Perfect Timing

It is a remarkable coincidence that this week’s episode of Someone Else’s Movie should center on Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which vaulted back into the collective pop consciousness earlier this month thanks to the whole Richard Spencer thing.

Seriously. Grace Lynn Kung picked the movie back in December, and recorded the episode weeks before Trump’s inauguration, when that guy was punched in the face for being a Nazi. And we’d always planned to release it this week, once Mary Kills People was airing on Global. I guess the moral arc of the universe does bend toward justice, or something.

Anyway. Grace was a great guest, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is a hell of a lot of fun to talk about. You can subscribe on iTunesGoogle Play and Stitcher, or download the episode straight from the site. However you get it, please enjoy yourself. Indy would want it that way.

Cries for Help

At noon today Donald Trump will have been the President of the United States for one full week. Just let that sink in.

Now think about something else. Anything else. Hey, there’s a buncha movies opening today!

A Dog’s Purpose: Does Lasse Hallstrom’s latest form an unofficial trilogy with My Life As a Dog and Hachi: A Dog’s Tale? Well, I don’t know; I was washing my hair that night, so Rad went.

Gold: Matthew McConaughey tries very, very hard to bring some life to Stephen Gaghan’s hollow tale of venture capitalism in the go-go ’80s, which is so liberally adapted from the events of the Bre-X scandal that it takes place a decade beforehand, and in a different country.

The Love Witch: Anna Biller follows her bespoke-retro Viva with another exhaustively handmade feature designed in the style of 1960s Technicolor productions. I dunno. People like what they like.

The Red Turtle: Studio Ghibli and Dutch animator Michael Dudok de Wit team up for an exquisite animated feature that will almost certainly not win an Oscar. But that’s not why they made it, so who cares?

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter: Milla Jovovich andPaul  W.S. Anderson have been fighting zombies for fifteen goddamn years. Now they’re finished … or are they? UPDATE: Well, actually …

The River of My Dreams: A Portrait of Gordon Pinsent: Brigitte Berman lets the Canadian icon spin stories , recite Shakespeare and profess his love of family and country. Which is fine, until the digital flourishes start.

Toni Erdmann: Maren Ade’s festival-circuit knockout is a singular accomplishment, but explaining it would spoil its pleasures. So just block off three hours and go. And see it with a crowd.

Trespass Against Us: Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson are terrific in this otherwise undistinguished petty-crime drama from UK director Adam Smith, which  was a big deal at TIFF right up until people saw it.

When the Universe Sings: The Spiritual Journey of Lawren Harris: Nancy Lang and Peter Raymont consider the life and work of the acclaimed Group of Seven painter in a doc Susan finds decent enough.

That’s everything. Bring on the zombie hordes.

Bursting Out All Over

This week in NOW, we salute the triumphant Toni Erdmann in a couple of ways.

First, there’s a celebration of musical numbers in non-musical movies, tied to a certain moment in Toni Erdmann that brings the house down at every screening.

And later today, we’ll post my interview with writer-director Maren Ade, who has found a thrilling new way to tell a familiar story of familial conflict and reconciliation.

Maybe sing along with the clips, that’ll be fun.

The Blight Man Was Born For

The Oscar nominations are upon us, and Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester By the Sea is looking like a strong contender. And I swear, it’s pure coincidence that this week’s episode of Someone Else’s Movie celebrates Lonergan’s previous film, Margaret — with inevitable digressions into the films before and after it.

That’s just the luck of the draw: My guest, journalist and actor Naomi Skwarna, picked the movie back in December, and it just so happens that her movie Dim the Fluorescents is playing at Slamdance this very night.

I would maybe feel less awkward about this if the episode wasn’t, you know, really good. Which it absolutely is. Hopefully you’ll have seen at least one version of Margaret before listening, but if not the movie is out there — on disc, and on various streaming services — waiting to be discovered.

So get to it! The episode awaits you on iTunesGoogle Play and Stitcher, and of course you can always download it straight from the site. Please enjoy.

Our Hundredth Episode

Thanks to the occasional bonus episode, Someone Else’s Movie hit its 100th episode a little earlier than I expected — like, today. And on a Friday! It makes perfect sense.

The guest is writer-director Daniel Warth, who’s in Park City premiering his first feature Dim the Fluorescents at Slamdance. And the Friday drop is because the movie is really good, its world premiere is tomorrow night and who knows, someone in Park City might notice this episode in their podfetcher and decide to check it out.

Daniel picked Love Streams, John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands’ final collaboration — a picture as idiosyncratic as they come, and more than worthy of bringing SEMcast into the triple digits. I know, I know. I’m surprised too.

Go get it! It’s on iTunesGoogle Play and Stitcher, and available straight from the site. And if you’re in Park City, wander down to the Gallery Saturday around 9:30 pm and catch one of the season’s more distinctive debuts.

Darkness, Divisible

No, this is not a good Friday. But we’re going to make the most of it.

Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened: Glenn says this documentary on the fall and rise of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s 1981 musical Merrily We Roll Along is essential viewing for Broadway devotees, and I am inclined to agree.

The Founder: Robert Siegel’s take on the Ray Kroc story wants to be The Social Network with cheeseburgers; instead, you can watch John Lee Hancock miss the point almost in real time. But Michael Keaton is totally watchable, and John Carroll Lynch and Nick Offerman are quietly brilliant. Check it out with your expectations safely lowered.

Nerdland: Paul Rudd and Patton Oswalt voice a pair of Hollywood losers desperate to make it big in this turgid, one-note animated satire. Andrew Kevin Walker wrote it, probably not long after Seven made him bankable. It’s bad. Don’t go.

Searchers: Zacharias Kunuk transposes the story of John Ford’s iconic Western to a very different frontier, and a very different context; the result is an intense, minimalist thriller that works both as cinema and commentary. 

The Skyjacker’s Tale: Jamie Kastner’s documentary unpacks a 1974 hijacking to reveal a story of radicalization, racism and abuse of authority that’s sadly entirely relevant to present-day America.

Split: Feeling his oats after the success of The Visit, M. Night Shyamalan crafts a thriller that offers strong performances and an actual pulse — but still stuffers from Shyamalan’s standard bag of tics. 

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage: Vin Diesel will be 50 this year and he’s still skiing down exploding oil rigs and shit. Give the kids what they want, I guess. Rad couldn’t get into it.

That’s everything! And now for a quick trip to the store to stock up on canned food and potable water before the Trump inauguration. The clock is ticking, in so many ways.

Rising Below Vulgarity

This week on Someone Else’s Movie, documentary filmmaker Jamie Kastner — whose latest film The Skyjacker’s Tale opens at the Hot Docs Cinema this Friday — digs into the madcap comedy of Mel Brooks’ directorial debut The Producers.

Every now and then you get a pairing of guest and movie that catalyzes the show in a really special way. This is one of those pairings, and I’m really glad it arrives right on the heels of Matt Watts’ look at The Heartbreak Kid — the two films share a certain underlying self-awareness and specificity, and it was really interesting to see the connections emerge over the course of the conversation.

You can get it at all the usual places — iTunesGoogle Play and Stitcher, or straight from the site. Please do that, and enjoy yourself. Or just watch The Producers again; really, the movie speaks for itself most eloquently.

My other other gig.