Tag Archives: Canada



Director: Robert Cuffley

Screenwriters: Jason Long and Robert Cuffley


Chokeslam was the closing gala film for the Calgary International Film Festival 2016. Here’s what I thought about it.

Corey (Chris Marquette) is a sad, almost thirty year old, still living with his mom and working at a deli people only come to if they want to rob it. When Corey’s pro-wrestler friend from high school, Sheena, arrives back in town and announces her retirement, Corey hatches a plan to get her to do her retirement match in their small town.

Sheena’s manager though, has different plans. He wants Sheena’s match in some high profile place like Chicago or Tokyo. But motivated by his love for Sheena, Corey will stop at nothing to get Sheena to stay in town for a couple more days.  

I am not like Corey.  

My life is very busy. I have every minute of everyday planned out. I certainly don’t have time to put my life on hold and wait for some person to come back, just so I can be with them. I don’t have to sit around and eat fruit loops in my pajama’s while watching hockey. Part of what made Corey such a great character was how he was so different than me and yet I understood his motivations, he just wanted one thing. To be with Sheena. He was willing to do pretty much anything just to be with Sheena. I think we all have something in our lives that we would be willing to do almost everything for.  While Corey was so different then me and most people, everyone could relate to him and understand how he felt.

14433124_1173234829381649_5367326240430201465_nMy favourite character was Michael Eklund’s character Luke, Corey’s best (and only) friend. He was hilarious. From the fact that Eklund was way too old to play someone going to his 10 year High School reunion, to Luke’s insane love of food and the fact that he thinks he’s the best person ever. Luke was such a great character and made a great duo with Corey. There’s this one scene where the two of them are eating fruit loops wearing matching pajamas and that scene alone made my day. The way that Luke imitates Corey is great.

When asked about his character, this is what Michael Eklund said:

“I auditioned for this movie in 2006, when I was old enough to go to my high school reunion and the movie almost got made, but then as movies do, sometimes they fall apart and then me and Robert made two other films after that audition, Walk All Over Me and then Ferocious and then we finally made Chokeslam which is where I met him, in the audition room. Ten years ago. It’s insane. I’m way too old to play Luke and he still gave me the role. I do remember that first time when I met Robert in the audition room, and I just had a feeling that we would someday make this movie, and we did.”

This film was very, very funny. There were simple comic moments, like when Luke gets hit with a chair, or when Tab pops out of nowhere behind Corey. But there was also some elaborate funny bits, like an entire scene where Corey gets a big piece of wood stuck in his butt. I enjoyed all the humour and for once, this adult film had tons of jokes that I laughed at and actually understood!

This film had tons of wrestling in it. There were lots of references and a couple of fights. Before seeing this film my only knowledge of wrestling was what I learned in gym class and the movie Nacho Libre, so I can’t say if they were very true to the sport, but the audience seemed to really like it and I thought it looked really cool. To work on the wrestling matches the crew of Chokeslam got help from pro wrestlers Harry Smith and Lance Storm.


After the film was over I got a chance to talk to screenwriter Jason Long. Here’s what he had to say about the film!

Q: What was the initial inspiration for this film?

A: The director Robert Cuffley had the original inspiration and it actually came from a dark story about after his high school reunion, there was a person he barely knew in high school but he had heard they had committed suicide. Which was part of the original  script for a long time and then it’s funny because when we switched to wrestling, we kind of went away from it but it’s funny because the theme of that kind of darkness and depression kind of came back which was very interesting that it came full circle. But that was the inspiration, in that he looked up the guy in the yearbook and he tried to remember his picture, and he couldn’t remember who he was. That was the first memory of Chokeslam, which was called Yearbook.

Q: How did you become involved in this project?

A: Well, Robert and I had written a movie called Turning Page together and it had just been shot, so they were editing it, and he thought, we should do another film, because sometimes people do more than one film. And I was like how about that?! That’s great! So Robert was like, well, I don’t know any other writers, or they’re all busy, Jason would you do another one, and I said yes. Because we’re friends. So he had the idea, he just brought it to me and i immediately said yes because by that time we were like, pretty tight.

This film was wonderful. It was thought provoking, comedic, well paced, all wrapped up in a movie about wrestling. I highly recommend this film to anyone who likes good laughs, body slams and flying elbows.


The Adventure Club at CIFF 2016

55The Adventure Club

Director: Geoff Anderson


Ricky, the leader of the Adventure Club really just wants to go on an adventure, just like his grandfather did before he died. One night, while Ricky is going through his late grandfather’s things, he finds a mysterious key in his grandfather’s office. Ricky then summons an emergency meeting of the Adventure Club, to go and solve all the secrets this key might unlock.

I enjoyed the way this film was  shot. Each scene seemed well planned. Perhaps the cinematographers could have taken more risks, but for a family audience it was comfortable. Everyone in the audience really liked this one scene in particular which was in the museum. The Adventure Club gang had to hide from the security guard in the museum and every time the security guard walked through the scene the kids were cleverly hiding in plain sight!

This film was also comedic. There were moments in the movie where the kids in the audience laughed, and others when it was the parents chuckling. That is super important when it comes to making a family film, there should be something for everyone. The fact that the cast includes members of the cast of the TV show Corner Gas and  Billy Zane definitely helped make the adults laugh, and the Adventure Club’s adult friend (played by Canadian acting legend Kim Coates!) was so crazy that the kids couldn’t help but laugh at his ridiculousness. 

Most of the time the adult actors were big scene stealers (because most of them were comedians) and sometimes it seemed like they were trying to out funny each other! Sometimes the fact that they were trying so hard took the spotlight away from the main characters of the film; the kids!

On the down side, older kids may find this film predictable. You have your typical trio of kids (the leader boy, the smart girl and the goofball boy) who find this magical item that some bad guys are looking for. With the help of a kooky adult they must stop the evil guys from acquiring the magical item. It was nice to see the great acting job done by young lead actor Sam Ashe Arnold as Ricky. Ricky learned some valuable lessons and brought his club closer together.  

Sam Ashe Arnold who plays Ricky decided drop by for the screening and I asked him a couple questions:

Q: Do plan on becoming an actor as a full time career?

A: Ya, I’ve already done around nine other films and short films. I really love acting, it’s what I want to do for life.

Q: What is your favourite part about acting?

A: I’ve always loved storytelling, so that’s my favourite part for sure.

Q: Do you have any upcoming films?

A: Ya, I have a film called High Rise Rescue which is going to be on Super Channel!

To conclude, this film was entertaining for many of the young kids in the audience and the parents that they brought along.

Parents, take your kids to the festival on Saturday October 1st at 2:15 at Eau Claire if you’d like to go see a movie that’s actually kid friendly! 

Hello Destroyer








Hello Destroyer

Director: Kevan Funk

Tyson Burr: Jared Abrahamson


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!


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.

Q & A with Amanda Labonté

Call-of-the-Sea_Final-Cover_Oct-13_SMI was asked to do a Q & A with the author of Call of the Sea, Amanda Labonté!
CKC: 1. How did you come up with the concept of the Merrows?
AL: The word ‘merrow’ actually comes from Celtic mythology. One of the really interesting things I discovered while in the research phase of this book was that the mythology of mermaids exists in cultures all over the world. I particularly liked the term ‘merrow’ because it sounds gender neutral and can apply equally to either mermaids or mermen.
CKC:  2. Which myths and legends did you use as inspiration for this novel?
AL: The main mythology in the book comes from mermaid lore. There are many different interpretations of mermaids from various cultures including Greek, Celtic and Japanese. One of the legends I drew on more specifically was from the Finnish mythology and surrounds a magical artefact called the Sampo. According to legend, the Sampo was thrown into the sea and left in the care of the sea gods. It’s a really interesting legend because there isn’t one view of what the Sampo looks like, so I had a lot of freedom in writing about it.
Collage 2015-11-11 10_51_40
CKC: 3. Why did you choose to set the book in Atlantic Canada?
AL: The setting was an easy choice for me. I am from Newfoundland and Labrador so it’s a place I felt like I could write about with a fair amount of ease and accuracy. More specifically, I set the book in a fictional community on the Cape Shore, a place I visited a lot as a kid and which I felt would provide the perfect backdrop for the mythology in the book.
CKC: 4. What was your favourite part of your book to write?
AL: I think my favourite parts were also the most difficult. I really liked the early interactions between Alex and the merrows because I kept imagining how they would react to each other. I spent a lot of time rewriting those scenes but they were the most satisfying to create.
CKC: 5. Which character do you find the most relatable?
AL: Oddly, I think I relate on a personal level to Alex’s older brother Artie. I am an older sibling and also a mom so I think it makes me a natural caretaker, much like Artie is to his younger brothers. I don’t think that’s the character the audience will relate to most, since he’s not really a main character, but for me I think I empathize with his position in life.
CKC:  6. Which character was the hardest to write about?
AL: I think Poppy (the grandfather) was the hardest, mostly because of his dementia. He may not be aware of surroundings most of the time but it’s hard on his family and when he does have brief moments of awareness it’s kind of heartbreaking.
CKC:  7.  What qualities from the merrow community do you think we as humans should adopt?
AL: A merrow never makes a promise they aren’t willing to keep. Their promises are more valuable than money or possessions. I think it would be great if humans, especially those in positions of power, used the merrow standard and were held accountable for their words and promises in a similar way.
CKC: 8. Would you rather have Ben’s ability of Art or Alex’s ability of Music?
AL: That’s a hard question. I am not naturally very good at either art or music (which is why I write!) but I think I am slightly more drawn to Alex’s ability. I think there is something intriguing about being able to pick up an instrument and just be able to play.
CKC: 9.  Do you have any plans of writing a sequel?
AL: Yes!  I think I am not quite ready to leave this world yet.

Call of the Sea

Call-of-the-Sea_Final-Cover_Oct-13_SMCall of the Sea
Amanda Labonté
275 Pages
3.5/5 stars

Ever since he was little, Alex had been hearing the song. It would come and the only way to get rid of it was to go down to the water. That’s where he’d see her – a mysterious girl with bright red hair and a shimmering dress. But as soon as Alex tried to get close, she’d disappear as quickly as she’d come.

Shortly before returning to his little town outside of St. John’s, Newfoundland from a month long summer camp, Alex and his twin brother Ben go on a fishing trip. The trip doesn’t end well. The brothers get in to a fight and Ben disappears mysteriously.

With the help from Ben’s girlfriend Meg, and the song he’s been hearing since his childhood, Alex must find his brother and solve the mystery of the strange girl. Can he do it before something bad happens to Ben?

My favourite part is when Alex is drunk and he thinks that his brother is missing forever and possibly even dead, Alex decides to drown his sorrows in alcohol. That’s when he gets very helpless and you can tell that he can’t do it alone. But it’s also pretty funny. His comments get very unfiltered and he ends up doing a faceplant in the ocean.

My favourite character is Alex’s oldest brother Artie. It’s hilarious how oblivious he is when it comes to what Alex is doing and where Alex is. Artie is very sweet and always just wants what’s best for his family and does that no matter what. I think Artie is the best kind of brother.

I liked this novel. I really liked how intricate every single story line was. There were lots of twists and turns to the plot line and plenty of surprises, but no detail was left out.  Everything was explained to the max and I was never confused. Not many books do that.

I thought Call of the Sea was pretty good overall, it had a magnificent plot and stunning characters, but it took quite a while for the ball to get rolling. I was already almost halfway through the book before all the loose ends of the mystery were tied together and the plot was revealed.

Jewel Of The Thames

Jewel of the thames 2Jewel Of The Thames

Written by Angela Misri

242 Pages

4/5 Stars

Portia Adams must emigrate from Toronto Canada to London England. Before she leaves, a few things happen that she did not expect; her mother leaves her in the care of the mysterious Mrs. Jones, her house gets ransacked by an anonymous person, and she inherits the two story townhouse of 221 Baker Street in London, England, the former home of Dr. John Watson and Detective Sherlock Holmes. Once there she finds herself having to solve three different mysteries; a jewelry theft, the suspicious illness of a judge and his daughter, and finally, the disappearance of child. While she tries to solve all three cases she must solve the biggest mystery of all; her own life. How did this set of circumstances happen, is it all just a coincidence? Or is all part of the will of her late mother?

I especially enjoyed the whole experience of the novel. The storyline seemed realistic and it kept drawing me in. There always seemed to be something going on or something to solve. I simply couldn’t put the book down!

I loved that it was set in 1930s England. I really enjoy that particular time period and I loved what she did with it, giving it a sad and grey atmosphere, but even through the dismal appearance Portia Adams is still in complete awe of it all. I feel like that would be my reaction to London, looking at all of the tourist attractions like the London Eye, and the Thames but also just plain exploring. Portia  also quickly picks one of her favourite places in London and keeps on going back to it, it’s a coffee shop. I think I would do that too.  I have read other books set in London and I feel what Angela Misri did was like nothing I’d ever read before. I don’t know if it was because the main character is Canadian as opposed to British or because it was a mystery novel or if it was because Angela simply wrote it differently.

My favourite character was Brian Dawes. From his charm, to his wit, to his loyalty and friendliness towards Portia. Whenever Portia needed a helping hand he was always willing to help. Brian was always their to make sure Portia could do everything to succeed at whatever she was doing, even when it simply came to her happiness, he was always there.  I want to someday have a friend like that and more importantly, be a friend like that.

This is Angela Misri’s first novel in her YA detective series. The next book in this series is due to come out March 2015 called Thrice Burned. I cannot wait!


Ruby Skye P.I. Season 3: Ep. 11: A new Mystery



NOOO!!!!! This was the last episode of Ruby Skye P.I. Season Three: The Maltese Puppy. I’m so sad.

Everything is back to normal. Well, not quite, Ruby made up with everyone! She and Diana are friends now. I know it’s weird but it’s for the best. It was time they made up and became best buds. Ruby also gave Detective Von Schlagen new socks (because throughout the season whenever Pixel was around him the puppy would pee on him.) Even though Hailey was sad for a little while because Ruby made Hailey give Pixel – I mean Nicki, back to her rightful owner Kat,  but being the wonderful sister Ruby is, she got Hailey a new dog from the animal shelter named Mystery. By the end of the episode I think it’s safe to say that the world has been improved.

One of my favorite characters this season is Mr. Pendergas. I think he’s so funny because he calls other people hooligans and when Diana and Reeny Mussolini give him a candy bomb he yells out; “Thank you, you hooligans, wherever you are!” That part of the season was so funny!

Some things, never change though. We can’t forget about Edmund. Let’s just say Ruby didn’t just make up with Edmund – they made out. Yes, they kissed. Again. Is it now a thing where all season finales of Ruby Skye P.I. end with Ruby and Edmund kissing? Dear people at Ruby Skye P.I., is this going to become a tradition? I’m not going to argue with it being a tradition because it doesn’t seem like a bad idea. I just think if they’re going to keep on kissing they should sort out they’re relationship first. I mean, I’m not even 12 yet so I can’t say anything about relationships or anything, but they need to clarify if they’re friends or beyond friends, maybe avoid pretending like the other one of you doesn’t exist and try not to call each other a pain in the butt. Just a little advice.

Every Saturday I looked forward to waiting for the new episode to come out so I could watch it and then write about it. Ruby Skye P.I. is definitely one of my favorite TV series/Web series. I didn’t want this season to ever end. Please let the series never end but let’s not cry because season three is over on TV; you can always watch it all over again and you can re watch season one and season two at rubyskyepi.com, I know that’s what I’ll be doing.