That’s a Wrap!
The final evening of 2017’s Open Roof festival ended with the perfect pairing of a beloved local musician and his feature film acting debut. Luke Lalonde, of the indie band Born Ruffians, was first performer and then audience member, watching the theatrical version of his film SUNDOWNERS for the first time with us and his own family.
Lalonde in fact took the stage just at sundown. Playing solo, his only accompaniment was his own accomplished guitar playing, allowing his lyrics to shine. He selected his set specifically to accompany the film, often explaining the thematic resonance of his songs. One song, too, was selected because his parents love it, and another because it was written for his father. The audience remained enthralled through to his final song, and their applause and cheers were heartfelt.
Before the film, we got a short surprise performance from members of improv group Bad Dog Theatre, a co-presenter of the film. Their skit, entitled “Texter’s Nightmare,” was a clever premise, and well-received. As the intro pointed out, Bad Dog Theatre would be a great way to fill your newly-free Tuesday evenings!
As the dark deepened, bringing an almost fall-like chill to the air, Sundowners began. The film is an indie, Canadian production from director Pavan Moondi, its cast mostly comedians and/or musicians. Luke Lalonde plays Justin, an aimless but caring call-center employee, while stand-up comedian Phil Hanley plays his best friend Alex, a lackadaisical wedding filmmaker. When Alex’s boss Tom (Tim Heidecker, with a terrific portrayal of a man less talented, likeable, and powerful than he thinks he is) sends him to film a wedding in Mexico, Alex manages to bring Justin along with the claim he’s a photographer, despite Justin’s inability to focus a camera.
Despite this premise, the film is neither a raunchy guys’ weekend comedy nor a tale of zany travel mishaps. There certainly are mishaps aplenty, from misremembered room numbers to a photographic reflector that won’t close, but the characters’ stress and exhaustion make them frustrations rather than gags. They are, in fact, obstacles to the raunchy guys’ weekend the characters may have hoped for.
The film embraces a low-budget aesthetic, with handheld camera work that is sometimes shaky or slow to focus, perhaps itself evoking low-budget wedding footage. The performances generally carry off a successful low-key, naturalistic feel, drawing humour from an everyday type of tossed-off comment. Lalonde in particular has several instances of lines turned humorous by spot-on delivery, for instance drawing widespread audience laughs from a simple “Oh yeah, I forgot about that.”
That said, Sundowners was thoroughly enjoyed by the excited audience. It was a thrill and honour to join Luke Lalonde in the first viewing of his film- many congratulations to him and the film’s cast and crew!
Thank you all for joining us through this season of great music, great movies, and great beer, and always ensuring we had a great crowd to top it off! Hope you join us next year, and enjoy your fall!