CANADA’S TOP 10 FOR 2016
The 16th annual Canada's Top Ten Film Festival runs at the Bell Lightbox from January 13th to the 26th of 2017. Every year, a panel of film experts (filmmakers, film critics et al.) select the prestigious films - some of them released and some yet to be released. But the fortnight will be the period to have a chance to watch all of them. and support Canadian film.
For more details on the festival, ticket pricing showtimes and vet, check the TIFF website at:
The 10 films are: (alphabetically)
IT’S ONLY THE END OF THE WORLD
THOSE WHO MAKE REVOLUTION HALFWAY ONLY DIG THEIR OWN GRAVES
(All films have two showings on two separate days.)
I have seen three of them, capsule reviews provided below.
HELLO DESTROYER (Canada 2016) **
Directed by Kevan Funk
Like 1970’s SCORE: A HOCKEY MUSICAL the Canadian feature that opened TIFF years back HELLO DESTROYER condemns the violence in the sport of hockey. Unfortunately, good intentions aside, both are terrible films. The film centres on a new recruit for the minor league Prince George Warriors, Tyson Burr (Jared Abrahamson), a grinder whose primary task is digging the puck out of corners and protecting more skilled players. Tyson is painfully shy and inarticulate, the result of growing up with a dismissive and impatient father — and being raised in a world that places little value on emotional development. When Tyson punches out an opponent resulting in severe injury, he is slowly ostracized by everyone. A lot of scenes in the film are shot in extreme close-up (like the fights and the shower scene) so that what is happening can hardly be seen. If only director Funk would pull back his camera more often to show the entire picture. The film is hardly lit, so that the faces of all the characters in most of the scenes can hardly be seen except in the shadows. The dialogue is mostly pure ranting, if not gibberish and when articulate hardly reveal any points in the story. The open ending of the film does not help either. Running at almost 2 hours, the film is almost a total mess except for Abrahamson’s performance given the film’s limitations.
SEARCHERS (Canada 2016) ***
Directed by Zacharias Kunuk
Director Kunuk (Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner) returns with this Arctic epic inspired by the classic John Ford western, THE SEARCHERS. though it feels at times like an Inuit version of TAKEN. An Inuit woman is kidnapped by her own people. A family is torn apart in the vast spaces of the cold barren landscape of the Arctic, when marauding men desperate for conquest break into an igloo with intent to kidnap. When the husband returns to find his home ransacked, he vows revenge TAKEN style. The husband (with his son) track the kidnappers and finally rescue the wife and daughter. There is not an intricate plot with a twist but it is an absorbing film nonetheless. On wonders how they got the camera and other equipment up there in the cold. True Canadian filmmaking by the First Nations. The audience gets a dose of Inuit culture as a bonus.
WEREWOLF (Canada 2016) ***
Directed by Ashley McKenzie
WEREWOLF is a low budget but no-holds barred look at the hardscrabble existence of two homeless, twentysomething recovering drug addicts. The drug users are the couple Vanessa and Blaise (Bhreagh MacNeil and Andrew Gillis). Both are in the process of rehabilitation but they still partake of the substance as part of a government program details not given. The film follows them as they sleep in tents,and fight with government bureaucrats. Blaise and Vanessa survive primarily through an underground economy. They harass people to let them cut their grass with a rusty old mower they haul over dirt roads and through rainstorms. McKenzie’s camera is fond of close-ups. In fact, there are too much of it. Often the audience sees the bad acne on the side of Vanessa’s face, a symptom of the effects of taking methadone. One wishes that the camera would occasionally pull back to show the whole picture. The film also contains lots of jittery images, from the use of hand held camera. Again, a few steady shots using a tripod would be welcome. Ultimately, the success of the film depends on the two main leads, who thankfully achieves the credibility the film needs. WEREWOLF is definitely a disturbing film and despite it having fictional characters, the film still hits home pretty hard with brutal honesty.