Opening Overload

Screen-Shot-2015-02-13-at-9.17.41-AM-620x400Well, look at that — another dozen movies arriving in town this week, and me neck-deep in stuff. Shall we play the six-word review game?

Apartment Troubles: Jess Weixler is the American Withnail?

Boychoir: Dustin Hoffman saves boy with music. [Rad]

Get Hard: Could have really been something. Isn’t.

Home: Alien Sheldon, meet ‘toon Rihanna. Awwww. [Rad]

It Follows: An insidiously clever horror movie. Really.

Marinoni: The Fire in the Frame: Cranky cyclist makes for great footage.

October Gale: One location, three characters, no sale. [Susan]

Queen and Country: John Boorman’s pointless nostalgia is … pointless.

The Resurrection of a Bastard: Can a bad man make good? [Rad]

The Riot Club: Rich kids run wild, aren’t punished. [Glenn]

That Guy Dick Miller: Cranky actor makes for great footage.

White God: Canine uprising in Europe. Metaphorical? Duh.

The Wonders: Italian farm family does reality TV. [Susan]

Okay, gotta get back to it. Later!

Unexpected Conversations

Bloodline-Kyle-Chandler-Linda-Cardellini-draussen-627I’ve filed a couple of longish web Q&As for the NOW site, thanks to our push towards more small-screen coverage.

Right now, you can read my conversation with James Lapine, longtime writing partner of Stephen Sondheim and occasional filmmaker, about Rob Marshall’s movie adaptation of Into the Woods — which I hated, but that wasn’t Lapine’s fault.

And later today, you’ll find a chat with Linda Cardellini about her work in Netflix’ twisty family drama Bloodline — and maybe a little bit about The Thrilling Adventure Hour and Gravity Falls, too.

What, I’m not going to ask her about two of my favorite things? Yeah, sure.

Episode Two!

Hannibal_aaron_abramsQuick Change posterThe second episode of Someone Else’s Movie has gone live, with Aaron Abrams — of Young People Fucking, The L.A. Complex and Hannibal — championing the clockwork perfection of Bill Murray and Howard Franklin’s 1990 heist comedy Quick Change.

It’s a great movie, and Aaron was a terrific guest. I’m having a ball putting this show together from week to week (especially now that I’m over the miserable learning curve of audio-editing software and RSS feed construction), and this is the episode where I finally feel like I might know what I’m doing. I hope you enjoy it.

You can find the episode here, or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.  That’s probably easiest.

Abandon Most Hope

insurgent-movie-trailerOh, you know how this goes. Another massive YA sequel opens this week, so everyone’s getting out of the way or counterprogramming dude-centric actioners against it. But you know what they say: Never bet against a post-apocalyptic teen heroine.

The Divergent Series: Insurgent: I like Shailene Woodley so much that it’s getting painful to watch her in this series. But yeah, it’ll be huge.

The Gunman: Sean Penn shoots guns, drives fast and punches people — like, a lot — in Pierre Morel’s actioner. But Javier Bardem has the most fun.

Lost and Love: Peng Sanyuan’s drama stars Andy Lau as a ruined man searching for his long-missing son. Rad couldn’t get on board.

Seymour: An Introduction: Ethan Hawke’s documentary portrait of New York piano teacher Seymour Bernstein is a lovely meditation on mentorship, artistry and growth. I can’t recommend it enough.

Sitting On the Edge of Marlene: Freshly minted Screenies award-winner Suzanne Clement goes big — really big — in Ana Valine’s debut feature. Rad isn’t having any of this, either.

Tracers: Well, I’ll say this: Parkour means never having to say you’re sorry for casting Taylor Lautner in your crappy action movie.

… yeah, it’s a pretty dreary week. Go see Seymour; it’ll cheer you up.

 

 

A Whole New World

hawkebernsteinWell, Someone Else’s Movie is now live on iTunes, which I’m told vaults my little project into the Thunderdome. I think that means a whole bunch of other podcasts are going to try to kill it, or possibly that’s the plot of Tron.

Anyway, I wrote a thing about launching the show for NOW, because they were nice enough to offer some cross-promotion. Check it out! And then also check out all the stuff I have in this week’s paper, including looks at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival and the Canadian Film Festival, both of which get underway next week.

I also have a lovely conversation with Seymour: An Introduction director Ethan Hawke and subject Seymour Bernstein and a chat with Pierre Morel, who aims to turn Sean Penn into an action star with The Gunman. Dig in!

Overwhelmed

MADEMOISELLE-JULIE-Jessica-Chastain-Go-with-the-BlogHoly crap, this week. Major studio pictures, one of the worst movies of the year and not one but two documentaries about how powerful corporate interests control the world. Actually, three if you count The Hunting Ground.

Champs: Rad is not enamoured with Bert Marcus’ documentary about American boxing’s inability to protect its fighters in and out of the ring. And apparently it doesn’t mention Mike Tyson Mysteries at all?

Cinderella: Disney spares no expense in this live-action remake of its 1950 animated classic, and fortunately they put Kenneth Branagh in charge to make sure it didn’t get boring.

The Cobbler: Oh, you know.

The Hunting Ground: Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering follow their harrowing expose of sexual assault and insitutional indifference in the military with a harrowing expose of sexual assault and institutional indifference on the campuses of America. Swell.

Loitering with Intent: Want to see some actors have fun with a paper-thin premise?  Well, what if I told you two of those actors were Marisa Tomei and Sam Rockwell? Of course it would.

Merchants of Doubt: Susan finds Robert Kenner’s documentary about the professional obfuscators hired by corporations to muddy the waters on urgent global issues — like, say, climate change — worthy, but overlong. Funny, I felt the same way about the last documentary to kick at this particular can.

Miss Julie: Jessica Chastain’s take on Strindberg’s heroine is one for the ages, even if Liv Ullmann’s movie isn’t quite. (Colin Farrell and Samantha Morton are pretty good too.)

The Price We Pay: Harold Crooks’ documentary explores the sexy, hot-button issue of corporate tax avoidance; Susan finds it well-researched but decidedly uncinematic.

Run All Night: Liam Neeson does indeed spend a great deal of time on his feet his latest collaboration with Jaume Collet-Serra; this one’s not as fun as Non-Stop or as goony as Unknown, but it has a great cast and some good ideas.

The Search: Michel Hazanavicius’ follow-up to The Artist attempts to demonstrate he can tackle heavier material. Rad does not agree with this thesis.

Stop the Pounding Heart: Roberto Minervini’s delicate docu-fictional study of a young Texas girl just starting to assert her independence within her large Christian family has an almost suffocating intimacy to it. This is a good thing.

‘71: Rad really liked Yann Demange’s nervy period thriller, which stars Jack O’Connell as a British soldier separated from his unit in hostile Belfast. So did I.

Happy March Break, everybody! Don’t miss Tron and The Black Hole in 70mm at the Lightbox next week! (Yes, really.)

Making Nice

The-Cobbler-Adam-SandlerI really like Tom McCarthy. He’s a truly gifted filmmaker, and his first three features — The Station AgentThe Visitor and Win Win — are perfect little character studies about mismatched strangers becoming unlikely families. You should see them. They are great.

It was thus a little awkward to talk to him this week about The Cobbler, which is a godawful abomination that flopped its way into TIFF last year, and which has grown no better in the rear view. But he’s such a nice guy that we made it happen anyway, and that interview runs in this week’s NOW.

I would say that talking to McCarthy was the highlight of my week, except that I also got to talk to Jessica Chastain about another TIFF picture, Miss Julie, in which she plays Strindberg’s tragic heroine under the direction of Liv Ullmann. Now, if I can only figure out how to get her and McCarthy working together on something …

Oh, and I also chatted with Jaume Collet-Serra, director of the new Liam Neeson thriller Run All Night, which doesn’t quite reach the crazed heights of their most recent collaboration, Non-Stop, but has its share of moments. Enjoy!

 

My other other gig.