2014 Canadian Film Fest: H&G (Danishka Esterhazy) & Kate (Illya Klymkiw)

cfflogoThe first evening screening for tonight’s Canadian Film Fest at the Royal Theatre begins at 6:30, and takes us down some interesting dramatic roads.

The screening’s short, Kate, directed by Illya Kimkiw, written and starring Holly Merritt is a beautiful, almost dreamlike film that examines the baggage and the ties we carry and form from relationships, and how it affects and impacts the rest of our connections.

A chance encounter between Grace (Merritt) and an ex, Ben (Steve Boyer), allows the two to not only catch up, and almost rekindle their romance, an undeniable chemistry exists between them, but also lets them re-examine the events and the cause of the dissolution of their relationship.

Both Merritt and Boyer bring a vulnerability and an honesty to their performances, you can see that they both still care for one another, and there is a whole ‘what could have been’ feel to their interactions, but the things that Ben carried with him inevitably tore them apart.

Shot in Toronto’s High Park, the short looks gorgeous, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing what Merritt comes up with next in terms of writing and acting.

HG-posterThe feature, H&G, has a lot of names behind the scenes that Sue Maynard and I know, the director, Danishka Esterhazy, who co-wrote the screenplay with Rebecca Gibson. The duo produced it alongside a couple of other ladies we know as well, Rebecca Sandulak (congrats on the little one by the way!) and Ashley Hirt.

Using Esterhazy’s established style of updating classic fairy tales, this time, the filmmaker takes on the classic Grimm Brothers Hansel and Gretel. Krysstal (Ashley Rebecca Moore) was never truly destined to be a mother, or perhaps came to it too early, as she seems to intent on going out, partying and finding a man to take care of her. When she gives the occasional passing thought to her children Gemma (Breazy Diduck-Wilson) and Harley (Annika Elyse Irving), its to make sure that she uses them to appropriate groceries from the church social.

When her latest fella leaves her by the side of the road, and the two kids are stranded alone in the woods, it’s up to the children to survive together, and hope to find their way home.

As they wander the woods, they come across a home, where, inside, they always have enough to eat, and a bed to sleep in, but the home’s occupant, Brendon (Tony Porteous) may not be all he seems, and may be harboring a dark and terrifying secret.

H & G is a gentle, slow-moving film that updates the classic tale in a new way.

Tickets for this screening are still available at the door, so get out there and have a look at what Canadian talent has to offer!


About these ads

Silent Night (2012) – Steven C. Miller

Silent-Night-Movie-PosterAnchor Bay delivers with a nice modern update on the slasher movie, using the cult classic Silent Night Deadly Night as it’s jumping off point. A film, that looks simply amazing on blu-ray, colours and details are wonderfully crisp, and I had a really good time with this one.

There were two outright homages to the original film, one where Dennis (Erik J. Berg) goes to see his grandfather in a home, where he’s in a catatonic state, until he warns him about the dangers of Christmas eve. The other features our Killer Santa (Rick Skene) impaling poor Tiffany (Courtney-Jane White), the mayor’s daughter on a pair of mounted horns. It also follows the trend of leaving the innocent completely alone, even if they witness the murder.

This time around though the story, once again set in a small town, is more skewed towards the police led by hard-ass wannabe Sheriff Cooper (Malcolm McDowell)  and Deputy Aubrey Bradimore (Jaime King).

It seems someone is working on their naughty list, leaving warning gifts, and hunting down those who need to be punished. All those on the list meet their end rather brutaly and in grisly detail, including the delightful Cortney Palm (who we just saw in the outstanding Sushi Girl), who plays an adult model named Maria. (I was hoping she would be around longer, she’s one to watch I think!)

jaimeIt’s Christmas Eve in the small town, and to celebrate they have their annual Santa Claus parade, allowing our killer to hide in plain sight.

The film is surprisingly fun! It knows exactly what it is, and doesn’t have any pretensions. The kills are gruesome and disturbing, and while not necessarily imaginative, they definitely get the job done.

The one thing I liked about the original that was lacking in this one, was the idea of the Killer Santa being forced to become what he is, we see in the backstory how he was created, and he uses Christmas Eve to be an avenging angel in Santa gear.

Aside from Ms. Palm, I was also very happy to see Donal Logue in the film as a very cynical and bitter Santa. He’s one of the actors on my list of those who really don’t work enough, and I would cast him in everything I shot if I was a director… I really miss his show Terriers.

The dialogue tends to be fairly sharp, walking that fine balance between kitsch and melodrama especially as the story progresses, Malcolm especially seems to enjoy chewing the scenery.

cortney1Honestly, it’s as if someone took an 80s slasher film, updated it just a touch for today’s age, pop culture references, gore, a better quality of image all added in, and let it loose on unsuspecting viewers.

If slasher films are your thing, and you’re not so much a Christmas fan, or don’t mind a little blood on the mistletoe, then this may be right up your alley!

I had a really good time with this one (lots of laughing, some ‘oh nos’ and even a jump), perhaps it’s all the horror movies I’ve watched over the past year…

Also of note is that our friend, Rebecca Sandulak was the film’s still photographer, and she’s just awesome!

Did you see it? Do you prefer the original or this re-imagining?


Happy 1st Birthday for The Mind Reels!

When I was younger, physically and chronologically, not mentally, I often thought about talking and working with people in the entertainment industry. I also thought about being a starship captain like James T. Kirk or walking with dinosaurs, but hey, one dream at a time.

Growing up, I was not necessarily an outsider, but I was often on the fringes of my school groups, I wasn’t necessarily the ‘weird kid’, I was just interested in different things. They liked the movie where such and such happened. I may have liked the same film, but I was always more interested in how the such and such happened on the big screen, the story behind the story. And that’s what I wanted to do with my life, maybe write, maybe direct, maybe even act!

Life, as it tends to, got in the way, and I found myself manning the counter of two of the bigger names in home video rentals, and watched the transition from VHS to DVD, and DVD to Blu-Ray.

It wasn’t til last year, as my 40th Birthday leaned threateningly over the horizon, that someone dear to my heart (you know who you are) pushed and nudged me, insisting I do something with my love of film, television and pop culture. I toyed with the idea as I crawled into bed that night, and just as I was drifting to sleep, my eyes snapped open, and I turned the lights back on, jotting down a title on the notepad I keep next to my bed. ‘The Mind Reels.’ I liked it. It worked. And it worked on a couple of levels. Brilliant I thought.

The next morning, I ran the idea past one of my best friends, Sue, and convinced her (it didn’t take a lot) to partner up with me on this idea. I sought out the advice of where the best place was to start up a blog, and got some advice on podcasting from my friend Ryan, and boom.

Within 24 hours, The Mind Reels had been created.

And now here we are.

1 year later.

And what a year this has been, this blog and our podcast, has taken off beyond any of the dreams I had for the first year. I’ve met some amazing people, some I’m lucky enough now to call my friends, seen tons of movies and TV. I do need to do a little more in the book department (I’m constantly reading – I just never make a post about them, I’ll see about changing that) and yet for all that we’re constantly expanding.

We’ve covered film festivals (thank you Hot Docs! WorldWide Short Film Festival, Toronto After Dark Summer Nights), we’ve covered conventions (Niagara Fall Comic Con, Wizard World Toronto Comic Con, and Fan Expo!) we’ve been to screenings, set visits (Sex After Kids, Pete Winning & The Pirates) and then, there’s the podcasts!

We’re now featured on the internet channel Smithee.TV and Sue and I are constantly looking at one another with dumbstruck looks on our faces… how did this happen?

Our friend Ryan, whose own website is brilliant, gave me all kinds of advice on podcasts, and then after that very important screening of The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard, which we did to support our love of Lost Girl, and it’s cast members Zoie Palmer and Kris Holden-Ried who were both in it, the world of interviews opened up to us thanks to one man… Jeremy LaLonde.

We took a chance, and contacted him and asked him if there was any conceivable way that he would meet us for an interview.

And he surprised us both when he said yes.

I mean, we were shocked! I mean honestly… who were we? Just a couple of people who were interested in films, admittedly I had written a raving review of Paul Shepard (SUCH A GOOD MOVIE!!!).

But Jeremy, one of the people I know count myself lucky to call a friend, told us that in most cases, interviews would be ours for the asking. You just have to find the right route, the right contacts, and network. This year has seen a lot of that.

And look how it’s paid off for us, what a guest list we’ve had… IN OUR FIRST YEAR!!! Jeremy LaLonde, Beth Beard, Christine Horne, Katie Boland, Anna Silk, Rick Howland, Nadia Bassett, Tanya Lemke, Jodi Anne Balfour, Victor Webster, Ali Liebert, Mary Krohnert, Charlotte Hegele, KC Collins, Natasha Eloi, Emily Schooley, Sandra DaCosta, Devon Bostick, Tim Doiron, April Mullen, Amanda Brugel, Mary Krohnert, Anthony Grani, Kate Hewlett, Tony Amendola, Miracle Laurie, Robert O’Reilly, JG Hertzler, Huse Madhavji, Paul Amos, Stacie Mistysyn, Sean Cisterna, Supinder Wraich, Dan Fox, Jay Ferguson, Lucas Bryant, Casey Hudecki, Nina Conti, Ryan Goldhar, Lance Guest, Catherine Mary Stewart, Sylvia Caminer, Melanie Lentz-Janney, Clay Peterson, Michael Harmon, Michael MacLennan, Adrienne Mitchell, Janis Lundman, Rebecca Sandulak, Tanis Rideout, Simon Racioppa, Tony Todd, Jamie Bamber, Daniska Esterhazy, Bruce Sweeney, Chloe Rose, Seth Cooperman, Ashley Hirt, Rebecca Gibson, Kiowa Gordon and Meg Tilly.


Thank you, each and every one of you! You have made such a huge impact on myself and Sue, you’ve come on our show, you’ve made us feel like friends and family, and you’ve spread the enjoyment you’ve had with us to others.

And THIS has just been our first year doing interviews and podcasts!

Now we’ve moved into our full studio, soon to be podcasting live and our guest list seems to be growing, and we’ve got so many amazing things in the works, familiar faces and friends will be back, as will new and amazing guests. Who would you like to see come on the show? I have a dream list that I am constantly updating, and I’m really starting to dream big! I’d love to chat with Steven Moffat, or Steven Spielberg! I’d love to kick back and laugh and have a chinwag with Tom Hanks! But you know what?

I wouldn’t change a thing about any of the interviews we’ve had. Every single one of them has been FANTASTIC, and I truly believe that once they realized we weren’t your usual interview, they all had a great time, and just relaxed and opened up.

In fact, that is my favorite moment in each and every interview, the point that I constantly bring up with Sue in our post-interview talk… I love when each and every guest reaches that relaxation point and just chats to us. They openly relax, we’ve got them to relax by talking about something like their favourite movie, and then we’re just chatting and laughing with one another. That is always my favourite part.

Everybody does interviews, we’ve always been more interested in having a conversation.

It’s literally been a whirlwind, and Sue and I are right there in the center of it. It’s been amazing!

And people read our posts, people listen to our interviews!

That still amazes us, and from the bottom of our hearts, I thank each and every one of you. You read what we write, you retweet it, you respond to it, you tweet us your thoughts about what we’ve shared, you’ve helped us chase down interviews, and we’ve been lucky enough to meet some of you in person.

We have been so fortunate with the people who have come to our website.

So, with my eyes a little teary as I write this…

Thank you.

Thank you so much.

And for me personally, Thank you for letting me do what I’ve always wanted to do, and letting me know that I’m not wasting my time with it.

As we move into our second year, I have high hopes, aspirations and dreams for what’s to come for The Mind Reels, and I know it’s not going to be easy, we’re going to have to work at it, to make it be all that it can! To push ourselves, to chase down leads on stories and interviews. It’s really hard work, but it’s paying off, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love it. Because I do.

I’m looking forward to many more birthday celebrations for The Mind Reels, looking back on what we’ve done, and going boldly forward to our next goals, challenges, and oh, all those amazing people we get to meet.

Lisa Wegner and Carl Elster

Sue and I headed to a west end Starbucks the other night, almost in my neck of the woods, to sit down and chat with artists and filmmakers Lisa Anita Wegner and Carl Elster.

They’re getting ready for Nuit Blanche here in T.O. a huge night of free art that keeps the city awake until sunrise. Their project, The Windows Series, is set up for an all night run at The Revue Cinema over on Roncesvalles, as well as live art and pixel painting by Lisa!

Both of them were fun and engaging, Lisa knows our good friend Rebecca Sandulak, while Carl works with our past guest Sean Cisterna (Moon Point) on their new project 30 Ghosts.

We had a lot of fun, so grab a cuppa, and join Sue and I as we chat with Lisa Wegner and Carl Elster.

Red Czarina Productions

Sue and I met Rebecca Sandulak over the summer, and got to spend time with her and interview her for our show.

She along with some other talented and wonderful women have formed Red Czarina Productions ( http://www.redczarina.com/ ) working on film and stage projects.

The ladies are featured in the photo to the left, taken by Izabela Rachwal ( http://www.izabelarachwal.com/ ) they are from left to right, Ashley Hirt, Danishka Esterhazy, Rebecca Gibson, and sitting, is Rebecca Sandulak.

These amazing ladies have just finished taking on an updated take on the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale called H&G. Danishka is helming it, and has previously directed the acclaimed Black Field and a number of shorts, including The Red Hood (which is the first film I’ve seen that she’s done – SO GOOD!).

Rebecca Sandulak, as we’ve previously established is a brillliant photographer, and is always welcome back on our show!

Ashley Hirt is a classically trained actress, Rebecca Gibson is an actor and writer.

Howver none of them can be pigeon-holed as I have just attempted, the four of the are the heart, soul and core of their production company, and each of them will fill roles as required, from produder to props to vehicle wrangling.

They’re a talented and fantastic quartet, and we were lucky enough to be able to chat with them (although I hope they get to TO at some point so we can invite them into the studio). So join us as we have a wonderful little Skype chat with the Red Czarinas.

Rebecca Sandulak

This week, Sue and I are joined by the incredibly talented photographer Rebecca Sandulak.  If you haven’t seen her work yet, have a look at her portfolio, television and film work here.

She’s done some fantastic work, and joined us for en evening in High Park to chat with us about her work on Goon, Lost Girl,working in the winter of Winnipeg and her good friend director Danishka Esterhazy.

So join us as we spend the evening in the company of the amazing Rebecca Sandulak.

Check out this pic she took of Sue and I…