Review: ‘The Twentieth Century’ is a satirical feast for the eyes.

Aspiring young politician Mackenzie King (Dan Beirne) dreams of becoming the Prime Minister of Canada. But his romantic vacillation between a British soldier and a French nurse, exacerbated by a fetishistic obsession, may well bring about his downfall. In his quest for power, King must gratify the expectations of his imperious Mother, the hawkish fantasies of a war-mongering Governor-General, and the utopian idealism of a Québécois mystic before facing one, final test of leadership. Culminating in an epic battle between good and evil, King learns that disappointment may be the defining characteristic of the twentieth century!

If you are a cinephile with any sense of humor, The Twentieth Century will delight you to no end. It’s Monty Python meets golden era Hollywood musical mixed-media delicious. (It’s basically the most appropriate mouthful I can begin with… nudge, nudge, wink, wink) It’s the wackiest and most wonderful way to jump headlong into the holiday season in 2020. It’s easy to see why it won three Screen Canada Awards and jury accolades at TIFF and Berlin. Writer, director, and editor Matthew Rankin gifts us with one of the most unique and visually lush cinematic experiences. The attention to detail is flawless and the writing will bedazzle you. While I find the plot difficult to properly describe, that’s all the more reason to watch. I guarantee you have never seen anything akin to The Twentieth Century, ever.

The complete and total commitment from these actors is to be applauded. The laugh out loud absurdity of the dialogue fraught with overt sexual innuendo is pushed gleefully further with a large percentage of the cast being performers in drag. The scenery often consists of sharp-angled, backlit, triangular towers sometimes wrapped with black & white political iconography. I fully expected a Fred Astaire dance number but was too distracted by the fetish shaming and the nationalist propaganda. It simply goes from weird to completely batshit. Performances across the board are magic. Fun fact: The film is (loosely) based on a true story! What, what, what?! While I know zero about the dynamics of the Canadian government and identity, I can say that The Twentieth Century stands out from a line of great indie films that arrived on the scene this year. Even without the national connection, the story screams a global political familiarity in your face all while making you merrily cringe in fits of laughter. It’s one of a kind.

Arriving in Virtual Cinemas on November 20, 2020!
Runtime: 90 Minutes
English Language
Color
Not Rated
🏆 Winner of the Best Canadian First Feature Film Award at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival
🏆 Winner of Best Film at the 2019 Los Cabos International Film Festival
🏆 Winner of the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2020 Berlin International Film Festival
🏆🏆🏆 Nominated for eight Canadian Screen Awards and Winner of three

Review: ‘Run This Town’ is a successful look at who does the dirty work in truth telling and true suppressing.

A young journalist and a young political aide become entangled in a larger-than-life political scandal as they struggle to navigate adult life. Like all their friends, Bram and Kamal are struggling to climb the ladders at their respective workplaces: Bram at a newspaper, Kamal at City Hall. When Bram learns of a scandal involving Kamal’s larger-than-life boss, he seizes the moment to advance his career. Meanwhile, Kamal grapples with containing the story while maintaining his integrity.

Ben Platt is swiftly becoming a household name for anyone outside of the Broadway, music industry, and Netflix world. Frankly, shame on you if you haven’t heard of him at this point. In Run This Town, Platt plays a budding journalist, Bram, who has Toronto’s biggest political scandal fall into his lap.

This entire cast has fresh and energetic chemistry. They ooze the ambition that each of these characters needs. Platt, Speedman, Dobrev, Ehle, and Massoud make things more than interesting. If I had to nitpick, the makeup on Damian Lewis as Ford is a bit over the top. It feels a bit cartoonish and is slightly distracting. That being said, the performance is so good I actually didn’t know it was Lewis under the makeup. The scene where Ford goes on a drunken rant with his employees is so cringey and intense, it will make your skin crawl. Replace Ford with any current slime ball “politician”, it’s an easy swap. Lewis’ performance is unhinged in the best way possible. Ben Platt is solid as ever. The specificity that he brings to Bram both physically and emotionally is top-notch.  His casting was a perfect choice. Massoud and Dobrev are equally vulnerable. Their performances are nothing short of captivating.

The editing in this film alone is so sharp that it forces you to sit up and pay attention. You have to keep up with the dialogue and quick cuts from the get-go. This script is timely as hell. It may revolve around Toronto’s Rob Ford but the rest of the world has its own garbage politician. This film is about the down and dirty and real work journalists have to do to battle to bullshit. But it’s also about the political spin; the young and hungry aides that twist the truth to put a party base at ease.

The score, along with the title and credit sequences are simply brilliant. Sort of a visual metaphor for finding the truth. The script takes a look at where On the whole, Run This Town is a super intriguing look at scandal, those who try to expose it, and those who suppress it. It highlights the work you don’t see and who is really responsible for moving the needle behind the scenes. It’s a great commentary on power, greed, ambition, xenophobia, and #MeToo. Run This Town is a fantastic feature debut for writer/director Ricky Tollman. The dialogue, in pacing and quippiness, is very reminiscent of Aaron Sorkin, particularly in the opening scene. That is precisely how you get an audience’s attention. Well done.

 

RUN THIS TOWN will be in U.S. theaters through Oscilloscope and On Demand and Digital through Quiver Distribution on March 6th, 2020.

Review: ‘What Our Fathers Did: A Nazi Legacy’, A Look Inside A Truly Thought-Provoking Narrative

What Our Fathers Did poster

Imagine your father, the man you see him as, the loving memories you shared with him. Now imagine that same man when someone tells you that he had taken part in one of the worst genocides in history. Would it change your view of him? Would you hate him? Would you still love him? Niklas Frank and Horst Von Wächter had to ask themselves these questions about their fathers, and through a harsh walk into the past they both ended up with different answers. What Our Fathers Did: A Nazi Legacy is the thought-provoking documentary of these two men and their closer look into their fathers’ pasts. From the screenwriting and narrative of international lawyer Philippe Sands, comes a complicated and emotional look into the lives of two men who grew up with a broken sense of normality.

Philippe Sands had family that was greatly affected during the Holocaust, and due to this deep family connection he wanted to make this participatory-style documentary to gain a closer look at the views of the children on the other side of the war. In 2012 he met Niklas Frank and Horst Von Wächter. Niklas and Horst had grown up as friends, who had both been brought up in Nazi families. However despite their similarities in households, their views of their fathers varied greatly. Niklas knew that his father loved Hitler more than his family. His upbringing involved little to no love from his parents and was mainly raised by a nanny, which resulted in him not having any deep connections with his father. From the beginning he knew that his father was a monster and was at peace knowing that he was tried and punished for his sins. Horst was different. His father found refuge and was never tried for his crimes, which in Horst’s eyes meant that there was no proof claiming that he really did any of those ungodly things during the war. He had good memories of his father, and believed that his father was not responsible for these crimes and if anything the system was to blame. His view points nettled both Niklas and Philippe, who both struggled to understand how Horst could not see the monster his father truly was.

What Our Fathers Did: A Nazi Legacy is a phenomenal documentary. With that said, the film has a heavy story, and can be hard to watch at times. In the beginning of the film, Philippe Sands did a relatively decent job talking openly with the subjects without constantly criticizing them for what happened to his own family, however as the film moved on, his stance and manner in asking questions changed. The film carries such a powerful message, if you have a deep connection or interest with this part of our world’s history, then I highly recommend seeing this film. What Our Fathers Did: A Nazi Legacy has a limited release on November 6th. 

4 out of 5 Stars. 

Directed by DAVID EVANS

Written by PHILIPPE SANDS

Produced by FINOLA DWYER and AMANDA POSEY

Cast: PHILIPPE SANDS, NIKLAS FRANK, HORST VON WÄCHTER

distribution : OSCILLOSCOPE LABORATORIES

Rory Culkin is desperate & vulnerable in the trailer for ‘Gabriel’ – Opens in theaters June 19th

Gabriel_Poster

Opens in theaters June 19th

One of the standouts of the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, both Liz and myself absolutely loved this movie. It perfectly captures the turmoil and vulnerability of the title character. Rory Culkin is captivating. Check out Liz’s interview with him.

Rory Culkin stars in GABRIEL a heartfelt portrait of a vulnerable teen at his psychological breaking point, struggling to keep it together in the wake of his father’s suicide. Convinced that reuniting with an ex-girlfriend holds the answers to his troubles, Gabriel risks everything in a desperate pursuit that will take him to uncharted and unexpected places and test the limits of those closest to him. Infused with authenticity and courage, GABRIEL establishes first-time writer-director Howe as a new filmmaking voice to be reckoned with.

Here’s the link to watch the trailer on iTunes.
Gabriel_Table Gabriel_Stairs Gabriel_Railing Gabriel_Diner Gabriel_Beach Gabriel_Meredith_Small

New Trailer: SXSW Favorite ‘Buzzard’

buzzard_finalMarty is a caustic, small-time con artist drifting from one scam to the next.  When his latest ruse goes awry, mounting paranoia forces him from his lousy small town temp job to the desolate streets of Detroit with nothing more than a pocket full of bogus checks, a dangerously altered Nintendo® Power Glove, and a bad temper.  Albert Camus meets Freddy Krueger in Oscilloscope Laboratories will release Joel Potrykus’ BUZZARD in theaters and digitally on March 6, 2015. Written and directed by Potrykus, the film stars Joshua Burge and was produced by Michael Saunders and Ashley Young. Associate Producers are Kevin Clancy and Tim Saunders. Read More →