Laura Slade Wiggins goes for a Hard Drive

Laura Slade Wiggins

I believe the person we are, is an accumulation of the relationships we make and the people we meet. It’s the sum of our memories and experiences and despite the good and the bad, these things make us unique characters. This past week, I met the wonderful Laura Slade Wiggins (from the series Shameless), the female lead and unique character from the new Canadian Indie film Hard Drive.
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The Disposable Film Festival 2012 hits NXNE

Disposable Film Festival 2012 Official Trailer – Make Some Magic from Disposable Film Festival on Vimeo.

Likely one of the best things I discovered at NXNE last year was the Disposable Film Festival. This is happening again this year. Come, you’ll love it!

Tuesday, June 12th, 8PM
National Film Board
150 John Street, Toronto

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

It’s been five years since the last Mission that proved possible for Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, after M:i:III got it’s fuse relit by JJ Abrams. This welcome fourth quarter is part powered by the Bad Robot while Brad Bird takes the directors seat ditching his pixel pallete for a pound of real life flesh & bone actors with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.
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12 Days of Canuckmas – Week 2 – Servitude, The Chocolate Farmer & Millions

It’s midpoint in my merry challenge with six movies under the belt which also includes my favourite so far.  How often do you start a Monday morning watching a R rated comedy at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in the company of legend Ivan Reitman?  This time last week I was doing just that after seeing an invite pop up on the Facebook fan page for Servitude – a new Canadian comedy set in the world of  waiting tables.  I’d first heard about the movie last year when a contest was running to win a cameo in the project, where the best video confessional about working as a server could rescue your from dish delivering duties & land you on the big screen in a meta movie moment.  Servitude is the story of Josh the star waiter at the Ranch Steakhouse as he tries to quit his job & head back to school.  With a rodeo for the theme of the restaurant it’s more than the mechanical bucking bronco in the waiting area that he & his colleagues have to tame in a weekend from hell, full of hungry patronizing patrons.  About to hand in his server’s bib, Josh is called on for one last favour from manager Godfrey (Dave Foley) as the Ranch has an inspection from a new German owner.  If you’ve ever worked in the industry of filling ungrateful bellies you’ll get an extra kick out of seeing the exaggerated characters that really are out there.  Serving up dirty potatoes & “cuppies” on the team are Tommy – a pretty boy with more mature taste for the ladies, Barb – a frazzled working mum who’s patience  clocked out before her shift even started, Krissy – a gum chewing by the book cowgirl who uses mostly text message/internet speak abbreviations rather than syllables & Simon – the wannabe actor who gives his best performances in the washroom.  As if balancing these personalities & plates wasn’t  enough alone cue a ravenous rabble of customers and the restaurateur version of the  Third Reich threatening to deplete more than a 15% tip at the end of the meal.  Staging a mini revolution Josh & cohorts decide to start giving as good as they get & stop biting their lips when they discover their jobs are for the chop.  Speaking of lips Margo Kidders are plumped & pouting as the martini gargling table for one lady that steals the show in every scene.

It’ll probably get a lot of comparisons to American Pie but this maple flavoured tart is a full course serving of funny rather than a just desserts, gross out gag routine audiences have come to expect.  The wait time to be seated for Servitude is a little while away, February/March 2012 is what we were told in the screening.  Be sure to Like & Follow the movie to be kept up to date.

Second up was a more serious situation at the NFB Mediatheque for the last of this year’s Green Screens.  The Chocolate Farmer was quite apt for December considering we’re all about to stuff ourselves full of the stuff during the festival season.  A moment on the lips & a lifetime on the hips but how much time between those two are you spending on thinking where this sweet treat came from?   Eladio Pop works the land in southern Belize, recognising that he isn’t cash rich on a monetary level but the land sustains him and his fifteen children and wife.  The documentary follows his machete swipes through the jungle foliage as he farms cocoa beans.  These were once the gold for his Mayan people and now in present day are traded for modern currency.  Two of his son’s, a female cultural activist & a co-op owner are also introduced in to the story of the community being changed by globalization.   After the screening a presentation by ChocoSol Traders gave some added insight to the processes & the responsible trading & interactions with these communities.

Last up in the week that was, I called the NFB Mediathque home again for a sneak peek of Millions, a kickstarter webisode/TV based project about twenty-something Asian-Canadians living in Toronto who decide to reignite a high school pact & become millionaires by the age of 30.  The 15 min teaser introduced a few characters on the road to establishing this quest as we learn about their unfulfilled lives working the 9 to 5.  The cliff hanger ending of the pilot left me wanting to find out more, which luckily the website expands upon & relieves some of the frustration left as such a short running time.

Six movies left in my festive quest, any recommendations of other Canadian films screening in the weeks ahead?  What did you see over the weekend?


12 Days of Canuckmas

Inspired by last year’s programming of “Good Canadian Cinema?” at Toronto Underground Cinema last year I decided to set my own little challenge related to the festive season with the 12 Days of Canuckmas where I aim to watch at least twelve Canadian movies over December.  Big screen, small screen, portable pocket screen all count.  Starting on December 1st here were the first three I’ve watch so far on my mini mission – as if December wasn’t busy enough already?!

Surviving Progress – Cumberland 4 – Alliance Cinemas 159 Cumberland Street, Toronto

I survived Surviving Progress!  Normally I check my brain at the door ready for pure jaw dropped drooling mindless escapism fun at the movies.  I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get away with such a mind set going in to this film.  If anything this was confrontism (is that even an ism?) on the big screen, presented in the style of a hand on your shoulder gently informing you rather than a giant wagging finger & tutting in surround sound.

Starting by trying to define the term progress the documentary seeks answers from a host of notable intellects and reflects on how this is draining the planets resources.  Still chugging along from the industrial revolution we’re gauging more machines as a success measurement.  While our devices are getting smarter we are still running the same primitive hunter/gatherer operating system behind our eyes.  The human mind needs an upgrade before it’s too late.  While thoughts are connected via the internet there is a new moral perspective filtering through, the bigger companies & economic situations still out there are akin to brain damage.

It was great to watch with an audience who applauded during several scenes featuring David Suzuki.

Much like the poster, it’s easy to dig a hole and pretend to be an ostrich ignoring the problems.  If you’re going to involve an ostrich I’d suggest problem solving like the Swiss Family Robinson & ride one in to the future with a new route of hope.

Everything & Everyone – Screening at Projection Booth East Until Dec 8 1035 Gerrard St. East, Toronto

Bittersweet Complexity replaces the words behind the BC abbreviation of British Columbia, where Everything & Everyone was filmed.  Opening on an eventful afternoon Rose & William snatch a few moments for a funny bedroom fumble while their yet to fly the nest son, Noah, has a special delivery from a care worker in the form of his 8 year old son.  His new found Fatherhood manual seems to have been lost in the mail & a dog training book delivered in it’s place, as he’s helped by Rose to raise Ben after the sudden passing of his mother.

When best pal Eric visits Noah on the street during his unsuccessful charity collection he meets Max a hot headed businessman who soon becomes more than a partner for sharp banter.

Life being turned upside down by those entering & leaving, ripple across the interconnecting relationships between family members and friends.

An added pressure from an unannounced illness balances the comedic elements showing that the people we love are never a burden.

Showtimes  Mon 5pm Tues, Wed at 9pm Thurs at 5pm


Deciding to take a break from the theatre going experience, where it’s often hard to find a Canadian film outside of a film festival or special set of programming, I decided to find a movie to take out & home.  Luckily Toronto has a host of indie video stores, much like Rep Cinemas, that specialise in hosting a great library of titles.  Big Daddy’s DVD Shop on Dundas Street West was the closest place to browse the boxes hoping for something to jump out and catch my eye.  The “Canadian Eh!” easily assisted me on my mission to watch.  Noticing the bright type capitalised title on the spine of the case I chose NURSE.FIGHTER.BOY, the first time feature from Charles Officer.  Each titular punctuated character is introduced through colour as we meet Jude raising her son Ceil.  She’s working in a hospital taking on a night shift when she treats Silence a trained boxer & street fighter.  Mature for his age Ceil finds magic everywhere from conjuring tricks to his hidden den of a stage like space.  By chance Jude & Silence connect again as she rides her bike between the alleys of neighborhoods in Toronto on her way to work, pausing to listen to the music leaving the window from his apartment.  At first unwilling to let her guard down they both take the chance to let each other inside their lives.  I normally prefer watching a movie with an audience as a communal event but this film felt perfect for a more intimate viewing.  I’d almost forgotten about special features on a disc & enjoyed learning about the production experience & watching a family of crew members retell their memories on set with some stills and video diaries.  Two short films were also included that worked well as an introduction & follow up to the feature.

You can follow my progress finding the other nine movies over on tumblr –

The FP

As part of Gamercamp, Toronto’s Festival celebrating the artistry innovation & the power of play, Toronto Underground Cinema hosted 1UP Films After Dark.  The FP by the Brother’s Trost (Brandon – known for cinematography on Crank 2 as well as the forth coming Ghost Rider sequel  & Jason – last seen acting/directing Vs. which screened at Toronto After Dark Film Festival) was the main centre piece in the film component of the three day event.

There’s no denying video game movies have a reputation for being bad due to their button bashed breeding.   From a Dennis Hopper dinosaur in Super Mario Brothers to a Kylie Minogue Cammy cameo in Street Fighter the 90’s tried it’s darnedest to bash some real gold coins out of pixel bricks.  While these hands free conversions sit fondly in the memory blocks of my mind, when you dust them off for a modern day outing it’s easy to see where they went wrong – you need more than  ↓, ↘, → in your script to make things work.

The FP (the abbreviation Frazier Park – a mountain community in California)  takes inspiration from a rather different coin-op lurking in your local arcade.  In a similar brain wave to Disney adapting the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in to a motion picture, the Brother’s go for another unusual vessel for their movie.  Dance Dance Revolution the tune syncing feet stomper is rechristened Beat Beat Revelation and takes on a far darker use than the bubble gum pop song body rhythm generator.  Opening with rivals gangs taking to the machine to battle it out like a stripped down one on one version of Michael Jackson’s Bad music video.  Leaders from each district step up, Zangief-esque, L Dubba E with his gold grills, mohawk & mutton chops toe taps against BTRO, sporting a silver starred bandanna & best moon boots since Napoleon Dynamite.  When BTRO’s knees buckle & goes gamer over forever his brother JTRO vows never to place a foot back on the neon lit arrows.  A year later the JTRO is tracked down reducing trees to logs by family friend & game commentator KCDC.  He’s brought back to a changed town where the liquor store is now run by  jump suit wearing L Dubba E, with the booze tap in town under his control the residents have taken to hard drugs to pass the day.  JTRO sets about winning the girl & the champ title street cred back for his fallen brother.  Trained in a secret prohibition underground HQ there are some really hilarious montage sequences as he gets his game back to ultimate combo caliber.  The wardrobe is surprisingly important as the ludicrous concept and gang talk is visually punctuated with the most outlandish gems from a thrift store receiving hipster donations via Thunderdome.  Over the top and awesome this is how a video game conversion should be.

Two video game movies to look out for with a local connection in 2012 are Resident Evil: Retribution & Silent Hill: Revelation.

Which console title would you like to see hit the big screen or movie made playable?  While you take a moment to think about it check out what I witnessed on College street over the weekend.   Say hello or shoot me a Hadouken on Twitter – @emaninTdot