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.
Synopsis: Nanami is an apathetic, part-time junior high school teacher, whose only solace comes from connecting with others on “Planet”, a new social network service. One day, a young man named Tetsuya messages her and asks to meet in person. The two begin dating and quickly become engaged. When Testuya begs Nanami to increase her guest list for the wedding, Nanami reaches out to online-friend, Amuro, a self-proclaimed jack-of-all-trades, who hires actors to play Nanami’s guests on her big day. A few weeks following the ceremony, Tetsuya’s mother confronts Nanami with allegations of lying and cheating. Heartbroken and despondent, Nanami checks herself into a hotel and manages to get hired there as a maid. One day, Amuro offers Nanami a housekeeping job in an old mansion, whose sole resident’s infectious spirit helps Nanami to open her heart. However, Nanami soon realizes that Amuro, the mansion, and its occupant aren’t what they seem – and even dreams have limits.
A BRIDE FOR RIP VAN WINKLE opens in cinemas November 10th!
Daisy and Viola are conjoined twin sisters living in the suburbs of Naples. They are blessed with beautiful voices and, thanks to their performances at local weddings, communions, and baptisms, have become the breadwinners for their entire family. Kept isolated from the world by their exploitative father, their lives are turned upside down when one of them falls in love for the first time… and they discover that it is possible for them to be separated.
100 mins | Italy | in Italian with English subtitles | 2016
Balance Films and Blue Bus Productions Presents
In the US, depression is a subject we either tackle with prescription drugs or after a suicide. Most of us are so consumed with our own lives, we oftentimes fail to look beyond the emotional scope of our own noses. In a new documentary by Jordan Horowitz and Frank L. Ferendo, ANGEL OF NANJING, one solitary man makes it his mission to save the souls on The Yangtze River Bridge.
The Yangtze River Bridge in Nanjing is one of the most famous landmarks in China. It is also the most popular place in the world to commit suicide. After hearing reports about this from the news, Chen Si, an average man with no professional training, decided to do something about it. On September 19, 2003, he went to the bridge with a heart-shaped sign that read, “Nothing is impossible. When God closes a door he opens a window.” That morning he saved someone, and has dedicated his life to standing vigil on that bridge ever since. Incredibly, he’s saved over 300 lives since he began.
Despite all the lives he’s saved, Chen’s mission has taken an unexpected toll on him. He feels incredible guilt when he learns someone committed suicide while he wasn’t at the bridge, and even more when he is there and is still unable to save them. He’s become a heavy smoker and drinker, and often finds himself battling with depression. He is also under growing pressure from his family to quit, who cannot understand why he spends so much time and money helping others when he has his own family to worry about.
The film has an incredibly organic feeling from its handheld camera work to the pulled back moments when Chen is speaking to the men and women so seemingly desperate to jump. Once rescued, the audience feels as if they’re part of the healing as they are treated to intimate face to face conflict resolution. It is a perfect snapshot into the Chinese culture. Suicide is considered extraordinarily shameful. Chinese media always refers to a desperate or depressed individual as in a “bad mood” in any aftermath coverage. Once you accept the familial implications of a suicide, you begin to understand Chen’s pragmatic approach. Cultural tactics are perfectly balanced with genuine tenderness resulting in incredibly touching rescues. Chen is a complex man, struggling with the sense of responsibility to those in such despair and his own happiness. Horowitz and Ferendo do absolute justice to Chen and this unique scenario. As an added bonus, the film’s score is both haunting and glorious. It is something I would seek out on its own. As a whole, ANGEL OF NANJING is a beautiful story of hope and humanity.
ANGEL OF NANJING is now available! Check out the trailer below…
Award-winning documentary debuted on VOD (iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play) February 16
Winner – Best Documentary, Phoenix Film Festival
Winner – Best Documentary, Catalina Film Festival
Winner – Best Documentary, SaMo Indie Fest
Winner – Best Documentary, Big Apple Film Festival
Winner – Best Documentary, New Jersey Film Festival
Directed by Jordan Horowitz and Frank Ferendo, ANGEL OF NANJING tells the story of an ordinary man doing something extraordinary, and at great personal sacrifice. It is a personal portrait of a man, who in a country of over one billion people, has chosen to dedicate himself to making a difference, one person at a time.