“I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” — Kelly McCormack
Kelly said this during one of her livestreams last week when being interviewed for SUGAR DADDY (which you should absolutely watch right now if you haven’t yet), and it’s starting how I feel of Day 9 of Whistler Film Festival. The energy is so good with all of the movies that I refuse to stop for air. Just more movie snacks.
The new release on WFF online today includes DEATH OF A LADIES MAN starring Gabriel Byrne, who is also going to be live-streaming into the virtual WFF page for an interview. In the movie he stars as Samuel who is diagnosed with a brain tumour which sends his life into a whirlwind. LADIES MAN also co-stars Jessica Pare, Brian Gleeson and features the music of Leonard Cohen.
Also adding into the mix today is a solid new Canadian film that was shot right in my neck of the woods, along with an outstanding short film package of documentary short films. As a polite reminder, everything that I have reviewed so far is STILL available through December 31st on the WFF Virtual page, so there is still lots of time to watch movies along with me.
All-In Madonna (British Columbia, dir. Arnold Lim)
Filmed right in my own backyard of Victoria, British Columbia, local filmmaker Arnold Lim has crafted such an endearing story of a young girl named Maddie (Melanie Rose Wilson) who we first meet working hard on a farm and earning cash. But she wants to go to school to change her life, much to the objection of her dad. She persists anyway, and we soon realize that her dad may have been onto something; Maddie gets to school and is immediately met with abusive students who know something about their families’ past.
Lim (who was here in WFF a few years ago with his terrific short CAMERAMAN) gets the tone and feeling of Vancouver Island life exactly right here, and he also fine-tunes such natural performances out of all of his cast, in particular Melanie Rose Wilson who holds the entire movie on her shoulders. Another performance I wanted to mention is Jackie Gunn, who plays Maddie’s antagonist at the school she attends. I remember a red-head, fair-skinned girl EXACTLY like this in school who seemed to be the popular kid to some but also bullied absolutely everyone, and Gunn is so good here that it feels like they just plucked her off the street and tossed her, naturality and all, right into the picture.
ALL-IN MADONNA features quite a few talented people behind the scenes as well including shout-out to cinematographer Daniel Carruthers who films the overcast and rainy aspects of this part of the world to perfection. This is a small but memorable Canadian film with a lot of talented people that I know many may have not heard of, but I truly hope it finds an audience.
Canadian Doc Bloc Shortwork
Healing Bells (Canada, Director: Taylor Crowspreadshiswings)
A brief four minute visual poem on a young Indigenous woman who loves to dance and sew. There are just a few fleeting but gorgeous shots of the countryside and the young woman’s story along with a few minor flashbacks telling about past tragedy and how she pushes forward with her passions, including motherhood. It’s a slight but effective little short that would also fit in a shorts package featuring many more of these personal stories.
Modern Whore (Canada, dir. Director: Nicole Bazuin)
A stylish look at escort Andrea Werhun’s online reaction to her sex work and exactly all of the process she goes through to satisfy her clients, MODERN WHORE is also a very revealing and thankfully honest look into the online reactions that an escort has and how she deals with it. One particular sequence involves her reading an online review from “Mr. CEO” that is completely different from what actually happened, and in a re-enactment we get her side of the story. Nicole Bauzin’s direction is very breezy and colourful (even using shifting aspect ratios and re-creating a 1970s film look in some areas), and I especially loved the recreations which were done tastefully and that she genuinely enjoys her work…just as long as her clients are respectful enough.
The Painter From Nowhere (Canada, dir. Director: Christian Trineer, 30 min)
There’s a moment in THE PAINTER FROM NOWHERE that I absolutely identified with; one day, filmmaker Christian Trineer ventured outside with a new camera just to get footage and winds up running into a complete stranger who invites him to make a documentary. You’d be surprised at the people you meet when you are just outside getting photos. In this case, Trineer winds up profiling Polish-Canadian painter Zbigniew Kupczynski and his work over many decades. His paintings are incredible to look at and while he’s a very eccentric and funny storyteller, what sets THE PAINTER FROM NOWHERE apart was the relationship between Zbigniew and his wife Eve, a no-nonsense woman who has no problem bickering with her husband at any moment or even right to Trinner. Brisk and fun in just 30 minutes — almost wanting a mid-length or short feature out of this — THE PAINTER FROM NOWHERE is a telling story of interesting artists who migrated to Canada many years ago and how they have adapted.
Scars (Canada/France Director: Alex Anna, 10 min)
This is a flat out visual and artful triumph by filmmaker Alex Anna, who is also the main subject here as we peer into her psyche of self-harm over the years through the use of animation, close-ups of her scars and nicks on her body and a quiet, passionate narration by the filmmaker. I really have never seen the human body displayed this way on screen; Anna is a stunningly beautiful woman and it is very brave of her to display herself, completely nude and exposed, and comment on her past in this much detail. It’s a very personal story but is one that I also believe many women will also connect with.
A Windward Calm (Canada, dir. Director: Bruce Marchfelder, 9 min)
A Vancouver artist uses metal figures, built in a downtown Vancouver workshop, to place into public spaces in Vancouver. But how can they be viewed and represented in this time of the pandemic? Bruce Marchfielder’s visually strong piece looks at a conflicted artist up close and personal, and is a quick but effective look at art during these strange times, resorting to online social media posts to help showcase what should be viewed in person.
DEATH OF A LADIES MAN, ALL-IN MADONNA & DOC BLOC are now all available to stream on the WFF virtual site. Thanks to Jive PR for sending alone advance copies for review.
#WFF20 is here! Join in celebrating cinematic excellence with 97 fresh films, including 30 features and 67 shorts, premiering through December 20th and available to Canadian audiences online until December 31. Once you order a film, you have 24 hours to watch it. (We at Get Reel Movies recommend the TV streaming box Apple TV or even the Roku app, both of which I use to stream titles this year.) Plus, WFF has pledged to share net online proceeds on a 50/50 basis directly with the filmmakers or Canadian rights holders.
For more information, visit www.whistlerfilmfestival.com!