Richard and “CP24 Breakfast” host Pooja Handa have a look at some special streaming opportunities and television shows to watch over the weekend including a look at the 2020 on-line only Whistler Film Festival, the Crave documentary “Carmine Street Guitars,” the Disney+ family flick “Godmothered” and, to celebrate Jeff Bridges’ seventy-first birthday, “The Fisher King” on ctv.ca.
“The Whistler Film Festival was the first opportunity I got to sit in a room with strangers and have them watch the movie and I was very nervous going into it,” says comedian Brent Butt about his new film No Clue.
In the film he stars as Leo, a mild mannered Vancouver tchotchke salesman lured into a murder mystery by a femme fatale played by Amy Smart. “It’s a very dark, classic kind of detective mystery but the main characters say funny things,” says Butt.
“We really felt, totally objectively, that we made the movie we wanted to make but that part of my brain that is the stand up comic said, ‘What you think doesn’t really matter. The audience will let you know,’ and the audience is everything to me.
“Long before Corner Gas came around I was just a greasy nightclub comic, out there getting it done. When you are doing that you always have the ability to shift gears. You think, ‘They’re not buying the sports stuff so I’ll talk about politics,’ but with this movie if they’re not liking it five minutes in you can’t say, ‘Everybody go get a drink. I’m going to reedit this.’ You are locked in.”
Audience reaction was “better than we ever could have imagined” for a movie he calls a “tricky balancing act.”
“I wanted to make a movie that if it wasn’t funny would still be entertaining. It would still be thrilling and a mystery and have all those good, juicy elements and then the funny kind of folds in like gravy. It’s on top of everything else.
“From the writing stand point there were a lot of funny jokes I neglected to put in the movie because I felt this is funny but it is ultimately going to damage the reality. For this movie to work it has to feel real. One of the things we did early on was tell everybody to forget that this is a comedy. Pretend you are making a dark murder mystery. That’s what this is. The comedy will come in elsewhere.”
Butt cites a famous example of the kind of film he wanted to make.
“Beverly Hills Cop was written not to be a funny movie. It was written to be a thriller and then they cast Eddie Murphy and said, ‘Let’s make it funny.’ But if you take all the funny things that Eddie says out, it still holds water as an action movie.”
Filmmaker Ingrid Veninger says the pitch for the script writing initiative Femmes Lab, “could have back-fired badly.”
The actor-turned-director-turned-Renaissance-woman was on stage at the Whistler Film Festival in December receiving an EDA award from the Alliance of Women Film Journalists for her latest film, The Animal Project, when a notion struck her.
“I started to talk about the Femmes Lab at the podium,” says Veninger. “Six Canadian women will write six screenplays in six months. Then I took the leap to invite someone to step up for $6,000. At first the room was silent. So, I started counting down: 6, 5 … and before I hit 4, a women shot her arms in the air and said, ‘I’ll do it!’ My heart was racing and it was only later I realized it was Melissa Leo. Melissa approached me quietly and said, ‘This is going to happen. I will get you a cheque before the end of the year.’ And, she did.”
For her donation, the Frozen River Academy Award winner Leo gets a first look at six scripts written by a hand-picked group of female Canadian writers and directors including Veninger, Danishka Esterhazy, Michelle Latimer, Sophie Deraspe, Anais Granofsky and Mars Horodyski.
“It’s not your traditional kind of script development,” says Veninger, “that’s for sure. It’s almost more like a coven. We’re not actually casting spells, as we conjure these new screenplays, but sort of. The nuts and bolts is that we meet in person once a month from January until June, mostly in Toronto. And, month to month we each have to move our screenplays forward, so that by the end of June, we have six completed scripts. But what happens in the actual lab session is a secret. I can say that in my past 20 years of making movies, I have not experienced anything like this. First off, the six of us are very different and we bring a diverse range of experiences and perspectives to the table. Our sessions are minimally nine hours, but can also last the whole weekend.”
One of the participants, Mars Horodyski, said, “For me the pUNK Films Femmes Lab offers a supportive creative space where you are encouraged to do something different, brave and representative of who you really are.
Something really special happens when you get a group of women together to collaborate in this way. It’s different from anything I’ve ever been a part of and I’m excited to see the outcome.”
Veninger says this edition of pUNK Films Femme Lab is likely to be “a one time thing. I’m happy to spark the fire, but it’s most exciting to see how others keep it going.”
It seems that spark is about to ignite.
“After Whistler, I received a message from a filmmaker in L.A. saying, “we should do a Femmes Lab in Los Angeles”, and my response was, ‘go ahead and do it. Make it happen. We have nothing to lose. Now is the time.’”
Most Canadians know actor Bruce Greenwood for his work in big-budget American films like Star Trek. But long before he played JFK in Thirteen Days the affable Canuck got his start playing a scuba diver with two lines on the locally shot show, The Beachcombers, and often returns home to work with directors such as Atom Egoyan.
“The Beachcombers was a great lesson in how not to pad your resume,” he told an intimate crowd gathered at the Whistler Conference Centre before relaying a funny tale about fudging his diving experience. A comedy of errors ensued resulting in crushing head pain and a dropped mask, which forced a grip to strap on a tank, jump in the water and retrieve it from the ocean floor.
It was a casual conversation about his experiences with plenty of humorous anecdotes about autographs, interviews, acting and even Sly Stallone freaking out on the set of First Blood after missing his mark. (Greenwood played Guardsman #5). “Is this being recorded?” he asked afterwards.
There was also a funny moment when interviewer and film critic Richard Crouse asked Greenwood if he remembered any negative reviews. “Greenwood’s choppy acting style lends nothing to the production,” he deadpanned, before sarcastically adding, “No, I don’t.”
Another funny yarn involved a friend calling Greenwood up to ask if he’d seen the Today show following the release of the film Double Jeopardy. The friend told him that film critic Gene Shalit had ripped him on the show, claiming Greenwood “ruined the movie”. Greenwood was crushed and, after he hung up the phone, had a lengthy conversation with his wife before deciding he had to just let it go. After many painfully silent hours the friend called him back and said, “I got ya!”