I have been to the Canadian Kwik-E-Mart.

To promote The Simpsons Movie, 20th Century Fox and 7-Eleven have changed 12 of the latter company’s convenience stores into Kwik-E-Marts. One of those stores just happens to be in Canada. And the Canadian store just happens to be in nearby Coquitlam. And a friend of mine just happened to work a few shifts in that store during the winter of ’88-’89 — after the Simpsons debuted on The Tracey Ullman Show in ’87, but before they launched their own half-hour series with a Christmas special in ’89. (Yes, the show is really that old.) So naturally, he and I had to go check it out.

Click here if the video file above doesn’t play properly.

And click here for a set of photos that we took to commemorate our trip — indeed, our pilgrimage — to the Kwik-E-Mart.

License to Wed — the review’s up!

My review of License to Wed is now up at CT Movies.

The Great Borscht Kidnapping (1989)

One of these days, I will get my old videotapes out of storage and post some of my old student films online — not because they’re anything to write home about, but just because it would be handy to have them out there. In the meantime, I recently got back in touch with an old friend of mine who starred in The Great Borscht Kidnapping, a video that I shot back in November 1989 for my introduction-to-film class at UBC. My friend asked if I was going to post this film online, and I said I couldn’t at the moment, but he still had a copy handy, so he posted it instead. And here it is:

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Click here if the video file above doesn’t play properly.

I sure hope my copy hasn’t deteriorated as much as this one has; then again, the film is supposed to be a sort of silent movie, so perhaps all the signs of age just add to the pseudo-antique charm.

Some of the gags in this film didn’t work out anywhere near as well as I wanted them to, and there are some continuity problems with the lighting near the end because we didn’t have time to go back for another day’s shoot. But I think it’s okay for a video made by a bunch of teenagers running around in the pre-digital age.

Two things I definitely learned from making this film:

You have to be really economical with your dialogue when you’re making a silent movie. My professor did not permit the use of synchronous sound in our videos, and this forced me to focus on the structure of the screenplay, rather than on the dialogue, and to communicate as much as I could through the visuals.

That said, music can really make a film. I remember sitting in my parents’ living room and watching my friend Jason improvise the score on my mother’s piano as he watched the video. I was in awe then, and I am in awe now. I wish I had that kind of skill, and I simply cannot imagine this film without Jason’s contribution. If I ever had a sense of how the film would sound, before I actually made it, it has been completely supplanted by Jason’s music.

Two further points:

Yes, that is my sister Monica playing Anna. Some of her outtakes are very, very funny, and yes, that footage is also in storage.

Plus, any resemblance between this movie’s characters and my own mixed roots — as a half-Mennonite, half-British kid born and raised on a continent of cowboys — is not exactly coincidental.

BC Christian News — July 2007

The newest issue of BC Christian News is now online, and with it, my film column, which mainly consists of my second junket report on Evan Almighty, but also touches on the latest developments re: Prince Caspian and Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

The paper also has a sidebar on past and future Noah’s Ark movies — including long and short films produced in 1928, 1933, 1936, 1959, 1966, 1994 and 1999 that I have mentioned here before — as well as a few brief reviews of the DVDs for A Man Called Peter (1955), Beyond the Gates of Splendor (2002), End of the Spear (2005) and St. Peter (2005), which stars Omar Sharif.

Canadian box-office stats — July 1

Here are the figures for the past weekend, arranged from those that owe the highest percentage of their take to the Canadian box office to those that owe the lowest.

Nitro — CDN $648,138 — N.AM $648,138 — 100%
Sicko — CDN $451,726 — N.AM $4,615,000 — 9.8%
Knocked Up — CDN $11,060,000 — N.AM $122,407,000 — 9.0%
Ocean’s Thirteen — CDN $9,220,000 — N.AM $102,085,000 — 9.0%

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End — CDN $25,000,000 — N.AM $295,758,000 — 8.5%
Live Free or Die Hard — CDN $3,450,000 — N.AM $48,178,000 — 7.2%
1408 — CDN $2,810,000 — N.AM $40,389,000 — 7.0%
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer — CDN $7,470,000 — N.AM $114,800,000 — 6.5%
Evan Almighty — CDN $3,240,000 — N.AM $60,625,000 — 5.3%
Ratatouille — CDN $2,180,000 — N.AM $47,227,000 — 4.6%

A couple of discrepancies: Nitro was #7 on the Canadian chart (it isn’t on the North American chart at all), while Evening was #10 on the North American chart.

Review: A Man Called Peter (dir. Henry Koster, 1955); End of the Spear (dir. Jim Hanon, 2005); Saint Peter (dir. Giulio Base, 2005)

HOLLYWOOD studios are increasingly aware there is a market for religious films.

So lately, they have been making a point of creating special video labels, such as Fox Faith, and reissuing classic religious films – in addition to newer efforts. Here are a few such films.

A Man Called Peter, Fox, 1955

There is a big, big problem with the cover of this DVD: it shows Peter Marshall (Richard Todd) wearing a suspiciously large clerical collar, even though the film makes a big, big deal of the fact that Marshall – a popular Scottish Presbyterian minister who became chaplain to the United States Senate – was a spirited nonconformist who refused to wear such things.

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