CANADIAN FILM FESTIVAL 2015 at the Royal Cinema (608 College), from Wednesday (March 25) through March 28. For more info, visit canfilmfest.ca. Rating: NNN
The Canadian Film Festival returns to the Royal for a week of heartfelt – if not entirely successful – productions by homegrown filmmakers.
Wednesday’s opening-night gala, The Cocksure Lads Movie, has novelty on its side. A comedy extrapolated from Moxy Früvous veterans Murray Foster and Mike Ford’s retro-themed British Invasion-style gimmick band, it finds the Lads (now played by actual Englishmen Lyndon Ogbourne, Adam McNab and Luke Marty plus Canadian ringer Ed Hillier) arriving in Toronto “to conquer America” and almost immediately breaking up.
The bulk of the picture has them wandering separately around Leslieville, flirting with women and experiencing the most minor of existential crises. It feels like writer/director Foster called in a lot of favours to get this made but never figured out how to fit his caricatured rockers into the more realistic setting of contemporary Toronto.
Zoë Kravitz and Dov Tiefenbach get close in Pretend We’re Kissing.
Horror pastiche Late Night Double Feature is all caricature, presenting itself as the eponymous transmission from a low-rent TV station serving Peterborough and the Kawarthas. Dr. Nasty (Brian Scott Carleton) and his exasperated sidekick, Nurse Nasty (Jamie Elizabeth Sampson), present two tales of terror and a few trailers. It’s a horror-movie version of Kentucky Fried Movie, and it’s nothing if not enthusiastic.
I also liked Ben’s At Home, which is all about its protagonist’s lack of enthusiasm: at the age of 30, sad sack Ben (Dan Abramovici, who co-wrote the movie with director Mars Horodyski) decides to abandon his friends and family to become a shut-in – only to find himself falling for the woman who delivers his dinner (Jessica Embro). It’s nicely observed, and with a running time of 70 minutes it doesn’t risk overstaying its welcome.
The fest closes with Matt Sadowski’s Pretend We’re Kissing, a modest Toronto romance with some intriguing ideas that’s ultimately undermined by the lack of chemistry between Dov Tiefenbach and Tommie-Amber Pirie. That may be the point of the movie, but it’s not executed in an engaging or illuminating way.