Tuesday, 2 September 2014

OCTOBER GALE - TIFF 2014 (Special Presentation) - Review By Greg Klymkiw - A great movie for steno-girls, retail clerks and 70-year-old grandmothers looking for cheap thrills on cable TV.

A great movie for
retail clerks
and 70-year-old

looking for
cheap thrills
on cable TV
October Gale (2014)
Dir. Rubba Nadda
Starring: Patricia Clarkson, Scott Speedman, Tim Roth, Aidan Devine, Callum Keith Rennie

Review By Greg Klymkiw

I went to see this knowing only the title and that its start time was when I had nothing else to see. Usually, this is perfect. Knowing nothing about what you're going to see at a film festival can yield great treats. However, I knew I was in for trouble when the picture started in black with one sole, sombre note plunked on a piano.


When this happens, I usually think, "Oh fuck, another Canadian movie with a crappy piano score." No sooner did the next keyboard plop resonate in my auricular cavities when the soul-sucking credit "Produced with the participation of Telefilm Canada" did spew, like a spray of chunky regurgitate on-screen. Though the opening score continued with a bit more variety of piano plunking, it sounded like something rendered by a Ferrante and Teicher tribute artist on a HiFi LP in the $1 bin at a used record store.

Luckily, things began looking a bit better when the gorgeous and great Patricia Clarkson appeared as a recently widowed doctor heading up to her Northern Ontario island cottage on majestic Georgian Bay to open it up for the spring. Alas, the first 15 minutes is devoted to more Ferrante & Teicher homages as she cleans the cottage, puts dead hubby's clothing into storage, takes a boat ride and - ugh - launches into sickening flashback mode wherein we learn how much she loved now-dead hubby (Callum Keith Rennie).

I thought to myself, "Oh Jesus! Is this going to be some Harlequin Romance where she meets a hunky rural guy and falls in love with him?" Luckily, her boat goes all sputter-sputter and she calls in a distress signal to the local boat repair guy. He retrieves her boat, tells her it's going to take a few days to fix and dumps her back at the isolated island. Alone, 'natch!

Briefly I'm thinking, "Hmmmm, a hot babe alone on an island. Maybe we're going to get a throwback to 70s Canadian tax shelter thrillers and she'll be assailed by some country cousin psychopaths and have to kill them all as revenge for being gang-raped." Though there's been nothing to suggest we're going into thriller territory I'm momentarily fooled that this might be a fairly clever script that's setting us up for one thing (potential Harlequin Romance) and delivering another (the great Canadian tax shelter rape revenge thriller Death Weekend).

Soon after these delights danced across my cerebellum, Patricia Clarkson's lovely breasts are revealed in a bathtub scene.

I'm stoked.

Fooled me, again. The movie is essentially a Harlequin Romance cross-pollinated with an extremely lame, poorly executed thriller. Hunky Scott Speedman shows up on her dock, bleeding and near death from a gunshot wound. As Clarkson is a doctor she patches him up really well. At one point he gets up from bed and his pants are so low-riding that we get a nice glimpse of Speedman's upper butt cheeks and ass crack.

Can romance be far behind?

Aidan Devine, one of Canada's greatest character actors is wasted when he shows up as a friendly local. When he buggers off, Speedman is terrified. He informs Clarkson that when Devine comes back, he's going to be joined by a super-bad dude and they're both going to be dead. Good gracious!

When Devine does pop back, a semi-smarmy Tim Roth is in tow. He's hell-bent on killing Speedman for one of the stupidest reasons imaginable (I won't ruin it for you). Roth works hard enough that we can ascertain he's been paid upfront to sleepwalk through his dull role and the film delivers a few minutes of incompetently helmed suspense that might have my mother (and other 70-year-old suburban women looking for a thrill on cable) on the edge of her seat. That said, I'm sure it will also appeal to more than a few steno-girls, retail clerks and middle-aged empty-nest housewives.

How and why (aside from marginal marquee value) the filmmakers bothered to waste money on Tim Roth when the great Aidan Devine could have outacted the shit out of him is something that briefly haunted me. Even more pressing a question is this: How in God's name this movie ever landed a Special Presentation berth at one of the world's most prestigious film festivals is almost beyond me. I say "almost" because it does have Patricia Clarkson, Scott Speedman and Tim Roth in it and its picture postcard cinematography delivers enough production value to look professional on a big screen, but other than that, it's a nothing movie aimed at an under-served demographic. I've personally seen several fine low budget Canadian thrillers and horror films made this year - any of which display more thrills and virtuosity in one frame than October Gale possesses throughout its short, but still lugubriously interminable running time.

Ah well, if you fit the aforementioned demographic, go ahead. Knock yourself out. Steno-girls, retail clerks, middle-aged empty-nest housewives and 70-year-old ladies deserve movies too.


Delivered to films too bad to garner one-star (*). Said films would normally then receive the "One Pubic Hair" rating, however, not to besmirch the fine pubic hair recipient Sharknado by lumping it in (so to speak) with genuine turds, I was forced to create a critical rating even lower for Ridley Scott's abominable The Counsellor.

The Rating is, quite simply and evocatively:


As pictured to the left, this an actual turd found by myself and Project Grizzly filmmaker Peter Lynch in the illustrious Parkdale parking lot behind Harry's wherein the two of us had just dined with writer Geoff Pevere. Recipients of this hallowed rating since Scott's atrocity have been the wretched 2014 remake of Endless Love, the putrid Veronica Mars movie, the stinking Dead Before Dawn 3D and the horrendous 2014 Godzilla.

Now, please feel free to add: October Gale to the aforementioned list of recipients of this most appalling critical rating which will, one hopes, seal the work's fate in some manner of infamy.

October Gale is playing at the Toronto International Film Festival 2014 as a Special Presentation. For tix, dates and showtimes, visit the TIFF website by clicking HERE. It will be distributed in Canada via Pacific Northwest Pictures.