And Now It Is August

Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-8There are a number of movies opening today, but only one of them is Guardians of the Galaxy. Still, in the interest of fairness:

Anita: Freida Mock’s profile of the woman who nearly brought down Clarence Thomas — and was brought down herself instead – was one of Susan‘s favorite films at Hot Docs; she’s just as high on it now that it’s starting its commercial run.

Breastmilk:Dana Ben-Ari’s documentary considers cultural attitudes towards breast feeding; Kiva finds it underwhelming.

Get On Up: Rad quite likes Chadwick Boseman as James Brown, though I get the sense he feels the performance deserved a better movie than Tate Taylor’s Godfather of Soul biopic. Which is kinda how I felt about Walk the Line, so maybe it’s a flaw within the genre?

Guardians of the Galaxy: Saw this a week ago, will be seeing it again tonight. Because it’s just that crazy, and just that good.

Magic in the Moonlight: I decided I didn’t need to see Woody Allen’s latest when I heard that Colin Firth’s character, an old-timey stage performer, plays an Asian mentalist. It’s within the movie, sure, but honestly? Life’s too short. Susan actually did go, and did not like what she saw.

The Zero Theorem: I am led to understand that last month’s NOW column about the straight-to-video destiny of Terry Gilliam’s latest head-spinner was a key factor in the push to convince Mongrel Media to release it theatrically after all. So, yay for me — but more importantly, yay for Gilliam, whose movies always demand a big screen and an engaged audience. Also, Matt Damon and Tilda Swinton are hysterical in this — Swinton blatantly, and Damon more quietly so.

And there we are. Enjoy the long weekend!

Mann On Altman

2014-07-25 16.33.28 (3)In this week’s NOW, I talk to Ron Mann about his new documentary Altman, which compresses the life and career of Robert Altman into an hour and a half with surprising clarity.

(It’s opening later this fall, but there’s a special screening tomorrow night at the Lightbox as a teaser for the Altman retrospective that opens next week, and Ron and Kathryn Reed Altman will be there. So, you know, you might want to catch it.)

I also contribute some movie options to this month’s edition of our Hot Summer Guide — regrettably filing before I had the chance to see John Michael McDonough’s Calvary, more’s the pity –  and there’s also the thing about Caplansky’s, which you may have read yesterday. But if you haven’t, do check it out. People seem to like it.

Women and Men (and Meat)

1912507_728958173828714_971535015232984633_nToday is a Wednesday, so of course this evening I’ll be down at Harbourfront to introduce this week’s Free Flicks selection – Desk Set, the classic Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy battle-of-the-sexes comedy famously co-written by Nora Ephron’s parents. We start at 9 pm. It’s free! It’s by the water! My special guest will be National Post style writer and film critic Nathalie Atkinson! What else do you want from life?

Well, if you’re in a more modernist/minimalist frame of mind, you might consider Frank V. Ross’ Tiger Tail in Blue, an American indie making its Canadian premiere at Camera, also tonight at 9 pm. It’s the latest presentation by the guys at MDFF and The Seventh Art, who’ve kindly asked me to moderate the post-screening Q&A. So that’ll be nice, too. It’s not free, but the first 30 people pay just eight bucks; surely that’s a reasonable investment.

Oh, and one other thing : NOW asked me to write something about a restaurant that’s meaningful to me, so I wrote this thing here about Caplansky’s, which fits the bill nicely. Do enjoy.

Diversion for a Tuesday Afternoon

brazil-e1339084348378A couple of things have just gone up on the NOW  site, so I’m posting them here too, because I am a considerate sort.

First, a thousand words on the latest wave of TIFF announcements, which this week focuses on the TIFF Docs, Midnight Madness, Vanguard and Masters series. (Fun fact: I have already seen one of the films announced today. Wanna guess which one it is?)

And then, a NOW Top 5  on movies that were produced, abandoned and rescued, tied to the theatrical release of Terry Gilliam’s The Zero Theorem at the Royal Cinema this Friday, for which I may or may not be responsible. I choose to believe I may, because how awesome is that?

Day of the Woman

lucy-sci-fi-movie-images-trailer-scarlett-johansson1So Luc Besson’s Lucy enjoyed a massive $44 million opening weekend, as if anyone needed any confirmation that “Scarlett Johansson action movie” is the sort of thing people want to see.

As I said yesterday, Marvel’s Kevin Feige should have grabbed the nearest mic at Comic-Con and announced a Black Widow movie the moment these numbers came out. Not a Hawkeye/Black Widow movie, mind you; no one needs that.

But the idea that Marvel isn’t already developing a Black Widow solo joint is kind of ludicrous in itself; imagine a James Bond movie with an actual superhero, and now imagine that superhero played by Scarlett Johansson. It practically writes itself.

Elsewhere, Dwayne Johnson’s Hercules fizzled at second place with $29 million while Dawn of the Planet of the Apes slid to third with $16.4 million after two weeks at the top. Ain’t no thing.

The Weight Of Accumulation

mgid-uma-video-mtvOkay, so last week delivered two of the year’s best movies. What do we get this week? Well, it’s not all bad.

Alive Inside: A documentary about a man who provides a remarkable service for people with dementia. Manipulative? Absolutely. But it works.

And So it Goes: Rob Reiner directs Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton in a new comedy about a cranky man who learns to love, written by the guy who gave us As Good As it Gets. I think Susan‘s playing the “eh, the olds will like it” card in her review.

Citizen Koch: Carl Deal and Tia Lessin examine the pervasive (and perverse) influence of right-wing billionaires on American politics in this grim documentary. If you’re not angry now …

GMO OMG: I hated this movie last year, and I hate it even more this year. Gaaah.

Hercules: In which Brett Ratner demonstrates — once again — that there is no genre he cannot render utterly mediocre.

I Origins: Mike Cahill follows Another Earth with a similarly small-scale study of people caught up in a cosmic event. I thought it was pretty nifty, but certain plot points may prove more divisive to others.

Lucy: In which Scarlett Johansson becomes the superhero we always knew she could be, thanks to Luc Besson and a lot of CGI. Rad’s Glenn‘s review is up, and he’s into it.

A Master Builder: Jonathan Demme brings Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory’s recent production of the Ibsen tragedy to the screen, with as much intimacy as the medium will allow.

A Most Wanted Man: It is a testament to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s ability that he can make you forget he’s dead for two hours. And then the movie ends, and you’re shattered all over again. And the movie’s pretty good too.

The Privileged: Leah Walker’s psychological thriller pits a young couple against a slightly older couple at a lake house. You’ve seen it.

And that should be everything. Oh, except for the part where I tell you that I’m doing a Q&A with Ellar Coltrane after the 8:20pm screening of Boyhood this Saturday at the Varsity. It will be great. I can say this with some honesty because I just did one with him last night and it was also great. Please join us, you won’t regret it.

I Guys

"I Origins" New York PremiereIn this week’s NOW, I talk to actor Michael Pitt and writer-director Mike Cahill about their new collaboration, the philosphical sci-fi drama I Origins. Be sure to play the audio clips to hear Pitt straight-up fucking with me and Cahill doing his best to play along.

I also do my best to do justice to TIFF Cinematheque’s Jim Jarmusch retrospective in the space of 350 words, and talk to Jarmusch’s partner Sara Driver about TIFF’s parallel retrospective of her own work. (Jarmusch shot her creepy adaptation of Paul Bowles’ You Are Not I, so it’s totally justifiable.)

Also, if you’ve been meaning to see Boyhood, you might want make time to check out the 6:20 pm screening at the Varsity. I’m just saying.

Pretty, Sweet

caramel2_200-5c7c5ee09258eacbd9d92283d822022d2158e648-s6-c30Unless a thunderstorm ruins everything, I’ll be presenting a free screening of Nadine Labaki’s Caramel down at the WestJet stage at Harbourfront tonight.

It is the outlier in this year’s “funny girls” program, not being much of a comedy. It’s got a pleasant enough vibe, but Labaki’s not really interested in belly laughs; she’s just not making that sort of movie.

Still, it’s a nice little picture, and if you want to watch a movie about people coming together in a beauty salon on a sultry Toronto night, I can’t think of a better place to do it than the waterfront. Come down, why not? I did say it was free, didn’t I?

Oh, also I wrote a thing about yesterday’s TIFF launch that’s up on the NOW site; I also did a hit about the festival for CTV News Channel. I was heavily powdered. It was for the best, really.

Monkey Magic Time

frank-grillo-seeks-revenge-in-the-purge-anarchyWell, I guess that’s what happens when studios release three movies aimed at different segments of the audience — last week’s blockbuster rolls right over everything in its path.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes held onto first place at the box office this weekend, grossing $36 million and handily beating back all comers. The Purge: Anarchy opened in second place with $28.4 million; Planes: Fire & Rescue took third with $18 million and Sex Tape landed in fourth with $15 million. And Trans4merz fleeced another $10 million from various illiterates to claim fifth place.

Is there a lesson here? Maybe “Studios, make better sequels” or “Studios, give Matt Reeves whatever he asks for.” Those are pretty good lessons, I guess, unless Reeves wants to do Trans5merz.

Actually, what the hell. Give him a chance. No matter what happens, there’s no way he makes the worst one in that series.

Busy in July

Snowpiercer-Chris-EvansThree studio pictures and plenty of indie fare — including two of the year’s best films – jostle their way onto Toronto’s screens today, so you should start planning your weekend sooner rather than later.

Oh, and I’m judging a barbecue contest on the Danforth Saturday afternoon, if things weren’t weird enough in this city.

Bird Co. Media: Jason Bourque’s new movie — about idiot marketing bros in Mumbai — is being sold as a documentary. I don’t believe for a second that it is.

Boyhood: Now, here’s a dramatic feature that feels absolutely real. As I said at NXNE, Richard Linklater’s fantastic character study — of a boy, and a nation — is a miracle two times over. The first time because it exists, and the second because it is absolutely wonderful. You need to see this in a theatre.

Cinemanovels: Terry Miles, the strangely TIFF-beloved director of A Night for Dying Tigers, returns with another murky family drama — this one about a young woman (Laurel Lee Smith) trying to organize and understand her late father’s legacy. Rad likes certain bits of it, but doesn’t think it works as a whole.

The Dance of Reality: Given what may be his last kick at the can — and his first in a quarter-century — Alejandro Jodorowsky shoots the works with a semi-autobiographical and utterly surreal look at his own history. Crazy bananapants, in the best possible way.

Planes: Fire & Rescue: Yeah, they made another one. Poor Rad.

The Purge: Anarchy: Yeah, they made another one. Poor Rad.

Sex TapeBad Teacher buddies Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel and Jake Kasdan reunite for an unrelated farce, the best part of which – according to Andrew — is Rob Lowe. Well, that makes sense.

Snowpiercer: Bong Joon-ho’s long-awaited gonzo post-apocalyptic thriller is here, and it is also crazy bananapants in the best possible way. Also: dear god, are Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton great in it.

Video Games: The Movie: Jeremy Snead’s look at gaming and gamers is, sadly, as substantial as its title.

Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago: Susan is profoundly unimpressed with this documentary about the epic journey narrator Martin Sheen (fictionally) took in The Way.

Wish I Was Here:  A decade after Garden State, Rad finds, Zach Braff is still Zach Braff. I guess I’m not surprised, though since I really liked Garden State I hope I like this one too.

Boom! Roasted! Well, barbecued, I guess. You get what I’m going for.

My other other gig.