Spoilers follow for Wynonna Earp Season 3, Episode 6, “If We Make It Through December.”
We bid adieu to Jolene, Queen of the Hypnotic Pastry, last week and although I’m glad we can rest easy for a whole two seconds now that Waverly’s life isn’t in immediate danger, I can’t help but think about the stupendously massive spread we would’ve been treated to if she managed to stick around in Purgatory until at least January…
Well that’s enough of those pesky hypotheticals. Merry Earpmas in August! Wynonna opens this week’s episode, titled “If We Make It Through December,” with how I open my everyday life – looking longingly at herself in the mirror rocking a Christmas onesie, wondering when this aesthetic will become the next fashion trend. She and Mama delightfully banter amongst themselves throughout the opening and Doc decides to live out an actual dream I believe many Earpers have, wherein he busts onto the scene wielding a relatively healthy-looking tree he chopped down with his bare hands. If Mama isn’t a fan of the Holliday splendour, I will gladly volunteer as tribute.
Nedley has the ultimate “getting-too-old-for-this-shit” moment when he encounters a fully-grown adolescent chasing after what he believed to be “Santa” – actually being Bulshar in a raggedy cape. The kid clearly bypassed every Christmas season because anyone with half a morsel of Christmas cheer would know Santa wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a fedora.
As folks deal with the presence of Bulshar Clause, we’re treated with the reveal of Waverly’s parentage. Particularly, how Mama’s relationship with Julian paved the way for the angelic Waves we all know and love. Initially, Mama decided to take the Tywin Lannister route of adult child rearing – that is, a parent gutting the absolute hell out of a freshly-killed animal as he/she bestows wisdom upon their curious offspring. Thankfully for my gag reflex, we instead got a summery flashback of a happy pregnant couple that featured a tiny sprinkle of adultery and abandonment. Waverly experiences an obvious bout of existentialism as she wonders about this mystery figure she had no idea existed until recently, along with the notion that she is a friggin’ angel!
On the flip side, Doc and a mustache-less Jeremy have a heart-to-heart about Jeremy’s romantic prospects, and watching Doc attempt to decipher modern-day references could truly work as a spin-off on its own. Jeremy chooses the “be direct” approach to relationships, which takes us to what I assume is a direct copy of a Santa’s Workshop where we find Bulshar’s victim from the beginning of the episode and – gasp! – Park Ranger Robin! I guess the kidnapping trees needed a few extra hands for the workshop (or they’re controlled by Bulshar – either sounds plausible.)
Wynonna awkwardly flirts with Charlie Fire Services as “The Sound of Silence” plays within the walls of Nedley’s brain. She and Mr. Services head back to HQ with a cup of blood-soaked snow waiting to be analyzed by Jeremy. We ultimately learn that Bulshar needed descendants of the first families of Purgatory to be separated and alive from other residents for some nefarious purpose. Both the missing kid and Robin derive from families who simply can’t get enough of Purgatory, thus we’re treated with a sequence where the two watch as Bulshar force-feeds a screaming man (whose ancestors betrayed him one time at Band Camp) a peach core and green slime. We all know this is the rightful punishment for those who don’t eat their vegetables.
The crew brainstorm ideas on how to rescue the abducted, with Haught producing the key to finding them because she is just that amazing. Wynonna also high fives herself after declaring that she’s watched Carrie (1976) because everyone else left her hanging (clearly because they were too enthralled by her fabulous taste in film). In stellar Earp fashion, she and Charlie rescue those kept by Bulshar to a montage set to a techno version of “Jingle Bells,” something I never thought I needed in my life until today. Although I am all for Wynonna sharing the mistletoe (and then some) with a hunky firefighter, it’s a bit heartbreaking seeing the growing tension between her and Doc. I guess the whole concealing-a-vampire-wife thing can cause some strain in a platonic relationship. Jeremy and Park Ranger Robin kiss and plan a date for “leftover tofurkey burritos” and although he is ridiculously cute, that… sounds absolutely disgusting. A stellar facial structure cannot make those words combined together sound appetizing.
While a majority of this week’s Wynonna Earp is spent on the Bulshar victims’ rescue, the progression of Wayhaught’s arc is executed brilliantly throughout. Both Waverly and Haught experience immense character growth not only with their relationship but individually as well. Providing justifiable growth for a loving fictional couple is a daunting task and the showrunners have continuously nailed it every week. Waverly’s interactions with Bobo throughout the series have been riveting to watch because you never truly know if he is to be trusted or not. As we’ve seen throughout the series, Waverly clearly understands this idea and, although her curiosity gets the best of her, she doesn’t allow herself to be hypnotized by his words. She processes what he reveals about himself threatening Ward and, though Bobo claims he will let her know where Julian is if she frees him, she refuses. Now that Mama chose to release him, my distrust for both he and Mama is amplified and that just excites me! Haught manages to score the promotion she has deserved since season one and we didn’t need to endure a 10-minute standoff with her questioning Waves as to why she hasn’t had her mind blown by the news. The two have evolved beyond needing to analyze every possible thing wrong with the other – they’re a regular, loving couple who communicates and apologizes when they’re in the wrong. PLEASE give us more!
We end off on Doc and Wynonna getting off with their respective partners. Wynonna is treated with the romantic setting of a Christmas tree farm while Doc visits with a distraught Countessa who endured the wrath of Bulshar’s bee keepers. If there’s one thing we’ve known for sure about Doc Holliday throughout Wynonna Earp, it’s that the man loved being immortal. After experiencing life as a mere lowly mortal, he agrees to apparently be turned by Countessa – meaning we could potentially see the Hollidays on vampire adventures for the next few centuries. Bah humbug, yet another day in Purgatory!
“If We Make It Through December” featured the development of numerous characters and it only worked to make me adore this season more and more. After spending two seasons establishing the foundation of the Wynonna Earp universe, we’re now witnessing the complexities that come with everyday life – managing relationships, professional achievements, learning you may be a different species than what you initially believed you were – just typical day-to-day components that occur during one’s existence. The episode is essentially the climax of what has been festering in Nedley’s psyche since the beginning of the series: that he’s tired as Hell and isn’t going to take it anymore. Thankfully for us, he can continue binging the 27 seasons of Pretty Little Liars as Sheriff Haught continues protecting the residents of Purgatory alongside Waverly, who simultaneously belts out beautiful ballads while taking down bad guys with her trusty shotgun.
My 3 Favourite W’s of the Episode
I would now like to turn your attention to my 3 Favourite W’s for this episode of Wynonna Earp. These consist of favourite Wynonna Insult, Wayhaught Moment and Waverly Expression – the three pillars of any Wynonna Earp episode.
Wynonna Insult: “Queen of the Damned, meet King of the Dense.”
Wayhaught Moment: The sheer adorability that was the opening few moments with Waverly comforting Legola — er, Nicole — with her journey to Clausehood was frankly too much to handle. Also Nicole saying she always knew Waverly was an angel. Ugh, they’re so great.
What did you think of “If We Make It Through December”? Let us know in the comments below.
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CUFF 2019: Director Rob Grant on the tension (and dark comedy) of HARPOON
Adrift on the seas on a luxury yacht, three friends find themselves stranded without food or supplies and quickly realize their survival is less than assured. An official selection at International Film Festival Rotterdam 2019, Harpoon will make its Canadian premiere at the Calgary Underground Film Festival (CUFF) April 28.
The Mutt spoke with director Rob Grant prior to the film’s screening at CUFF. This interview has been edited and condensed for length.
THE MUTT: Can you tell me a bit about the genesis of Harpoon?
ROB GRANT: I had a great relationship with my producers (Knuckleball director Michael Peterson and Kurtis Harder) from a film called Fake Blood. I pitched Mr. Peterson on this idea that was a mix between Polanski’s Knife on the Water but by way of Seinfeld characters on the boat. I grew up in Vancouver, and the original idea was, “Well, I spent a lot of time on a boat, we could go take a boat out to the ocean and try to isolate ourselves out there.” Once a budget came into play and the idea grew, suddenly we were shooting the interiors of the boat in a set in the middle of freezing winter in Calgary, and shooting the exteriors on a boat in tropical Belize down south.
TM: Was it difficult for you to balance those comedic elements and still find a way to ratchet up the tension?
RG: It was very difficult, and there were a lot of discussions about that. When you have to give the elevator pitch, you have to say: “This is the genre and this is what it means.” But I subscribe to the logic that in life you can feel in one moment that you’re in a love story and the next minute in a horror movie, and that’s the way real life actually works. But it seems a little more rigid in movies. We were aware of potentially disrupting viewers’ experiences of watching the movie. (We thought) a movie could, or should, be multiple things at once. We’re willing to accept that there’s going to be some audience members that are going to reject that as a movie experience, but we wanted to try it.
TM: Can you tell me more about those influences you mentioned? I’m curious about how you mixed something like Seinfeld with more traditional thriller elements.
RG: Hitchcock’s Lifeboat was definitely in there, as well as Polanski’s Knife in the Water. But I had to still find the dark humour in it, and Seinfeld came up specifically because as much as we all find the Seinfeld characters enduring, they’re very much in it for themselves. They’re worried about their own outcomes. So I tried to use a lot of that. As much as these people like to say they’re looking out for each other, the second it becomes a survival story they’re all kind of in it for themselves. Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia was another one, not only for mixing drama and humour, but definitely because the narration was less focused. It sets up what’s going to happen without speaking to much on the nose about what you’re about to see.
TM: I understand there’s some great gore and effects in Harpoon. What was your approach to that, and what effect do you think that has?
RG: I’ve explored the effects of violence in cinema with Fake Blood, and this was an extension of that. The entire movie, these people speak very casually and aloof about the things that potentially will need to be done without actually considering what that entails until suddenly when it happens. I felt like it would be a good idea to make sure that was extremely violent and horrible, not only because we’ve been teasing up to this moment, but I do believe there’s a certain element that people do not consider the actual realities of having to do something like that. So it’s very shocking, very brutal, it’s like, “ha ha ha this was all funny to discuss” and now that it’s happened it sucks the wind out of you. That was a very intentional decision.
TM: What do you think Harpoon does in a unique way when compared to other similar films? What do you hope the audience walks away with?
RG: I hope when people leave the cinema that it wasn’t the movie they were expecting, that it was a little bit of a different take. I do think it’ll challenge them depending what their expectations are. I just hope they’re expecting something interesting in the genre, and that they’re along for the ride.
Harpoon makes its Canadian premiere at the Calgary Underground Film Festival April 28. For tickets, click here.
Click here to read our roundup of 9 Canadian films playing at CUFF 2019.
CUFF 2019: The story behind Uwe Boll, the so-called “worst filmmaker” ever
Director of the critically-maligned video game adaptations Alone in the Dark, House of the Dead and BloodRayne, Uwe Boll has long held a unfavourable reputation in the film industry not only due to the perceived quality of his films, but also due to his antagonistic response to his online “haters.”
But a new documentary, F*** You All: The Uwe Boll Story, seeks to better understand the firebrand filmmaker, diving into Boll’s past through a series of interviews with colleagues, critics and Boll himself.
The Mutt spoke with F*** You All: The Uwe Boll Story Vancouver-based director Sean Patrick Shaul prior to the film’s Alberta premiere at the Calgary Underground Film Festival April 27. This interview has been edited and condensed for length.
THE MUTT: How did you first become acquainted with Uwe Boll?
SEAN PATRICK SHAUL: I first met Uwe Boll on the set of Assault on Wall Street. I worked as a crew member with him. Seeing him work was so fascinating. The way he directed was like no one I had ever seen before. He was such an interesting guy. That was almost 10 years ago and I ended up working on a TV show that was shooting in his restaurant. That was how I came across the idea for the documentary. The idea was to look at someone who is widely known as the world’s worst director. It was more asking, “Why was he considered that? How did he get that title, and whether or not he was.”
TM: As his persona on the internet developed, did that mesh with what you knew of him? Did you feel he was being portrayed in a way that was inaccurate?
SPS: I had seen some of his movies and I understood the reputation he had. He also fuelled that himself through the internet, engaging with all of these trolls and these critics. He takes it head on, which is fun to watch. But I had no idea what he would say when I pitched the documentary to him. Within five minutes, I realized we had a lot in common. He was excited about the documentary, excited to have that side told of it.
TM: How does Boll feel about being referred to as the “world’s worst director”?
SPS: He thinks it’s very unfair, which I guess I would agree with. Art is subjective, so it’s hard to say whether something is good or bad. But I think he’s also aware of the type of movies he was making. He didn’t think he was making The Godfather. He knew these were video game adaptations movies, so his expectations were low with those. But he has made more personal films (since then), but he already had this black cloud following him around. It stalled his career in that way. I thought that was really interesting – he made 32 movies, but by his fifth movie, people had already written him off.
TM: Why do you think Boll feels the need to respond to his trolls and his critics online?
SPS: I think he’s a very proud guy. He’s aware of his accomplishments and I don’t think he can let a comment like that go. If someone has the motivation to go after him online, he has the equivalent motivation to fire back at them. He hasn’t really calmed down on that too much. I think he’s currently banned from Twitter for going after trolls. It’s kind of tongue-in-cheek for him when he goes after these people. He enjoys it, he likes engaging with them. It became part of his personality. As much as it hurt his career, it also helped his career in a way.
TM: In spending time with Boll, what surprised you about him as you got to know him better?
SPS: Before, I thought he was kind of an asshole, from his online persona, I thought he was just kind of a jerk. Through meeting him, I realized he’s a super sweet guy, he’s a really, really genuinely nice guy. He cares about films, he’s a real film guy. He knows all of the classics, he’s seen all these foreign films – he’s a real cinephile. But there’s something about him not being able to pull that off. All his favourite movies are the classics, but for some reason he can’t make those films himself. He was kind of handcuffed by all these tax loopholes and funding schedules, that he would have to pump these films out in a certain timeframe to get the tax credit. There’s a lot of reasons his earlier films turned out the way they did. They didn’t turn out the way he envisioned.
TM: Given that he knew the documentary wasn’t going to be all positive, why did Boll want to participate?
SPS: I think he just wanted someone who was looking at the larger picture instead of comparing him to a Tommy Wiseau or a Ed Wood. He wanted to explain himself a bit. The articles and the small kinds of podcast interviews don’t really give him enough time to explain himself, or they ask the same five questions. Almost every headline is “world’s worst director” – I think he wanted to look at something deeper. But he wasn’t shying away from that title. I told him early on in production that we’d be definitely looking at that angle and talking about it. He was more than happy to look at it. Most people would want this buried, but he looked at it head on. “I have that title, but let’s look at why.”
F*** You All: The Uwe Boll story plays April 27 at the Calgary Underground Film Festival. For tickets, click here.
Click here to read our roundup of 9 Canadian films playing at CUFF 2019.
Acquainted takes a raw and honest look at modern love
In Acquainted, a new romantic drama from Toronto-based director Natty Zavitz, high school classmates Drew (Giacomo Gianniotti of Grey’s Anatomy) and Emma (Laysla De Oliveria of The Gifted) reunite with each other at a bar and instantly connect, discovering they share some serious chemistry. Problem is, the pair are both in serious, long-term relationships.
The script for the film was partly inspired by the deterioration of Zavitz’s last major relationship, said producer Jonathan Keltz (Entourage, Reign), who also plays Allan in the film.
“(Zavitz) sent me the script almost four years ago and I just connected so deeply and was so blown away by his script,” Keltz said. “(I was blown away) by how defined his voice was. I was completely moved by it.”
Inspired by films such as Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset trilogy, Acquainted is an honest look at relationships and adulthood, exploring the subject matter with introspection. Keltz said the film examines fidelity and infidelity from a judgement-free place.
“The characters are not villains or victims. It’s a raw and honest look at being in relationships, to have these type of things happen and how to deal with that,” he said. “The relationship with the self and the seeking to find out who you really are is really what’s crucial to the building of a relationship with somebody else.
“It’s about taking the time to do that work that puts you in the best position to be a partner with somebody and to be an adult in this world.”
Many of the cast and crew on Acquainted have worked in Toronto’s film community for years, making the set of the film a reunion of its own.
“In front of the camera and behind the camera, (the film involves all) kinds of amazing artists. It’s really a Canadian film and a Toronto film,” Keltz said. “It’s not trying to either hide that or beat you over the head with that.
“I think that’s done in a very unique way, and in a way that is both Torontonian and Canadian but also universally and commercially viable.”
Keltz said he thought the film would be emotionally affecting to audiences, offering perspective that could help to contextualize modern love and relationship.
“I think this is a really raw and honest and beautiful film about what it means to be in love, to be heartbroken, to be devastated, to be inspired and to try and build a life for yourself and figure out what that means,” Keltz said.
Acquainted is now playing at Cineplex Movies Yonge and Dundas in Toronto, International Village in Vancouver and at Landmark Cinemas nationwide.
Next up on The Mutt: With maturity and depth, An Audience of Chairs reflects on mental illness