Jared's 2021 CIFF Experience

I lost my film festival virginity (GONE SEXUAL?!)

DISCLAIMER: I had a SCRIBE (yes, a SCRIBE) in elementary school. If you think my writing sucks, you can take it up with her. Cheers, mate!

What…the…FUCK! I went to the 2021 Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF) and all they gave me were these “COVID-19 Pre-Screened” wristbands!

What can I say, the last two weeks have been a movie…literally! I lost my film festival virginity and I DESPERATELY NEED TO REFLECT! As always, strap the fuck in, and let’s get this show on the road.


BUT FIRST…

The 4 Pillars Of Moviegoing

Going to the movies is, objectively speaking, one of the easiest things anyone can do. You go to the theatre, buy a ticket, maybe cop some snacks, stare at a massive screen for 1-3 hours, and then you go home. It’s really that simple. The only thing easier than going to the movies is making a baby—and that’s probably the easiest thing anyone can do, unfortunately.

But for big-time cinephiles, movie buffs, and absolute dorks like myself, I would argue that going to the movies is a much more complex and nuanced process.

That brings me to The 4 Pillars Of Moviegoing. The 4 Pillars Of Moviegoing are very serious business. If you remove one of the pillars, it all comes crashing down. And if you take “Movies” out of the equation altogether, we’re talking about a 9/11 level disaster. This shit ain’t no fuckin’ joke, mate.

Without further ado, let’s dive in…


Attire

Despite what you may think, attire is, without a doubt, the most important thing to consider when going to a movie. There are SO many factors in play here…

  • Are you hot?

  • Do you plan on masturbating inside the theatre?

  • How many pockets do you need for your medication?

  • Do you have a funeral to attend later in the day?

  • Are you a practicing nudist?

  • Is your wife divorcing you?

  • Are you trying to save 15% or more on car insurance?

I could go on forever. This shit runs DEEP!

Unless you’re like me, you’ve very likely not figured out your perfect movie theatre fit™ quite yet. Lucky for you, I am going to break down my VERY OWN movie theatre fit™ to give you a glimpse into the mind of a moviegoing madman (hint: me).

As you can see, my fit is VERY simple—It’s been rigorously tested in the trenches (the theatre), and many, MANY theatre experiences have helped me break this whole “attire” thing down to a fine science.

Now…Levi’s 501®s—the perfect pair of jeans. You can dress them up, or you can dress them down. There is really no going wrong with a crisp pair of light-wash 501®s. (I don’t fuck with dark-wash because that screams “I will kidnap you in an empty parking lot”. I’m not really going for that look…yet). And the more I think about it, my CIFF experience wouldn’t have been the same without a perfectly faded pair of 501®s on my muscular ass legs1. Pure comfort. Pure style. It really doesn’t get any better than that.

After I jump into my jeans like Beyoncé, I bungee jump into my shirt—a camp collar long sleeve. It’s breathable, not too hot, and like I’ve been saying…not too cold. It’s the perfect top for those chilly Calgary nights after the movie ends. When it comes down to it, I probably look like an unfashionable piece of shit. Then again, I’m going to a film festival in fucking Calgary, Alberta. Everyone there is an unfashionable piece of shit. Plus, I need to be in full-on incognito mode just in case my nudist colony finds out I’ve been wearing clothes.

And before I forget, I obviously swan-dive into a very worn-in pair of Dr. Marten 1461 Monos. The 1461s are the BEST (literally, the best) piece of footwear for ALL occasions. Believe it or not, you can run in these bitches like you’re the Usain Bolt of cinema—and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I’ve done it multiple times and I felt like a million bucks afterward. You can also wear them to the theatre if you plan on falling in love with the cute indie girl sitting with her boyfriend directly next to you. She’ll be impressed. Trust me. Indie girls love Dr. Martens2.

To complete my outfit, I always ask my personal assistant, Matthew, to help me put on my Nike “everyday socks”, a white Gildan t-shirt, an ugly blue surgical mask, and my perfectly curved Brother Brother hat. My assistant is critical to this step because I have crippling back pain from sitting in my chair like an infant with shitty posture. Thanks for the help, Matt.


Parking

Ok, with the perfect movie theatre fit™ equipped, it’s time we get to some of the real shit—PARKING!

Parking, like everything in my life, is the bane of my existence. I hate parking in downtown Calgary more than I hate myself (and that’s a lot). Because I am amateur and too stubborn to actually look for better alternatives, I willingly paid $5 on 3 separate occasions to ensure I had a parking spot where my car wouldn’t be towed or turned into an orgy location for Calgary locals.

Overall, I would say that parking was the worst part of the festival. And that’s just sort of a given when it comes to parking. (Who actually enjoys the process of parking? Psychopaths, gym-bros, and e-girls, that’s who). Though I am a bit disappointed that my car wasn’t used for a 17-on-2 gangbang. That would’ve made this section MUCH more interesting!


Snacks

For a lot of people, movie theatre snacks are 90% of the experience. For the cheap price of $2000 you get some popcorn, free lube (butter), an extra-large Fruitopia, and Twizzlers with mouse droppings leaking inside. Sounds like a pretty good deal, no?

As the most stubborn man on earth, I STRONGLY believe you don’t need overpriced snacks to enjoy a movie. If you feel like you NEEEEEED snacks to enjoy a movie, your priorities are so fucked up I wouldn’t even know where to start. BUT…I’m not a complete sociopath; I will occasionally purchase a drink and maybe some peanut M&M’s if I’m feeling young and wild and free. Still, you will NEVER (EVER) catch me dropping $2000 on some damn popcorn combo shit. I came here to see a movie, not to end up on the streets.


Movies

Congrats. You’ve made it through all of the boring, pre-movie banter. Now, (for real this time) let’s get into the fucking trenches and tackle the final pillar of moviegoing—MOVIES. (If you don’t leave this post with trench foot, you clearly weren’t reading between the lines enough).

After buying a movie ticket, I would assume that most people are worried about where they will be sitting. If you get hard at the idea of sitting in the front row, I’m going to label you as a war criminal, sorry. Since I’m just a regular criminal, I like to grab an aisle seat. As a tiny, short piece of shit, I am fully prepared to make multiple trips to the bathroom. At CIFF, this was business as usual. I nabbed an aisle seat for each movie like it was my full-time job (it really wasn’t that hard). This task, however, isn’t as simple for everyone. There was one occasion where some fellow moviegoers were about to wrestle naked over a brief seating disarrangement. I was NOT trying to get involved so I—like a true professional—kept to myself and tried to act like I was morally superior to them (which I am).

Anyways, because I am a broke bitch, I unwillingly purchased CIFF’s 3 movie pass for a grand total of $44.03 (after taxes) instead of the 8 movie pass for $100 (next year, baby!). Thankfully, after selling my SSN on the dark web, I was able to afford another ticket to see a fourth film (which was totally worth it).

As I sat there, crying and throwing up for hours on end, I finally decided on 4 movies that would change the course of history…and my life—Poser, All My Friends Hate Me, Memoria, and The Power Of The Dog.

Ugh, finally! It’s time we get into some reviews from the most amateur movie reviewer in the biz (me).


Poser (2021), Dir. Noah Dixon & Ori Segev

Lennon exists timidly on the sidelines of the thriving Columbus, Ohio indie music scene, yearning for a personal connection that might shepherd her into the inner sanctum of warehouse concerts, exclusive backstage, house parties and the cutting-edge art scene. As she fuels her desire for entrée into a podcast featuring live music and conversations with the artists she so fervently admires, Lennon finds inspiration for her own musical ambitions…and a growing sense of misdirected identity. Enter Bobbi Kitten, an enigmatic, striking and talented half of a popular, indie pop duo, who takes Lennon under her confident wing—unwittingly entangling herself in a dark obsession.

As a fellow podcaster with zero original ideas to my name, this movie was obviously extremely relatable for me. It felt like a personal attack in the nicest of ways. Sylvie Mix, who plays Lennon, delivers an absolutely perfect deadpan performance. She’s in full-on Joker Mode™ and I loved every minute of it. (Imagine if the Joker was a hot stalker that hosted an indie-music podcast). SPEAKING of performances, A BUNCH of REAL indie artists are featured in the film, giving an authentic and interesting look into the indie-art scene.

With a runtime of only (only lol) an hour and a half, I was happy this film wasn’t unnecessarily long. However, I do think it could’ve used mayyyyybe another like…15 minutes throughout (?) to get a bit deeper with certain characters. Although I will say that some plot points felt unnecessary, and others felt like they just weren’t quite fleshed out enough…so…maybe the story is just flawed? Idk. Overall, I loved the look of this film. It was wonderfully shot, and I’m not sure if they shot it on film, but if it wasn’t, they treated the digital scan very beautifully. And at the end of the day, I’ll take this as a major win for podcasting!

Rating = 3.5/5


All My Friends Hate Me (2021), Dir. Andrew Gaynord

Pete is cautiously excited about reuniting with his college crew for a birthday weekend. But, one by one, his friends slowly turn against him. Is he being punished, is he paranoid, or is he part of some sick joke?

I won’t lie, I picked this movie because I love comedy…and British people. (But mostly British people). I truly believe British people are the funniest, most cruel people on this planet. And this film absolutely speaks to that. While there were a few good laughs throughout, this movie definitely leaned more towards the “social horror” category—similar to Shiva Baby, but with a slightly more comedic undertone.

With that said, All My Friends Hate Me is dark, hilarious, and best of all, deeply uncomfortable. You can truly feel Pete’s discomfort throughout, and I think they did a wonderful job isolating that. Some characters REALLY pissed me off, but that was sorta the point I suppose. Anyways, I do wish there was a bit more action as it did feel like it slogged a bit in the middle. Tom Stourton—the co-writer and star of the film—actually discussed with Vulture getting the idea for the film when someone was invited to a wedding as a joke. A wedding definitely could’ve made this film even more interesting and dynamic—although I’m sure they went for the “birthday weekend” option due to budget, time, etc. Overall, I enjoyed it and wouldn’t mind seeing it again.

Rating = 3.5/5


Memoria (2021), Dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul

A woman from Scotland, while traveling in Colombia, begins to notice strange sounds. Soon she begins to think about their appearance.

Wow. This film was…SLOW AS FUCK! Memoria is now officially (by a long shot) the SLOWEST movie I have EVER seen. That alone may sound extremely unappealing, which I can’t blame anyone for. I think if you didn’t know this was going to be the slowest shit ever made you would probably fall asleep multiple times throughout. Director Apichatpong Weerasethakul—who is known for his highly artistic and abstract foreign language films—expertly casts Tilda Swinton in the lead role of this.

Tilda’s casting may make you think: “Oh yeah, that woman from Doctor Strange! She speaks English, right?!”

I can confirm that Tilda does speak English, but Apichatpong Weerasethakul clearly has no interest in playing into that and giving up his ways to make something accessible for English-speaking audiences.

As it turns out, a good chunk of Memoria is in Spanish. (Spanish is a fire language, tbh). But like I said, this movie is SLOW AS FUCK. And to make things worse, it’s also the most abstract shit I have ever seen and it made me feel dumb even trying to figure out what the fuck Weerasethakul was trying to say. As I say all of this, I LOVED IT! It felt like a true piece of cinema with the intention behind every painstaking decision. Do not see this if your favorite movie is The Wolf Of Wall Street. Trust me, dawg. You will most definitely want to Kurt Cobain yourself 20 minutes in.

Rating = 4/5


The Power Of The Dog (2021), Dir. Jane Campion

Charismatic rancher Phil Burbank inspires fear and awe in those around him. When his brother brings home a new wife and her son, Phil torments them until he finds himself exposed to the possibility of love.

WOW! This was definitely the best movie of the entire festival for me. After going on a 12-year hiatus, ACCLAIMED WRITER/DIRECTOR Jane Campion is BACK, and she isn’t fucking around! I think it goes without saying that Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst were the clear standout performers in this. I’m not too familiar with Campion’s other work, but from what I do know, she likes to draw out the story. Maybe not in a slow burn, Memoria type of way, but perhaps the equivalent of you going like “ohhhh shit!” in the theatre.

The western setting may scare off a lot of people, but I think it serves the story (duh) and makes a somewhat simple concept much more interesting and impactful. The Power Of The Dog is truly solid in soooo many ways. And!!!!! It comes out on Netflix on November 17th! I won’t say too much because you can just watch it for yourself in like…a month. If my 4.5/5 rating doesn’t convince you, my mediocre writing won’t either. Watch it, or don’t. I don’t control your life…yet!

Rating = 4.5/5


THE END! Tune in next year for more film festival madness…

xoxo

J.O.

1

I am taking anabolic steroids.

2

I am an indie girl.