Hello, Movies Are Bad Now

Seriously, this is the kind of week that leaves one weary with disappointment. Go see Paddington 2. It’ll make you feel hope again.

Den of Thieves: Christian Gudegast makes his directorial debut with a shameless riff on Michael Mann’s still-untouchable Heat, and as much as I like Gerard Butler and Pablo Schreiber, Al and Bobby they are decidedly not. (Also, Heat was never boring.)

The Final Year: Okay, this isn’t bad or anything. But it’s a documentary about the last year of Obama’s foreign-policy team that tries to use Trump’s election as a third-act twist, which is just plain bizarre given that Obama’s former secretary of state was the woman running against him.

Forever My Girl: Jessica Rothe — such an unexpected delight in Happy Death Day — stars opposite Alex Roe in a tale of abandonment and reconciliation that was somehow not written by Nicholas Sparks. Poor Rad.  Poor, poor Rad.

Hostiles: Scott Cooper’s big, heavy Western has a fantastic cast and gorgeous locations, and doesn’t do anything with either. But if you want to see what actors do when they’re not given any direction at all, do check it out.

In the Fade: Yeah, the only good movies opening this week are TIFF titles. And thought Fatih Akin’s latest has been getting mixed reviews, Susan is staunchly on the thumbs-up side, arguing that Diane Kruger’s performance powers through any of the script’s issues.

The Road Movie: Dmitrii Kalashnikov’s dashcam tour of a chaotic Russia made a buzzy debut at last year’s Hot Docs, but Kevin doesn’t think there’s all that much to it.

12 Strong: What’s that? Den of Thieves doesn’t satisfy your craving for beefy, bearded actors lugging around heavy weapons? Well, Mr. Jerry Bruckheimer has a movie for you, and it comes coated in a sheen of post-9/11 jingoism! Whee!

… yeah, go see Paddington 2. Or see it again. Whatever works.

“And of course Alice goes back there all the time.”

Sunday marked the second anniversary of Alan Rickman’s death, and guess what? I’m still not over it.

Which is why, when Halifax blogger, screenwriter and podcaster Carsten Knox said he wanted to tackle Anthony Minghella’s Truly Madly Deeply on his episode of Someone Else’s Movie, the episode turned out to be a little more personal than either of us expected … perhaps because I knew Minghella a little, and I’m still not over his death, either.

Anyway. It’s a great conversation about art, love and mortality and I think I only choked up twice. We recorded it when Carsten was in town early last summer, and this seemed like the perfect time to release it.

Care to listen? Subscribe on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play or Stitcher, or download it directly from the web. And, well, enjoy it.

Be Like Bear

Not planning to binge on Canada’s Top Ten this weekend? Well, there’s other stuff to see.

Aida’s Secrets: Filmmakers Alon and Shaul Schwarz untangle the story of two brothers separated at birth — and by the legacy of the Holocaust. They loved it at Hot Docs last year.

The Commuter: At no point does Liam Neeson punch a train, which is a slight disappointment. And Jaume Collet-Serra’s latest high-concept actioner never quite matches Non-Stop‘s giddy panic. But it’s a fun couple of hours.

Happy End: Michael Haneke’s latest, about a family in Calais dealing with more than their share of bougie discontent, occasionally feels like it was written by throwing some index cards at a wall … but Isabelle Huppert, Mathieu Kassovitz, Jean-Louis Trintignant and hey-that’s-Toby-Jones all came to play.

Mountain: Kevin is not terribly impressed by Jennifer Peedom’s look at mountaineering culture. I have not seen it myself, but he’s usually pretty perceptive about these things.

Paddington 2: Okay, we don’t need a sequel to Paul King’s wonderful family film. But he made this one too, and honestly it’s just as much of an eccentric, inspirational delight. Plus, Hugh Grant. And Brendan Fecking Gleeson.

Proud Mary: There was no press screening for what sure looks like a remake of Gloria starring Taraji P. Henson. The director’s last film was the godawful London Has Fallen, so I am not exactly stoked for this. 

Eh, it’s going to be a cold and miserable weekend. Go see the little bear.

Canada’s Top Ten, Again and Again

Last month, we discussed which 2017 features were unfairly excluded (as well as which ones were unfairly included) in this year’s iteration of the Canada’s Top Ten film festival.

And now that the festival is on, I take a closer look at the official program in this week’s NOW. (Bottom line? Go see Adventures in Public School, it’s delightful.)

Not screening this year: Ashley McKenzie’s Werewolf, which just won the TFCA’s $100,000 Canadian film prize. (I wrote about the award, and Tuesday night’s gala, here.) But that’s only because it was in last year’s Top Ten festival; TIFF considers festival playdates in its eligibility criteria, while the TFCA go by the Toronto opening date. But a great movie is a great movie, and if you haven’t seen Ashley’s knockout first feature, it’s available on iTunes right now. So see it.

Thirteen Years Later, And Fetch Still Ain’t Happening

This week on Someone Else’s Movie, I get to hang out with Catherine Reitman and talk about sketch writing, risky performances, comedy heroes and our mutual love of Mean Girls, which somehow has all of those things despite being a high-school comedy and thus trapped in one of the most rigid cinematic subgenres. (But then, Tina Fey is a goddamn genius.)

It’s a good conversation, if a teeny bit rushed because we did it in the middle of a press day for the new season of Workin’ Moms, which returns tonight at 9:30 pm on CBC. (I’m not obliged to tell you that or anything, I just like the people who make the show and would like you to watch it.)

Wanna hear it? Subscribe on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play or Stitcher, or download the episode straight from the web. I would recommend subscribing, though, because then you get next week’s episode automatically, and the week’s after that, and so on. It’s just easier, honestly.

Winter Warmers

It’s no surprise that Toronto is under more goddamn snow this morning — this is January, after all — but it’s still annoying. And the temperature is supposed to creep up above freezing this afternoon, which means the snow will turn  to slush and everything will suck even more.

But! If you’re able to crawl out of your burrow, come out to The Royal this evening and join me for this month’s NOW Free Flick: John Hughes’ Uncle Buck, a beloved all-ages celebration of immature antics featuring John Candy and Macaulay Culkin.  People love it. I’m introducing it. It’s free. Why complain.

All the details are at our Facebook page, but you know the drill: Doors open at 6:30 pm, show starts at 7:30 pm, the first hundred guests get free popcorn and everybody gets a free movie. See you there?

Also, I wrote some stuff about last night’s Golden Globes ceremony, which actually seemed to matter for the first time in living memory. So that was nice.

The New Year, Unfussed

The first release weekend of 2018 is given over to platform releases and the customary Sony horror sequel dump. So, business as usual.

Insidious: The Last Key: Will the fourth in Leigh Whannell’s ersatz Poltergeist franchise be better than 2017’s Underworld installment? Honestly, how can it not be? UPDATE: Well, funny story.

No Stone Unturned: Alex Gibney’s latest investigates the 1994 Loughinisland massacre, when six men were murdered in a pub and no one in Northern Ireland saw a thing.

Phantom Thread: Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest — featuring a borderline self-parodic turn from Daniel Day-Lewis as a fussy fashion designer — feels like a swirl of half-developed notions in search of a final form, which I do not think is the intention. That said, Rad liked it way more than I did.

The Post: Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks and Spotlight co-writer Josh Singer marshal their considerable talents for a docudrama about the Washington Post’s face-off with the Nixon administration over the publication of Pentagon Papers. I don’t think it’s especially great — Spielberg seems so determined not to replicate All the President’s Men that he winds up boiling out all the tension and style inherent in the story — but Susan hated it.

Eh, I dunno. Maybe stay home this weekend. It’s cold.

The Fog of War

Happy new year, one and all! You didn’t get me anything? That’s okay, I have a brand-new episode of Someone Else’s Movie for you! This should not come as a surprise, since it’s Tuesday and that’s just how I roll.

This week, Marvin Kaye — an actor, writer and producer who created Less Than Kind and turns up most unexpectedly as the Burly Russian in The Shape of Water — joins me to talk about his abiding love for Bruce Beresford’s merciless Breaker Morant, the Australian courtroom drama that became an international art-house hit for reasons I’ve never been able to fathom. We talk about that, and plenty of other stuff, so give it a listen!

You can get the episode in all of the usual ways: Subscribe on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play or Stitcher, or just go straight to the show site and stream or download it as you please. So get to it, please and thank you.

My other other gig.