Monday, October 06, 2008

VIFF again: Control Alt Delete, Down to the Dirt

Since its VIFF screenings are done, and since I'm starting to get smirked at for my posts on masturbation (see below), I will keep my praises for Control Alt Delete (official site here) brief: the primary charm in this movie is that it shows its flabby protagonist, above, not only masturbating ferociously in front of his computer, but, when this proves insufficient, drilling a hole into it, creating a lube-filled bubblewrap vagina to stuff inside, and banging the tower enthusiastically. It is not the only computer he fucks in the course of the film - his fetish gets quite out of control at one point, and follows him to work - but tho' the audience is allowed to contemplate ceasing to identify with him, it never really does; we continue to like him and root for him - computer fuckery and all - throughout, as he wrestles with writing code to avert the predicted Y2K meltdown (the film is set in 1999). It takes a certain courage to portray masturbation, let alone weird masturbation, thus; even today, its an act usually sneered at, for instance in Todd Solondz' Happiness, which makes it much harder to cheer for its flabby, autoerotic geek (played by Phil Seymour Hoffman: the instance when his character is identified by name has always been a cause for wincing, for me). Control Alt Delete's Tyler Labine (the director's brother) also gets courage-points for taking the role. The quirky "morality" behind the movie - its ideas of "the new normalcy," say, or at least its fondness for its character's kinks - is the chief reason I liked it (since, kinks aside, the majority of the film itself is a fairly small Canadian office comedy, a little more fun but also a bit less well-crafted than Gary Burns' Waydowntown, say; some ideas - like having all the characters' last names end in -son - should have been left at the drawing board). Not surprising that Lynne Stopkewich has a hand in this'un. A surefire entry in the second edition of Weird Sex and Snowshoes, if such a thing should ever be produced.

Oh: I think the Labines, based on the Q&A, might actually be from my hometown of Maple Ridge, which also scores them a point - anyone who grows up in Maple Ridge who goes on to do anything of consequence is bucking the odds. Cam Neely, whoever. (People used to steal old textbooks that had his name written in them at the junior high I went to).

Down to the Dirt (official site here, still above) is the film I was really excited about this evening. Based on a first novel by Newfoundland writer/actor Joel Thomas Hynes, who stars, it's a film that would be very easy to make sound dark or depressing. It's main character is a drunken ne'er-do-well Newfoundlander, pissed at his circumstance, full of self-romanticization and poetry, who causes so much trouble for himself and everyone who cares about him that it's a miracle you like him throughout the film; it's also a virtue of the storytelling, which somehow manages to be fond of the fire and spirit behind the misdeeds while viewing them from an "older, wiser" place. The film reminded me quite surprisingly of aspects of my own past, and a girl I once knew (hi, Raven: you never got in touch); the sharing of mushrooms between its male and female lead (the talented and lovely Mylène Savoie, pictured below) is a key element, but the story it reminds me of is too dear to me for a mere blog. Hynes' character and Savoie's pair up, escape rural Newfoundland for St. John's, and finally end up in Halifax, their relationship much decayed. Hynes' rich sense of dialect (he's Newfoundland's answer to Irvine Welsh, Niall Griffiths, or James Kelman, say) survives into the film, and there's a great little performance by Hugh Dillon, too. Can lit enthusiasts, people who grew up in small towns, or anyone who has had rowdy days and doesn't quite disavow them, will value this experience. Elizabeth Bachinsky should go see it, in particular.

I was going to do a Canadian-film triple bill today, and also write about Atom Egoyan's Adoration, except the Empire Granville screenings are organized such that passholders, like everyone else, have to stand outside for long periods for big screenings - even on nights like this, when cold rain is sheeting down, and even though some of us - like, uh, me - had been in the theatre twice already that day. Egoyan's Family Viewing and Speaking Parts were both really important parts of my early adolesence (and while we're talking about masturbation, is there a hotter scene in Canadian film than the bit in Speaking Parts where Gabrielle Rose - attending the fest with the new Carl Bessai film, Mothers&Daughters, but I'm too shy to tell her this in person - engages in video-link sex with Michael McManus? I have long nurtured a slight crush on Gabrielle Rose - no, really... and don't get me started on the train scenes with her and Maury Chaykin in The Adjuster). However, nothing I've seen by Egoyan in the last ten years has impressed me enough for me to want to spend fifteen minutes with neither umbrella nor hat being pissed on by the Gods of autumn in a lineup that stretches around the block, waiting for the privilege to be allowed back inside - especially when the film is pert-near guaranteed a theatrical release. So instead, I've come home to read a few pages of Joel Thomas Hynes' newest, Right Away Monday. See him talk about it on Youtube. And really - go see Down to the Dirt: one last screening is scheduled, Wednesday, 4:30 at the Cinematheque.

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