Richard appears on “CTV News at 6” with anchor Andria Case to talk about the best Canadian movies and television to watch this weekend. This week he has a look at Gordon Pinsent in the charming “The Grand Seduction” on Netflix, the coming-of-age story “Beans” on Amazon Prime and Tantoo Cardinal in “Falls Around Her” on Crave.
Richard and “CP24 Breakfast” host Pooja Handa have a look at some special streaming opportunities and television shows to help fill the hours during self isolation, including two Crave TV’s Stay at Home Cinemas–“Falls Around Her” and “Sense and Sensibility”–“Fantasy Island” on ctv.ca and “Somebody Feed Phil,” a delightful docu-series from the guy who created “Everybody Loves Raymond.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia McMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases including the live action elephant epic “Dumbo,” the terrorism drama “Hotel Mumbai” and Tantoo Cardinal’s “Falls Around Her.”
Richard has a look at the new movies coming to theatres, including Tim Burton’s flying elephant epic “Dumbo,” the terrorism drama “Hotel Mumbai,” Tantoo Cardinal’s “Falls Around Her” and “Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes” by Swiss film-maker Sophie Huber, a deep dive into the history of the storied label with CFRA Morning Rush host Bill Carroll.
Tantoo Cardinal has been acting for forty years, building up a resume heavy with dozens of film and television credits like “Dances with Wolves,” “Black Robe,” “Legends of the Fall” and cult favourite “Smoke Signals.” Her latest film, “Falls Around Her,” is a career landmark, her first solo lead in a feature film. After watching the Northern Ontario-set drama you’ll wonder why it took so long to put her front and center.
Renowned Anishinaabe musician Mary Birchbark (Cardinal) is at a professional and personal crossroad. Exhausted and feeling career burn out she returns to the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek First Nation in northern Ontario to recharge her depleted batteries; to reconnect with friends, family and the land. Unfortunately, the solitary she hoped for is elusive. She hears noises outside her cabin and has the feeling someone or something from her past is lurking outside.
“Falls Around Her” is a tale of resilience. When we first meet Mary she’s disconnected from the very things that ground her. As she slowly takes back her life, easing out of the road work and a new show in a new town every night, she opens herself to rediscovering what is really important, family, friends, being happy. She is not a victim. She’s in control, putting past trauma in the rearview mirror. Cardinal is a living breathing embodiment of Mary’s renewal. Her performance dominates the film, a fiery mix of experience, hurt and joy. It’s remarkable work, done with a minimum of dialogue, that presents one of the most complex and interesting characters in recent memory.
In “Through Black Spruce,” an adaptation of Joseph Boyden’s Giller Prize-winning novel, “Yellowstone” actress Tanaya Beatty stars as Annie Bird, a Cree woman from James Bay who travels to Toronto in search of her twin sister Suzanne, a model who disappeared without a trace.
As Annie explores the dark underbelly of the city’s fashion scene at home in Moosonee her Uncle Will (Mohawk actor Brandon Oakes) runs afoul of local drug dealers. They think Suzanne’s boyfriend ripped them off and want to talk to her about where he is. When Will won’t tell them he is beaten within an inch of his life.
“Through Black Spruce” comes with the weight of a backstory unrelated to what we see on the screen. The film, opening amid controversy over Boyden’s Indigenous identity and directed by Don McKellar, who is not indigenous, comes at a flashpoint in our cultural history regarding First Nations filmmakers and artists and who should tell their stories.
“Through Black Spruce’s” story touches on important issues. Annie’s grief over her missing sister puts a human face on the plight of missing First Nations women whose stories are rarely told let alone solved. The second story, Uncle Will’s struggle between the traditional and modern world, is played out in an interesting encounter with First Nations couple (Tantoo Cardinal and Edmund Metatawabin) in the deep woods.
As a narrative “Through Black Spruce” is split, connected in spirit, but separate. The story zig zags between the Toronto and Moosonee sections, laid out linearly. McKellar cuts back and forth, doling out the stories but the technique sometimes slows the film’s momentum.
More interesting than the structure are the performances. In subtle ways Beatty and Oakes both find psychological and cultural context for their characters, a framework missing from the script. As Annie, Beatty is a haunting and haunted presence. Oakes brings Will’s struggle with alcohol to vivid life.
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with host Andrew Carter to talk the new movies coming to theatres including Tim Burton’s flying elephant epic “Dumbo,” the terrorism drama “Hotel Mumbai” and Tantoo Cardinal’s “Falls Around Her.”