Noah Baumbach knows families. Not feel-good crap or five-hankie manipulated drama. Baumbach families are a lot like the ones we share, with real awkwardness, back-handed affection and incidental trauma wound up together in the loving bonds of our flesh and blood. Despite its precious title, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) captures its titular extended clan with a disarmingly frank gaze. Debuting on Netflix today, it’s among Baumbach’s best films.
Next week, Blade Runner 2049 releases to immense hype, sans the original’s helmer Ridley Scott. That this is a good thing is almost undeniable, after Scott’s belaboured Alien sequels Prometheus and Alien: Covenant. Instead, fans will get a new replicant iteration, courtesy of French Canadian director Denis Villeneuve. That’s unequivocally awesome, cuz Villeneuve has been doing great work for awhile.
Showcasing Villeneuve’s talents is an easy win for TIFF, and they’re showing four key films from his modest filmography this week, starting tonight, Thursday, September 28th, with the inscrutable Maelström.
It’s incredible to think the real life Battle of the Sexes tennis match happened at all. Putting world number one woman tennis player Billie Jean King up against fifty-five-year-old former champ Bobby Riggs was a patently insane contest. But feminism was breaking new ground, sexism was rampant, and this circus sideshow became a cultural juggernaut. Their man vs. woman match is still the most watched tennis event ever, to this day. Does the movie Battle of the Sexes live up to its namesake, the wacko pinnacle of seventies gender wars? Or is it just a lot of racket?
Beast wasn’t in my original TIFF plans. Extremely limited press screenings forced me to blow up my schedule twice, but I saw the main things I wanted. Beast was a pick-up, from promising new filmmaker Michael Pearce. In the film, a woman is forced to defend her lover when he falls under suspicion for a series of brutal murders. While the film’s twists yank it a tad too far from the realm of believability, it’s a tense thriller and a quality debut.
Martin McDonagh’s likes his comedies like his coffee: black. Actually, I have no idea how McDonagh takes his coffee, if he takes it at all. But boy does he have a way with finding the humour in very dark situations. His first two features were uneven, but both In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths unearthed surprising depths among their myriad quirks. With his latest, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, McDonagh has created a richer film, bubbling with tension, stark satire and even a hint of that elusive trait redemption.
The Shape of Water is, ah, shaping up to be the film of the year. Guillermo del Toro’s latest brilliant film just won the top prize, the Golden Lion, at the Venice Film Festival, and it’s a good bet to win at least The People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival this year. It’s been such a hot ticket, it took me two tries to see it. And that’s at press and industry only screenings! It doesn’t come out until Friday, December 8th in North America, but lucky for all y’awl, the Red Band trailer just dropped. That and a mini-review after the jump!
This year at TIFF we’re seeing the Trump era’s first real artistic blowback. I started with Darren Aronofsky’s mother! (opening across North America this Friday, September 15th), and holy cow, it kicked things off with a bang. That exclamation point in the title is wholly deserved, and you can add about fifteen more in your head. Part psychological horror, part religious allegory, part study of the narcissistic vampirism of the artist/creator, mother! keeps coiling in on itself, like a serpent swallowing its frenzied, burgeoning tail. But is it a tale worth watching, or the sort of child only a mother could love?
Sure, Jack Kirby’s a revered artist, and he created some of the best known comic characters around. Captain America and the Avengers and the Inhumans and the X-men, Galactus and the Silver Surfer and Red Skull and Darkseid, Kirby had a major hand in the stories and look of the heroes and villains currently raking in millions upon millions for film franchises on both sides of the ‘verse divide. He’s a giant of a figure, as BBP continues celebrating a summer of Kirby at 100. But did you know Jack Kirby was a spy?
Early reviews have been positive to absolutely glowing – and that sense of affirmation is just the vaccination that the DC Extended Universe film franchise has desperately needed! With the tent pole Justice League film dropping later this year and the cinematic debut of Aquaman now firmly in production, the Wonder Woman film had a massive pop culture encumbrance to bear on its shoulders.
Indeed, perhaps unfairly, the future of Warner Brother’s comic book universe of films was in absolute jeopardy due to previously dark and critically lackluster movies.
Thankfully, that sentiment is not the same in the comic book world – the wellspring of these globally recognized pop culture icons.
This Saturday, June 3, is appropriately, #WonderWomanDay. Fans around the world will be celebrating the feminist icon with comic book readings, cosplay, theater-goings and much, much more.
But you can get an early start on the festivities today with the release of Wonder Woman Annual #1 – a fantastic introduction to the character for readers of any age!
Anyone who watches Mr. Robot knows how hypnotic Rami Malek’s presence can be. He’s mastered an aura of complicated blankness, his glinting, buggy eyes set deep in his flatly inexpressive face. Malek calls on that same bright, disturbed facade to propel the shambolic, disjointed thriller Buster’s Mal Heart from director Sarah Adina Smith. A head-scratcher with a twisty split narrative, the film’s an uneven study of one man’s descent into madness, held together by the force of Malek’s commanding distance.