It’s funny I just saw two films back to back, and they both come from Canada.
First up is the adorable ‘Slut In A Good Way.’ Directed by Sophie Lorain, it is about a set of female friends who start working together in a toy store (not unlike the now defunct Toys R Us) When one of the girls, ‘Charlotte (Marguerite Bouchard) starts spending some sexual extra-curricular activities, she gets slut-shamed for it. But of course, this is the times of now, and there is no reason for that. What happens next is a commentary of how young people deal with friendships and relationships as they navigate what they feel and what they act on based on those feelings. The tone of the film is never too serious, but it isn’t flippant either, and it helps that the acting is good all around so you believe and are on these kids sides all throughout.
Molly McGlynn’s ‘Mary Goes Round’ is more serious in tone, about Mary (Aya Cash) who suffers through a couple of setbacks because of her drinking. Add to that the fact that her father has just been diagnosed with cancer, so fun fun fun all around. There are glimpses of lightness in this mostly bleak film, but for me, a bit of too much Debby Downer and not enough Debbie Reynolds joy.
Kyle Rideout’s ‘Adventures In Public School’ is a lot of times funny, but it is also a little bit creepy. It stars Daniel Doheny as Liam, who is on his way to Oxford to study Astronomy. But before that he has to pass the GED exam because he has been home-schooled by his mother (Judy Greer) On the day he took his test, he has sees a girl at the high school so he purposely fails the test so he would be able to physically attend high school. What happens after is mostly funny, as Liam navigates his way trying to fit in, never having had the opportunity to socially interact with other kids. Plus he is very close to his mother, to, iI think, a point where it is really creepy, and he has to disentangle himself from that situation. Doheny is great as the slightly neurotic nerd, and Greer is great as the helicopter mom. I found myself drawn ti these characters instantly and was glad to join them on their journey. It’s a half coming-of-age film, and I only say that because I know by the end of the film, Liam still has a little bit ways to go. But what’s here is compelling.
Stu Mac, with his sleeve tattoo, would not be out of place in a rock band. If you told me he was a member of the Stone Temple Pilots (since I don’t really know any of STP’s members) I would totally believe you. As per his website, Mac is a seasoned performer, and even studied under famed jazz singer Ranee Lee.
I find he straddles the line between pop and jazz. There are some non-jazz songs here, and he does those very well. When he switches to the jazz tracks, though, he is just as good. I even find him injecting blue-eyed soul on ‘My Buddy,’ and ‘It’s Only A Paper Moon.’ I guess I shouldn’t be pigeonholing people, but he gives a lot of different ‘sounds’ on this album, ‘Out Of The Blue.’ He sings assuredly, he knows what he wants in his sound.
Is it a good thing that every time I turn around I see a new jazz vocal album being released? Or is it because it’s much easier nowadays to make one, some even done at home? I don’t mean to minimize albums nowadays or referring to what I am writing about now, but just musing…
Calgary-based Johanna Silanpaa has a new album called ‘From This Side.’ I wondered where her name came from, so I googled her and found that she was born in Sweden, and I thought it all makes sense now. The Swedish love jazz.
And she has a sweet voice that makes a nice counterpoint to the swinging arrangements here. When I saw that about half of the album were her originals, I secretly groaned. But you know what? They’re not bad, although I would probably have to listen to the songs more to fully appreciate them. For me, she soars when she sings standards. She nails the irony in ‘Everything I’ve Go Belongs To You’ and the joy in ‘Blue Skies.’ I will definitely look for he next foray.
Although ‘Love Of My Life’ is set in Toronto, I thought I would love it because it stars and is about British people, Anglophile that I am. Directed by Joan Carr-Wiggins, it stars Anna Chancellor as Grace, a woman who potentially could only have five days left to live – she has a brain tumor. her husband is crying as the film opens, and then we met a motley crew – her ex-husband and his current girlfriend, among other people. But these people are so unlikable that if I were Grace, I would think it may not be too bad for me to go right away. The movie didn’t engage me at all, as I thought it would, and it’s attempt at humor there a major fail. The film suffers from being too bland, in my opinion – it’s not necessarily a bad film, just nothing for anyone to be excited about – even the cast seems bored.
It’s always refreshing for me when I find a film that seems like it did not come from a factory. Everything in ‘What We Have’ is interesting, and unpredictable, but never manufactured or fake. It’s the story of Maurice, played by Maxime Desmons, who also wrote and directed this film. Maurice is an actor has moved from Paris to a small Northern Canadian town, and the locals are asking why he would ever move there. We find that he has a lot of demons inside him, and slowly these come out as he gets entangled in the life of Alan (Alex Ozerov) his French language student.
This is a very affecting story, and you at once get invested in these people’s lives. The story takes interesting twists and turns, and at times is very unsettling to watch – but it is extremely real and explores issues of loneliness, commitment phobia, and teenage bullying. It is exhilarating, and it never alienates. Desmons is fantastic, with just the right amount of detachment to make you feel for him as you feel his journey. It will leave you thinking about the characters even after the film has ended.
Sean John says that best thing happen at 2 a.m. So what happens at ‘Four In The Morning?’ Thus is teh concept of the new CBC series of the same name. I guess if we are to be more philosophical about it, it is at four a.m. when things come a little bit more to light, when we have to acknowledge and deal with some of the consequences of what we did at 2 a.m. This show is described as such:
FOUR IN THE MORNING is an unconventional comedy spiked with a touch of magical realism. The show follows four friends in their twenties as they navigate life at the unpredictable, emotional, but illuminative hour of 4 a.m. Dealing with themes of life and death, love and heartbreak, friendship and betrayal, it’s a series about self-discovery, disappointment, and clawing after dreams that always feel out of reach.
More millennial characters for me to hate on, right? The pilot episode did not really do much for anyone here, but it’s second episode really won me over. The set of four friends had to deal with ‘Day Kids,’ or these human beings who age their whole lifetime in a day (I think does really exist, right? They stayed with these two people in an evening, and it gave the characters to be less self-absorbed than usual. One of the kids wanted a first kiss from one of the guys, and even though he was straight, he obliged. It also gave the characters introspection, as one of them is pregnant and is still grasping with whatever decision she wants to make regarding her pregnancy. I found that I started to really get engrossed, and now will have to put the next episodes on the watch list. And who said nothign good comes from Canada? (That was a joke, of course)