CBC’s ‘The Porter’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

The most important aspect of television as a medium is the way stories can be broken down and explored. Sometimes narratives that are inspired by real events need to have room to breathe because of the subject matter. This can only be done when crafting episodes for a television series, like The Porter, directed by Charles Officer and co-written by, Annmarie Morais and Aubrey Nealon. The more detailed the episodes are, viewers can understand the hardships and the roar of the 1920s. We follow the journey of an ensemble of characters who hustle, dream, cross borders, and pursue their ambitions in the fight for liberation on and off the railways that cross North America.

Like many stories before it, the series highlights the hardships of the Black community, during a period of time when they were oppressed. They were segregated through the work force and there was a clear class divide in the 20s. We see a group of men working on the train, serving others and still not being fully paid for their hard work. Even though there is a focus on the working class and how they are treated, the more upbeat, club elements show a different side of their lives. There’s this integration of difficult issues to overcome, while working for the white men in the corporation, and also living as freely as possible in the outskirts and safety of their own community.

What this show does have is a great ensemble cast that will take you through each story. It’s more so navigating these hardships and allowing each of these characters to have their moment to shine, especially through their own reflection of racism and discrimination are shown in the workforce. There are heartbreaking moments that are quickly replaced with anger because of how these men are treated in light of an event that takes a jab at their spirit. It is a series that sheds light on the past of North America and who really built the country we are currently living in. Sometimes looking back on history can be brutal, but it’s a necessity to understand how wrong it all was.

The Porter is a series that blends the highs and lows of the 1920s while creating a narrative that presents both sides of Black culture. It’s important to note that history has always been one-sided, and never truly taught in a balanced way. It is almost always seen through one particular lens, so it’s important for creators to explore these stories with representation behind the camera to create something as authentic as possible. What we can see in this series is the joy and genuine love that the Black community share between one another, even during times of sorrow. It is a great drama that is meant to shed light on issues, while also celebrating a time to be alive and thankful for the gift of life, no matter who you’re sharing it with.

Canadian Film Fest 2020 Selection: Age of Dysphoria Review

By: Amanda Guarragi 

Age of Dysphoria is a short film the explores the issues of alcoholism and alzheimer’s in a very unique way. It is a disjointed narrative that pieces back the memory of one horrid night, that an elderly man, will remember for the rest of his life and will haunt his mind in the worst way. The film is about a young woman named Fin (Laura Vandervoort) who tracks down an elderly man, named Fred (Gordon Pinsent), in order to make amends for the tragedy that devastated his life.

Fin had been sober for a couple of months and feels ready to make amends with the person she hurt the most. The film addresses drunk driving and alcohol addiction. It shows the difficulty of coming to terms with an addiction and how it can not only affect your life, but others around you. It’s beautifully shot and it has great direction from Jessica Petelle for important scenes addressing addiction.

The most heartbreaking part of this film is the performance from Fred, he is an elderly man who lost his wife and is suffering from Alzheimer’s. The only thing he remembers is his late wife and the accident that occurred a while back. He associates every person he meets with his wife and calls them by her name, Stella. The conversation in the diner really got to me because Fred called Fin by his wife’s name during the difficult conversation. It’s very well written and as an all star team of female filmmakers that wanted to present this story in a realistic way.

Age of Dysphoria is a very emotional film, which speaks on the human condition and the importance of human connection. Humans are vulnerable creatures and everyone deserves to have that shoulder to lean on. The film is very candid with how it presents pain and suffering. People need to have difficult conversations to clear the conscience and cleanse their souls, in order to be move forward and that is what this film does.