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.

Liz’s Review: ‘OCTOBER GALE’ is a quiet storm

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Regret and personal penance are issues we all tackle. Life’s small decisions can turn into life’s large consequences. Fleeting moments become the the ones that stick with you forever. In the new film October Gale, a woman looks to move on from her husband’s death by opening their seasonal cabin by herself. When her solace is shattered by an oncoming storm, she must tap into her emotional resources not only to save her home, but the mysterious who washes ashore with it.

Writer/Director Ruba Nadda brings us a story of trust and instinct. Set in Ontario’s Lake Joseph, While perhaps under the guise of a thriller, when you get to the heart of this film, it’s sincerely about two people healing from their respective tragedies. Patricia Clarkson is a legend in my book. Every beat and breath has purpose. Scott Speedman, who still looks like a Greek god, is a superstar. The chemistry between Clarkson and Speedman is electric. These two are truly gifted actors. Each battling their own demons, the pair is a joy to watch.

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The film has a lovely structure, utilizing flashbacks as sense memory. The first 20 minutes are focused on Clarkson‘s character, Helen, while the final 20 minutes shift towards Will, Speedman‘s character (as far as the flashbacks are concerned). The location is breathtakingly stunning. Each long shot is a warranted break from the chaos that ensues during the meat of the story line. I must give pause and recognize the composer, Mischa Chillak. The score is both reminiscent and hopeful. It sets a beautiful tone throughout. October Gale is a slow and steady burn. I very much enjoyed this film and would specifically recommend it for the 30+ audience for the full appreciation of subject and tone.

Toronto doctor Helen Matthews (Patricia Clarkson), mourning the death of her husband (Callum Keith Rennie), retreats to the isolated island cabin where they’d spent some of their most cherished moments together. Her reverie is cut short when a mysterious man, Will (Scott Speedman), washes ashore with a bullet in his shoulder. As he recuperates, the two develop a tentative connection, though Will refuses to explain what happened. When a severe storm traps them on the island as Will’s would-be killer returns, their ability to trust each other then becomes a matter of survival. Also co-starring Tim Roth. OCTOBER GALE is a story about a couple warily exploring their growing bond under extreme circumstances.

Writer-director Ruba Nadda has received critical acclaim for character-driven dramas such as SABAH and CAIRO TIME (winner of Best Canadian Feature Film at the 2009 Festival). In OCTOBER GALE, she brings her astute psychological insight to bear on an intimate, suspenseful thriller.

Directed by: Ruba Nadda

Screenplay by: Ruba Nadda

Starring: Patricia Clarkson, Scott Speedman, Tim Roth

Release Date: March 6, 2015 

Running Time: 91 minutes