By Anne Brodie
Totally Under Control one of the year’s most powerful documentaries shot in secret for five months, puts the Trump response to the COVID crisis under the microscope. Day by day month by month the case is built – an indisputable picture of his monstrous apathy. Revered documentarian Alex Gibney begins in Wuhan China then to the first known case of COVID 19 in Seattle, the same day South Korea reported its first case. Months later the US is the world’s COVID hotspot, while South Korea and its 31M people reported just 500 deaths and didn’t lockdown. Why? There is plenty of blame to go around the administration, puppets of a cavalier Presidents who mockingly dismissed it, even though he knew how dangerous COVID was on Jan 7th. The admin failed to read a 69-page pandemic playbook from the Obama administration, then blamed it for not providing a playbook. Trump packed his COVID team with people with religious and political affiliations to him, and silenced or contradicted Dr. A. Fauci. Jared Kushner left the job of sourcing and buying PPEs to a group of ten, twenty-year-old volunteers who had to sign NDAs. Revisit archival footage of bodies being loaded into refrigerated trucks in New York. He ignored a mask manufacturer who was reduced to tears with worry for the American public in a mask shortage. And FEMA was driving up the cost of masks at auction. Then of course, the fake drugs and bleach. Honestly, it hurts to think about Trump’s fail after fail, after fail and I strenuously suggest you watch this, especially our American friends and voters. VOD
Bong Joon Ho, the man behind Oscar behemoth Parasite made what is considered a classic, Memories of Murder in 2003, a true crime epic about a rapist /murderer terrorizing a province in South Korea. The film is remastered, and a new ending added for release this week. It’s tough to watch and utterly captivating, as three detectives (including Bong favourite Kang-ho Song) follow a grisly crime wave. Multiple women’s bodies are found, hogtied and torn up. Suspicion falls on an unfortunate young lad with developmental problems who is abused by the officers then let off the hook. The crimes continue. We see the perp from the back hiding in trees, watching his victims and a flash of his face. The cops go off in useless directions and three times let a suspect outrun them, plant evidence, ignore a solid tip and send DNA samples off to America that don’t support their suspicions. The final chapter is a stunner. The film is more playful and energetic than the elegant Parasite but suggests the future film in innovative, groundbreaking direction and cinematography and plays on nature and human fragility. Plenty of warning for next week’s select theatrical openings in Canada and VOD release Oct 20.
I Am Greta with an English voiceover by Greta Thunberg follows the influential teenaged eco-warrior over a year, starting with her sitting protests outside Swedish parliament Fridays through to her international travels – by electric car, train and yacht to spread wakeup calls to save the environment. At 15, and with Asperger’s her small act of protest went viral, creating its own movement of young people around the world, determined to halt further damage and call the adults responsible to answer for it. Greta thought nothing of scolding world leaders with strong words and we applauded her clear sightedness. She raged against natures destroyers in halls of the hallowed around the world, and for her efforts received death threats and suffered extreme exhaustion. A bracing reminder from Swedish director/cinematographer Nathan Grossman who traveled by her side. The best the 2019 climate action summit NYC, says Greta “How dare you! You have stolen my dreams with empty words, people are suffering, eco systems are collapsing and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of economic growth. You looked away from the signs, we will never forgive you”. In theatres in in Oakville (Winston Churchill),Whitby (Landmark Whitby),Kitchener, Waterloo, Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Regina, Sherbrooke, Halifax and other cities.
Lily James and Armie Hammer sub for Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier in a new version of Daphne Du Maurier’s classic Gothic suspense novel Rebecca. An unnamed sheltered lady’s maid in Monte Carlo meets a wealthy widower; he’s drawn to her, but she sees in him a haunted quality beyond mourning his loss. He proposes and takes her home to Manderley estate, his family seat to begin married life. Now Mrs. De Winter, she is greeted by icy housekeeper Mrs. Danvers (Kristen Scott Thomas) and a massive portrait of the late wife, Rebecca glaring down at her. Danvers puts her in a guest room (!) in the massive house and the chill is on. Mrs. DW is nervous around his friends, and his sister tells her “none of us can compete with Rebecca, everyone loved her”. Shunted to second class citizenship, she seeks the isolation of seaside walks with the dog as she searches for something to tell her what the hell is happening. Danvers cruelly gaslights her, a controversial character appears, and secrets are slowly revealed. It’s an okay adaptation, not up to Hitchcock’s version but beautiful to look at with its wild seascapes and threatening cliffs. My takeaway is how utterly stony, and rigid is Scott-Thomas’ performance; she seethes hatred. Directed by Ben Wheatley. Oct 21 on Netflix
Don’t pay any attention to the title. Sh+thouse, available on VOD Oct 16th is a sweet coming-of-age story about a guy and a gal meeting at a college frat house bearing that name. Writer, director and star Cooper Raiff is a mama’s boy in his freshman year who still calls home and cries. He’s a virgin who tells his problems to a stuffed wolf. One night he takes a chance and goes to a Shithouse party and meets Maggie (Dylan Gelula). She’s in a bad mood but they connect. Raiff follows their budding romance that gains traction when he offers to help her bury her pet turtle. She’s moody and opinionated and not easy to love, but he keeps trying against all the obstacles she’s put up. Charming, maddening, and fresh this tale of male vulnerability takes an original look at the tired romcom trope and feels authentic and imperfect, like life and love.
Social Distance: An Anthology Series on Netflix is a timely gem. The eight-episode series follows people in social isolation, striving to communicate and connect while locked down. Some episodes are funny and lighthearted while some, like You Gotta Ding Dong Fling Flong The Whole Narrative starring Law & Order: SVU’s Peter Scanavino had me bawling. The actor plays Greg who is caring for his young son (Scanavino’s own son Leo) in the family’s apartment, isolated from his wife (Ali Ahn) in the bedroom alone suffering from COVID. He’s trying hard to calm his son who misses his mum. Also, episodes on Zoom funerals, an alcoholic barbershop owner struggling with isolation and lively stories of staying optimistic with help from family and friends. Provocative, heartwarming, scary, funny and sad and altogether reflective of the times
Noomi Rapace stars as a Hungarian World War II bride of an American southerner in The Secrets We Keep. She’s sitting in a New Orleans park with her little girl when to her horror, she notices a man (Joel Kinnaman) she recognises as the Nazi captain who raped her and killed her sister. She reacts by instinct, kidnaps and tortures him in her basement. Her husband disapproves but goes along, even though she’d lied to him about her background and manufactured a new identity. The soldier begs for his life and won’t say a word because he is in an illegal marriage and he could be deported. Memories come flooding back as she and her husband mete out punishment in her primal thirst for vengeance, she believes will heal her broken soul, but we all know how that goes. On VOD Oct 16.
Three diverse films make their festival and online debuts in the next few days. The Curse of Willow Song on VOD via Reel World tells the story of a woman fresh out of jail finding her way. Oct. 16 through Oct 19.
Loretta S. Todd’s story of a woman drawn back home to save her brother faces spirits with a lot to say. Monkey Beach. Screens Oct 22nd starting 10AM 48-hour window on VOD
Brother, I Cry at ImagineNATIVE screens Oct 21st at 10 AM with a 48-hour window on VOD, in British Columbia Cineplex Theatres and Ontario TBD . A film by Jessie Anthony, about a family’s struggles with addiction, inspired by events in her own life.
Oh, Canada! Audible.ca is offering The Revisionaries with Michele Romanow and True North Heists with Colm Feore free for all Canadians until October 27. Watch for new shows conceived specifically for the audio format. These Audible Originals feature celebrated Canadian writers, storytellers, hosts, performers and industry leaders like Yannick Bisson, Sarika Cullis-Suzuki, Catherine Hernandez, Robert J. Sawyer, Tanya Talaga, Jael Richardson, Andrew Pyper and many more. Go to www.audible.ca.