Richard joins NewsTalk 1010’s Jim Richards coast-to-coast-to-coast late night “Showgram” to play the game “Did Richard Crouse like these movies?” This week we talk about the Bob Odenkirk one man army flick “Nobody,” the prank road movie “Bad Trip” with Tiffany Haddish and Eric Andre and the examination of trauma, “Violation.”
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with host Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including Bob Odenkirk’s action flick “Nobody,” (Theatres), the gonzo prank movie “Bad Trip” (Netflix) and “Violation’s” (Shudder) examination of trauma.
Set in a remote, woodsy cabin on a lake, the rape-revenge film “Violation,” now streaming on Shudder, is an uncompromising, provocative film that uses a broken timeline, remote locations and graphic violence to tell a story of trauma.
Written, produced, and directed by Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli, “Violation” begins with two couples on a weekend get-a-way. Miriam (Sims-Fewer) and Caleb (Obi Abili), a married couple on the brink of divorce, join her sister Greta (Anna Maguire) and brother-in-law Dylan (Jesse LaVercombe) at a family retreat in rural Quebec. The sisters have a fraught relationship and an underlying atmosphere of tension hangs heavy. The morning after night of drinks around the campfire Miriam wakes up as Dylan rapes her. Devastated, Miriam exacts revenge.
“Violation” is a tough watch.
Cruel and hallucinatory, it changes the channel from exploitation to a study of the way Miriam processes her trauma. Sims-Fewer and Mancinelli go deep, using shifts in the colour palette, disquieting, extreme close-ups and nature and insect symbolism to visually add to the sense of unease.
For the bulk of the film Sims-Fewer’s raw performance is played out in dialogue free sequences, placing the focus on her actions and unspoken motivations, but never providing the pay-off typically associated with revenge dramas. That makes “Violation” is something different.
A rape-revenge film that does away with the male gaze, it doesn’t sexualize its female protagonist, which changes the dynamics of what could have been a straightforward genre piece. There is an unnecessary late movie twist and some clumsy exposition early on, but as an honest portrait of a woman who turns to retaliatory violence because she feels powerless, it’s chilling.
“Queen of the Morning Calm,” a new family drama starring Tina Jung and now playing in theatres, is a story of redemption set against a backdrop of violence and sex work.
Jung is Debra, a 29-year-old Korean woman who works as a dancer in a strip club to support her precocious daughter Mona (Eponine Lee), a ten-year-old student in private school. She’s taking steps toward a better life for her family but with each move forward comes a setback, usually in the form of Debra’s boyfriend Sarge (Jesse LaVercombe), an itinerant father who comes and goes, often disappearing with no explanation.
When he isn’t gambling away all their money, he’s making pie in the sky promises of money and being a better father to Mona. Convinced that Sarge is the true love a fortune teller once predicted Debra endures his nonsense.
When he takes off with all their money, Debra’s life spins out of control. A missing-in-action babysitter and a failed job interview put her in a desperate situation. Unable to pay her rent, she’s tossed out on the street.
Ian (Shaun Benson), a kindly neighbor who has always had a crush on Debra, comes to the rescue with a job and a sense of stability. When Sarge comes back into their lives like a whirlwind, Debra must decide what is best for her moving forward.
Debra’s path in life is not easy but director Gloria Kim never wallows in the misfortune of her story. The hurdles in Debra’s life are realistically portrayed, emotional and she is even sometimes the architect of her own misfortune, but there is an optimism to the story that no matter how bad things get, they can and will, get better. It is a journey of deliverance for both Debra and Mona, made more real by engaging performances from Jung and Lee.
“Queen of the Morning Calm” is a self-assured feature debut for Kim, who worked for a decade to bring this story to the screen. Her story of Debra’s empowerment, of self-discovery, is honest and heartbreaking, steely yet vulnerable and handled with great sensitivity.