Successful, married couple James (Y’lan Noel) and Vanessa (Cleopatra Coleman) are shocked at what they witness on the news one night. What they see is cellphone footage of their police officer neighbour, Brian (Justin Hartley), shooting an unarmed youth. After debating what they should do, Vanessa takes the reins and holds Brian hostage.
It’s ironic that it’s called A Lot of Nothing, considering it’s about many things. Co-Writer and Director Mo McRae makes an impact with this bold satirical Feature debut. Playing out over one night, the central story focuses on holding police officer Brian hostage. Hartley is strong as the manipulative Brian. He uses the layered Script to create mystery around his character, causing the audience to question the intent behind his motives.
McRae and fellow Screenwriter Sarah Kelly Kaplan use this central story to create an in-depth character study. Coleman is a force as the wealthy, determined Vanessa. Her commitment to Vanessa’s passion for her expensive material items allows levity on these heavy topics. The tension she shares with James is immense. Noel excels in playing James’ compassion against his desire to make Vanessa happy.
This tension ignites further when A Lot of Nothing introduces James’ brother Jamal (Toronto’s Shamier Anderson) and his expecting partner Candy (Lex Scott Davis). Through these two couples, critiques on wealth and familial acceptance shine through. The extravagance of James and Vanessa conflict with the naturalistic lifestyle of Jamal and Candy. However, when the guests find out what their hosts are doing they become active participants. Particularly Jamal, played to great effect by Canada’s own Anderson, who sees this as an opportunity to get revenge on the police officers who’ve targeted him. And Scott Davis is captivating as the forgiving, aura reading Candy, who has something to hide.
Overall, A Lot of Nothing is an audacious film that touches on many socio-political topics through its exquisitely-written characters.
A Lot of Nothing screens at SXSW ’22 as follows
In-Person: Sunday, March 13 at 4:45 PM EST – Alamo Lamar D
Monday, March 14 at 1:45 PM EST – Violet Crown Cinema 2
Monday, March 14 at 2:15 PM EST – Violet Crown Cinema 4
Friday, March 18 at 4:30 PM EST – Alamo Lamar A
Online: Monday, March 14 at 10:00 AM EST – Available for 48 hours
Arriving on Apple TV+ this October, INVASION is a character-driven Alien invasion story told around the world. Toronto’s own Shamier Anderson stars!
INVASIONis a ten-episode Science Fiction Drama series “Invasion,” from Academy Award-nominated and two-time Emmy Award-nominated producer Simon Kinberg(“X-Men” films, “Deadpool” films, “The Martian“) and David Weil (“Hunters”). The sweeping, character-driven Apple Original series, produced by Boat Rocker Studios, will make its global debut on Apple TV+ with the first three episodes on October 22, 2021, followed by new episodes weekly, every Friday.
Set across multiple continents, “Invasion” follows an alien invasion through different perspectives around the world. The series stars Shamier Anderson (“Bruised,” “Awake”), Golshifteh Farahani (“Extraction,” “Paterson,” “Body of Lies”), Sam Neill (“Jurassic World: Dominion,” “Peaky Blinders”), Firas Nassar (“Fauda”) and Shioli Kutsuna (“Deadpool 2,” “The Outsider”).
DISCLAIMER: Bruised is screening as a work-in-progress at TIFF ’20
Halle Berry makes her directorial debut with Bruised. It follows disgraced MMA fighter Jackie “Justice” (Halle Berry) who has been struggling to get by after losing an important match years ago. Since then, she’s been living with her Manager-Bboyfriend Desi (Adan Canto). One night, Desi tricks Jackie into an underground fight and her passion for the sport reignites. That same night, her six-year-old son whom she abandoned years ago, is left at her doorstep. This sends Jackie on a redemption path both to prove herself both in the ring, and as a mother to Manny.
Bruised follows the classic Athlete/Fighter redemption archetype, told through a new lens. While this has been explored before with a central female character, typically see these stories with men in the lead. Berry is well aware that a woman can pack a punch too. Early, she throws us right into the ring in Jackie’s enraged world. Her short-temper is shown in the opening scene where she attacks a teenager because he films her while she’s changing. Jackie’s brute force is shown also to us immediately. In the underground match, we see just how violent and ruthless she can be when faced with a worthy competitor.
At the center of everything is Berry’s performance. She does an excellent job channeling Jackie’s pent-up rage, but also showing her weaknesses. It’s clear in the First Act that Jackie is ready to fire after her previous match. Also, there is tenderness to her when she is paired with Manny. Those quiet moments between mother and son allow Berry to show her range. It’s also an honest depiction of the female personality, that a duality of tough and gentle can co-exist.
Berry has surrounded herself with strong talent. Toronto’s own, and TIFF ’19 Rising Star Shamier Anderson is great as Jackie’s newly-minted Manager with an agenda. Canto turns-in a strong performance as Jackie’s supportive, yet abusive Manager-Boyfriend. However, the most memorable performance from the Supporting Cast comes from TIFF ’20 Rising Star Sheila Atim. She commands the screen as Jackie’s ‘zen’ Trainer.
Berry sets her Film amidst the tough streets of Newark, New Jersey, taking us into Jackie‘s heart and soul. She shoots the training and fight scenes with passion and intensity. The Film’s blockbuster fight scenes are its brightest moments. While the story veers often to other competing plot lines surrounding her family and love, which ultimately fail to come to full fruition and get resolved, we wanted more training and fights and that always should have been the central focus. A bit more judicious editing and a shorter run time would benefit this work-in-progress.
Bruised screens at TIFF ’20:
Sat, Sep 12 6:00pm
Online at Bell Digital Cinema
Sat, Sep 12 7:45pm Visa Skyline Drive-In at CityView
Fri, Sep 18 9:00pm Visa Skyline Drive-In at CityView
Wrapping-up Canadian Screen Week, March 25-31, 2019, the 7th edition of the Canadian Screen Awards Broadcast Gala took place tonight at Toronto’s Sony Centre for the Performing Arts. The week-long series of awards and events presented by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, serve to honour excellence across multiple platforms in the Country from Film, to TV to Digital Media.
Noticeably absent this year was these presence of English-language Feature films up for Best Motion Picture, with French-language films leading the way. Coming-of-Age Drama A Colony: Blackfly by Director Geneviève Dulude-De Celles won the coveted award ultimately. Teen Actress Emilie Bierre won Best Actress for her work in the Film which sees her grappling with bullying entering junior high school.
The Great Darkened Days earlier in the week swept the Gala Honouring Cinematic Arts, held at the Four Seasons Hotel, with wins for Sound Editing, Costume Design, Art Direction/Production Design, Cinematography and Actress in a Supporting Role (Sarah Gadon).
Ryerson graduate Jasmin Mozaffari was awarded for Direction with her debut effort FIRECRACKERS which premiered at TIFF to much acclaim. “I am honoured to be part of the group where 60% of the nominees were women” , she says.
ANNE WITH AN E had tied with SCHITT’S CREEK with 15 nominations apiece. The former would prevail though with seven wins at the Broadcast Gala including Best Drama Series and Best Lead Actress, Drama Series (Teen Actress Amybeth McNulty). CARDINAL also would win seven Awards in the Television categories including Best Actor and Actress in a Drama Program or Limited Series, Billy Campbell and Karine Vanasse.
Honouring a Canadian talent making waves abroad, the Radius Award was presented tonight for the first time ever to Toronto’s Stephan James who starred both in Awards Season contender and winning, IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK and also Amazon Prime Series HOMECOMING alongside Julia Roberts. He came with his brother Shamier Anderson and they told the Newsroom about their joint venture, The B.L.A.C.K Ball which earlier this Awards Season was held for the first time ever in Los Angeles with the likes of Tessa Thompson, Tiffany Haddish, Jesse Williams, Amandla Stenberg and more attending.
Other Awards handed-out tonight included the Academy Icon Award which honoured the Cast of THE KIDS IN THE HALL. The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Filmmaker Deepa Mehta (Water, Beeba Boys), while Funnywoman Mary Walsh was handed the Earle Gray Award. The first-ever Industry Leadership Award went to our dear friends at Entertainment One.
For the first time ever this year, the Canadian Screen Arts Festival took place at Cineplex theatres every Saturday in March from Iqaluit to Vancouver, giving audience a chance to see some of this year’s nominated Films including Sashinka, Stockholm, What Walaa Wants, Immaculate Memories and Just a Breath Away.
See some Snaps from the night:
The Cast of Schitt’s Creek
Four-time Canadian Screen Award winner, Catherine O’Hara
Beth Janson, CEO of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television
Billy Campbell, Cardinal: Blackfly
Karine Vanasse, Cardinal: Blackfly
Stephan James x Shamier Anderson
Cindy Sampson, Private Eyes
Melanie Scrofano, Wynonna Earp
Kim Coates, Bad Blood
The Cast of Kim’s Convenience
Aaron Ashmore, The Killjoys
Sarah Gadon, The Great Darkened Days
Tynomi Banks, Canada’s a Drag
Moira Walley-Beckett, Amybeth McNulty x Miranda de Pencier of Anne With an E
Natasha Negovanlis x Elise Bauman
Rebecca Romijn x Jerry O’Connell
Yannick Bisson, Murdoch Mysteries
Tori Anderson x Allan Hawco
Catherine Reitman x Danielle Kind x Philip Sternberg of Workin’ Moms
Jasmin Mozaffari x Caitlin Grabham, Firecrackers
The Kids in the Hall
See our Highlight Reel with our George Kozera (@PartyG):