Short Cuts Canada Programme 1
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Short Cuts Canada Programme 1

With one noticeable patchy spot, a by-and-large fun (and funny) collection of Can Con shorts

Jeanne Leblanc, Simon Ennis, Hugh Dillon & Enrico Colantoni, Gina Haraszti, Renaud Hallée, Kylse Sanderson (Canada, Short Cuts Canada)

Friday, September 9, 10 p.m.
TIFF Bell Lightbox 3 (350 King Street West)

Saturday, September 10, 10 a.m.
Jackman Hall, Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas Street West)

It’s a pleasure to report that the selections for SCC Programme 1 are, by and large, first-rate. You Might as Well Live director Simon Ennis pares things down with Up in Cottage Country (pictured above), starring the outsized, goofy Joshua Peace as a cottaging Ontario dad frustrated with his family’s flouting of the cabin’s rules and the bony, beaky Julian Richings as a neighbour executioner with his own thirst for justice. It’s a silly and faithful (if a tad literal) adaptation of Kafka’s story “In the Penal Colony.” The awkward laughs pour into Hugh Dillon and Enrico Colantoni’s Issues, a two-hander in which a famous punk-rock clown (Dillon) faces off against his dopey therapist (Steve Stack). Kyle Sanderson’s excellent Lie Down and Die is also refreshingly funny, albeit suffused with a sadness and poignance that proves impressive for a first-time filmmaker.

On the more oblique tip, Gina Haraszti’s Waning, an experiment in the continuity of cinematic space, proves another programme highlight, while Renaud Hallé’s Combustion is a hypnotic, pyromaniacal symphony of flame. The only real low points here are Jeanne Leblanc’s One Night With You (Une nuit avec toi), a fairly by-the-numbers portrait of romantic desolation, and Craig Goodwill’s stupid, sagging Patch Town. In fairness to Leblanc, though, Goodwill’s film is much worse. A half-assed fairy-tale musical, Patch Town is an over-produced fable exploring what happens when young kids abandon their Cabbage Patch Kids (though the brand name, of course, is never invoked), framed around an adult orphan (Rob Ramsay) escaping a skeletal, Soviet-style tyrant (Richings again).