Monthly Archives: November 2015

2015 Grey Cup Preview

Grey CupThis Sunday will feature the 103rd Grey Cup. The best of the CFL have been narrowed down to two teams and it will all take place in Winnipeg’s Investor’s Group Field. Lots of excitement is planning to happen. As well as a tight showdown expected.

This will be the fourth time ever the city of Winnipeg has hosted the Grey Cup. In each of the three previous times, it was held in Winnipeg Stadium later to be renamed CanadInns Stadium. This marks the first Grey Cup contested in Winnipeg that will be held in the Investors Group field. Just two and a half years since it hosted its first event, the Field is now hosting its first-ever Grey Cup. This would be a far trek for most Grey Cup fans who used to have an easier time traveling to Winnipeg Stadium as it was located close to the city centre. Investor’s Group Field is located inside the University of Manitoba lands in the south of the city. Quite a longer distance for those staying in downtown hotels or even at hotels close to the airport.

The national anthem is to be sung by 26 year-old Quebec singer Bobby Bazini and halftime-show will feature another non-Canadian act this year: Chicago band Fall Out Boy. The game itself will pit the East team of the Ottawa RedBlacks versus the West team of the Edmonton Eskimos. One won their last Grey Cup ten years ago, one will hope to win their city’s first Grey Cup in almost forty years. How do they fare?

OTTAWA REDBLACKSottawa

Ottawa has been one city that has struggled to keep a team as part of the CFL. The Ottawa RoughRiders were formed in 1876, were part of the founding of the CFL back in 1958 until their demise in 1996. They won eight Grey Cup: five since the founding of the CFL. Their last Grey Cup appearance was back in 1981. Ottawa attempted a return to the CFL in 2002 with the Renegades but they only lasted four seasons. That was mostly because of the shotty conditions of the Frank Clair Stadium that was showing its age. A major reconstruction that started in 2008 would pave the way for Ottawa to have a better stadium and a return to the CFL.

Last year Ottawa returned back to the CFL with their new team the RedBlacks. As what should be expected, they came in last. This year marked a major turn around as they came in the top of the East Division winning 14 of their 20 games. Interestingly enough, it was coached by Rick Campbell, the same coach that coached them during their debut season last year. Their success is not only due to better coaching from Campbell but also due to a trade of one player and the acquisition of four new players through free agency. Back at this year’s CFL draft in May, they were also able to make six selections from the seven-round draft.

Their season actually started off slow as they lost four of their first ten games. their second ten games resulted in only two losses. The only three teams they lost to this year were Edmonton, Toronto and Calgary. By being first in the East, they just had to play the divisional semifinal against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to qualify for the Cup. The RedBlacks’ last two games of the regular season were against the Ti_cats and they won both 12-6 and 44-28 respectively. In the division final, they repeated their dominance over the Ti-Cats by winning 35-28.

Their improvement in a single year has definitely been the talk of the CFL. Even if they don’t win the Cup, their qualification alone is already considered a victory. However of course the RedBlacks will want to win. This is a big question mark because the RedBlacks lost to the Eskimos in both of their regular season games. However both games were held in July and the RedBlacks have changed a lot over the period of four months. Sure, there’s the talk of the Eskimos’ defense but Ottawa’s Henry Burris/Jason Maas offense is what gave Ottawa their success this year. We’llsee if Ottawa can pull the biggest upset of the CFL in a long time.

EDMONTON ESKIMOSEdmontonEskimo

This is Edmonton’s first time in the Grey Cup final since they won back in 2005. They have a total of 13 Grey Cup wins and 11 losses. Many are predicting this to be Grey Cup #14 for them and with good reason. The Eskimos were the top team of the CFL winning sixteen of their twenty games. Their losses came to Toronto, BC, Hamilton and Calgary but none of their losses happened in Commonwealth Stadium this year. The Eskimos have been lucky to win against all eight of the other teams this year in at least one occasion. Qualifying for the Cup was relatively simple as they just had to win the Division Final to qualify. Their rival were the defending Cup champions the Calgary Stampeders whom the Eskimos lost to on one occasion in regular season but won the second occasion. In the final held in Commonwealth Stadium, it was Edmonton’s for the taking with an early big lead which Calgary couldn’t recover from. The final score: Edmonton 45 – Calgary 31.

This year’s team of the Eskimos acquired five players in the CFL Draft, traded one before the CFL season began and traded four more during the season’s play. The talk of Edmonton is their defense, the best in the CFL with Chris Jones leading the pack. Even though Ottawa has a better offense, Mike Reilly is capable of pulling off a top offense. However we shouldn’t simply dismiss the Grey Cup as Edmonton’s to take. Sure, the Eskimos beat the RedBlacks in both of their regular season meetings, that was four months ago and the RedBlacks have improved big-time. Even Ottawa dominating possession could be a big boost to their offense and deliver an upset to Edmonton. Not even the best team is unbeatable. It could be possible Ottawa can deliver a surprise.

THE BIG GAME AND MY PREDICTION

Thinking about it, I will have to predict the Edmonton Eskimos will win 28-18. Sure, Ottawa’s boost from last to Grey Cup finalist may be the talk of the CFL but I think their Cinderella Story will end here. Edmonton is that stronger of a team and they have some of the best performers of the CFL this year to deliver the win.

And there you go. That’s my Grey Cup prediction. Maybe relying on sabermetrics is a good thing. Kickoff is 5pm Winnipeg time Sunday. Stay toond!

2015 VIFF Wrap-Up: An Excellent Year

CinemaDISCLAIMER: Okay, I know this is a month late but I’ve had some busy times and two colds plus I was waiting for some certain facts that took forever to come. Nevertheless I decided to finally publish this VIFF wrap-up today.

The Vancouver International Film Festival wrapped itself up the night of Friday, October 9th. The sixteen days were full of excitement throughout the city. It was also quite warm which allowed for some people to pass up films in favor of savoring whatever sunny weather we’ll have left for the year. Nevertheless this year’s VIFF was still bustling.  The format that worked the two previous years continued to work again this year. The three Tinseltown theatres gave the VIFF four extra days.

Volunteering was also good this year. Funny thing is this year we were only to do a single theatre this time around. I originally requested to volunteer for the VanCity theatre. Thing is it was loaded with volunteer requests. They asked me to do one of the other theatres. I obliged to do Tinseltown. That worked for the most part but the thing with me is I like to volunteer on both opening day and closing day: the two days Tinseltown isn’t part of the VIFF. That led me during the volunteer training to negotiate with one of the heads of volunteering and she gave me the option of doing Cinematheque those two days. I was happy with that, especially since I could get free popcorn.

Volunteering started off somewhat easy on opening day at the Cinematheque. Things became a bit more difficult when I worked the Tinseltown theatres. There one would have to deal with big crowds. Almost reminding me how busy it was over at the late Granville 7. There was even one time Tinseltown was so booked with volunteers, I was asked to volunteer the Sunday at the nearby SFU theatre. One film was a special event film where one corporate sponsor was giving people popcorn. Problem was food couldn’t be allowed in the theatre. You can imagine how peeved the people were. I also remember how busy closing Friday was. I had to do something over at the Centre for Performing Arts in between volunteering at the Cinematheque. Hey, film fests are busy things.

As for films I watched, I saw fourteen including the Reel Youth shorts fest. The feature-length films I saw came from Canada, USA, UK, Germany, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Greece, Ireland, India and Denmark. I saw a lot of good live-action movies as well as some good documentaries. I think the edgiest film I saw was Nina Forever. Hard to say what my favorite was. I found 100 Yen Love the most entertaining and A Flickering Truth to the the most eye-opening documentary I saw. I was hoping to see some Canadian live-action but it just wasn’t to be this year.

Anyways here is the 2015 Vancouver International Film Festival by the numbers:

140,000: estimated gated attendance

710+: Film and Television forum delegates

930+: hours of film screened

900+: volunteers

-520+ accredited industry guests

549: public screenings

370: films shown (shorts and feature length)

99: Canadian Films and shorts shown

85: countries entering films

114: Canadian premieres

  • 35: North American premieres
  • 24: International premieres (first screening outside home country)
  • 11: World Premieres

-198:  meetings with industry leaders and delegates at VIFF Industry Exchange

104: guest speakers

14: entries in the Best Foreign Language Film category for this year’s Oscars shown

16: days of showing films

9: screens showing films

7: theatres participating in the VIFF

Now I know some of you want to know the award winners. Here they are:

ROGERS PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD

-BROOKLYN (UK/Ireland/Canada), dir. John Crowley

VIFF MOST POPULAR INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY FILM AWARD

-INGRID BERGMAN: IN HER OWN (Sweden), dir. Stig Bjorkman

VIFF MOST POPULAR CANADIAN DOCUMENTARY AWARD

-HAIDA GWAII: ON THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, dir. Charles Wilkinson

VIFF IMPACT: CANADIAN AUDIENCE AWARD

-FRACTURED LAND, dirs. Damien Gillis & Fiona Rayher

VIFF MOST POPULAR CANADIAN FILM AWARD

-ROOM (shared with Ireland), dir. Lenny Abrahamson

VIFF IMPACT: INTERNATIONAL AUDIENCE AWARD

-LANDFILL HARMONIC (USA, Paraguay), dir. Brad Algood

#mustseeBC Award (for most anticipated BC film)

-TRICKS ON THE DEAD, dir. Jordan Paterson

BEST CANADIAN FEATURE FILM AWARD

-SLEEPING GIANT, dir. Andrew Cividino

EMERGING CANADIAN DIRECTOR AWARD:

-THE SOUND OF TREES, dir. Francois Peloquin

BEST CANADIAN SHORT FILM AWARD

-BLUE-EYED BLONDE, dir. Pascal Plante

MOST PROMISING DIRECTOR OF A CANADIAN SHORT FILM:

-NEVER STEADY, NEVER STILL, dir. Kathleen Hepburn

BEST BC FILM:

-FRACTURED LAND, dirs. Damien Gillis & Fiona Rayher

BC EMERGING FILMMAKER AWARD:

-THE DEVOUT, dir. Connor Gaston

Those were awarded at Friday’s closing gala. After the VIFF closed, VIFF repeats happened at the VanCity theatre until Thursday the 15th. The volunteer party went from being held close to the end of the fest to being held on Halloween. It all started at the VanCity theatre as volunteers were treated to three circus-themed thriller films. The first one was held at 10 in the morning and was 1933’s Freaks which is frequently shown on Turner Classic Movies. The second was the 1960 British film Circus Of Horrors. The third and last was 1966’s Berserk starring Joan Crawford. Goodies and pastries were around for us to much on. Of course there were candies. There were prizes given away as well as prizes for costumes. Then the festivities ended with a three-hour dinner and dance at a nearby cabaret. It was a fun Halloween, that’s for sure. Great to see this year’s VIFF end on an exciting note.

So there you go. The 2015 Vancouver International Film Festival ended with continued success if not a record and fun for all volunteers. Next year’s VIFF is anticipated to be from September 23rd to October 8th, 2015 and should be bigger and better. It’s 10 months away but I still can’t wait. Anyways we’ll see how things go for next year’s VIFF. See you next year!

2015 Box Office: On Pace To A Record Year

Movie (640x306)Usually during the year, I do a lot of focus on the box office and how it’s doing. This year I’ve been involved with so many other blogs, I’ve been distracted from it. However with only two months to go, I decided to do a focus on the box office of 2015 and boy has it been bustling!

Once again, I thank Box Office Mojo for all the monthly details.

The $405 million of January 2015 was not a record breaker but it was almost $20 million higher than January of 2014. They year started with the continuation of the success of the last Hobbit movie leading into Taken 3 and the monstrously successful American Sniper which had four #1 weekends.

February 2015 was a rather dull month with the successes of the SpongeBob movie, Focus and the critically panned 50 Shades Of Gray. The box office didn’t even hurt that much as its $711.1 million in February was only $1 million less than the previous year.

The $858 million of March 2015 was not the highest-grossing March by far but it outdid March 2014 by $17.2 million. The box office saw the #1 spot with a variety of movies and movie styles like Cinderella, Chappie, Focus, Insurgent and Home.

The $639 million of April 2015 was not only more than $100 million less than the gross of April 2014 but it lost whatever gains 2015 had accumulated over 2014 and sent it at least $60 million behind pace. Basically Furious 7 was not only the biggest thing that month but pretty much the only happening thing that month.

The summer season began in May on a questionable note as well with $1.182 billion. That was more than $50 million less than May of 2014. Sure, The Avengers: Age Of Ultron grossed enough to be one of the Top 10 highest grossing movies ever but most of the other movies did not perform as well despite pushes from Pitch Perfect and Tomorrowland. Even Mad Max: Fury Road and San Andreas didn’t perform well enough for the May to overtake last year’s May.

Leading into June 2015, trailing last year’s box office by $100 million seemed like a lot of ground to make up at first until the monster success of Jurassic World helped that along with strong openings from Inside Out, Spy and Ted 2. Three box office records were set this June. Two were by Jurassic World for highest opening-weekend gross of $208 million and highest non-opening weekend gross of $106.6 million. I believe that’s the first time a movie grossed more than $100 million in a weekend that wasn’t their opener. Also that weekend, Inside Out opened at $90.4 million making it the biggest opening weekend gross for a movie not at #1 for the weekend. June 2015 ended $1.378 billion, way more than the $997 million of June 2014 and putting 2015 back into pace of setting an annual box office record.

July 2015 continued outgrossing the year before with $1.293 billion: almost half a billion more than July of 2014. Keep in mind the June and July of 2014 were the first months in years to gross under a billion. You can imagine how much of an upper the summer of 2015 was. The month began with Inside Out finally taking #1 and releases like Ant-Man, Minions, and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation pumping in that energy.

Box Office Mojo doesn’t have an exact total for August 2015. They have it at $546.5 million which is noticeably off if you look over the weekly charts of that month. One thing is sure and that August 2015 was less than the $1 billion made in August 2014. M.I.: Rogue Nation continued its reign at the top at the beginning of the month but the month delivered the summer’s biggest surprise hit in Straight Outta Compton. It’s safe to assume August 2015 made at least $700 million.

September is traditionally the quietest month of the movie calendar especially since the summer months went for it and now people are returning back to either work or their schools. This September set a record for September’s total gross: $690.5 million. You could tell the month gave a lot for moviegoers to see in September such as War Room, The Perfect Guy, Maze Runner 2 and Hotel Transylvania 2.

October 2015 is another month Box Office Mojo hasn’t totaled correctly. They have it at $550.1 million although it should be totaled around $700 million. Still it’s less than October 2014. This October was dominated by The Martian that was at the top all but one weekend which was taken over by Goosebumps.

November hasn’t ended yet so it’s too soon to tell if the total will outdo November 2015. This November’s tour de forces were The Peanuts Movie, Spectre and Mockingjay Part 2 which just opened surprisingly lower than expected. Next weekend will be Thanksgiving weekend and there’s a lot of promise for movies like The Good Dinosaur, Creed and Victor Frankenstein. December also has a lot of movies with buzz like Christmas Eve, MI: 5, In The Heart Of The Sea, The Big Short, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Sisters, Joy, the latest Chipmunks movie and The Hateful Eight.

I will admit there’s no guarantee that 2015 will set a new box office record–that will be decided at the very end of the year– but its chances are good. Anyways stay tuned. And go out and see a movie.

Summer Movie Spotlight: Superhero Movies

This was to be a triple-movie review I had planned to release shortly after the end of the summer.  The VIFF, feeling tired, and two illnesses kept it from publishing in due time. Even though most of the films here are on DVD, Blu-Ray or on NetFlix, I still feel this is a focus on summer movies worth publishing even now. Especially since many will be eligible for the technical categories of the Oscars. Hey, don’t rule them out.

And this one is on superhero movies, and rightly so as they’ve become the creme de la creme of the summer movie season. You can easily see why. Their popularity, their ability to bring in a wide range of an audience from children who love superheroes to action movie fans to thriller lovers. No doubt their the hype of the summer. I saw three such movies this summer– The Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Ant-Man, and The Fantastic Four — and all three had something to say about them in either their successes or failures.

THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

The Avengers returned opening up the summer movie season with Age Of Ultron.

The Avengers returned opening up the summer movie season with Age Of Ultron.

The Avengers blew us away in their first movie back in 2012. It even set a box-office record for the first ever movie to open with a $200 million weekend. It was right that there be another Avengers movie in due time. Sure enough the sequel came this summer and it was the Age Of Ultron.

It’s one thing to bring a set of superheroes together as one team but also to have one of the superheroes’ main villains to be the bad guy of this Avengers movie is something else. I wasn’t expecting Loki to be the villain. Another thing I liked about this is that in the first Avengers movie, it looked like Tony Stark was stealing the show too often. This time it appeared like there was less of a case of one hero trying to steal the show.

Overall I feel the story worked as it delivered the excitement one would normally expect from a superhero movie. You know that when Joss Whedon tackles a Marvel script, he will deliver. That and dazzling special effects of course. The interesting thing is that the ending leaves one to think that there will be a new generation of Avengers and the original Avengers have retired from their duties as a team. Nevertheless there is talk of the next Avengers sequel — actually the sequel is divided into two parts– and that all the original Avengers will be back. Should be interesting.

The box office results for Avengers: Age Of Ultron are quite interesting. Their opening weekend of $191.3 million made it second only to the first Avengers movie’s $207.4 million as the highest ever. Both would eventually be bumped down a spot six weeks later thanks to Jurassic World’s record-setting $208.8 million. Eventually it would gross a total of $459 million in North America and $1.4 billion worldwide. Its totals make it the eighth-highest ever in North America and sixth-highest ever Worldwide.

The Avengers: Age Of Ultron show some common traits of the first Avengers movie but have some noticeable differences of their own. Nevertheless they still deliver on excitement.

ANT-MAN

Paul Rudd proves in Ant-Man size does matter. The smaller the better.

Paul Rudd proves in Ant-Man size does matter. The smaller the better.

Last year Marvel was able to unleash a superhero ensemble no one had ever heard of, The Guardians Of The Galaxy, and they became household names. Marvel attempted to unleash another unknown superhero to the public named Ant-Man. Although it didn’t have the same buzz as the Guardians, it was impressive and succeeded in making it well-known to the public.

Ant-Man is no recent superhero of Marvel’s. Ant-Man has actually been around since 1962. Here was Ant-Man’s first crack at the big screen.  It follows a formula familiar to Marvel superhero movies intended to be the first one of the superhero. It creates a clever opening scenario involving an humorous introduction to the person who will become the hero as well as an opening scene of the person to become the villain. That is to be expected in such Marvel movies as they are shelling these movies out to people of various ages from children to adult sci-fi fans. However it risks being a disappointment if not done right. It was not exactly done wrong but I did feel the beginning emphasized on the humor too much and the scenes involving Scott Lang and Luis started the movie on a cornball note. There were even scenes where Scott–ant-sized as he just discovers the Ant-Man suit–gets himself in humorously troubling situations. I know it’s natural for Marvel to add humor to their films for family viewing and enjoyment but I felt they overdid it there.

I do commend director Peyton Reed and the four scriptwriters for creating a good story that knows how to entertain and thrill. I also admire the special effects team for creating dazzling effects that fit the film well. I also commend the good acting from Paul Rudd, Corey Stoll, Evangeline Lilly, Bobby Canavale and the other actors in the film. However I felt there was something missing in this film. I can’t exactly say what. Maybe because I can’t see of a superhero the size of Ant-Man being that believable. Whatever the situation, I felt it lacked a certain shining quality one would find in some of Marvel’s best movies like X-Men or even Guardians Of The Galaxy. Once again I reiterate Ant-Man was no disappointment. It was just lacking a certain flare.

Ant-Man didn’t have the same box-office success as the Guardians Of The Galaxy did last year. It made $179.5 million in North America but also scored an impressive additional $337.9 million internationally. The film’s success has prompted plans for a sequel in either 2017 and 2018. Rudd will be returning.

Ant-Man doesn’t have the same flare as Guardians Of The Galaxy but it is an impressive introduction to a previously unfamiliar Marvel superhero.

THE FANTASTIC FOUR

The revamp of The Fantastic Four fell short of expectations and enjoyment.

The revamp of The Fantastic Four fell short of expectations and enjoyment.

If there’s one film that failed to live up to people’s expectations this summer, it has to be this year’s revamped version of The Fantastic Four. If you saw it yourself, you could easily see why it was a disappointment.

The opening scene where Reed Richards and Ben Grimm first meet in elementary school and develop a friendship opens the movie on a promising and intriguing note. However whatever intrigue one has in the story is put to the test throughout the movie. The story when the four eventually adopt their superhero personas appears to take forever. I even remember one time around the halfway point, I had to check my watch asking “Are they the Fantastic Four yet?” Even the moments in the story that attempted to stimulate excitement and intrigue didn’t keep me from asking that.

Even after the four have adopted their superhero personas, it appeared that they weren’t together and not yet the team of the Fantastic Four. The middle of the movie does make obvious that the four have their superhero personas and their elements of action to go with it but it left me confused. Even as the four do eventually meet together and do battle against Doom on another planet, I was still left wondering when the four became The Fantastic Four. I felt leaving it until the very end was not a smart thing to do.

It’s not fair to say it’s a terrible movie. When I saw it had less than 10% at Rotten Tomatoes, I wondered how unwatchable it would be. I was expecting a disappointment or a clumsy disaster. It wasn’t. It was very watchable as a movie. In fact I consider Vacation a way worse movie from this summer. Even the young actors of Miles Teller, Jamie Bell, Michael B. Jordan and Kata Mara did nothing wrong and did well in their acting jobs. The problem is the movie made a lot of noticeable mistakes. The special effects of the film were excellent and one-of-a-kind but they could not hide just how off the story was.

You can bet that just before the movie’s release and even after, the bad news came out and in various forms. Later on I read stories of how the director Josh Trank lost interest in the project and that it caused problems in terms of finishing the story. If that’s the case, it shows. Even despite the lackluster story, I felt ten years was too soon to release a revamp of The Fantastic Four. I remember the first one. It was a fun story that was enjoyable and a thrill to watch. It appeared Marvel did the right moves. Here, it looks like it’s aiming for a darker story with less comedy which makes it less enjoyable than the first. I can understand the aim for more drama than entertainment but this is a movie that really tests our patience despite the top notch special effects.

The box office results showed how disappointing this Fantastic Four was. It cost $120 million to make but didn’t even make half of it back in North America: $56.1 million to be exact which is less what the two previous Fantastic Four movies made in their respective opening weekends. The foreign box office of $111.6 million kept it from being a complete flop. There was talk of plans to be a sequel at first but the box office numbers definitely will put it in question.

Yes, superhero movies were one of the tour-de-forces of the summer box office as has been in recent years. The Avengers: Age Of Ultron prove they’ve still got it, Ant-Man proves that introducing a new superhero is still a challenge and The Fantastic Four proves even Marvel is not infallible to shelling out flops. We’ll see how next summer’s crop of superhero movies fares.

VIFF 2015 Review: Deathgasm

Deathgasm is a New Zealand horror comedy of metalheads taming up to save the day.

Deathgasm is a New Zealand horror comedy of metalheads taming up to save the day.

Deathgasm was one of those fringy movies shown at the VIFF that was shown at the Rio Theatre at 11pm on certain days. It was entertaining to watch after a long night and became a guilty pleasure of mine.

Brodie is a metalhead coming from a dysfunctional home. His mother was institutionalized and he is sent to live with his devoutly religious Uncle and Aunt and his obnoxious jock cousin David. Life at his new school isn’t the best and it’s only made worse by his cousin David’s bullying. However he is able to catch the eye of a classmate named Medina and he meets a few metalheads like him: Zakk, Dion and Giles. The band goes well and with good camaraderie but Brodie doesn’t know Zakk came onto Medina

Since the four of them all like heavy metal, they form their own band which Brodie names Deathgasm. One day, they break into an old house which they later find one of their heavy metal idols Ricky Daggers living there. Ricky gives them some magical sheet music but only before he’s killed by a cult leader after they left. The band plays the music only to find that one part of the song sends to send off demonic spells. Nevertheless they’re tempted to play it.

One day they play the ‘demonic’ part so intensely, it casts a curse on the neighborhood. Almost everyone outside of the band affected by the music has turned into a zombie. On top of it, the demon has been released and must be destroyed. It’s a gory battle trying to kill all the zombies in town. Fortunately David finds himself an eventual casualty. He had it coming! However that was just half the battle. They have to find the demon to end everything for once and for all. It ends on an entertaining note and leaves you thinking “That was fun!”

Overall it was a funny movie. It was an entertaining horror comedy to watch and it appeared like the real gruesome moments happened at the right time. I’ve seen a lot of horror movies that didn’t want to be comedies but ended up that way. This is one that tries to be a comedy and knows how and when to place the shots. In many ways, it reminds me of when I saw Housebound: a New Zealand movie that tries to mix thriller moments with comedy and succeeds as well. I’m sure most people will get the joke and treat the more gruesome moments as the jokes they’re intended to be. Scenes such as the airborne severed penis and one enemy strangled and decapitated with their bloody spinal column coming out, how can one not take it as a joke? I figure if people can sit through Saw, they can watch this.

The funny thing about this film is its inclusion of ‘metalheads’ in the story. Seeing the images of the metalheads, the ‘demonic’ heavy metal music and of the heavy metal fantasia brought back a lot of memories of the heavy metal phenomenon. It’s probably still in existence for some teens. You just have to look around. However this element is questionable if it could win over young people outside New Zealand. Would they be able to identify with metalheads or even get a lot of the humor? That’s something to think about.

I give credit to writer/director Jason Lei Howden for creating this comedy which happens to be his directorial debut. It was hilarious and enjoyable in a gory sort of way. Milo Cawthorne was funny and did his role as Brodie right. James Blake and Kimberly Crossman were great supporting players in this film. Even the minor supporting actors added to the humor of the film in their own way.

Deathgasm was a funny horror comedy from New Zealand that was a great entertaining way to end the VIFF with.

And there you go. Those are my reviews of the Vancouver Film Fest films I saw. Blog about how the VIFF went for the year coming soon.

VIFF 2015 Review: The Lobster

XColin Farrell, right, has bizarre experiences with being single, mating and being in love in The Lobster.

Colin Farrell, right, has bizarre experiences with being single, mating and being in love in The Lobster.

Once you see The Lobster, I’m sure it will make you think twice about going to one of those matchmaker hotels. Okay, maybe not but the whole scenario of matchmaking and the single life depicted in the film is downright bizarre.

The film is set in a dystopian future where single people are brought to a hotel in accordance to the rules of The City. The hotel gives people forty-five days to find a match. If they succeed, the couple is given a month to develop their relationship in a special section of the facility. After which, they are freed. If anyone fails in any which way, they are killed and reincarnated as an animal of their choice and sent into The Woods. People can extend their stay with The Hunt: people from The Hotel shoot tranquilizer darts at any of the ‘loners.’ One ‘loner’ capture gives one an extra day.

A man named David arrives at The Hotel. He brings with him a dog whom we learn to be his brother as he too was subject to The Hotel and failed to find a match in due time. David tries to get used to the hotel and its methods. He chooses to be a lobster if he does not succeed in finding a new woman. He even participates in The Hunt. He learns of the other leisurely activities at The Hotel. One awkward rule is masturbation is banned by painful punishment but stimulation from the maid is a requirement.

David first makes friends with The Limping Man and The Lisping Man. The Lisping Man would have to stick his hand in a toaster for masturbating one night. The Limping Man hopes to find a woman with a limp like him. Instead he’s attracted to a woman who has frequent nosebleeds. He fakes nosebleeds to win the love of The Nosebleed Woman.

David is inspired by this and first attempts to win the love of a woman whom everyone knows to have no heart. He’s impressed by her hunting skills and he’s attracted to her as she’s choking to death. He attempts to start a relationship with her but it turns out to be a disaster even to the point she kills the dog: David’s brother. He’s able to tranquilize her and bring her to the transformation room so she’ll be an animal forever.

It then gets to the point David can’t handle it anymore and escapes. He finds himself with the ‘loners:’ they live a wild life catching rabbits and hiding from the hunt. The rules are not as hard but they don’t permit any flirting or entanglement as they will punish it badly. David wins the affection of a short-sighted woman. This helps since he is short-sighted too. The loners give the two missions to go to The City and pose as a couple but it causes them to become more affectionate.

The loners go on a rampage where they try and split up the couples in The Hotel. David even goes as far as trying to split up The Limping Man and The Nosebleed Woman and others going as far as pulling a stunt with the Hotel Manager. Meanwhile the leader of the loners learns that David and the Shortsighted Woman are in love and blinds the woman. They attempt an escape. This leads to an ending as bizarre and unpredictable as the whole story.

It’s hard to see if this film was trying to make a point about dating life, being single and marrying. This is a very bizarre scenario from start to finish. Plus I would find it hard that such a situation would be for single people with our current human rights. Keep in mind this is set in the future. Hey, depictions of the future like that in The Hunger Games don’t paint a pretty picture. It’s interesting how the army of loners raid the Hotel. Makes you wonder if their mutiny is a form of rebellion or of personal anger.

I will have to say this is the most bizarre romantic movie I’ve seen since Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. That movie was what you’d call the ‘romance of the absurd.’ I do feel it is about love and surrounding human emotions magnified 100 times. The time limit put on those at the hotel to find love could be seen as the personal time limits one puts on one’s self to find love. The case of the leader of the loners trying to split all the couples up could be a case of one’s unhappiness and how one could try to impose it on others. Even those that end up in the hotel like the limping man, lisping man, heartless woman, nosebleed woman and the short-sighted woman may reflect on people’s insecurities. Meanwhile David is in the centre of it all. He starts out as possibly the most normal of the bunch but it isn’t until the end that he resorts to eccentric extremes of his own for the sake of love.

This is the brainchild of Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos. He has accomplished a lot in his directing career. His film Dogtooth was nominated for an Oscar five years ago. This is his first English-language film. In directing and co-writing the story with Efthimis Filippou, he creates a set of worlds that could easily look ridiculous on screen but worked with careful writing and careful directing. I see many cases with the hunt, the transformation room, the mutiny and even the character of the Heartless Woman that could have easily come across as dumb but was done right and was sensibly done.

Colin Farrell did a good job of playing this bizarrely comedic role well that’s completely different from any of his blockbuster roles of the past. He had to portray a man who treats this bizarre situation as something sane and normal. Even going from the sanest person in the film to committing an insane act for love at the right moment. He does it very well and gives the comedy the right tone. Although Farrell owned the film, Rachel Weisz as the Shortsighted Woman and Lea Seydoux as the Loner Leader were the strongest supporting performers. Some of the other minor characters were also very good such as Ben Whitshaw as the Limping Man, Angeliki Papoulia as the Heartless Woman and Jessica Barden as the Nosebleed Woman.

The Lobster is a film collaboration of five nations:  UK, Greece, Ireland, Netherlands and France. It won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and was a nominee for the Palme d’Or. It has also won top film awards at the Rotterdam and Ghent Film Festivals.

The Lobster is both bizarre and amusing in its depiction of a futuristic world and its ways of dealing with dating. It’s both bizarre and charming at the same time.