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A review: The Craftsman

 

The Craftsman is a short film that encompasses a deep storyline covering themes of loss, grief, and finally peace. Directed by Cody Wareham and written by Daniel Newton, the film resonates with anyone struggling in life, but also with anyone who enjoys a happy ending.

Set in the depression era, it follows the story of a toymaker who has lost his wife and son to an unnamed illness. And with that loss, he has also lost his passion for his craft. Beside the characters and dialogue, the director makes ample use of lighting and background music to dictate the tone of the story.

The movie opens and the atmosphere is dark and intense. The craftsman sits listlessly next to a rocking horse he’s struggling to work on, sorrow oozing out from him. He has been drinking and passes out. The mood changes and the whole atmosphere brightens. The progression of his memories takes the viewers from family man to the man he is today.  He wakes back up to reality still broken and bitter.

A climactic point in the film follows when his wife Anna appears to him in his dream and speaks to him gently, encouraging him to bring ‘a little beauty to this ugly world’ which is also a good way to describe this short film.

When he wakes up, the craftsman is a changed man, wanting to make things right, he follows his wife’s words. So, he sets out to do just that, moving onto a better and more hopeful chapter of his life. Peace is achieved at last. Even when all feels lost with no reason to go on, there is always something that is worth living for. It’s just a matter to look for it.

The short film played at the Toronto Independent Film Festival where it premiered on September 13, 2018. Prior to that, it was also screened at the New Filmmakers New York Film Festival where it was semi-finalist, and at the Creation International Film Festival as part of its official selection. The director and the writer, both in their twenties, seem to have a very promising road ahead of them if this short film is any indication.

Courtney Barnett’s a very needed musician

There’s something to be said for a musician with an incredible onstage presence and something new to bring to the table. With the recent release of her second album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, Courtney Barnett is still crushing the music scene.

Nestled in the balcony of the Danforth Music Hall, a girlfriend and I went to go see Barnett perform last night. She’s come to Toronto before, but I was one of the many unfortunate souls in the past to only watch her through someone else’s Instagram story.

Before things went underway, Barnett left the stage to her opener, Vagabon (Lætitia Tamko). I’m sorry to say that the half-hour set was a disappointment. It was pretty obvious that Tamko’s performance left many concertgoers uninterested and the chatter of the music hall was almost as loud as her music. It’s unfortunate that so few people came out to see someone with such a huge voice, and someone who’s making waves in the indie scene. But, she performed a few tunes and headed backstage where everyone waited in anticipation for the main act.

Barnett, on the other hand, is someone to take note of onstage. Her presence and charisma radiate offstage and onto everyone lucky enough to see her. She has this innate ability to mesh mellow tracks like “Depreston” and “Dead Fox” with more amped tunes like “Pedestrian at Best” that bring out the raspy tones in her voice and a rockstar presence. Being able to indulge in such a character only highlights her talent.

Accompanied by only six lights, kept relatively dim throughout half the set, and her band members, Barnett came out in a pair of jeans and t-shirt to show off her low-key attitude she’s best known for. But, it’s her personality and lyrics that tell tales of her modest fame, insecurities, and struggles with confidence; ironically, these personality traits are what make her stand out from the rest.

The first half of her set included songs off her new album and I appreciated how she quickly informed the crowd that “this song is about depression” before jumping right into a track. She doesn’t give you any time to think about what she said or dwell on it, she just gives you a quick description, so it lingers in the back of your mind as she performs and makes the music more powerful and relatable.

When she comes back to town I would recommend going to see her. There’s something to be gained in seeing a musician parade around onstage and shower you with honesty, not only in her person but in her lyrics.