well played by Paul Campbell) — Marva feels trapped in an untenable situation. If she can somehow get her kids to join her in Jamaica things will get better.

Will Everton be able to pull himself together and return to England once his court appeal goes through? Can Home Again. Tatyana AliDunston earn enough to buy a forged passport and get back to his little brother in NY? And can Marva get together again with her kids?

The three deportees have their own separate sub-plots with only minimal contact among them. But they are all set in a very real-looking, fascinating Caribbean city (it was shot in Trinidad), with its colourful scenes and dancehalls, marketplaces and homes. And the movie takes place during a growing gang war affecting all of their lives.

I thought there were enough sub plots and sub-sub plots to fill a miniseries, with dozens of different side characters and twists — too much stuff going on for one movie. But by the end it all starts to coalesce, and you really feel for the characters. Great soundtrack – reggae mixed with dance. The acting is also great – especially Tatyana Ali, but also all the small roles, and there are many — and most of the (subtitled Jamaican) dialogue was fun too. As movies go, it’s a depressing plot, one I wouldn’t normally want to rush to see, and Canadian movies are prone to the overly earnest. But this didn’t happen: I liked it! It gives you lots to think about. Home Again is a good, plot-heavy drama that never leaves you bored.

Olympus has Fallen, and Home Again both open today, as does the film Yossi: check your local listings.

This is Daniel Garber at the Movies, each Friday morning on CIUT 89.5 FM and on my website, culturalmining.com .

Yes and No. Films Reviewed: Yossi, No.

Posted in 1980s, Advertising, Chile, Cultural Mining, Death, Drama, Gay, Israel, Politics, Uncategorized by CulturalMining.com on March 18, 2013

Hi, this is Daniel Garber at the Movies for culturalmining.com and CIUT 89.5 FM, looking at high-brow and low-brow movies, indie, cult, foreign, festival, documentary, genre and mainstream films, helping you see movies with good taste, movies that taste good, and how to tell the difference.

This week I look at two foreign-language films, both dramas about men in their thirties with a tragic past but who may be able to find a better future. Both are dramas, one from Israel, the other from Chile.

YOSSIYossi

Dir: Eytan Fox

Yossi (Ohad Knoller) is a guy in his mid-thirties trying to deal with his buried past. When he served his compulsory duty in the Israeli army he had had a secret relationship with another soldier. His lover, Jagger, died in his arms, and he’s been living with that for the past decade.(This movie is a sequel to Fox’s Yossi and Jagger, which I haven’t seen yet.)

Now he’s a doctor, a cardiologist. He’s still in love with a dead man but is surrounded by sex, everywhere he looks. A pretty nurse he works with lets him now she’s ready to sleep with him. An aggressive and popular doctor he works with, Moti (Lior Ashkenazi), is determined to get him laid. Yossi is gay but in the closet, and fights off all the advances at work. But when he tries his hand at on-line pickups he finds gay life even more alienating and cruel than the false front he puts on at the hospital. He is crushed when a potential date rudely rejects him for putting up 3-year-old photos on his dating profile (which makes him even more self-conscious for having let himself gain a bit of weight).

When an older woman appears at his hospital, he recognizes her as his lover’s mother. But his attempt at closure — letting Jagger’s parents know the truth about his relationship with their dead son – doesn’t work out quite like he’d hoped. His work begins to suffer, his life feels meaningless, the world seems pointless and superficial. And when he flubs up an operation, he’s sent off for a paid vacation to “get better” from his depression.

He drives away. On the road, he meets a group of young soldiers, who remind him of his own friends a decade earlier. As a fellow veteran (possibly from the same company) he gives them a lift to a beach resort. And, since he enjoys their company, especially the well-groomed and witty Tom (Oz Zehavi), he decides to stay on.

Like the gay character in Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice, he spends his days staring longingly at the young men, especially the openly gay Tom splashing around in the swimming pool and on the beach. He sends off subtle hints of his “gayness”: he carries the book, Death in Venice, to the beach and listens to Mahler in public.YOSSI

But when Tom, never one for subtlety, hits on him, Yossi refuses to pick up on it or even acknowledge it. He won’t take off his shirt at the beach, and, in his blue funk, he can’t imagine anyone actually wanting or desiring him. Will Yossi ever come out of his shell?

This is a slow-moving, subtle, tender, (and somewhat depressing) follow-up to the director’s earlier drama Yossi and Jagger. It picks up where that film left off, but 10 years later. Not having seen that film, it’s hard for me to judge Yossi’s backstory, but for much of this movie, he seems so blah, so closed-to-the-world and flat and uninteresting that I wonder why all the other characters in the movie seem to be so sexually entranced by him, throwing themselves at him, left and right.

That’s not fair — he is actually a charming, modest and soft-spoken character, and by the end you do feel for him. Yossi is really two movies; the first is a troubling look at a depressed man facing his past. The second his possible start on a new course. The second half is much easier to take.

No_Poster_27x39_1SHT_a_smallNo!

Dir: Pablo Larrain

Augusto Pinochet was the notorious right-wing dictator of Chile since he toppled their government. The coup happened in 1973, when the military overthrew the democratically elected Salvador Allende. Backed by Operation Condor his government killed thousands of people, arrested 80,000, dropped lots of out of helicopters, torture, NO Gael Garcia Bernal 2arrest, forced disappearances…lost more things like that. Nice guy…

OK flash-forward 15 years to 1988. Things have calmed down, Chicago-School neo-liberal trade laws are taking off, and exports are thriving. Pinochet feels he is secure in his office, (he is fully in control) so, to polish up his international image he decides to have a referendum: Yes means he will continue; No means they will have a national, democratic election, the first since the coup.

This is where the movie begins.

NO Gael Garcia Bernal5As part of the plebescite, he offers 15 minutes of TV-time a day for the opposition (the NO side) to have their say. What this means is his government has (in addition to their own allotted 15 minutes for YES) another 11 hours and 45 minutes a day, since the military government and its corporate cronies have almost blanket control of the media. Except those 15 minutes. So official broadcasts are full of “happy patriotic Chileans” standing military-style outside the factories and fishing boats, waving to the Great Leader.

The No side needs to find someone to lead their campaign. But who would want to stick their neck out when it’s so easy to get your head chopped off? Instead, they go for a talented, apolitical, mainstream ad exec named Rene (Gael Garcia Bernal). Rene has his Chilean street creds – his parents were leftists who fled to Mexico after the coup – but here’s Rene back in Chile, living comfortably, with no chip on his soldier. He’s a skateboard riding Mexicano with a rattail in his hair (it’s the ’80’s).

The hardliners on the No side want to remind everyone of Pinochet’s crimes, the death, the killing, the persecution, the oppression, the disappeared. But Rene’s an ad-man at heart. Grief won’t sell. Sadness won’t sell. Death is anything but sexy.

He has to come up with something fun, satirical, humorous, hip. Despite the anger of the NO Gael Garcia Bernal 3persecuted who hired him, Rene wants a successful advertising campaign, above all. We need a jingle, he says.

It’s only once he’s deeper into the campaign, that he experiences, first hand, some of the frightening tactics of the dictator. His son is at risk, and he sees his (ex-)wife beaten at a public demonstration. And he’s especially vulnerable when he discovers his own boss, Lucho (Francisco Castro) at the ad agency, is actually leading the pro-Pinochet’s campaign. It becomes a personal competition not just a political one.

This is a fantastic movie that follows a historically important political event as it happens, but as seen through the eye of the TV commercials and their makers. The film itself is done in period 80’s style, complete with flaring video tape, blurry shots and a rectangular, TV-screen shape.

I saw No at TIFF last year, and found myself at the Chilean film reception. I remember casually asking an official there, part of the Chilean film industry, whether people in Chile prefer to say “Pino-shay”, like Canadians do, or “Pino-tchett”? Actually, she replied, most Chileans prefer to say that man’s name… as little as possible. (Gulp!).

No starts today, and Yossi opens next Friday at the TIFF Bell Lightbox – check your local listings. Also on now is the Toronto Irish Film Festival, and, starting next week, March 21-24 is the first ever water film festival – running documentaries about the crucial issue of H2O!. Go to Ecologos.ca for more details.

This is Daniel Garber at the Movies, each Friday morning on CIUT 89.5 FM and on my website, culturalmining.com .

Tagged with: , , ,

Daniel Garber talks with director Sean Garrity about his new film BLOOD PRESSURE

Posted in Canada, Crime, Cultural Mining, Drama, Family, Guy Maddin, Hitchcock, Movies, Psychological Thriller, Suburbs, Suspicion by CulturalMining.com on March 18, 2013

directorWhat would you do if you lived in house with your husband and two kids… and you suddenly started getting letters from a secret admirer?

Letters from someone who seems to know you better than your own family… And what would you do if they could almost read your mind? If they cared about you? And what if they asked you to do something that might be taboo, or maybe immoral, or possibly… illegal?

Would you be thrilled? Intrigued? Scared? Indifferent?

An unusual new movie, a dramatic, psychological thriller asks just these questions. It’s called Blood Pressure, and it’s directed by a well-known Canadian filmmaker from Winnipeg. (The movie opens today in Toronto.)

Director Sean Garrity talks about how the film’s story developed, whether it’s a thriller or a family drama, an identifiable Winnipeg style, his run-in with government censorship… and more!wall

Daniel Garber talks to Julian Pinder about his documentary TROUBLE IN THE PEACE; and Rob Shirkey’s Climate Change NGO Our Horizon

Posted in Art, Canada, Conservation, Cultural Mining, documentary, Environmentalism, Gas, Uncategorized by CulturalMining.com on March 9, 2013

Julian_hanging_camera_high_resolutionHi This is Daniel Garber at the Movies for culturalmining.com and CIUT 89.5 FM.

Climate change, rampant pollution, and excessive carbon use are issues at the front of many people’s minds, but, they wonder, what can we do about it?

Is the problem at the source of energy extraction? Is it the transportation of it, a_TITP_poster_low_solution(tankers or pipelines)? Or is it at the consumer side that we should worry about conservation and reduced waste?

To address these issues, I speak to two guests.

Julian Pinder, a filmmaker, talks about his new documentary, Trouble in the Peace, that offers an artistic depiction of friction among the farmers living in the landscape of the Peace River Valley (Northern BC and Alberta), and the effect of natural gas — fracking and pipelines — on the lives of people in that area.

[An accompanying video game, Pipe Trouble (a lot of fun — and it played at Cannes!) is now available for $0.99 for iPhone, iPad and select Android tablets, with a free trial at www.pipetrouble.com.]

rob shirkey our horizonRob Shirkey is from a Toronto-based national Climate Change NGO called Our Horizons. He offers a new way of looking at the use of fossil fuels… as something potentially as dangerous to our health as our horizon labelsmoking!

Sexy Strong Seniors! Movies Reviewed: Cloudburst, Still Mine

Hi, this is Daniel Garber at the Movies for culturalmining.com and CIUT 89.5 FM, looking at high-brow and low-brow movies, indie, cult, foreign, festival, documentary, genre and mainstream films, helping you see movies with good taste, movies that taste good, and how to tell the difference.

An ever increasing proportion of our population is made up of seniors, so it makes sense that more movies are made about them. They share certain themes: wisdom, loss, history and memory, dissatisfaction with change, along with infirmity, dementia or death. But, so far, not many are about old men and women as fully sexual, dynamic and heroic figures (exceptions include Haneke’s Amour and Sarah Polley’s Away from Her). So this week I’m looking at two new movies that do just that. They’re both told from the point of view of older couples fighting the system. As an added bonus, they both are set in scenic Atlantic Canada. One has a pair of older women escaping to Canada so they can get married; the other has a farmer and his wife fighting the system to build a house on their own land.

cloudburst dukakis frickerCloudburst

Dir: Thom Fitzgerald

Stella and Dottie (Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker) are lovers. They’ve been together for decades, in small-town Maine. They know each other inside and out and like playing things like “hide the vibrator’ in bed. Stella has a foul mouth, a mannish haircut and a cowboy hat. Dottie is blind, plump, ailing, and motherly, with billowy dresses and curly white hair. Life’s a peach.

But when Stella isn’t looking, Dottie’s uptight granddaughter gets her to sign away her power of attorney. Then, with the help of her husband, the town policeman, she trucks her grandma away to an old-age home and takes possession of her house. Naturally, when Stella find’s out she’s furious. But there’s nothing she can do, since she’s not Dollie’s blood relative, just her lover. What to do? Stella has a plan…

She reconnoiters the old-age home, loads Dottie into her car, and heads off north to the Canadiancloudburst ryan doucette border. If they can get up there they can get married and everything will be OK again. On the way, they see a hitchhiker, a young, modern dancer named Prentice (Ryan Doucette) showing some skin by the side of the road. Stella invites him on board but sets him straight “Pull up your pants kid — you’re humping the wrong fire hydrant!” He’s their third wheel, but adds a new flavour to the mix, as he tells them about his own home troubles. He also lets them have some private time when they’re caught in a cloudburst. Will they make it to Canada? Are they fugitives from the law? And can they pull off the wedding in time?

This is light, comical road movie, full of jokes and radio music. All three of the leads are fun to watch as they play out their characters. It takes place in an Atlantic Canada that’s an idyllic, rustic place, full of tolerant, friendly folks. It’s not meant to be a serious story, more of a light comic fantasy. Funny and tender in some parts, sad in others, but never too deep. I think it’s director’s Thom Fitzgerald’s try at a mainstream crowd-pleaser– as opposed to his earlier, more experimental films, like Hanging Garden —  and it works.

STILL MINE_cromwellStill Mine

Dir: Michael McGowan

Craig and Irene (James Cromwell and Genevieve Bujold) live on a sprawling, 2000 acre family farm near St Martins, N.B. They’ve been married 60 years and have seven kids, and raise chickens, cows and strawberries. And they still live at home. They are very much in love, and still sleep together. Craig is tall, stern and gaunt; Irene has flowing long white hair that she lets loose on her slim body. (The movie makes a point at showing them bioth partially naked)

Irene’s memory is going, and she’s increasingly hard to handle in their old home. But Craig’s a stubborn old cuss, and there’s no way he’s leaving that place, despite their childrens’ entreaties.

So he decides to build a new house. By himself. By hand. He’s been schooled in the art of building since he was a lad, and St Martins was an old ship-building port, so he’s inherited all the rules: cutting and aging wood, building joists, making it all just right. He’s building a perfect, one story home, as tight as a ship, overlooking the Bay of Fundy. One where Irene will STILL_MINE bujoldnever have to worry about climbing or falling down staircases again.

But things start to go wrong. He never bought a refrigerated truck to transport his strawberry harvest – a new rule. So he can’t sell them. His cattle have wandered away since he didn’t fix a hole in a fence. And worst of all, Mr Daigle, at the licensing desk, says he didn’t follow the proper rules in building the new house, and posts WORK STOP notices all over the skeleton of the house he’s building. If he disobeys the law he could go to jail. Will the house be torn to the ground? Or will Craig and Irene win and get to live in their lovely new house?

Based on a true story – stubborn NB. farmer fights the bureaucrats — this is a nice movie with excellent performances by Bujold and Cromwell (He just won the best actor prize in a Canadian film this past weekend.) Some of the scenes looked similar to ones in Away from Her, with pretty Irene wandering unchecked, in a daze, with her long white hair blowing in her face.It’s modeled on rural life, and they both seem like real farmers, but it also shares the very slow, largely uneventful feel (I’m guessing here) of rural life. So it’s a bit sloooow, not so exciting. But it is a nice, gentle satisfying film to watch.

Cloudburst starts today, check your local listings, and keep your eyes out for Still Home which opens a few months from now, in May.

This is Daniel Garber at the Movies, each Friday morning on CIUT 89.5 FM and on my website, culturalmining.com .

Daniel Garber talks to Doug Blush about his new film about bipolar people OF TWO MINDS

dougblushHi, This is Daniel Garber at the Movies forculturalmining.com and CIUT 89.5 FM.

There’s a psychiatric term to describe the condition of extreme mood swings that go from up in the clouds to down in the dumps. It’s known as Bi-Polar disorder. Its been diagnosed, categorized, treated by prescription drugs. Some people fear it and ostracize anyone given that label. Others say the world would be worse off, less interesting without it.

A new documentary, called OF TWO MINDS, gives an account of four people whose lives Cheri-Dance-01-1024x576and personalities are tied to and shaped by this condition, by both its good and its bad aspects. And I’m very pleased to have DOUG BLUSH, (who produced documentaries like the Invisible War) co-director, with Lisa Klein, of OF TWO MINDS.

of two minds posterDoug’s talks about bipolar people, what it’s like, how it’s dealt with in popular media, how people handle it, why he chose to make a film about it, Mad Pride, medication, “Bipolar 1 vs Bipolar 2” diagnoses, and more…

Tagged with: ,

February Blues. Movies Reviewed: Jump, Charlie Zone

Hi, this is Daniel Garber at the Movies for culturalmining.com and CIUT 89.5 FM, looking at high-brow and low-brow movies, indie, cult, foreign, festival, documentary, genre and mainstream films, helping you see movies with good taste, movies that taste good, and how to tell the difference.

The slow movie months of January and February are finally over, so get ready for a blast of this year’s newest movies with the coming spring Film Festival season. This week I’m looking at some new films, opening soon in Toronto. One’s a Canadian action-drama about a native guy trying to stay alive, the other’s a screwball action-drama from Northern Ireland about a woman pondering death on New Year’s Eve.

JUMP_002_mediumJump

Dir: Kieron J. Walsh

It’s New Year’s eve in Derry, Northern Ireland, so now’s the time for dressing up in strange costumes, watching fireworks, contemplating the universe and the meaning of life… and getting plastered, not necessarily in that order. So the movie starts with a young woman, Greta (Nichola Burley) with angel’s wings on her back, all forlorn, about to jump off a bridge. But there she meets the tattered-and-torn Pearce, who just got beaten up by some thugs on the same bridge, and nearly thrown to his death. Love is kindled, sparks fly, and they are drawn together. But, what neither of them quite realize yet, Greta’s father is a local crime boss, and Pearce is one of his antagonists. Mutual friends, as well as their enemies, are also tied up in this strange situation as they drive JUMP_003_mediumaround town that night. Will Pearce find the missing brother he’s searching for? Will Greta discover her own family’s secrets? And what about the large bundle of cash missing from the crime boss’s safe? Who took it, who has it now, and whose fault is it anyway? How did two girlfriends, just out for a fun night, somehow end up with a possibly dead body locked in the trunk of their car? And whose body is it that turns up under the Derry Peace Bridge? There’s an ethical hitman, grungy gangsters, shady bartenders, and dismayed partiers to round out the story. Lots and lots of questions in this plot-driven, screwball action movie (if there is such a category.)

We soon find out this is a cut-up type film, with the complicated plot gradually revealed by flashbacks, and omissions. It jumps all over the place (as the title suggests), with scenes repeated two or three times until the true story is revealed.

It’s rare to see a story about young people in Northern Ireland just going out, nothing to do with “the Troubles” – I like that. But this is a very confusing, mainstream movie that drags a bit. And it’s hard to know who to sympathize with, except maybe Pearce, and a side plot with two young women — one ethical, one self-centred — caught up in this muddle. But rest assured, all of the dozens of loose ends get neatly tied up by the end.

charlie-zone_still_3in12_web_0Charlie Zone

Dir: Michael Melski

Avery (Glen Gould) is the strong silent-type, a tough Native guy who did time and never shies from a fistfight. Now he just wants to earn some good money so he takes on a sketchy job. He has to find a young woman in Montreal, abduct her, and drive her back to her parents. Easy, no?

No.

She’s an angry junkie who doesn’t trust anyone, and will do anything not to go home again – ever. Turns out, Jan (Amanda Crew) was adopted and now feels adrift – she doesn’t even know who she really is. It’s up to Avery to get her there safely. But things start to change.

There’s an extremely violent Quebec biker gang chasing the two of them, two young gangsters who think of Jan as their property, and a shady, secretive businesswoman orchestrating the whole deal by telephone for unstated reasons. And Avery is stuck in the middle of it — a thug magnet – but won’t give up on her. Are Jan and Avery enemies or allies? And will either of them ever connect with the people they really want to find?

Charlie Zone is partly an action-packed violent crime movie about the seedier side, partly a heartfelt drama about rural life, loves lost and families torn apart. Glen Gould and Amanda Crew make a good pair, (though without any sexual spark between them) and the plot-driven story keeps you guessing till the end.

Jump is the closing film next weekend at the Toronto Irish Film Festival, playing at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. And Charlie Zone which won this year’s Best Dramatic Feature award at ImagineNative, opens today. Check you local listings

This is Daniel Garber at the Movies, each Friday morning on CIUT 89.5 FM and on my website, culturalmining.com .

%d bloggers like this: