Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Klymkiw Reviews 3 short films U can't miss at FNC (Festival international du nouveau cinéma de Montréal) - AVEC LE TEMPS (aka BEFORE I GO), MYNARSKI DEATH PLUMMET, THE WEATHERMAN AND THE SHADOWBOXER

aka Before I Go (2014)
Dir. Mark Morgenstern

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Mark Morgenstern's exquisite new film reminds us of the oft-neglected poetic qualities of cinema. Avec le temps/Before I Go also happens to be a real film. It's "real" in that it was actually shot on real film. Its beauty and importance lies in the evocation of the greatest narrative of all - life, death and the seasonal journey of every beat of our lives. Like a short end, life is like a series of leftover bits, seemingly unused and discarded, yet there to be used and to comprise the whole of our existence. Like a flash frame, life is also adorned with those mistakes of perception that are very real, but are so fleeting that we might only be aware of them in times of either repose, reflection and/or death. Like Tom Berner, life only has meaning when we give selflessly to the passion which drives us and, in turn, drives those who receive the benefit of gifts given by those with no other agenda other than to do what has to be done in order to make life richer.

A "short end" is unexposed motion picture negative that is left over at the end of a film roll when the next take cannot be achieved with the amount of stock actually left on the roll. Over the course of shooting any film, especially a series of shorts or a single feature, there can be enough "short ends" to make a whole new film out of. A "flash frame" occurs when the camera is stopped while the gate is still open, leaving a blank frame of extremely overexposed stock. Even better is when the camera takes a few pubic hairs to get up to speed before cranking and allows a frame or two of "flashes", which are, essentially, blasted out frames which include picture. A "Tom Berner" is a man who made independent film a reality for several generations of artists. On the surface, he was a lab rep at Toronto's Film House and Deluxe, but beneath the layers of flesh, he was the spirit of cinema in Canada during a time when it needed him most. It still needs him, but he retired in 2001 and passed away in 2004.

Those whose lives were touched by his, will hopefully be able to infuse others with their own touches of self-sacrificing devotion to the art of film. If cinema is not consecration, it's nothing.

Avec le temps/Before I Go begins with the image of nature resting under a fluffy blanket of snow. The film moves into an interior where faceless shadows appear furtively amidst objects of both beauty and decay. The film has quite literally been constructed with short ends. With occasional flashes of fleeting frames the movie ultimately leaves us with the words "for Tom Berner" on its final frames before the end title credits.

Throughout Morgenstern's haunting, yet joyous and yes, occasionally and alternately creepy film is the light of day through the windows. The light changes as do the seasons - from darkness into light. Ultimately, we're left with the whiteness we began with. No longer is it the chilly scenes of winter, but the warmth and spirit of life itself, which is, ultimately death - a new stage in the journey of existence. A montage of flash frames and extremely short ends (shots), blow our mind during the film's climax, like Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey Stargate sequence, albeit with neo-realist dollops, which lead to and leave us with the dedication to the late Tom Berner, enveloped, of course, by light.

We're reminded of two other key moments in cinema.

1. Clarence, the guardian angel's words to George Bailey in Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life:

"Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives.
When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?"

2. Most evocatively, Morgenstern's film reminds us of Gabriel's voice-over at the conclusion of John Huston's immortal film adaptation of James Joyce's short story The Dead:

"One by one, we're all becoming shades. Better to pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age. . . Think of all those who ever were, back to the start of time. And me, transient as they, flickering out as well into their grey world. Like everything around me, this solid world itself which they reared and lived in, is dwindling and dissolving. Snow is falling. . . Falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living, and the dead."

Avec le temps/Before I Go is 12 minutes long. Morgenstern evokes a lifetime in that 12 minutes. It's proof positive of cinema's gifts and how they must not be squandered, but used to their absolute fullest.


Canada's Great War Hero, Andrew Mynarski VC,
Shooting Star of Selfless Sacrifice, a man of Bronze.
Mynarski Death Plummet (2014)
Dir. Matthew Rankin
Starring: Alek Rzeszowski, Annie St-Pierre, Robert Vilar, Louis Negin

Review By Greg Klymkiw

The true promise, the very future of the great Dominion of Canada and La Belle Province lies beneath the soil of France and Belgium. Between World Wars I and II, Canada lost close to 2% of its population, the vast majority of whom were the country's youngest and brightest from the ages of 16 to 30. Canadian lads bravely served on the front lines, well ahead of the glory-grabbing Americans, the Yankee Doodle mop-up crew that dandily sauntered overseas after all the hard work was paid for by the blood spilled upon European soil by the very heart and soul of Canada's future and that of so many other countries not bearing the Red, White and Blue emblem of puffery. As a matter of fact, any of the best and bravest in Canada came from Winnipeg and if you had to pick only one hero of the Great Wars from anywhere in the country, Andrew Mynarski, a gunner in the famed Moose Squadron, would be the one, the only. He is the subject of Matthew Rankin's perfect gem of a film, the one, the only genuine cinematic work of art to detail the valiant sacrifice, the one, the only, the unforgettable Mynarski Death Plummet.

Read the full review HERE

A maze begins in childhood & never ends.
The Weatherman and the Shadowboxer (2014)
Dir. Randall Okita

Review By Greg Klymkiw

One of Canada's national filmmaking treasures, Randall Okita (Portrait as a Random Act of Violence), takes the very simple story of two brothers and charts how a tragic event in childhood placed them on very different, yet equally haunted (and haunting) paths.

Fusing live action that ranges from noir-like, shadowy, rain-splattered locales to the strange, colourful (yet antiseptically so) world of busy, high-tech, yet empty reportage, mixing it up with reversal-stock-like home movie footage, binding it altogether in a kind of cinematic mixmaster with eye popping animation and we're offered-up a simple tale that provides a myriad of levels to tantalize, intrigue and finally, catch us totally off-guard and wind us on a staggering emotional level.

Winner of the Toronto International Film Festival's 2014 Grand Prize for Best Canadian Short Film.
**** 4-Stars

Read the full review HERE

For further information visit the FNC - Festival international du nouveau cinéma de Montréal website HERE