The In-Between

Labour Day weekend is, traditionally, a dead zone for movies … but at least one of this week’s releases is pretty decent. Shall we?

The Light Between Oceans: Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander and Rachel Weisz get very emotional in Derek Cianfrance’s period melodrama, which starts strong but finishes less so.

Morgan: The Witch‘s Anya Taylor-Joy is a bioengineered person who gets all killy in this sf-horror entry, which Glenn sees as a great deal of wasted potential.

The New Rijksmuseum: This Dutch documentary chronicles the restoration of the venerated Amsterdam museum over nearly a decade. Sounds pretty soothing, to be honest.

The 9th Life of Louis Drax: Ooooooh, I hated this one.

Up for Love: Rad is aghast at the execution of this romantic dramedy starring Virginie Efira as a woman who falls for a very short man, who is played by The Artist‘s Jean Dujardin and some digital effects.

And that’s it for the week. Back to the TIFF pre-screenings! Toni Erdmann is so good, you guys.

Welcome to My Nightmare

The suspense is over! NOW’s sparkly new TIFF preview issue is on the stands, featuring my cover story on Midnight Madness and how it’s borne witness to the evolution of horror. (Pretty promising lineup of movies in there this year, too.)

I also contributed my annual list of Five TIFF Films I Can’t Wait to See, and plenty of capsule reviews. Check ’em out, and keep an eye on the database, which will be updated constantly through the end of the festival.

Just keep telling yourself: It’ll all be over in nineteen days. How hard can it be?

Last Shouts

It’s the end of August, and that means the 2016 season of Harbourfront Free Flicks is coming to an end — but we’re going out with a bang, because this year’s Audience Choice pick is Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire.

It’s a crowd-pleaser par excellence — which is kind of fascinating, given how much horrible shit its characters endure in order to earn their happy ending — and it will be my pleasure to introduce it tonight at the lake.

Come down for 8:30 pm, because it’s a longish movie and I’m going on a little earlier than usual. But it’s worth the early start, trust me.

You Can’t Take the Sky From She

Someone Else’s Movie gets its full nerd on this week, as Sam Maggs — who’ll be in town at Fan Expo Friday through Sunday, signing copies of The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy and promoting her new book Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors and Trailblazers Who Changed History — throws down for Serenity, the 2005 spinoff and conclusion to the short-lived Fox series Firefly.

Naturally, the conversation doesn’t stop there, folding in a few other beloved SF franchises and a great deal of love for Joss Whedon, because both Sam and I are big fans of that fella.

As always, you can find the show on iTunesGoogle Play and Stitcher, or download the episode straight from the site. Go on, do it now before the Alliance makes it illegal.

Also, Gene Wilder died and I wrote some stuff about him for NOW because that’s what I do. I’m just sad. God dammit, 2016, enough already.

Breathing Heavy

We’re closing NOW’s TIFF preview issue today, so I’m running around like a maniac seeing movies and filing capsules down to the wire.  Six-word review time!

Angry Indian Goddesses: Pan Nalin’s feminist drama overreaches slightly. [Susan]

Don’t Blink – Robert Frank: The artist and his art, superficially. [Jose]

Don’t Breathe: Evil Dead‘s Alvarez and Levy, reunited!

Hieronymus Bosch: Touched by the Devil: Thesis in the title, I guess.

Hooligan Sparrow: Sex-assault protestors struggling in China. [Rad]

In Order of Disappearance: Norwegian thriller has a mordant wit.

Ixcanul: Teenage despair on a Guatemalan plantation. [Rad]

Manhattan Night: Brody. Scott. Good performances, overheated movie.

Mechanic: Resurrection: … but he didn’t die, did he?

Southside with You: Barack and Michelle’s first date. Awwww.

A Tale of Love and Darkness: Natalie Portman’s directorial debut. Decent enough.

Tunnel: A particularly intimate Korean disaster movie.

There, that’s everything. Sorry, gotta run and do more stuff. You know how it is.

The Jane Austen Book Club

We’re coming to the end of another summer, and tonight marks the second-last Harbourfront Free Flicks screening, and the last one I programmed myself. I think we’ve got a good one to go out on: Ang Lee’s 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility.

This is the film for which Emma Thompson won an Academy Award for screenwriting — and a well-deserved one, at that; it’s a very good adaptation of a rather thick book — but the script is not her greatest accomplishment: She also gives a lovely performance as Elinor Dashwood, the hero of the story. Kate Winslet, at the time utterly unknown to anyone who hadn’t seen Heavenly Creatures, was just as great as her younger sister Marianne.

Ah, the whole cast is great, really, There’s Tom Wilkinson, and Hugh Grant, and Harriet Walter, and Gemma Jones — and ah, there’s Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon, and I guess we’re about to find out if we’re ready to watch him be so dashing with his death still so freshly felt.

It’s a longish movie, so we’re starting a little early. Join me tonight around 8:30 pm, will you? And be the first to find out what we’re screening next week!

The Howling

Hey, remember when I went to New York in January and recorded a bunch of episodes of Someone Else’s Movie?

Well, another one drops today, with The Mend writer-director John Magary graciously trooping down to Times Square in the middle of a snowstorm to talk about Wolf, Mike Nichols’ ill-fated attempt to make an upper-class monster movie with clangingly literal metaphors.

The movie isn’t a success, but that makes our conversation all the more interesting; Magary loves the film without reservation while being  entirely aware that it isn’t exactly one for the ages, and I was more than happy to explore that apparent contradition.

It’s available right now, so grab it on iTunesGoogle Play and Stitcher, or go straight to the source for a download. It’s fun! Enjoy!

You Want It, They Have It

This week has something for everyone: New work from documentary legends, a major-studio remake, a new stop-motion classic and a must-see indie. Also, War Dogs … though at least that one led to a pretty good conversation with Jonah Hill.

Ben-Hur: The cinematic chestnut gets a 21st century upgrade from noted Russian maniac Timur Bekmambetov (yay!) and noted Christian panderers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey (hmmm). Rad was not converted.

Edge of Winter: Rob Connolly’s feature debut offers a simple conceit and strong performances from Joel Kinnaman and Tom Holland, who are better known these days as Rick Flag from Suicide Squad and the new Spider-Man. They’re pretty interesting as civilians, too.

Hell or High Water: Glenn raves about David Mackenzie’s latest, which resituates a classic outlaw story in modern-day Texas. Me, I’ll take any excuse to watch Jeff Bridges play a lawman. (Except for R.I.P.D. I’m not an idiot.)

Kubo and the Two Strings: The latest project from Laika is up to their high standards: It’s gorgeous to look at, it’s thoughtfully constructed and a little more grown-up than you might expect. And damn, but Charlize Theron is a great voice actor.

Miss Sharon Jones!: Barbara Kopple’s latest is a miracle of timing, capturing its subject just as her long-in-coming stardom is threatened by a cancer diagnosis. And what happens next is just as gripping.

Standing Tall: Emmanuelle Bercot’s drama opened Cannes last year but subsequently went missing from the fest circuit; it’s finally reached Canadian screens, with Susan’s qualified endorsement.

Truman: I’ve never been a big fan of Cesc Gay’s films — they always strike me as just a little too manipulative — but Jose says this one, about old friends reunited by one’s illness, is great.

Unlocking the Cage: D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus profile animal-rights lawyer Steven Wise, and become awfully invested in his cause. You will too, I expect.

War Dogs: Todd Phillips tackles the ethical clusterfuck that was miitary procurement under Bush-Cheney with a movie that really wants to be The Big Short and The Wolf of Wall Street, but isn’t. Bradley Cooper’s solid, though.

And that is everything, at least for now. Next week: More!

A Voice for the Voiceless

This week’s NOW features my interview with D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, two absolute legends in the reality-based community who came to town earlier this year with their documentary Unlocking the Cage.

That film began as a ride-along with a lawyer named Steven Wise and ended up embracing his mission, appealing passionately for the consideration of great apes and other animals as sentient beings deserving of basic rights and freedoms: Specifically, the freedom from abuse and confinement.

You should read the interview, and you should see the movie. It’s time for a change.

Order Up

After the heavier content of The Good Lie last week, we thought we’d program something a little lighter in the Harbourfront Free Flicks series.

So tonight it’s Chef, Jon Favreau’s charming return to his indie roots after the stumble of Iron Man 2 and the faceplant of Cowboys & Aliens. It’s an indie movie filled with A-listers, and it’s really quite pleasurable. Just make sure you eat first.

See you down at the lake, around 8:45 pm? Here’s my 2014 NOW interview with Favreau if you want to dig into the metaphor of the movie.

My other other gig.