Hank And Mike

YEAR: 2008 / WRITER: Paolo Mancini, Thomas Michael / DIRECTOR: Matthiew Klinck / BUDGET: $1.5 million / GROSS:

                                           ----------------------------------------

hank and mike are an "odd couple" of easter bunnies who are down-sized when the multi-national corporation that owns/runs holidays decides to make some serious cutbacks. yup, you read that correctly. and yup, the poster is real also - this film does feature two guys in bunny suits (well, actually there more than just two guys. there are lots of guys in bunny suits at easter headquarters). Hank And Mike is a dark, rather dry, low-budget canadian comedy about two down-sized easter bunnies.

when the movie first starts the "fantasy" aspect of it made me feel like it called for a more glossy presentation. but that isn't the case. once you get into the film, the low-budget look and feel plays perfectly into the dark and dreary path the two friends take following their dismissal.

the world the film puts us in is a world with add-sponsored suicides and corporate-owned holidays. there is also no real sense of time or place. by that, i mean, i couldn't tell you what year the film takes place in and i am pretty sure that is on purpose.

the look feels like the 70s or 80s, but they talk about computers and using excel when the bunnies go to the employment office looking for work. however, there aren't any computers on desks and i didn't notice anyone using a cell phone. it all works together to create, what i am going to call, a grounded fantasy. and except for one quick moment wherein a character is counting out some money and i noticed it was canadian bills, there is also no discussion or hint of location.

director matthiew klinck does a great job here using music and cinematography to form a really well put together and coherent film that is able to mix the fantasy, the dark comedy and the drama. and give it up for joe mantegna for being able to see how smart and funny the script was and agree to have a small, but important, role.

i'm guessing very few people have seen this film, but i can see definite cult movie potential in Hank And Mike.

Comment

At Home By Myself... With you

YEAR: 2009

WRITER: Ramona Barckert, Kris Booth

DIRECTOR: Kris Booth

BUDGET: $CAD40,000 (estimated)

GROSS: ?

clicking away through netflix suggestions based on my ratings and previously viewed films and randomly browsing through genres i came across a bunch of titles that caught my eye, the first one of which was At Home By Myself... With You. i saw that it was a canadian film and feeling all patriotic i clicked play, streamed it to my tv and sat back on the couch...

now, don't let the "quirky" "romantic" netflix qualifiers scare you off. we all know that romantic comedies - quirky or not - are generally predictable by nature, not always that interesting and often not really that funny." but, it doesn't have to be that way, as At Home By Myself... With You proves.

also, i clicked the "quirky" link and saw that netflix had also tagged And Justice For All, Adaptation and Young Frankenstein with said tag. so, who really knows what "quirky" means to them?

romy is a women who, as we learn from the opening voiced-over animation, has many phobias. from opening boxes to going outside. and by "going outside" i mean literally taking one step out of her apartment - something she hasn't done for six years. then a guy moves in next door... okay, so you know where this is going. but, as predictable as the destination may be, the ride is enjoyable.

the filming style, the voice-overs, that opening animation, the score and the supporting characters all created a feel to the film that is like a children's story - or some kind of fairy tale? a story about the girl stuck in her apartment who falls for the charming and sweet always-on-the-go guy across the hall.

kristin booth (who you may have seen on a really good film i talked about a couple years ago, Young People Fucking) is great as romy. she is sweet and quirky (ya, i said it), but without becoming a caricature. it's interesting: romy is the "oddest" character in the film and yet she, and the guy across the hall, are what keep the film grounded in reality and make the emotional moments valid for the audience.

also, in case you were interested in the quirky-factor, but wasn't sure how it compared. it is a little quirkier than Easy Rider (another film that, for some ridiculous reason, was listed under my netflix "quirky" suggestions).

Comment

C'est Pas Moi, Je Le Jure! (It's Not Me, I Swear!)

Year: 2008

Writer: Philippe Falardeau (writer) & Bruno Hébert (book)

Director: Philippe Falardeau

Budget:?

Gross: ?

i only heard about C'est Pas Moi, Je Le Jur! a little over a week ago. i was out at dinner with friends and one of them mentioned how she had seen this french-canadian comedy a few nights previous. she mentioned how she had watched the whole thing waiting for the "comedy" but it never came. but she also couldn't stop watching, because she was really enjoying it.

well, lo and behold i was home a few nights later around 6:50pm, flipping through my movie channels and what do you think i saw starting at 7 o'clock? you guessed it, C'est Pas Moi, Je Le Jur! i went and quickly made something to eat and at 6:59pm i was sitting in front of the tv ready to check it out. and am i glad i did. this film is great.

the film takes place in 1968. leon is a 10-year-old boy with some issues. he is like dennis the menace times 100. not only does he have a fertile imagination and is kinda suicidal. he seems to have no moral compass when it comes to his actions. especially when his unhappy mother decides to move to greece and he acts out even more.

while it isn't a laugh out loud family comedy, the film does have a dark sense of humor that permeates the film - as does a real deep and poignant sense of drama. the two are melded together beautifully into a film that, along with the music and the cinematography, creates a real mood and engagement in the characters and the story.

the film has many of the markers that one might expect: the rebellious kid, the fighting/unhappy parents, the girl next door, etc... but they in no way make the film predictable. leon's character goes farther than it is sometimes comfortable for the audience to go or what they might expect. thus keeping us "on our toes" and creating something familiar and original all in the same wonderful film.

french canada has a pretty strong film culture/industry and is well supported by its people. however, many of the films - with some exceptions of course - don't get past the border to reach a wider audience (even within the rest of the country). C'est Pas Moi, Je Le Jure! made quite a big splash at the toronto film festival and even picked up an award at the berlin film fest and is well deserving of said recognition outside of quebec.

4 Comments

The Tracy Fragments

The tracey fragments Year: 2007

Writer: Maureen Medved (novel & screenplay)

Director: Bruce McDonald

Budget: $750 000 (Canadian)

Gross: $31 576 (USA)

this was one of those "watch-it-because-of-the-director" movies for me. i was flipping through my movie channels and i saw The Tracy Fragments. the name rang a bell but nothing more than that.  So i pushed the info button on my remote and saw "directed by bruce mcdonald....."

those of you who have been following the blog/podcast for a while now might remember a film i talked about back in 2007 called Roadkill - also directed by bruce mcdonald. and the reason i had been interested in seeing that film was because of the first bruce mcdonald film i ever saw, 1996s Hard Core Logo - which is, along with This Is Spinal Tap, the best fake rockumentary i have ever seen... anyway, back to The Tracy Fragments...

this is a film that really needs to be seen to be full appreciated (seems like a pretty obvious statement no?), in that talking about it really doesn't do it justice. in its basic simplest form, The Tracy Fragments is about tracy, played by ellen page (if you thought her great performance in Juno was a fluke, this will prove it wasn't), riding around on a city bus looking for her missing younger brother who she has hypnotized to think he is a dog.  that is where the film begins, but how did we get to that point? why is she wearing a shower curtain on the bus? what is life like for her at school? and at home? all those questions are answered as the film evolves and jumps back and forth bringing time lines together over the course of about 80 minutes.

besides the non-linear storytelling the editing and visual style of the movie is what stands out. The fragmented teenage world and mind of tracy is portrayed visually throughout the film by the constant changing grid/split-screen technique in which images and scenes shot from various angles all play out on the screen at the same time.  if you are familiar with the show 24 you can think of The Tracy Fragments as "24 on crack" - it isn't out of the ordinary in the film to have 6,7,8 or more grids on the screen at the same time or multiple picture-in-picture type visuals.

i will admit that for the first 5, maybe 10 minutes i wasn't sure about the film. the fractured time line story telling seemed like it might never come together and i started to feel like maybe the constant fragmented screen was nothing more than an interesting exercise. but, it wasn't. the film worked beautifully and as moments came to pass that connected with things we had already seen the story formed coherently and the mondrian-like split-screen editing only added to the film and the storytelling.

i would recommend watching The Tracy Fragments on as big a screen as possible, because when the screen gets really fragmented the many images do get kinda small on an old 19-inch crt (like the one i have). however, even on a sceen that size you will appreciate the film as a fascinating work of movie making and a film that stands as more then just that as well.

Comment