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The Story
It's just another night in a midtown bar , and all the regulars are there doing what they usually do. Curtis , a travel writer, tries to impress the beautiful and charismatic bartender, Brett. Neurotic and intellectual, Mhari drinks too much and talks too much as she deals with her divorce. Another bartender named Mean Tommy, hits on various women even as his girlfriend Janine sits quietly reading at the bar. And middle-aged Stan complains about how rotten the world's becoming. All in all, just another night, and it ends at last call like so many other nights do - with a bar brawl. A bunch of drunks throw a few fists around and are quickly shown the door.

Later, when Brett and Mean Tommy are cleaning up, the others stick around for a drink after hours. They talk inevitably about the brawl, the high point of their evening, but they soon fall into more practised and familiar conversational rhythms, telling the same stories and playing the same routines they've gone through on countless similar nights.

Suddenly, there's someone pounding on the back door. It's Nice Tommy, an off-duty bartender who helped break up the brawl. He's been jumped and beaten by the guys they threw out, and rescued by a man none of the others have seen before. A stranger who helped fight off the attackers and pulled Nice Tommy back to the bar. In the next instant, those same attackers barge back into the place! In a panic, Brett and Curtis struggle against them, with Mean Tommy forcing the attackers back with a bat he grabs from behind the bar. By the time the dust clears and they've bolted the door, one of their attackers lies dead on the floor, his head cracked open by a swing from Mean Tommy's bat.

With their attackers waiting at both doors, the others call the police and wait for help. But as they wait, the traumatic horror of the situation slowly sinks in - Nice Tommy's hurt bad and Mean Tommy's killed a guy. Strangely, the police don't arrive and as the group’s anxiety grows, the stranger who helped Nice Tommy tries to ease the tension with his compelling, good-natured assuredness. He gradually insinuates himself into the lives of the others, lightening the mood with stories of his travels, of the situations he's been in worse than this, and charming them with an impossible bar trick.

Not everyone's so easily won over, however, as Janine secretly confides her mistrust of the stranger to Brett and Curtis; his account of helping Nice Tommy, and his various other stories, don't hold up - but these suspicions come too late. The stranger's already playing mind games with both Mhari and Mean Tommy, revealing himself to be less a good samaritan than a possibly dangerous psychotic who initiates a string of events that will expose hidden fears and deep lies, culminating in a moment that will forever change all of their lives. A moment in which it all happens incredibly fast.

The Cast

Maurice Dean Wint
The Stranger

Shawn Lawrence
Stan Billings

Duane Murray
Curtis Weis

Trent McMullen
Mean Tommy

Susanne Sutchy
Brett Hale

Tamara Hickey
Janine Fontana

Phillipa Domville
Mhari Brian

Jeff Topping
Nice Tommy
The Music
From the outset writer/director Jai Dixit knew distinctly what he wanted for the film’s music - an energetic blend of songs and score.

“I wanted a lot of songs, alternative stuff and good pop, to use as source music coming from the bar's jukebox", says Dixit. "Nothing ambient, nothing you could ignore, but stuff that's vital and alive. Particularly for the first 20 minutes I wanted wall to wall music, a different song behind each scene to create a musical montage with fast dialogue, similar in effect to what George Lucas did with the rock and roll radio in American Graffiti, creating a pure kind of audio-visual rhythm."

Enlisting the help of friends with connections in the local music scene, Dixit ultimately filled out his song soundtrack with some of the best of Toronto's independent bands and performers.

These include: Julian Smit, Possum, The Co-operators, Jason Collett, The Meligrove Band, Wayne Omaha, Kevin Quain, Blue Screen, and Greenfield Main. Additional songs were sought by query over the Internet, resulting in contributions from Florida's Slack Season and Things in Herds out of England.

For the original score Dixit turned to musician George Furtney, whose band, Oxford County Circus, provides the song "Another Dream Come True" for the film's end titles, a tune which the filmmaker intended to use even when writing the script.

Dixit and Furtney agreed on an unsettling, minimalist approach to the incidental music, with two recurring themes, one for the protagonists, the after-hours drinkers, and another for the mysterious stranger whose disrupts their lives. For the protagonists, Furtney and his collaborators (Nick Burson, Brad Clifford, Darren Hill and Greg Smith) composed a boozy, light-hearted jazz/lounge motif, while the stranger is depicted with a simple but versatile three note phrase that is alternatively melancholy, cool and ominous.

And for a film steeped in popular culture, the original music likewise reflects it's own musical influences, with Furtney making sly reference to the scores for Psycho, Jaws, The Conversation, and Seven, as well as the vibrophonic tones of Twin Peaks and the dissonant percussion of television’s Homicide: Life on the Street.

"At first it may seem an eclectic mix of songs and score styles", says Dixit, "but, like the film itself, it's (the music’s) disparate elements all fit together in a weird cohesive whole, commenting on the action, reflecting the characters and their relationships, and complementing the picture's shifting moods and ideas."


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