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 .

Oct 19, 2012. Imaginative ImagineNATIVE. Movies Reviewed: Charlie Zone, We Were Children

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.

Earlier this week, I found myself munching some bannock and wild rice in a packed hall on Spadina to witness the opening ceremony of one of the warmest and friendliest film festivals I’ve seen in Toronto. ImagineNATIVE is a celebration of indigenous film, video and art in Canada and around the world and it’s on right now, and open to everyone.

There are free short film screenings tonight at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, art installations around the downtown, and films, parties, concerts and lots of great movies to see. So check it out. This week I’m reviewing two Canadian movies playing at ImagineNATIVE, both with aboriginal topics and actors, and both about people trapped far away from their homes.

Charlie 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.

UPDATE: This year’s ImagineNative Best Dramatic Feature award went to Charlie Zone: Producer, Hank White.

We Were Children

Dir: Tim Wolochatiuk

For over a hundred years, but especially from the 1930s to the 80s, 150,000 native children were taken from their families and sent to residential schools to learn English and French and trade skills, and to be assimilated into the dominant Canadian culture. Most of them were run by churches, and the children often treated as inmates not students. Harsh corporal punishments were common, as was malnutrition, and, shockingly, emotional, physical and sexual abuse of the boys and girls sent there.

We Were Children is a powerful film that combines a documentary history of two kids Lyna and Glen (now adults) who lived through this in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and a shocking dramatization of what it was like. Glen is locked in a dungeon room by an abusive priest and Lyna, who initially spoke no English was physically punished just for speaking her native tongue. Although they want to go home, they are prevented from leaving and treated like escaped prisoners if they run away. Not a one-sided film at all, it takes pains to show some positive characters at the schools, like a nun who helps the girls when they are hungry. This film is an eye-opening look at a shameful chapter of Canadian history and the attempts at cultural genocide forced upon First Nations children, scarring families for generations.

For show times of Charlie Zone, We Were Children and more, go to ImagineNATIVE.org . Other festivals in the city this weekend include the very scary Toronto After Dark, Ekran.ca the new Polish film festival (starting next week), and Brazilfilmfest.net for movies and music from Brazil.

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

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