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Whole New Thing
Amnon Buchbinder's Whole New Thing will definitely turn heads amongst those who believe that Canadian cinema has been in a state of hibernation. In a notably subtle fashion the Canuck director tells a compelling story about a 13-year old boy whose world turns upside down when he discovers how grown-ups express their feelings.
Emerson (Aaron Webber) lives with his parents in a desolated house in the snowy hills of Nova Scotia. He is home-schooled, in love with literature, and unsure about his sexuality. When he is enrolled in the local high school the youngster falls for his English teacher (Daniel Maclvor), a lonely gay man with a broken heart, thus causing a sea of problems.
Right off the bat...Whole New Thing might well be one of the best Canadian films I've seen in a long, very long time. Hilarious and sincere Emerson's struggle to embrace the world his parents have been preparing him for is something of a revelation for those of us who like to see films where the main character isn't as boring as an empty Starbucks cup. The same goes for the story - though it helps to have an original script it is not about where you find yourself before the final credits roll but how you get there.
In Whole New Thing I got there laughing while admiring young Aaron Webber's gutsy performance. With enough slippery spots that could have converted this film in yet another one of those pseudo-moralistic exercises in originality with a sour indie-odor Amnon Buchbinder maneuvered his story with such elegance that as soon as I popped in my disc I felt perfectly safe. Needless to say the longer I stayed in Emerson's world the more I liked how flawed it was.
Coming of age films could be a wonderful experience for those unburdened by morality standards. Their sensitive nature is indeed something not all viewers are comfortable with. And for a good reason! Like all films some work well, some don't!!
Fortunately enough I am hard pressed to think of another recent coming of age story (Cold Showers comes close) which outdoes what Whole New Thing easily achieves. Not so much because the film offers a universally new approach to already familiar themes but because of its ability to sustain a sense of authenticity, arguably the genre's most volatile component, in a compelling fashion.
In 2006 the film won the Audience Award (Amnon Buchbinder) and the Best Film Award at the Czech Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in Brno. The film is also the winner of the Grand Jury Award for Best International Feature Film at the L.A Outfest as well as the Jury Award at the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival.
How Does the DVD Look?
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and enhanced for widescreen TVs the film looks good. Contrast is convincing, colors are solid, and edge-enhancement does not appear to be an issue here. The actual print is progressive and with a slight tendency to be a bit unfocused during some of the indoor scenes (I suppose most of if is due to the manner in which this film was shot, lighting isn't handled exceptionally). Overall however this is a healthy presentation that should meet the quality requirements of those with sensitive home set-ups.
How Does the DVD Sound?
The DVD offers English 5.1 and 2.0 mixes. Both sound exceptionally well: dialog is crystal clear and very easy to follow. I also could not detect any disturbing drop-outs or hissing(s). Optional English subtitles are (unfortunately) not provided. The disc offers optional Spanish subs in addition to English close-captures.
In addition to trailers for other releases by PictureThis Ent. On this disc you will find two interviews. The first one is with the director of the film Amnon Buchbinder and the second one is with the star of Whole New Thing Aaron Webber. Both are quite revealing, with some interesting info pertaining to the pic's low-budget status, the unconventional nature of Aaron Webber's character, and the history behind this project (special props are given to Daniel Maclvor for his performance as well as his involvement with the script). Finally, you will also find a photo gallery with stills from the main feature.
Convincing, superbly-acted, and with a great sense of humor Whole New Thing is not to be missed! Amnon Buchbinder has mixed a great story with equally impressive characters whose struggles offer plenty of food for thought. See this film!!