The Fate of the Furious (or #F8 if you’re cool) is the latest all adrenaline, all action franchise, fan boy fodder. The franchise tragically lost Paul Walker who died in 2013 but here he is in #F8 deciding to retire, along with Mia. Big Daddy Vin Diesel’s character betrays the gang which makes zero sense even if it is Charlize Theron seducing him to the dark side. The gang then must put aside notions of leading normal lives to work with the government to stop Dom and his new anarchist boss from carrying out acts of terror. But storyline seems not to matter that much when there are cars to be raced. The all-star action cast also includes Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Helen Mirren, Nathalie Emmanuel, Elsa Pataky, Scott Eastwood and Kurt Russell. That’s right, I said Helen Mirren.
Maudie tells the story of a woman who suffered from severe juvenile arthritis and was forced to live with a cruel aunt when her parents died. One night after attending a nightclub without permission Maude argued with her aunt and ran away. She applied for a housekeeper’s position with Everett Lewis, a fishmonger and moved into his one room shack in Marshalltown, Nova Scotia. Maudie covered the walls and windows with colourful, primitive paintings of outdoor scenes, neighbours noticed, one sent her work to New York and a career was born. Maudie Lewis remains one of Canada’s best known folk artists. Great story, sure, but the magic in Maudie is the performances by Sally Hawkins plays Maudie who plays with total physical and spiritual commitment and Ethan Hawke who may have put in his best performance as the taciturn Everett. Their relationship starts rocky but grows as her humble paintings of cows, houses, butterflies and birds travel the world. True story and a wonderful film. Their home is reconstructed inside a provincial art gallery.
A group of government employees in the British Ministry of Information, Film Division hope to provide weary citizens with an upbeat cinematic distraction during the darkest days of the London Blitzkrieg in Their Finest. Gemma Arterton and Sam Claflin are producing a funny, moving film set in Dunkirk that takes them down some odd creative roads, but they persist, all the while bombs raining down on their offices and all of London. Their tiny troupe including the leading man played with brilliant abandon by Bill Nighy manages to stay calm and carry on, the definition of British wartime spirit. How is a woman making movies for the government during WWII? The men are at war or dead. The story is terrific because it takes for granted that a woman could do a “man’s job” and be a success 60 years ago. It’s dramatic but mostly fun.
The documentary Perfume War highlights the charitable mission that changed the life of entrepreneur Barb Stegemann. The Nova Scotia native had a best friend who almost lost his life serving with the Canadian military in Afghanistan. He was interviewing war weary locals to find out what he could do to help them with water, food and infrastructure when he was attacked with an axe. Barb committed to taking over for him to improve the life of ordinary Afghans and had a great idea! Grow flowers, fruits, berries and herbs to create perfumes and a business was born that benefitted the locals. Opium fields, the source of 90% of the world’s heroin, were re-planted for perfume and the business spread gradually. Stegemann’s company 7 Virtues promotes Beauty, Courage, Justice, Wisdom, Truth, Moderation, and Wonder and grows and harvests locally in Haiti, Afghanistan, The Middle East and Rwanda. www.the7virtues.com
Dir: Nicholas de Pencier’s Black Code is inspired by the book Black Code: Inside the Battle for Cyberspace by Prof. Ronald J. Deibert, Director University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, which hunts internet for malware. It exposed “GhostNet,” a cyber spy-ring out of China that hacked high-level political, economic and media locations in 103 countries. Deibert explains how hacking and protecting are carried out, what the stakes are for corporations, governments and ordinary citizens and that the risk increases daily. Exiled Tibetan monks hide their technological activity from China’s surveillance; Syrian citizens are tortured for Facebook posts, Brazilian activists using social media to distribute real-time news with stories that will curl your hair from Pakistan and beyond. Edward Snowden explains how governments including ones we know and love control and manipulates the internet to censor and monitor. Learn the unlikely location of one of the most powerful internet labs…surprise, surprise!
Chelsea Handler fans note that Season two of her eponymous Netflix series is back this week. The comedienne and social commentator interviews a number of celebrities, academics and professionals with that biting take no prisoners style that has made her the terror of late night. She’s liable to do and say anything. I hope never to be at the business end of one of handler’s jibes.
Netflix has renewed its critically-acclaimed original series Grace and Frankie for a beach house-bound, martini-filled fourth season. Fine until quest star Lisa Kudrow comes to the hood. She’ll appear as manicurist Sheree in a multi episode arc in which her friendship with Grace rubs Frankie the wrong way. Sadly we will have to wait until 2018 to see the feather fly.
Donald Sutherland will star in a new torn-from-the-headline limited series as J. Paul Getty, the founder of the Getty family oil dynasty, in FX’s Trust. Getty was a powerhouse in business and prestige, but at home, he was at sea. He didn’t understand his family. His grandson John Paul Getty III is kidnapped in the first episode. Its 1973 and he is taken while in Rome, but no one in the family seems to want him back. His father is a heroin addict who won’t engage and Getty himself is busy with five mistresses and a lion. Only his mother wants his release but she’s stony broke. Production begins in June for a January 2018 release. Here is a look at J. Paul Getty.
April 19 is NCFD 150 – National Canadian Film Day 150 – a massive one-day celebration of Canadian cinema in honour of the nation’s sesquicentennial, with a cross Canada film initiative to show the best 150 Canadian films free to Canadians audiences. TIFF’s national outreach programme, Film Circuit joins REEL CANADA’s #NCFD150 to bring the best of the best at Film Circuit locations. Find your town in the list provided below. Films will be gleaned from the Canada on Screen list, TIFF’s free year-long programme celebrating Canada 150.
“Our dream for Canada’s 150th birthday is to share the best of Canadian culture across the country, especially in communities that may not otherwise have access to our moving-image heritage,” says Piers Handling, Director & CEO, TIFF. “Canadians should be proud of what their film artists have produced as we have led the world in many areas. We invite Canadians to come together for a cross-country toast to the many stories this wonderful nation has to offer.” NCFD 150 is a massive one-day celebration of Canadian cinema in honour of the nation’s sesquicentennial. Canadian films will be available on air, online and on foot at over 800 screenings in every corner of the country. TIFF Bell Lightbox will offer select free screenings and TIFF Kids International Film Festival of Canadian features and shorts will screen for elementary school students. TIFF will launch a digital catalogue of the essential 150 Canadian moving-image works, containing original essays from filmmakers, journalists and industry experts.
National Canadian Film Day 150 Film Circuit Screening Locations in Ontario are:
Ajax Film Circuit, St. Francis Centre — Ajax, Ont.
Algoma International Film Association, Galaxy Cinemas Sault Ste. Marie/Sault College — Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
Ancaster Film Festival, Cineplex Cinemas Ancaster — Ancaster, Ont.
Aron Theatre — Campbellford, Ont.
Aultsville Theatre Film Series, Galaxy Cinemas Cornwall — Cornwall, Ont.
Aurora Film Circuit, Cineplex Odeon Aurora Cinemas — Aurora, Ont.
Barrie Film Festival ScreenOne, Uptown Theatre — Barrie, Ont.
Cambridge Galleries Cineseries, Galaxy Cinemas Cambridge — Cambridge, Ont.
Chatham-Kent Film Group, Galaxy Cinemas Chatham — Chatham, Ont.
Cinefest Durham, Cineplex Odeon Oshawa Cinemas — Oshawa, Ont.
Cinefest Niagara, Cineplex Odeon Seaway Mall Cinemas — Welland, Ont.
Cinefest Picton, Regent Theatre — Picton, Ont.
Collingwood Cinema Club, Galaxy Cinemas Collingwood — Collingwood, Ont.
Currents, The Strand — Simcoe, Ont.
Festival Hall Centre for the Arts — Pembroke, Ont.
Film Brockville, Galaxy Cinemas Brockville — Brockville, Ont.
Film Night International, Full Circle Theatre — Perth, Ont.
Film Night International Smiths Falls, Station Theatre — Smiths Falls, Ont.
Films on the Scugog, Academy Theatre — Lindsay, Ont.
Fine Films, Peter’s Players — Gravenhurst, Ont.
Gallery Night at the Movies, Galaxy Cinemas Owen Sound — Owen Sound, Ont.
Goderich Livery Film Group, The Livery — Goderich, Ont.
Huron County Museum and Historic Gaol — Goderich, Ont.
ilovefilm Series/AGH World Film Festival, Art Gallery of Hamilton — Hamilton, Ont.
Kawartha Lakes Film Circuit, Fenelon Falls High School — Fenelon Falls, Ont.
Madoc Little Theatre, Art Centre Hastings — Madoc, Ont.
Mariposa Arts Theatre Film Nights, Galaxy Cinemas Orillia — Orillia, Ont.
Markham at the Movies, Flato Markham — Markham, Ont.
Meaford Film Club, Meaford Hall — Meaford, Ont.
Midland Film Series, Galaxy Cinemas Midland — Midland, Ont.
Milton Film Festival, Milton Centre for the Performing Arts — Milton, Ont.
Monday Night at the Movies, Galaxy Cinemas Orangeville — Orangeville, Ont.
MUSE Films, Galaxy Cinemas Peterborough — Peterborough, Ont.
North Kawartha Community Center — Apsley, Ont.
North of 7 Film Fest, Bancroft Village Playhouse — Bancroft, Ont.
Oakville Monday Nights @ the Movies, Cineplex Cinemas Winston Churchill — Oakville, Ont.
Palmerston Big Film Fest, Norgan Theatre — Palmerston, Ont.
Quest Art, Rotary Hall, Midland Cultural Centre — Midland, Ont.
Quinte Film Alternative, The Empire Theatre — Belleville, Ont.
Reel Alternatives Huntsville, Capitol Theatre — Huntsville, Ont.
Renfrew Film Association, O’Brien Theatre — Renfrew, Ont.
Richmond Hill’s The Reel Thing, Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts — Richmond Hill, Ont.
Spinning Reels, Norwood Cinema — Bracebridge, Ont.
Stittsville Rotary International Film Series, Landmark Cinemas Kanata — Stittsville, Ont.
Stockey Film Night, Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts — Parry Sound, Ont.
Temiskaming Screening Room, Classic Theatre — New Liskeard, Ont.
Those Other Movies, Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion — Haliburton, Ont.
TIFF Films on Screen, The Gibson Centre — Alliston, Ont.
by Anne Brodie, BFCA BTJA AWFJ TFCA FIPRESCI