Here We Go, Again

It’s that time again! NOW’s great big TIFF preview issue is on the stands today, with the shiny Festival Buzz pull-out and Susan’s cover interview with Ellen Page and all sorts of other magical things.

Along with a dozen or so capsule reviews, I contributed my requisite list of films I’m most looking forward to seeing, and advised Natalie on her look at Toronto’s best concession stands.

Sadly, I was not able to taste-test anything. Too busy. You understand.

As You Wish

Tonight marks the end of another Harbourfront Free Flicks series, and — as is the tradition — we’re closing it with the audience’s choice feature.

This year, despite my weekly stumping for Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing, y’all went with The Princess Bride — and did so by a landslide. So that’s what we’ll be showing at 9 pm, for free, down at the WestJet stage.

I can’t honestly say I have a problem with this; it’s a lovely movie, really, and with Jason Reitman using William Goldman’s script for his annual TIFF live reading at TIFF next weekend, it seems like exactly the right time to remind people what real movie magic looks like. Join us?

What’s the Buzz?

It’s the first September episode of Someone Else’s Movie, and for your listening pleasure we have Cara Gee, star of Strange Empire and Empire of Dirt, discussing Norman Jewison’s 1973 adaptation of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar.

Hey, people like what they like. But Cara has some very good reasons for loving this very strange creation, so just have faith and hear her out.

You can find it on iTunes and Stitcher, or straight from the website. Hallelujah. Praise be.

Oh, and I also wrote some words about Wes Craven for NOW. Probably should have blogged that yesterday, but I was insanely busy …

Pressing Matters

We’re closing NOW’S TIFF preview issue today, so you’ll forgive me if I play the six-word review game …

Backcountry: A man, a woman, a bear.

Cop Car: Kevin Bacon’s slow burn is hilarious.

Court: Drama deconstructs the Indian legal system. [Rad]

Digging for Fire: Great cast, no script, you know.

The End of the Tour: David Foster Wallace, road trip buddy.

Learning to Drive: Why you do this, Ben Kingsley?

No Escape: First world people, third world problems [Andrew]

The Second Mother: Scenes from the Brazilian class struggle. [Jose]

Turbo Kid: Ever have an 80s fever dream?

We Are Your Friends: A morality tale with a beat.

Z for Zachariah: The last humans are pretty hot. [Glenn]

Right! Back to work!

In Isolation

backcountry-movie-missy-peregrym-jeff-roop-treesThis week’s NOW arrives as I leave the real world behind and sprint headlong into the chaos of TIFF 2015. The trick at this point is to see as many movies as possible while still retaining enough of my brain to negotiate the actual festival when it starts in two weeks. It’s … well, it’s tricky.

But for now, you can read an interview from last year’s TIFF, when I sat down with Missy Peregrym, Jeff Roop and Adam Macdonald — yes, that guy from this week’s podcast — to talk about their survival drama Backcountry. And then you can check out my more recent Q&A with Emily Ratajkowski, Zac Efron and Max Joseph, whose EDM morality play We Are Your Friends opens tomorrow as well.

I’ll just be over here curled up into a ball for a while. You understand.

The Circle Closes

1855-3We started this year’s Harbourfront Free Flicks cycle with Joel and Ethan Coen, and we end it with them as well: Tonight, I’ll be presenting the brothers’ 2010 remake of True Grit at 8:45 pm.

It’s a damn good movie, as I’ve said before, and if you haven’t quite got around to it you should absolutely catch it on the big screen. It’s gorgeous, Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld are terrific, and Matt Damon gives one of those amazing stealth supporting turns that he does when he thinks no one’s looking.

Do come down and join us, and of course we’ll see you next Wednesday night for the inevitable Audience Choice winner, The Princess Bride.

Sorry, Joss. God knows I tried.

Capturing the Fireflies

9bff1f4592a1bc2b928260ca95559a23hqdefaultSomeone Else’s Movie is back in the basement this week, as Backcountry writer-director Adam Macdonald limps over to express his love for Rob Zombie’s 2005 splatter-thing The Devil’s Rejects.

I’m not a huge fan of that one — okay, I kinda hated it — but I do love the films that inspired it, so that turned out to be an interesting way into the picture, and the gritty horror renaissance of the era. And Adam is both enthusiastic and knowledgeable, which is exactly what you want in a guest. (PSA: Backcountry opens across Canada this Friday, and arrives on Blu-ray and DVD in the US next Tuesday on the Scream Factory label.)

You can find the show on iTunes and Stitcher, or download it straight from the website. Get to clicking!

Off-Cuts

cdn.indiewireWell, here we are. Summer is winding down, TIFF screenings are starting up and distributors are rolling out their smaller, less marketable pictures. Which isn’t always a bad thing, as you’ll see.

American Ultra: Adventureland‘s Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart reunite for a comic thriller about a stoner doofus who discovers he’s a government assassin, and has to muder a whole bunch of people before they murder him. It’s The Bourne Identity through a heavy weed haze, and it’s a lot smarter about itself than I expected.

The Amina Profile: Susan finds Sophie Deraspe’s examination of the Syrian gay-girl blogger as complicated and worthwhile as she did when it played at Hot Docs.

Bang Bang Baby: Jane Levy is a young woman whose sheltered small-town existence becomes a baroque Lynchian pastiche in Jeffrey St. Jules’ feature debut, which Glenn liked a lot more than I did.

Being Evel: Rad boils Daniel Junge’s documentary down to one key question: Is Evel Knievel a great asshole, or the greatest asshole? The answer may surprise you! (But it probably won’t.)

Charlie’s Country: Avant-garde director Rolf de Heer and frequent collaborator David Gulpilil deliver a contemporary character study of an Aborginal man living on the fringes of Australian culture. It’s very subtle, and very powerful.

Fort Tilden: Nicely positioned opposite Mistress America, Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers’ indie road movie dissects hipster entitlement (embodied by Clare McNulty and Bridey Elliott) with a really, really sharp blade.

How to Make Love Like an Englishman: Pierce Brosnan is a philandering academic who  finds himself drawn towards a partner’s older sister (Salma Hayek). Director Tom Vaughan specializes in well-cast disappointments (Starter for 10, Extraordinary Measures); based on Susan‘s review, he’s still following his bliss.

Hitman: Agent 47: They made another one! And I’m hearing not-awful things! But not from Rad, who didn’t go for it.

Mistress America: Noah Baumbach’s latest fizzes with the same prickly carbonation of personalities and desires as Mr. Jealousy, only in present-day Manhattan. Greta Gerwig continues to rock, but it’s Lola Kirke who rules.

Sinister 2: Wait, that was this week? I had it opening on the 28th. Also, Glenn liked it.

Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine: Alex Gibney makes another cult-of-personality documentary, this time about Apple — and the total prick who co-founded the company and drove it to greatness.

Phew. And now I will spend the entire weekend gorging on TIFF screeners. Hashtag the struggle.

Bridges and Tunnels

Baumbach coverI’ve interviewed Noah Baumbach a few times over the years, but always over the phone — we didn’t even meet in person until last year at TIFF, when we happened to be seated across the aisle from one another at the premiere of Eden.

Anyhow, we finally got to sit down last week — in New York, for lunch at Lafayette. We talked about his career, and his new movie Mistress America. It was swell. (He wants to do the podcast!) And it’s the cover story in this week’s NOW, so you should check it out — along with the accompanying Q&A with star Lola Kirke, and a Top Five of Baumbach’s recent influences.

Also while I was there, I talked to Sarah-Violet Bliss, Charles Rogers, Bridey Elliott and Clare McNulty, who are the writer-directors and stars of Fort Tilden, another really good movie that’s opening this week– and which bears a couple of intriguing thematic similarities to Baumbach’s film. Funny how these things go, isn’t it?

My other other gig.