Conversion Screening Saturday June 29th, 2013

A different kind of film deserves a different kind of screening!

 Four years ago, indie filmmakers Dominic F. Marceau, Kate MacDonald and Paul Ash decided to make a movie called ‘Conversion’. And so they did. Without government or private funding, without going through any of the usual channels to recruit talent or technical staff, without relying on a major studio for distribution and relying on technology available to virtually everyone. Now, they’re ready to reveal their creation to the world.

Conversion trailer

Flash forward and the film that defines the word “independent” is having its premiere at the Maxwell-Cummings Auditorium at Montreal’s Musée des Beaux Arts on June 29th. The fact that the filmmakers decided to have their big night at Montreal’s prestigious Fine Arts Museum is indicative of the non-traditional history of the film.

Paul Ash, known locally as the host of several successful comedy nights, including the weekly Kick Ash Comedy Show, takes the lead alongside MacDonald- the screenplay’s author in her debut performance- in the story of two thirty-something city-dwellers who desperately want to get home at the end of the night. The cast also features a number of cutting edge performers from the Montreal’s alternative comedy scene, as well as new and exciting actors proving that the city’s well of talent runs very deep indeed.

Director Dominic F. Marceau gives the city a starring role as well- the film was shot in various locations throughout Montreal and features some iconic views as well as some little-seen back alleys that give the city its unique character.

 “Really, Montreal is playing itself,” he says. “The rest of us are just interacting with it.”

The filmmakers’ plans for distributing the film are as DIY as the process of making it. Following the premiere, they plan to make it available through online distribution, charging a nominal amount for people everywhere to access it and see what a determined crew of inspired indie producers can do.

‘Conversion’ was shot using DSLR technology- a still photography camera that can capture high-resolution video. The result is shocking in its quality and shows that it is absolutely possible for aspiring filmmakers to accomplish without relying on outside funding to complete their projects.

 “I can’t say how critics or other filmmakers will respond to the film,” MacDonald says, “but I hope it gives them an idea of what can be done by someone who just really wants to make a film and is willing to work hard to make it happen. That’s really the investment that we’ve made here: a lot of hard work.”

‘Conversion’ will be screened at the Maxwell-Cummings Auditorium, 1379 Sherbrooke St. W on June 29th at 8p.m. Admission is free and donations can be made to assist in the further distribution of the film.

For further information please contact Kate MacDonald: 514.451.3469/ kate@fsquaredmedia.net or Dominic Marceau: 514.779.3437/ dominic@fsquaredmedia.net

End of June Beginning of July in Paul Ash Comedy

Something special is going to be shown soon

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BR1JruVHjNc&w=560&h=315]

Here’s where you can see Paul Ash in the coming two weeks

Monday June 24th, celebrating Bon Fete and my daughter’s birthday with Krash Production’s Something Funny’s happening at Blue Dog hosted by Ali Hassan and featuring Jon Bennett of Australia (Fire in the Meth Lab, My Dad’s Deaths, Pretending Things Are A Cock).  Also on the bill are Jason Yearow, Dan Derkson, Karl Knox, Emma Wilkie, Gino Durante, and Tim Riel (Ottawa)

Tuesday June 25th has a double happening, one for both languages – first up at 8pm is GladiaCOM 3.  Mathieu Dignard host’s the French version of BattleCOM at CoOp Katacombes (doors at 7:30pm) at 1635 St-Laurent.  This month’s Battlers (or Gladiators) are:
François Tousignant ( Champion du Gladia-Com II)
Marie-Lise Dominguez
Maxime Lacoste-Lachance
Jonathan Guérin À Beauharnois
Reda Saoui
Claudy-Marc Moreau Duvivier

At 9pm Grinders Comedy Night at Theatre St-Catherine kicks off and Paul Ash will be there to close the show.

The week ends with something very special.  Conversion is a film project that Paul Ash was very proud to be part of.  Written by (and co-starring) Kate MacDonald it was directed by Domenic Marceau and, though it’s not a comedy film, features many from the Montreal Comedy community.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJUMecJb8Pk&w=560&h=315]

Dan Derkson, George Hamilton Braithwaite, Faisal Butt, Asaf Gerchak, Demelza St-James, Joel West, Stefan Peterson, Kris Dulgar & Morgan O’Shea (plus many background cameos!)ONE NIGHT ONLY!

After years of hard work, we’ve decided to punch convention in the junk and do our own damn premiere! We could have done a screening earlier, but we wanted to be able to do something truly special- something that was worthy of all the effort that was put into the project by so many of you.CONVERSION tells the story of two thirty-something friends who head out on a Friday night to escape the drudgery of their daily grind. Unfortunately, they miss the last subway home and circumstances lead them into an increasingly strange series of misadventures with incresingly strange people. Contact with the night’s idiosyncratic characters proves entertaining, frightening and ultimately enlightening. F SQUARED MEDIA presentsC O N V E R S I O Nstarring PAUL ASH & KATE MACDONALDGEORGE HAMILTON BRAITHWAITE HEATHER NANGREAVES & DAN DERKSONdirector of photography D.J. MATRUNDOLA edited by BEN GOLOFF sound design by KYLE STANFIELD music by MICHELE MARTINproduced by KATE MACDONALD DOMINIC F. MARCEAU D.J. MATRUNDOLA PAUL ASHwritten by KATE MACDONALD directed by DOMINIC F. MARCEAUFeaturing music by: Hypnoskull, Xeno & Oaklander, Byetone, Orphx, Subliminal, Ramleh, Ait!, Slater’s Sons, Hyperbottom, Dianes in Danger, and more!Running time: 92 MinutesScreening will take place in the Maxwell-Cummings Auditorium, Door A1379 Rue Sherbrooke OuestMontreal, QC H3G 2C6CanadaFREE ADMISSION (Donations accepted)

Sunday June 30th
A Very Comedy Nest Canada Day
Comedians from different parts of the country unite in a stand-up show that celebrates being Canadian.  Hosted by bilingual Just-For-Laughs/Juste-Pour-Rire veteran SÉBASTIEN BOURGAULT, with Montreal’s JOEY ELIAS (CBC’s Just For Laughs), Toronto’s MATT SHURY, Halifax’s PAUL ASH (The Comedy Network’s Great Canadian Laugh-Off), and some international perspective from New York’s DeANNE SMITH (The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson), plus surprise guests!

Tuesday July 2nd Paul Ash hosts the Kick Ash Comedy Show as one of the Kings of the Mountain.  Also on the show are:  Mo Arora, Jason Yearow, Shawn Stenhouse, Stefan Petersen, Eric Arsenault, Paul Worrel and Dan Derkson and closed out by Jess Demers!

Thursday to Saturday (July 4th – 6th), keeping the hosting train going, Paul Ash will be hosting for K. Trevor Wilson at The Comedy Nest in the AMC Forum

Conveniently, also at the Comedy Nest is July’s BattleCOM, the 6th BattleCOM show at the Comedy Nest!  Battling are Greg Hamilton (OTS, Thunder Tickle), Terence Bowman (RFV, Improv Ronin), Tim Riel (Ottawa), Walter Lyng (Pitching Knife Fight and Drop the Gloves, last month’s Grand Champion), and Mathieu Dignard (GladiaCOM).

Comedy Nest July 5th

Comedy Nest July 5th

Film Review: A Good Day To Die Hard

This is a pocket review of Die Hard 5: A Good Day To Die Hard.  Starting this I realized I’ve only ever done one other film review in blog form, and that was for Looper, another Bruce Willis film.  (For my 140 character reviews check out my Twitter look for #FilmReview.)  I’ve never thought of myself as a Bruce Willis fan, looking back at his filmography there are some amazing hits, as well as some spectacular bombs.  I’ll present my observations, and let you decide where this film falls.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61UqRmDjwgc&w=560&h=315]

You can’t talk about a sequel without mentioning the film that started the franchise, in this case, 1988’s Die Hard.  Die Hard took a television actor (personally I never got into Moonlighting), and made him a bankable movie star.  What’s remarkable is that Bruce Willis was allegedly the seventh choice for the role – and it made his film career.  Nowadays it’s far more frequent for actors to drift between television and film, but at the time it was considered a big move (up).  What made the original Die Hard’s John McClane live so strongly in my imagination was his mortality.  He got hurt, felt pain, he didn’t go looking for trouble but he didn’t back down from doing the right thing.  He was a hero that all of us hope we are deep down.  And he did it with a sense of humour.

 [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIOX44m8ktc&w=560&h=315]

Now is the time to start talking about Die Hard 5: A Good Day To Die Hard.  I’ll leave a warning for spoilers and and obvious extro at spoilers end, just prior to my summation.

The Die Hard franchise has had it’s ups and downs, but has always delivered somewhat in the same style: tongue in cheek humour, darkest before the dawn and one or two major stunt set pieces and a strong nod to family.  This one is not majorly different.  Yet the start felt very different, more akin to a Daniel Craig Bond, or a Bourne film.  With the popularity of those ‘thinking man’ action films evolving the genre (and the fact that Willis’ own Red fits into that category) it would make sense to reinvent the franchise.  Without seeing any promotional material I probably would have felt very confused by the action, the location…  pretty much everything – even having a general idea of what the film was about and seeing the title credits I wondered if I walked into the wrong theatre.

Spoilers

The opening action scene was filled with quick cuts, an avoidance of faces (for the most part), obviously showed an Eastern European city and a set up to some brief unexplained violence.  Finally we get a glimpse of John McClane, and he seems different.  He’s respected, low key and maybe even a bit broken by life, or hurt in a way we’ve not seen before, because of his fractured relationship with his son.  It’s only because I read an article about the film prior to going in that I knew that Jack McClane was dishonourably discharged from American special forces – which was just a cover for his move to the C.I.A.

After a cameo from Lucy Gennaro we get a taste of the old John McClane, his charm, his ability to relate to different people and finally his wit.  It almost feels like I’m watching a mashup of two movies.  After much hijinx, explosions and generalized mayhem father finally comes face to face with son, and neither is happy with it.  This makes me feel that Valentine’s Day was not a good weekend for this film’s release, as Father’s Day would obviously be more appropriate.  This quickly devolves (thanks to some gunfire) into the first major action piece of the film.

The car chase.  You’ve seen bits of it in the trailer, and trailers are famous for showing all the good stuff from a film, but I was not disappointed.  Car chase is a serious misnomer, cars are minor annoyances to the vehicles involved – it’s only called a car chase because delivery van / armoured vehicle / flatbed truck / Mercedes SUV chase is too long.  Through this chase we meet the first villain who displays character and panache, Alik (aka the dancer).  This scene is why I go to Die Hard films, explosions, comic book over the top violence, very real world danger and pithy retorts shouted between characters who couldn’t possibly hear one another.  The chase came a hair’s breadth from being too long and any belief in real world physics was completely thrown out the window by the end – but ended beautifully, barely forwarding the plot.

Unfortunately this was the last interesting thing in the film.  After losing their way out of Moscow / Russia (they never explained how far they needed to go), they end up at a safe house where Cole Hauser quickly gives exposition and is deleted from the film as quickly as he entered – so much for 7th billing.  More father / son moaning goes on (and by now, it’s moaning – hug already) as they try to rescue their asset, gain his key and daughter and make for safety.  But it’s a Die Hard film, and nothing is that easy.

A face to face stand-off with Alik (and I’m beginning to like this guy).  He makes references to 1986 causing John and Jack McClane to laugh; which at first made me think he was referencing the events of Die Hard 1 – but that was set in 1988, after getting home and researching I realized it was the year of the Chernobyl disaster…  Way to earn sensitivity points.  We glimpse shadowy men running things in the background, an air of ‘bigger than you can imagine’ badness, helicopter shooting up a building (Die Hard 1 meets True Lies) and then a strangely quiet road trip where a car travels as fast as a helicopter over what seems half a day (or longer) travel.  For some reason, when it’s not cloaked in cartoony violence logical stretches like this lose their appeal.

[googlemaps https://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=Russia,+Moscow&daddr=Russia,+chernobyl&geocode=FQ6sUgMdgBc-AinJsNRz_Eq1RjFMz1dXzNZEPQ%3BFeYxDgMdjV3NASnPq5joAI8qRzEsXf3bq868FA&aq=&sll=53.166785,33.748114&sspn=8.869179,16.940918&t=h&hl=en&mra=ls&ie=UTF8&ll=53.166785,33.748114&spn=5.1658,7.751099&output=embed&w=425&h=350]

Seriously, how do you hide around a city until nightfall, steal a gangster’s car and then make a nearly 12 hour drive faster than a Hind.  Plus, it was night when you stole the car – and 12 hours later it’s still night?  Russia, what a country!

Father and son patch their relationship, and finally decide to be a team just in time for the final action set piece.  And it is a piece, a piece of crap.  After so much real world, “can’t be CGI” amazing that was the car chase scene we’re treated to a green screen nightmare version that would fit better as a 2009 music video.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yw1Tgj9-VU&w=560&h=315]

Even the insides of the building felt like a douchebag nightclub, not the leftover ruins of one of the worst nuclear disasters on the planet.

Major spoiler

Then Alik, a flunky but became the fun villain, was unceremoniously killed.  The true villain was finally revealed, and you know what – huge twist that it was meant to be, I didn’t care.  Much more explosions, some pain, bloodshed and a walk off into the sunrise leaving the world a much safer place.  Yawn.  It’s a Die Hard film, that’s what’s supposed to happen.

End of spoilers

Was this film worthy of the Die Hard franchise.  Yes, barely…  It’s greatest weakness is that it lacks any true villain.  Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) didn’t need to tell everyone he was brilliant and evil because he WAS brilliant and evil.  To have a great hero, you need to challenge him with a great villain.  Reading their C.V.’s I could see how someone would mistake DH5’s bad guys as villains.  Yes, they are bad men (and women) who’ve done horrible things and they want to have it all swept under the rug.  But it didn’t come across on the screen.  Even posturing seemed weak, their plans held together by weirdly implausible coincidences.  Hans Gruber didn’t count on coincidences, he anticipated the law’s response and included them in his plans.  If John McClane hadn’t been there, he would have gotten away free and clear.  If only ‘the dancer’ could have truly cut lose with his sociopathic tendencies could we have seen a good villain.

I understand that they wanted to make this film a cross generational McClane saga – maybe take the franchise to a new level, being able to survive different incarnations of the lead (an American Bond?).  With so many shadowy background players, and so many locations (I tried to not enter the ‘Die Hard is best contained’ debate) traveled to so illogically, I felt the film was muddied.  No clear enemy.  Even the launch date seemed wrong – Valentine’s Day?  This film screams Father’s Day, and it just seemed another poor choice in a string meant to undermine my enjoyment of this film.  The first set piece did put me on the edge of my seat… but the rest of the film made my ass a bit numb.

Will I look forward to the next Die Hard?  Yes, like any (sucker) fan, but I hope they don’t try to shine any lights on shadowy players again.  Or if they do, that these are the Shadowy Men in question.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrkvAU7-AGA&w=420&h=315]

Yours,
Ash