A Down and Dirty Picture

This week’s episode of Someone Else’s Movie is an unexpected delight as Guy Maddin, legend of Canadian avant-garde cinema, tackles Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, the sweat-soaked feast of flesh, blood and torqued machismo from American maverick Sam Peckinpah.

Guy is a pretty thoughtful sort, so the conversation takes some fascinating turns, including a dip into the way Peckinpah’s inchoate politics feel right at home in the present day. I had a great time with this one, and I expect you will too.

You know how this works: You can subscribe to the show on iTunesGoogle Play and Stitcher, or download this individual episode directly from the web. And enjoy it! Or else.

Post Mortem

Morning, everybody! Here’s a laundry list of stuff for you to read, starting with my Oscar recap on the NOW site. Holy shit, that really happened.

Also, here are some words in remembrance of Bill Paxton, whose death at 61 still feels like a sick joke. I hate writing these obit pieces. I especially hate writing them so often.

And finally, here’s my review of Dark Night, which opens this evening at The Royal for a limited run. Didn’t care for it.

A Very Strong Showing

Oscar weekend usually means a quiet week at the megaplex, as everyone rushes out to catch up to that one last nominated title. But this year, a host of really strong movies roll into theatres … including one terrific Documentary Feature nominee that’s finally opening in town.

Dying Laughing: Dozens of stand-up comics from the US and UK sit down to spill their worst moments in this fascinating process documentary. If you’re into it, you’re into it. 

Get Out: Jordan Peele’s fantastic feature debut is a cultural horror movie, and one of the very best of its kind in years. It’s also pretty damn satisfying as a straight-up horror movie, too. No spoilers in my review, but see it knowing as little as possible.

The Girl with All the Gifts: A young-adult horror novel [or maybe not, see comment below] becomes a very grown-up meditation on zombie movies, and one of the best surprises of last year’s Midnight Madness program. It’s also available on demand, but see it in a theater if you’re able.

I Am Not Your Negro: Raoul Peck’s Oscar contender spins a fragment of James Baldwin’s last work into a requiem for the author and for the lost potential of America. Susan liked it, with reservations; I liked it, period.

Shadows of Paradise: Sebastian Lange’s transcendental meditation documentary — screening three times over the weekend at the Hot Docs Cinema — is getting some traction because it features TM advocate David Lynch. So, okay.

A United Kingdom: Amma Asante follows Belle with another racially charged slice of British history — this time, about the romance of African noble Seretse Khama and English commoner Ruth Williams, whose marriage became a political issue in the years after World War II.

That’s everything! Keep an eye on my Twitter feed for details on any television appearances I might do in the coming days, and of course on Sunday night I’ll be covering the ceremony in real time. Whee.

Commence the Prognostication

NOW has me live-tweeting the big night, so Rad took point on the Oscar coverage in this week’s issue — but if you want to hear me discuss this year’s contenders, I did a Jazz FM panel with Karen Gordon you may enjoy.

A shorter version will run on-air Sunday morning, but consider this the producer’s cut, in which I scold Mel Gibson and call Nocturnal Animals garbage. Which, you know, it is.

Okay, those bits might make it into the aired version, but I kinda doubt it.

Ten, Twenty, Thirty

This week’s episode of Someone Else’s Movie is kinda neat, in that it features me talking to an actual film professional who’s also an actual friend.

I’ve known Daniela Saioni for thirty years, ever since we met in film school; I dropped out to pursue writing, and she stuck with the program and built a great career as a script supervisor and occasional writer, with side gigs as a stand-up comic and storyteller. So when the opportunity came up to get her on the podcast, how could I refuse?

Daniela picked Grosse Pointe Blank, John Cusack and George Armitage’s perpetually underrated action-comedy masterpiece that marks its 20th anniversary this year. And given that the film is about a 10th anniversary class reunion, it seemed even more apt for our conversation.

Are you excited yet? Well, go get it! It’s on iTunesGoogle Play and Stitcher, or right here at the show site. This one’s a lot of fun, but then how could it not be?

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. UPDATE: Meh.

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!

My other other gig.