A Bug and A Bag of Weed is a movie I was really looking forward to, having met and interviewed two of the producers and stars, Chris Cuthbertson and Drew Hagen. It is also on my reviewer gag list (see earlier entry) so I won’t say too much, but that Hagen and Cuthbertson’s enthusiasm for their work really made it up on the screen in this broad, Halifax-set comedy. This is a movie that will kill with local audiences. There’s a great Spryfield joke in there that’s not to be missed.
The gap between media screenings gives me a little time to kill, which is a blessing. The shwarma at Venus Pizza sure is good. I got to compare notes with fellow CKDU programmer and media person Hillary Titley, and while dropping by the Delta Hotel AFF nerve centre, ran into filmmaker and Haligonian-hyphenate Megan Wennberg, who seems to be everywhere lately.
A surprise was Above & Beyond, the World War 2 drama from the CBC. It screens on Tuesday night. I’d enjoyed Sturla Gunnarsson’s last film, Beowulf and Grendel and I knew this would be a solid drama, though I didn’t expect it to be so damned entertaining. There’s something so old-fashioned and charming about the story of Lord Beaverbrook’s efforts to get bombers from North America to the UK at the beginning of The Battle of Britain, overlapping with the tale of civilian pilots being trained for the dangerous cross-Atlantic duty, a bit of family drama set in Gander, and a romance between Lianne Balaban’s stenographer and one of the American fliers. Balaban has matured from the gangly New Waterford Girl into, as my grandfather might have said, a real looker (though I wonder what was going on with the make-up… her lips are distractingly red). Also great is Kenneth Welsh and, Withnail himself, Richard E. Grant.
Funny thing: I was really enjoying the movie, when about an hour and a half in, I started to wonder how much longer it was going to go on. They’re just getting into the planes for the jaunt across the pond when the CBC logo jumps up, and a montage of images under a tag line: join us on October 30th for the conclusion, etc. etc. This isn’t a movie, it’s a miniseries, and the second part isn’t at the festival. Nowhere in the guide is it mentioned that Above & Beyond isn’t a self-contained story. It’s a show that I’d recommend seeing, but I think if I’d bought a ticket my nose might be a little out of joint from the non-disclosure.
What can I say about the gala party on Argyle? Interesting shooters, men with video monitors on their chests (how Cronenbergian), an Acadian zydeco act that was made to feel pretty unwelcome (Is it impossible to get a band that people really want to come out to see?), and a VIP section that was initially barricaded and then seemed pretty permeable. I wandered down to the Seahorse through the ‘Shoe, then up to the street and no one asked me for any kind of special pass (thanks for the tip, Hillary). The only thing different in the posh zone were tiny, tasty appetizers on trays. I didn’t suddenly feel especially important for being a faux veep, though I did chat with a few people I knew before my neck got tired of craning, looking for the celebs that seemed absent this year. I brought a camera, but didn’t see much that I thought worthy of a photo. Still, lots of glitz, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Finally, after the party, late into the night, I watched a screener of Away From Her, Sarah Polley’s directorial debut. Oh, I wish I could write about this one. Once you’ve seen it, come find me, and we’ll chat about it. I think it’s a film you’ll want to talk about. Personally, I’ll be very surprised if I see anything better this year.