In A Cold World, Some Fuzzy Warmth

  • It’s a pretty slight week, all told, with major-studio silliness competing with art-house staples. Go see the cat movie, it’s delightful.

A Cure for Wellness: I’ll just say this: If Gore Verbinski’s ridiculous Gothic horror movie doesn’t trigger a critical reappreciation of Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak, we have failed as a species.

Fist Fight: Charlie Day does his panicked-screaming thing, Ice Cube does his surly-growling thing and everybody has a pretty good time in this (slightly) grown-up spin on the ’80s chestnut Three O’Clock High.

The Great Wall: Medieval Matt Damon fights monsters in China in Zhang Yimou’s latest gargantuan action epic. Rad’s review will be up later today.

Kedi: With a playful spirit and a thoughtful subtext about human psychology, Ceyda Torun’s documentary about the street cats of Istanbul looks to be the art-house sleeper of the season. And you know what? It deserves to be.

Land of Mine: Martin Zandvliet’s Danish drama about German POWs forced to clear Nazi landmines was eclipsed by the unrelenting intensity of Kilo Two Bravo at TIFF 2015. And now it’s up for Best Foreign-Language Film. Go figure.

A Man Called Ove: Sweden’s foreign-language contender — a dry comedy about a widower who torments his neighbors with jerkass behavior — is also out this week. Glenn found it enjoyable, if a little calculated.

My Scientology Movie: If you found Alex Gibney’s Going Clear a little on the dry side, here’s Louis Theroux with an ingenious new angle on the ways in which the “Church” makes life hell for anyone who looks at it funny.

XX: It turns out a horror anthology directed entirely by women is as much of a mixed bag as every other horror anthology, but this one has some solid moments — especially during Jovanka Vuckovic’s chilly opener and Karyn Kusama’s insidiously clever closer.

There, that’s everything. Well, there’s also the Toronto Black Film Festival and the TIFF Next Wave festival this weekend. Those might be worth braving the cold, too.

Rise Up

Just a quick note today, because there’s a lot of stuff I have to do.

The fifth edition of the Toronto Black Film Festival starts up tonight with a rock-solid opening gala, Tell Them We Are Rising. I wrote about it — and the fest in general — for the NOW site.

If you’re in town, do check it out. Good stuff there.

Dance Hall G’days

This week on Someone Else’s Movie I’ve got a special Valentine’s Day treat planned, all bright colors and vivid motion,

Natalie Brown, an actor you’ve seen in all kinds of stuff including The StrainSophie and How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town — and currently starring in Jovanka Vuckovic’s segment of XX, in theaters Friday — is on to talk about Strictly Ballroom, the Australian sensation that conquered the festival circuit in 1992 and established director Baz Luhrmann as a creative force to be reckoned with. (Shame about Australia, though.)

Have a listen! Subscribe on iTunesGoogle Play and Stitcher, or download the episode directly from the site. And enjoy, why not? Bogo Pogos for everyone!

We’re All In On It, Aren’t We?

I told you there was more to come, and here it is: A bonus Friday episode of Someone Else’s Movie! 

Today, actor and filmmaker Mark O’Brien — who co-stars with Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner in Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival — settles in with David Fincher’s The Game, just in time for its 20th anniversary. Remember The Game? Sure you do.

Wanna listen? Subscribe on iTunesGoogle Play and Stitcher, or download the episode directly from the site. And have a good weekend!

Make Cinema Great Again

There are some very, very good movies opening today, almost all of them from unexpected quarters. And also another Fifty Shades movie. Haven’t seen that one. Might be great too. Who knows?

Below Her Mouth: Having trampled through the comedy, horror and thriller genres, April Mullen makes a drama about two women (Erika Linder and Natalie Krill) in love. Susan ain’t buying it.

Dancer: Glenn is all in on Steven Cantor’s Sergei Polunin documentary, which charts the story behind the Ukranian star’s shockingly brief career. 

Exit: Music: James Murdoch’s documentary illuminates the way in which the removal of Jewish musicians and composers from key artistic positions early in the rise of the Third Reich accidentally triggered an artistic exodus. Susan gives it the thumbs-up,

FIfty Shades Darker: Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan are tanned, rested and ready for another round. I’m really happy to see James Foley working in features again. Wish I wanted to see this one. UPDATE: Rad went.

John Wick Chapter 2: Keanu Reeves gives the performance of his career — no, I’m not kidding — as the dead-eyed murder man in Chad Stahelski’s delirious sequel. Also, that supporting cast is perfection.

Kiss and Cry: Sean Cisterna’s docudrama about the life of Carley Allison arrives packaged as a generic YA weeper, and I can understand why … but it’s much more than that, and Sarah Fisher is terrific. See it.

The Lego Batman Movie: Is Will Arnett the best Batman ever? Maybe not, but dear god is he having fun. And so is everyone else. And so will you. 

Paterson: After bouncing around the festival circuit for months (and winning Adam Driver a TFCA award for Best Actor), Jim Jarmusch’s delicate, perfect little character study finally opens in Toronto. It’s wonderful. Don’t miss it.

There, that’s everything. Or is it? Check back this afternoon, I’m full of surprises.

Going for Gold, Again

This week’s NOW is on the street, but my largest piece is exclusively online — a look at the Oscar shorts programs, which start up at TIFF tomorrow.

Well, some of them will, anyway — at press time it was still unclear whether the Documentary program would be cleared for screening, rights-wise. But it turns out four of the five nominated shorts are viewable online, if you know where to look.

(I tell you where to look.)

((You’re welcome.))

(((Oh, and here’s a thing about Colin Geddes leaving TIFF.)))

The Road Goes Ever On

It’s time for another major blockbuster trilogy on Someone Else’s Movie — and this time it’s Peter Jackson’s gargantuan adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, as brought to you by Adrianna DiLonardo and Sarah Rotella, who are respectively the writer and director of the new comedy Almost Adults, which drops on various VOD platforms today.

Given that this podcast runs roughly a tenth of the length of the abbreviated trilogy, we do not cover every single aspect of the films. (Also, we digress into conversations about the Hobbit movies, high-frame cinema and Ian McKellen’s wonderfulness, as you do.) But we have a good time, and it’s a fun episode.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on iTunesGoogle Play and Stitcher, or download the episode straight from the site. Go forth and enjoy.

Mastering The Lift

It’s time for this month’s NOW Free Flick Monday, and our very special Valentine’s Day selection for y’all is Dirty Dancing, starring Jennifer Grey, Patrick Swayze and Jerry Orbach as the world’s greatest dad.

Look, either you know this movie and love it beyond all reason or you know it well enough to know how goony it is. I fall into the latter category myself but people like what they like, you know?

Anyway. Full details are at our Facebook page, but it’s the same deal as always: Doors open at 6:30 pm, the first hundred guests get free popcorn and I’ll take the stage around 7:30 pm to start the show. Join us! It’ll be cold out, a summer movie is nice,

Signal Boost

It feels like an especially bitter February, but maybe that’s just me. Still plenty of movies coming out, though, so let’s focus on those.

The Comedian: Glenn finds unlikely pleasures in Taylor Hackford’s oddball dramedy, which stars Robert De Niro as a faded stand-up whose life changes when he goes unexepctedly viral. The kids today, they’ll watch anything.

Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back: Three years after Journey to the West, Stephen Chow hands off the epic fantasy narrative to Tsui Hark for another round of CG-enhanced adventure. Not screened in advance, more’s the pity.

Rings: The cursed videotape goes digital (and beyond!) in Paramount’s not-quite-good-enough attempt to relaunch the franchise for the Tumblr age. But it’s kind of intriguing to watch the third act and realize exactly why Paramount felt they had to bump it out of its originally scheduled release last fall.

The Salesman: Asghar Farhadi’s latest is not his best (that’d be About Elly), but neither is it his worst (that’d be The Past). But the news that Trump’s Muslim ban will keep him from accompanying the film to the Oscars may lead people to bang  the drum for it pretty hard … and I can’t say I blame them.

Shepherds and Butchers: There’s doubtless an excellent story to be told about the cruelties of the South African penal system towards the end of Apartheid, but this ain’t it.

Sleepless: Jamie Foxx stands in for Tomer Sisley in this English-language remake of Frederic Jardin’s 2011 thriller Nuit Blanche, aka Sleepless Night. Not screened for press, so I’m catching it this afternoon. UPDATE: Entirely fine!

The Space Between Us: I was stuck in a theater with the trailer for Peter Chelsom’s light-SF road movie about a Martian-born kid (Asa Butterfield) who travels to Earth to meet his pen pal (Britt Robertson), and I came away thinking I’d seen the entire movie. Susan went for us, and thought it was okay,.

Strike a Pose: Twenty-five years after the Blonde Ambition tour, documentarians Ester Gould and Reijer Zwann catch up to Madonna’s backup dancers to see how their worlds have (or haven’t) changed. Glenn loved it at Hot Docs, and I’m very curious to catch up to it now.

And that’s everything, I think. Isn’t it?

My other other gig.