Friday, 9 October 2015

Wanna see something really GROSS? Here are just a few of the disgusting items on the Cineplex Entertainment website wildly promoting the crummy Paul Gross pro-war film HYENA ROAD + links to Greg Klymkiw's reviews of HYENA ROAD and the brilliant "Making of" Documentary by Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson and Galen Johnson which is light-years better than Paul Gross's film itself. Enjoy!

Here's something GROSS!
Win a Trip to Ottawa in honour of
the pro-war film HYENA ROAD
Visit the Nation's Capital
You paid for a good chunk of this
with your tax dollars under the aegis
of the aforementioned RACIST FASCIST
government, so ENJOY!!!

The Unbearable Promotion of War:
Buying Grosses for Wasteful Gross Film

Editorial Commentary By Greg Klymkiw

The new Canadian war film Hyena Road tries to mask itself as anything but a pro-war film, but as it extols the virtues of Canada's involvement in a war which killed, maimed and shell-shocked too many of our nation's soldiers for reasons that had everything to do with buttressing the financial goals of corporate pigs, it's clearly one of the most foul pieces of garbage foisted upon us courtesy of several million Canadian taxpayer dollars.

When writer-producer-director Paul Gross sallied over to Afghanistan for a morale-boosting "meet and greet" with our fighting men and women a few years ago, he realized it was necessary to make a film about Canadians and for Canadians. Rather than focusing upon the war machine and America's perverted desires to lie to its people about extremist Muslims being the real threat, he chose instead to give us some good, old rah-rah with oodles of war pornography.

He decided to tell of a joint Canadian-American initiative to build a road through hostile territory to ensure safe back-and-forth passage through hostile "enemy" territory. Make no mistake, Canada was the enemy in Afghanistan. Gross, however, clearly had no interest in the agendas of the New World Order, the 1% of the wealthiest, who used terrorism as the excuse to murder its own soldiers and Afghans.

According to a sampling of the reams of promotional bumph on the Cineplex Entertainment website:

"...Gross felt a calling to present a very real slice of the Canadian military’s efforts in Afghanistan. This wasn't just to use film as a means of educating those who don’t really understand Canada’s role in the war. [Our role was a spurious one, but Gross has no interest in this.] It was also to give a voice, and humanity, [Humanity! Hah!] to not only the soldiers risking their lives every day to protect the sanctity of freedom [Sanctity of FREEDOM! Who the fuck are they trying to kid?], but the Afghan warriors typically villainized. [Another yeah right! The film shows one "good" Afhghan warrior and most of the rest are the typical Snidely Whiplash villains, especially a sleazy two-faced Afghan villain.]

Here's the real GROSS part to all this. The amount of promotional support for this film on the Cineplex website and in its theatre lobbies and on its screens is huge. On top of this are all the millions of dollars from Federal and Provincial coffers to produce, market and distribute this film. I have no problem with Canadian films receiving this - not even Hyena Road. However, how many Canadian films get this kind of promotional support? Not many. How many Canadian films are supported to such a degree by Cineplex Entertainment? Not many. In fact, how many Canadian films does Cineplex Entertainment bother to even show? Not many and it's getting worse, not better.

Enjoy 300 SCENE Loyalty Points from
Cineplex Entertainment when buying
a ticket to the Canadian War Pornography
HYENA ROAD during its first week!!!

What's essentially happening with Hyena Road and a handful of other "anointed" Canadian films is that both the government and corporations like Cineplex Entertainment are buying grosses to put bums in seats. This allows everyone to pat themselves on the back, publicize big grosses (which usually aren't that big to begin with) so that a whole whack of folks can save face by backing these few horses. And then, based on these spurious numbers, the producers of said pieces of garbage are giving green lights to keep gobbling from the troughs and make more shitty movies.

In addition to the hilariously pathetic Cineplex Entertainment contest to send two - count 'em - two lucky people to Ottawa, they're also offering Scene loyalty card bonus points if people see Hyena Road during the first week. 300 points to be exact. This represents almost one third of an eventual free ticket to see a movie. Again, I have no problem with this. It offers a decent promotional incentive to patrons and if it works, it assists in top-loading the first week of release with more paying viewers. However, how many Canadian films are afforded this great promotion? Uh, not too many.

The amount of promo material for Hyena Road on the Cineplex Entertainment website is staggering. Just for fun, here is another ludicrous quotation taken directly from

These are stories that are often overlooked, as Canada’s participation in the war is not something that is often depicted on film. The cast discuss their respect for Gross, who is telling important historical stories that our nation deserves to have heard.

Excuse me, did I just read that correctly? The cast of Hyena Road "discuss" on the Cineplex Entertainment website "their respect for [Paul] Gross"? Why, pray tell? For "telling important historical stories that our nation deserves to have heard."

You know, what our nation deserved to hear is not the war porn bunkum Gross craps onto the screen. We don't need this propaganda. We need to know the truth behind what our veterans from Afghanistan and every other war have had to suffer because they were duped into fighting for freedom.

If Paul Gross had any concern at all about the bravery of Canada's armed forces, he might have thought to tell the stories of how our fighting men and women have been treated like shit by our own government. How about stories of Canadian soldiers and their applications for assistance to the Department of Veterans Affairs taking 5 years or more? How about stories of same said veterans being denied assistance after waiting for so many years? How about the fact that this mean-spirited incompetence directed at these members of our armed forces are a result of the Canadian Fuhrer closing nine Veterans Affairs offices across the country, firing 900 Veterans Affairs staff members, not using one billion dollars earmarked for veterans' assistance, ignoring a detailed and damning Auditor General report condemning the Harper Reichstag for doing virtually nothing to help our veterans?

How about Der Fuhrer Stephen Harper removing the right of a maimed, injured, shell-shocked veteran to a lifetime pension?

These are the real Canadian stories of war that have been swept under the rug by our government and even the media to a large degree. What the fuck is Paul Gross, Cineplex Entertainment and various levels of the Canadian government doing making propaganda and ignoring the war stories that really matter?

Sadly, for Canada, not even American filmmakers have ignored the maimed, the mad and the disenfranchised thanks to Oliver Stone (Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July), Francis Coppola (Apocalypse Now). Michael Cimino (The Deer Hunter), Samuel Fuller (Steel Helmet, The Big Red One) and, well, I could grind out a few thousand words just listing them. Even worse, for Canada, is that Gross has, with two pictures, burned through millions upon millions of dollars to make films that not only have much to say, but range from incompetence to borderline incompetence.

So go. See the movie this week. You'll get loyalty card points and contribute to supporting lacklustre filmmaking and lies. I hope Gross and anyone responsible at any level for this wad of nothingness are proud of themselves.

We can all feel proud. Hyena Road is what "we stand on guard for thee" for.

Lies, lies and more lies. And cruddy filmmaking also.

The link to my review of Hyena Road is HERE.

The link to my review of Bring Me The Head of Tim Horton, The Making of Hyena Road is HERE.

"Stay tuned. We're going to go beyond the scenes."
- Michael Kennedy, Executive Vice-President,

Thursday, 1 October 2015

EJECTA - Greg Klymkiw Interviews Co-Director Matt Wiele, PLUS links to Klymkiw's reviews of Ejecta and his interview with screenwriter Tony Burgess - COUNTDOWN TO TADFF 2015

My countdown to the 2015 Toronto After Dark Film Festival (TADFF 2015) will feature a variety of new pieces on great genre work in the tradition of this terrific film festival which occurs in Toronto, Canada, Oct. 15-23, 2015. Let this countdown serve as a buffet of delectably exotic appetizers before the Big Meal Deal of my festival coverage.

COUNTDOWN TO TADFF 15 #1 is in honour of Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada's recent DVD release of the Foresight Features/Raven Banner presentation of EJECTA. Here's Greg Klymkiw's interview with co-director Matt Wiele, followed by links to reviews of the film and an interview with screenwriter Tony Burgess at the cool UK online mag, "Electric Sheep". You'll also find a few links to related materials throughout the piece - just don't click on the fuckers until you finish this Klymkiw-Wiele conversational reverie.

Interview with Matt Wiele, co-director of EJECTA
By Greg Klymkiw

GREG KLYMKIW: I love this movie so much. I've been following UFO reports for two decades (shortwave weirdness, Art Bell, George Noory, Chris Rutkowski from Manitoba, etc.). [Screenwriter Tony] Burgess told me he essentially wrote to order for you guys on this idea. So, where, how and why did you guys come up for the idea of this film? Did your inspirations come from all the "semi" legit UFO stuff? Or, perhaps, even the popular academic stuff in those great books by the astro-physicist Michio Kaku and his thoughts on parallel universe, multi-dimensional theories, etc?

MATT WIELE: Thanks for the love! Your review that came out during Fantasia [2014 International Film Festival in Montreal] was my favourite and I'm not just blowing smoke up your ass.

GK: I'm not partial to receiving many things up my ass, least of all lightbulbs and gerbils, but I will take all the smoke up there that I can get.

MW: It was just so great to read how well you got what we were trying to do with Ejecta.

GK: Some might call me a sick fuck, but I take UFO and alien stuff pretty seriously. Speaking of sick-fucks, let's hear about Burgess and your influences, etc.

MW: Both the idea and working with Tony Burgess came in a series of folds, first from the intent to make a very tense, fast and fucking scary found footage film. It evolved from there to include a larger wrap-around story about the whole institutional side of the unknown. For me the inspiration was simple in its truest form, which was, if I could think of situations in life that would scare the vomit out of me, like full-on puke-my-guts-out chunk blowing terror, it would be getting chased by an alien in the woods.

GK: Given that I believe in the fuckers, I can't say I'd disagree with you.

MW: Pure and simple. Complete and utter terror. Though actually it is complex, considering we're talking about aliens being real. The universe as a whole is just way too big for my tiny mind to comprehend so I have, and will forever be dumbfounded by all of it. Because of this I tried to keep the idea simple.

GK: Simple is always best. It's the things that yields the layers. So, what's the simple pitch?

MW: A crazy conspiracy blogger [played by Julian Richings], claims to have been mentally-invaded by aliens for the last 40 years. In an addled state, he asks a young videographer {Adam Seybold] to come and meet him to tell his story on-camera. That night a small spaceship crashes nearby and the two guys get mega-terrorized. The wrap-around to this involves a creepy, kick-ass Black-Ops military babe [Lisa Houle] who overseas a series of horrific experiments upon the crazy blogger.

GK: What I love about Foresight Features and Blackfawn Films [the visionary rurally-based Canadian production companies that co-produced Ejecta] is that the work is rooted in the country livin' - or at least, not fucking Toronto. These are locales both companies hang their shingles in. To what extent do you feel this has informed Ejecta? Do you guys naturally look to the skies in the Guelph/Collingwood areas? I ask out of personal experience. I confess, living way north on the Bruce Peninsula for most of my existence, I do. Do you feel there is something about the rural "psyche" which allows more openness to notions of ET life and visitation? To what extent, if any, do you think this informed the project?

MW: Like I said before, I find great comfort or understanding from simplification and for me it boils down to the fact that when you're in a city with millions of people, buildings and endless sensory stimuli, it's far easier to be distracted by what surrounds you on the human level instead of what surrounds you on a cosmic level. In the rural setting, especially dare I say "out in the country" where there are no street lights, and the only illumination at night comes from the moon and the stars it's essentially impossible to ignore. Just like you experience up on the Bruce the skies are fucking big out here. That isolation also plays perfectly into horror and sci-fi tropes. Whether it's two guys out in the woods being chased by an alien, a group of kids out at a cabin in the woods being terrorized by a slasher character, or even humans lost in space, it all stems from some form of isolation when terror strikes. I find myself getting into a trance at times just staring out at the sky while my brain shuts down trying to process. With that isolation and opportunity to sit and stare I think there is a more accepting thought of "what the fuck is out there?"

GK: The idea of the aliens creating what is, essentially, a fucking living room in Julian Riching's mind to hold their ET kaffeeklatches got me soooooo hard. The fuck, you guys? Where'd this sickness come from? Did you ever consider shooting these alien get-togethers in some perverse literal construct of Julian's brain? If so, were there, like, armchairs with doilies and coffee tables and shit like that? If this never entered yours and/or Tony's diseased minds, is it, or something similar to it, a possibility for a prequel/sequel?

MW: [Laughs uproariously. Perhaps too uproariously.] That's amazing. That "living room" in Julian's mind was, naturally, all Burgess. Tony has such an amazing ability to not fall into the standard or obvious story paths - duh - and he thought it would be interesting to set it up as if these things would probe or experiment with Julian mentally and not in the way we're used to seeing wherein aliens would abduct him and poke his asshole looking for human answers. Further to that, I always had a strong mental image of Julian's character performing a crude autopsy on a table in his shed with just a simple hanging light over top as he was poking and prodding this thing, so we tried to flip a typical dynamic between man and alien on its head. As far as having shots of the aliens in cardigans playing cribbage in Julian's head, we didn't think to roll with that, but now that you mention it...

GK: How much pull [booze] is consumed when you guys work with Tony? How does pull contribute to the early stages of the creative process? Would you ever consider having creative meetings up north here with Ma Pincock and her boys so you could create with her magnificent home brew whilst cavorting with her hideously deformed lads? [For further insights into this statement, read my interview HERE with Tony Burgess on the Foresight film entitled Hellmouth - scroll down to the section entitled "PULL, MEAT DRAW and PINCOCKS".]

MW: The pull had become quite customary when gathering with Tony. For those unfamiliar with the term, "pull" refers to single malt scotch, typically amongst 12-15 year old lads, often of the Highland variety. We use pull more as a reward than a constant for the creative process. Often it would go that we would get the wheels turning at a nice pace on the creative side of things before introducing our first sips. As Burgess has coined, "earn the pull". Due to some lifestyle changes the pull has been put on hold so despite the generous offering, I would have to respectfully decline the homebrew, at least for now. Maybe on the next film however.

GK: It seems obvious to me how you two directed Ejecta. [I refer here to co-directors Wiele and Chad Archibald, the latter of the pair having bailed on the dubious opportunity to talk to me, in spite of the fact that I cascaded huge wads of critical semen upon his new film BITE, which you can read HERE.] You see, Ejecta has two concurrent narrative/stylistic movements, so for me, it makes sense without even knowing the facts. Would you like to talk about the creative collaboration in terms of the planning of and shooting of the film itself? It'll be fun hearing from you separately on this. Here you'll have a shot at trashing Archibald if desired.

MW: One thing I've learned about Mr. Chad Archibald is that he is immune to being trashed as it's simply impossible to do so to such a good man. [Oops! Maybe y'all need to read my decimating Klymkiw-special review of Archibald's The Drownsman HERE.] Working together in a variety of roles across this film, as well as on Hellmouth and Septic Man, I formed a strong bond and respect for his work ethic and wealth of talents. It was damn interesting and exciting working together on this as I took the reins at the start with the POV style shoot, getting the first chunk of production done and then moved into full time producing as Chad directed the second production. It was an incredible lesson in creativity and adaptability to make this film come together the way it did. Collaboration was king throughout as it always should be in independent film. Without your army around you it's damn near impossible to make anything in this industry.

GK: Was Julian Richings always a part of the equation, even in the earliest stages of creating the film? He's probably one of the world's greatest character actors. How do you work with him? What's his process as an actor and how do you mesh with it, encourage it, repress it, etc.?

MW: Yes, Julian was always part of the equation and an actor we've wanted to work with for years. He's a tremendous talent and even more, a tremendous human being. Initially I had a few phone calls with him and set up a table read for the second-to-last-draft of the script along with Adam Seybold, Tony Burgess and myself. From there it was final refinements based on everyone's notes and then, off to the races. I think we meshed very well as I had full confidence in Julian, obviously, and he, in turn, was incredibly confident in me, which, being a first time director was key. What I loved most about working with him, aside from always making my job much easier thanks to his talents, was that he always had great insights and offerings for the character and the specific scenes. This was especially true when it came to the found footage stuff, where blocking the scene was incredibly important and finding the marks not just physically, but also from a story and dialogue standpoint, was incredibly vital. Julian is a trooper and his dedication to his performance and the team is humbling.

GK: The movie is fucking scary on a number of levels. How do you specifically infuse those things that scare you into the film?

MW: I tried to keep the tension of what scares the shit out of me as a central pulse to the POV footage and characters. I think it's like directing in a manner that's similar to how actors try to call on personal experiences, to put themselves into the right space for their characters' emotions. I think we have to do that as directors.

GK: You and Archibald must both have distinctive voices as filmmakers. How aware are each of you in terms of your respective personal stamps? How do these mesh and/or positively repel each other throughout the entire process of making the film?

MW: I've been the producer on six features, but have only directed one, so I think my voice hasn't been fully established. Hopefully I can direct more projects in the future and start shaping the concept of who I am as a filmmaker, but right now my focus was pace, action and scares. I think Chad has an incredible voice in the Indie horror community and his stamp is obvious in terms of production quality, execution and originality. I'd say his voice was essential in making this film shape up the way it did and in such a creative way after filming the original content. I think for both of us keeping things positive and enjoyable for everyone on-set is key. This is especially important when adversity hits, the cold creeps in or a gag isn't working exactly how you envisioned it. It's key to have the positive propel you through the challenges you'll get hit with every single day on set.

GK: In terms of post-production, the end result feels like you both had definite ideas about the coverage you needed in order to play with it fruitfully in the cutting room. Were there any surprises post-shoot which informed the final product? If so, what were they?

MW: This film was an interesting beast to cut together. Initially we had all envisioned a linear timeline for the story but after a rough assembly we felt we needed to ramp up the pace and tension, sticking with the intent to always aim to create something great. I took on a lot of the final editing duties as Chad was working away on his next feature and after a ton of insight from fellow filmmakers and Foresight Features producers, Jesse Cook and John Geddes, we went with the multiple timelines colliding and that really made the thing sing. It kept the audience guessing, the pace and tension high and demanded a lot of the viewer. I found editing this film to be one the most challenging and rewarding times in my career. It was both a demon and a delight.

GK: Did you guys ever consider having more babes in the movie?

MW: Indeed we did. It's always a discussion that comes up when planning a film and story. However, we try not to get hung up on "this story needs X females, Y males, Z races". We just let it happen naturally. Specifically to the central female character Tobin, Tony was absolutely set on her being a hard-ass, and ultimately, completely crazy. Lisa [Houle] did a great job pulling off that wildness.

GK: Did either of you indulge any of your fetishes with respect to the film and the finished product? If so, would you mind elaborating? I guess what I'm referring to here is how most genre directors including greats like Hitchcock and DePalma barf-up their fetishes all over their films.

MW: Originally there was going to be a death scene involving the alien absorbing Julian by way of his skin, which when we started filming it kinda looked like they were fucking, so we turfed it. Also, I've never really had a "fucking an alien fetish", other than the gal with three boobs in Total Recall, of course.

GK: Of course!

Ejecta is on DVD via Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada


Click HERE to read my original Fantasia Festival review of EJECTA

Click HERE to read my DVD review of EJECTA at Electric Sheep

Click HERE to read my INTERVIEW with Tony Burgess on EJECTA at Electric Sheep

Sunday, 20 September 2015

BASKIN - Review By Greg Klymkiw at "ELECTRIC SHEEP - a deviant view of cinema" - TIFF 2015: Turkish Tarantino-esque Cops Meet Satan during Black Mass investigation

Read Greg Klymkiw's **** review of BASKIN, a TIFF 2015 Midnight Madness wad of depravity. Just visit "Electric Sheep - a deviant view of cinema" by clicking HERE.

THE WITCH - Review By Greg Klymkiw at "Electric Sheep - a deviant view of cinema" - TIFF 2015: Decent Cinematography not enough to save pretentious, dull, bargain-basement late-career Terence Malick rip-off crossed with Roman Polanski aspirations and dollops of half-baked Bergman. Worse yet, pic is not unlike lower-drawer M. Night Shyamalan. That's truly chilling!

Read Greg Klymkiw's ** TIFF 2015 review of THE WITCH at "Electric Sheep - a deviant view of cinema" by clicking HERE.

FEBRUARY - Review By Greg Klymkiw at "ELECTRIC SHEEP - a deviant view of cinema" - TIFF 2015: Atmospheric Babes in Peril Thriller with Lewton-like touches.

Read Greg Klymkiw's TIFF 2015 *** review of FEBRUARY at "Electric Sheep - a deviant view  of cinema" by clicking HERE.

DEMON - Review By Greg Klymkiw at "ELECTRIC SHEEP - a deviant view of cinema" TIFF 2015: Chilling Polish Dybbuk Horror Thriller by 42-year-old Director who died one week after World Premiere at TIFF

Marcin Wrona, the brilliant young Polish filmmaker presented the World Premiere of his chilling horror film DEMON in the Vanguard Series at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF 2015) one week before his sudden death in Poland on September 18, 2015. My **** 4-Star review can be read at Electric Sheep by clicking HERE.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

MEKKO - Review By Greg Klymkiw - TIFF 2015 - Urban Rez on the mean streets of Tulsa

Mekko (2015)
Dir. Sterlin Harjo
Starring: Rod Rondeaux, Zahn McClarnon, Wotko Long, Sarah Podemski, Scott Mason

Review By Greg Klymkiw

They're living ghosts on the dirty, mean streets of Tulsa, Oklahoma, looking for a patch of turf to rest their weary bones, quaff cheap booze and await death whilst clinging desperately to life so they can numb the pain.

Far from home, family and dignity, they're Native Americans reduced to poverty at its lowest rung on this makeshift Indian Reservation in the heart of a flat, grey city on the open plains of the dust bowl state. Life is hard, but death without redemption will be harder. One pain will be replaced with yet another, only this time, it will last an eternity if the loose ends aren't tied up.

Not every man will be up to the task, but in the hands of one man, there exists the power of salvation for his community of homeless indigenous people.

For many of us and certainly within the context of both this film and life itself, the blood and violence that eventually explode in answer to a brutal, cowardly assault and murder, will seem like cold, calculating vengeance, but the writer-director Sterlin Harjo knows better. In his third extraordinary feature film, Harjo takes us deep into the life and spirit of one man to expose a truth we must all face and come to know.

His film Mekko bears the name of its protagonist, a quiet lean, gentle giant played by longtime stuntman Rod Rondeaux (a la such immortals as Ben Johnson and Richard Farnsworth); a man who still has enough of a spark left in him to conjure the memories emblazoned upon his soul in childhood by the words of his long-dead grandmother.

In the tradition of Lionel Rogosin's searing docudramas on America's post-war homeless and the early years of South African apartheid in On the Bowery and Come Back, Africa respectively, in addition to the neo-realist visions of Vittorio De Sica (Bicycle Thieves, Shoeshine, Umberto D), Harjo has created a contemporary masterpiece in Mekko, one which indelibly presents a portrait of Native Americans that's as much a harrowing slice-of-life drama as it is a piece rooted in the folklore of our indigenous peoples.

Harjo hangs his raw cinematic engraving upon the simple tale of a man recently released from a 19-year prison stint for murder who winds up homeless on the streets of Tulsa. He reconnects with an old friend from his youth who's also on the streets, is then befriended by a kind-hearted Native American waitress in a local greasy spoon and eventually confronts his nemesis, an odious street goon who keeps his own people hooked on booze and drugs to extort, bully and eke what cash he can out of them.

As in his grandmother's legends, Mekko and his people are always followed by a malevolent witch-spirit who will haunt them to their graves and beyond unless someone bravely takes action to rip the evil heart and soul out of this scourge, this blight upon humanity. It's ultimately all about looking inward to expose one's own demons and eradicate them with extreme prejudice in order to make the world pure again.

Mekko is an extraordinary work, gorgeously crafted, beautifully acted and even utilizing real indigenous street people in the cast. It's sad, shocking, profoundly moving and ultimately uplifting. The journey to elation is, however, fraught with danger and suffering. It's not cheaply and easily earned, but it's a journey you'll never forget, one with the power to fill you with the kind of truth that not only exposes the lives of real people, but the potential to inspire change within yourself.

Yes, this is what they indeed do. Masterpieces, that is.


Mekko enjoys its international premiere in the Contemporary World Cinema section of TIFF 2015. For further info, visit the TIFF website HERE.

FIRE SONG - Review By Greg Klymkiw - TIFF 2015 - Legacy of Canadian Colonialist Apartheid

Fire Song (2015)
Dir. Adam Garnet Jones
Starring: Andrew Martin,
Jennifer Podemski, Harley LeGarde-Beacham, Mary Galloway

Review By Greg Klymkiw

The legacy of British colonial rule in Canada has resulted in apartheid and virulent racism. Life on many Aboriginal Reservations is fraught with abject poverty, crime, sexual exploitation, incest and worst of all, an increasingly learned epidemic of suicide. None of this has been alleviated in the years of fascist rule in Canada under Prime Minister Stephen Harper and in fact, has only increased due to his government's complete disregard for Aboriginal nations on virtually every level including the theft of land, natural resources and pernicious backstabbing. The aforementioned blights are all explored in Adam Garnet Jones's feature length debut - and then some.

Fire Song is a deeply moving and an indelibly-captured slice-of-life portrait of young and old alike. They all seek a better life; if not on the reservation, then off it.

When his sister commits suicide, a smart, sensitive young gay man (Andrew Martin) is torn between leaving the reservation to get a post-secondary education and staying behind to care for his beloved mother (Jennifer Podemski) who has crawled into a pit of the deepest despair. Complicating matters further, he's kept his sexual orientation a secret between himself and his lover (Harley LeGarde-Beacham) whilst maintaining a "straight" appearance by dating a beautiful young girl (Mary Galloway), whose father keeps coming on to her incestuously.

In many ways, our hero bears the burden of being a protector, but in reality, he'd eventually fulfill that role even more effectively if he left the reserve to study.

Director Jones captures reservation life with such a keen eye, eliciting superb performances from his entire cast, that it's a trifle disappointing that the screenplay feels so rigidly structured, capturing its story beats on its sleeve. The film needed a bit of breathing space and perhaps might have benefitted from writing which was even further rooted in a neo-realist tradition. As well, far too many conflicts and loose ends are addressed and dealt with in a positive fashion during the final third of the picture. They feel rushed and almost shoe-horned into the proceedings.

Given the often overwhelming despair and confusion, both redemption and positive movements forward are indeed very welcome, but they finally seem too forced to be fully effective. There is, however, one aspect of the tale which is handled beautifully on both the writing, directing and acting fronts which addresses the film's initial suicide in an alternately bittersweet and downright heartbreaking manner guaranteed to get the tear ducts flowing freely.

The mostly youthful cast handle themselves naturalistically, but the one knockout performance comes from Jennifer Podemski who demonstrates, yet again, why she's one of Canada's finest actors. She evokes the character's despair and vulnerability without the kind of histrionics the role might have inspired and Podemski very nicely moves into her character's sense of acceptance and love (especially for her gay son) with a reality that's inspiring. The camera loves her and she knows how to use it by keeping her performance delicately muted in a manner which allows for the kind of impact that only great, understated acting is capable of achieving.

The film ultimately elicits sadness and occasionally anger, but in a sense, it's both a positive and enormously important approach to place us in the heart and soul of a place, a way of life which should have been a paradise, but by virtue of being drafted so long ago within a racist context, is a living Hell - one that had (and still has) the potential for healing. Sometimes, though, healing can't only come from within. It needs genuine help from the outside.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: ***½ 3-and-a-half-stars

Fire Song received its World Premiere in the Discovery series at TIFF 2015. For further info, visit the TIFF website HERE.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

BRING ME THE HEAD OF TIM HORTON - Review By Greg Klymkiw - TIFF 2015 ***** 5-Stars

Bring Me the Head of Tim Horton: The Making of Hyena Road (2015)
Dir. Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, Galen Johnson
Starring: Guy Maddin, Michael Kennedy, Paul Gross

Review By Greg Klymkiw

You probably needn't bother seeing Paul Gross's mound of mediocrity that is Hyena Road, unless, of course you're into bargain basement Canadian war-porn which propagandistically extols the virtues of the Canuck military during the horrendous, needless war in Afghanistan. That said, WHATEVER you do, do NOT hesitate to purchase Gross's movie when it becomes available on Blu-Ray and DVD since it will include a special feature worth owning and cherishing - the brilliant 30-minute "Making-of" film by Guy Maddin, a genuine Canadian national treasure and made in collaboration with his brilliant young charges, the Brothers Johnson (Evan is co-director of Maddin's brilliant The Hidden Room and Galen was the picture's production designer and composer).

For a "making-of" documentary to be lightyears better than the film it's supposed to prop up and promote is virtually unheard of, but Maddin and the Johnsons have managed to do it. In fact, they've followed in the footsteps of the great 1975 film Vampir-Cuadecuc by Pere Portabella. That film mixes high-contrast degraded monochrome behind-the-scenes images of Jesus Franco's Count Dracula starring the two greats of Hammer Horror, Christopher Lee and Herbert Lom. No such greats appear in Hyena Road, unless you consider Gross a "great" for starring in the insufferably long-running TV series "Due South", wherein he plays a straight-laced pole-up-the-butt Canuck Mountie doing his thing on the mean streets of Chicago. And though Jesus Franco ground out enough horror and soft-porn to fill several racks of video rentals, he was imbued with the kind of style and utter insanity which often resulted in genuine masterworks like the astonishing Vampyros Lesbos. No such luck with Gross as a director as his output adds up to the unfunny comedy about curling, Men With Brooms, one of the worst films of all time, the risible WWI anti-war howler Passchendaele and now Hyena Road.

One of the brilliant aspects of Portabella's film is how it presented a sardonic portrait of both the movie-making process, but most importantly, how it used Jesus Franco's film to examine the notion of myth making via the powerful images of both motion pictures and political propaganda. Let's not forget that Spain had a far more dangerous, insidious "Franco" who ruled with an iron Totalitarian fist and also manipulated his "image" to justify his acts of brutality and persecution.

Maddin and the Johnsons are in similar territory here, crapping on the populist waste of Gross's war-porn whilst condemning Canada's involvement in the Middle Eastern Wars which had nothing to do with fighting for liberty and freedom, but instead were used to instill racist images in the minds of those on the home front as our boys actually fought and died for the insidious needs of the "1%" to control Middle Eastern Oil.

At one point, Maddin actually describes how he's used as an unpaid extra (which, I assume, was A-Okay by Canada's acting union ACTRA): "I suppose it was someone's idea of a joke to cast me as a background extra during a glorious Canadian raping of an Afghanistan village," he says with more than a tiny bit of bile.

In fact, one of the most powerful elements of Bring Me the Head of Tim Horton, alluding to the long-dead Canadian hockey star who built an empire of Canadian donut shops and, of course, Sam Peckinpah's greatest film, Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia, which dealt with the rape of poverty-stricken Mexicans at the hands of American gangsters in cahoots with Mexico's 1%, is how Maddin and the Johnsons take aim at the corruption inherent in Canada's cultural industries and the country's acquiescence to both America and the very rich.

At one point, we see Maddin lying in the hot sun of Jordan as his voice-over informs us of what brought him to this lowly point. He needs money to desperately finish his masterpiece The Forbidden Room. Not including himself, the film had 15 credited producers (!!!) to what was a complex, but still more-than-do-able avant-garde picture. Facing a veritable swamp with an army of fingers in his creative pie, how is it that one of Canada's greatest artists is so destitute he needs to take this weird job in order to finish his own modest film? Surrounded by an army of indulgence and millions of dollars, this brilliant "making of" morphs into one of the most personal and powerful works of art to ever be made in Canada.

"Man. Oh man, Oh Man," laments Maddin. "Whatever! Here I am, lying in the dirt. Broke. Flat broke. Down. Out. A lowly unpaid deepest background extra playing a slain Taliban soldier, surely the pinkest of all Taliban soldiers in Paul Gross's big budget Afghanistan war epic Hyena Road. I'm lying in the dirt in the middle of a Jordanian desert, a 100-hour camel, car and plane ride away from home, hiding my pink hands in my pants so they won't be seen by the camera a few football fields away. Jordan is gorgeous, yet everything about my visit here is GROSS, hideous."

Maddin adds: "Dead. Inert. Impotent. I might as well be garbage flapping in the wind."

The garbage, as it turns out, is Hyena Road. Maddin uses this opportunity to dream about the kind of movie he'd make if blessed with millions of dollars. Astoundingly and not surprisingly, the movie Maddin would make is recreated brilliantly - veering twixt high contrast monochrome (which makes this horrific war look a glorious studio propaganda film from the 40s, but blended with the documentary look of the immortal Frank Capra - John Ford - Samuel Fuller - George Stevens "Why We Fight" series). Then Maddin and the Johnsons dive into over-saturated faux technicolor, blending a crazed David O. Selznick/William Cameron Menzies epic with a cheesy 80s video game. Finally, we get the greatest fever dream of them all - an Afghani War Film with the magnificent adornments of a Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western. (During this section, the filmmakers captured some footage of Paul Gross exiting from within a closed door onto the set, his face plastered with a strange smile that makes him look like he's had some good times in an on-set glory hole and then, ignoring the "spaghetti western" action, he engages in a cel phone call with a smug, distracted smile.)

One of the more oddball bits in the movie (as if there haven't been quite enough) is a perverse montage of Michael Kennedy, the Executive Vice-President of the Canadian exhibition chain (and virtual monopoly) as he provides a kind of Greek Chorus as an oath of fealty to the corporate manufacture and exhibition of machine-tooled motion picture product. As a huge explosion rocks behind Kennedy, he happily chirps, "Stay tuned. We're going to go beyond the scenes."

The most positive aspect to this amazing short work of cinematic art is that it genuinely represents the poetry of movies with references to the play books of great scribes in addition to hockey legends like Guy Lafleur.

There's clearly little in the way of art displayed in Hyena Road, but the film might be the most important work Gross has ever done. It assisted Maddin to finish The Forbidden Room and yielded Maddin and the Johnsons an opportunity to create a work that will long be remembered, long after the mediocrity of Hyena Road is but a fleeting memory in Paul Gross's mind.


Bring Me The Head Of Time Horton: The Making of Hyena Road is a Vanguard presentation during TIFF 2015. For further info, visit the TIFF website HERE.

HYENA ROAD - Review By Greg Klymkiw - TIFF 2015 - Yet another Gross Canadian movie

This is not a scene from HYENA ROAD.
It is a scene from the genuinely brilliant
The Making of "Hyena Road"

Hyena Road (2015)
Dir. Paul Gross
Starring: Paul Gross, Rossif Sutherland, Christine Horne, Niamatullah Arghandabi

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Even though the word "Hyena" is in the title, try not to confuse the abomination that is Hyena Road with the superb 2014 Hyena. The former is yet another dreadful Paul Gross war film, the latter a grim, gritty UK crime picture about police corruption and the Albanian Mob in contemporary London. The former will be released wide across Canadian screens later this year, whilst the latter has disappeared without a trace. Both films, however, played at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). The former this year, the latter last year.

Canadians have a real treat in store for them. They will not see Hyena. They will, however, see Hyena Road. This is primarily thanks to the largesse of the Canadian taxpayers themselves, who forked over a good chunk of the $12.5 million needed to put this rah-rah slice of propagandistic pro-war excrement on the screen and, of course, the ever - ahem - visionary Cineplex Entertainment theatre chain (monopoly) which would prefer to exhibit endless prints of awful studio pictures and, naturally, Paul Gross movies, rather than genuinely great Canadian films (or, for that matter, the very best indie foreign films).

Hyena Road has one thing going for it, though. While it's genuinely awful, it's not quite as laughably horrendous as Gross's previous war picture Passchendaele. That said, it might even be worse - not in terms of craft - but the fact that it extols the virtues of Canada's role in a war the country should never have become a part of. There isn't a single war in the Middle East which should have happened, never mind with the assistance of Canada's Armed Forces, but happen they did AND with Canada's help (not to mention the senseless deaths of our soldiers and those of innocent Afghanis and Iraquis).

So, what does the director of Men With Brooms (a witless purported comedy about the sport of curling) do? As he proved successful enough with Passchendaele, his WWI anti-war effort (a film which had its box-office grosses in Canada bought and paid for with oodles of marketing assistance from the Canadian taxpayer and the screen-count-largesse of the - ahem - visionary Cineplex Entertainment), Gross scratched his noggin and crapped out the fine idea of a pro-war propaganda film in Afghanistan.

Oh Canada. We stand on guard for thee by wiping out Afghani villages to ensure the safety of the American armed forces.

Yup, this is what we get with Hyena Road:

Pete Mitchell (Paul Gross) is the Canuck in charge of safely building a road through Taliban territory to allow for the safer passage of coalition forces (America, really). Mitchell, however, is no mere lean, mean, fighting machine, he's a military intelligence (a bit of an oxymoron, mais non?) officer. His real goal is to ferret out The Ghost (Niamatullah Arghandabi), a mujahideen who could prove to be an excellent ally. To this end, Mitchell puts the brave sniper (a bit of an oxymoron, mais non?) in the role of front man for this operation.

Ryan Sanders (Rossif Sutherland) has scruples, however. He doesn't like being manipulated and he refuses to kill children. Isn't that special? Good thing too, since he's been boinking Jennifer Bowman (Christine Horne), the film's token female window dressing who runs the command centre (and also appears afflicted with - horrors - morning sickness). It sure would be Gross if he killed kids whilst his girlie-pie is carrying his eventual progeny (to no doubt grow up to kill more people in battle during the next senseless war).

Amidst the simplistic military maneuvers and soap suds outlined above, Gross stages several big violent action set pieces with both Jordan and Manitoba's Carberry Desert nicely standing in for Afghanistan. Here is one aspect that the film modestly excels at. Gross wisely crews up with artists who've plied their trade on good, if not great Canadian films.

Thanks to one of Canada's most gifted cinematographers Karim Hussain (We Are Still Here, Hobo With A Shotgun), and the equally gifted Canuck editor David Wharnsby (Guy Maddin's Saddest Music in the World and Sarah Polley's Away From Her), the action more-than-ably rip-snorts along, providing superb war-porn for action aficionados.

Where these sequences fail, however, is Gross's awful screenplay which puts dull dialogue in the mouths of the characters - if one can even call them characters as opposed to simple types - and, of course, unlike genuinely great (if not even good war pictures) we have no human being to hang our hopes and dreams upon as they march forward into the carnage of battle.

Though Hyena Road is a disgrace and has no business receiving taxpayer financing and even less business being featured as a Gala Presentation during TIFF, one of the world's most prestigious film festivals, its real problem lies in the fact that the movie is just plain bad as opposed to being the unmitigated stinker Passchendaele was.

That film was so awful I blessed it with my lowest Film Corner rating imaginable: THE TURD FOUND BEHIND HARRY'S CHARBROIL GRILL & DINING LOUNGE. But WOE! I could not even bring myself to affix my second-lowest Film Corner Rating to Hyena Road, the ever-famous, ONE PUBIC HAIR (which I proudly bestowed upon Sharknado).

Nope. Hyena Road belongs to a special class of bad movies - a picture so dull and mediocre it rates the most dull and mediocre of all the Film Corner Ratings.


Hyena Road enjoys its World Premiere as a GALA at TIFF 2015. For further info visit the TIFF website HERE. It will be seen all across Canada via Elevation Pictures.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

THE MARTIAN - Review By Greg Klymkiw - TIFF 2015 - Murrican Moovees Fer Wun n' Awl

The Martian (2015)
Dir. Ridley Scott
Scr. Drew Goddard
Nov. Andy Weir
Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Chiwetel Ejiofor

Review By Greg Klymkiw

The worst thing to say about Ridley Scott's The Martian is that it's, well, uh, okay, uh, I guess, uh, sort of. Well, it's not bad, I suppose, but to suggest it's any better than moderately watchable would be stretching it.

The best thing to say about The Martian is that it's the finest work the overrated hack Ridley Scott has pulled out of his ass since he delivered the miraculous fluke Alien. Seeing that he's only made two or three watchable pictures since the astonishing 1979 horror-in-space masterpiece, this is clearly as back-handed a compliment I can pay to this new bloated effort.

By now, most viewers will know it's the story of a manned mission to Mars in which one astronaut is left behind for dead, only he's most assuredly alive and needs to muster all of his scientific know-how to survive until a rescue mission can be launched. And that's pretty much it.

One man alone against the Angry Red Planet.

Based on the popular novel by Andy Weir and with workmanlike scripting by Drew Goddard, the tale is well-structured as a science fiction survival tale with relatively distinctive (though hardly credible) characters in the rescue ship (all solidly played, especially the always-engaging Michael Peña) and at NASA (all solidly played as cliches), plus a fair whack of semi-amusing monologue-style dialogue for hunky Matt Damon to utter as the stranded astronaut.

The film conjures memories of Byron Haskin's (The War of the Worlds, From the Earth to the Moon, Conquest of Space) modest, but terrific 1964 survival adventure Robinson Crusoe On Mars. The memories Ridley Scott's film inspires are good ones - mostly how good Haskin's film was and how woefully overblown and occasionally dull The Martian is.

We know from the beginning that yummy Matt is not going to die and that good, old fashioned American bravery and know-how is going to save the day. The ride to get to this predictable conclusion is intermittently entertaining, but buried beneath its layers of fat is a much snappier, pulpier movie wanting to burst forth like the parasitical penis creature exploded from within John Hurt's chest in Alien.

I've always wondered what happened to the Ridley Scott of that 1979 classic. The Martian could have used that guy.


The Martian makes its world premiere as a TIFF Gala at TIFF 2015. For tix, times, dates and venues visit the TIFF website HERE.

BLACK MASS - Review By Greg Klymkiw - TIFF 2015: A solid cast in search of a good movie

Black Mass (2015)
Dir. Scott Cooper
Starring: Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch,
Kevin Bacon, Jesse Plemons, Peter Sarsgaard, Rory Cochrane,
Adam Scott, Dakota Johnson, Mary Klug, Corey Stoll

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Joe Berlinger's Whitey: The United States of America V. James J. Bulger (2014) is a modern masterpiece. It tells the same story as Scott Cooper's Black Mass, but aside from a genuinely solid cast working overtime and a few directorial frissons, the latter is little more than a derivative, often dull dramatic exercise in style. This ultra-violent homage to much better pictures like Goodfellas, which it desperately wants to be, really has little going for it, save for its stalwart performances.

Berlinger's modern classic is an alternately terrifying and heartbreaking documentary exposé of Boston mobster Whitey Bulger, his protection at the hands of the FBI and the suffering of his hundreds of victims. It's the perspectives of the victims which gives Berlinger's film its oomph, but alas, Cooper's picture is saddled with a by-the-numbers screenplay by Jez Butterworth and Mark Mallouk which does little more than blast through key high points of Bulger's "career".

Bulger was an asshole and psychopath of the first order. This places Black Mass immediately at a disadvantage. There's clearly no room for redemption and the only change of any consequence is just how appalling Bulger's actions become. Though Cooper interestingly (albeit too briefly) focuses on the odd family dynamic between Bulger, his Massachusetts State Senator brother Billy (Benedict Cumberbatch) and their tough, accepting Mom (Mary Klug), all that's really left to target is Bulger's 30-year history as an FBI informant, set-up by his old neighbourhood chum, FBI agent John Connolly (superbly played by Joel Edgerton). Bulger is given complete immunity to commit horrific crimes so the FBI can get the dope on the Italian mob whom our "hero" is attempting to rub out so his Winter Hill Gang can completely control all criminal activities in Boston.

Much will be made of Depp's performance as Bulger and he does indeed seem to be having the time of his life mugging malevolently under a variety of insane makeup designs. It's hardly a departure from most of his flamboyant excess and though it delivers prime entertainment value (to a point), the fact remains that he has delivered much better work in pictures like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Ninth Gate, Donnie Brasco and especially Ed Wood and, for that matter, most of his collaborations with Tim Burton. Hell, I even love his work as Tonto in The Lone Ranger.

Unfortunately his toils here are merely showy. The ho-hum screenplay doesn't really provide a strong-enough adversary for Bulger to play against. This wasn't a problem in Berlinger's great documentary since he placed the lion's share of focus upon one of Bulger's victims who delivers some of the most chilling moments in the film and all throughout the picture fears for his life (and indeed was rubbed out during the film's shooting and Bulger trial). All Depp has to work with here are his enablers, henchmen and virtually faceless rivals whom he stylishly dispatches.

It's the human factor that's missing right across the board and without it, both Depp and his talented director Cooper are lost at sea in a dinghy with no oars. Though I have little use for his overrated Crazy Heart, Cooper previously infused his superb crime film Out of the Furnace with a scary creep factor as well as considerable humanity. All that's left in Black Mass is plenty of creepy.

Creepy is always good, but when it's really the only thing driving a picture, it eventually loses steam and by extension, so too does Black Mass.


Black Mass enjoys its Canadian Premiere as a TIFF Special Presentation at TIFF 2015. For tix, times, venues, dates visit the TIFF website HERE. The film opens wide on September 18, 2015 via Warner Bros.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

THE RAINBOW KID - Review By Greg Klymkiw - #TIFF15 - Incorruptibility on the road

The Rainbow Kid (2015)
Dir. Kire Paputts
Starring: Dylan Harman, Julian Richings, Tony Nappo, Nicholas Campbell

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Impossible journeys to achieve impossible goals are the stuff dreams and good films are made of. In this context, The Rainbow Kid gets to have its cake and eat it too. The film has a surface sweetness and gentle demeanour which masques the darkness which can befall and/or threaten the innocent in a world rife with meanness.

Eugene (Dylan Harman) has Downs Syndrome. His healthy obsession with rainbows leads him to embark upon an odyssey to discover the pot of gold which, it has been said, rests ever-so gently at the end of those splendorous bands of colour arching across the sky after a good rain. Like any great quest tale, Eugene experiences a series of episodic adventures along the way. Many of them take the form of meeting and relating to a variety of people including an old punk rock star played one of Canada's greatest character actors, Julian Richings.

The film has an incorruptibility that borders on the whimsical, but happily never careens into the sickening tweeness of films, mostly of the French and Spanish persuasion, which annoyingly force us to bathe and/or drown in a septic tank full of treacle and bile. The tough-minded core always remains just below the surface, always threatening to impinge up Eugene.

If anything, The Rainbow Kid is imbued with the tone so overwhelming in David Lynch's immortal The Straight Story in which old contemporary cowpoke Richard Farnsworth (The Grey Fox) traverses the highways of America on a lawn mower to reunite with his long-estranged brother. In both cases, humanity reigns supreme as the respective central characters transcend their challenges by an immersion in the challenges, tears, joy and, yes, meanness of others.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: ***½ Three-and-a-Half-Stars

The Rainbow Kid enjoys a World Premiere in the TIFF Discovery section of TIFF 2015. For fix, dates, times and venues, visit the TIFF website HERE.

LAMB - Review By Greg Klymkiw - TIFF 2015: Extending humanity to all of God's creatures

Lamb (2015)
Dir. Yared Zeleke
Starring: Rediat Amare, Kidist Siyum, Welela Assefa, Surafel Teka, Indris Mohamed

Review By Greg Klymkiw
"For as a lamb is brought to slaughter, so
She stands, this innocent, before the king."

- Geoffery Chaucer, Man of Law's Tale, 1386
Though the main character of Yared Zeleke's extraordinary first feature Lamb is hardly a direct derivation of the popular "persecuted princess" genre of the 13th and 14th centuries, he bears a number of unique similarities to "Custance" the central figure of the aforementioned Chaucer piece from the immortal "Canterbury Tales".

Ephraïm (Rediat Amare) is nine-years-old and his former charmed life of early childhood has been sadly decimated by the droughts and poverty of contemporary Ethiopia. His beloved mother dies of illness related to malnutrition and his father must take his boy to a more stable home environment many miles away whilst Dad then travels to the city of Addis Ababa to seek employment.

Ephraïm's only balm for his sadness is the deep love and friendship he maintains for Chuni, a sweet lamb that his beloved late Mother also cherished. Things don't look too positive here, though, since Dad drops the huge bomb that Ephraïm will soon need to cross over into manhood by slaughtering the lamb with his own hands.

This sentiment of manly tradition is reinforced by the patriarch of the foster family he's been left with. Uncle Solomon (Surafel Teka) makes it very clear that the lamb must die for an upcoming feast, but more importantly, to assist with the malnutrition of the family's sickly infant daughter.

Though Lamb hardly apes the Chaucer story in terms of its main character maintaining her constant faith to Christianity in spite of being assailed by "heathen" influence, Zaleke's film still oddly parallels the "Canterbury Tale" as Ephraïm maintains a constant faith in his wealth of spirit, his love for Chuni and most importantly, his natural gifts which fly in the face of the patriarchal traditions of rural Ethiopia. Happily, he finds an ally in his cousin Tsion (Kidist Siyum), the eldest daughter of his foster family who flouts convention with her intelligence, literacy and refusal to be married off.

Tears, however, will be shed.

Life moves in mysterious ways and a big part of Ephraïm's coming age will, in spite of all his best efforts to maintain the status quo of childhood, lead to a point wherein he must accept that love means learning to move on, to let go, to maintain his own spirit of compassion, but to allow himself to be unencumbered by things which will hold back his natural abilities to excel beyond the meagre demands of rural society.

Curiously, in addition to the film's parallels to classic literature, it also shares a place with many of cinema's greatest works involving animals and how they relate to a child's coming of age. Lamb conjures fond memories of Clarence Brown's The Yearling (from the book by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings), Lewis Milestone's The Red Pony (from John Steinbeck's glorious novella) and yes, even the genuinely beautiful Walt Disney heartbreaker Old Yeller directed by Robert (the Orson Welles/Joan Fontaine "Jane Eyre" and "Mary Poppins") Stevenson (from Fred Gipson's Newberry-Award-winning book).

Sensitively directed, intelligently written, beautifully acted and stunningly photographed, Lamb is an extraordinary, moving and beautiful experience for young and old alike.


Lamb enjoys its North American premiere in the TIFF 2015 Contemporary World Cinema Program. For further information visit the TIFF website HERE.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

THE DAUGHTER - Review By Greg Kymkiw - Ibsen-o-rama *****TIFF2015 TOP PICK*****

The Daughter (2015)
Dir. Simon Stone
Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Sam Neill, Ewen Leslie,
Paul Schneider, Miranda Otto, Anna Torv, Odessa Young

Review By Greg Klymkiw
"If you take the life-lie from an average man, you take away his happiness as well." Henrik Ibsen, The Wild Duck
Though one seldom discovers sentimental bones in the body of Henrik Ibsen's greatest work, it's definitely imbued with the properties of melodrama, which many directors eschew completely, or worse, are unable to work with properly.

The Daughter, a contemporary film adaptation of Ibsen's "The Wild Duck," taken from screenwriter-helmer Simon Stone's stage production, strikes the perfect balance twixt the manufactured artificiality of the play's gloriously melodramatic form twixt the deep core of emotional and thematic truths pulsating under the surface. This yields a genuinely gripping and ultimately moving film experience.

Henry (Geoffrey Rush) is the richest man in town. He and several previous generations of his family have provided the local populace of a sleepy Australian hamlet with its entire reason for being. Unfortunately the devastating emotional downturn of recent years has forced him to shutter his formerly lucrative pulp and paper mill; in turn forcing most of the area's citizenry into seeking employment elsewhere and as such, potentially turning the community into a ghost town.

Ghosts have been lying dormant there for years. A ghost town might be an ideal place to house these hidden spirits as the film contrasts Henry's deeply-entrenched ruling dynasty and that of the working class family headed by Oliver (Ewen Leslie), wife Charlotte (Miranda Otto), daughter Hedvig (Odessa Young) and reclusive grandpa Walter (Sam Neill).

Out hunting for sport (as the rich are wont to do), Henry wounds a beautiful wild duck. He hasn't the "heart" to put it out of its misery. Somewhat ironically, he's happy to maintain his vast fortune rather than operate his company at a loss to save the life of the community, but he indeed sees a way to save the life of his prey. The duck is dispatched to Grandpa Walter who runs an unofficial animal sanctuary with Hedvig, the latter of whom develops a special attachment to the beautifully feathered creature and its desperate need to fly in spite of a severely wounded wing. (And yes, Hedvig reveals a deep emotional wound later on, which also requires "flight".

Though the recent travails of the mill shutdown wreak considerable devastation upon nearly everyone, our central working class characters seem happy enough to grin, bear it and hope for something new. This element quickly comes in the form of Henry's prodigal son Christian (Paul Schneider) who's lived 15 years in America. It's his first time back since he left and he's grudgingly in attendance for his father's wedding to the very young housekeeper of the estate.

He is, however, extremely delighted to spend time with his old school chum and best friend Oliver, taking a special liking to the whole family - almost taking the place of his own fractured family life.

Here is where the magic of Ibsen and Stone's direction really come to the fore. Slowly and compellingly, the very existence of heretofore repressed secrets are made clear and each major story beat imparts answers which tantalize, but also beg more questions. Stone's direction is intelligent and assured, but he's especially gifted in parcelling out several exquisite melodramatic (in the very best sense of the word) set pieces.

The final third of the film becomes such a powerfully charged and exquisitely wrenching melodrama, that most audiences will be compelled to squirt copious tears in the direction of the big screen. And, of course, the terrible truth behind Ibsen's great line of dialogue rings so sadly and evocatively true, in spite of the film's attempt to yank something vaguely positive out of the whole affair. As far as I'm concerned, THIS is the heart and soul of the film, the play and life itself:

"If you take the life-lie from an average man, you take away his happiness as well."

THE FILM CORNER RATING: ***½ 3-and-a-half-stars

The Daughter is a Mongrel Media and Mongrel International Release receiving its North American premiere as a TIFF Special Presentation at TIFF 2015. For tix, times, dates and venues, visit the TIFF website HERE.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

In the TIFF 2015 Trenches - TIFF CLEANLINESS courtesy of Winnipeg's own BEE-CLEAN - TIFF 40th Anniversary Report By Greg Klymkiw

Winnipeg's Own BEE-CLEAN and TIFF
Say "Hello" to Carlos when you
see him scrubbing away for YOU
in the majestic TIFF Bell Lightbox

In the TIFF 2015 Trenches #1
By Greg Klymkiw

Carlos, from Winnipeg's Own BEE-CLEAN,
scrubs the TIFF Bell Lightbox washrooms,
so YOU can practically EAT
right off the porcelain!!!
Have you ever wondered why the TIFF Bell Lightbox is so clean year-round? Furthermore, have you ever wondered how in the name of God it stays clean during the 10 days of madness in September called the Toronto International Film Festival?

It's all due to Bee-Clean, Canada's visionary leader in building maintenance.

Day in, day out, I marvel at how clean this joint is. I walk into the johns and I feel like I could take one of those fine meals available at the LUMA restaurant on the second floor of TIFF, lay it out on the porcelain of ANY washroom fixture in the TIFF Bell Lightbox and wolf it down - happily, greedily and germ-free.

Why? Because everywhere I look I see Carlos, Martha and all the other maintenance professionals from Bee-Clean, bombing around the place like whirling dervishes and keeping it spic and span.

Winnipeg's Own BEE-CLEAN,
the first Canadian Company to achieve
CIMS-Green Building Certification
brings their GREEN leadership to
TIFF Bell Lightbox

I remember Bee-Clean from Winnipeg, their headquarters just across the street from the historic La Salle Hotel and their lovely fleet of cleaning trucks with the distinctive Bees affixed to their logo - parked in front of EVERY class joint in the city. To see the little company from Winnipeg expanding well beyond its borders is very cool.

Winnipeg's Own BEE-CLEAN

In the past few years, living in Toronto, I've been able to feel a bit of hometown pride (because I don't REALLY live in Toronto, I PAY RENT in Toronto and still consider Winnipeg my home, even though I don't live there in body). I get a thrill whenever I see the Bee-Clean logo in Toronto - Especially in the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

Here we are in TIFF's 40th year and on the eve of the grand opening I drank coffee, smoked ciggies and watched the place transform. And every few minutes I saw Carlos from Bee-Clean, making sure the front walkway by the red carpet was clean enough to eat off of. And then when I wandered about the Lightbox, everywhere I turned, I saw Carlos cleaning, cleaning, cleaning and RE-cleaning.

Just like a BUSY BEE.

Wherever you see the BEE-CLEAN fleet,
You KNOW the joint is going to be clean,
just like TIFF Bell Lightbox!!!

It's nice to see this bit of Winnipeg in a class joint like TIFF Bell Lightbox because I know, deep down, that no other company would handle this job as well.

Bee-Clean and TIFF: Partners in Excellence, Partners in Cleanliness.