By Anne Brodie
Writer-director Marie Clements’ devastating Bones of Crows follows a Cree woman from childhood through her life and one hundred years of violent, hateful abuse of indigenous people in Canada. Set against historic government decisions that resulted in discrimination as policy in Canadian law, its dynamic, deeply felt human stories are the driving wheel. Our shameful past comes to light in a matter-of-fact manner, the way one imagines the settler crushing of indigenous families happened, without government opposition, or raised eyebrows. Aline, played with tremendous courage by Grace Dove, witnessed harmful prejudice early in life and throughout, was determined to survive and thrive and tell her story. She and her siblings were stolen from her family and taken to a residential school run by sadistic, unchecked staff. The priest, nuns and teachers abused children, which is not news to us today. So many images of unmarked graves of children on residential school properties. Aline overcomes her trauma and joins the military as a WWII codebreaker in London, UK, as she has secretly retained her Cree language. She marries young and lives to regret it; her husband Adam (Phillip Lewitski) is broken by his traumas at res schools. Her sister and children struggle with addiction and poverty. Later in life, Aline has the opportunity to tell her story on a global level. Wow. Excellent film, restrained, dignified, instructive, beautiful to look at and bolstered by solid performances across the board and a mature directorial vision. Based on real events. In theatres.
Arnold documentary alert. Netflix tomorrow. During Arnold Schwarzenegger’s prolific film career, I had the chance to interview him many times. There was no one else like him on the circuit. He always said something warm and relatable to each interviewer as they entered his room. His bountiful charisma was a joy in a world of movie stars. Once I had sunburn marks and he called the makeup artist to cover them before we began the interview. I have great affection for him through repeated positive interactions and did not write him off when post-#MeToo called him out. He is of another generation and has since apologised for his behaviour. The doc marries what’s special about him as a global star, a mentor, a donkey dad and a philanthropist with his personal life today. He shares his talent for visualising change, chutzpah, and courage. These gifts got him out of Thal, Austria and an abusive homelife to the top of the heap as a bodybuilder and actor. He married into one of the US’ most prestigious and important families, the Kennedys, with Maria Shriver. From 13 global bodybuilding awards to becoming the biggest film star in the world, the Governor of California, founder of numerous charities, and fitness and education awareness campaigns, the man is unstoppable. These days he often grams from his kitchen table with his pet donkey, mini horse, pig, and Pekinese, upbeat, positive, and encouraging fans. And he often travels back to Austria to meet up with his primary school, lifelong “boys” all of which makes Arnold, the doc, enjoyable.
So what if you live with your mother who then dies, and you’re a recovering addict and thief and in deep debt with zero prospects? What do you do? Patricia Arquette’s spunky, frankly brilliant Peggy has a gift – she can read people and predict behaviours, she’s bold as brass and unafraid of things, so she marches into a local PI’s (Brad Garrett) office and forces him to hire her as a private investigator. Las Vegas, right? The remarkable series High Desert set in Yucca Valley fully embraces the Cali crazy and showcases Arquette’s anything-goes naturalism. we’re charmed by infectious laughter and turn a blind eye to her barely legal activities – she always comes out on top. She’s given up her job as a Wild West Saloon performer where she learned to sling a gun and paid attention to the lowlifes who frequented the place. We open as she’s throwing a party at her brother’s moderne pad but when the cops show up, she jumps into action flushing drugs down the toilet and lands in the slammer. Having a record means she can’t take a regular job – like a court stenographer – so she works the path she chose to great comic, ironic effect. She can talk her way out of most things and talk others into most things. She’s the original “A**hole Whisperer”. And that’s why she makes an effective PI. Talk about spunk. Meanwhile, her sister’s selling her mother’s house from under her as she never learned to save, so she hooks up with a stolen art dealer (Rupert Friend). Can’t wait to hear what happens. Trust me it is a tonne of singular wacky. On AppleTV+ now.
Irish Canadian dramedy SisterS on Crave, created by and starring IRL besties Susan Stanley and Canadian Sarah Goldberg is a hoot. They’re sisters from other mothers, late-discovered, the beginning of a partnership. Sare (Goldberg) learns about her biological father via a recording her mother left her and flies to Dublin to find him. She arrives full of optimism and runs into a woman who has all the answers -a half-sister she never knew she had! They’re as different as night and day- softy Sare’s emotional reaction is teary and emotional, while hard-headed Suze (Stanley) is irritated, even incensed to have her rocky life upended by this goody two shoes. Suze is the gatekeeper to their father so Sare must earn her trust. After Suze lays down her arms and begins to see Sare as a person, they pair up to travel to Galway to find him. All the confusion, excitement and hope – if only she didn’t idealise the idea of her father so much. Fun, full-on family dysfunction and lots of Irish/ Canadian jabs later, they hit the road.