Capsule Reviews of Selected Films:
DRINKWATER (Canada 2021) ***
Directed by Stephen Campanelli
If there is any film that achieves the ‘honour’ of having the largest number of cliches, DRINKWATER is it. But director Campanelli tries so hard and his two performers are so good that one can forgive his errors. The film, to his credit does have some fresh ideas though predictability is his weak point. The protagonist of the film is an outsider in a remote British Columbian town. While his jobless father, Hank, makes money from insurance fraud schemes, Mike has to navigate the awkward teenage experience alone. To make matters worse, high school bully Luke Ryan and his father Wesley are a constant source of problems for the Drinkwaters. However, when Wallace, a young American girl, moves in next door Mike’s life is changed forever. Deciding to help Mike train for an upcoming cross-country race provides Wallace with the perfect opportunity to learn about life in remote British Columbia. Through their shared experiences of feeling like outsiders, Mike and Wallace discover what it really means to belong.
TONBI (FATHER AND SON) (Japan 2022) ***
Directed by Takahisa Zeze
The film running at over two hours, which concentrates on the life of a father Yasuo and then with the relationship with his son, among other relationships feels like a family epic. There is a lot of hurt, misunderstandings, skeletons in the closet as well as a lot of life lessons to be learnt. Yasuo grew up an orphan so he knows the importance of a loving family and wants to provide his son, Akira, with the best life possible. Happily married to the love of his life, working a steady job and raising a son are Yasuo’s greatest accomplishments. However, when a tragic accident changes everything and leaves Yasuo with a devastated son and a life turned upside down he must rise to the occasion and provide a stable life for Akira, as he always promised he would. Director Zeze’s film, to his credit, tries its best to stay away from sentimentality and melodrama, though not always successfully. There are a few really moving scenes like when Yasuo’s sister’s daughter comes into her restaurant to meet her mother for the first time. Little dialogue in this scene but otherwise overflowing in emotions.
REMEMBER ME: THE MAHALIA JACKSON STORY (USA 2020) ***
Directed by Denise Dowse
Mahalia Jackson (October 26, 1911 – January 27, 1972) was an American gospel singer, widely considered one of the most influential vocalists of the 20th century. With a career spanning 40 years, Jackson was integral to the development and spread of gospel blues in black churches throughout the U.S. The film emphasizes key issues like racial segregation, coloured rights, the recording industry and religion as were pervasive in American society. She met considerable and unexpected success in a recording career, selling an estimated 22 million records and performing in front of integrated and secular audiences in concert halls around the world. Jackson’s iconic voice helped to spread the message of the civil rights movement. In a world full of mounting pressure in her career and the social-political landscape of America, Jackson will face challenges like no other and overcome them the only way she knows how: with her voice. An occasional moving film that feels like a doc, the film’s best parts are the music, singing and dancing with the best scene shot in the jazz night club that Mahalia enters for the very first time.