Movie Review: THE MARCH SWEATER – PART 1: THE CARETAKERS (Canada, LGBT, Documentary)

Played at the August 2017 DOCUMENTARY Short Film Festival

by Kierston Drier

This special part 1 of March Sweater, follows two seniors, Peter and Vincent, who shared their lives together as a married couple, and become caregivers to Peter’s 95-year-old mother. A fascinating peer into at a community from an often-overlooked angle, Peter and Vincent talk about their lives together and the various lessons they learn through loving each other.


From their meeting, to their courtship and through to their marriage of cohabitation, they address the major areas of their world- compromise and sacrifice, but also the love that makes it so very worth it. “I don’t want to think about life without Vincent,” a notable line from Peter that seems to distill the depth of their feelings. For anyone who has ever loved another person, they are, as a couple,  instantly relatable.
This film sparkles. Peter and Vincent are easy to love. Peter’s laugh is infectious and warm and Vincent’s’ kindness and compassion are clear in every word. The March Sweater, PART 1 is a testament to true love ability to transcend any obstacle, culture, society, age. They are proof for any skeptic- love always wins.

Directed by Cory AshworthLGBTQ2+ seniors speaking of life, love and the wisdom that comes with growing older.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!


Under 5min. Film: MOUNT ROYAL 2017-09, 2min, Canada, Experimental

Played at the Under 5 Minute June 2017 Film Festival

MOUNT ROYAL 2017-09, 2min, Canada, Experimental
Directed by Jeremy EliosoffA short, non-narrative montage in which scenes from Montreal’s Parc Mont Royal are transformed via custom computer software into a dreamy cascade of colourful, abstract shapes, set to a melodic, sample-based soundtrack.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Review by Kierston Drier

This two minute Canada experimental piece is a study of colors, sounds and recognition. It takes classic images of places in Montreal and throws them bright contrast. A true local will understand the scenes, but for anyone who has never been there, this film will be a dazzling experimental carnival ride for the eyes.

MOUNT ROYAL does an excellent job of making the audience question what they are seeing. The pictures are never in full clear focus, which means the onus is on the viewer to link the picture to the location. MOUNT ROYAL is a bright, light and delightful piece that will spark the imagination of Montreal’s locals and tourists alike.

Film Review: FIRST ROUND DOWN (Canadian Feature)

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:

first_round_down.jpgA former hockey star turned hitman returns home after ten years to take care of his younger brother, but his checkered past catches up to him faster than he can deliver pizza.

Directors: Brett M. Butler, Jason G. Butler
Writers: Brett M. Butler, Jason G. Butler
Stars: Dylan Bruce, Rachel Wilson, Rob Ramsay

Review by Gilbert Seah

 FIRST ROUND DOWN begins with a very impressive start. Hockey stud looks at himself in a tight polo shirt in the mirror. He drives a vintage plymouth with the voiceover saying something about hockey as he speeds his car to deliver, yes, deliver pizzas. He is given flack including insults like “Loser!” But this never gets him down. The recycle trash cans by the street indicate it is not a period piece but a contemporary story. This culminates with a catchy “The Good old hockey game (is the best game you can name)” played to the opening credits and voiceover where the audience learns more of the film’s protagonist.

Set in small town Hamilton, the Butlers capture the spirit of the Canadian small town mentality. The guys, especially the hockey fans are loud, obnoxious and male chauvinist pigs. The women are slutty, talking dirty among themselves while the older folk talk of the town’s past glory – i.e. Timothy Tucker’s glory days.

The film is split into three parts, titled as periods as in a hockey game. The story revolves around Tucker (Dylan Bruce from ORPHAN BLACK), a former hockey prodigy, who returns home to take care of his younger brother after their parents pass on. Having spent the last ten years as a hit man for the mob in Montreal, Tucker now lives on the straight and narrow as a pizza delivery driver, laying low and paying the bills. However, a chance encounter with his former girlfriend, Kelly Quinn (Rachel Wilson, THE REPUBLIC OF DOYLE) coupled with the Sterling Cup reunion and the untimely arrival of his old mob boss in town has Tim’s checkered past catching up to him faster than he can plan one final heist to move on once and for all.
The film falls into the trap of having the same identical plot of many small town movies. We have the hero who has returned to the small town to prove himself. He finds his former girl engaged and tries to win her back. There is some celebration organized to remember his glory and the man obviously proves himself. All these elements are present in FIRST ROUND DOWN.

Stage, television and film actor Rob Ramsay must be ‘complemented’ for playing the most obnoxious and annoying character in a movie so far this year, probably beating Jack Black an actor I just cannot bear to watch. Bobby, who Ramsay plays not only annoys the audience with his shouting and weird noises, but also annoys every character in the film – his best friend, his mates and the girls. Dylan Bruce is ok as the lead hunk who has the good looks for a star hockey leading man.

For hockey as the inspiration for the Butler’s film, there is surprisingly few hockey games on display.

FIRST ROUND DOWN started well – funny, stylish and offbeat. But the film unfortunately gets mired down in its silly predictable story



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Film Review: DIRTY POOL, Canada, Animation

Played at the March 2017 ANIMATION Film Festival

  MOVIE POSTERDIRTY POOL, 1min, Canada, Animation
Directed by Brent Forrest

This film is a quick ode to the pool hall where we drunken animators used to spend our evenings.

Review by Kierston Drier:

Full of round, polished, pleasing visuals, this is a story about Balls! Ehhem, pool balls. Pool balls and etiquette. Coming to us from Canada and directed by Brent Forrest, DIRTY POOL is a two minute glance at what can go wrong when you try to play pool with your buddy at the bar.

The story is cute, clear and comical- our heroes go out to play some pool and it all goes frighteningly wrong. But where DIRTY POOL makes it mark is in its visuals. Shiny, bright, visually engaging and with a strong attention to detail, this is a film that will make you want to stop blinking.

If you have ever taken a childlike delight in staring at a old time gumball machine full to bursting with glistening multi colored gumballs, then you have the visual equivalent of watching this film.

Tantalizingly rich, this is a film you can simply watch and enjoy. No need to dissect any deeper philosophical meaning- just watch a great film with great picture, about some hapless dudes making enemies on the wrong side of a pool table.

Sit back and enjoy Dirty Pool, it’s a delight to see.

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Film Review: POKER NIGHT, 11min, Canada, Comedy/Romance

Played at the March 2017 COMEDY Film Festival

  MOVIE POSTERPOKER NIGHT, 11min, Canada, Comedy
Directed by David Metcalfe

A fun, comedic short film about a group of twenty-somethings living in Toronto; poking fun at stereotypes, and breaking expectations.

Review by Kierston Drier:

This subtle, sweet romance-comedy film will test your knowledge of relationship boundaries. Poker Night is a great Date-Night discussion piece directed by David Metcalfe. When the girls’ poker night is crashed by the hosts boyfriend, the tension is palpable. But it gets worse when the boyfriend invites over his own friends to alleviate his boredom.

His heart’s in the right place it would seem, as he brings his friend to set him up with the one single-lady of the group- but is this ill thought plan going to work?

Falling more on the romance spectrum of comedy, this bright, Canadian piece will remind you of (or make you think of) the youth en metropolitan. The cheap beer, late nights, romance-in-the-eyes-of-every-stranger intoxication that is so often associated with the youth that almost has life figured out. Too old to be kids and too young to be adults, Poker Night will make you chuckle at the good-will but sloppy execution of our leading man and will definitely lead a viewing couple to discuss who “crossed the line” in crashing poker night.

Poker Night does one more amazing thing- it gets tops marks with this reviewer for a kissing scene nothing short of magical. It captures the nervousness, delight and excitement that all the best movie moments have- maybe even more, as it feels so authentic. For that, bravo to Metcalfe, and the ensemble of Poker Night.

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Movie Review: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL MONOGAMIST (Canada 2016) **

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portrait_of_a_serial_monogamistPORTRAIT OF A SERIAL MONOGAMIST (Canada 2014) **
Directed by Christina Zeidler and John Michell

Starring: Robin Duke, Masa Lizdek, Grace Lynn Kung

Review by Gilbert Seah

This spritely romantic relationship comedy is exactly what the title promises. It is the story of monogamist, Elsie (Diane Flacks), in her thirties who cannot, no matter how much she tries change her ways. A slight twist to the story is that Elsie is a lesbian.

When the film begins, Elsie has just broken up with her girlfriend, Robyn (Carolyn Taylor). Robyn has not taken the breakup too easily. It is tough for them to remain friends without fighting.

Meanwhile, Elsie has a fling or two while trying to survive her job was aTV producer after a corporate takeover. She is offered advice from friends and family. As the saying goes: “Everyone has a advice and everyone is full of sh**”

That is basically what the entire film is about. It is pretty boring for those who cannot connect with the main character. Whether one does depends, but to Flacks, credit, she is not a bad actress.

The film is shot in Toronto and the directors are proud of the fact. Torontonians will recognize familiar sights like the local streets, streetcars and buildings. The film also showcases local musical and art talent.

Diane Flacks inhabits her role comfortably, passing off as a desperate lesion trying not to be desperate. She creates a likeable character and a very human one. She is pretty though not overtly pretty and smart, though human enough to make mistakes and smart enough to recognize them. She takes a little time to figure out what she wants. In other words, she is a normal person, a nice Jewish girl from Toronto (as she describes herself) in the ordinary sense. Of the supporting cast, Robin Duke stands out as Elsie’s mother, a nice Jewish woman from Montreal.

The film ends up an ok watch, but there is nothing exceptional about the film, which is a shame. Everyone tries very hard, as is evident in the last scene of the cat funeral. During the cat funeral, Elsie and Robyn have it out amidst the ceremony. It is definitely a far-fetched scene that is funny at parts, but feels too artificial.

There are no sex scenes, thanks goodness for that! The actresses are pretty but not sexy enough that the audience would like to watch them doing it in the nude. The kissing scenes are sufficient and short.

PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL MONOGAMIST, made in 2014 finally reaches the big screen after making its round across the country’s LGBT festival circuit. The film is unlikely to become a big hit, but its target audience is clearly the LGBT festival audience and maybe the local Toronto art scene.

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Movie Review: SNOWTIME! (Canada 2015) *** Directed by Jean-François Pouliot

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showtimeSNOWTIME! (Canada 2015) ***
Directed by Jean-François Pouliot

Starring: Angela Galuppo, Mariloup Wolfe, Lucinda Davis

Review: Gilbert Seah

LA GUERRE DES TUQUES (3D) is the highest grossing Canadian film of 2015. But almost no one in English Canada has heard of it. As the saying goes in the film industry, French Canadians see French Canadian films but English speaking Canadians do not see Canadian films at all – French or Canadian. So, it would be appropriate then to dub the French animated feature into English complete with an English title SNOWTIME! as if the original never existed.

But when the film, a delightful kids fantasy set in real life progresses, it becomes apparent that the film is very Quebecois despite the fact that all the character are speaking English. Even the names of the leads Luke and Sophie sound French (Luc et Sofie). The setting is a little village, snow covered, the typical seen in pictures of Quebec, which one kid calls the best village in the world. And he and the other kids believe it too.

The animated feature is based on and is an animated version of the 1984 family film THE DOG WHO STOPPED THE WAR (French title LA GUEREE DES TUQUES, no change here).
This review is based on the 3D English version.

The film centres on a group of children, led by Luke (Nicholas Savard-L’Herbier in the French version, Angela Galuppo in English) and Sophie (Mariloup Wolfe in French, Lucinda Davis in English), who plan and stage a giant snowball fight during the Christmas holidays. The story is unimportant. The fact that all the children appear to be having a fine time at war is all that matters. Until someone loses an eye – or a dog is hurt, as in the case of this film. As in most children’s films, SNOWTIME! is one centred around the children. There are no adults around. The kids behave like adults mostly, dealing with issues such as acceptance, loyalty, friendship and chivalry, elements that make a good family or children’s tale. This is a delightful Canadian film, quite unlike Disney expensive blockbuster animated features like FROZEN. Still, there are a few catchy tunes like “You are My Sweater” (whatever that means, I have no clue) performed at the end credits.

The 3D effects are well done with lots of snowy stuff tossed out of the screen at the audience. The village looks very Christmassy and the film has an overall warm and fuzzy atmosphere despite the ‘war’ setting.

The humour is mild at best. It is not overtly hilarious or extremely goofy, characteristics of most animated features these days. Getting brain freeze from drinking milkshakes or changing the odds of winning during an arm wrestling match are examples of the kind of humour found in the film.

The result is a rather mediocre entertaining film. The plusses of the film include the gorgeous animation on the screen, better bang for the buck that the multi million dollar products churned out by the Hollywood studios. At least Canadians can say this is our animated feature. It is up against strong competition like NORM OF THE NORTH and KUNG FU PANDA 3.

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