Exploring themes of loss and grief through a science-fiction story in Between Waves, Fiona Graham plays photographer Jamie who finds herself at the centre of a missing persons investigation when her boyfriend Isaac (Luke Robinson) disappears. As she’s dealing with potentially losing her boyfriend, she still sees him everywhere; and then she literally sees him everywhere. Isaac comes to her and reports that his research has worked: He’s thought of a way to open a parallel dimension, using the conduit of water. This sets Jamie on a journey, through Toronto and into the Azores, trying to reunite with Isaac. For my podcast The Filmcraziest Show, I was able to speak with the film’s director and writer Virginia Abramovich where we talked about being drawn into the story, the research and figuring out the rules, the casting in the film, shooting in the Azores, shooting the underwater scene, the transitions in the writing and much more in between.
In Michael McGowan’s adaptation of Miriam Toews’ novel of the same name, All My Puny Sorrows concerns two sisters: Yoli (Alison Pill), a writer struggling with success, and the other, Elf (Sarah Gadon), a brilliant concert pianist who’s hellbent on ending her own life. The themes in this film are very heavy, as it opens with their father Jake (Donal Logue) waiting for a train and stepping in front of it to end his life. It’s a heartbreaking film that you’ll need a pick-me-up from after watching it, and one that I admittedly was apprehensive that would have the dull, negative melodrama of August: Osage County. However, this is a truly beautiful film. I really enjoyed these characters and getting to learn about the sisters’ relationship, and I was surprised by the story because I figured the sisters would be brought together by their father’s suicide, and not Elf’s own suicide attempt.
For Black Conflux, I was able to speak with actress Ella Ballentine about her layered and memorable performance as Jackie. In the interview, we talk about how Ella picks her projects, workshopping the character, singing for a scene in the film, watching her films, working with Ryan McDonald, some advice and more in between.
In horror thriller Don’t Say Its Name, outsiders are being killed by an unseen force in the woods in a Canadian Indigenous community. The town’s sheriff, Betty (Madison Walsh), can’t make heads or tails of it, so she enlists the help of badass game warden Stacey (Sera-Lys McArthur). The film is an Indigenous story at its core, one about protecting one’s land as outsiders (a coal mining company called WEC) look to profit off their land. At the very least, Don’t Say Its Name is thought-provoking because of this. There’s strong character work here, especially with Betty and Stacey. Stacey’s an army vet suffering from PTSD, so her healing from trauma of war is an intriguing element on top of Indigenous people coping with their collective trauma.
Sometimes films are equally as entertaining as they are culturally important, and that’s true for the Canadian short film Kwêskosîw (She Whistles), an Indigenous supernatural thriller playing as part of the Born of Woman programme at this year’s Fantasia Film Festival. In the film, Stephanie (Sera-Lys McArthur) is on her way to girlfriend’s house and she hops in a taxi. On this episode of my podcast The Filmcraziest Show, I was joined by the film’s director Thirza Cuthand, who also writes and associate produces the film, as well as one of the film’s leads and producers, Sera-Lys McArthur.
Maxwell McCabe-Lokos’ Stanleyville is a unique film set up as a sweepstakes for five competitors to be put through a series of tasks. They’re invited by a blue backpacked mysterious recruiter (Julian Richings), who tells them their prize is, as it’s said repeatedly, “a Habanero Orange Compact Sports Utility Vehicle, at a wicked price.” Our way into this competition is lonely office worker Maria (Susanne Wuest), who is enamored not by the vehicle, but to learn more about herself. “This is an opportunity to discover the true you that cowers inside the YOU you,” explains Richings’ Homunculus. Maria intrigues because of that, who seems content to be there, observing, as she’s not nearly as competitive as the others.
The structure works, as we learn information the same time as our main character Fret, or at least as to what’s happening outside her can. Smith’s horror is at its most effective when we’re hearing visceral screams and just imagining what’s happening. It’s impressive what he can do with visuals and lighting, too, where one of the film’s most chilling moments is simply an old man smiling at us through his grated window, prophesizing.
Featured image: Marlon Kazadi as Taylor and Aleks Paunovic as Jim in Chained. (Courtesy of Nicola Pender PR.) Chained is the story of an abused boy, Taylor (played by Marlon Kazadi). Taylor finds a criminal, Jim (Aleks Paunovic), chained up beside a dead body in an abandoned warehouse. No one knows Jim is there other than [...]
Featured image: Ava Preston as Anna in Queen of Spades. (Courtesy of Fons PR.) Queen of Spades is a new horror film that was actually filmed in Ottawa, Canada, my hometown. The film, a remake of a 2015 Russian horror film, Queen of Spades: The Dark Rite, where Anna (Ava Preston) and her three friends learn [...]