Revolving around two very different yet linked parties, Gary Burns’ sophomore film, KITCHEN PARTY cannily depicts the behaviors of suburban teens, and the more bitter and biting actions of their parents. Scott decides to throw a party while his parents are out at a party of their own. The problem is, Scott’s compulsive mother, whose discrete vacuum pattern on the carpeting is deliberate, and would be telling if the party spread any further than the kitchen, hence the film’s title. The party includes Scott’s friends, hanging out, drinking, and the usual teen antics, and his girlfriend, Tammy, who plays a dangerous adolescent game flirting openly with Scott’s arch-nemesis, his brother Steve, who spends hours in the basement listening to loud rick & roll music.
Across town, several of the kids’ parents get together, get a little drunker than their kids, and things get even messier. Their party runs a fine balance between the inadvertent, and yet pop-culture symbolism of over-sharing, and the sad fact that these people have very little to say to each other. Instead, a fight ensues when Scott’ father suggests that another’s parent’s child is gay. Naturally events at both parties spiral out of control, and it all wraps up with a terrifically absurd finale that seems somehow fitting.
KITCHEN PARTY features a young Scott Speedman in the lead role, who has gone on to enjoy a busy career in indie and Hollywood films, and television as well. Girlfriend Tammy is played by Laura Harris, who also gained steady work including a lengthy stint on the television show “24.”
This Canadian drama directed by Lynne Stopkewich (who made another great little seen film, KISSED) was based on a novel by Laura Kasischke. It’s a harrowing tale of sexual dysfunction and violence centered on Leila, the hotel desk clerk of a remote roadside hotel. Leila offers the hotel customers sex in exchange for money, and through this activity she meets Gary, who gets pretty rough with her during their first encounter. When he returns to apologize, she accepts, finding that she enjoys being roughed up during sex. Through a series of events, Leila and Gary grow closer, and her trust in him grows.
Leila’s only confidante is a young girl who plays around the inn. This girl comes from a difficult family life and Leila is drawn to her. As the film spirals to its intense climax, hidden secrets are revealed and Leila finds herself in deadly danger. A revelation from her past shines light on her recent destructive behavior and she must fight for her life.
Stopkewich tackles pretty heave subject matter, and the film’s star, Molly Parker shows in this early film in her career, that she’s not afraid to tackle yet another taboo subject. She turns in a powerful performance in this surreal and difficult film.
This Canadian film is notable because it is Sandra Oh’s first feature film, released in 1994. In DOUBLE HAPPINESS, directed by Mina Shum, Oh plays Jade the dutiful daughter of a very traditional Chinese family living in Canada. Jade’s parents want nothing more than for Oh to marry a successful Chinese man and live a happy, prosperous life. Jade’s desire to be an actress is frowned upon by her parents for its instability. As Jade’s parents continuously find eligible Chinese bachelors for her to date, she finds herself living a double life, keeping the life that her parents wouldn’t approve of, such as her burgeoning romance with the slightly awkward and completely Caucasian English teacher (played by Callum Keith Rennie, in one of his first features) hidden from them. Much of what drives Jade’s behavior is the fact that her older brother was disowned by her parents, a situation that causes them significant pain. Naturally with such a delicate balance being played in secret, things are bound to be discovered, and so it is in DOUBLE HAPPINESS.
This was a great debut for Oh, who has since appeared in a number of Canadian and U.S. films, and achieved significant success on the television show “Gray’s Anatomy.”
Thanks to the fabulous Jann Arden I found this amazing video of Anne Murray performing with some of the biggest early 80s British pop stars of the day. Don’t miss it. It’s work watching. Anne Murray rocks!