Posts Tagged ‘Virginia Madsen’


“Based on a true story” tends to give fiction a different weight; horror filmmakers are especially fond of using it to label their movies even though it may not be in the movie’s best interest.

Despite what his mother (Virginia Madsen) chooses to believe, Matt (Kyle Gallner) is dying of cancer. His medicine is costly, his father (Martin Donovan) is resentful and the long drives to the hospital for treatment are exhausting. In an attempt to eliminate one of their problems, Matt’s family moves into a big house closer to the hospital. Only, instead of making their lives easier, the house adds to their difficulties – and its main focus is the already weakened Matt. Their only support is the similarly dying Reverend Popescu (Elias Koteas), who tries to help the family save themselves.

A great opportunity for doubt is missed with the true story label appearing at the very beginning. While Matt wonders if his visions are real or induced by his experimental treatment, the audience knows they are real because we’ve already been told the film is based on a real-life ghost story. Of course, we all know movie real and world real are very different – everything is dramatized. That said, the real-life mom, Carmen Reed, felt the screen-version of her story was equally terrifying and similar.

The first act follows the classically successful “there one minute, gone the next” style. A shadow passes a doorway; a reflection vanishes from a mirror; and shadowy bodies move behind frosted glass; in addition there are the strange noises that go bump in the night. Even the illusions incorporated are not too over-the-top. Then the strange occurrences become a mystery that need solving. It’s not until later that the haunting takes a turn towards Hollywood, with intensified parlour tricks, CGI and well-designed walking dead.

The film’s humour is dark, as Matt jokes about cancer even as it visibly ravages his body. But most of the time, outside of the audience, Matt is the only one able to see the humour in the situation. They should have lightened up because soon enough there’s nothing to smile about anyway. Other fun moments come with the warnings that scream through your head because someone decides to go into a dark basement or hide in dumbwaiter.

Haunting in Connecticut is made in the same vain as The Exorcist and The Haunting of Emily Rose, so fans of the genre are sure to be pleased. And it’s got a good scare or two thrown in for good measure.

Actors can only bring so much to a film but it is up to the director to bring all the elements together.

Cooper (Matthew Broderick) suffered a significant head injury at the hands of a co-worker (Louis C.K.), who now pesters him with attempts at making amends. Cooper’s career is slowly going down the drain, followed by his loved ones, as his injury leaves him with a sketchy memory and hinders his ability to concentrate. At the behest of his mother, Cooper returns home from Chicago to rural Illinois to try to convince his more forgetful Uncle Rollie (Alan Alda) to move to a retirement home. Upon returning, he also discovers his high school sweetheart Charlotte (Virginia Madsen) is newly single. When Rollie reveals he is the owner of a rare Frank Schulte baseball card and is interested in selling, the group heads back to Chicago for a card collector’s convention. There, the inept pair tries to ensure they gain a fair price for the card and avoid swindlers (Bobby Cannavale) willing to take advantage of their disabilities.

Each of the actors appears to have been left to their own devices during shooting. Even though they are incredibly capable, it is the director’s duty to ensure a fluid performance is gained from each contributor. Here, first-time feature director and long-time actor Terry Kinney drops the ball. The actors often appear stranded in scenes. On the other hand, Kinney does appear comfortable with the material and is able to move the action along smoothly.

The comedy-drama is a series of episodic events, tracking a string of setbacks in new locations. Unluckily, the sitcom style and gathering of eccentric characters points to an unfair comparison with the indie sensation Little Miss Sunshine. In addition, to its benefit or not, the movie fails to take a serious look at Alzheimer’s or head trauma, treating the topic rather lightheartedly.

There are no DVD bonus features to evaluate.

The 2008 CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival is kicking off another year of showcasing the best of contemporary short films from around the world.

The 14th annual festival received a record 3,522 shorts for consideration from 61 countries. Of the copious number of submissions, audiences will be offered 31 different programs featuring 268 short films from 31 countries over 6 days and nights.

All the films submitted, however, are available for viewing by buyers and distributors at the Marketplace, making the WSFF the leading venue for the exhibition and promotion of short film in North America and one of the premier short film festivals in the world.

Presenting more than 188 premieres, 70% of this year’s festival is being screened in Toronto for the first time. All in all, there will be 16 world premieres, 60 North American debuts, 72 Canadian premieres and 40 Toronto openings.

Programs are wide-ranging from Official Selection competition screenings to Japanese animation to Sci-Fi to Midnight oddities to Celebrity shorts; there is a category for children-friendly films, cutting-edge music videos and archival instructional footage (for comedic purposes only). Each year, the WSFF also selects work from an exceptional film school to offer local students a peek at what other institutions are producing; this year, the spotlight shines on Argentina’s acclaimed Universidad del Cine.

“This year’s programming covers new and interesting ground in short film and video,” said Eileen Arandiga, Festival Director. “We are very pleased to once again present 12 programs of Official Selection and many special programs including: NEU Europe, a program of shorts that tells stories from a multitude of perspectives in the burgeoning EU, annual favourites such as Midnight Mania – Freaky & Creepy these two programs are sure to keep you up at night.

“We are also very excited about our spotlight on Japanese animation, two omnibus programs from the world renowned Studio 4?C: Genius Party and Genius Party Beyond and a program of auteur animation from Japan.”

Arandiga also highlights a special category added this year to celebrate the Canadian Film Centre’s anniversary. “As the CFC marks a milestone year – it’s 20th we are very pleased to be celebrating this momentous occasion with a screening of the 2007 Short Dramatic Films created by the talented residents of the CFC.”

WSFF will also be presenting top filmmakers with over $80,000 in cash and prizes, including a screenplay giveaway of goods and services worth more than $50,000. The festival boasts one of the largest cash prizes for short film in the world.

One of only three Canadian festivals accredited by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, WSFF Canadian award winners are eligible for Genie Awards, while others qualify for Academy Award and BAFTA consideration.

The WSFF runs June 10 to June 15 in Toronto. For more information, visit www.worldwideshortfilmfest.com

2008 CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival Programs:

OPENING GALA: AWARD-WINNING SHORTS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
The Worldwide Short Film Festival Opening Gala offers a selection of the world’s most celebrated films. Enjoy the year’s most acclaimed live-action, documentary, experimental and animated shorts from festivals across the globe.

OFFICIAL SELECTION
Reflecting the diversity and originality of emerging talent across the nation and around the globe, the 12 programs of selected shorts featured in the 2008 Official Selection competition illustrate the universality of true film art. Covering all genres of film, the programs provide a global perspective of the best short work being made by artists from 22 countries.

JAPANESE SPOTLIGHT
Each year the WSFF shines the spotlight on a region or country. This year we celebrate Japanese animation with three programs of recent shorts. From animation powerhouse Studio 4°C, WSFF presents the Canadian premiere of the anthologies, Genius Party and Genius Party Beyond, plus a special program of emerging auteur animators

THAI SPOTLIGHT
In celebration of Thailand’s monarch on his 80th birthday, this program displays a national cinema bursting with talent, fearlessly blending traditional and modern arts.

ARGENTINE FILM SCHOOL SPOTLIGHT
Each year, the WSFF highlights the work being made at an exceptional film school, giving local film students a chance to see what’s coming out of other academic institutions. This year, the WSFF features a selection of original recent shorts made by students at the internationally acclaimed Universidad del Cine in Buenos Aires. This program is free for students (18+) and seniors with valid I.D.

CFC 20TH ANNIVERSARY: SHORT DRAMATIC FILMS
It’s been 20 years since the CFC first opened its doors. Over 1000 alumni later, CFC is still launching Canada’s most creative voices in film, television and new media to the world. Join us for a screening of the five works created as part of the Short Dramatic Film Program in 2007.

NATIONAL SCREEN INSTITUTE DRAMA PRIZE WINNERS
This special program showcasing the 2007 National Screen Institute Drama Prize winners is an eclectic crop of award-winning films making their debut at WSFF 2008. Filmmakers will be in attendance, so don’t miss the opportunity to meet Canada’s best and brightest emerging talent.

OH CANADA! CANADIAN COMEDY SHORTS
Canadians are funny! See for yourself with this fresh crop of home-grown comedy shorts. Funny and uniquely original, these talented new voices in Canadian comedy serve up offerings that are sure to entertain.

THE NEU EUROPE
A cinematic trip across the continent, this new program offers an array of eye-opening films that illustrate the changing face of the new Europe.

SHORTS FOR SHORTIES: INTO (AND OUT OF) THIS WORLD!
Featuring a selection of amazing animation and live-action shorts from eleven countries around the world, this colourful assortment geared for the little ones will transport you to magical places both near and far, real and imaginary – without even leaving your seat.

ACCIDENTALLY FUNNY: ORDER IS RESTORED
Some films turn funny after they’ve aged a little. This collection of archival instructional films from the This collection of well-intentioned educational and public service films from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s are at times, absurd, charming but always highly entertaining.

SCENE NOT HERD
Scene Not Herd storms back for its fifth year with an array of ground-breaking music videos pairing some of the world’s best underground and up-and-coming musicians with innovative filmmakers

CELEBRITY SHORTS
Made by or starring your favourite Hollywood actors, this star-studded showcase of shorts. features eight highly entertaining fictional and animated films from the UK, Germany, USA , Denmark and Canada. The exciting celebrity line-up features short films starring Bob Geldof, Virginia Madsen, Dakota Fanning, Kelly Preston, Kurt Russell, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase while Hollywood A-lister Kate Hudson steps behind the camera for her directorial debut.

SCI-FI: OUT THERE
Prepare for blast off with the hugely popular Sci-Fi: Out There, a pop-culture program that promises to fascinate, provoke and unhinge audiences with a unique array of science-fiction shorts from around the globe.

SLAP ‘N’ TICKLE
Take a walk on the wild side as one of the Festival’s most popular programs, Slap ‘n’ Tickle returns to spice up your life. The saucy stories in this year’s naughty lineup take a humorous look at love, sex and the lengths we’ll go to get them.

MIDNIGHT MANIA
Midnight Mania pays tribute to the twisted, imaginative and monstrous with two programs – Creepy and Freaky. For your after-dark viewing pleasure we present our annual selection of spine tingling, hair-raising shorts.

WSFF AWARD-WINNERS SCREENING
The festival wraps up with this one time only screening of the 2008 WSFF award-winning films on Sunday evening. Announced earlier in the day at the WSFF Awards Picnic, this screening showcases the best of the fest.