Hello Destroyer

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Hello Destroyer

Director: Kevan Funk

Tyson Burr: Jared Abrahamson

3/5

Hello Destroyer was the first movie that I saw the Calgary International Film Festival.

Tyson Burr (Abrahamson) is a rookie member of the Prince George Warriors hockey team, but one day he gets into a terrible hockey fight that escalates quickly and ends in someone getting hospitalized. Tyson’s career ends abruptly when he is found responsible for the hockey players injuries and falls into a pit of despair and depression.

This movie caught the whole audience off guard and everyone was at the edge of their seat. We were all incredibly invested in Tyson and wanted to help him or at least give him a hug. I found it pretty hard not to yell at the screen and offer words of encouragement. This film definitely makes you feel uncomfortable that a lot of films don’t have the courage to make you feel and it’s all because of how invested you become with the characters.

I thought that it took too long for the plot to really get started. It was all about the fight that Tyson gets into, except that doesn’t happen until the middle of the film. There’s a lot of character development that is almost unnecessary for example; Tyson’s relationship with the mother of the family he’s living with? Do they need to have some love tension? She’s not a single mom.

At close to two hours, this film  goes on longer than it probably needed to, there’s quite a few unnecessary scenes or repetitive scenes, like when Tyson’s working in the slaughter house, you can show him  few times at the slaughterhouse, but how many times do you need to get your point across? Also, some scenes went on for too long, like some of the scenes where you see Tyson working out, we get it, he’s a hockey player and needs to keep in shape, do we need to see him jump rope for five minutes? Maybe not.

I don’t recommend this film for kids, it had tons of profanity and some nudity, I only looked at the synopsis of the film in the festival program and that didn’t mention any nudity or colourful language. I thought it would be about a young adult getting punishment for getting into a fight at hockey, but the kind of punishment one of my friends would get. Not getting banned from the league and getting kicked out their house.

This film was very quiet and inner-directed. I really liked the lack of dialogue. Since this was all about Tyson’s state of mind, there was a lot of close up shots no soundtrack and little dialogue. I enjoyed that. I really felt like I was feeling what Tyson was feeling and could understand what he was going through. It also got the point across that he was being alienated very well.

I brought my dad to this film because he used to play hockey and I thought he might like it. He said that this scene (below), when the coach was yelling at his players, brought back a lot of memories!

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At the end of the film there was a Q and A with director/screenwriter Kevan Funk and actor Jared Abrahamson (who plays Tyson Burr). Here are some of the questions and answers!

 

Q: Was the film completely scripted or did you guys work on the mood and lines together?

A: J: Kevan wrote a good script, it was solid from beginning to end, but we did blend in a little improv, ad libbing within it. But mostly you have to give Kevan props, he’s a great writer and a great director he put this thing together. For four years he’s been working on this bad boy. With our improv’s, it was nothing without the blueprint.

 

Q: How did you become your character?

 

A: J: For me it was a mix between playing the hockey player and playing the man, you know, I grew up in a town where everybody played hockey so for me it was about finding the balance between being the guy on the team and the guy not on the team, and that’s what Tyson is. [For the record, Jared Abrahamson grew up in Flin Flon, Manitoba, hometown of famed, hard-nosed Philadelphia Flyer Bobby Clarke]

 

When asked about the resemblance to Fort Mcmurray, this is what Kevan Funk and Jared Abrahamson said.

 

K: I have a deep appreciation for this part of the country which I think is super under represented in the media. In the last five years of my work I’ve been interested in the shorts and the features, in actually looking in Canadian identity because I have an issue with especially English Canadian film that is almost terrified to embrace our identity and I think that leads to a lot of the problems when we talk about our inability to really articulate Canadian identity. I think it’s because we don’t spend very much time actually exploring it. So it’s a core interest in terms of the work I make.

J: This film is for Fort Mcmurray, it’s for Flin Flon, it’s for Thomson, it’s for Prince George, for Fort St. John. This is for all of rural Canada. We represent the part of Canada that doesn’t get shown on film often. Usually you see Toronto, you see Vancouver, this is for everybody that comes from places that don’t get a lot of attention. We’re trying to capture that for all you guys.

 

Q: What inspired you to make a film based on this topic?

 

A: K: The initial inspiration was actually this Errol Morris documentary called Standard Operating Procedure that is about the prison guards who tortured prisoners and it’s a fascinating film that you start looking at these people like they’re these awful human beings for the things that they did and it holds them responsible morally for the actions that they took part in, but it also shows how much they are a victim of the systemic violence and that was what was super interesting to me. It is looking at these systemic issues of violence in our culture and looking at the cultivation of the bad guy, or the evil particularly around violence. I think that us looking at a sense of cultural culpability is really important and the only reason it really ended up being hockey is not to due with the violence in hockey per say, it was more that hockey just happens to be our largest cultural institution in this country. I mean if I made this film in the U.S. it would probably be about the military or football.

 

Q: What other films influenced you?

 

A: Formally; there’s this film by Todd Haynes which is probably my favourite film of all time called Safe which is astoundingly good and criminally under seen, I rip off Safe all the time in this movie in terms of sound design. I’m very interested in a movie like that that also has a pretty quiet introspective character and is using the formal qualities that exists in the medium to sort of shape it.

 

Q: You used a lot of close up and obstructed shots during the movie, what inspired that?

K: I mean I work with an incredibly talented cinematographer who I’ve worked with for a long time and he’s an incredible creative partner, it goes back to what I was talking about with sound design. When you have a character and I give Jared a ton of credit for such a difficult role to play, because you don’t have a lot language to use other than physical language and then as a filmmaker on top of that you then have to articulate a lot of ideas that you can’t do through dialogue so a big part of this sort claustrophobic shooting style with the way we approach looking at Jared is to kind of create this weight that there is this sort of physicality to the image that you feel is on top of him throughout a lot of the film.  If he’s not going to sit down and say “oh I’m so sad, I’m so depressed, everything’s wrong in my life” you need to be able to communicate that and that is the sort of balance that you find in making something like this where the real sort of personal tragedy of this character is his inability to communicate and he is really only able to express himself tough violence. That’s what he’s learned and so then you have a responsibility as a filmmaker to still make sure that you’re communicating the ideas even if your character is not doing anything in such a deliberate way. I think Jared’s performance tells you so much of that through a lot these smaller moments but that’s why you need to shoot it in a way that you can catch the nuance of a performance because otherwise I think a lot of that emotion and story telling is lost.

 

All in all, even if this film wasn’t made for my age group or personality, this film left me with a lot to think about, and a good film always does.

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What to See at the Calgary International Film Festival 2016

This year I previewed some short films as well as a few feature films for the Calgary International Film Festival. In return I got a festival pass that lets me see all the movies I want! Here’s a list of some of the films I am most excited about.

Burn Your Maps

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This movie has Jacob Tremblay from Room in it! It’s bound to be good!

Girl Asleep

This film is about a fifteen year old girl whose parents throw her a surprise birthday party! That seems like such an intriguing plot line!

Cheer Up

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http://video-cdn.indiewire.com/videos/lWjBHMiD-7nth5MbI.mp4?_=1

A documentary about cheerleaders from Finland. That sounds so strange I have to see it!

Considering Love and Other Magic

A storyline that involves a 14 year old boy that thinks he’s a work of fiction? Sign me up!

Sonita

This film sounds so cool. It’s about an 18 year old Afghan girl who immigrates to Tehran and wants to pursue a career in art and music – but her family wants her to get married. Sounds intense and topical!

Hello Destroyer

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This movie is about a fourteen year old boy who must deal with the consequences of being violent in a hockey game. Sounds relatable, I have a bunch of friends who play hockey.

Chokeslam

This movie is about a female wrestler and is written by the dad of one of my friends! This film is the Closing Gala movie and I’m so excited to go!

 

 

Visit http://www.calgaryfilm.com/schedule to see all of the dates and times for these movies at the calgary International Film Festival,  which is from Wednesday September 21st to Sunday October 2nd!

 

 

 

Here are some movies that I would totally see, if I was just a couple years older.

It’s Only The End of The World

This is a Xavier Dolan movie. Enough said.

Operation Avalanche

This is about the conspiracy that the moon landing was staged and not real. Who wouldn’t want to see that?

 

Trespass Against Us

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This film has Brendan Gleeson, who I know from Harry Potter and The Grand Seduction (a CIFF opening Gala film from a few years ago). Plus it has Magneto (Michael Fassbender).

Comment to let me know which movies you’re excited to see at the festival! 

Here’s a link to my review of  CIFF 2013’s opening gala film The Grand Seduction.

https://calgarykidcritic.wordpress.com/2013/09/21/at-the-ciff-2013-red-carpet-gala/

In Real Life

real-postcard-4x6-front-finalIn Real Life

Jessica Love

224 Pages

3.5/5

Hannah Cho and Nick Cooper talk to each other everyday, consistently shower each other with gifts, and tell each other everything. They’re typical best friends, there’s just one slight problem; they’ve never actually met.

When Hannah’s spring break plans go awry, she finally decides to meet her best friend who just happens to live in Las Vegas. Plus his band is playing at the House of Blues. Hannah will go with her legal adult sister Grace, and her immature friend Lo, and finally meet the ghost she’s been talking to for four years.

I thought this book was very good. I liked how incredibly detailed the story was. From all the Las Vegas parties, to the many facial expressions of Nick Cooper to Hannah’s deep and intense fear of roller coasters. The way the author described Hannah’s thoughts and the action throughout the whole novel was so wonderful. It made me feel like I was a part of the group having an adventure in Las Vegas. The fact that it was so thorough and cleverly planned out made it seem so organic and unpredictable, which I thought was great. Stories similar to this can be very foreseeable but this one managed to keep me engaged.

I also really liked how it took place in just a weekend. Due to the fact that it was only a weekend, Jessica Love was able to go through every little thing that happened. You knew where they were every minute of the day, what was going through their minds and what was constantly going on around the characters. The weekend started with Hannah wanting to go meet Nick on the Friday night, Grace, Lo and Hannah drive out to Vegas Saturday morning, the whole shenanigans of the entire novel happens Saturday night, and then they drive home Sunday morning! The story wasn’t stretched out for a long period of time, so the author had the ability to really make it feel like an adventure out on the town of Las Vegas. She could  jam pack the story with problems and details without needing to stretch out the story over many days.

I also thought it did a great being super relatable. I understood everything that was going on inside Hannah’s mind and had totally felt that way before, she’s a character that goes through very normal struggles, like not wanting to have a bad reputation, but wanting to be free of the rules. Or how she is really scared of something and will do anything to avoid it. Or simply how she has feelings for someone, but she doesn’t want to tell the other person out of the fear of rejection.

I felt like the character Lo (Hannah’s best friend in real life) could have been expanded more. I know that because of the time restraint there wasn’t a lot of room for character development aside from the main characters, but I wanted to learn about Hannah’s party girl counterpart, or for Lo to mature, or grow up or something by the end of the story.

I didn’t like how Lo told Hannah to make Nick jealous by flirting with Jordy, then Jordy and Hannah kissed and that whole scene was not only very cringe worthy, but I think it wasn’t written as well as it could have been. It was written in a way where it didn’t add very much to the story and what it did add, it could have been put somewhere else and the story would have been just fine.

To conclude, this book was pretty decent. There were a few bumps in the road, but it was a good short weekend read. If you’re looking for something short and sweet, I recommend this book. I binge read it in two days.

Stranger Things

stranger-things-poster-netflix1Stranger Things

8 Episodes

4.75/5

William Byers was riding home from a ten hour Dungeons and Dragons campaign with his friends Lucas and Dustin (Toothless) at their friend Michael’s house when suddenly William disappears. The next morning, his distraught mother, Joyce Byers calls the Hawkins police department to see what they can do and the group of kids find this mysterious girl named Eleven.  As Hawkins chief of police ‘Hopper’ delves more and more into the case, he realizes things might be stranger than they seem.

I loved this TV series. I was so glad that I could binge watch it. It was almost like watching an 8 hour long movie! At the end of each episode I was so caught up in the story line that I was sitting at the edge of my seat. I could barely wait the 10 seconds it took for the next episode to load.  

My favourite character was Michael’s friend Dustin. He was hilarious and even if he was just a supporting character, the actor who played him did an amazing job. Toothless was always the voice of reason in the group, everyone could always count on him to figure a way out of a tough situation. I know the actor is only a kid but he out-acted almost everyone in the whole show!

I was not a fan of ‘the upside down’; the home of ‘the monster’. It was a little hard to follow when they had scenes that switched between the normal world and the upside down. I kind of wished they had explained the upside down and what Eleven did in it a bit more, but that lack of explaining is what made it so mysterious, so I can hardly dock points off for it.

66-0-0I enjoyed how this show was all about the kids and the kids did most of the story telling. They were good at it too! Props to Eleven for conveying so much emotion without almost any words. That made her character that more unexplainable and mystifying. The group of kids had to deal with some adult situations like taking care of Eleven by themselves and trying to find Will all by themselves.  and they just dealt with them like adults. Who could ask for anything more more?

I thought the flashback scenes to Eleven’s time in the facility were great. I really liked how something seemingly normal would happen and she would get triggered. Then we would see something from her memory that would give us a new clue in the mystery of the show. I loved how the show weaved through the past and the present like it was no big deal and every time we learned something important about the beloved characters of the series.

When the last episode of the season ended I was so sad. They left quite a few doors open for their season two that has already been confirmed and I cannot wait. If you were on the fence about watching this TV series, I highly recommend it. If you’ve already seen it, I recommend you watch it again. If you’ve done all of the above then just bask in the glory that is this TV show.

 

Gone

gone_michael_grantGone

Michael Grant

4/5

558 Pages

Sam was sitting in class, when all of a sudden everyone over the age of fifteen disappeared into thin the air. Now, all the teenagers within the area of Perdido Beach, California who would normally be spending their time surfing or reading a book, must take care of the younger children and try to find a way to get out the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone). Meanwhile, kids from the private school up the hill from the town that was also affected are trying to take over the town and kill all the teenagers that stand in their way.

I really liked how this novel was post apocalyptic and yet, it didn’t seem like that was all the story was about. There was also the elements of self conflict in the minds of Sam and Computer Jack. Plus the fact that the private school kids fought the town kids for dominance in the area, gang style.

My favourite character was Computer Jack. He was a kid from the private school trying to take over the town. Jack had extreme computer skills, hence the nickname. The older kids used Jack for his knowledge on technology and didn’t give him very much in return. Throughout the book you get little snippets of what’s going on in his mind – he is fully aware that he is working for the bad kids but there’s nothing he can do about it, because he is being constantly bullied by those same bad people.

Something that I had a problem with is the fact that the character Astrid (she’s from the town) is nicknamed ‘Astrid the Genius’ but as you go through the book she uses less and less of her logic skills and has to be saved by Sam more and more. Coincidentally, as the book goes along, Sam and Astrid fall in love. That doesn’t mean Astrid can’t fix problems with her giant brain just because Sam likes her and she likes Sam.

Another thing that I was not a fan of was this other worldly creature called ‘The Darkness’, it was only barely introduced and didn’t really have a large role. I feel like you could have taken The Darkness out completely and the story would have been fine. Now, this book is the first in a long series so The Darkness could have a much larger role in the following novels but for now, he/she/it is a pretty useless character.
Still, this book was pretty good, it was a great post-apocalyptic book, there were just a few problems in the story line. I recommend this book for post-apocalyptic lovers and haters alike!

Suicide Squad

12489243_1674589672821667_4430624289856009994_oSuicide Squad

130 Minutes

2.5/5

Superman is dead and government agent Amanda Waller is worried about if the next Superman won’t be so kind. To prepare, she has put together a team of incredibly dangerous people to protect the world. Suddenly, an ancient sorcerer called The Enchantress returns to Earth seeking revenge for her death that was over five hundred years ago. Amanda must summon her team to go and defeat the Enchantress so they can keep this encounter with a meta human top secret. If anything goes awry, the villains get thrown under the bus.

First of all, this film had a really good soundtrack! It went pretty well with the movie and I knew a lot of the songs. For example; they use the song “You Don’t Own Me” by Grace, when they’re introducing Harley Quinn and it really helps give you insight into her personality. Other hits that the filmmakers used in this movie were; “Bohemian Rhapsody” covered by Panic! At the Disco and “Without Me” by Eminem. The songs almost told the whole story because they went so well along with the plot. I would love to see this film as a musical, wouldn’t that have been cool!

My favourite character was Harley Quinn. Props to the filmmakers because they kept Harley Quinn as PG as physically possible without taking away the essence of the character. She was absolutely insane and fearless, yet also incredibly funny. I wouldn’t call her a very good role model for young girls but she was definitely one of the few great things about this film.

I thought this film moved far too slow. The first hour was all about setting up the characters and why the world needs the Suicide Squad but even then, they were kind of walking around and not doing anything except for talking amongst each other for another twenty minutes.

I also did not like the way they explained any of the Suicide Squad’s backstories, except for Deadshot’s. They kept on showing Harley Quinn flashbacks that were just short enough to be confusing and to not explain anything about her. El Diablo’s backstory was okay, but they could have let him lose control a little bit sooner, he was very useless until about the last forty five minutes. Nobody even talked to him. For the other squad members, they just weren’t explained very much at all, and so you couldn’t even be able to remember their names or powers or anything about them at all.

Suicide-SquadComing into the film I was really hoping to enjoy Jared Leto’s Joker, but honestly, his interpretation of the Joker was not my favourite. He seemed far too insane, but just for the sake of being crazy. In my mind, the Joker is supposed to be crazy, but is supposed to be able to snap out of it at least a little bit and be able to make convoluted plans in an attempt wreak havoc upon Gotham City. This Joker’s plans were far less than convoluted. Also, if the editors had kept more of the Joker in the film, we might of seen more of his attempts to help Harley Quinn escape from prison, but because they cut so much of him out, his character as a whole was not properly explained and didn’t really make much sense.

In conclusion, although I still enjoyed the movie, this was probably the worst superhero film I’ve seen this year, but If you just want to go to the theatre for something to do with your friends, I suggest just go see this film.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Me_and_Earl_and_the_Dying_GirlMe And Earl and The Dying Girl

Jesse Andrews

304 Pages

4/5

Greg Gaines doesn’t want to stick out in High School, he just wants to make movies. By senior year he has accomplished just that by being almost friends with everyone in High School, that is until his mom forces him to hang out with a girl named Rachel Kushner who has just been diagnosed with leukemia. When Greg starts to spend more and more time with Rachel, his grades start to plummet and College opportunities start to disappear. Can Greg fix his life while still trying to make Rachel’s better at the same time?

I really liked this book. I liked how funny it was. It’s told in first person in the perspective of Greg and Greg’s one funny guy. He’ll write some events in his life in script format or, if someone gave him a long lecture, he’ll write it in bullet form. Plus, he’s pretty honest about what he writes; he’ll call his writing garbage or himself lame or a situation super awkward.

My favourite character is Earl. He is Greg’s closest thing to a friend, but he’s mostly just a business partner and coworker.  He’s the guy that Greg works with on his films.  I liked Earl because the world dealt him the worst deck of cards in the game of life, but he still did his best. He had a dad worked in Texas (they’re living in Pittsburgh), has a step dad in jail, a mom that is an alcoholic and doesn’t leave her room, his multiple brothers and stepbrothers are in gangs and are drug dealers. Plus, he’s really short so no one will take him seriously. That kind of life doesn’t sound very fun at all.

Earl also has a very different sense of humour than Greg. Due to Earl’s upbringing, he is definitely not the brightest crayon in the box and does not have the linguistics of your average high schooler, but he always gets his point across. Whether he wants to be heartfelt, funny or disgusting, everyone always understands Earl.

What I wasn’t a big fan of, was the way the story flowed. The entire book kept building and building on how Greg’s life was changing because of Rachel. It always felt like the climax was coming, but it never came until the last few pages . I’m no story teller, but I took grade seven English, so I know the climax is supposed to be around the middle, not the end.

I also didn’t like how Rachel did end up dying. I know that the entire novel was leading up to her dying, but I still wanted her to live, or at least die more elaborately or in a more significant way.

Despite that, I really enjoyed this novel, I liked the humour, characters and writing style, but like life, it wasn’t perfect. It was still a good read though. I read it in less than a week because I couldn’t put it down!