Tellers of Tales

This week’s NOW finds me covering just nine movies — it was actually supposed to be eleven, but My Internship in Canada moved to next week at the last minute and Stonewall was yanked off the release schedule a minute after that. We rolled with it.

Thus, in today’s paper you’ll find me talking to Tim Grabham, co-director of the experimental documentary The Creeping Garden; with Davis Guggenheim, director of the entirely conventional documentary He Named Me Malala, and with The Forbidden Room co-creators Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson, who are plenty experimental but not documentarians.

This is what I do, guys. I talk to people.

There’s a Place for Us

This week on Someone Else’s Movie, I finally get to tell everyone who else I talked to on the New York recording trip last summer: It was Alex Ross Perry, writer-director of last year’s terrific Listen Up Philip and this year’s entirely unknown quantity Queen of Earth, which is getting its Canadian premiere in Toronto next Tuesday night at The Royal.

Alex picked Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere, which is a terrific choice both for his own sensibility and for the show; this is a movie that, just five years after its release, is already at risk of being forgotten despite being kind of excellent.

When I pitch people on the podcast, I tell them it’s a vehicle for illumination and advocacy — and going forward, I’ll be using this episode as an example.

It’s available right now from all the usual sources: iTunes,  Stitcherdirect download. Please do enjoy it.

Big Dreams

cdn.indiewireHappy October! Here are your movie options for this weekend!

Addicted to Fresno: I missed this indie comedy at Inside Out last spring — Susan caught it insteaad — but it pairs Judy Greer with her frequent Married director Jamie Babbit, so I’m in.

Coming Home: Zhang Yimou’s latest has been knocking around the release schedule for a while now, but Rad — who caught it at TIFF last year — is glad to see it opening.

Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story Of The National Lampoon: Douglas Tirola chronicles the life and death of the infamous brand in a most entertaining documentary, featuring virtually every funny person in America. And some from Canada, even!

Finders Keepers: A very silly story becomes a surprisingly touching study of human complexity (and stupidity) in this crowd-pleasing documentary. Y’all should check it out.

Guilty: Rad sees Meghna Gulzar’s courtroom picture (opening under its original title, Talvar) as a commentary on the Indian legal system that plays like a dense television drama. That’s an endorsement.

The Iron Giant: Signature Edition: It’s only playing a couple of times this week, but it’ll be at the Lightbox later this month so don’t panic if you can’t go.

The Martian: I’ve managed to miss Ridley Scott’s latest, though I’m sure I’ll catch up to it soon enough. Everyone seems to be pretty high on it — including Glenn. Just not sure it’s the IMAX experience of the week, is all.

Mission to Lars: A truly kind gesture is exploited shamelessly in this manipulative documentary about three siblings who embark on an utterly contrived quest to meet a famous person who is, honestly, not all that hard to meet.

Partisan: Vincent Cassel brings his signature beetle-browed intensity to Ariel Kleiman’s allegorical drama. It won’t be around long, so catch it at the Carlton while you can.

Taxi: Iran continues to refuse to let Jafar Panahi make movies, and Panahi keeps refusing to respect the order. His latest feature, set entirely inside a cab that he just happens to be driving, is a delightful bird-flip in their direction. Rad agrees.

The Walk: Robert Zemeckis turns Philippe Petit’s daredevil high-wire act into one of the most incredible cinematic experiences of the decade. There’s a movie wrapped around it, but that’s not important right now. Playing in IMAX theatres only for the next week, which is absolutely how you should see it.

There you go! And now, back to work on next week’s section … which will be absolutely insane. Pray for Mojo.

Some Things Endure

Iron-Giant-Superman-1024x500In this week’s NOW I have a quick chat with Brad Bird, who is awesome, about The Iron Giant, which is amazing.

You’ll also find a web Q&A with writer-producer Al Jean, who appears in the new documentary Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon discussing his time at that storied institution.

What do these guys have in common, besides the fact that I’m a considerable fan of both of them? Why, they were key to the early seasons of The Simpsons … and in fact Jean is back at the helm of that show as it rolls into its new season.

So, you know. Good week.

They Should Have Sent a Poet

Andrew-CThis week’s Someone Else’s Movie is up, featuring Sleeping Giant writer/director Andrew Cividino on Robert Zemeckis’ 1997 sci-fi epic Contact.

It’s a tricky choice, because hardly anyone remembers that picture for what it actually is — they just giggle about Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey in bed, or that moment where Jake Busey’s teeth become sentient and blow up the thing, or the weird wubbliness of the climax. But there’s some interesting stuff in it, and what it retroactively reveals about the future of Zemeckis’ career is really intriguing, and we talked about all of that.

So come and listen! You can find it on iTunes and Stitcher, or download it straight from the source.

Also, fun fact: Both Andrew and Alan Zweig recorded their SEMcasts in the week before TIFF, and both of them wound up winning major prizes at the festival. I’m not saying the podcast guarantees fortune and glory, but I’m not not saying it, if you know what I mean.

Also also: I’m doing the Pop Culture Panel on Q this morning, discussing Trevor Noah’s first Daily Show and a few other things. If you’re curious, tune in (or listen online) at 10 am! And if you missed it, I’ll link to the segment as soon as it’s posted to the web.

Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Please Stop

Fifteen movies opening today. Fifteen. This is by any rational measurement insane, and I refuse to accept it.  But here they are, just the same.

(Reviews will be trickling in over the course of the day, since there’s been some weirdness with NOW’s website.)

Goodnight Mommy: Austrian horror with an obvious twist.

Grandma: Everyone loves them some Lily Tomlin. [Susan]

The Green Inferno: Eli Roth’s very own cannibal holocaust! 

Hellions: Children are monsters, especially in infrared.

Hotel Transylvania 2: Adam Sandler’s last workable property returns.

The Intern: Oh, Bobby, no. Not Nancy Meyers.

Jeremy Scott: The People’s Designer: Flashy fashion doc salutes silly style.

Listen to Me Marlon: Brando in his own words. And pictures.

The Mend: Screwup siblings just make things worse.

Mississippi Grind: California Split remade, without the characters.

Pawn Sacrifice: Bobby Fischer was such an asshole.

Sicario: Drug-war thriller is seriously packing.

The Stanford Prison Experiment: It’s college! What could go wrong?

Unbranded: Four friends, sixteen horses, one documentary. [Rad]

Wildlike: Bruce Greenwood, father figure. It works. [Rad]

Cinematic Ragnarok

Well, TIFF is behind us and so begins the vomiting out of all the movies that played here last week. And then there are all the other movies that flood into theatres now that Toronto audiences aren’t distracted by the festival. Seriously, it’s insane — as you’ll see when I round them all up tomorrow.

Today, though? Today is about interviews. With Hellions Bruce McDonald and Chloe Rose, with Sicario‘s Denis Villeneuve, with The Stanford Prison Experiment‘s Billy Crudup … and with John freakin’ Hodgman, who’ll be in town Monday and Tuesday performing his one-man show Vacationland at JFL 42, and with whom it was an absolute pleasure to chat.

Note: The online version of the interview is the expanded version of the conversation that appears in today’s paper, but believe me, I would have run the whole thing in print if I could have. I just love the guy.

The Truth Shall Set You Free

With James Randi and cakeThis week’s episode of Someone Else’s Movie features a guest I consider a friend: Nimisha Mukerji, whose career I’ve been tracking since she arrived in 2009 with the devastating 65_Red Roses. And she picked the show’s first documentary: Tyler Measom and Justin Weinstein’s documentary An Honest Liar, about  the life and secrets of conjurer-turned-crusader James Randi.

It’s a great movie and a very good episode, if I do say so myself. You can find it on  iTunes and Stitcher, or download it directly. I think you’ll enjoy it.

Life Moves Pretty Fast …

… like, it was mid-August the last time I looked and then we slid into TIFF and now it’s almost the end of September and it’s freakin’ fall outside. How does this happen?

Oh, right, TIFF.

Anyway, it’s time for another one of NOW’s Free Flick Mondays at the Royal. This month’s selection is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which is somehow celebrating its 30th anniversary (see what I mean about life moving pretty fast?), and it starts at 7:30 pm and I’m introducing it.

You should join us! If for no other reason than to see what I look like after five weeks of unbroken movie-gorging. I’m warning you, though: It ain’t pretty.

I Spoke Too Soon

maxresdefaultThe festival might be winding down, but I’m still working it — as you’ll see if you check out this little slice of my interview with I Smile Back star Sarah Silverman. (I’ve also got a few more people to talk to this morning, as it’s turned out, and likely a podcast to record before the weekend is over.)

Oh, but also there are movies opening today. Shall we?

Black Mass: Johnny Depp’s decision that Whitey Bulger was a secret werewolf does not totally derail Scott Cooper’s gangland drama. Oddly, Cooper’s humorlessness doesn’t do it either.

Captive: David Oyelowo and Kate Mara are far, far more talented than this faith-based manipulation — based on actual events that Rick Warren has been humping for a decade — deserves.

Cooties: Elijah Wood and Allison Pill flee from ravenous pre-teens in this silly, mostly successful horror comedy, which also makes excellent use of the perpetually underrated Nasim Pedrad.

The Editor: I had a great time with Astron-6’s latest genre exercise. You will too, if there’s any love in your heart for the glory days of giallo filmmaking.

Everest: Baltasar Kormakur goes big — like, IMAX 3D big — for this all-star fictionalization of the events recounted in Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air. Rad says it’s okay.

The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials: I had to miss the press screening of Fox’ dystopian YA sequel, but I’ll be honest with you: After the awfulness of the first one I had no interest whatsoever in seeing what happened next. Andy’s review will be up on Monday.

War RoomCaptive isn’t the only Christian-targeted picture opening in town this week —  there’s also this indie drama, already a hit in the States. Horses for courses, and all that.

Okay, back to work. I have to see a man about a war horse.

My other other gig.