Game Faces

Oh, helloIt’s time for another NOW Free Flick Monday, so get glammed up and join me down at The Royal tonight for a splashy Pride Month screening of Beeban Kidron’s To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar!

Full details are on our Facebook page, but it’s pretty simple: Doors open at 6:30 pm, tickets can be reserved here, and I’ll be on stage to introduce the film around 7:30 pm.

You can also just turn up and walk in, but if you arrive at the last minute you’re gambling on seats still being available — which isn’t always the case — and you’ll miss the beer samples and the chance to win a prize pack. So don’t do that!

And Now, The Wonder

Only ten films opening this week, huh? That’s nothing! Nothing, I say! Although two of them are among the year’s best movies (well, technically last year’s best) and another one is the flawed but very welcome Wonder Woman. So let’s dig in.

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail: Steve James looks at the only financial institution to face criminal charges after the economic collapse of 2008 — and how the family behind that institution refused to take the fall.

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie: Rad mostly approves of this animated kiddie comedy, which adapts the first four Captain Underpants books. His seven-year-old approves wholeheartedly, though.

City of Tiny Lights: I was less enthusiastic about this London noir than Rad, though we both agree that Riz Ahmed makes the most of a rare leading role as a private investigator drawn into an entirely predictable web of murder and betrayal. Also, too many flashbacks.

Drone: “The title is ironic, see? The operator is the real drone!” Yeah, whatever, your movie’s still terrible and Sean Bean is really struggling with that accent.

The Founders: Just weeks after Tommy’s Honour opened, here’s another movie about the history of golf — but this one’s a documentary rather than a drama, examining the women who formed the LPGA in the late 1940s.

Graduation: The latest from Cristian Mungiu plays like the Romanian version of A Serious Man, which is to say that it’s despairingly complicated and not a comedy. It’s also great cinema.

Score: A Film Music Documentary: Glenn goes straight up the middle on Matt Schrader’s movie-music doc, appreciating the ground it covers while fully aware that it could have covered so much more.

Tanna: Jose raises some very good points about the ethnographic validity of Martin Butler and Bentley Dean’s Oscar-nominated drama.

Werewolf: Ashley McKenzie’s study of two addicts whose differing rates of recovery threaten their relationship tells a familiar story, but with a focus and intensity that reminds us why this story keeps getting told. It’s fantastic. Don’t miss it.

Wonder Woman: Yeah, the bar was set awfully low after the last three DC movies, but Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot still clear it with ease, delivering a proper adventure with a hero who’s a complex character rather than a clenched murderbot. The ending’s kinda samey, though.

There, that’s everything. What are you guys doing this weekend?

“It’s Mummy! She’s terribly hurt!”

On this week’s episode of Someone Else’s Movie, writer-director Michael O’Shea — whose solid first feature The Transfiguration just played a limited run at The Royal — goes all in on Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures, the marvelous 1994 psychodrama that launched the careers of Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey and forced the world to take Jackson and Fran Walsh seriously as artists rather than young splatterpunks.

The film’s fallen into relative obscurity these days, so I’m especially glad to have the chance to bring it back into the conversation. And Mike was a most enthusiastic guest, spilling over with ideas and observations and maybe winding Dexter up a little too much in the first few minutes; I apologize for the audible jingling.

Anyway, get on that. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunesGoogle Play Music oStitcher, or download the episode straight from the web. And should you find yourself longing to watch Heavenly Creatures again afterward … well, that’s easily and inexpensively addressed.

Lost At Sea

Hey, look! There are only five movies opening this week! And just one film festival! However did we get so lucky?

… well, here’s the catch.

Baywatch: I have recently become aware of the term “nothingburger”, which describes a manufactured object or a situation that’s entirely devoid of substance. Dax Shepard’s CHIPS was a nothingburger. Baywatch is a nothingburger with cheese.

Paris Can Wait: Tina stands up for Eleanor Coppola’s first dramatic feature, which stars Diane Lane as a woman towrn between her distracted husband (Alec Baldwin) and his far more engaged business partner (Arnaud Viard). Sounds like eminently reasonable counterprogramming for this weekend.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales: It’s better than On Stranger Tides, but it’s still pretty lame, thanks to a generic quest narrative and a truly exhausting performance from Johnny Depp. But Geoffrey Rush has his moments, and I did like Kaya Scodelario as the new Keira Knightley.

Population Zero: Documentary filmmaker Julian T. Pinder pivots to fiction with this fake true-crime investigation that pivots on a real Constitutional loophole. I have never been an especially big fan of Pinder’s work … but even for him, this is some bullshit.

The Transfiguration: Michael O’Shea’s feature debut is a really smart reworking of the ambiguous vampire narrative first set out in George A. Romero’s Martin, situated in the projects of Queens and played out between a weird kid and a slightly older girl. Virtually every vampire picture is name-checked, and the one that isn’t is ably represented by a Larry Fessenden cameo. Well done.

Have a good weekend, everybody. Is it still raining? I’m afraid to look.

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?

My other other gig.