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Overall Rating

Awesome: 25%
Worth A Look32.14%
Average: 21.43%
Pretty Bad: 21.43%
Total Crap: 0%

4 reviews, 4 user ratings

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by Jason Whyte

"Calgary's downtown Plus 15 system is the star of the wacky show."
3 stars

Ever been to Calgary? Better yet, have you ever been to a city where all of the downtown core is connected by walkways? Gary Burns' odd, perplexing "waydowntown", the furthest from being "A Very Canadian Film", shows an odd side of human behavior, the kind where people are losing it inside walls that they don't need to leave.

Tom (Fabrizio Filippo), is a trainee moving up the corporate ladder but is bored with his job. Fun for him involves skirt-chasing mallrat girls and smoking pot in his car. He desks next to Brad (Don McKellar), a man of few words who gets kicks out of stapling pro-working iotas to his chest. There's a bottle of marbles sitting next to his desk. They are both going crazy. So is Sandra, (Marya Delver) a pretty, wholesome trainee that isn't really. She's not technically a trainee and really one of the group, but feels it's beneath her when she's asked by her superior to follow her boss who may or may not be shoplifting. All the while she has a perfume page from a magazine clutched in her hand. And Curt (Gordon Currie) is a ladies-man of an office worker who is quirky just like the rest of them, but decides to lure co-worker Vicki (Jennifer Clement) into a fling...both of them have just come off of relationships as well.

Tom, Brad, Curt and Sandra are all in a bet on who can stay indoors the longest. Due to Calgary's Plus 15 system, their apartments are connected to hallways connected to corridors connected to the walkways that connects to shopping malls that connects to their office buildings. All the essentials of life is inside: food, water, air, even entertainment (What I wouldn't give to see Tom fly through Bankers Hall Cinemas). Still, all four characters keep breaking down as the film is taking place (On Day 24 during lunch hour), each noting the juxtapositions of inside to outside air, like the screaming vents or the smoking closets (don't ask what they are also used for).

"waydowntown" may be one of the more stranger films that I've seen, a film on par with the likes of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," "Dancer In The Dark" or the films of Joel Coen with a detached reality to them. It's "Office Space" directed by David Fincher. 98% of the picture was shot on digital betacam (the other 2% is VHS and 35mm), giving it a washed out, intentionally congestive look, which lends well to the hardships of our four leads. The camera itself is dizzying around like it has a headache but wants to keep filming. As well, every now and then there's a little pure breakage of reality and it gets even more odd.

It's not an entirely great film. It goes off on so many odd parallels that it even gets frustrating at times (like a bathroom encounter between Curt and Vicki in the bathroom while ponytail girl listens in the next stall). It doesn't grate on the nerves, however, and I think one has to accept the intentions of Burns' headache of a film to help make it work.

For people living in Calgary, "waydowntown" will no doubt be a great treat, to see Calgary's 15-System shown in full detail. When I was visiting the city in August, 1999, I toured this system for an entire day, visiting everything from the stores, to the business buildings, to apartment building entrances, to Bankers Hall Cinemas to take a break and watch a movie. I was allowed into all these corridors, so I explored them. It's not surprising that the sidewalks aren't that busy.

The characters here aren't using Plus 15 for what it really is (to keep people warm from the minus 35 celsius winter season), but in the case of "waydowntown," everything is just wayoutthere.

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originally posted: 08/20/03 04:09:11
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User Comments

8/22/03 NoMargin Gary Burns work continues to evolve with his latest film. He is becoming a dynamic voice. 4 stars
12/10/02 Pierce Lanson Engaging, different, surprising, unpredictable, excellent!!!! 5 stars
10/15/02 Goestridr No it's not very deep, but it is as deep as the corporate structure it portray's. 4 stars
3/28/02 Bruno Funny, Interesting, Very Amusing 4 stars
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  25-Jan-2002 (R)



Directed by
  Gary Burns

Written by
  Gary Burns
  James Martin

  Fab Filippo
  Gordon Currie
  Marya Delver
  Tobias Godson
  Don McKellar
  Nick Cleary

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