Williams Lake Film Club to present I Like Movies – ‘A superbly funny Canadian debut’

Andy McQueen (Brendan), from left, Alex Ateah (Shannon), Romina D’Ugo (Alana) and Isaiah Lehtinen (Lawrence) in I Like Movies. (VHS Forever Inc. photo)Andy McQueen (Brendan), from left, Alex Ateah (Shannon), Romina D’Ugo (Alana) and Isaiah Lehtinen (Lawrence) in I Like Movies. (VHS Forever Inc. photo)
Actor Isaiah Lehtinen (Lawrence), left, and director Chandler Levack on the set of I Like Movies. (Tom Wood photo)Actor Isaiah Lehtinen (Lawrence), left, and director Chandler Levack on the set of I Like Movies. (Tom Wood photo)

The Williams Lake Film Club is excited to tell you about the next film screening, I Like Movies, happening on Thursday April 13 at the Paradise Cinemas.

It’s a humorous, heartfelt coming-of-age comedy set in the age of video stores in early 2000’s suburban Ontario.

This is the debut feature for Canadian writer-director Chandler Levack, who draws from her own experience clerking at a local Blockbuster during high school and her work as a cultural critic.

This film garnered a huge buzz and sold-out screenings when it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), where it was embraced by film critics and fans alike.

As the title suggests, the main character, 17-year-old and socially inept Lawrence Kweller (played to perfection by Isaiah Lehtinen), likes movies.

Not only does he like movies, his entire identity is structured around his love for cinema – his future, as he imagines it, entails becoming a world-renowned director.

His ultra-ambitious plan is to attend film school at New York University. Driven by his singular passion and surly attitude, he has no problems alienating and irritating the people around him – notably pushing away his only friend Matt (Percy Hynes White), and exasperating his mother, Terri (Krista Bridges).

It’s his final year of high school and wracked with angst about the future, he manages to get hired at the local video store, Sequels, where he plans to save up for tuition (plus save on video rental fees).

At Sequels, he forms a complicated friendship with his manager, Alana (Romina D’Ugo), who challenges his assumptions and attitudes.

In a series of painful realizations, Lawrence begins the process of widening the frame of his existence and looking beyond himself.

Like many a youth, Lawrence is mostly concerned at this stage in life with himself.

He is self-absorbed, but Levack does a tremendous job in balancing his personality with charm, energy, and intelligence as we increasingly learn the background information needed to better understand his character.

Lawrence is universally relatable – probably because we have all known a Lawrence in our lives (or quite possibly we might have been one).

As Levack describes it, “Lawrence is definitely based on my teenage self, but I think I also used him as an avatar to explore some strong personalities I’ve encountered along the way as a cultural critic and filmmaker” (Mongrel 2023).

Isaiah Lehtinen, who was born and raised in Nanaimo B.C. before moving to Vancouver, felt a strong connection to the character from the start: “[a]s soon as I read the full script, I was like this movie is really about navigating that sour grapes mentality [where] I’m going to put up walls around myself…I grappled with that for a really long time and I totally soured lots of interpersonal relationships because of that, so when I read the script, I just felt so connected with Lawrence” (The Movable Fest 2023).

Finding a balance between lovable and cringe-worthy is not an easy task, but Lehtinen delivers a compelling performance worthy of accolade.

He was recognized as a TIFF Rising Star when the film premiered, and he also won the Vancouver Film Critics Circle award for Best Actor in a Canadian Film. The entire cast is excellent.

The film is nostalgic, and full of period specific references.

In creating the set, Levack’s team managed to track down a Blockbuster store in Ajax, Ontario that had been sitting vacant for a decade.

As Levack describes it, the store was “like a museum time capsule”, complete with shelving, computers, phones, TVS, and many of the props they needed to construct their set (The Movable Fest 2023).

The actors at Sequels also had “video store training” to get the details perfectly right, and the costumes are impeccable recreations of 2000s era Blockbuster uniforms.

Levack’s incredible script, insightful character development, and creative choices elevate I Like Movies beyond a simple exercise in nostalgia.

She has created a piece that’s multifaceted yet hilarious, while speaking to the universal experience of growing up.

I Like Movies will be screening on Thursday April 13 at the Paradise Cinemas (78 Third Ave South). Rated 14A (appropriate 14 years and up).

Tickets are $10 and on sale at the Open Book.

Remaining tickets will be sold at the lobby prior to the screening.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the show starts at 7:00 p.m.

Arrive early to get a good seat and popcorn.

To hear about the latest upcoming Williams Lake Film Club screenings, email williamslakefilmclub@gmail.com.

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