Monkey Warfare and Snow Cake
If you haven’t been inside the newly re-furbished and sonically beefed-up Royal Cinema, try to make it down after December 15, when it officially opens with exclusive screenings of Reg Harkema’s Monkey Warfare.
This is a smart, acerbic little movie that stars Parkdale as much as it does Toronto stalwarts (and real-life couple) Don McKellar and Tracy Wright. Dan (McKellar) and Linda (Wright) are low-key bohemians who dumpster dive and troll garbage sales for under-appreciated gems to re-sell on the Internet. When Susan (Nadia Litz), a beret-sporting sparkplug (who deals in remarkably potent BC bud) drops into their lives, asking questions about the relics of 60s radicalism festooned about their house, Dan and Linda’s quiet lives are flipped upside down. Peppered with vintage New wave editing techniques (Harkema is one of Canada’s all-star editors), Monkey Warfare is a nuanced and lucid look at the difficulties of fighting the system.
Monkey Warfare is now playing at the Royal, 606 College St..
If Atom Egoyan had co-written Barry Levinson’s Rain Man, it might have looked something like Snow Cake. Alex (the sublimely sour Alan Rickman) is traveling through Northern Ontario, when he grudgingly agrees to drive Vivienne, a garrulous young oddball, to nearby Wawa. When his car is hit by a transport truck, Alex survives, but Vivienne doesn’t. Overcome with inexplicable guilt, he seeks out the girl’s mother, Linda (Sigourney Weaver), only to find that she’s a developed autistic who loves nothing more than eating the snow in her front yard and playing “Comic Book Scrabble” (where all words are allowed, provided you can use them in a scenario from Spider Man or The Fantastic Four). Forced to arrange Vivienne’s funeral himself, the frosty Brit come face-to-face with long-repressed personal demons. Director Marc Evans would have benefited from a more exacting editor and first-timer Angela Pell’s script has an unfortunate tendency to drift toward needless sentimentality. Nevertheless, the genuine humour and humanity that pervade Rickman and Weaver’s performances rescue Snow Cake just as you’re about to give up on it.
Snow Cake is now playing at the Cumberland, 159 Cumberland St.