Come On In

In this week’s NOW, we delve into the wide range of programming screening at the Inside Out Film Festival, which gets underway tonight in Toronto and features a really solid lineup.

Workload issues meant I only reviewed one title, John Butler’s Handsome Devil, which first surfaced at the Toronto Irish Film Festival a couple of months back. But it’s a good one. You should check it out.

Soaring

This week’s episode of Someone Else’s Movie is the direct result of a New York Times Facebook post asking people to name the best post-2000 Pixar film.

I went for Ratatouille, because it just is, while Ryan Dillon, an actor, comedian and Twitter buddy, went for Up. The resulting back-and-forth led to me booking him on this episode, where he delves into Pete Docter’s 2009 masterwork, and more broadly into Pixar’s library and legacy.

It’s a good one, and I’m very proud of myself for discussing the first ten minutes of Up without bursting into tears. I am clever and smart.

Go get it! Subscribe to the podcast on iTunesGoogle Play Music oStitcher, or download the episode directly from the website. And enjoy! Dug would be so disappointed if you missed out.

In the Darkness, More Darkness

Another dozen movies open in Toronto today, and I’ve reviewed nine of them while still dealing with all the crap flying at us from the Trump administration. I don’t know how people who didn’t live in Toronto during the Ford era are coping, I really don’t.

Anyway.

Alien: Covenant: Ridley Scott continues to shred his legacy with a second pointless prequel to one of the greatest movies ever made. The cast is better this time around, but the script is still really, really dumb.

Alone in Berlin: Brendan Gleeson and Emma Thompson are a long way from Hogwarts in Vincent Perez’ WWII drama about a German couple moved to resistance after their son dies on the front. It doesn’t really work as a war picture … but as a domestic drama, it packs a punch.

Certain Women: Kelly Reichardt’s latest is a small, precisely observed drama about characters — played by the likes of Laura Dern, Michelle Williams, Lily Gladstone and Kristen Stewart — on the brink of major change.  It’s masterful.

Chuck: Liev Schreiber has a lot of fun as the perpetually self-embiggening boxer Chuck Wepner in Philippe Falardeau’s 70s biopic, which played TIFF under the rather better title The Bleeder.

The Commune: Thomas Vinterberg goes back to his roots — both creatively and autobiographically — for a period drama about a middle-aged couple who try to be progressive and open-minded, and pay dearly for it.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul: Rad hits the wall on the apparently popular middle-school series. I admire his fortitude up to this point.

Everything, EverythingJean of the Joneses‘ Stella Meghie tackles her first studio feature, and does a pretty good job with most of it … until it runs smack into the terrible ending of Nicola Yoon’s novel and turns into garbage, wasting fine performances from Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson as it goes. What a bummer.

Fight for Space: Paul Hildebrandt celebrates NASA’s glorious past and addresses its uncertain future in this advocacy doc, which features some great archival footage and some interesting celebrity guests. Godawful music, though.

The Gardener: Once upon a time, a man named Frank Cabot built a magnificent garden outside of Quebec City. This is a documentary about that. It’s pretty good.

The Lovers: Azazel Jacobs’ follow-up to Terri stars Debra Winger and Tracy Letts as an older couple engaging in his-and-hers affairs. Susan found it infuriating.

Tommy’s Honour: Jason Connery’s golf drama tries very hard, but can’t quite hide the fact that the emotional stakes of his period golf drama are pretty thin. (He was still a great SEMcast guest, though.)

Vancouver: No Fixed Address: Fresh from Hot Docs, Charles Wilkinson’s latest looks at the housing crisis in Canada’s most desirable West Coast location. Richard thinks it’s an excellent first step in a larger conversation.

There we are. I’m going back to bed.

If It Bleeds …

I’ve been sitting on this week’s episode of Someone Else’s Movie for a couple of months, and I am just so glad to be able to share it with you today. Just, seriously, so glad.

It’s been thirty years since Predator landed in movie theatres, and bless his heart, Tom Bennett chose it for his episode. And he was a delightful guest, engaging with his own innocent discovery of the first of John McTiernan’s perfect action trilogy and getting into all sorts of wonderful tangents. This one was so much fun.

Also, if you haven’t seen Whit Stillman’s Love & Friendship yet, what are you waiting for? Tom’s amazing in it.

You can subscribe to the show on iTunesGoogle Play Music oStitcher, or download the episode directly from the web. Go get it! It’s right heah! What ah you waiding foah?

Bodies on the Battlefield

The dust has settled and a total of twelve movies have made it into Toronto theatres today — unless something else jumped in or out, which is certainly possible. Let’s survey the landscape.

The Belko ExperimentOffice Space meets Battle Royale in this deeply satisfying high-concept thriller, which finds writer/producer James Gunn indulging the same retro-pulpy instinct that powered Slither.

Bon Cop Bad Cop 2: I don’t know who was clamoring for another one of these, but here it is … and somehow, it’s over two hours long. As Rad explains, the running time is hardly the largest of its failings.

Buster’s Mal Heart: Despite the presence of a compelling Rami Malek, Sarah Adina Smith’s Richard Kelly riff never transcends its reference points. So that’s disappointing.

Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary: A host of critics and celebrities discuss the life and legacy of the jazz legend in the latest famous-person documentary from John Scheinfeld, who made The U.S. vs. John Lennon and Who Is Harry Nilsson?, among others. People seemed to like it at TIFF last year.

Hounds of Love: Ben Young’s psychological thriller is a too-glossy tale of a teenage girl abducted by a monstrous couple … and you know what, I think I have to tap out on Australian torture porn. 

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword: “Guy Ritchie’s making a Camelot movie? With Charlie Hunnam? That’s bound to be better than the Antoine Fuqua one with Clive Owen, right?” Here’s Rad to shatter your dreams.

Mom & Me: Irish documentarian Ken Wardrop explores the relationships between several macho men and their mothers in Oklahoma. 

Risk: Laura Poitras follows Citizenfour with a documentary about Julian Assange and her own unexpected connections to the world of WikiLeaks. Kevin finds it worthwhile, though perhaps not for the reasons Poitras intended.

SnatchedTuristas meets Trainwreck, sort of, as Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn are abducted on an Ecuadorian vacation. Glenn calls it the perfect Mother’s Day movie, which raises more questions than it answers.

Violet: Bas Devos’ dreamlike study of a Belgian kid reeling after a traumatic experience is one of the best first features I’ve seen in a while. Don’t miss it.

The Wedding Plan: Glenn really likes this Israeli dramedy about a suddenly unaffianced woman (Noa Koler) convinced that God will supply her a husband by her already scheduled wedding date.

The Wall: Doug Liman’s cat-and-mouse thriller — starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson and John Cena as an American sniper team who stumble into an Iraqi killing ground — is really good, right up until it isn’t.

There we go! Aren’t you happy I’m here for you?

Differently Abled

There are something like 12 or 13 films opening in Toronto tomorrow, which is ridiculous. In fact, the schedule is so crowded that Tommy’s Honour was just bumped into next week, even though it’s still opening in Montreal and Vancouver tomorrow.

Anyway, we’ll get to those tomorrow. For today let’s think about the Reel Abilities Film Festival, which kicked off yesterday and which I wrote about here.

Yup, another festival. But this one has a really interesting perspective.

For Art’s Sake

This week’s episode of Someone Else’s Movie was a delight to put together for a number of reasons — for one thing, Dexter loved Jason Connery so much that he wouldn’t leave his side, ultimately falling asleep on him and snoring audibly through a chunk of the episode. (It’s not that distracting, I hope.)

But more than that, Jason’s choice — Tommy Wiseau’s infamously confounding cri de coeur The Room — led to a really compelling conversation about art and trash, intention and execution, and all sorts of other stuff that only comes up when people dig seriously into the nature of art. I had a great time on this one, and I think you will too.

So here’s the deal: Subscribe on iTunesGoogle Play Music oStitcher, or download the episode directly from the newly revamped show site. I hope you enjoy it more than those poor people in the flower shop enjoyed Johnny’s drop-in.

Time for School

It’s time for another NOW Free Flick Monday at The Royal, and even if the weather hasn’t been entirely springlike we are pretending that winter is behind us.

So come down to Little Italy and join me for Richard Linklater’s The School of Rock! It’s our second Linklater film, after Dazed and Confused last April, and it is going to be a lot of fun. We’ll have a trivia thing and beer samples, and of course the first hundred guests get free popcorn.

Doors open at 6:30pm; I’ll start the introduction at 7:30 pm. Full details at our Facebook page! See you there!

He’s the DJ, I am Groot

Play that funky music, tree boySo I did a little thing about the meaning behind some of James Gunn’s soundtrack choices for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 for CBC’s Day 6, and it turned out really well! If you missed it on the air this morning, you can listen right here or about thirteen minutes into the podcast edition.

Thanks are due entirely to Graeme Steel for editing nearly an hour of my stammering and flailing into something that sounds downright considered. Check it out, you’ll see.

My other other gig.