Calendar Reviews

  • Jul 24, 2018

    Armenian-Canadian director Atom Egoyan (known for Exotica, 1994, and The Sweet Hereafter, 1997) here explores ethnic identity in the context of interpersonal relationships – but he does it very obliquely, to be sure. Egoyan himself plays a photographer hired to shoot a calendar’s worth of pictures of ancient churches in Armenia. He brings his Armenian wife along to translate (for he, himself, has assimilated to Canadian culture and can’t speak the native tongue). Their driver (Ashot Adamyan), cum guide, an Armenian national, interacts exclusively with the wife (Arsinée Khanjian, Egoyan’s real wife). This sets up a certain tension between husband and wife, as Egoyan begins to get jealous and petulant (offscreen). But the scenes of the calendar shoot in Armenia are interspersed with videotape, presumably shot on the trip, being rewatched by Egoyan at some future point (and sometimes rewound or fast forwarded), always with Arsinée as the main focus. Some answering machine messages start to piece together what this future entails – husband and wife are separated with Arsinée still in Armenia, possibly with their guide. Another sequence of shots shows Egoyan eating dinner with a succession of beautiful ethnic women who each abruptly ask to use the telephone, leaving Egoyan at the table, drinking wine and eventually writing letters to his wife. The answering machine again reveals that these women may be actresses auditioning for Egoyan rather than dates. So, this is largely an experimental feature (at only 73 minutes) with some cognition required to uncover its themes and meaning. To the extent that Armenian identity is what joins and separates the three main characters, this is a very modern and relevant film. What does it mean to be from somewhere, if you have never learned (or at least not maintained) that place’s language, norms, or culture? At a base level, this seems inauthentic. Yet, others may still treat you as a member of that cultural group, for better or for worse. Egoyan’s film only scratches the surface of these complexities, although its mysteries may reward further scrutiny.

    Armenian-Canadian director Atom Egoyan (known for Exotica, 1994, and The Sweet Hereafter, 1997) here explores ethnic identity in the context of interpersonal relationships – but he does it very obliquely, to be sure. Egoyan himself plays a photographer hired to shoot a calendar’s worth of pictures of ancient churches in Armenia. He brings his Armenian wife along to translate (for he, himself, has assimilated to Canadian culture and can’t speak the native tongue). Their driver (Ashot Adamyan), cum guide, an Armenian national, interacts exclusively with the wife (Arsinée Khanjian, Egoyan’s real wife). This sets up a certain tension between husband and wife, as Egoyan begins to get jealous and petulant (offscreen). But the scenes of the calendar shoot in Armenia are interspersed with videotape, presumably shot on the trip, being rewatched by Egoyan at some future point (and sometimes rewound or fast forwarded), always with Arsinée as the main focus. Some answering machine messages start to piece together what this future entails – husband and wife are separated with Arsinée still in Armenia, possibly with their guide. Another sequence of shots shows Egoyan eating dinner with a succession of beautiful ethnic women who each abruptly ask to use the telephone, leaving Egoyan at the table, drinking wine and eventually writing letters to his wife. The answering machine again reveals that these women may be actresses auditioning for Egoyan rather than dates. So, this is largely an experimental feature (at only 73 minutes) with some cognition required to uncover its themes and meaning. To the extent that Armenian identity is what joins and separates the three main characters, this is a very modern and relevant film. What does it mean to be from somewhere, if you have never learned (or at least not maintained) that place’s language, norms, or culture? At a base level, this seems inauthentic. Yet, others may still treat you as a member of that cultural group, for better or for worse. Egoyan’s film only scratches the surface of these complexities, although its mysteries may reward further scrutiny.

  • Dec 24, 2013

    I remember going to the theatre to see this. The Starlight theatre on Denman! Why? Who knows. I think I was still stunned by The Adjuster that I wanted to see what Egoyan would put out next. I'm pretty sure I was underwhelmed by this. This is OK, about a couple breaking apart while he's shooting ancient churches in Armenia, and there's flash forward of his life in present day when he's trying to date. Has none of the flash typical Egoyan films have, which may or may not be a warning.

    I remember going to the theatre to see this. The Starlight theatre on Denman! Why? Who knows. I think I was still stunned by The Adjuster that I wanted to see what Egoyan would put out next. I'm pretty sure I was underwhelmed by this. This is OK, about a couple breaking apart while he's shooting ancient churches in Armenia, and there's flash forward of his life in present day when he's trying to date. Has none of the flash typical Egoyan films have, which may or may not be a warning.

  • Dec 08, 2013

    this could be the earliest atom egoyan flick to date and it initially felt a lil rough around the edges; took some ruminating to appreciate and like it more after. interesting way of constructing the disintegration of this couple's relationship during a sorta work trip. the ending was kinda poignant, sad.

    this could be the earliest atom egoyan flick to date and it initially felt a lil rough around the edges; took some ruminating to appreciate and like it more after. interesting way of constructing the disintegration of this couple's relationship during a sorta work trip. the ending was kinda poignant, sad.

  • Jan 01, 2013

    A simple & honest film that blends the fictional and autobiographical of director Atom Egoyan. Using a variety of mixed media, such as home movie, film, and still photography, CALENDAR questions what you see in front of your eyes ultimately makes you miss what surrounds you. A powerful journey of self exploration by both the director and his real-life wife. A must see.

    A simple & honest film that blends the fictional and autobiographical of director Atom Egoyan. Using a variety of mixed media, such as home movie, film, and still photography, CALENDAR questions what you see in front of your eyes ultimately makes you miss what surrounds you. A powerful journey of self exploration by both the director and his real-life wife. A must see.

  • Dec 18, 2011

    A beautifully sad film

    A beautifully sad film

  • Mar 10, 2011

    I don't recommend this film lightly, I just happen to really love it.

    I don't recommend this film lightly, I just happen to really love it.

  • Dec 25, 2010

    I loved the structure, the composition, the ideas beneath the surface, even if I found those ideas difficult to fathom. Egoyan is a terrible actor. I suppose it feels more like an experiment than a cohesive film, but it's beautiful and mysterious and I'm glad I watched it.

    I loved the structure, the composition, the ideas beneath the surface, even if I found those ideas difficult to fathom. Egoyan is a terrible actor. I suppose it feels more like an experiment than a cohesive film, but it's beautiful and mysterious and I'm glad I watched it.

  • Jan 25, 2010

    This film was excellent in every way. Cinematography, story, editing, etc.... One of my favorite Egoyan films.

    This film was excellent in every way. Cinematography, story, editing, etc.... One of my favorite Egoyan films.

  • Jan 18, 2010

    Thank you Eric for this magical little present. Egoyans simple film oozes out with beauty and human emotions. Simplicity is more real and meaningful than a 50m blockbuster and this is one of those times. A joy to watch.

    Thank you Eric for this magical little present. Egoyans simple film oozes out with beauty and human emotions. Simplicity is more real and meaningful than a 50m blockbuster and this is one of those times. A joy to watch.

  • Avatar
    Eric B Super Reviewer
    Oct 30, 2009

    This tale of a photographer's deteriorating relationship with his wife is more intriguing for its structure than its plot. Writer/director Atom Egoyan plays a photographer recalling how his marriage unraveled during an overseas trip to shoot old Armenian churches for a calendar. His wife acts as his translator for the journey, but her affections gradually turn from him to their local guide. Since Egoyan's own wife portrays the role and he is of Armenian descent himself, the situation has obvious personal resonances. The story is told via flashbacks, one for each church. The contemporary setting finds Egoyan's post-marital character enduring a string of tedious dates, repeatedly alienating women with awkward conversation and then losing their attention as they excuse themselves to make a flirtatious phone call. As the women chatter away in the next room, he pulls out his writer's pad and the next flashback unfolds. It's eventually suggested that the photographer may be staging this repeated scene -- possibly with prostitutes -- to somehow gain creative inspiration. Typically for Egoyan, the events are more than a little ambiguous and hampered by an atmosphere of numb, repressed introspection. In the case of "Calendar," weak acting is another problem. Still, the film is worth seeing, and it's quite short so it doesn't wear out its welcome.

    This tale of a photographer's deteriorating relationship with his wife is more intriguing for its structure than its plot. Writer/director Atom Egoyan plays a photographer recalling how his marriage unraveled during an overseas trip to shoot old Armenian churches for a calendar. His wife acts as his translator for the journey, but her affections gradually turn from him to their local guide. Since Egoyan's own wife portrays the role and he is of Armenian descent himself, the situation has obvious personal resonances. The story is told via flashbacks, one for each church. The contemporary setting finds Egoyan's post-marital character enduring a string of tedious dates, repeatedly alienating women with awkward conversation and then losing their attention as they excuse themselves to make a flirtatious phone call. As the women chatter away in the next room, he pulls out his writer's pad and the next flashback unfolds. It's eventually suggested that the photographer may be staging this repeated scene -- possibly with prostitutes -- to somehow gain creative inspiration. Typically for Egoyan, the events are more than a little ambiguous and hampered by an atmosphere of numb, repressed introspection. In the case of "Calendar," weak acting is another problem. Still, the film is worth seeing, and it's quite short so it doesn't wear out its welcome.