Day two of the Calgary International Film Festival has come and gone. I was lucky enough to take in three films: Driveways, The Lodge and Archie (short). Here’s a recap of what I saw, what I thought, and my top picks for tomorrow!
Day 2: Driveways & The Lodge
The second day of the Calgary International Film Festival has come and gone, and while it was the second day at the festival there were only four films screening at the Globe Cinema.
Before we get into the films that I saw and whether you should add them to your list, first thing’s first—is the popcorn better at the Globe Cinema? I know it’s the burning question on everyone’s mind and, thankfully, I’m here to definitively answer it.
Before we get into the answer, it’s pertinent to go through my credentials for answering this question. As a film fanatic, I’ve seen at least six films at the Eau Claire Cinema in 2019 (truthfully, it’s probably closer to eight, but I’ll be conservative) and I order popcorn every single time. As far as the Globe Cinema goes, I literally just had popcorn there.
With that out of the way, in my professional movie-going opinion, the popcorn is, in fact, better at the Globe Cinema. Don’t get me wrong, both cinemas have great popcorn, but the Globe’s seems to be airier and less greasy, but the butter is more succulent. That said, if you’re a throughout-the-bag salter, you’ll probably want to smuggle in your own salt shaker ?.
Thankfully, that’s out of the way! Now let’s get to the good stuff.
Driveways wins my best film of the day award. Granted, it doesn’t have a lot of competition due to the fact that I only saw two other films—a feature and a short. But even if it did have more competition, I suspect it would still come out on top.
Driveways had impeccable casting, lead by Lucas Jaye as Cody, Brian Dennehy as Del and Hong Chau as Kathy, Cody’s mom (who can also be seen in America Woman which is also playing at the festival). The chemistry, was undeniable which really makes the film as it’s a character-driven story.
If you’re planning on heading over to take in the second showing, throw a box of Kleenex in your bag because this one is a serious tear-jerker. It’s listed as a coming-of-age story which usually indicates that a young character is growing up, but I would describe this as a coming-of-age film for Del who’s progressing to the next phase of his life more than Cody.
What I think this film portrays so well is the way that children can tap into something that everyone else misses. It’s a film about friendship and a film about compassion, but really what it is to me is a film about being seen. Being noticed and appreciated when you’re not sure anyone is really seeing.
Beyond being a great film, we got the chance this evening to hear from the film’s director, Andrew Ahn, and one of the producers, Joe Pirro, who gave some really meaningful insights into the making of the film and the motivation behind it.
I would HIGHLY recommend anyone looking for a truly heartwarming story. It has the perfect marriage between light-hearted and emotional deeply-connected moments, ensuring you’ll laugh a bit and cry a little.
You can see this film again on September 21 at 2:45 pm and director Andrew Ahn is supposed to be there again.
Review: The Lodge
I had really high hopes for The Lodge, it was one of my top festival picks (I’m a bit of a horror junkie) and I’m sad to say, I was a bit let down. While the film was okay overall, the suspense just wasn’t there for me. I wasn’t as invested in the film as I wanted to be.
It tells the story of Grace who ends up spending the days leading up to Christmas alone at a remote cabin with her boyfriend’s two kids that absolutely hate her. Grace isn’t super stable herself and she’s got a spotty past, mix that with the fact that the two kids hate her and blame her for the loss of her mother and it’s a toxic mix.
There’s not much more I can say without ruining the film for you, and while I didn’t love it myself, A TON of people were talking about how great it was as they left the theatre. So if you want to see it you can catch the encore on September 26 at 7:30 pm.
Archie: Short Film
Archie is a cute little short film directed by Ainslie Henderson that plays in front of Driveways. This five-minute film was really heartwarming, but I’m really not a huge fan of animation so it definitely wasn’t my top pick.
It tells the story of Archie who has just lost his aunt and makes the trip to her former home in Scotland with his dog. Also, Archie’s a dog so I thought it was weird a dog had a dog.
What’s happening tomorrow?
The festival is up-and-running in full-force tomorrow with showings at both Eau Claire and the Globe Cinema, meaning there are a TON of films for you to choose from. And a lot of them look really great.
Unfortunately. we can’t all be in two places at once, so here are my top picks for festival day 3:
Judy is a musical biopic that highlights the life of Judy Garland. Starring Renee Zellweger and Finn Wittrock, this film received stellar reviews during its time at TIFF, with reviewer Matt Bobkin saying: “Anchored by a stunning, Oscar-worthy performance by Renée Zellweger, Judy is a touching, heartbreaking tribute to one of early Hollywood’s most enduring icons, and a painful reminder of the industry’s long history of abuse.”
If you’re a Judy Garland fan, love musical biopics or are interested in seeing all of CIFF’s headliner shows, then Judy needs to be on your list. Also, if you need more reasons to go see it, a little birdy (Google) told me that Rufus Sewell is in it (#eyecandy).
Note: This showing is sold out, but if you want to go see it you might be able to snag a seat via the rush line. If you have your ticket, make sure to show up early to snag the perfect seat!
Unfortunately, there’s no trailer for Z, so I can’t show you what it looks like… but I can tell you about it.
Z is a Calgary-made horror that’s touted as “one of the scariest locally-made horror films of recent memory.” Written and directed by local filmmaker Brandon Christensen, Z is the story of parents who get are terrified when their eight-year-old son starts to hang out with an imaginary friend who’s apparently not one of the good ones.
I’m REALLY bummed that I can’t make this film because I’ll be hanging out with short films all night (which is STILL going to be a sweet time) as it sounds like a classic horror and it’s locally made. But if you’re interested, you can catch this flick at 10 pm at the Globe Cinema AND there’s supposed to be a guest in attendance!
Shorts Package: Laughing in the Dark
While these will both be great to watch, if I can only pick one I would recommend Laughing in the Dark. You can’t go wrong with a laugh. If you’re not sure what you want to see at the festival but you know you want to go, check out a shorts package and see a ton of things!
You can see it at 9 pm at Eau Claire! And, if you need another reason to join us, there will be Q&As at the end of both of them!
I’ll be back tomorrow with a recap on day three and my recommendations for day three. I’ll also be tweeting my festival experience, come join me @taehaahr.