Hola, Wednesday!

American Thanksgiving approaches, and with it the usual wave of holiday openings — though there are fewer this year, owing to Justice League launching last weekend and Polaroid dropping off the schedule due to what I presume is The Weinstein Company’s general toxicity. More dollars for Pixar, I say!

Reviews will be up later today, but here are the salient points.

Coco: The dismal news about John Lasseter shouldn’t put a damper on what Lee Unkrich and his team have accomplished here — a delirious, delightful trip through the underworld with a color palette the studio’s never attempted before. But it probably will, which seems terribly unfair.  Anyway, it’s lovely, give it a shot.

Roman J. Israel, Esq.: You know that mannered, self-parodic trap Denzel Washington never quite falls into? The tic-ridden performance that we glimpsed in the corners of lesser films like Deja Vu, Unstoppable and Safe House? Well, Dan Gilroy found it, and it postures all over this misconceived character piece. Do not waste your time. (Poor Rad had to see both cuts.)

Oh, and Scott Frank’s epic Netflix Western Godless drops on Netflix today. It’s good, you should watch it.

In Love with the World

This week on Someone Else’s Movie, we get a little philosophical and a little existential, as director Jamie M. Dagg brings Ron Fricke’s globetrotting epic Baraka to the show.

It’s the first non-narrative feature in 149 episodes (which, neato) and Jamie’s willingness to explore what the film means to him, and how it affected him at a key point in his life, makes for a really engrossing conversation.

I know I say this a lot, but I’m really proud of what the podcast has become and the conversations it’s allowed me to have, and this episode is a pretty good example of why.

Listen for yourself! Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Google Play or Stitcher, or get it straight from the source. And then you should see Jamie’s new movie Sweet Virginia, in theatres and on VOD right now in the US and coming to Canadian theatres and VOD next Friday. It’s really quite good.

Justice For Some, Parademons For Others

The studios have seen fit to drop a dozen movies on my pointy little head this week. I managed to review eight of them while also writing a shit-ton of other stuff. You’re welcome.

Bill Nye: Science Guy: Kids’ TV hero becomes culture warrior.

Blade of the Immortal: Takeshi Miike’s 100th movie kicks ass.

Considering Love and Other Magic: I have not seen this film.

Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond: Actor, acting, acts out. A lot.

Justice League: Wonder Woman and the Flash? Great!

Mudbound: A decent adaptation, if too faithful.

Paradise: Holocaust drama is artful, frustrating, slow.

Stegman is Dead: Thugs, cops, killers. And tentacle porn.

Thelma: Joachim Trier’s psychodrama ain’t so hot.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: McDonagh. McDormand. Rockwell. Harrelson. Wrenching. Brilliant.

The Star: Sony’s latest Christmas cartoon, with animals.

Wonder: Jacob Tremblay wears latex, inspires people. [Glenn]

There, that wasn’t so bad. Please forgive me, I’m very tired.

Just Passing Time

Ashley McKenzie’s Werewolf is one of the best Canadian films in years — a nervy, visually inventive drama about two young addicts spending a merciless East Coast summer on a methadone program. It premiered at last year’s TIFF, earned Ashley the TFCA’s Jay Scott Prize in December and landed on Canada’s Top Ten in January. It opened theatrically against Wonder Woman, so you probably missed it.

Anyway, if you’re in Toronto you can catch up to it tonight at the Regent Park Film Festival, where I’ll be conducting a post-screening conversation with Ashley and one of her stars, the amazing Bhreagh MacNeil. This will be a fine way to see the film, if I do say so myself — and admission is free! Just reserve a ticket here, or take your chances at the door.

Oh, and also I wrote a thing for the NOW site about the TIFF movies already available on various streaming services just two months after the end of the festival. The kids love streaming things.

Breaking The Ice

I’ve been trying to get Jennifer Baichwal to do an episode of Someone Else’s Movie ever since I first conceived of the show, and this week you get to find out why: She’s always been a great interview, cerebral and inquisitive and wry, and the way she applies her personality to David Cronenberg’s The Dead Zone makes for an absolutely wonderful hour of conversation.

I will say nothing else, except that this is one of those perfect pairings of guest and movie, unpacking things about both Jen and Cronenberg’s film that might not have been unpacked otherwise. It was a pleasure, and I’m just sorry the sound is a little echoey; we couldn’t record in my studio and had to use a boardroom. Hopefully you’ll be able to get past it.

Have you subscribed yet? Why not? The show’s right there on Apple Podcasts and Google Play and Stitcher, or you can just download this episode directly from the web. It’s not too late. It’s not too late. Hurry up!

Trainstabbing

Does the world need another production of Murder on the Orient Express, or a sequel to a middling Will Ferrell comedy? I wouldn’t have  thought so, but I suppose that’s why I’m not a studio executive. And here we are.

Daddy’s Home 2: Honestly, I didn’t like the first one enough to come back for a second helping. And Mel Gibson’s in this? I guess all is truly forgiven. Fortunately, Rad sees right through it.

Infinity Baby: I like pretty much everyone in Bob Byington’s lo-fi high-concept comedy – Kieran Culkin, Kevin Corrigan, Nick Offerman, Martin Starr, Megan Mullally, Blindspot ringer Trieste Kelly Dunn — but it just doesn’t play.

Jane: Kevin has some reservations about the way Brett Morgen’s documentary frames the life and work of Jane Goodall, and I can’t really comment, as I have yet to see the movie myself. But I’m curious.

Lady Bird: Greta Gerwig flies solo with this lovely character study about a young woman (Saoirse Ronan, flawless) on the verge of growing up. 

Murder on the Orient Express: Once you get past Hercule Poirot’s moustache — which is ludicrous — Kenneth Branagh’s Agatha Christie adaptation is surprisingly fine, with a solid cast and very little of the camp that undermined Sidney Lumet’s 1974 affair. So that’s nice.

My Friend Dahmer: Marc Meyers turns Derf Backderf’s graphic novel into a high-school movie where the bright colors don’t quite conceal a slippery ugliness coiled around the story. It’s a hell of a thing.

Poor Agnes: Lora Burke gives a terrific performance as a murderous sociopath who takes a shine to her newest victim (Robert Notman) in this modest Ontario thriller … but you have to suspend a whole lot of disbelief to make it all the way through.

And there we go! I’m just heading down to CBC for a Metro Morning hit, where I’ll discuss Ridley Scott commissioning last-minute reshoots to remove Kevin Spacey from All the Money in the World and probably Louis CK and whatever other awfulness has erupted in the world since I went to bed.

If you see this early enough, I’m on at 6:50 am; if you were still in bed, I’ll post a link as soon as it’s available.

I hope you’re still in bed, I really do.

The Fledgling

This week in NOW, having cleared my plate of all the early November film festivals and visited the Cinesphere, I can just settle down and talk to somebody. Specifically, Greta Gerwig, who makes her solo writing and directing debut with the very good, almost entirely autobiographical Lady Bird, opening in Toronto tomorrow after wowing us all at TIFF.

Having delved into Gerwig’s earlier career at some length for Brendan Prost’s episode of Someone Else’s Movie, I was more than happy to have this conversation. I think you’ll be happy with it too.

A Separation

This week’s episode of Someone Else’s Movie is tied to a new theatrical release, but at a slight remove: My guest, director Brendan Prost, chose Nights and Weekends, the first directorial venture of Lady Bird‘s Greta Gerwig.

The difference is that Lady Bird is her solo debut; Gerwig co-directed this one with her co-star Joe Swanberg, and it’s excellent — a moody, deeply felt study of two people whose relationship snaps under the strain of a long-distance separation, played out in two stark, sad sections.

Wanna listen? Of course you do. So go subscribe  on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play or Stitcher or download this episode directly from the web. And maybe check out Brendan’s films too; they’re quite good, and they’re available at his website for your viewing pleasure.

Bite Me

It’s that time again — time for a NOW Free Flick Monday at The Royal!

This month, I’m delighted to present Ginger Snaps, John Fawcett and Karen Walton’s wicked-great werewolf movie starring Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins as weird sisters whose codependent lives get a lot weirder after an encounter with a dog that is not in any way a dog.

Yeah, it’s rough around the edges, but it’s still one of the smartest allegorical horror films of this shiny new century, with an enthusiasm for practical effects that continues to delight. I’m really glad we got this one.

Doors open at 6:30 pm, first hundred guests get free popcorn, I take the stage at 7:30 pm and everybody gets a free movie. Full details are on the Facebook page. See you there? Good.

My other other gig.