Movie Reviews by Will Fleming, the ‘Movies for a Year’ Contest Winner

I’ve decided to start this movie reviews blog since I won Megabox Cinemas’ ‘Movies for a Year’ contest. I have spent whole days wandering from one theatre to another, surviving only on over-buttered kernel popcorn, red licorice, Junior Mints, and Coca-Cola to give you the most honest and accurate movie reviews on the Internet. Of course, when I filled out the service satisfaction survey in order to enter the contest because of my then-girlfriend, Lisa’s, urging, I had assumed we would still be dating, and I would have had someone to go with. Lisa, if you’re reading this, I think you’re a terrible person, and I hope that when you’re auditioning for the part of (—) you twist your ankle, fall on your face, and chip your two front teeth.





Director: Gus Vincent


Starring: Jake Hall, Matt Miller, Natalie Courtman


Corbin (Miller), a down-and-out rodeo clown is being replaced by Frank (Hall) to work the New Mexico rodeo circuit after a tragic accident that leaves Corbin with a splintered femur and a detached left optic nerve. Frank’s wife, Peggy (Courtman), helps Corbin get back on a horse.


I was really excited for this movie. When I saw the promotional poster outside the theatre, with Matt Miller bandaged up, standing next to his steed, Natalie Courtman pushing him up under his buttocks, Jake Hall standing in the background with a disapproving look, the tagline, ‘When life bucks you off the saddle, you gotta climb back on’, tears grew in the corners of my eyes. The first time I saw the trailer for this movie, I couldn’t sleep for thirty-six hours.


But the thing is, there’s this new Indian restaurant that just opened down the street from my apartment. It’s got this thing, since it just opened, that you can eat all you want for $9.99. Well, I don’t know if it was too much curry or what, but my guts have been gurgling for weeks now. I haven’t been able to safely step more than twenty-one feet away from the toilet. King of the Rodeo is no longer in theatres.






Director: Cameron Howe


Starring: Luke Pilson, Jason Schwartz, Patricia Parque, Rachel McAndrews, James Mercy


Eddie (Pilson) and his best friend John (Schwartz) lose their jobs on the same day. Trying to figure out what to do next with their lives, they decide to start a rock and roll band.


I missed the first twenty minutes of this movie. The popcorn had run out at the concession and I wasn’t interested in the lukewarm hotdogs the part-time cashier had wrapped in aluminum foil and put under heat lamps for the afternoon, so I waited for the Popcorn Master to refill the popper with kernels. When I finally took a seat, the fellow patron beside me said Patricia Parque had just given the best performance of her life. In the credits she’s cast under Girl at Coat Check.


I had a band in high school. We would perform at football games, during halftime, but we couldn’t march the field and play our instruments at the same time. Plus, the colours of our uniforms always matched the colours of the opposing team.


The crowd booed us a great deal. Cameron Howe’s new soundtrack is available now on Warner Bros.





Director: Sarah Folley


Starring: Paulo Comanzo, Jay Bushnell, Paul Moss, Seth Hogen, Joshua Mackenzie


After the owner of an NHL team moves the franchise to a faraway city, five eccentric fans are brought together by their unorthodox love for the game to create an alternative hockey league, which makes them national heroes.


I am always wary of Canadian films because they are often made cheaply, and are usually about nature. So—it seems—is Megabox Cinemas: This movie played for only one screening on Friday, in an auditorium hidden away in such an obscure corner of the building, Geoff, the Ticket Taker, sketched a map on the back of my ticket stub with a Sharpie, and handed me a Walkie-Talkie.


The two trailers preceding the movie were in French and I started cursing myself for not remembering my eyeglasses in anticipation of reading subtitles. But, throughout the film, I and the eleven other men that found their way to this theatre were forced to fight back tears. The bulbous man with a Fu Manchu, wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey and sitting at the end of my row, wept for a full minute.


Sarah Folley is beautiful, and makes beautiful movies. I mean, hockey—rough, tough, and… stuff.






Director: Quentin Soraño Steven Bloomberg(?)


Starring Diego Marquez, Chloe Sangria(?), Benicio de Luca, Johnny Cardinal Javier Cosoca, Dania Rodriguez(?), Ben Fleck(?), Woody Carlsson


Maria (Sangria, maybe) and Gabriel (Marquez), belonging to two opposing Mexican drug cartels at war in Las Cruces, New Mexico, fighting like cowboys and Indians in Ford Mustangs and on Indian Motorcycles, find themselves star-crossed lovers.


A freak snowstorm immobilized the city today, and I wasn’t able to venture to the theatre. Instead, I cranked up the thermostat and kept myself warm with a bottle of Napoleon brandy while I click-clacked this screenplay on my Brother typewriter.


You wanted me to start writing again, Lisa, but all I can come up with is this sort of drivel. I just saw an advertisement for your play in today’s newspaper, and that it’s receiving critical acclaim, while my rejection letter from Penguin arrived in the mail yesterday, and they not only misspelled the title of my manuscript, but also addressed me as Jill Flamingo.


Your emotional abuse has deep roots in my brain, but I was finally able to exhume your toiletries from the cabinet under the bathroom sink. Most of your records are still intact and at home in chronological order inside your stolen milk crates. I did have a therapeutic endeavor snapping your James Taylor albums in half and scattering them across the living room.


Can you please stop by to pick up your talking Ferbies? I’ll leave them in a box outside my door. They terrify me at night with their devil voices.




Director: James Blanco


Starring: Steve Kahn, Zoe de La Cruz


Hank (Kahn) is different. He has no friends. He has no dates. He has no life.


I’m a coward when it comes to scary movies. In a crowd of moviegoers, I steer my face up to the screen while I attempt to inconspicuously divert my eyeballs toward the toes of my Converse sneakers. My effort always fails to go unnoticed.


Fortunately, Zombie is an unconventional rom-com.

Blanco’s latest film strikes a personal chord in—not necessarily my heart—but surely my psyche. Especially watching the touching scene when Hank finally summons the guts to expose himself to Lydia (de La Cruz), stumbling through his words: ‘I am zombie.’


It was Sunday when I was at Cuppa Joe, pedaling on the stationary bicycle the café had installed to encourage healthy living and green energy. I can plug my devices into its USB outlet. (Too bad I’m not in better shape. It still takes me two- and one-quarter days to charge my phone this way.) I was starting my second mile when I had gotten overzealous with my flailing knees and bumped a girl’s ceramic cup full of a newly purchased chai latte clean from her saucer directly into one of the six-paned glass rectangles of the window beside us, creating a theatrical crash synonymous to the crash cymbal in the crescendo of a symphonic epic.


Let me indulge on this girl.


I’d like to tell you that her eyes were green except our moment was so incredibly brief that I can’t verify this fantasy as fact. Regardless, her hair was abyss-black, yet somehow softened her face. Her lips were so lush that I found myself exhilarated to extend my own to hers, but the limbs of the bicycle detained me.


In hindsight I wish I could share a confident instance between her and I, where I apologized to her then to those employed at Cuppa Joe and made a heroic gesture of reimbursing the immediate supervisor of the café with a number of bills for my clumsy accident, while resupplying this beauty with a brand new cup, followed by my introduction: ‘I am Will.’


Instead, I tripped over the bicycle, upending a nearby table. I scooped up my telephone and tweed jacket, and as I scooted out the door, she said: ‘You turd.’





Director: Michael Fay


Starring: Tom Grady, Shannon Cayden, Adam Morton, Ashley Kershaw


Two seasoned bank robbers (Grady, Cayden) are commissioned to pull off a complicated simultaneous multi-bank heist for a mysterious benefactor, when everything goes wrong and leads them down a predictable road to perdition. Their day in court, however, pulls some unpredictable twists.


From the man who blazed his trail through the Hollywood hills with redundant explosions and signature sunset cinematography, Michael Fay misleads moviegoers for two hours (124 minutes, truly—I timed it) in this strict court drama. I remained seated throughout the credit scroll—while the Popcorn Sweepers hustled between the aisles—to be sure his name hadn’t been incorrectly ascribed on the promotional posters and the television spots and Everything appeared to be up to snuff.


I have been so subjugated by the loss of my cohabiter, it hadn’t dawned on me that my contest-winning unlimited pass includes a guest. This was only recently brought to my attention when last night I perused the fine print on my Megabox Cinemas swipecard, looking for details regarding the upsize offer on concession food, most notably the fountain pop.


I called you, Charlie, to join me at the theatre for this buddy movie, knowing you are the only friend available for a matinee on a Tuesday because you play in an alternative country trio and make silkscreen T-shirts, part-time. And because I still hope to inherit your 1985 tour Neil Diamond sweatpants.


You didn’t answer.


Sure, I get the impression lines have been drawn and sides have been taken. I prefer to think this is the reason behind your no-show rather than the shameful idea that you don’t like Michael Fay films. I’m willing to forgive you for the former, but not the latter.





Hey there, Will. Charlie here.


The way Lisa went about this whole thing stinks. I get that. But do you really think enacting your vengeance against her over the Internet is the best course of action? I’d like for you and I to get together to talk this through rather than having to leave this message in the comments section of your blog, but I’ve noticed you’re screening my calls.


I don’t want to lie to you so I must admit that I have seen Lisa. With Jon.


Bumped into them at Margot’s exhibition at the Art Gallery. Really made an effort to sidestep them, but that was ruinous. Had too many flutes of the champagne? Maybe the right amount.


Yeah, I know the portraits were hanging on the walls, and sure that was the key indicator for where the walls stood. But we were in the narrow room with only those two doors, and boy was it crowded with the leather jacket-wearing men that always seem to pursue Margot. I knew Lisa saw me, and I knew she knew I saw her, and once she started walking toward me I had to vacate my position. Because, come on—I don’t do well in these social situations.


So, yup. Plastered my face right into the adjacent wall. Smooshed my schnauzer. And God was there way too much blood! Freaked out a number of folks. It was a good awful mess.


Then Lisa was taking me by the arm and leading me to the bar where the bartender promptly handed me a white towel, which, of course, soaked through immediately. Lisa was eager to get me medical attention. Others were offering to dial 911 to request a pair of paramedics, but this was swiftly nixed since the University hospital is just down the street, and Jon said he would drive.


Gotta say the guy has a nice car. I bled all over his seats.


Lisa and I sat in the waiting room while Jon parked the car somewhere. This was a Saturday night in the Emergency Room—littered with the yelping, earsplitting gunshot-wounded, ran-over pedestrians, and police-pulverized arrestees—yet sitting with her seemed like the two of us were locked in some anechoic chamber.


I don’t want to have kids, she announced and for a moment said nothing more, just leaving her utterance adrift. Of course, I’m daft, and at first, like an idiot, I didn’t realize she was talking about you.


I’m dying beside her, so I guess she wants to have a heart-to-heart with me because she can’t have it with you.


He didn’t take my pronouncement earnestly, she kept on, staring at the porter mopping an unsavory liquid off the linoleum. But he secretly believed that I simply did not want to presently have kids, that it was in our future. I mean sure, we were renting a one-bedroom in the least desirable neighbourhood to raise a family. And we didn’t even pay rent on time. I was serving at that shithole diner at the end of the block between auditions. He kept telling me he’s writing a novel, and okay I support that because you know he’s had those stories published in the Atlantic, and he’d told me some agent out of Phoenix had picked him up.


Is this true, pal? You never told me about an agent.


Anyway, she’s got more. Said: But time went on and nothing changed. He never came closer to finishing his novel, and then one day he wasn’t writing at all. We weren’t in any condition to take care of ourselves nor each other. Living together was like an aging wine turning to vinegar. A child between us would have been abusive.


Here I made an effort to stand up for you, and through the towel I made a muffled and nasally retort.


Why didn’t you tell him this from the beginning? I’d asked. Why hadn’t you told him earlier that you didn’t want to have kids?


She let out this heavy sigh and scratched her nose, and I wasn’t sure if she was going to say anything. But she did:


It’s not that I don’t want to have kids. I just don’t want to have kids with Will.




By then Jon had returned and she didn’t say any more about it.


I’m irked by that guy’s nonsense of correcting me every time I call him Jon. It’s Jonathan, he says.


Just makes a guy want to punch him right in the mouth.





Director: Charlie Hoffman


Starring: Tom Chance, Sheryl Treegarden


A rare virus eats at Clare’s (Treegarden) brain, disabling her from retaining new memories. Every day she has the same argument with her husband, Bill (Chance), from 1989. Each time they argue, they see their lives in a different way.


Okay, so I’ve had some time to think about it, obviously.


I sat in my apartment this week contemplating the demise of our relationship, Lisa, only to spend two hours in the air-conditioned meat locker Megabox Cinemas calls a theatre to experience an existential moment watching you and me portrayed by Tom Chance and Sheryl Treegarden, realizing that we come off as bad actors in the B-movie of our lives.


I thought I saw you when the house lights came on. In the crowd, six rows ahead of me. It looked like your hair, the way you had it done for Charlie’s and Neko’s wedding. You had grown taller, I noticed, when you stood up and walked toward the exit. And, of course, when I caught up to you by the restrooms, your face did not match my memory of you—seeing as this person was a man—and I apologized for the mistake. But don’t think this is me missing you.


Today I spent three hours digging my car out of the snow for this movie. (I think, also, I may have torn something in my right hand. Of course, this may also be from when I had a regrettable moment yesterday replacing the ribbon on my typewriter.) The breaks I took after every shovelful caused me to consider relocation. Away from the big chill, and away from you.





Director: Steve Halliday


Starring: Steve Halliday, Jim Tallen


Gary (Halliday) lives in a cabin in the woods far from everywhere. He eats from his garden and he eats animals he traps—mostly hares. To avoid the loneliness of this solitude, he invents an imaginary friend named Elliott (Tallen) to keep him company.


Lisa, if you think this is a metaphor for how I’m living without you… I don’t want to talk about it.



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Jordan Serben has a communications degree from Grant MacEwan University. He was born in Edmonton, AB. He grew up on a pig farm.

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