The Howling

Hey, remember when I went to New York in January and recorded a bunch of episodes of Someone Else’s Movie?

Well, another one drops today, with The Mend writer-director John Magary graciously trooping down to Times Square in the middle of a snowstorm to talk about Wolf, Mike Nichols’ ill-fated attempt to make an upper-class monster movie with clangingly literal metaphors.

The movie isn’t a success, but that makes our conversation all the more interesting; Magary loves the film without reservation while being  entirely aware that it isn’t exactly one for the ages, and I was more than happy to explore that apparent contradition.

It’s available right now, so grab it on iTunesGoogle Play and Stitcher, or go straight to the source for a download. It’s fun! Enjoy!

You Want It, They Have It

This week has something for everyone: New work from documentary legends, a major-studio remake, a new stop-motion classic and a must-see indie. Also, War Dogs … though at least that one led to a pretty good conversation with Jonah Hill.

Ben-Hur: The cinematic chestnut gets a 21st century upgrade from noted Russian maniac Timur Bekmambetov (yay!) and noted Christian panderers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey (hmmm). Rad was not converted.

Edge of Winter: Rob Connolly’s feature debut offers a simple conceit and strong performances from Joel Kinnaman and Tom Holland, who are better known these days as Rick Flag from Suicide Squad and the new Spider-Man. They’re pretty interesting as civilians, too.

Hell or High Water: Glenn raves about David Mackenzie’s latest, which resituates a classic outlaw story in modern-day Texas. Me, I’ll take any excuse to watch Jeff Bridges play a lawman. (Except for R.I.P.D. I’m not an idiot.)

Kubo and the Two Strings: The latest project from Laika is up to their high standards: It’s gorgeous to look at, it’s thoughtfully constructed and a little more grown-up than you might expect. And damn, but Charlize Theron is a great voice actor.

Miss Sharon Jones!: Barbara Kopple’s latest is a miracle of timing, capturing its subject just as her long-in-coming stardom is threatened by a cancer diagnosis. And what happens next is just as gripping.

Standing Tall: Emmanuelle Bercot’s drama opened Cannes last year but subsequently went missing from the fest circuit; it’s finally reached Canadian screens, with Susan’s qualified endorsement.

Truman: I’ve never been a big fan of Cesc Gay’s films — they always strike me as just a little too manipulative — but Jose says this one, about old friends reunited by one’s illness, is great.

Unlocking the Cage: D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus profile animal-rights lawyer Steven Wise, and become awfully invested in his cause. You will too, I expect.

War Dogs: Todd Phillips tackles the ethical clusterfuck that was miitary procurement under Bush-Cheney with a movie that really wants to be The Big Short and The Wolf of Wall Street, but isn’t. Bradley Cooper’s solid, though.

And that is everything, at least for now. Next week: More!

A Voice for the Voiceless

This week’s NOW features my interview with D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, two absolute legends in the reality-based community who came to town earlier this year with their documentary Unlocking the Cage.

That film began as a ride-along with a lawyer named Steven Wise and ended up embracing his mission, appealing passionately for the consideration of great apes and other animals as sentient beings deserving of basic rights and freedoms: Specifically, the freedom from abuse and confinement.

You should read the interview, and you should see the movie. It’s time for a change.

Order Up

After the heavier content of The Good Lie last week, we thought we’d program something a little lighter in the Harbourfront Free Flicks series.

So tonight it’s Chef, Jon Favreau’s charming return to his indie roots after the stumble of Iron Man 2 and the faceplant of Cowboys & Aliens. It’s an indie movie filled with A-listers, and it’s really quite pleasurable. Just make sure you eat first.

See you down at the lake, around 8:45 pm? Here’s my 2014 NOW interview with Favreau if you want to dig into the metaphor of the movie.

48

This week on Someone Else’s Movie, my guest is Edge of Winter director Rob Connolly, who takes a slice out of his press schedule to come by the studio and talk about Robert Zemeckis’ Who Framed Roger Rabbit and its influence on his career.

This makes the third Zemeckis movie to land on the show, after Matt Austin Sadowski chose Back to the Future and Andrew Cividino went for Contact. And I can see the appeal: Zemeckis makes films that just bristle with ideas, and it’s no surprise that filmmakers would be drawn to and inspired by his work. I’d really love to get him on the show someday; the guy’s a great interview.

Find it on iTunesGoogle Play and Stitcher, or get it right from the source. And here’s a fun fact: Edge of Winter was shot under the title Backcountry, which had to be changed when Adam Macdonald’s bear-attack movie made it out first. And as you may recall, Adam did the podcast as well. So both Backcountry directors are friends of the show! Isn’t that cool?

… well, I think it’s cool.

Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

I told you this week would be busy. No fewer than a dozen films opening, and me on top of most of them.

I’m so tired.

Anthropoid: Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan plot to kill the Butcher of Prague in this dour war picture, directed with typical self-importance by Sean Ellis (Cashback). It’s fine, but it could have been so much better.

Equity: Anna Gunn stars as a disgraced investment banker determined to get back on top (metaphor very much intended) in Meera Menon’s feminist spin on Wall Street thrillers. Jose has some reservations.

Florence Foster Jenkins: Stephen Frears’ latest casts Meryl Streep as the legendarily horrific chanteuse, with Hugh Grant as her longtime enabler. Phil enjoyed it.

Gleason: Rad goes all in for Clay Tweel’s documentary about Steve Gleason, a football player who refuses to let a diagnosis of ALS stop him from living his life.

How Heavy This Hammer: Kaz Radwanski follows Tower with a similarly suffocating study of middle-aged urban alienation. I like his style. (He’s also this week’s SEMcast guest, so check that out if you haven’t already.)

The Infiltrator: The Herculean efforts of Bryan Cranston and John Leguizamo invest Brad Furman’s rote drug-war drama with much-needed life, but it’s just so predictable.

Lo and Behold: Reveries of a Connected World: Werner Herzog peers into the abyss of the Internet and decides he doesn’t much care for it.

Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise: The life and impact of the late author is celebrated in this expanded American Masters documentary built around an extensive interview recorded shortly before her death.

Operation Chromite: Anthropoid isn’t the only get-er-done war movie opening this week. This one — which is even duller and less involving — hails from South Korea, and features Liam Neeson in a dull walk-on as Douglas MacArthur.

Pete’s Dragon: David Lowery’s rapturous tale of a boy and his monster might be the thing that saves Disney’s soul — or at least validates the studio’s mania for remaking absolutely everything in its library. But don’t think of it as a remake; it is magnificently its own thing.

Sausage Party: Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s first venture into animation is Toy Story inside a supermarket, with a lot more existential dread.

Zoom: Three stories — two live-action, one animated — bounce off of one another in Pedro Morelli’s nicely slippery drama. Fun fact: Screenwriter Matt Hansen is also a friend of SEMcast, and you should totally check out his episode.

Phew. And now to dig into next week’s movies. And some TIFF stuff. And some other stuff too. Because it never goddamn ends.

Hard Truths

You know what movie didn’t get a fair shake in theatres? Philippe Falardeau’s The Good Lie, which was unceremoniously dumped by Warner Bros. in October of 2014 when it became clear that Jean-Marc Vallee’s Wild was the Reese Witherspoon movie America was willing to get behind.

And in terms of Witherspoon’s Oscar chances … well, sure. She’s not even in the first hour of The Good Lie. But Falardeau’s movie is legitimately great, and watching it slide past its potential audience really stuck in my craw. So when Harbourfront asked me to program this year’s Free Flicks slate, I made sure it was on my list — and I’m presenting it tonight, down by our nice cool lake.

Need further encouragement? Here are my TIFF interviews with Falardeau and the real stars of the film: Arnold Oceng, Ger Duany, Emmanuel Jal and Kuoth Weil. Read ’em, and come on down. I’ll save you a seat.

Ecce Homo

It’s a Werner Herzog summer at Someone Else’s Movie, as this week’s guest Kazik Radwanski brings Stroszek into the studio just three weeks after Trevor Juras tackled Grizzly Man.

Hey, people pick what they pick — and in any event, I was more than happy to talk about one of Herzog’s stranger projects, if not the strangest — and it lines up with Kaz’ own aesthetic in a really interesting way.

You can find it at all the usual places: On iTunesGoogle Play and Stitcher, or directly from the website. The chicken dances for all of us, you know.

Building A Better Batman

Okay, so now that you’ve all seen how bad Suicide Squad is — well, hopefully, you read my review and decided not to bother — let’s take a couple of hours and check out a really great DC movie.

Specifically, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, which I’ll be introducing this evening because it’s this month’s NOW Free Flick at The Royal.

You know the rules: Doors open at 6:30 pm. show starts at 7:30 pm. Free popcorn for the first hundred guests, and everybody gets a free movie featuring the best Joker, a pretty great Batman and the definitive Two-Face. Yeah, I said it. Aaron Eckhart’s amazing in this picture.

Squad Goals

Everybody got out of Suicide Squad‘s way — which may not have been the smartest move, as it turns out — so this is a relatively quiet week for releases. But don’t worry, there’s like a dozen pictures coming next week.

Germans & Jews: Janina Quint’s documentary explores the reconciliation of former enemies and finds some really lovely moments of hope for humanity in general. Which, frankly, we kinda need right now.

How He Fell in Love: Marc Meyers’ low-key drama charts the arc of an affair between a thirtyish man (Matt McGorry) and a fortyish woman (Amy Hargreaves).

Indignation: In his directorial debut, James Schamus seems so intent on capturing the details of Philip Roth’s novel that he forgets to bring the story to life … wasting some good work by Logan Lerman, Sarah Gadon and Tracy Letts in the process.

Little Men: Ira Sachs’ latest is an exquisite study of two kids whose friendship is threatened by real estate, pride and culture. You know, Brooklyn in a microcosm. Don’t miss it.

Multiple Maniacs: John Waters’ long-lost second feature returns in a 4K digital restoration that really brings out the sleaze. A total mess, but a glorious one. Check it out.

Nine Lives: Kevin Spacey is a talking cat!?! They didn’t screen it for us, so who knows? (UPDATE: That Rad, what a trouper.)

Suicide Squad:After months of marketing and speculation, David Ayer’s great big DC picture is here, and it’s a mess. Shorter than Tank Bat V Murderman, though, so that’s something. My review will be up later today.

And that’s everything. Oh, except that if you’re a SiriusXM subscriber, you can catch me Saturday afternoon on Sit Down with Alfred and Chris, talking about the DC fanboy pushback against Rotten Tomatoes over Suicide Squad. It’s on Sirius Insight, channel 121; I’m going on around 3:30 pm Eastern time. Listen in! Hear what’s what!

My other other gig.