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Sean Kelly on Movies by Sean Kelly - 8h ago
Her Smell (2018) 2h 14min | Drama, Music | 12 April 2019 (USA) Summary: A self-destructive punk rocker struggles with sobriety while trying to recapture the creative inspiration that led her band to success.
Countries: USALanguages: English
Source: imdb.comDisclaimer: This plugin has been coded to automatically quote data from imdb.com. Not available for any other purpose. All showing data have a link to imdb.com. The user is responsible for any other use or change codes.

The future of a once-successful all-female punk band is threatened by the self-destructive behaviour of its lead singer in Her Smell. Becky Something (Elisabeth Moss) is the lead singer and guitarist of the punk rock band Something She, along with bassist Marielle Hell (Agyness Deyn) and drummer Ali van der Wolff (Gayle Rankin). While at one time a chart-topping success, the band is slowly starting to implode, as a result of Becky’s self-destructive drunken behaviour, which results in clashes with her ex-husband Danny (Dan Stevens), record producer Howard (Eric Stoltz), mother Ania (Virginia Madsen), and rival musician Zelda E. Zekiel (Amber Heard).

The latest film from writer/director Alex Ross Petty (Queen of Earth) stars frequent collaborator Elizabeth Moss as the self-destructive front-woman of a 1990s rock band. Using a format similar to 2015’s Steve Jobs, Her Smell consists of five extended sequences, each depicting a different chapter of Something She’s implosion. This includes the aftermath of what could possibly be the band’s final concert, a disastrous recording session, and the moment when Becky Something finally hits rock bottom.

Even though the band at the centre of Her Smell is fictional, it is hard not to notice the similarities between Becky Something and Courtney Love, whose band Hole broke up roughly around the late-1990s time frame the film takes place. The film is bolstered by an excellent lead performance by Elizabeth Moss, who demonstrates how great she is at playing a quite unhinged character, while also demonstrating some pretty impressive singing abilities. Each of the film’s chapters, along with home video interludes, has Moss playing Becky Something in a slightly different manner, demonstrating that she is more than simply a washed up train-wreck.

My only real complaint about Her Smell is that the film runs a bit too long at a running time of 2h15m. Part of this comes from Alex Ross Petty’s decision to include a bit of a redemption arc for Becky Something in the second half of the film. As such, the final two chapters of the film are not as compelling to watch as the first three and they include some unnecessary filler, such as a moment of Becky playing the entirety of Bryan Adams’ “Heaven” on piano. While Her Smell does end off on a relatively satisfying note, I do have to contend that a few of the latter chapters could have been trimmed or omitted completely. That all said, Her Smell is still a film that is worth checking out.

Her Smell is now playing at the TIFF Bell Lightbox

The post Review: Her Smell appeared first on Sean Kelly on Movies.

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Sean Kelly on Movies by Sean Kelly - 1d ago
Hellboy (2019) 2h | Action, Adventure, Fantasy | 12 April 2019 (USA) Summary: Based on the graphic novels by Mike Mignola, Hellboy, caught between the worlds of the supernatural and human, battles an ancient sorceress bent on revenge.
Countries: UK, Bulgaria, USALanguages: English, Spanish, German, Russian
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Neil Marshall reboots the adventures of the monster hunting hellspawn in Hellboy. Hellboy (David Harbour) is a hellspawn raised by Trevor Bruttenholm (Ian McShane) of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. While on assignment in England, Hellboy comes across a plan by the pig-like fairy Gruagach (Stephen Graham) to resurrect The Blood Queen Nimue (Milla Jovovich). Teaming up with powerful medium Alice Monaghan (Sasha Lane) and the distrustful soldier Ben Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim), Hellboy sets out to stop Nimue before she regains all her powers and helps bring about the apocalypse.

Fifteen years after Guillermo del Toro first brought Mike Mignola Hellboy comics to the big screen in 2004. When plans to complete the planned trilogy fell through, a reboot was greenlit with Neil Marshall (The Descent) stepping into the director’s chair. Unlike Guillermo del Toro’s take on the character, Marshall presents an extremely gory R-rated adaptation that features a greater emphasis on the horror elements of the original source material.

Even though Guillermo del Toro’s two Hellboy films are generally well liked, he had great difficulty trying to get a third film greenlit, reportedly due to creative differences with Hellboy creator Mike Mignola. So, instead of a third film that sees Ron Perlman return to the role, we have a full out reboot with David Harbour (Stranger Things) stepping into the titular role. This alone is going to rub purists the wrong ways, which is compounded by the fact director Neil Marshall goes for a full R-rated take on the character, as opposed to the original PG-13 rated films.

While I will be the first to admit that Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy films have a certain practical charm that this new film is missing, I cannot say that I did not enjoy myself watching this new take on Hellboy. I should point out those, that this is probably one of the goriest comicbook adaptations that I have ever seen. This is not a surprise, since Neil Marshall has made a career for himself for his extreme depictions of violence, whether it be in films such as The Descent and Doomsday or as a special guest director on Game of Thrones.

While this new Hellboy leans a bit more on CGI for its creature effects, I do have to point out that the standout creature in the film is the witch Baba Yaga, who is practically portrayed by Toronto-based contortionist Twisty Troy James (The Void, Channel Zero), who is able to move his limbs in very unnatural ways. In a similar way the original Hellboy was a springboard for Doug Jones, I can see Twisty Troy becoming one of the go-to creature effects actors in the years to come.

As for the other performances in this reboot, I do think that David Habour does a good job at filling Ron Perlman’s shoes as the titular character, even though I admitted preferred the original performance of John Hurt as Trevor Bruttenholm, as opposed to the more gruff take by Ian McShane. Milla Jovovich does a fine enough job as the antagonist Nimue, though I feel she doesn’t have enough screen time. However, I do have to say that both Sasha Lane (American Honey) and Daniel Dae Kim (Lost) are quite solid in their supporting performance. Then of course, there is a featured cameo by Thomas Haden Church as famed Nazi hunter Lobster Johnson.

In the end, I will say that your enjoyment of Neil Marshall’s Hellboy is quite dependent on your attachment to Guillermo del Toro’s original. This blood soaked adaptation that emphasizes the horror elements of the original comics is probably not for everyone, however I would say that I enjoyed myself.

The post Review: Hellboy appeared first on Sean Kelly on Movies.

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Sean Kelly on Movies by Sean Kelly - 1w ago
Shazam! (2019) 2h 12min | Action, Adventure, Comedy | 5 April 2019 (USA) Summary: We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson's case, by shouting out one word - SHAZAM. - this streetwise fourteen-year-old foster kid can turn into the grown-up superhero Shazam.
Countries: USALanguages: English
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A teenage boy is imbued with magical powers that turns him into a superhero in Shazam!. Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is a teenage delinquent, who is sent to a group home run by Victor and Rosa Vazquez (Cooper Andrews and Marta Milans) and is introduced to his new foster siblings Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer), Darla Dudley (Faithe Herman), Mary Bromfield (Grace Fulton), Eugene Choi (Ian Chen), and Pedro Peña (Jovan Armand). One day, Billy finds himself teleported to the layer of an ancient wizard (Djimon Hounsou), who passes on his powers to Billy, allowing him to transform into the superhero Shazam (Zachary Levi). Together with Freddy, Billy explores his new superpowers, however he ends up attracting the attention of Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong), who wants Shazam’s powers for himself.

Shazam! is a film that brings one of the lesser known DC comics heroes to the big screen. The element that differentiates Shazam from other heroes is that he is a teenage boy in an adult body, which paves the way for some fish out of water comedy. In fact, a good portion of the plot involves Freddy filming Shazam experimenting with his various superpowers. However, the film also has the typical superhero origin story, as Shazam has to contend with the evil supervillain Dr. Sivana, who has been given powers by the Seven Deadly Sins, in order to acquire Shazam’s powers for himself.

Probably the most notable fact I had about Shazam! going into the film was that it was about the OTHER superhero that went by the name Captain Marvel, who has come to be known as Shazam in more recent years to avoid confusion with the Marvel Comics character of the same name. Shazam! takes a much different approach that many superhero films, in that the plot is much more comparable to the 1988 Tom Hanks comedy Big, than most typical origin stories. In fact, the more comic approach to Shazam! helps the film stand out among the other DC comics films, which have typically been much more dark and serious.

Even though there is very little in Shazam! that hasn’t been seen somewhere before, it is still a quite entertaining film. This is particularly due to the lead performance by Zachary Levi, who is able to perfectly portray a teenage boy in a man’s body. Also, even though he is playing his umpteenth villainous role, Mark Strong also stands out as Dr. Sivana, should how good he is at playing evil characters.

Altogether, Shazam! is a quite fun twist on the typical superhero origin story.

The post Review: Shazam! appeared first on Sean Kelly on Movies.

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The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2018) 2h 12min | Adventure, Comedy, Drama | 19 May 2018 (France) Summary: Toby, a disillusioned film director, becomes pulled into a world of time-jumping fantasy when a Spanish cobbler believes him to be Sancho Panza. He gradually becomes unable to tell dreams from reality.
Countries: Spain, Belgium, France, UK, PortugalLanguages: English, Spanish
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Terry Gilliam finally brings his long-in-development passion project to the big screen with The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. Toby Grisoni (Adam Driver) is a washed up filmmaker, currently shooting commercials for an advertising agency run by The Boss (Stellan Skarsgård). Toby comes across a bootleg DVD of a film he made about Don Quixote ten years prior and he decides to takes a nostalgic trip to the Spanish village he shot the film. It is there where he discovers that Javier (Jonathan Pryce), the shoemaker Toby cast in the lead role, now believes that he is truly Don Quixote. Mistaken as Quixote’s trusted squire Sancho Panza, Toby ends up following Javier on a series of misadventures.

It was back in 1989 when Terry Gilliam first set out to write and direct a film loosely based on the 17th century novel “Don Quixote” by Miguel de Cervantes. The film nearly got made in 1998 with Jean Rochefort and Johnny Depp in the lead roles, though the production was plagued with a number of issues that have now become infamous. After nearly three decades of development, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote has finally seen the light of day, with Gilliam reuniting with Brazil star Jonathan Pryce as Quixote, joined by Adam Driver as Toby. The story, set in the modern day, heavily blurs the line between reality and fiction, as “Quixote” and Toby find themselves in a series of misadventures. This includes Toby avoiding the seductions of The Boss’ wife Jacqui (Olga Kurylenko), while reuniting with his old flame Angelica (Joana Ribeiro), who is now “owned” by the cruel oligarch Alexei Miiskin (Jordi Mollà).

Sometimes there are cases when the story of how a film got made is more interesting than the film itself. I would have to say that this is the case of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, which had gained a reputation of being a somewhat cursed project for Terry Gilliam, with his failed attempt to getting the film made in 1998 being documented in the 2002 film Lost in La Mancha. Even after he finally finished the film, the problems continued for Gilliam, as rights issues made it unknown whether the film would actually get released.

Well, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote has finally seen the light of day and it’s…fine. If you are a fan of Terry Gilliam, the film fits right in place with the rest of his filmography, as the film takes a very unique approach to bringing the story of Don Quixote to the big screen. However, it’s probably best to go into the film with somewhat tempered expectations. For a film that has been in development on and off for three decades, I can’t really say that The Man Who Killed Don Quixote was fully worth the wait. If anything, this serves as a nice cap in the career of Terry Gilliam, who at 79 years old, probably doesn’t have too many more films in him.

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote screens on April 10, 2019 in select Cineplex Theatres.

The post Review: The Man Who Killed Don Quixote appeared first on Sean Kelly on Movies.

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Pet Sematary (2019) 1h 41min | Horror, Thriller | 5 April 2019 (USA) Summary: Dr. Louis Creed and his wife, Rachel, relocate from Boston to rural Maine with their two young children. The couple soon discover a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near their new home.
Countries: USALanguages: English
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A family moves to a new house with a dark secret in the woods in Pet Sematary. Louis Creed (Jason Clarke) is a doctor, who along with his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz) and children Ellie (Jeté Laurence) and Gage (Hugo and Lucas Lavoie), move into an isolated house in the woods outside of the small town of Ludlow, Maine. It isn’t long until they discovery that there’s a pet cemetery in the woods, where the local children bury their deceased pets. When the family pet Church is hit by a truck, Louis is lead by his neighbour Jud (John Lithgow) to a secret burial ground deeper in the woods, where something in the ground has the power to bring the dead back to life.

Arriving 30 years after the original 1989 film, Pet Sematary is a new big screen adaptation of the 1983 novel by Stephen King, directed by the filmmaking duo of Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer (Starry Eyes). The story explores themes of death and grief, while adding a supernatural horror twist. Louis is a strict atheist, who scoffs at talk of the afterlife, which greatly conflicts with his wife Rachel’s guilt over the accidental death of her sister Zelda (Alyssa Levine). However, Louis’ thoughts on the afterlife changes when he is shown an ancient burial ground that brings the family’s dead cat back to life. When tragedy strikes the family, Louis ends up making an extreme decision.

Pet Sematary continues the recent resurgence of Stephen King adaptations brought about by Andy Muschietti’s 2017 adaptation of It, the second chapter of which will be released later this year. Pet Sematary is considered by many, including the author himself, to be one Stephen King’s scariest story and the 1989 film adaptation directed by Mary Lambert is beloved by many.

Having not seen the original Pet Sematary, I can’t really say how this new version compares, other than the fact that it makes many notable changes from the source material. However, on its own, I do have to say that Pet Sematary is creepy as hell and the film is not afraid to go into some very dark places by the end. Part of the film’s creepiness comes from an excellent performance by child actress Jeté Laurence as Ellie, who particularly shines in the film’s final act. Another standout in the film is John Lithgow, stepping into the shoes of the late Fred Gwynne, as the Creed family’s neighbour Jud, who knows more about the local pet cemetery than he is letting on.

Altogether, I would say that your enjoyment of Pet Sematary is dependent on how much of an attachment you have to the original film. As someone with no attachment at all, I think that the film is quite successful as creepy and very dark horror film, which actually makes me want to go back and watch the original.

The post Review: Pet Sematary appeared first on Sean Kelly on Movies.

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Sean Kelly on Movies by Sean Kelly - 2w ago
Dumbo (2019) 1h 52min | Family, Fantasy | 29 March 2019 (USA) Summary: A young elephant, whose oversized ears enable him to fly, helps save a struggling circus, but when the circus plans a new venture, Dumbo and his friends discover dark secrets beneath its shiny veneer.
Countries: USALanguages: English, French
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Tim Burton directs a live-action re-imagining of the animated classic with Dumbo. Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) is an equestrian performer and widower, who has just returned from the First World War and is reunited with his kids Molly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) at the Medici Brothers Circus. However, the circus run by Max Medici (Danny DeVito) has hit hard times and Holt is assigned to care for the elephants, particularly his prized pregnant elephant Jumbo. However, Jumbo’s child is born with giant ears and is named Dumbo by the mocking audience. Additionally, Jumbo is sent away after she goes on a protective rampage. However, Molly and Joe discover that Dumbo can use his big ears to fly, with the help of feathers, which results in the young elephant becoming a huge hit for Medici. This attracts the attention of amusement park owner V. A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who wants to make Dumbo his star act along with trapeze artist Colette Marchant (Eva Green).

The trend of Disney remaking their classic animated films continues with this live action version of Dumbo. Reunited with Disney for the first time since 2012’s Frankenweenie, Tim Burton is given the task of expanding the 64 minute 1941 animated original into a nearly two hour long live action feature. The biggest difference between the original Dumbo and this new film is a greater focus on human characters, even there are still some references to the talking animals present in the original.

There is little doubt that Tim Burton was the perfect director to make a live action version of Dumbo, since the circus setting fits in perfectly with the director’s aesthetic. That said, I do admit that Dumbo takes a while to get going, with a first act that is somewhat overtly dramatic and slow paced. It isn’t really until Michael Keaton enters the picture as V. A. Vandevere that the film really starts to pick-up, especially after we are brought to Vandevere’s over-the-top amusement park Dreamland. Dumbo marks Michael Keaton’s first collaboration with Tim Burton since Batman Returns back in 1992 and he ends up stealing the film as scenery chewing villain. Also reuniting with Tim Burton in this film is Danny DeVito in his fourth collaboration and new leading lady of choice Eva Green in her third collaboration. The film also features a brief appearance by Alan Arkin, making his first appearance in a Tim Burton film since Edward Scissorhands.

It is probably safe to say that that Tim Burton’s output over the last decade has been hit or miss at best and slow start of Dumbo made me fearful that this would be a miss. However, once the action of the film switches over to the Dreamland amusement park, I would say that the film finally hits its stride and I’ll even say that Dumbo ends up being one of Tim Burton’s better latter day films.

The post Review: Dumbo appeared first on Sean Kelly on Movies.

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This Is North Preston (2019) 1h 17min | Documentary | 12 April 2019 (USA) Summary: The largest black community in the country started as a safe haven for escaped slaves but has more recently been labelled as one of the biggest hubs of pimping and human trafficking in the ... See full summary »
Countries: Canada
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The population of the town of North Preston, Nova Scotia try to clear up their reputation as a haven of sex traffickers and drug dealers in This is North Preston. North Preston is a small community with a population of 4000, located outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The town is historically Canada’s largest black community, being a safe haven for escaped slaves, who entered Canada through the Underground Railroad. However, in recent times, the community has gained the reputation for harboring sex traffickers and drug dealers, though those who live in North Preston have a different story to tell.

This is North Preston is a documentary designed to tell the story of Canada’s largest black community from the point of those who live there. The film’s primary subject is aspiring singer Justin “Just Change” Smith, who had left life on the streets for a career in music. The population of North Preston try to explain that the crime in the town doesn’t define who they are as people, with the positive aspects never being reported by the media.

With This is North Preston, director Jaren Hayman has the challenge of trying to provide an objective examination of North Preston and the reputation that the town has gained to outsiders. This includes some ethical grey areas, such as interviewing a wanted criminal, who is shown wearing sunglasses and a bandanna. Then there is the fact that This is North Preston also at times seems like a platform for Justin Smith to promote his music career, which includes some music video like lip-syncing sequences. While, I’m sure this is to illustrate the success story of someone from the town, it does end up somewhat overshadowing the larger issue of systemic racism and North Preston’s poor reputation to the outside world.

The post Canadian Film Fest 2019: This is North Preston appeared first on Sean Kelly on Movies.

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Honey Bee (2019) 1h 33min | Drama | 15 October 2019 (Canada) Summary: NATALIE follows the journey of Natalie "Honey Bee" Sorensen, an underage truck stop prostitute trapped in a human trafficking ring until she is transplanted into foster care in remote Northern Ontario and forced to confront her identity.
Countries: CanadaLanguages: English
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A teenage prostitute has to adjust to life with a new foster family in Honey Bee. Natalie (Julia Sarah Stone) is young woman working as a truck stop prostitute for her boyfriend/pimp Ryan (Steven Love), who has given her the nickname “Honey Bee.” One night, Natalie is arrested by undercover detective Walker (Maurice Dean Wint) and is sent to live in foster care with Louise (Martha Plimpton) on farm. Becoming acquainted with fellow foster kids Matt (Connor Price) and Chante (Michelle McLeod), Natalie has to learn to appreciate this new chance at life.

Director Rama Rau (League of Exotique Dancers) makes her transition from documentary to narrative filmmaking with this drama about a teenage prostitute taken off the streets and sent into foster care. Honey Bee stars rising young actress Julia Sarah Stone (Wet Bum, Allure) as the titular protagonist, who has to make some major adjustments when she finds under the strict foster care of Louise, who is played by former child actress
Martha Plimpton (The Goonies). Even though she pines to return to her previous life with Ryan, Natalie soon comes to learn that her new living situation is probably a better one.

Since first gaining attention five years ago with the coming of age film Wet Bum, Julia Sarah Stone has become one the quickest rising stars in Canadian film, with her going on to star in increasingly challenging roles. Stone’s performance is arguably the highlight of Honey Bee, which does suffer from a few structural issues with the plot, with the conclusion of the film feeling a bit rushed. However, I would still say that Honey Bee is a pretty solid drama.

The post Canadian Film Fest 2019: Honey Bee appeared first on Sean Kelly on Movies.

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Sean Kelly on Movies by Sean Kelly - 3w ago
Genesis (2018) 2h 9min | Drama | 10 April 2019 (France) Summary: Three teenagers are shaken up by their first loves in the turmoil of their youth. At a time when others are conforming, they stand their ground and assert their right to love and be free.
Countries: CanadaLanguages: French, English
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Three young teenagers’ struggles with first love are examined in Genesis. Guillaume (Théodore Pellerin) is a student at an all-boys school in Montreal, who is starting to feel a homosexual attraction to his best friend Nicolas (Jules Roy Sicotte). Meanwhile Guillaume’s step-sister Charlotte (Noée Abita) begins dating an older college student named Théo (Maxime Dumontier), behind the back of her photographer boyfriend Maxime (Pier-Luc Funk). Elsewhere, Félix (Édouard Tremblay-Grenier) is attending a summer camp and begins to feel an attraction towards Béatrice (Emilie Bierre).

Genesis is a coming-of-age anthology from director Philippe Lesage. Even though meant as a stand-alone film, Genesis is a de-facto follow-up to Lesage’s 2016 film The Demons, in how it features a segment focusing on that film’s protagonist Félix. However, the bulk of the film follows the concurrent tales of step-siblings Guillaume and Charlotte, who are both facing their own struggles with romantic relationships.

I have to admit that Genesis‘ format as an anthology wasn’t immediately apparent to me, since much of the film is spent switching back and forth between between Guillaume and Charlotte’s stories. It isn’t really until the final act of the film, which focuses entirely on Félix’s first-love experience at summer camp, where I fully clued on the format of the film. In fact, the inclusion of the final sequence can come off as a bit jarring, since we had spent most of the film getting to know Guillaume and Charlotte and it is a bit off-putting to suddenly switch focus to a protagonist from a previous film many people might not have seen. However, the summer camp tale is the most hopeful of the three, so it is probably Philippe Lesage’s way of ensuring that the audience goes away from the film somewhat happy.

Another element of Genesis that stands out is the film’s many musical cues, including many songs that are played multiple times throughout the film. Probably the most memorable of these sequences is a song and dance around a campfire, which actually would have been a quite moment to end the film on. That is actually my biggest criticism of Genesis, since there are a few moments, where the song playing makes it seem like the film is beginning to wrap up, only for the plot to end up continuing.

Save for final sequence of the film, the ultimate message of Genesis is that love and relationships can be hard pill to swallow for people, especially if you’re a teenager, who has not fully matured into adulthood.

Genesis is TIFF Canada’s Top Ten 2018 selection and is now playing at the TIFF Bell Lightbox

The post Review: Genesis appeared first on Sean Kelly on Movies.

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Pond Life (2018) 1h 26min | Comedy | 27 September 2018 (Canada) Summary: Add a Plot »
Countries: CanadaLanguages: English
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Two couples get together for a party, which quickly goes down the tubes in Pond Life. Dick (Ryan Blakely) and Sandy (Jeanie Calleja) are a couple preparing for a party that will be attended by Sandy’s foster sister Daisy (Kerry McPherson) and her boyfriend Richard (Ryan McVittie). As the night wears on, secrets each person has been hiding begins to get out in the open, further complicated by the arrival of lost-looking teenager Ellie (Peyton Kennedy).

Pond Life is a dark comedy written and directed by Gord Rand, adapted from his play of the same name. As stated by the child narrator, Pond Life is a story that “starts with awkwardness and ends in blood,” as it tells the tale of one of the most awkward of parties in the depths of suburban hell. While Dick and Sandy are hoping for this night to do well, Daisy and Richard seemingly do everything in their power to ruin things. However, it soon comes to pass that there is more going on this night than meets the eyes.

I don’t know how Pond Life worked as a play, however it makes for one complete mess of a film. Right off from the start, the film doesn’t get off on the right foot, as the child narrator is quite distracting and obnoxious. The point of this narrator is that Pond Life is in a roundabout way the “story of his birth,” even though it reaches this in a very contrived manner. Overall, I would say that Pond Life is a complete disappointment that does not deliver on its promise of being a biting suburban satire.

Screening

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