×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Paint Cans

How to navigate the pitfalls of a government film fund and make your little screen gem is the theme of "Paint Cans." While it speaks the universal language of bureaucratese, pic is a little too close to the truth and lacks the comic outrage to connect in a significant way outside its Canadian milieu. Still, it has a nice deadpan quality that could appeal in specialized release in selected markets.

With:
Wick Burns ... Chas Lawther Arundel Merton ... Robyn Stevan Vittorio Musso ... Bruce Greenwood Bryson Vautour ... Nigel Bennett Maitland Burns ... Don Francks Neville Lewis ... Andy Jones Morton Ridgewell ... Paul Gross Inge Von Nerthus ... Ann Marie MacDonald

How to navigate the pitfalls of a government film fund and make your little screen gem is the theme of “Paint Cans.” While it speaks the universal language of bureaucratese, pic is a little too close to the truth and lacks the comic outrage to connect in a significant way outside its Canadian milieu. Still, it has a nice deadpan quality that could appeal in specialized release in selected markets.

Wick Burns (Chas Lawther) is a career government official who fully understands that appearing to be busy and attentive is even better than actually being in the fray. His latest dilemma is an arty little ditty entitled “Paint Cans.” The project marks the theatrical directing debut of Vittorio Russo (Bruce Greenwood), who went to film school with Wick, and is produced by the sleazy but politically effective Neville Lewis (Andy Jones). No one in the Film Finance Office of Canada particularly likes the proposal, but a simple denial would be too fast and simple.

So, they hedge their bets by checking out the response at other funding agencies. The prospect of script development money is tossed around and, like shifting political winds, the attitude to fund or not to fund blows hot and cold.

Writer/director Paul Donovan is also guilty of playing too many angles. The internecine maneuvers within the agency are ample grist for the narrative mill. He delineates Burns quite well by showing the way he operates. But he then dilutes the broth by entering into Burns’ home life and his bizarre relationship with a cantankerous dad (Don Francks) who considers him a professional and moral washout.

More effective is the official’s budding romance with Arundel (Robyn Stevan), a journalist he meets in Cannes. It indicates his vulnerability and how love might humanize even someone trained to be a government automaton.

Lawther, in his unflappable role, is an interesting centerpiece to the action. Supporting characters are familiar types given little new spin or oddball quirks, which creates a certain sameness that teeters on the deadly and flattens any possibility of tension, danger or hilarity.

A polished if modest production, the film has a pleasant quality. That might be a step up from the efforts backed by the somewhat fictional agency. Still, it’s a long shot from the cure to mediocrity it so obviously disdains.

Paint Cans

(CANADIAN)

Production: A Libra Films release of a Salter Street production. Produced by Paul Donovan , Michael Mahoney. Directed, written by Donovan, based upon his book.

Crew: Camera (color), Les Krizsan; editor, David Ostry; music, Marty Simon; art direction, Shelley Nieder; sound, Allan Scarth, Alec Salter; associate producers, Benedict O'Halloran, Alan MacGillivray; assistant director, Cordell Wynne. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival, Sept. 13, 1994. Running time: 100 MIN.

With: Wick Burns ... Chas Lawther Arundel Merton ... Robyn Stevan Vittorio Musso ... Bruce Greenwood Bryson Vautour ... Nigel Bennett Maitland Burns ... Don Francks Neville Lewis ... Andy Jones Morton Ridgewell ... Paul Gross Inge Von Nerthus ... Ann Marie MacDonald

More Film

  • Billie Holiday (1915-1959, born Eleanora Fagan)

    Billie Holiday Documentary Draws Buyers as Concord Boards Project

    Concord, the successor to the Billie Holiday Estate, has boarded James Erskine’s documentary “Billie,” which tracks the iconic jazz singer’s life. Altitude Film Sales has sold the project to several territories. Also joining the project, now in post-production, is the Brazilian colorization artist Marina Amaral. Most of the filmed and still images that exist of [...]

  • My Extraordinary Summer With Tess review

    Film Review: 'My Extraordinary Summer With Tess'

    Winner of a special mention from the Berlinale Generation KPlus’ adult jury, the family-friendly, light drama “My Extraordinary Summer With Tess” is straightforward youth cinema with surprising emotional depth. Based on a prize-winning novel by Anna Woltz, a beloved Dutch writer of work for young readers, it explores family relationships and emphasizes the importance of [...]

  • UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report: Women, Minorities

    Hollywood Diversity Gains in TV but Falls Short in Movies

    Minorities and women have registered gains in several key areas of television but women continue to lag in movies, according to a report issued Thursday by the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA. “My basic take is that TV is improving more for minorities and women than film,” said Dr. Darnell [...]

  • Ghost Fleet review

    Film Review: 'Ghost Fleet'

    The revelatory documentary “Ghost Fleet” condemns the modern-day slave labor fueling the Thai fishing industry while focusing on the work of Bangkok-based advocacy organization Labor Rights Promotion Network Foundation (LPN), a group dedicated to ending slavery at sea. Combining chilling testimony from formerly enslaved men, some wincingly arty recreations of their ordeals, and on-the-ground footage [...]

  • WGA West Logo

    WGA Plans March 25 Member Vote on Talent Agency Rules

    Leaders of the Writers Guild of America plan a March 25 vote for members to decide whether to implement tough new restrictions on how Hollywood talent agencies as operate as agents for writer clients. The vote comes as the guild is in the midst of pitched negotiations with the Association of Talent Agents to renew [...]

  • Netflix Buys Chinese Sci-fi Hit 'The

    Netflix Buys Chinese Sci-fi Hit 'The Wandering Earth'

    Netflix has bought rights to “The Wandering Earth,“ the smash hit film pitched as China’s first mainstream sci-fi movie. The movie was the sleeper hit of Chinese New Year. It opened in fourth position on Feb. 5 but climbed to the top spot and has not yet relinquished it. After 14 days in theaters, the [...]

  • Michael B. JordanAFI Awards Luncheon, Los

    Film News Roundup: Michael B. Jordan's Hitman Drama 'Silver Bear' Gets Director

    In today’s film news roundup, Michael B. Jordan’s “The Silver Bear” finds a director, biopic “Running for My Life” is in the works, Fox is using new trailer compliance software and the 14-hour “La Flor” gets distribution. DIRECTOR ATTACHMENT Gerard McMurray, director of “The First Purge,” will write and direct Michael B. Jordan’s thriller “The [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content