Gadon on Varda

I’m generally pretty happy with every episode of Someone Else’s Movie — I mean, I have to be, I guess. But this week’s feels like the Platonic ideal of the show, somehow.

The guest is Sarah Gadon, who’s one of the sharpest people I know, and the movie is Agnès Varda’s Cléo from 5 to 7, a 1962 masterwork that gives Sarah plenty to talk about, both in terms of theory and emotional response.

As usual, you can get it on iTunes oStitcher, or by direct download from the SEMcast site. Please do!

Also, this is the first episode of the podcast that comes with supplemental material: Here’s the Varda interview I mention during the show, and here’s my 2012 conversation with Sarah about Antiviral and her insistence on managing the image of her character within the film. You know, if you feel like diving deeper.

The Return of Joy

Hey, it’s February! That means the movies don’t suck as much now, right? Right?

Please, pleeeeease, let me be right.

The Choice: I like to joke that I have a rider in my contract that gets me out of reviewing Nicholas Sparks movies; I am also thankful that there’s always someone else willing to take them on. This year it’s Susan.

A Date with Miss Fortune: Ryan K. Scott and Jeanette Sousa seem pretty convinced that they’ve made the next My Big Fat Greek Wedding. They have not.

4th Man Out: Coming-out movies don’t get any safer or dumber than this. Or if they do, they don’t make it to theatres, thank Christ. I hated this when I saw it at Inside Out last spring, and it hasn’t grown any richer with time.

Hail, Caesar!: Now, here, finally is proof that we’ve escaped the pull of January. A classic Joel and Ethan mess-around with a cast of hundreds (or dozens, anyway), in-jokes galore and a glorious streak of theological and moral inquiry. Also, Marxism.

Janis: Little Girl Blue: Susan was a big fan of Amy Berg’s Joplin doc when it premiered at TIFF last year; I have yet to catch up to it, but nothing about Berg’s filmography would lead me to question this. So, good.

The Lady in the Van: Maggie Smith stars in an adaptation of Alan Bennett’s nakedly autobiographical play about the homeless woman who camped in his driveway for a decade and a half. Nicholas Hytner struggles to balance the theatrical fancy with the unpleasant reality, and Susan thinks he does a better job of it than I do.

Mojave: William Monahan, who wrote The Departed and Body of Lies and Edge of Darkness, makes a rare foray into directing with this obnoxiously self-serious thriller about a filmmaker (Garrett Hedlund) who pisses off the wrong sociopath (Oscar Isaac). Not nearly as entertaining as it sounds.

Nice People: A Swedish town encourages its Somali community to form a bandy team and go to the world championships in Siberia. Wackiness does not ensue; instead, documentarians Anders Helgeson and Karin af Klintberg capture some very human moments, even if they don’t always stay with them.

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies: Jane Austen meets George A. Romero and everybody wins — which is really saying something, because I’d been dreading this ever since it was announced. But Burr Steers finds exactly the right way through it, and Lily James makes a marvelous Miss Bennet. 

What an IdiotA Date with Miss Fortune isn’t the only terrible Canadian movie foisted upon us by a real-life couple convinced they’re totes adorbs — and this one, from Vancouver actors Peter and Julia Benson, is even stupider. But the Bensons have on-screen chemistry, which helps a little.

Anyway, go see Hail, Caesar! this weekend. Give yourself some happy.

A Better Man

Fun fact: This week’s episode of Someone Else’s Movie is the first of an extremely informal trilogy, which will be rolling out in the coming months.

The guest is Ben Lewis, an actor and filmmaker who makes movies with previous SEMcast guest Lauren Collins; their short film Zero Recognition is a lot of fun, and they’ve got something else coming later this year that I’m really looking forward to seeing.

Ben picked Tootsie, Sydney Pollack’s 1982 cross-dressing farce, which was a lot smarter than it needed to be back then and remains surprisingly progressive now.

There’s a lot to unpack, and we get to it fairly quickly, so jump right in! You can find the show on  iTunesStitcher or directly from the website. Maybe consider subscribing? That’s cool.

Free Tonight?

Sure, it’s a little early in the month for a NOW Free Flick Monday at The Royal … but we figured by this point in the winter everyone would need a reason to get out of the house. Who knew the weather would be this nice, especially after the freezing depths of last month’s Scott Pilgrim screening?

Anyway, yes, tonight’s the night, and we’re celebrating the 25th anniversary of Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs — which holds up really nicely even after Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal completely redefined Thomas Harris’ universe.

Come on out! First hundred guests get free popcorn, and everyone gets a free movie. Doors open at 6:30 pm, I hit the stage at 7:30 pm. It’s going to be a good night.

It’s Still January, After All

“She won’t let us go, boys.”

Fifty Shades of Black: If you think about it, Marlon Wayans was already dabbling in erotica with his Haunted House movies, which inevitably wound up with his character doing freaky butt stuff with ghosts in the second act. This can’t be any worse than those, right? UPDATE: Rad says it’s about the same, but provides some interesting cultural context.

The Finest Hours: This tale of Coast Guard heroism in 1952 has some really nice things in it — not the least of which is Chris Pine’s blunt take on its fairly simple lead — but Craig Gillespie’s monotonous execution of each elaborate CG set piece grows wearying.

JeruZalem: Sibling filmmakers Doron and Yoav Paz transplant the Cloverfield aesthetic to the Holy Land for a disappointingly front-loaded thriller about American tourists stumbling through a proper Biblical apocalypse.

Kung Fu Panda 3: Martial-arts doofus Po returns for another adventure, this time reuniting with his long-lost father (Bryan Cranston) … but Rad finds it all a little familiar.

Lazer Team: Aliens threaten the Earth and four idiots are our only hope in the first theatrical feature from the weirdoes who make Red vs. Blue. I kinda liked it.

Magicarena: Andrea Prandstraller and Niccolò Bruna’s documentary captures a radical restaging of Aida in Verona by a Spanish theatrical troupe. Glenn is totally into it.

See you in February. Hold fast, we’re almost there.

Wim Again, Wim Forever

In this week’s NOW, I take a look at TIFF’s glorious Wim Wenders retrospective, centered on the terrific new restorations that have already started to trickle out on disc under the Criterion label — The American Friend hit Blu-ray just two weeks ago! — but come on, there’s no substitute for seeing Wings of Desire on a great big screen.

I also throw some love at The 8 Fest, because it totally deserves it. There is, as they say, no school like the old school.

A Star, Is Horne

Star2This week on Someone Else’s Movie, the actor Christine Horne drops by the basement to celebrate the life force that was Judy Garland in A Star Is Born — which opens the door to a really interesting run through studio musicals, a sea change in performance style and unpacking the meticulously nested insanity that is “Born in a Trunk”.

As always, you can find the show on  iTunes, Stitcher or direct download. Get on that, why don’t you? Hesitation makes Judy cry.

My other other gig.