Calgary Film Festival full of reel highlights
Festival programmer shares her picks for this year’s must see films
I Killed My Mother
Monday, Sept. 28 @ 7 p.m. – The Plaza
Writer/ producer/director Xavier Dolan’s semi-autobiographical feature debut cleaned up at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, picking up the CICAE Award, the Prix Regards Jeune, and the SACD Prize. The story, about an intense love/hate relationship between a boy and his mother, has made this film one of the most talked about Canadian films overseas. Lieberman chose this “really raw and real” movie as her top pick of the festival, so this is certainly one you don’t want to miss.
Friday, Oct. 2 @ 9:30 p.m. -Eau Claire Cineplex
Lieberman calls this comedy-drama from director Matt Bissonnette a “road trip movie,” but that’s only scratching the surface. As Michael’s birthday becomes dedicated to driving his estranged, drug-addicted younger brother Tobey around town for various errands after Tobey’s car breaks down, and Michael realizes just what he’s taking part in, the film becomes a portrait of brotherly love and the bond of family. And, considering the movie was shot in “14 days and on a shoestring budget,” Passenger Side is also an example of what can be achieved without special effects and big bucks: a fresh approach to filmmaking.
Sunday, Oct. 4 @ 7:15 p.m. -Eau Claire Cineplex
Director Doug Pray takes viewers into the world of advertising in this documentary that investigates the driving forces behind some of the most influential ad campaigns in recent years. Among those who add their voice to the debate are Lee Clow, who’s responsible for Apple’s 1984 campaign and the marketing behind the iPod, and George Lois, who “saved MTV and launched Tommy Hilfiger overnight.” The doc is essential viewing for anyone with even a passing interest in graphic design, and “anyone into art and music should be excited,” says Lieberman.
Wednesday, Sept. 30 @ 9 p.m. -The Globe
Follow young Londoners Axl and Vera as they take completely separate journeys on the way to finding the meaning of life and love. The movie, which Lieberman says has “elements of a music video” in its fast-cutting, colourful visual style, is the second feature from writer/director Alexis Dos Santos, “a director to watch for.” Unmade Beds was also recently nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance festival, and you know if Robert Redford is into it, then you should be too.
A gangster film in the loosest of terms, this Korean feature puts “a fun twist” on the genre, as mobster and wannabe actor Gang-pae finds his dreams (maybe) coming true when he runs into Soo-ta, a volatile actor who gives the hood a chance to act in a new film about a fictional crime boss. Gang-pae, essentially playing himself, agrees on one condition: the fight scenes must be played out for real. Alternatively titled “A Movie is a Movie,” this film-within-a-film represents a new chapter in Korean cinema.
Leslie, My Name Is Evil
Thursday, Oct. 1 @ 7 p.m.-The Globe
Set in the late 1960s, director Reginald Harkima brings a dark morality play to the screen, as Perry sits on the jury for the murder trial of cult member Leslie. The two couldn’t be further apart: Perry is a goody-goody bookworm who’s engaged to his Christian girlfriend, while Leslie, shattered after President Kennedy’s assassination and an abortion, joined a Manson-like cult and later killed an innocent man in her home. Despite the gulf, a connection eventually forms between the two. Lieberman calls this unique and disturbing film another example of the versatility found within this year’s lineup.
Monday, Sept. 28 @ 7 p.m. – Eau Claire Cineplex David Russo’s feature debut is a “fun, quirky story,” says Brenda Lieberman, of an adrift data manager named Dory who, after getting fired, finds work as a janitor and forges a friendship with his equally disparate co-workers. The story takes a dark turn when a secret plot against the custodians comes to light, yet Dory still manages to discover something new about himself. “It’s an example of the unique kind of filmmaking we look for at the festival,” says Lieberman.
Best Worst Movie
In this celebratory and hilarious documentary, Michael Paul Stephenson explores the anomaly that is the 1989 “horror” movie Troll 2, a film that has been dubbed the worst movie ever made, yet remains a large underground cult favourite (mostly because it’s just so bad). Stephenson, who also starred in the film, reconnects with Italian director Claudio Fragrasso and dentist-turned-star George Hardy, among other cast and crew members, to look closely at just what makes the film so side-splittingly awful, and why it continues to hold a special place in the hearts of many.
Breaking Upwards Saturday, Sept. 26 @ 9:45 p.m. -Eau Claire Cineplex
Filmmakers Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister-Jones turn the cameras on themselves for this story based an actual experiment conducted by the real-life New York couple. After four years together, the pair starts feeling restless, and the two start devising their own break-up as an intricate series of strategies that reveal the limitations (or unknown possibilities?) of monogamy. Over the course of a year, the pair learn important lessons about relationships and alternatives to traditional commitment, while taking care to portray their twenty-something world in a “complex and thoughtful new light.”
Year of the Carnivore
Wednesday, Sept. 30 @ 7 p.m. -The Globe
The directorial debut of the best MuchMusic VJ ever, Sook-yin Lee, Year of the Carnivore is a “sexy, fun movie” about the fear of sexual inadequacy and the wrenching emotion that is love. When Sammy falls hard for Eugene and the two have a “disastrous one-night stand,” Eugene suggests they need more experience in the sack. Sammy takes him up on the offer, eventually blackmailing passers-by for sex lessons in the woods behind the store where she works. Lee has already caused word-of-mouth excitement over her short films and other projects, and her feature debut reflects the confidence she’s gained over her career.
Midgets vs. Mascots
Sunday, Oct. 4 @ 9:30 p.m. Eau Claire Cineplex
It’s hard to elaborate more on the title of this film that recalls the pseudo-documentary style of Borat and Jackass, because there’s surprisingly little more to it: five midgets face off against five mascots for $1-million apiece in a variety of competitions, including alligator wrestling, milk chugging, and “how few insults does it take to get punched in a bar?” As if this shock-fest from director Ron Carlson doesn’t already sound great, the cast includes Ron Jeremy, NBA all-star Scottie Pippen, and the one and only Gary Coleman as the leader of the midgets. Kenny and Spenny, eat your hearts out.