Relief from constant motion and violence can be had in The Hero an intimate mediation on ageing in a onetime top box office movie star. Sam Elliott’s Lee is past his prime in emotionally, spiritually and professionally. Now reduced to voice overs for barbeque sauce, he suddenly receives notice that he’s being awarded a Lifetime Achievement award by the Western Appreciation and Preservation Guild. His acceptance speech goes viral and casting directors come banging on his door and success is this close once again. Meanwhile his ex-wife (Elliott’s real life wife Katharine Ross) and daughter want nothing to do with him and a woman same age as his daughter (Laura Prepon) is drawn to him. Brett Haley directs this wonderfully scripted elegy with tenderness, love and finds the bright side of knowing the end is on its way. Comic relief comes via his drug dealer Nick Offerman.
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Major buzz on Baby Driver featuring a top notch cast in a whip smart comedy crime outing. Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, Downton Abbey’s Lily James star with Ansel Elgort in the title role as a young getaway driver plagued by constant ringing in his ears. He drowns it with it loud music which revs him up to carry out high, speed hair- raising and perfect manoeuvres. Baby falls in love with a naive young waitress and decides to exit the crime world. Not so fast kid, says his boss, or he’ll l “break the legs and kill everyone you love and know”. It’s an old fashioned caper with an acutely modern edge, ITS exhilarating and entertaining. Writer director Edgar Wright had a brain wave twenty years ago and baby has finally arrived. Listen for a sound track with the music and sound effects.
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Honestly, horror is one thing but The Bad Batch is something else. Interesting cast features Suki Waterhouse, Keanu Reeves, Jim Carrey and Jason Momoa under the direction of writer Ana Lily Amirpour whose impressive debut A Girl Walks Home at Night Alone is a gem. But Bad Batch is really hard to take. Police ditch Arlen (Waterhouse) behind a fence in the notorious Bad Batch territory. Before she can react, she’s captured, chained, her limbs are chopped off, cooked and eaten by locals. They keep similarly chopped people as a food supply under mayor and chief butcher Miami Man (Momoa) in their surprisingly Zen encampment. Jim Carrey wanders by as a desert sage, able to tame Miami Man, and Keanu Reeves makes a brief appearance as a cult leader/circus/dance party barker. Arlen escapes to Comfort, a drug addled community with a little girl and her rabbit when the “steaks’ get suddenly higher. Its hipster- arty and unique but it didn’t add anything positive to my life.
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So you’re on vacation in Mexico with your sister, trying to forget the guy who just dumped you, the love of your life. Against your better judgement you agree to join her for a deep sea shark cage adventure even though your instincts are screaming NO. And down you go into the dark black sea. What’s to lose? Well, plenty if you’re not careful. Mandy Moore and Claire Holt star in 47 Metres Down a taut stranger -in- danger –in-a-strange-land thriller in which oxygen tanks run out, winches break, sharks attack and nerves fray. Pure shark soap, but good old fashioned shark fun perfect for summer, a cautionary tale and thrill ride at once, and I’m giving it a big winch up.
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B-Side – Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography from master documentarian Errol Morris is a photographic history of modern celebrity with a twist. Dorfman shot Polaroids of her friends in the 60’s Manhattan arts and letters scene, and kept the photos that were rejected, the “B-sides”, which tell their own stories. Those are the pictures we’re shown. Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Robert Lowell, W.H. Auden, Faye Dunaway, folks who blazed cultural paths responded in unique ways to this colourful and upbeat portraitist – the results are fresh and fun . Morris’ excellent films include The Thin Blue Line about police corruption, The Fog of War on American war hawk Robert McNamara, Dr. Death concerning Holocaust denier Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. and includes Toronto’s Ernst Zundel. Strangely, Dorfman’s says she’s interested in capturing “surfaces” rather than the soul. Equally strangely, her Polaroids have never been publically displayed.
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Bong Joon Ho’s extraordinary OKJA on Netflix is a rousing mashup of characters, genres, cultures and ideologies. It’s a South Korean US co-pro with Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal like you’ve never seen him, Paul Dano, our own Devon Bostick, Lily James and top Korean actors. This mad fable of the collision between NYC corporate bosses with the simple mountain folk of Korea underlines issues of environment, animal rights the pursuit of money and world dominance. Their mutual focus – super pigs, bred for meat in a secret New Jersey lab, raised in secret by “esteemed farmers” like Mija, a young girl raising Okja with love, who, when scientists kidnap her, morphs into a one kid mission to get her best friend home. Mexican music, South Korean department stores, internet access sin the mountains, a gang of US animal activists, Swinton in buck teeth and Gyllenhaal as a TV pitchmen combine into one insane entertaining romp. This flight of fancy not to be missed.
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“Canucks, Comedy, and (John) Candy” starts this week at Yonge-Dundas Square City Cinema, www.YDSquare.ca – a shamelessly patriotic film fest that’s free of charge. Every Tuesday at sunset from June 27 – August 29, a tip of the hat to Canadian movie culture and our faves Catherine O’Hara, Seth Rogen, Dan Aykroyd, Jim Carrey, and Eugene Levy. First up June 27, Strange Brew (1983) with hosers Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas , On Tuesday, July 4, its Bon Cop, Bad Cop (2006) starring Patrick Huard and Colm Feore and the sequel, July 11, Whip It (2009) starring Ellen Page, Drew Barrymore, Juliette Lewis, and Kristen Wiig, July 18, The Naked Gun (1988) with Leslie Nielson and Priscilla Presley, July 25, Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi star in The Blues Brothers (1980) each feature preceded by something magical from the National Film Board of Canada (NFB). How about William Shatner Sings Oh Canada, I Can Make Art…Like Andrew Qappik, Never Lose Sight (June 27), The Sweater and Ryan (July 4), Margaret Laurence and First Lady of Manawak (July 11), Trans Canada Summer (July 18), and Ladies & Gentlemen…Mr. Leonard Cohen (July 25). Its The Truman Show (August 1), The Great Outdoors (August 8), Take This Waltz (August 15), Men With Brooms (August 22) and NOW Audience Choice for the final installment (August 29). You and I really have to see Strange Brew again or for the first time!
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TIFF Bell Lightbox is hosting a massive amount of Canadian content to celebrate our 150 – features, documentaries, television; even commercials are up for fond review. Canada on Screen according to Tiff’s Piers Handling is “Canada on Screen is the most ambitious retrospective of our country’s moving-image heritage ever attempted. How appropriate that this venture should happen during the Canadian Sesquicentennial, in light of what the Centennial in 1967 did to awaken us to our own identity. Canada’s moving-image heritage—features, shorts, documentaries, animation, television, experimental works, music videos, commercials, and moving-image installations—is known only partially to all of us, but we have made some of the world’s most important films in all of these areas. This programme of the Essential 150 will allow us to showcase the best films in a country-wide celebration throughout 2017. Enjoy—and discover!” http://www.tiffcanadaonscreen.com
BFCA BTJA AWFJ TFCA FIPRESCI