Tag Archives: Canada

Tales from the Gimli Hospital (1988)

Director: Guy Maddin
Starring: Kyle McCulloch, Michael Gotti, Angela Heck . Canada . 1h 12m

With a lot of surreal movies, I don’t assume to fully understand them, but I do find their unpredictability evocative. While this film is visually different there’s a lot to puzzle over with the linear but a bashitcrazy story.

Seemly inspired by the Directors childhood memories heightened by a DMT trip, there’s a lose connection. Madden does have Icelandic heritage and a lot of vocal history does get tainted over the years but for part it’s a realistic situation at first..

While their mother lays dying in a hospital bed, a pair of siblings are being confronted in the modern Gimli, Manitoba hospital by their grandmother. She tells the children a long and convoluted story about the Gimli of old, a tale about Einar the Lonely and his best friend Gunnar and the angelic Jofridur.

Einar (McCulloch) has contracted smallpox and is resting in the old Gimli Hospital when he makes friends with Gunnar (Gotti), the pair really appreciate the company in their time of sickness and the bond grows between them, but only for  a short time.

While divulging personal information with each other their tales start to get weirder and the men’s testosterone really gets them going once a sexy nurse catches their eye and they really start to outdo each other to gain her adoration.

Independent movies with a surreal flaire are fairly popular but none of them quite have the same creepy and yet riveting atmosphere as the Gimli Hospital. It’s dark and at times intensely creepy but at times it has a bit of razzmatazz slapstick.

Some scenes are filled with characters babaliese with a gentle overture and smooth poetic voice overs. Juxtaposed with the harsh black and white shadowy photography that flickers as if lit by candle, the film “feels” scary but nothing will jump out at you.. Apart from some of the most bizarre but engaging cinema you’ve ever seen.

It’s impossible to guess what’s coming next and there’s no sense in trying to look for themes, it’s erratic but yet at the same time you begin to expect the unexpected. The imagery is pretty powerful, from buttock bloody manly wrestling (not like that you fiend) and milk dripping from the ceiling of the hospital, there’s a deep motherly aspect that runs throughout the film but if you didn’t guess it’s in the strangest way.

Guy Maddin seems like a pretty laid back normal guy, and has a very fine tuned appreciation of film and the arts.It really shows in his works, the detailed attention and courageous scenes are out of bounds with what it usually attempted to be shown on film. Definitely not something easily forgotten and certainly something new, no matter what you’ve seen in the past.

Rating: 7/10

R: Eraserhead (1977), Archangel (1990), the Heart of the World (2000)

A: Where’s the fish a short and incomplete guide to surrealist cinema Vol. 1

 

Advertisements

Naked Lunch (1991)

Director: David Cronenberg
Based on – Naked Lunch by William S Burroughs
Starring: Peter Welller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm, Julian Sands, Roy Scheider. Canada, Japan, UK. 1h 55m

This bold, Kafkaesque putrid remake of the legendary novel by William S Burroughs, is possibly as vivid and imaginative as the original book, but if you’ve read the book you’ll realise that no film could ever really be a true adaptation, so the screenplay is a metatextual adaption. Detailing characters and scenes from a complex novel and other works from Burroughs, both fictional and from his journal and the events which lead to the 1951 death of Joan Vollmer, Burroughs’s common law wife.  So while it’s not entirely Naked Lunch, it should at least FEEL like Naked lunch and at times it feels a lot like Burroughs but slightly more coherent.

As a surreal autobiographic piece the film follows the life of William Lee, who is basically Burroughs, a bug exterminator who discovers his wife is stealing his insecticide and using it to get high. Lee is arrested and starts hallucinating because of his exposure to the powder. Believing that he’s a secret agent  he beings a strange relationship with two handlers, one is a insect typewriter and an alien “Mugwump“. The typewriter assigns him a mission of killing Joan, she’s allegedly an agent of an organization called “Interzone”, Lee dismisses this notion but on returning home he finds Joan having sex with a friend and kills her, inadvertently carrying out the mission, he flees to interzone, a city in North Africa where he spends his time writing reports to his handlers, this slowly becomes the Naked Lunch book and after taking more mind altering drugs and getting a new typewriter, a Clark Nova, this insect  stresses that he needs to find Dr Benway by seducing Joan Frost who’s a doppelganger of his dead wife and then things get really weird, and with the addition of a drug that is made from a centipede. Continue reading Naked Lunch (1991)

Howls (2011)

Director: Jamie Tracey.
Starring. J.J Gallo, Nick Smyth, Jamie  Traey. Canada. 1h 15m.

A muted drama with a dark undercurrent.  A group of guys are spending time together chilling in a cabin located in the Canadian wilderness, when the dog gets lose, all three guys head out to track her down but while the roam around the the forest they soon realise that they are being stalked.

For the most part of the film Paul (Gallo) and George (Smyth) search for the dog, there is a third friend who’s with them for a short while but he returns to the cabin early on and from what I understand this character is the Director Jamie Tracey?  The two guys have many a heart to heart while getting lost in the woods. With their friendship in question they pull apart and soon club together for safety, finally realising how much they mean to each other, but this bromance is in question when they notice something is tracking them, a dark figure looming vaguely in the background, “was that a bear?”. With limited ammunition and only the one rifle between them they do their best to make it back to the cabin alive. Continue reading Howls (2011)

Conspiracy (2012)

Director: Christopher MacBride.

Starring. Aaron Poole, James Gilbert  Canada. 1h 24m.

Usually found footage movies are cheap and easy to make, often addressing unusual subjects and laced with fears and shocks. Conspiracy has all of these elements along with a convincing storyline with an unusual compelling ending

The film starts with Aaron and James mocking a guy on YouTube who spends his days trapsing around  with a box, a loud speaker and a board of information, and spends his days proclaiming various conspiracy theories, while James is happily laughing at him, Aaron is intrigued by the amount of people in the comments agreeing with him (along with the usual YouTube troll patrols). It’s clear that Aaron and James are both playing “themselves” and that Aaron is the (Mulder) believer while James (Skully) is totally sceptical about all of this but he tags along for this documentary. Continue reading Conspiracy (2012)

Black Mountainside (2014)

Director: Nick Szostakiwkyj
Starring: Shane Twerdun, Michael Dickson, Carl Toftfelt, Marc Anthony Williams, Andrew Moxham, Timothy Lyle, Steve Bradley. Canada. 1h  39m

Like a creepy love letter to John Carpenter’s; The Thing (1982) from a methed out HP Lovecraft, Black Mountain assembles a dark story the slowly gets more sinister until a bleak but strong ending.

Much like the thing, there are a small crew working in harsh icy conditions of Northern Canada, but this team are a group of archaeologists who uncover an ancient structure and some artifacts which date around the last ice age, perplexed by the date of the objects and in wonderment of the people who crafted them, the men continue to investigate and study the pieces but their presence spook the native members of the crew who quickly abandon them then their communications fail and their supplies are cut off, but this is the least of their problems. Continue reading Black Mountainside (2014)

XX (2017)

Director: Jovanka Vuckovic, Annie Clark, Roxanne Benjamin, Karyn Kusama
Starring: A bunch of people.. Canada/USA. 1h 20m

Horror anthologies can be a lot of fun, what could be wrong with a collection of thrilling stories that aim to excite, shock and thrill? Usually there is little to connect the stories apart from a wrap around. But the delight in XX is that it’s a female themed horror anthology, made by women possibly for women..it’s aim is to show that girls can make horror that is just as good if not better than the boys, but instead we have a few short films which seem to revolve around some incredibly boring women and inconsistently moan about motherhood.

Horror is generally seen as a male orientated genre and this hit back was disappointedly weak. Each segment has its moments and there’s absolutely no problem with the direction and production, but if XX is trying to make some kind of statement then it failed to make it clear.

Beginning with some artistic flare from the work of Mexican stop-motion animation artist Sofia Carrillo, who makes the wrap around that consists of a small critter that travels around a run down house slowly putting pieces together to make a child, tits just another peg in the films woman role board, all the characters are mother, caretakers etc. Continue reading XX (2017)

Braven (2018)

Director: Lin Oeding
Starring: Jason Momoa,Stephen Lang, Zahn McClarnon,Jill Wagner, Brendan Fletcher, Sasha Rossof, Garret Dillahunt. USA/Canada. 1h 39m

After the massive successes of his many roles as a  hero, marvel super or otherwise, it’s not strange to see Jason Momoa being brave in a range of other roles, his name will attract an audience no matter what he does now and despite being typecast this movie had the right name but it’s a bit of a dumb flop of a film but we get to see Momoa running around in the snow chucking axe’s at people, so it’s not a total loss. Continue reading Braven (2018)

Dog Pound (2010)

Director: Kim Chapiron .
Starring. Adam Butcher,Shane Kippel,Mateo Morales, Slim Twig.Canada. 1h m.

Long after a wave of brutal British films hit the screen in the late 70’s and early 80’s detailing social disturbances, punk and skinhead culture and a lot of lost souls, race relations were at a boiling point with the rise of right wing groups in English cities and this all got reflected in such institutional films as Scum (1979), Made in England (1982) and Scrubbers (1982), that era passed and there was a lot of calm, but director Kim Chapiron, who had blasted on the scene with Sheitan (2010) a creepy occult themed thriller starring Vincent Cassel. While Dog Pound doesn’t employ the macabre of the unknown it’s equally disturbing and a loose remake of Scum. Continue reading Dog Pound (2010)

Rampage – Capital Punishment /Rampage You End Now(2014)

Director: Uwe Boll
Starring. Brendan Fletcher, Lochlyn Munro, Mike Dopud, Michaela Mann Canada/Germany/USA. 1h 33m.

Straight after his first rampage in Oregon, Bill Williamson (Fletcher), vanishes off the grid but the actions and message is received loud and clear and his fan base is growing online. He uses the money from his previous heist to fund a new one venture to really get his message home, a second chapter, another rampage and this time he’s coming back for the media. After purchasing weapons and building bombs he shaves his head, sets his house on fire and drives to Washington where he unpacks, burns his car, breaks into a new station, killing security staff and a few employees, he gathers up their number one (asshole) anchorman (Munro) and gathers his hostages in the basement. Continue reading Rampage – Capital Punishment /Rampage You End Now(2014)

388 Arletta Avenue (2011)

388-arletta-way-i

Director : Randall Cole
Starring :Nick Stahl, Mia Kirshner, Devon Sawa  . Canada. 1h 26m.

The found footage Canadian thriller stars Nick Stahl and Mia Kirshner as an unhappily married couple whose lives are turned upside down after they are tracked and eventually infiltrated by an unknown stalker. The film has a low key release and is fairly average in most aspects. Continue reading 388 Arletta Avenue (2011)