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Wynonna Earp provides major revelations while revelling in the crazy

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Wynonna Earp airs Fridays at 9 p.m. E.T. on Space. Photo courtesy Bell Media
Wynonna Earp airs Fridays at 9 p.m. E.T. on Space. Photo courtesy Bell Media

Spoilers for Wynonna Earp Season 3, Episode 4 follow. 

If there was anything we needed after Sgt. Dolls’ heartbreaking farewell, it was some light-hearted Wynonna Earp fare where we see the Earp Crew hanging around, quipping and drinking the day away – in an alternate reality, this could very well be how episode four plays out. In our universe, our favourites encounter everyday hurdles involving potential filicide and the evil trees from The Wizard Of Oz.

The aptly titled name of the episode, “No Cure For Crazy,” begins with Wynonna and Doc tracking down the final Revhead who stole a vial of Dolls’ dragon drugs. While I certainly didn’t expect to see a tree transport itself into the middle of a snowy road, the shocker of this opening sequence has to be when Revhead prepares to make his peace staring at the end of Peacemaker… and no peace is made. Maybe it was Shark Week in the world of the mythical weapon?

As Wynonna and Doc continue their flirtatious streak while babysitting an incapacitated Revenant off-screen, we’re introduced to a brightly coloured jacket-wearing Robin who believes it’s perfectly fine to lick the blood-like contents from a tree. For those of you with a sharp eye and IMDb access, you’d recognize the actor portraying this fashionable weirdo as Justin Kelly, a veteran of the official TV show of Canada, Degrassi. As he finally decides to bolt, we’re left with the wandering eyes of a person seemingly stuffed into the tree’s trunk to usher in the title credits.

Side note: the opening theme reverts to its original version following last week’s touching acapella version and I will forever squeal in delight seeing Katharine Barrell’s name appear alongside the crew.

After two seasons of Earpers striving to learn anything about Nicole Haught, this season so far has done a phenomenal job in sprinkling newfound tidbits about her throughout, gradually connecting the dots between her childhood and an apparent burned down forest that somehow contains fully-grown trees. Haught’s professional growth is an aspect of her character I am incredibly invested in. Later on Wynonna implies, using the subtlety of a jackhammer on a New York City block, if Nedley isn’t feeling the fight anymore he must step aside and let Haught assume the role of Purgatory Sheriff, a prospect I am vocally rooting for.

The episode contains a delightfully awkward “boob-smush” hug between our beloved trio and is something that really should happen more often, as I truly savour moments where everyone is in a single room together. As Waverly attempts to work her way through Mamagate, Wynonna assures her that Mama is “doing better” – the scene that promptly follows warrants a Ron Howard voiceover stating, “She wasn’t.” If you’re one to classify a woman pleading to get out of an enclosed space because an inmate is painting the walls with her blood as “doing better,” well then congratulations on being you, Mr. Lecter.

Wynonna Earp Season 3 Episode 4 – No Cure for Crazy. Photo courtesy Bell Media

Wynonna Earp Season 3 Episode 4 – No Cure for Crazy. Photo courtesy Bell Media

Doc and Wynonna steam up the basement at Shorty’s with talk of old-timey dick pics and pistol innuendos. The only thing that could possibly ruin this moment would be her uncovering a bassinet causing the couple’s feelings to resurface regarding the life-altering decision made about baby Alice last season… and would you look at that! The steam is gone and all that’s left is a cold wind of adoption. Just as the heat levels begin to rise again, Haught pulls a Wynonna and interrupts the doting lovebirds.

Another key revelation made in the episode involves Waverly attempting to set Jeremy up with a unicorn of his own in the form of Jazz Lover Robin. The two lads bond over tree-cherous puns and the Glorious Gay Gods are smiling down upon Queen Emily Andras. They travel down to where Robin spotted the Murder Tree and honestly, the forests of Purgatory are easily the second danger residents must steer clear of if Revenants aren’t in view because NOTHING GOOD HAPPENS WHEN WANDERING AROUND THESE WOODS. When they encounter a stairway to nowhere, Jeremy calls on “sexy human bloodhound” Holliday and, as if we need more reason to fear the trees, Doc suddenly hears the cries of a baby while attempting to find them. We’re then treated to a surprise Bulshar appearance, blubbering nonsense about Doc’s destiny and damn it, can’t he & his moustache just live a demon-free existence for a few days?!

Waverly visits Mama after receiving a call that she is set to be transferred to another facility because yet another “incident” has occurred. It goes just as well as anyone would think, as Mama declares she must “kill the demon” while looking directly at a distraught Waverly. It’s no secret that the Wynonna Earp cast is a stupidly talented bunch and Dominique Provost-Chalkley further proves this notion with her nuanced portrayal of Waverly’s internal struggles. Her chemistry with Melanie Scrofano is continually amplified whenever Wynonna learns of any imminent threat to the Earpiest Earp of them all. Mama morphs into Michael Scofield and breaks out of police custody, Peacemaker in hand, leaving Wynonna in the capable hands of the men who let her mother escape.

Wynonna manages to obliterate a guard twice her size while back at the prison and, I mean, what else is new? She nonchalantly brings his decapitated head into the Warden’s office as effortlessly as I bring in Timbits for my co-workers and politely asks to be freed in order to save her beloved sister from their murderous mother.

We’re finally treated with some domesticated Wayhaught sipping tea by the fire as Waverly listens in on her mother’s interrogation tapes. Haught is also wearing a unicorn t-shirt. #RelationshipGoals. When Doc stumbles upon the Homestead looking for the good whiskey, Waverly heads to the barn to find the cure to sooth Doc’s woes and, of course, we see Mama preparing for an attack by a Waverly-hating demon.

The episode concludes with Robin being kidnapped by a tree and a mysterious woman in an apron named Jolene showing up, pouring out some cups of ambition in the form of terror and pastries. The core four seem to be in some kind of food trance and everything seems to be going wrong. Yet another day in Purgatory!

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: “I would’ve kicked you in the neck, but you don’t have one.”

Wayhaught Moment: While I adore domesticated Wayhaught as much as the next conscious person, my favourite moment this episode involves Waverly breaking down when discussing what occurred between her and Mama at the prison to Haught. Wayhaught’s consistent support of each other is a vital component of the series and seeing Nicole whip out any pertinent files needed to help out her partner will never cease to give me joy (~26:15).

Waverly Expression: When Wayhaught run into Robin and he compliments Waverly’s bangs (~5:08).

Wynonna Earp Season 3 Episode 4 – No Cure for Crazy. Photo courtesy Bell Media

Wynonna Earp Season 3 Episode 4 – No Cure for Crazy. Photo courtesy Bell Media

What did you think of “No Cure For Crazy”? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow Ghezal Amiri on Twitter.

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Honey Bee is a revealing look at human trafficking in Canada

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Honey Bee, directed by Rama Rau, stars Julia Sarah Stone as an underage truck stop sex-worker on a journey of survival.
Honey Bee, directed by Rama Rau, stars Julia Sarah Stone as an underage truck stop sex-worker on a journey of survival. Photo courtesy A71 Entertainment

Honey Bee director Rama Rau may be known to Canadian audiences mostly due to her acclaimed work in documentary, including League of Exotique Dancers (2015) and No Place to Hide (2015) – the former profiling aging burlesque dancers and the latter taking a focus on the world of cyberbullying.

But though Honey Bee marks Rau’s narrative feature debut, her instincts honed in documentary filmmaking remain essential, as much of the film is shot as though it were a documentary feature.

“I think that was key in telling the story, for me,” Rau said. “The actors were never acting – they were always in that state.”

Much of the film’s dramatic power is supplied by lead actress Julia Sarah Stone, who plays Natalie, an underage truck stop sex-worker on a journey of survival.

“She was literally the crux of the film. She was everything,” Rau said. “When I saw her audition, and I looked at a lot of auditions, I really wanted her to be in my film.”

Rau spoke with The Mutt about Stone, transitioning from documentary filmmaking and the too-infrequently discussed prevalence of human trafficking in Canada. This interview has been edited and condensed for length.

THE MUTT: So tell me about Honey Bee.

RAMA RAU: It’s about a girl groomed from the foster home system and put into a human trafficking ring. She thinks the person grooming her is her boyfriend. That’s how they get young girls from the foster care system in Canada. Then, she’s caught in a police raid and sent to a farm and the movie really begins there, her coming to terms with what has happened. A lot of it is her finding herself.

TM: What were your first thoughts when you initially read the script?

RR: I was a bit shocked, to be honest. I was stunned that these things happen in Canada. I wondered if I wanted this to be my debut feature. But it’s never frightened me to go into the underbelly of society. But films have the power to open up areas that we don’t normally talk about. I also said as a woman director I can bring a certain perspective to it. And I found my way into the story, and said, “This is how I’m going to do it, and if you’re OK with it, I’m happy to work on this film.”

TM: What were those specific elements you wanted to bring to the film?

RR: I knew I wanted it to be totally told from the perspective of Natalie, from her POV. I knew I wanted it to be a very personal film. In documentary, we use handheld cameras a lot. We literally run behind our characters. I wanted that sense of urgency in this film. We kind of blurred the lines between fiction and fact. I wanted to go so deep into the story, so the audience never knows, “Is this a real story, or is this a person acting? Does this really happen in Canada?”  [There was a scene where] and we ran behind [Natalie] like we were a camera crew.

TM: This film is obviously so based on character and Natalie’s experience. Do you think approaching things with that documentary mentality, did that help you capture small character moments?

RR: Yes, absolutely. I think that was key in telling the story. For me, the actors were never acting, they were always in that state. I encouraged them to be that way for as long as we were filming. I think they really took that to heart. They really lived their characters, and that was so rewarding for the camera because the camera picked up every little twitch of the cheek and movement of the eyebrow. I think that really lent to the authenticity. I even told Ryan (Steven Love), I want you to not talk too much to the women and I want them to hate you by the end of the film. So it’s really beyond method acting, it’s really living and being that character for that period of time.

TM: Having someone capable in the lead is obviously very important, because you need someone who is able to deliver that authenticity. How important was it having Stone in that role?

RR: Oh my god, she was literally the crux of the film. She was everything. I know she did so much research. I think she really carries the film on her shoulders. That’s why I had to choose such a strong actor like Martha to offset Julia’s stunning performance. I got so lucky in getting such great actors. God knows what I would have done if Julia wouldn’t have been able to deliver, because the film is totally based on every nuance of her face.

TM: Why would you recommend people check out the film?

RR: I think human trafficking in Ontario is not talked about enough. I think people watching this film will find a way into thinking about it. It’s not a news item. It’s more of a story of a girl who has been through the sex trade and has been bartered like a piece of furniture. I think we need to give these girls a voice. Since documentaries on these subjects can’t be made because it brings a lot of danger to their lives, these sort of films based on social issues is what opens up peoples’ minds to these sorts of issues. That’s why I think this film is crucial for people to watch if we have to tackle things like human trafficking in Ontario.

Honey Bee opened in select theatres on Sept. 20 and will be available on Video on Demand on Dec. 10.

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Director Rob Grant on the tension (and dark comedy) of HARPOON

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From director Rob Grant (Mon Ami, Fake Blood), Harpoon will make its Canadian premiere at the Calgary Underground Film Festival. Photo courtesy CUFF
From director Rob Grant (Mon Ami, Fake Blood), Harpoon will make its Canadian premiere at the Calgary Underground Film Festival April 28. Photo courtesy CUFF

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 made its Canadian premiere at the Calgary Underground Film Festival (CUFF) April 28. The film will release on VOD in Canada on October 15.

The Mutt spoke with director Rob Grant prior to the film’s screening at CUFF 2019. 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.

Harpoon director Rob Grant said premiering the film at International Film Festival Rotterdam 2019 was a very validating experience. Photo courtesy CUFF

Harpoon director Rob Grant said premiering the film at International Film Festival Rotterdam 2019 was a very validating experience. Photo courtesy CUFF

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 will be released on VOD in Canada on October 15.

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There Are No Fakes is a shocking journey into the world of art fraud

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Directed by Jamie Kastner, There Are No Fakes is a shocking feature-length documentary that centres on the work of Norval Morrisseau. Photo courtesy Cave 7 Productions
Directed by Jamie Kastner, There Are No Fakes is a shocking feature-length documentary that centres on the work of Norval Morrisseau. Photo courtesy Cave 7 Productions

Some of the best documentaries of the past two decades involve hard left turns – films that begin in one direction but end in another due to events that unfolded during production. There Are No Fakes, directed by Jamie Kastner, joins that select company of documentary as its comedic opening slowly morphs into something much darker.

There Are No Fakes centers on the work of Norval Morrisseau, the Indigenous Canadian artist of the Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek First Nation, sometimes referred to as the “Picasso of the North”. Morrisseau, who died in 2007, sought to remove forgeries of his art from the marketplace, establishing the Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society in 2005.

After Kevin Hearn (of Barenaked Ladies fame) buys one of Morrisseau’s paintings, he starts to doubt its authenticity and discovers a bizarre feud consolidated around Morrisseau. It’s this conflict, and the dark secrets hidden beneath it, that form the backdrop of There Are No Fakes.

Kastner (The Secret Disco Revolution, Free Trade Is Killing My Mother), who was friends with Hearn in high school, learned through conversation about Hearn’s ongoing lawsuit surrounding the Morrisseau paintings. It became clear to Kastner that such a story would be perfect for his next project.

“It was almost unbelievable. There was so much crazy stuff in this story, I couldn’t quite believe it,” Kastner said. “I told him if I was going to proceed with it, though we were friends he would have no editorial control. As a journalist, I would be talking to both sides, and he agreed.

“I went off on my own doing my own kind of digging and research. Lo and behold, everything he told me and then some turned out to be the case.”

Norval Morrisseau of the Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek First Nation was sometimes referred to as the "Picasso of the North". Photo courtesy Cave 7 Productions

Norval Morrisseau of the Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek First Nation was sometimes referred to as the “Picasso of the North”. Photo courtesy Cave 7 Productions

As the story unfolded and as Kastner continued to meet a succession of larger-than-life characters, he found himself shocked at what he uncovered. Bringing footage back to his editor provoked a similar reaction.

“He’d say, ‘Holy f***!’ Then I’d do another one, and he’s quite an even-keeled guy, and he’d say ‘holy f***,’” Kastner said. “So it was a series of ‘holy f***’ moments. I tried to recreate that experience for the audience.”

Documentaries can often unfold much as expected, with a known story dictating the outcome of the production. But given the fluid situation surrounding the events of There Are No Fakes, Kastner followed the story as it led him, knowing he had been handed an incredible gift.

“It’s definitely a privilege and a responsibility (to tell this story). You’re dealing with the legacy of one of our most important artists,” he said. “You wind up dealing with very serious issues of abuse of different kinds, so I felt a real responsibility.

“You have to handle it very carefully as a documentary filmmaker. It really is so unique and unusual and special and horrific and inspiring and a whole range of things that you don’t usually get in one film.”

There Are No Fakes made its world premiere at Hot Docs 2019, receiving highly positive reviews. Kastner said the film provided fascinating insight into the legacy of Morrisseau, touching on multiple problems still at play in Canada.

“It’s a very dramatic story. People can’t believe that they’re real people. They seem like characters out of some HBO series or something,” Kastner said. “I think it’s a very entertaining, edge of your seat, jaw-dropping type of story that happens to be a documentary.”

There Are No Fakes will screen at multiple locations throughout Canada in July 2019. For more information, click here.

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