#CANNES: “BLACK FLIES” REVIEW
By Amanda Gilmore
Sean Penn’s latest is one brutal look into the lives of paramedics in East New York. It follows Ollie (Tye Sheridan) a rookie on the job. At the scene of a shooting, Ollie meets veteran EMT Rut (Penn). From there the two become paired up for Ollie’s first year on the job. Leading to the young paramedic getting a crash course in lifesaving techniques while working with the grizzled New York City veteran.
Black Flies is a raw look at the daily working life of paramedics in Brooklyn. Director Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire doesn’t spare us of just how brutal the job is. And the responsibility it carries — these people are carrying patients’ lives in their hands. It’s a tough and uncomfortable watch as it plays out like a Horror Film about a descent into hell. We watch three different paramedics at different points in their careers.
Ollie is at the very beginning and wants to save people’s lives. He’s shocked at the cruelty and inhumanity he sees every day. Sheridan, who also produces, turns in his greatest performance to date as an EMT attempting to maintain his morality while watching his colleagues lose theirs. There’s enough background given to Ollie that makes us invested in his journey. We hope he holds onto the light.
Rut has been at this for a long time and is at the point of snapping. Penn turns-in a captivating performance as a veteran paramedic who’s basically on his way out. He shows the audience the true struggle of making quick tough decisions. Then there’s Micheal C. Pitt’s character who has already snapped. He tells Ollie that they are the ones who play God as soon as the ambulance doors shut. Stating he decides who lives if he believes they are worthy of it.
Although it’s necessary to have a character who has already hit their breaking point, there are times this character feels like a distraction from the main purpose of the Film. Because Black Flies feels like its intention is to be a love letter to paramedics. The true heroes. Another distraction is the romantic storyline given to Ollie which doesn’t add anything substantial to the narrative.
Black Flies is a Film about the realities and the horror that Paramedics face every day and the mental toll the job takes.
Black Flies screens at Cannes ’23:
Thu May 18 at 10:30PM at GRAND THÉÂTRE LUMIÈRE
Fri May 19 at 11:30AM at LICORNE
Fri May 19 at 11:45AM at GRAND THÉÂTRE LUMIÈRE
Fri May 19 at 2PM hat CINEUM IMAX
Sat May 20 at 1PM at CINEUM SCREEN X
Sun May 21 at 9PM at AGNÈS VARDA THEATRE
#SUNDANCE: “JOHN AND THE HOLE”
Review by Amanda Gilmore for Mr. Will Wong
While flying his drone, 13-year-old John (Charlie Shotwell) discovers an unfinished bunker in the woods near his family’s isolated home. Without any provocation, he drugs his parents (Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Ehle) and older sister (Taissa Farmiga) and places their unconscious bodies into the bunker. While they are held captive, John heads to their home free to do what he wants.
Screenwriter Nicolás Giacobone excellently adapts his own Short Story. This haunting Psychological Thriller and coming-of-age fable is spellbinding. Giacobone examines the adolescent desire for responsibility and freedom that comes with adulthood. He shows this through John’s frightening act of holding his family hostage; while intelligently showing the immaturity of a teenage boy through impulsive spending, ignoring household tasks and testing his life through a drowning game with his friend. These often-dark scenes show there is a bigger disconnect between childhood and adulthood than responsibility.
The Script is seeping in ambiguity within scenes and characters, therefore, constantly leaving the story open for interpretation. One of Variety‘s Top Ten Directors to Watch, Pascual Sisto, makes his directorial debut with John and the Hole. Sisto heightens this ambiguity with his quiet, haunting atmosphere and grounds this unsettling tale. He creates a mood with the disorienting and sinister use of sound, designed by Nicolas Becker, that cuts right through you. Additionally, Sisto’s use of shallow-focus composition places John at the forefront of each image. This creates the necessary air of authority about this creepy adolescent.
Both Giacobone’s script and Sisto’s direction play with the concept of time. This is integral to the depravity of the act John is committing against his family. We wonder how much time has past since his family has been captive, and how long it’s been since he’s visited them. It’s in these visits, where we see him deliver food, water and clothes, where John’s compassion, or lack thereof, is examined. There are ample layers to John’s blank exterior which helps keep us intrigued and shocked throughout.
Shotwell, who we know from Captain Fantastic, is surrounded by powerhouse talent: Hall, Ehle and Farmiga. Each of them gives stunning performances that expose their privilege, compassion and fear. Yet, it’s Shotwell who is the star of John and the Hole. He gives a chilling, deep performance that has to be seen to be believed. He controls each emotion and power switch within the script and understands and visualizes John’s fixation on adulthood. He is one to watch.
Overall, John and the Hole is an eerie meditation on a child wanting to be an adult and the lengths he’ll go to experience it. It has an outstanding, breakout performance from Shotwell along with powerful performances from Hall, Ehle and Farmiga. It’s a film that will stay with viewers and be discussed for years to come.
John and the Hole screens at Sundance:
Live Premiere: January 29 at 6 PM (EST)
On-Demand (available for 24 hours): January 31 at 10 AM (EST)
#TIFF13: MR. WILL’S HIGHLIGHTS OF THE 2013 TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
With great sadness, we must say farewell to another TIFF. And with fatigue, a limp in my right foot and great pain in my neck today after a gruelling run these past 11 days, I look back at the happy times, the regrets and what TIFF ’14 might hold. Despite all these mixed emotions, I know it won’t be long before I’m begging for more! I live for the Toronto International Film Festival – the greatest in Film Festival the World – and wouldn’t rather be anywhere else.
Here’s a look back at some of the Highlights for me of the Festival in Compiled Lists:
MR. WILL’S MOST GRACIOUS 10
Anyone who encountered these Stars up-close and personal during TIFF ’13 can vouch that they deserve a warm round of applause for the respect, appreciation and courtesy they’ve shown our City. Whether it be Jessica Chastain‘s consistent grace and humility towards her Fans, Brad Pitt‘s surprise Red Carpet appearance in which he took several Photos with Fans at the 12 Years a Slave Premiere, Hugh Jackman stopping in the rain outside the Press Conference for Prisoners to meet and great all his Supporters individually – these Stars understand exactly what the Festival is all about for us Fans!
1. Jessica Chastain
2. Sandra Bullock
3. Tom Hiddleston
4. Daniel Radcliffe
5.. Brad Pitt
6. Josh Brolin
7. Hugh Jackman
8. Jennifer Aniston
9. Nicolas Cage
10. Emma Thompson
MR. WILL’S SUCCESSFUL 6
These six Films gained a great amount of buzz and momentum coming out of TIFF ’13 in advance of their forthcoming Awards Season Best Picture Campaigns. Sadly, August: Osage Country didn’t wind up getting critical love universally (I enjoyed it much!) hoped for, but it still remains a major Contender in the Acting categories – especially for a heartbreakingly-absent Queen Meryl Streep.
1. 12 Years a Slave
2. Labor Day
3. Dallas Buyers Club
MR. WILL’S EMERGING 5
These five up-and coming Stars caused quite a stir wherever they spotted around TIFF ’13. This time next year, expect to know them pretty much on a first name-basis.
1. Benedict Cumberbatch
2. Emilia Clarke
3. Daniel Brühl
4. Jai Courtney
5. Taylor Schilling
MR. WILL’S NAUGHTY LIST
Although we try to keep things positive here, we remain hopeful that next time these Stars visit our City, they show us a bit more Fan Appreciation – not just only when the Cameras are on – than they showed this year. Little things like picking-up a Sharpie or taking time to pose for Photos with Fans, or maybe not distancing themselves a 15 feet from the Barricades where their Fans had queued for hours to see them, would be a first step. In all fairness, some had hyper-assertive Handlers or lateness to blame.
1. Benedict Cumberbatch
2. Joseph Gordon-Levitt
3. Scarlett Johansson
4. Mila Kunis
5. Emilia Clarke
MR. WILL’S FASHIONABLE 5
These Stars certainly made a Statement whether it be out and about in our City or on the Red Carpet. I still cannot get over Kitsch‘s gray-on-gray Suit he wore at the Premiere of The Grand Seduction and certainly was a bit obsessed with Toni Collette‘s new Bangs. Julia Roberts was a Vision in her Dolce & Gabbana Dress at the Premiere of August: Osage County too, but my favourite look was Sandra Bullock at the Gravity Premiere in Narciso Rodriguez!
1. Sandra Bullock
2. Julia Roberts
3. Taylor Kitsch
4. Toni Collette
5. Jessica Chastain
And who exactly did Mr. Will got a Photo-with at TIFF ’13?
Ben Cotton, Dane Cook, Jason Reitman, Josh Brolin, Nicole Kidman, Anika Noni Rose, Bill Condon, Donnie Wahlberg, Paul Wahlberg, Jack Huston, Tom Arnold, John Torturro, Lauren Lee Smith, Sami Gayle, Mary Walsh, Saoirse Ronan, Michael C. Hall, Tye Sheridan, Katie Boland, Aaron Abrams, Kelly Rowan, Daniel Radcliffe, Taylor Schilling, Effie Exarchopoulos, Dan Stevens, Daniel Brühl, Alicia Vikander, Tom Hiddleston, deadmau5, Carice Van Houten, Tom Welling, Vanessa Paradis, Michael Bolton, Alice Cooper, Taylor Kitsch, Toni Collette, Dakota Fanning, Jai Courtney, Ciaran Hinds, Jessica Chastain, Emilia Clarke, Jared Harris, Adelaide Kane, James Lafferty, Jennifer Morrison, David Arquette, Alfre Woodard, Ryan Kwanten, Catherine O’Hara, Mark Boone Junior, Will Forte, Emma Thompson, Cara Gee, Demian Bichir, Jude Law, Tom Wilkinson, Alfonso Cuaron, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Thompson (again!), Lea Seydoux, Robert Baker, Amanda Walsh, Adam Driver, Keanu Reeves and Nicolas Cage.
To re-visit some of the amazing names that I snapped in the City over the Festival, click here.
To read some of my Reviews of the Films that premiered at TIFF ’13, click here. More Reviews to come over the next day or two as I play catch-up after all the madness.
…until next year, Wongsters!
(Photo credit: Mr. Will Wong)
*Photos taken on Samsung Galaxy S4 and Olympus E-PL5
#TIFF13: STARS AROUND THE CITY AT 2013 TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL DAY 5 | MICHAEL C. HALL, DANIEL RADCLIFFE, SANDRA BULLOCK, SAOIRSE RONAN, NICOLAS CAGE, JAMES HETFIELD (METALLICA) AND MORE
We’re almost half-way through TIFF ’13 and the Star Sightings just don’t stop. Among the Talent we saw today include Marquee names, and several more were seen at the popular InStyle Magazine Party held annually at the Windsor Arms Hotel.
Michael C. Hall at TIFF ’13 with Kill Your Darlings.
Saoirse Ronan at TIFF ’13 for Mary Queen of Scots.
Daniel Radcliffe at TIFF ’13 with The F Word, Kill Your Darlings and Horns.
Nicolas Cage runs the Red Carpet for Joe at Princess of Wales Theatre, zipping furiously through line of Autograph Seekers in record time.
Sandra Bullock greets hoards of Fans while promoting Gravity. She was absolutely wonderful and in charge of the situation.
James Hetfield of Metallica promoting new Documentary, Through the Never.
Acting Legend Tom Wilkinson who stars in Belle at TIFF ’13.
Jude Law who stars in Dom Hemingway at TIFF ’13.
David Arquette surprises at the InStyle Magazine Party, donning earrings with his Daughter Coco‘s name.
Jennifer Morrison at the InStyle Magazine Party.
Jared Harris at the InStyle Magazine Party.
Abigail Breslin at the InStyle Magazine Party.
Jessica Chastain at the InStyle Magazine Party.
(Photo credit: Mr. Will Wong)
*Photos taken with Samsung Galaxy S4 and Olympus E-PL5
#TIFF13: OFFICIAL SCHEDULE AND CELEBRITY GUEST LIST ANNOUNCED!
At long last the TIFF ’13 Guest List has been announced and among the Marquee names we can expect to see in Toronto in two weeks are phenomenal! Although speak of Brad Pitt and George Clooney making appearances here didn’t amount to much more than rumour, this year the Female Contingent shines brightest with several of Hollywood’s A-List set to present their latest Oscar Vehicles here.
Among the Celebrities expected this year are:
Emilia Clarke, Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, Tom Felton, Chris Hemsworth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Scarlett Johansson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jennifer Aniston, Matthew McConaughey, Daniel Radcliffe, Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Sarah Gadon, Julia Roberts, Reese Witherspoon, James Franco, Marion Cotillard, Mike Myers, Emma Thompson, Kristen Wiig, Keira Knightley, Saoirse Ronan, Amy Poehler, Keanu Reeves, Kate Winslet, Adam Driver, Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, Owen Wilson, Ralph Fiennes, Hailee Steinfeld, Jake Gyllenhaal, JudeLaw, Jessica Chastain, Jai Courtney, Mila Kunis, Pierce Brosnan, Sandra Bullock, Jason Bateman, Zac Efron, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Colin Firth, Idris Elba, Ed Harris, Michael C. Hall, Annette Benning, James McAvoy, Liam Neeson, Steven Soderbergh, Ben Foster, Anton Yelchin, Maria Bello, Jennifer Garner, Nicolas Cage, Daniel Brühl, Tom Hiddleston, Jack Huston, Hugh Jackman, Jessica Lange, Melissa Leo, Adam Levine, Catherine O’Hara, Kurt Russell, Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Berenger, Tom Wilkinson, Julia Louis Dreyfuss, Clive Owen, Zach Galifianakis, Emily Watson, John Hawkes, Alan Rickman, Toni Collette, Josh Brolin, Alice Cooper, Tiger Chen, Rebecca Hall, Will Forte, Kevin Zegers, Taylor Kitsch, Juliette Binoche, Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, Thandie Newton, Terrence Howard, James Hetfield, Thomas Haden Church, Tim Robbins, Glenn Close, Dakota Fanning, Philip Glass and several more!
Keep checking back here as the Toronto International Film Festival makes additions as we get closer to Thursday, September 5, 2013 when TIFF ’13 kicks-off! The Festival runs till Sunday, September 15, 2013.
The official Schedule has been announced and you can now start planning your Festival right here. Download the Official Schedule right here!
Single Tickets go on sale on Sunday, September 1, 2013 on TIFF‘s Website here.
Things are about to get real exciting around here! Happy TIFF, indeed!
(Photo credit: Mr. Will Wong)