Swooning

Trigger warning: This week’s episode of Someone Else’s Movie includes a digression about Xavier Dolan, the Quebecois enfant terrible whose latest film It’s Only the End of the World just won the Grand Prix at Cannes.

It came up organically, though, as my guest Carolina Bartczak had picked Pedro Almodovar’s Volver, and that led to a conversation about hyperexpressive filmmaking aesthetics, and certain directors who do that better than certain others. Give it a listen, it’s all in there — along with Carolina’s really thoughtful unpacking of Almodovar’s complex emotional storytelling.

You know what to do: Find it on  iTunes, Google PlayStitcher or right here at the source. I hope you enjoy it.

Men of Honor

This week is another mixture of TIFF stuff and bold new things, and also an Angry Birds movie because of course there’s an Angry Birds movie. Read on!

A La VieSusan finds that Jean-Jacques Zilbermann’s family story — adapted from his mother’s actual experiences after the Holocaust — takes one step too many away from real life. Great cast, though.

The Angry Birds Movie: It’s a cartoon based on that phone game you vaguely remember! Rad saw it so you don’t have to.

Belladonna of Sadness: Made in 1973, Eiichi Yamamoto’s animated tale of a young woman plunged into a psychedelic landscape of desire and torment gets the midnight-movie presentation it … deserves?

Dark Horse: Fans of Welsh accents and horse racing will swoon for Louise Osmond’s documentary, which offers those things in the most upbeat, celebratory manner possible. Bless.

High-Rise: Chaos reigns in Ben Wheatley and Amy Jump’s adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s allegorical novel, with Tom Hiddleston, Elisabeth Moss, Luke Evans and Sienna Miller caught in the whirlpool. It’s exhilarating and exhausting in equal measure, if that makes any sense.

Holy Hell: A great idea (and some really compelling footage) is wasted in Will Allen’s flailing personal documentary. Jared Leto is credited as an executive producer, which I guess is one more reason to be annoyed with Jared Leto.

League of Exotique Dancers: Barely a month after opening Hot Docs, Rama Rau’s documentary about the rise of Las Vegas burlesque culture is back at the Bloor. Susan gives it the thumbs up.

The Man Who Knew Infinity: Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons star as a prodigy and his professor in Matthew Brown’s historical drama, which made not the slightest impact when it opened at TIFF last fall. Rad has an idea why.

Men and Chicken: After three seasons of Hannibal, Mads Mikkelsen and his Green Butchers writer/director Anders Thomas Jensen do their best to walk back the star’s charismatic image … by placing him at the center of a truly insane farce about sibling rivalries and weird science. Do check it out.

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising: I enjoyed the first one a lot more than I thought I would, so I’m encouraged to see how Nicholas Stoller puts the band back together for a sequel. Glenn’s review will be up later today.

The Nice Guys: Shane Black’s latest is perfectly in step with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang — a zippy action comedy with three-dimensional characters and a knockout performance from its star. (That would be Ryan Gosling, though Angourie Rice from These Final Hours is pretty great too.) Do not miss this.

And now I’m off to file a buttload of copy to get ahead of the holiday. Happy Victoria Day weekend, everybody!

Attack The Block

Having spent the months since its TIFF premiere building up buzz and momentum on the festival circuit, Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise is finally upon us.

I talked to Wheatley and co-star Luke Evans about it at the time, and you’ll find that interview in today’s NOW along with a look at the Canadian Sport Film Festival and a few other things.

Mostly, though, think about High-Rise. As a good friend observed the day after the premiere, it might not be Wheatley’s best film … but it’s the one he’ll be remembered for.

As Was The Style At The Time

Every now and then, we dig into the uncomfortable side of cinema on Someone Else’s Movie. For instance, I’ve discussed how Roman Polanski’s history infects his films with John Maclean and Bridey Elliott, and talked about the compartmentalization required to enjoy Woody Allen’s earlier, less creepy movies with Jeremy LaLonde.

It happens again this week, thanks to comedian, podcaster, writer and occasional actor Jackie Kashian‘s selection of the 1942 musical  Holiday Inn — a film that’s mostly about Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby goofing around and singing Irving Berlin songs, but also features a blackface number that’s jaw-droppingly inappropriate in the present day, and some other stuff that hasn’t held up especially well either.

Jackie was more than willing to discuss these aspects of the movie, which made for a really engaging conversation — and of course we talked about the movie’s merits, as well. You should listen to the whole thing, obviously — and you can find it right now in all the usual places:  iTunes, Google PlayStitcher, the good ol’ SEMcast site.

Enjoy it! And check out Jackie’s own podcasts, The Dork Forest and The Jackie and Laurie Show, when you have a chance. They’re great!

Variety! Spice! Life!

The next couple of weeks are packed with TIFF titles, as if distributors are taking advantage of the Cannes coverage to subliminally position last fall’s not-quite-sensations as local programming. I’ve never understood why this works, but it happens every year. So let’s see what’s what.

A Bigger Splash: Susan fell hard for Luca Guadagnino’s I Am Love, falls just as hard for the next one, which places Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Matthias Schoenaerts and Dakota Johnson against some lovely Italian vistas and waits for the sparks to fly.

Dheepan: Jacques Audiard’s Palme winner focuses on three Tamil refugees pretending to be a family in France; Rad‘s been high on it since it played TIFF last fall.

Fire Song: Glenn was most impressed with the storytelling talent on display in Adam Garnet Jones’ first feature, set on a reserve in northern Ontario where a teenager (Andrew Martin) faces a complicated coming of age.

How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town: Jeremy LaLonde’s ensemble comedy lines up a cast of talented actors (including Ennis Esmer, and lets them get all weird on one another.

Kill Zone 2: Soi Cheang’s not-at-all-a-sequel to 2005’s SPL (don’t ask) pits Tony Jaa and Wu Jing against most of Bangkok and Hong Kong thanks to an insanely elaborate plot that really doesn’t matter at all. This is all about the action.

Money Monster: Jodie Foster’s studio thriller reaches for contemporary relevance and mainstream success, but misses the mark. Clooney’s great, though. My review will be online later today.

Neon Bull: Gabriel Mascaro’s allegorical look at migrant rodeo workers in Brazil plays like an early Bruno Dumont picture, but with much more compassion. Cinephiles, descend!

Sunset Song: Terence Davies’ intimate Scottish epic frames the maturation of a young woman (Agyness Deyn) against the destruction of World War I. See it on the big screen, I implore you.

Oh, and on Sunday afternoon my pals Sasha James and Matthew Price are presenting Prince’s amazing 1987 concert movie Sign O’ The Times in 35mm at The Royal as their latest Musicale! screening. You do not want to miss that.

Perpetual Conflict

If you visit the NOW website you’ll find my byline all over the place today.

There’s this piece about The Damned: Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead, which plays tonight (and only tonight) at the Revue Cinema, and a look at the ReelAbilities Film Festival and the Goethe Institut’s new screening series. Oh, and if you missed Tuesday’s Hot Docs wrap piece, it’s still up there.

But there’s more! I staged a mini-debate between Anthony Atamanuik’s Donald Trump and James Adomian’s Bernie Sanders in advance of their Trump Vs. Bernie improvised debate tonight at the Opera House, and I have a TIFF interview with Sunset Song director Terence Davies and stars Agyness Deyn and Kevin Guthrie.

I’m busy, me.

Complicated Women

After the anarchy of Holy Motors last week, today’s episode of Someone Else’s Movie lands on a more outwardly stoic picture: Alan J. Pakula’s Klute, a stylish thriller in which Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland are drawn together in more ways than one by the disappearance of a mutual acquaintance.

I’m oversimplifying, of course, but my guest does not: Nadia Litz, whose new film The People Garden opens for a limited run at the Lightbox tonight, brings a most impressive range of insight and interpretation to the show, examining the film and its leads from the angle of an actor-director.

It’s a really good conversation, and I’ve been sitting on it for months; I’m delighted to be able to put it into the world. Check it out wherever you get your podcast content — iTunes, Google PlayStitcher, or right from the SEMcast site — and enjoy it!

And maybe check out Nadia’s movie. Of the recent spate of creepy-Japanese-forest movies, it’s the one I’ve enjoyed the most … though that is, admittedly, a very low bar to clear.

 

 

An Evening for the Uncool

Tonight marks the one-year anniversary of NOW Free Flick Mondays at The Royal, and it will be my pleasure to introduce a goddamn perfect crowd-pleaser: Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous.

A decade and a half later, I’m pretty sure this is his best movie, or at least the best expression of the thing he wants to do as a filmmaker, and if you’ve never seen it on the big screen with an appreciative crowd, well, here’s a chance to fix that. Doors open at 6:30, show starts at 7:30; first 100 guests get free popcorn, and everyone gets a free movie. It’s going to be great, please join us.

Oh, and also:  This is the first time we’ve screened a film covered on Someone Else’s Movie, so if you’re already familiar with Almost Famous, maybe check out what Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, creators of Resolution and Spring, had to say about it? (Spoiler: Quite a lot.)

See you tonight, I hope. And if you can’t make it, listen to the podcast anyway. It’s really good!

Avenger Fight!

Captain America: Civil War is set to dominate the box-office this weekend and there’s no point pretending otherwise. Fortunately, it’s also really good. So that’s nice!

Burning, Burning: I’ll be writing about Hrant Alianak’s heavily symbolic drama in my web column today. It will not be pleasant. UPDATE: So that happened.

Captain America: Civil War: Steve Rogers takes another principled stand in the best Marvel movie since … well, since The Winter Soldier, come to think of it. (It may not have Thor or the Hulk, but it’s also a better Avengers sequel than Age of Ultron.) Let the Russos have the whole universe, they clearly know it inside-out.

Disorder: Alice Winocour’s psychological thriller pits Matthias Schoenaerts against threats both real and imagined. Or … does it? Go see it either way, Schoenaerts is terrific.

Lolo: Rad did not much like Julie Delpy’s latest when he caught it at TIFF, describing it as a weird slapstick comedy about a woman trying to date despite some very inventive interference from her adult son. Am I wrong for thinking that sounds like it might be fun? UPDATE: Not actually opening this week, sorry to get anyone’s hopes up.

The Meddler: Lorene Scafaria follows the underrated Seeking a Friend for the End of the World with a less fantastical mother-daughter piece starring Susan Sarandon and Rose Byrne. Our own Susan finds it palatable.

Mothers and Daughters: Susan is unmoved by the week’s other Sarandon picture, a fractured ensemble piece. Well, you can’t win ’em all.

Natasha: I haven’t yet been able to catch up to David Bezmozgis’ drama — an adaptation of his own short-story collection — but Susan recommends it.

The People Garden: Nadia Litz makes her first directorial solo with this elliptical drama about a young woman (Dree Hemingway) looking for her boyfriend in a creepy Japanese forest. You know the one. (Limited run starts next Tuesday at the Lightbox.)

The Rainbow Kid: Glenn liked Kire Paputts’ drama about a lad with Down syndrome (Dylan Harmon) on a quest for a pot of gold; I thought it was a little on the twee side, but I guess it comes by that honestly.

Phew, that’s everything. Well, except for the literally dozens of films screening at Hot Docs and the Toronto Jewish Film Festival this weekend. Go see something, would you?

My other other gig.