Daily Archives: September 16, 2015

My Internship in Canada – Director – Philippe Falardeau

After seeing Black Mass we headed off to see this new Canadian satire. It was a relief. Light and funny and definitely to the point in its skewering of politics not only in Canada but in any democratic society. The issue the director wanted to address was the fact that politicians are not really free to vote their feelings or conscience on any issue. In parliamentary democracies particularly they vote the party line. The film speculates on the possibility of a politician actually having to make a free decision. The hero of the film is an independent member of parliament from a Quebec rural riding. He finds himself in the situation of being the deciding vote on whether or not Canada should send troops to a foreign war. He is aided in his situation by a young intern from Haiti who is there to learn about the political process. The result is a hilarious look at the political system we all suffer under. Although the story is entirely fictional (wink wink) there is a not too subtle portrayal of our Conservative PM, Quebec politics and the situation on which the film based really happened when Harper asked parliament to approve his latest military adventure. The twist is that the deciding vote rests with a poor independent MP who just wants to do what is best for his constituents.

Falardeau is a very good director responsible for one of my favourite movies of all time Monsieur Lazhar and several other critically acclaimed films. He was there along with the lead actor Patrick Huard. They were charming, funny, and totally engaged the audience. Among the things we learned in the Q and A was that the young Haitian actor Irduns Exantus who played the intern is not a professional actor and this role was his first ever in any kind of acting capacity. He was wonderful. Much of the cast extras – first nations people, truckers, average citizens etc were all locals from the region where the fictional riding existed. It made for a really natural and real portrayal of the situations in which politicians find themselves. Without going into specific scenes I cannot express the simple joy of watching this film unfold. Really enjoyable and out shortly so no excuses, support Canadian cinema, this great director and enjoy yourselves.

Black Mass – Director – Scott Cooper

I try not to see too many films that are scheduled for release during or just after TIFF but this was an exception this year. I really wanted to see if Johnny Depp could still act after a series of pretty light and silly stuff and it turns out he can. While I enjoyed Legend, my other gangster movie of the festival more it was not a log more. Depp can be an accomplished character actor and as Whitey Bulger the infamous Boston mobster he creates a truly scary role. There are several scenes where you cringe more in your seat than the poor victims on screen. The movie covers Bulger’s career as he rose to become the most notorious crime figure in Boston during the seventies and eighties. He is a totally local boy from South Boston or Southie as its residents call it. At the time of the film Southie is a rough and poor part of town that spawned street toughs and gangs and Bulger rose from that to push out the mafia and other competition to make a crime kingdom that lasted for 20 years. His brother played by Benedict Cumberbach chose the more legitimate route of politics becoming a senator and later chancellor of the University of Massachusetts. Bulger manages to corrupt FBI agents and uses them to help wipe out the competition from the mafia and other gangs. He himself was ruthless and violent and made sufficient numbers of enemies that he is eventually brought down. He himself escaped and hid out for 13 years before he was finally caught and convicted for his crimes.

I have not said too much about the overall quality of the film I suppose because the story is very compelling and that may say it all. It is well scripted, brilliantly acted by a stellar cast, and shot to evoke the darkness of the story. Well worth taking in but again be warned that the violence is sort of omnipresent and the suspense will kill you. Again reflecting on the Hitchcock film, Cooper does a great job of cranking up the suspense and releasing it in sometimes surprising ways. Great film so since it is already out – get out and see it.