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Monday 24 July 2017
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What She Said! with Christine Bentley & Kate Wheeler on The Jewel Radio Network.

Mother’s Day on Steroids, a Canadian Cult Duo Returns, Julian Assange Under Glass, Aabiziingwashi (#WideAwake) and Much More

Oh, the hilarity! The pathos! The naughty language! Just in time for Mother’s Day we have the comic pairing of Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn in Snatched and that’s a good thing. Mother and daughter are setting off for a last minute vacation together. It wasn’t planned. Amy’s loveable underachiever was dumped in a howlingly funny diner scene opposite Randall Park, just before their romantic trip to South America. She refuses to waste non-refundable tickets and forces a deeply reluctant ma along hoping for some bonding and healing time. They will certainly be spending some intense time together as they have opposite views on everything, and then there’s the kidnap, the being lost alone and shoeless in the Amazon and the murderous thugs coming up behind. You know, a typical Mother’s Day outing. Great, funny script, tremendous simpatico between Hawn and Schumer plus rolling laughs make this a mother daughter must see.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword finds aristocratic Charlie Hunnam tossed into the street when his father the King is murdered by his wicked uncle Vortigern (Jude Law) who assumes power. Arthur lives on the streets with his posse until he manages to snaffle the sword Excalibur from a rock and regain his legacy. Guinevere shows up, Arthur has certain supernatural obstacles to overcome and well, David Beckham makes an appearance. IDK. Let me know how awful / wonderful it is alright? 

Bon Cop, Bad Cop 2 is the much anticipated sequel to the multiple award winning, cult favourite Canadian crime flicks about two cops, one from Ontario, the other from Quebec, played by Patrick Huard and Colm Feore. Their bi-cultural “disagreements” are still bones of contention but at least Feore’s character has learned some French. And he now outranks Huard. They must keep it together to break up a car theft ring but it’s not so easy, as layers upon layers of new information emerge as their plucky digital whiz digs deep for clues. Lots of fights, car chases, fights, computer investigation and did I say fights? Bloody knuckles, bruised male egos and plenty of gunfire.

Laura Poitras had unimpeded access to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in making the doc Risk over the past six years. The film follows on the heels of her controversial doc on Edward Snowden and gets to the heart of WikiLeaks. Poitras believes she is on government watch lists but bravely tackled Assange’ life from freedom to asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London knowing she was this close to danger. We go into his inner circle of confidants as he discusses leaks, Pvt. Bradley Manning, Cablegate, his safety, philosophy and those annoying sex assault allegations against him and the fact that he is a wanted man. In one heart-pounding sequence, he flees to the embassy, a wanted man, on his bicycle and in disguise. Assange’ outsize ego and obnoxious superiority will grate some viewers’ nerves, like mine. Crikey. “Let’s not pretend for a moment I’m a normal person” he says. Lady Gaga shows up for some totally unnecessary camera time.

Michael-Caton Jones’ Urban Hymn on VOD today looks at courage and aspiration and how it can change seemingly hopeless lives. Shirley Henderson plays a new social worker assigned to a home for troubled children. She bonds with an extremely difficult teenager (gifted young actor Letitia Wright) and discovers she has an exceptional singing voice. The girl resists help but eventually wins a singing scholarship. But her old life creeps up and she lands in prison. Once outside and resuming her music, she’s put at risk by her addicted best friend. It’s a provocative look at the poor and underserved in the UK and the hopelessness that must be overcome. It’s a tough but rewarding watch.

If HBO’s doc Mommy Dead and Dearest doesn’t make your hair stand on end, nothing will. It’s the true life story of the murder of DeeDee Blanchard by her wheelchair bound, developmentally challenged daughter Gypsy Rose Blanchard in 2015. DeeDee and Gypsy were the poster family for caring for disabled children and received free trips, money, sponsors and other benefits. DeeDee was diagnosed with Munchausen by proxy syndrome meaning in a nutshell, that she kept her daughter ill to gain sympathy. Sadly, nothing was done following the diagnosis. DeeDee continued to medicate Gypsy with pills she didn’t need, refused to allow her to walk and strictly controlled every aspect of her life. They presented a happy, united front but it was simply a lie. Police began the hunt for a missing Gypsy when she boasted on Facebook that “the bitch is dead”. This is crazy stuff.

Decline and Fall charts the progress of divinity student Paul Pennyfeather who was sent down from Oxford for running through the quad naked. Sadly it wasn’t his idea to strip. But failing to fight, he takes a job teaching at a remote village school with an eccentric group of teachers and hellion students who knew what he didn’t but didn’t much care. Pennyfeather faces challenges that make the trouble at Oxford seem tiny, dealing with this new Wild West life, throwing off his milquetoast ways to make something of himself and well, finding love. It’s a very funny original three part series from Acorn starring Matthew Beard, Poirot’s David Suchet as the new headmaster and as neighbouring bombshell Eva Longoria!

Throughout 2017, the National Film Board of Canada is screening 250 Indigenous-made films for free public screenings and special events across the country as part of Aabiziingwashi (#WideAwake): NFB Indigenous Cinema on Tour. Films by First Nations, Mtis and Inuit filmmakers, Aabiziingwashi uses film to inspire and educate Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. The tour includes The Road Forward, Birth of a Family by Tasha Hubbard, We Can’t Make the Same Mistake Twice by Alanis Obomsawin, and Angry Inuk by Alethea Arnaquq-BarilDas well as essential NFB films like Finding Dawn by Christine Welsh, Foster Child by Gil Cardinal, and Zacharias Kunuk’s Atanarjuat the Fast Runner. TIFF Bell Lightbox will run titles from now till the end of August. Aabiziingwashi is being presented in collaboration with APTN, TIFF Bell Lightbox, the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival and other partners across the country. https://www.nfb.ca/wideawake/

by @annebrodie
BFCA BTJA AWFJ TFCA FIPRESCI