waydowntown (Canada; 87min.)


directed by: Gary Burns
starring: Fab Filippo; Don McKellar; Marya Delver
waydowntown
 
Ellen says: "I was one of the individuals fortunate enough to catch the U.S. premiere of waydowntown last night. After a wonderful dinner with Gary Burns and Don McKellar, the film kept the laughter going for me. I'll state at the outset that I am a cubedweller myself, so I have a strong appreciation for this film set in Calgary where all the hi-rises are connected by walkways (really true). Four co-workers make a bet about who can stay inside the longest without going outside. As the bet progresses, the anxiety levels rise. The lead actress, Marya Delver, was wonderful at portraying the mounting anxiety. Subplots involved the general misery and moral compromises of corporate life as well as the ridiculous humor of it all. If you work in corporate America, and even if you don't, I think you will find this film humorous and touching." 4 cats
 
Phred says: "I loved waydowntown. It was unexpectedly much much better than you might expect from a so-so sounding plot. This movie shows what you can do with a small budget, a great idea, technical skill and superb writing. It's original, with smart and unexpected twists and touches. It was often fall-down funny. Many of the characters are quirky and unique. This movie's unlike any movie you've probably seen, in plot and execution.

Filmed in video, it uses that medium's control and versatility. The opening sequence, for example, was graphically beautiful and original.

The acting was good, sometimes wonderful. He often uses amateurs, but it's the writing that makes the movie. The ending seems ambiguous? I'll gladly see this again.

There's a lot in there. It's smart and funny." 3.5 cats
 
Michael says: "I've seen WAYDOWNTOWN twice now, and I enjoyed it even more the second time around. Ellen summed it up pretty well, talking about moral compromises and general misery involved with working in a corporate environment. Director Gary Burns captures the absurdity and the harshness of it all with exaggerated humor.

Four co-workers wage a month's salary on who can stay indoors (they live/work/shop in a complex in Calgary that is connected by glass tunnels at the 15th floor) the longest. As the anxiety and tension build (it's now Day 24) Burns effectively makes us feel the claustrophobia, and anxiety felt by the characters as events begin to spiral out of control.

Tom (Fab Filippo) keeps waiting for a Superman-like hero to save them all from the hell they've found themselves locked into... and by doing so, removes himself from any moral responsibility he shares in making his life better. His casual cruelty to his cubemate, Bradley (the wonderful Don McKellar), the flippant remarks he makes to strangers, heedless of the consequences, and the callousness with which he offers one neurotic officemate up to another all point out his descent into corporate hell. But when ultimately faced by the consequences of his actions, Tom realizes that it doesn't have to be that way... if he has the courage... the heroism, to take his life into his own hands.

Sounds a little serious, but Burns and James Martin's script is filled with laugh-out-loud humor. Filippo, McKellar, Marya Delver, Gordon Currie, and other cast members are terrific. The camerawork is effective and inventive. This movie will be released in October and I highly recommend it." 4 1/2 cats
 
Bruce says: "Since I missed this film in the theaters (not surprising since the total US gross was under $20,000) I was thrilled to see it finally released on DVD. While perhaps not a film for everyone, I urge anyone who has not seen it to be adventurous and give it a whirl. This is a unique film with its own style – a prototypical independent film.

"Filmed entirely in downtown Calgary WAYDOWNTOWN centers around a winner-take-all bet that four friends, all trainees at a large corporation, have made to see who can stay indoors the longest. Calgary is just one of the Canadian cities where buildings are designed using a veritable maze of connecting walkways making it possible to live a fairly normal life without ever going outdoors. That is if you don’t consider fresh air as important factor in your day-to-day existence.

"Cleverly filmed, one can feel the physical claustrophobia of working in small cubicles in tight quarters might bring or the emotional claustrophobia of being trapped in a meaningless existence for the rest of one’s life. The style is fast paced and quirky. Director Gary Burns digs into his bag of tricks to constantly entertain his audience while maintaining focus on his narrative. This film is lean with little or no fat whatsoever.

"Multiple subplots are woven into the main story giving us a larger view of the whole rather than getting in the way. Don McKellar is especially good as the suicidal nerd who has worked in the same job for over twenty years, each day blurring into the next. Gordon Currie is the company womanizer who breaks his rule about dipping his pen into company ink. Jennifer Clement is his willing target. Marya Delver is the young woman who becomes totally neurotic at the suggestion she is enveloped in disgusting, polluted air. All the action is narrated, triggered and orchestrated by Fab Fillipo who amuses himself by giving nicknames to everyone in the office. He maintains his sanity by creating a corporate culture of his own.

"The material in the film is not new or startling, just fresh and whimsical. 4.5 cats"

 
Thom says: "I quite liked this film as well, giving it 4 CATS. For some reason I have no memory why I got this from NetFlix some two months ago. Fab Filippo had quite a run on the insipid QUEER AS FOLK for a few seasons, playing the aspiring violinist lover of boy toy-type Justin. That series was filmed in Toronto, so the casting makes sense."