Still the Water (2020)

Still the Water (2020)

Director (and writer): Susan Rodgers

Cast: Ry Barrett, Colin Price, Spencer Graham, Christina McInulty

The men in a broken family reunite many years after a domestic tragedy drives them apart. – IMDB

Still The Water is a fairly straightforward family drama. It tells the story of three brothers that have grown apart because of their past. This past is the mystery that carries the story forward for the most part as no one truly addresses it in full. As the pieces fall into place, the division between the brothers, especially the older two Nicky (Colin Price ) and Jordie (Ry Barrett) come into the play. A part of the division that is further emphasized because of the neighbor Abby (Christina McInulty) when Jordie comes back to town.

Set in the beautiful and rarely filmed Prince Edward Island, the setting itself adds a lot to the small town feeling and yet the beauty of the land that they are in. The film was at its best when it was about the family drama as they try to get through the past and reconcile while the present has its own challenges that is breaking one of them apart as well. The other bits with Abby seems more of a necessary stressor that feels like the character is almost there with too much of a purpose and the romantic elements there but never fleshed out enough to connect. With that said, there is plenty of family drama as the movie does focus on the brothers and their father a lot as well as the dynamic of Jordie come back and how he affects each of them a different way as well as the changes in him.

With that said, Still the Water is powered by its cast, most notably the two lead actors, Ry Barrett and Colin Price. For both, its a change in pace as these two actors frequented my own watch list in various horror films which never had this much drama. This film is a fairly quiet one and really shows off their acting skills as they both carry their role incredibly well. The dynamic in their performances do connect very well especially for Colin Price’s Nicky that goes through the most development throughout the film as his character almost breaks apart by the end. Ry Barrett’s character is the main lead in this story as most of it revolves around him, his coming back and the impact that it has with everyone and yet his character is a contrast since it is a lot more quiet despite the character’s beginning parts that show his anger management issues. Its also great when they almost use hockey, boat repair business (I think that’s what it is) and the lobster fishing as means that not only connect to the setting but as a means of how the two brothers express themselves.

Still the Water has some issues of story flow. However, it also adds in a nice soundtrack that matches well with the area and the tone of the film. At the same time, there is a nice addition of this mystery cat that never shows its face living at the house the Jordie temporarily stays which becomes almost a little fun moment of questioning when or whether the cat will show up. These little bits of detail do add to the overall film plus the family drama does piece itself together in a nice way especially as it carries itself with the mystery of what happens and building up to what happened at the end. Its a well thought-out execution for the storyline.

Overall, Still the Water is a decent family drama. The setting, the soundtrack and especially the two main leads adds a lot to the movie as a whole. The family drama is also done well in execution and pacing. Where the movie has its issues is in some of the flow especially with the romantic tangent. Still the Water is well worth a watch as a family drama especially since, without any spoilers, has an ending that I personally like quite a bit.

You can also listen to Movies and Tea movie discussion of Still the Water below:

BITS 2020: Anything For Jackson (2020)

Anything For Jackson (2020)

Director: Justin G. Dyck

Cast: Sheila McCarthy, Julian Richings, Konstantina Mantelos, Josh Cruddas, Yannick Bisson

A bereaved Satanist couple kidnap a pregnant woman so they can use an ancient spellbook to put their dead grandson’s spirit into her unborn child but end up summoning more than they bargained for. – IMDB

Kicking off this year’s Blood in the Snow Festival is Anything For Jackson, a horror film that revolves around Satanism and supernatural possession and an unexpected pair of grandparents in lead roles. Anything For Jackson is a unique horror film. While Satanism is almost never my first choice in horror premise, this one is rather intriguing. Perhaps it has to do with the two awkward grandparents and it might that the expected becomes a little unexpected by the end.

Sheila McCarthy and Julian Richings lead this movie as two grandparents who seek out this ancient book that can hopefully bring their grandson back. The movie starts as they execute the first step of the plan which not only giving us two unknown characters but also throwing the viewers into the story right away to gradually learn about them as they interact with the pregnant woman that they kidnapped. The two are truly incredible to watch their roles progress as things inevitably turns out to be more than they bargained. The change in tone right from the start especially on how the two elderly couple breaks out of the expected mold of what grandparents feel like being warm and friendly turns into this other side of them. Turning the known premise on its head right from the start.

Anything For Jackson is more than that. It moves between the present of what they are trying to achieve and the little hiccups along the way and giving a parallel of how they came up on this idea and how they planned the whole thing. As the final act comes into play, the set of their relationship with this kidnapped girl and how it takes a rather different supernatural turn of events as well as the Satanism ritual all pulls in different characters that all come into play. The movie subconsciously takes the viewers for a ride from the structure of one event of the next and each one making it feel more intense and dangerous than the previous time. As more people get added to the equation, the chances of being revealed becomes much more pressing. Its the clever execution that adds so much to this horror film.

Anything For Jackson is a hidden gem. It twists the story right from the start with its leading characters and is probably one of the quickest film to set up its main plot. It only features a handful of characters but the way its filmed and the structure of the story and progression all works out smoothly. Its not exactly a jumpscare sort of film but more of a tension building sort of atmosphere from the cinematography to how the whole thing gets slowly out of the control more and more. The type of movie that’s right up my alley. Let’s face it: there’s no way that its unexpected that things will go out of hand because if they didn’t, there wouldn’t be a movie but it still manages to keep it very engaging. Coming from someone not really into the Satanism angle in horror, this one was a pleasant surprise!

Fantasia Festival 2016: The Unseen (World Premiere 2016)

Fantasia Festival is off to a good start with two world premieres in my line-up to kick things off. Every Fantasia, I try to get a few Canadian films in there. Fact is, Canada has a lot of talent and sometimes it all ends up being tucked away and no one sees these really great works. Fantasia is that time in the year when I can see what it has to offer and its one of the many reasons I’m always excited for the festival.

Fantasia Festival

This time around, we agreed to go see the world premiere of The Unseen hosted by the director Geoff Redknap and alongside as bonus, producer Katie Weekley and actress Camille Sullivan. Without even a trailer on the Fantasia site, the plot was enough to make us want to go. The premise seems like a refreshing one.

Let’s check it out!

The Unseen (2016)

The Unseen

Director and writer: Geoff Redknap

Cast: Aden Young, Camille Sullivan, Julia Sarah Stone, Ben Cotton, Max Chadburn, Alison Araya

A man who abandoned his family now risks everything to find his missing daughter, including exposing the secret that he is becoming invisible.-IMDB

The Unseen is a slow-burn horror thriller touching onto perhaps some science fiction with the whole Invisible Man premise. It is also an exceptionally intriguing watch with some parts that borders on dragging out but remembers to pick up its pace almost immediately. There are many strengths to this movie and a lot to love. First of all, the cinematography is fantastic mostly because where the movie is set is simply beautiful in small rural areas from the sawmill industrial area to the small town where the main character Bob’s family was located. It creates a feeling of isolation that works really well with the atmosphere The Unseen is trying to achieve. Second, the score itself is unnerving. It builds tension and drama when needed. However, the feeling I had in certain parts also applies to how I felt about The Witch earlier this year, and that is to see whether it is equally as effective if the score was removed. However, that may be one of the few criticisms (if it even counts as one) I have of this thriller.

The Unseen 2016

One thing that needs to be touched on are the special effects and makeup which is the background of director and writer Geoff Redknap. He is part of some big budget films. The most recent being Deadpool. With all this experience, its hard to imagine that this film utilises not a lot of special effects or makeup. The invisibility part does take on a lot of the effects but The Unseen takes the turn of a progressive invisibility which adds on to the suspense but in the Q&A session in the end, he also talks about the decision to do that and also taking out the typical science gone wrong aspect and change it into a disease or condition of sorts, which is a unique and rather clever approach.

A lot of the credit of the success of this film goes to the engaging and intense character delivered by Aden Young who plays the main character, a father who has to leave because he realizes that he is mysteriously disappearing, leaving his young daughter and severing all ties. He lives by himself and he doesn’t attach himself to anything. The pain of disappearing is huge, so much that he needs to use drugs to numb the pain and yet he also acquires certain abilities. There are subtle nuances to notice about his condition and the character development of Bob is outstanding. Not to mention the disappearance of his character is gruesome and possibly the more horrific images of the movie with organs exposed  and sections of flesh gone.  The performance he delivers from a quiet and isolated man to his struggles and pains and then to his protective father and angry, unhappy man is all so captivating to watch.

That isn’t to say that the other performances weren’t done as well. Everyone delivers a fine performance but Bob is the center of action here and the focal point as he races with time before he disappears to find his daughter

The Unseen

The Unseen might not be for everyone but it definitely takes a unique approach at a mysterious condition that plagues a man. While I do criticize that it sometimes seems to drag and there is one particular scene that seems a little far-fetched and needs a little more explanation and seems a little misplaced in the plot, there is a lot to appreciate about this Canadian thriller. The best part is that the director works hard to put together a story that lets us as the audience derive the connections and make our conclusions through our own observations. It keeps us guessing and hints towards certain bits and pieces of the plot but manages to tie up all the loose ends and wraps up an intriguing thriller.

I could go on but a good thriller is one that deserves to be experienced and everyone will catch something different or build another connection. The Unseen is a Canadian thriller set in a beautiful landscape and full of outstanding performances with a tight-woven story. It has a few little criticisms but nothing unforgivable. In fact, at the end, I didn’t even bother to think about them because of the unique approach and the dramatic and thrilling story it told. If you get a chance, see it!

All The Wrong Reasons (2013)

I have to admit that the only reason I saw this was because of Cory Monteith and how is passing brought a lot of attention to this movie.  Who knew sitting on the plane would mean I could catch up with Canadian productions? Although, this one does get a little in the dark and slow side.  Either way, I didn’t know that before it started and there was more than one surprise 😉

Lets start with a little synopsis!

all the wrong reasonsDirector: Gia Milani

Cast: Karine Vanasse, Cory Monteith, Kevin Zegers, Emily Hampshire

An ensemble film about four everyday people: a store manager, a security guard, a fire fighter and a clerk who struggle in the aftermath of trauma.-IMDB

Thats a good start for a synopsis.  A store manager James Ascher (Cory Monteith) who wants to move up to be a regional manager.  While on the side, he deals with his wife, Kate Ascher (Karine Vanasse) who is eyes of the store he manages but has people intimacy issues and doesn’t want to be touched after a family tragedy.  However, the new recruit as store clerk, Nicole (Emily Hampshire) seeks to salvage whatever feelings of youth she has and drowns herself in irresponsible actions and spendings while struggling to take care of her son and ends up seducing James.  Finally, there is the amputated and physically recuperating firefighter, Simon (Kevin Zegers) looking to regain his position at the fire department while working temporarily at the store as security. He and Kate slowly confide in each other as they learn to get pass the traumas they have both gone through.

all the wrong reasons

I watched All the Wrong Reasons over a month ago and its fading a little in my memory (which probably isn’t a good thing). I just felt like I needed to write about it because I’m going to say that although this movie isn’t really for a lot of people, if you can find a deeper meaning to it all, which I did because I had lots of time on a 14 hours flight to ponder my life, it actually felt real.  Real in the sense that its portraying a bunch of flawed people in the world living their everyday lives each with one aspect of their life magnified and obsessed over.  In a world where people can be influenced by others, who need others and grow in good or bad ways depending on the influences.

All the wrong reasons

As I was going off on a ramble up there, thats kind of what I think this movie is trying to say.  I’m not completely sure either but these people all have this skewed view of life.  Cory Monteith’s James and Emily Hampshire’s Nicole being the best in the world of lost and confused and really aiming hard to find a reasons to mess up their lives monumentally without really thinking that its wrong.  You know, getting caught up in the moments that feel so good but are just so toxic for you? James Ascher is that dick of a manager who is so fake that you can see it when he smiles.  He wants to  look good so bad that he doesn’t even know it when he has even lost who he really is and when he loses the uptight act, well, he loses control completely because before you know it, he’s manipulated by the woman who acts like she’s real sweet but actually will do ridiculous things before she’s even put any thought to it and turns everything upside down.  You get the idea, right? Just not such pleasant human beings….

all the wrong reasons kevin zegers

I’m skipping ahead of myself.  I should probably justify why this movie might not be for everyone.  For one, its really heavy and extremely slow.  I had a lot of saved up patience working here because of the length of the flight (and being on vacation helps also).  Either way, this movie moves along really slowly and doesn’t really link everyone together, other than the fact that they work together and that James and Kate are a couple for a while as it tries to give us an idea of everyone’s story. However, the second half of the movie (approximately) does pull itself together and ends this thing in a pretty acceptable way and I actually had a pretty good laugh while having a rather intense moment also. Maybe its just because the characters of Simon and Kate connected with me a lot more and I just really was cheering them on.

all the wrong reasons karine & kevin

While we’re on the subject of Karine Vanasse’s Kate and Kevin Zegers’s Simon, they were possibly the best part of this movie.  I’m not huge on Quebec productions but I’m slowly learning more about them and in all honesty, Karine Vanasse never disappoints me.  At least, so far she hasn’t.  She was my surprise in this one (the one I mentioned in the beginning). You can check out my review of  her other movie which is also one of my faves, My Daughter My Angel HERE. Honestly, when I first saw her here, the surprise came with a little doubt of not being sure how she’d handle the whole English speaking movie but then they also gave her some “random” French speaking moments.   Kate went through a lot of crap and the family trauma she went through caused so much damage that she was scared to literally touch someone else.  We soon realize that it was probably a deeper issue that needed a bit more understanding and care and even trust and the feeling of not getting hurt.  Sure, it was awkward to watch as Simon stood still while she touched him gently but there were times those moments felt like they gave out more than it was just showing and I felt like there was a deeper connection between the characters.  Kate’s story appealed to me the most but in hand, it had to be given to Simon’s character.  Simon was a really good character.  He was really in a similar situation to Kate but his trauma was mentally just accepting himself again with an amputated limb and living with that.

There’s a lot of deeper feelings trying to be portrayed in All the Wrong Reasons.  For that, I feel like if you connect with the characters successfully to whatever extent, the enjoyment will be there.  This movie throws punches at its audience and sets everything so slow that maybe everything gets lost in translation.  Maybe there was even a lot of beyond the lines and not enough shown.  I’m totally basing this on how I felt about it but then maybe Gia Milani (director and screenwriter) wasn’t even trying to show that.  What I’m trying to say is that All the Wrong Reasons is not a perfect movie and its far from it.  Its an average drama that tries to trigger some emotions about the crazy stuff normal everyday people have gone through.  Everyone has their own story and their own ambitions and even their own hidden fears that maybe they don’t know about.  They aren’t perfect and they try everyday to seem like everyday is fine and live in their comfort zone.  There’s a lot that I think is trying to be said here but it is a little fuzzy at times 😉 But the ending really does make up for the whole crazy process of it 🙂

I really don’t know how to end this.  If any of what I said appeals to you, you should check it out.  No strong recommendations either.  I’m sure not rushing out to grab it off the store shelves (but thats because I don’t watch dramas too much) but I’m pretty sure one of these days, I will pick it up and want to rewatch it because I felt there was some strong performances.

Have you seen All the Wrong Reasons? If you have, am I overthinking the whole thing?

SK Olympics – Omertà review – Montreal, Canada

Check out my review of Omerta for Screenkicker’s Olympics blogathon to represent Montreal 🙂 You should check out all the entries already up and follow the awesome blog run by the very cool Mikey so that you can check out not only his reviews but the other entries. A chance to check out films from all over the world and know some wonderful bloggers!

Screenkicker!

ObscCTLINGURE references FTWure Obscure wrestling references FTW!

Finally a chance for me to use some of the French I learned at school, as it’s my pleasure to introduce a review of French Canadian film Omertà. It’s brought to you by the amazing Kim from her Tranquil Dreams blog. It’s the place to go for fitness, films, and fancy cakes (I enjoy two of these things and hate the other, guess which!). Bonjour Kim, j’adore le review. That’s all the French I can remember at the minute. Merde!

Screenkicker Olympics – Montreal, Canada
Omertà review by Tranquil Dreams

Omertà

Director: Luc Dionne

Cast: Michel Côté, Patrick Huard, Stéphane Rousseau, Rachelle Lefevre, René Angelil

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Ex-cop Pierre Gauthier (Michel Côté), currently head of a private security agency called Pulsar International, is hired by his former boss Gilbert Tanguay to investigate an early released 2nd degree murder/psychopath, Sam Cohen (Stéphane Rousseau).  For this, Pierre hires ex-Canada Secret…

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