Arts and the Men

esq-schwartzman-xlg-40506378Thirteen movies open in Toronto today, and no fewer than four of them are about creativity, artists and the importance of being true to one’s own vision.

A couple of those are even pretty good.

Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): Yes, that is a stupid and pretentious title. It’s a pretty stupid and pretentious movie, too.

Born to Fly: Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity: Rad is not captivated by this documentary about the aerial choreographer. I can’t say I’m in any rush to see it myself.

Eternity: The Movie: Susan would have liked a little more substance from Ian Thorpe’s retro ’80s spoof about wannabe popsters in Hollywood. And maybe less hair gel.

The Irish Pub: Yes, I am a sucker for movies that spend enough time in bars that you can see what’s available on cask. This is a movie about nothing else.

John Wick: Keanu Reeves kills a whole bunch of people in this remarkably entertaining action movie, which invites the viewer to enjoy its spectacle, Kill Bill-style, while still delivering a grim revenge story.

Laggies: Lynn Shelton’s latest casts Keira Knightley as a Seattle woman facing a quarter-life crisis, and Sam Rockwell and Chloe Grace-Moretz as the father-daughter pair who give her a place to crash.

Levitated Mass: Michael Heizer said “Hey, let’s make art out of a huge boulder.” And Doug Pray said, “”Hey, let’s make art out of your art.” This is a great little documentary.

Listen Up Philip: Alex Ross Perry follows The Color Wheel with a brilliant, withering dramedy about an egotistical author (Jason Schwartzman, perfectly cast) and his toxic relationships.  You’ll laugh, you’ll feel dirty, you’ll laugh some more.

Mall: Linkin Park frontman Joseph Hahn makes a movie in which the fates of random characters cross during a mall shooting. Susan is not feeling it.

Ouija: Hey, Hasbro’s made four Transformer movies and a Battleship feature; they were bound to get around to this eventually.

A Thousand Times Good Night: Juliette Binoche is a traumatized war photographer trying to cope with the return to normal life; Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is her husband. Rad is unmoved.

Whiplash: A lot of people are going nuts over Damien Chazelle’s Sundance breakout, which pits a talented drummer (Miles Teller) against an authoritarian conductor (J.K. Simmons) in an increasingly ludicrous battle of wills. Well-acted? Absolutely. But almost as bollocks as Birdman, in its way.

White Bird in a Blizzard: Gregg Araki’s melodrama stars Shailene Woodley as a teenager struggling with the disappearance of her mother (Eva Green). It isn’t groundbreaking cinema, but Woodley’s fantastic and Araki does some interesting things with the Sirkian millieu.

Next week there are only eight movies opening. It will feel positively tranquil.

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