Category Archives: Movies

Wakanda Forever

It’s T’Challa’s weekend, we’re just living in it. And the advent of what looks to be a monster hit — even for Marvel — means it’s otherwise pretty calm at the megaplex. Here we go.

A Year in an English Garden: The Hot Docs Cinema programmers offer us a glimpse of warmer weather by screening an episode of the BBC time-lapse series Flicker & Pulse. I do not know what that is.

Before We Vanish: Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s latest tracks three advance scouts for an alien invasion as they fumble through suburban Japan, seeking humanity. It’s a weird one, and a lot looser than most of his work. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Black Hollow Cage: Weirdness abounds in Sadrac González-Perellón’s time-scrambled thriller. All I really know is that it has a wolfhound in it, and I like  wolfhounds.

Black Panther: Ryan Coogler does for Marvel what he did for the Rocky franchise with this spectacular feat of superhero world-building. Is it as good as they say? Yes. It really is.

Early Man: Aardman’s latest stop-motion feature is a little less delightful than its previous masterworks … or maybe I’m just too used to masterworks? I dunno. It’s fine. Your kids will love it.

In Between: Maysaloun Hamoud’s first feature is a hangout dramedy about three Arab Israeli women — played by Mouna Hawa, Sana Jammelieh and Shaden Kanboura — sharing an apartment in Tel Aviv.

Poop Talk: Comedians like Pete Holmes, Aisha Tyler, Paul Scheer, Nikki Glaser and Kumail Nanjiani share jokes and stories about fouling themselves (and others). If you like that sort of thing, this movie is full of it.

And there we are. Go see Black Panther. It rules.

What’s Next

Another film festival? Already? Well, yeah — but it’s a good one. TIFF Next Wave kicks off tonight, and I wrote about some of the films at the NOW site.

Fun fact: This week marks ten years that I’ve been at the paper, having come on board on Valentine’s Day, 2018. It feels strange to mark such a profound anniversary at a point in time where journalism itself seems to be running on fumes, but let’s do it anyway.

A Little Of Everything

Last week was quiet. This week is insane, even with the subsequent discovery that Let There Be Light isn’t opening in Toronto after all, but playing in nearby Whitby. So let’s get right into it.

Entanglement: I will watch Thomas Middleditch and Jess Weixler in anything. And this film is proof of that.

A Fantastic Woman: Susan and I were both impressed by Daniela Vega’s performance in Sebastian Lelio’s drama about a Chilean woman whose life is derailed by the death of her older partner; Susan was also more forgiving of its script.

Fake Blood: Without saying anything at all about the plot of this meta-horror project, Rob Grant and Mike Kovacs have pulled off something pretty nifty. Check it out, maybe?

Fifty Shades Freed: Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan find their BSDM bliss as Twilight, But with Spanking reaches its conclusion. Rad submits.

The 15:17 to Paris: Clint Eastwood’s latest — about the three American soldiers who stopped a terrorist attack on the epoymous train — arrives without a press screening, so I’m catching it this afternoon. I mean, it can’t be worse than American Sniper. UPDATE: They’re both awful!

Machines: Susan really liked Rahul Jain’s study of a textile factory — and the human labour required to run it — when it played at Hot Docs.

Oscar Shorts: As has become tradition, TIFF is screening the nominated Live-Action and Animated short subjects in two programs. I wrote about them, which is also traditional.

Permission: Rebecca Hall and Dan Stevens are terrific in Brian Crano’s dramedy about a New York couple whose perfect relationship is destabilized by the realization that they’ve never been with anyone else. It’s really good, and never quite what you expect it to be.

Peter Rabbit: Rad really liked Will Gluck’s live-action take on the Beatrix Potter characters, which is heartening because I really love Gluck’s Easy A and was hoping this would be better than the hideous Alvin knockoff the marketing campaign suggested.

Spettacolo: Jeff Malmberg and Chris Shellen follow the brilliant Marwencol with another doc about art deliberately imitating life — this time in Tuscany, at 1:1 scale.

Phew. That’s too many movies, isn’t it. I need a nap.

Where’s Fluffy?

It’s time once again for NOW Free Flicks at The Royal, and we’ve got a Valentine’s Day pleasure for you: Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, the 2008 Peter Sollett delight that paired Michael Cera and Kat Dennings as a prickly should-be couple, gave us Jay Baruchel as a raging dick and showed us all just how far Ari Graynor will go for a laugh.

It’s a joyous, raucous film and I’m happy to help celebrate its 10th anniversary with this screening and oh my god I’m old. Also, the script was written by Lorene Scafaria, who’d go on to direct Seeking a Friend for the End of the World! That’s a fun trivia point!

Deets are at the Facebook page, but it’s the usual schedule: Doors at 6:30 pm, I’m on stage at 7:30 pm for trivia and giveaways. The first hundred guests get free popcorn, and everybody gets a free movie. And it’s a good one. You should come.

Into The Wasteland

It’s a quiet week at the megaplex, thanks to the Super Bowl.

The Group of Seven Guitar Project: Glenn was not terribly impressed by this concept-art documentary, which is about the thing in the title and little else.

Let There Be Light: Kevin Sorbo’s latest faith-based drama was not screened for the press. I can’t imagine why. (UPDATE: Apparently it was moved to February 9th, there are review links available and nobody tells me anything.)

Winchester: Helen Mirren in a horror movie from the guys who made Undead and Daybreakers? Sign me up! Never mind that they also made Jigsaw, and that this wasn’t screened in advance either, I’m seeing it this afternoon and y’all can’t stop me.

In the meantime, you can read my reviews of two episodic offerings that dropped today: Netflix’ tech-noir colossus Altered Carbon and CBC’s family comedy Crawford. Neither of them is essential viewing, but what is these days?

(Trick question. The answer is Mosaic.)

The State of the Arts

This week in NOW, we use the Oscar attention showered on The Shape of Water to consider what that means for the larger Toronto film and TV industry, and whether we can leverage that into getting people to actually watch Canadian movies as well as movies that are made in Canada.

I talked  to J. Miles Dale, who produced The Shape of Water with Guillermo Del Toro and now shares in the film’s Best Picture nomination — which is, frankly, amazing. (We first met on the set of an episode of Top Cops. I’m delighted for him.) And I talked to Avi Federgreen, who is also my guest on this week’s episode of the podcast — a coincidence, honestly, since I’ve been planning to hook that episode to IndieCan’s 100th release for a while.

Anyway, it’s a thorny issue and I barely scratched its surface in the space available. Let’s start a conversation.

The Chill Settles In

Hey, here’s a fun fact: Two of this week’s openings have a Wynonna Earp connection. Birdland is the movie Melanie Scrofano was shooting when she auditioned for the show, and Badsville is directed by April Mullen, who helmed a number of season-two episodes, and stars Tamara Duarte, who played the revenant bartender Rosita in some of them.

… anyway, I think that’s cool.

Ava: Susan sees promise in Sadaf Foroughi’s first feature, which looks at (young) women’s issues in contemporary Tehran. I thought it was decent, too.

Badsville: I haven’t caught up to this, but it involves a biker gang disrupted by the power of love or something. Anyway, Rosita’s in it.

Birdland: Peter Lynch’s glossy, time-skipping mystery plays with early-Egoyan erotothriller tropes in a fun way, though I also expect that critics who weren’t around for Next of Kin and Family Viewing may not fully appreciate the joke. But the actors are definitely in on it.

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool: Susan really likes Annette Bening’s work as Gloria Grahame in Paul McGuigan’s not-quite-a-biopic, which tells the story of Grahame’s final days and her relationship with the much younger Peter Turner (Jamie Bell).

Free Lunch Society: Kevin finds some merit in Christian Tod’s look at the minimum-basic-income movement, if not quite enough to sustain a feature.

Hollow in the Land: Dianna Agron is very good at not being Jennifer Lawrence, but the rest of Scooter Corkle’s plodding B.C. thriller is not nearly as good as Winter’s Bone. It’s a quandary.

The Insult: Ziad Doueiri’s allegorical drama about a dispute between a contractor and a mechanic that escalates until Beirut itself hangs in the balance returns to Toronto sporting a shiny new Oscar nomination for Best Foreign-Language Feature. So that’s nice.

The Maze Runner: The Death Cure: The first Maze Runner was so bad that I swore never to review another one. Upon hearing that this third and presumably final installment is 142 minutes long, I felt very good about this decision.

Midnight Return: The Story of Billy Hayes and Turkey: Sally Sussman’s look at the making of Midnight Express and its legacy of cultural insensitivity has some great stuff, and some stuff that’s not great at all. (Opens Tuesday at The Royal.)

Monolith: Katrina Bowden is basically the whole show in Ivan Silvestrini’s ticking-clock thriller about a woman trying to get her child out of a super-secure SUV … in the middle of Death Valley.

I also wrote things about The End of the F***ing World, a fun, dark UK series now running on Netflix. It’s fun and dark! You should watch it.