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By Anne Brodie

Sometimes a movie will knock you flat out. The King Tide is such a film. It’s set on a wild, windy isolated island off Newfoundland and Labrador, where its population origins are cloaked in mystery. It’s a closed society, “mainlanders” are to be shunned and discouraged from showing up and no one leaves the island. An ideal closed setting for some wild, weird stuff in what seems like a family community. Folks get along, the Mayor, Bobby (Clayne Crawford) is admired, the children run free and the inhabitants work hard to reel in the plentiful cod that crowd their waters. Flashback some years to a baby crying from the rocky Atlantic shore, apparently struggling. The men turn over a capsized boat where a swaddled baby girl is breathing and healthy despite being in the water. The Mayor takes her home and with his wife, raises her, and calls her Isla. She has a gift, her touch or look can heal a person, and make them well, happy, and successful in their tasks: islanders line up to be touched by her; that’s her life and as the villagers would have it, her purpose.  But when her friend dies and her adoptive parents “retire” her to heal, the villagers rebel. They attach meaning to her washing up on their shores and healing them, praying to her, begging to be touched. But their appreciation turns to greed; they expect her to keep the community going, especially the fishing haul, the lifeblood of the isolated community.  Corporate trawlers in the distance are gobbling up the fish, but her powers have kept their bays full. The village stops seeing her as a human being.  Biblical, mythological, primal, and deeply dramatic, The King Tide is also a fair portrait of human behaviour under great stress. A spellbinding tale of good and evil that represents us at our worst and most entitled, blind, and unsteady.  Also stars Alix West Lefler as Isla, Law & Order Criminal Intent: Toronto’s Aden Young, Michael Greyeyes, Emily Pigford, Lara Jean Chorostecki, and young Cameron Nicoll who plays one of the few people with Isla’s best interests at heart. In select theatres.

We don’t cover horror here at What She Said; life is hard enough given war, Trump, climate crisis, and the rest of it. But because of the cast of Humane – Jay Baruchel, Emily Hampshire, Peter Gallagher, Colm Feore – I thought I’d jump in to see what these folks were up to. Shot in Hamilton, it’s one night in a dystopian society which, to address these crises, implements a euthanasia programme to reduce the population by 20%. People line their umbrellas and car windows with protective film as the sun is lethal and homes are kept dark. We’re at the Victorian mansion belonging to Gallagher’s patriarch Charles York. He’s gathered his children and a grandchild for dinner, cooked by his chef wife Dawn (Uni Park). He announces that he and his wife have volunteered for the euthenasia programme.  And Bob (Enrico Colantoni) the local body collector shows up at the wrong time. All hell breaks loose capturedin closeup by writer-director Caitlin Cronenberg, horror meister David Cronenberg’s daughter, who writes a good script. It is unrelenting horrorific psychologicallly, a bloodbath. I must learn to take horror warnings more seriously.  In theatres and TIFF Lightbox and on demand.

A grizzled Nic Cage is Matt and he’s on The Retirement Plan in the Cayman Islands. Back home in Miami, his long-estranged daughter Ashley (Ashley Greene Khoury) is caught up in an organised crime powerplay leaving her husband Jimmy (Jordan Johnson-Hinds) vulnerable. He brings her to the Cayman Islands where she and their daughter Sarah (Thalia Campbell) can hide out. Circumstances force her to send Sarah on her own, with a hidden hard drive the killers are coming for. An airline host makes sure she gets to her grandfather’s home where she finds Matt; he’s shocked but takes control. Back in Miami, crime boss, the sadistic Donnie (Jackie Earl Hailey), and his right-hand man Bobo (Ron Perlman) send henchmen to the Caymans. Dark humour lightens the subject matter, and Cage as always is the master of eccentric amusement and awe. And as we discover, Matt’s also a man plenty of experience in what’s needed to get the thugs off their tail. Who is he? The body count is super high, and it’s fun, but a child is endangered and that’s no light thing. Hats off to Nic for being the character we have always loved – himself. Netflix

Elisabeth Moss has a bold take on an intelligence officer and assassin in FX’s limited series The Veil launching April 30, on Disney+. Phenomenally gifted in terms of native instinct, strategic thinking, and jumping ahead of all people and circumstances, she smiles constantly. Is it a cover, a distraction aimed at people who doubt her, a form of self-comfort in war zones, a reassurance to others? Her name’s Portia or Imogen or whatever depending on her circumstances as she carries out top-secret and dangerous missions for MI6; we follow her to the wintery mountains on the Turkish-Syrian border. Her job is to extract Adilah (Yumna Marwan) a Daesh/ISIS commander from imprisonment at a refugee camp; they head to Istanbul. Adilah is wanted by multiple global agencies for war crimes and their agents are on her trail. Is she the notorious “Djinn al Raqqa” the Devil, guilty of war crimes? Imogen sends her to Paris to be with her small daughter, who also under threat, as Imogen walks alone through the endless war zone towards the Turkish capital. An exceptional, surprising, and timely series, that makes sense of the various forces at play in that part of the world.  These women are deeply committed to their work and beliefs, they’re on perpetual high alert with placid exteriors, to avoid standing out. And always ready to change tactics and think fast without raising a ripple. These ideological opposites are more alike than they realize and share an unerring instinct for survival. Riveting.

Rumer Willis is the headliner in Heidi Weitzer’s girl trip comedy and palate cleanser My Divorce Party, set in a rental trailer park in Joshua Tree, CA in meltingly hot weather. Longtime friends, Willis’ Ren, Desiree Staples as chaotic Xan, Kimia Behpoornia, the sensible Isabella, Michelle Meredith, as the kinder gentler Wendy, and Sarah Hollis and tough as nails lawyer Samantha plan to go low key but Xan drops a bomb. She’s brought thousands in cash, money she plans to burn so her ex doesn’t get it.  The cash they don’t burn funds the purchase of a wooden statue, a bullhorn, beauty appointments, extravagant nights at a male strip club, and a $22K bottle of wine that disappointingly turns out to be cinnamon lime flavoured. It’s silly stuff, but the characters and actors are appealing, lots of memorable zingers, and it’s nice to see women getting along with and supporting one another and not borrowing from the sad world of reality TV. And they don’t spend a lot of energy dissing their men. A little, not a lot. On TVOD April 30th.

As a toast to Asian Heritage Month, Hollywood Suite launches the world premiere broadcast of the four-part series Potluck Ladies, directed, produced, and co-written by Shazia Javed. Set in a Mississauga condo populated by women from across Asia, living with their children, their husbands back home making money. Natasha Krishnan, Elisa Moolecherry lead the cast with Kavita Musty as journalist Sumaira, elegant penthouse dweller Azra, and Ruby who’s having husband trouble. Sumaira sells a local magazine on the Condo Women, their bond, and their common situation, far from home and alone with the kids.  The women are excited that they’ll be in a magazine and welcome Sumaira into their Potluck circle of fellow lone wives. They share the problems of being and doing all for their kids without help, one hides her imminent divorce from them, another her husband’s traditional patriarchal cruelties, shaming her weight gain and tricking her. One inadvertently gives them food poisoning with rice pudding she says she made but didn’t. Lots of selfies are taken and spirits stay happy, they boost one another. But Sumaira’s not impressed, telling her husband these women live pointless lives. And then it’s their turn to be unimpressed when her article comes out, mocking them. She blames the editors for changing its tone and intent, but her name’s mud. How can she get back in their good graces, how can the women face the hurdles before them and find a better way to live, how can they be their authentic selves?  It’s entertaining and mostly jolly, taking care to show the angst behind the selfie smiles. It’s about the absolute importance of friendship; we all need our girl gangs who have our backs.  Hollywood Suite 2000 channels starting May 1.

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