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A WEEK OF DELICIOUS SHOCKERS, MISBEHAVING WOMEN, THE 7TH ANNUAL WEENGUSHK FILM FEST AND BLANKET OF STARS.











Last Summer (L’été dernier) is a shocker. Hold on to your hats. Anne (Léa Drucker) is a lawyer who berates her client, a teenager, telling her that drinking and having sex with seven men one night makes her a world-class slut in the eyes of the judge in her upcoming trial. The girl seems terrified of her. Anne goes home to her newish older husband, Pierre (Olivier Rabourdin), his 19-year-old son Theo (Samuel Kircher) and their two adopted girls. That night in bed, Anne tells Pierre that she is a “gerontophile”, she loves his loose skin. She doesn’t have much use for Theo who is rebellious, verbally abusive, and spends his time on video games, drinking, and smoking weed. She asks why he is unhappy. He tells all, that he is missing his biological mother and he has no friends. Pierre is away for two days and Anne and Theo have repeated sex, after which she says never again. But she doesn’t mean it, as many times as she says its over, they resume their affair. On one hand, Theo needs affection but the other big hand is screaming No! Is she a pedophile and an abuser? We lose our sympathy and admiration for her; she is an authority figure who takes advantage of a vulnerable teen; it has become a chilling emotional thriller. We’ve been duped. Pierre discovers the truth and kicks Theo out and she gets off scot-free. The tables have turned on us; she has betrayed us too.  Co-writer-director Catherine Breillat’s excellent psychological study cum somber thriller zeroes in on a character we don’t see often, the female predator. People are frequently not what they seem, and abuse is abuse and abuse, whoever’s doing it. And the tone of the film, non-judgemental and beautiful to look at, is perfectly foreboding.   Theatres.



Rashida Jones is Suzie, an American woman living in Kyoto, Japan, in the creepy/funny ten-parter Sunny. She mourns the recent deaths of her husband and son in a plane crash. Their bodies haven’t been found.  His company, ImaTech, gifts her a robot – Sunny – programmed to assist and comfort but she loathes AI technology, her husband’s field. There’ve been reports of robots killing their “owners”. He’d created Sunny in secret. Suzie takes to her bed, Sunny tries to cheer her, and is rejected, so Suzie heads to ImaTech to ask questions; one colleague nervously says he can’t talk about her husband except to say he was harsh – not the man she knew. She being surveilled, then she’s chased and hides and in a blood-stained yellow room holding dogs. At a bar, she meets a strangely knowledgeable woman who may have answers. Is her family alive or dead? Suzie finally accepts Sunny and they begin to sleep in the same bed. She discovers ImaTech has extensive documents and videos of her, and gets wind of a Dark Manual that may provide answers. Her mother-in-law is suddenly vaguely menacing; she and her card-playing cronies are huge AI fans.  A paranoid thriller and dark look into the future that feeds on our fears of AI and confirms them.  An unexpectedly complex and dark role for the usually “sunny” Jones. Co-stars Hidetoshi Nishijima, Joanna Sotomura, Judy Ongg, YOU, musician Annie the Clumsy and Jun Kunimura and based on Dark Manual by Japan-based Irish writer Colin O’Sullivan. July 10, Apple TV+.



Why Netflix’ romantic feature A Family Affair has become its most-watched offering, is one of those headscratchers. The performances are fine, Zac Efron is pretty good as Chris a spoiled Hollywood movie star who likes to bark out orders at his assistant Zara played with tremendous verve by Joey King. Both have spirited deliveries and drive the film. Nicole Kidman as her mother Brooke is okay, inoffensive, and familiar.  She and Chris, Zara’s boss, have a May-December affair that shouldn’t shock us these days but is meant to.  Zara’s mortified . It’s fun playing around in Hollywood uber-wealthy town where stars are shown as jackasses and bullies – obviously a story stretch! I’ll preface this by saying it is cruel and mean to discuss a person’s appearance, but when it distracts from a film, performances, and story, we wonder why it went so far and those faces are all we see.  I apologise to all concerned.  Kudos to King for her verve and physical humour.



Artistic Director Dr. Shirley Cheechoo launches the 7th Annual Weengushk International Film Festival (WIFF) uly 11 on Manitoulin Island in Northern Ontario. WIFF is Northern Ontario’s premier Indigenous film festival, dedicated to honouring the Residential School Warriors (Survivors) through storytelling and cinema.  The festival is preceded by Blanket of Stars: A Tribute to Resilience on July 11 also on Manitoulin. Warriors wrapped in Star Blankets will gather for a symbolic procession across a bridge to Little Current to be met by dancers, drummers, and the community. A conference follows at the Manitoulin Hotel and Conference Centre on resilience, history, and the path forward, honouring the past, present and future. WIFF 2024 celebrates Indigenous storytelling with global Indigenous voices via features, shorts, workshops, a gala awards event, and musical performances by Aysanabee, Adrian Sutherland, Nishina. Esquega, and The Poets: A Tragically Hip Tribute. The opening night film is Sugarcane, directed by Julian Brave NoiseCat and Emily Kassie, starring Ed Archie Noisecat.


Tickets and the full program available at https://www.weengushkfilmfestival.ca





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