More Canadian Loser Films

Par Robert K. Stephen le 22 septembre 2012

It would seem from Canadian “Festival Films” I have reviewed as of late Canadian directors carry on the tradition of portraying loveable losers. Did all this start with one of the first true grit Canadian movies and possibly the greatest Canadian movie ever, “Goin’ Down the Road” in 1970? Who can forget Kraft Dinner in that movie? Sometimes the losers can have a sudden resurgent success such as in “Slaughter Nick for President”where a former television star living in his parent’s basement in Mississauga is celebrated as a national hero in Serbia. In the film“I am a good person I am a bad person” there is a despondent obsession with constipation in. In “Tower” we have anotherTorontonian “loser” by the name of “Derek” a 34 year old working by day, when sober enough, and animating in the basement of his parent’s home at night. He has no direction, is going nowhere and screws up any possible relationship with his stupidity and lack of sensitivity. Worse than that at the film’s conclusion we can safely say he has no redeeming qualities. Albert Camus and “L’Etranger” come to mind.


The movie commences with Derek attending a rave drinking big time. It looks like he has some success when he starts dancing in a cuddling fashion with an attractive women. Things are heating up and Derek is in a taxi with this lady who promptly executes a quick exit leaving Derek behind. Despite the strong admonishments of the taxi driver he also exits the taxi chasing his new female acquaintance and the next time we see him he ispassed out in his parent’s living room with a nasty gash over his eye which we have to suffer with throughout the entire movie. We begin to learn about Derek and his passion for animation and his general ill at ease with society psyche. We are gathering a bit of sympathy for Derek as a creative force trapped in his parent’s basement. We then see Derek in an amorous scene with Nicole, his new love who has appeared from nowhere (unless of course I was grabbing a glass of water at the time). Nicole, played by actress Nicole Fairburn (pictured here), rips the screenwith such tenderness and explosive sensuality we are thinking Derek is the luckiest man in the world finally being integrated into reality with a caring and intelligent women but he screws up yet again by rejecting Nicole and at this point I am so disappointed at this stupidity I begin to falter, or is it the movie as it meanders into the story of Derek’s construction buddy from Ireland, once again plunged into third world immigration status after its brief financial boom?


Derek’s obsession with cold water ice baths may be a veiledreference to treatments at the 1950 insane asylum. Is directorRadwanski concluding Derek is a lunatic? At this point Derek becomes Wiley Coyote and traps a racoon that has been causing havoc with his family’s recycling bin. He takes the caged racoon into his basement lair and more or less has a showdown with it. And yes the beginning of the movie now makes sense. The racoon is being buried. Is there a deep symbolism here? Is Derek a caged racoon awaiting his execution by society? Thanks to a tremendous performance by Nicole Fairburn the movie engages halfway and after that it is a bit hard to keep the interest up.Derek Bogart as Derek is alienation to perfection. Storylineleaves one intellectually stranded like waiting for the 103Monkland on a freezing cold February morning while the driver stops way down on Royal Avenue grabbing a coffee.


(Tower, 2012 Canada, Director Kazik Radwanski, 78 minutes shown at Toronto International Film Festival 9/11/12/11 September).


“I am a good person/ I am a bad person”



I have “Writer’s Block” or, better said for this Canadian film “Writer’s Constipation”.  Sometimes hesitation equates with complexity. Other times it means the film is so bereft of meaning and purpose the words necessary to describe it take some time to begin to flow. This film is a big flash of self-absorption with constipation, pooping and male private body parts as a quasi-obsession for film maker Ruby White (played by Ingrid Veninger) our lead character. Not a positive series of attributes to work with. Well then there is the mother daughter conflict issue to add further originality into the plot.


All said and done ostensibly it is a rather mundane film on self-obsession, unhappiness and desperation all tied into Ruby trying market her film “Body Shots” a clip from which reveals a collection of male you know whats. Perhaps we take it up a notch and say Ruby is trying to find herself?  Ruby White is an obscure Toronto filmmaker invited to Bradford in the U.K. and Berlin to show her film “Head Shots”. Ruby takes her daughter Sara (played by Hallie Switzer) along with her on this exciting voyage. Arriving in their Bradford hotel Ruby asks Sara if she has pooped recently. Pardon the expression, but this seems a bit anal as well as the scenes with Ruby on the toilet trying to poop with the help of yoga movements. Ruby asks Sara why she has been constipated for three days and has been unable to poop. Holy Mackerel, do we really want to descend to such graphic details? As if the Ruby White mega alienated servicing job on her husband’s you know what wasn’t enough of a turn-off the poop fascination sends the movie barrelling down a very big self-absorption road in a jiffy (no I won’t add the word “wipe” after “jiffy”). After a long trip from Toronto to Manchester you just want to crash in a big bed in delightful fatigue and not hear any poop questions. The mood quickly descends to quasi-comedy. We know that Woody Allen is a bit obsessive but I do not think he has stooped to pooping comments! Perhaps this film is intended to be a gross satire on obsessive filmmakers and the rather less than well attended film festivals? If so I’m beginning to really warm up to it.


Ruby’s film is obscure and there are 15 people attending her film in Bradford. Very little interest and this mirrors the reality at the festival circuit where brilliant films can be attended by but by a handful of people. Ruby wants to party after the premiere of her film but Sara just wants to sleep. So Ruby parties until 4:11 a.m.  Sara is quite miffed at being abandoned by her mother and joins her cousin in Paris while Ruby heads to Berlin to wander the subway and streets to garner an audience for her film without much avail as yet again just a scant few show up at the film’s premiere. Meanwhile Sara is in Paris discovering that she is pregnant. Both Sara and Ruby are a bit desperate. Ruby trying to hawk her film and Sarah trying to deal with her newfound pregnancy. When Ruby addresses the minute Berlin audience she states in her film the character loses the ability to discern reality between life and the film she rather nails the disconnectin her life. Her alienation  increases the moment the film commences and reaches a quiet intensity as she wanders the subways and parks of Berlin trying futilely to garner interest in her film .Ruby admits to the Berlin audience  the vulgarity of the film is really an excuse to obtain a divorce from her husband. Now she has a reason. Great scenes of Paris and Berlin. Despite wonderful on location shots on the whole the film is an exercise in self-absorption and I am not sure if this was intended. Its redeeming quality may be the struggle of Ruby to break out of an unhappy relationship with her husband but it doesn’t come across terribly well in the film if that was its intent. The acting is technically correct but not inspiring. The conclusion is a bit hackneyed with Ruby and Sara holding hands on the flight back to Toronto. We all hope that Ruby divorces her husband and obtains some regularity to her bowel movements. Oh by the way Sara decides not to keep the baby! While the film does not light up my brilliance meter it will cause you ask some questions about life and relationships and if that was one of its goals it hassucceeded. Is there a deep significance to the pooping references I am missing? I am a bad person when I say this film might give you some gas! On the other hand as a good person I just might be tempted to say it is a brilliant satire on obsessive filmmakers, sterile Hollywood TV plots and the inanity of the film festival circuit. It’s taken me 3 days to come up with a good person interpretation. Perhaps this film has more than meets the eye? Perhaps I am either a dumb or brilliant critic? You make up yourmind on this. Extremely limited release on the film festival circuit in Canada and beyond. You can see it next in Winnipeg 5-7 October.


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