All posts by Norm Wilner

Lonely Secrets

Can you believe I’ve been making Someone Else’s Movie for nine years? I can’t. But it’s true! Last week marked the ninth anniversary  of the launch, and I was so caught up in other things that I barely noticed.

It’s still the thing I enjoy most about my career, and while there was a time that I considered stopping with episode 500, I’ve decided to keep going. As long as it’s still fun, and as long as it results in episodes like the one I released today, why would I quit?

Today, I’m joined by Teresa Sutherland, who wrote The Wind and made her feature directorial debut last year with the very creepy Lovely, Dark, and Deep. And Teresa brought on one of the cultiest cult movies of this new century, Joel Anderson’s remarkable 2008  mockumentary Lake Mungo — a film that was barely released outside of its native Australia, but has captivated pretty much everyone who’s managed to stumble across it, Teresa and myself included.

And so we leapt in, discussing the elements of family trauma and otherworldly natural spaces that connect the film to Teresa’s own  movie — which is freshly available on digital and well worth your time, by the way.

Where to listen? Surely you know by now: Find the show at the usual locations — Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotify — or download the episode directly from the web and listen to it while obsessively rolling back and forth through old camcorder footage in search of … well, you’ll know it when you see it.

And then catch up on your Shiny Things! Last week, I looked at a trio of new releases: Warner’s 4K editions of Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom and The Color Purple (2023 musical version) and Criterion’s Blu-ray of Laura Poitras’ All the Beauty and the Bloodshed. Style and substance! Subscribe now or I won’t be responsible for you getting cultural scurvy.

Skater Boy

On this week’s episode of Someone Else’s Movie, I’m joined by actor and filmmaker Cody Lightning, whose directorial debut Hey, Viktor! is arriving in theaters across Canada this Friday after bouncing around the festival circuit for almost a year, with stops at TIFF, ImagineNative and Canada’s Top Ten. (In Toronto, we’re delighted to have it back at the Lightbox. Tickets available here!)

It’s a goofball delight, with Cody playing a less secure version of himself desperate to restart his acting career by mounting a sequel to 1998’s Smoke Signals by any means necessary, abetted by his well-meaning but hapless producer pal Kate. (She’s played by Hannah Cheesman, who received one of the film’s three Canadian Screen Award nominations last week; Cody scored the other two, for lead performance in a comedy and sharing a screenplay nod with Samuel Miller.)

Anyway, it’s a lot of fun and you should see it. But first, listen to Cody discover Mystery, Alaska, the almost entirely forgotten 1999 dramedy about a small town that goes nuts when their beloved hockey team is picked for an exhibition match with the New York Rangers. I can honestly say I hadn’t thought about this movie in at least fifteen years, but that’s the beauty of the podcast: Everything comes back around eventually.

You know how this works: Find the show at the usual locations — Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotify — or download the episode directly from the web for the long early-morning ride to the rink.  It’s a fun one!

And then you can catch up on your Shiny Things, in which I am very pleasantly surprised by the magic of Paul King’s Wonka and less surprised to discover Stephen King’s miniseries version of The Shining has not aged especially well. Not that it was ever that good in the first place, of course. You’ve subscribed, right? Come on, it’s just polite.

Oh, also, I’m probably not supposed to tell you this but next Tuesday night’s Secret Movie Club will be an especially memorable one. Grab those tickets while you can.

Park Life

I’ve been producing Someone Else’s Movie for nine years, and today’s episode is number 490. Somehow it’s taken this long for someone to pick Jurassic Park.

I am, honestly, shocked. Steven Spielberg’s 1993 blockbuster is the very definition of a pop classic, in that you would be hard-pressed to find an adult human who hasn’t seen it, and doesn’t like it. (Even if you don’t love it, you almost certainly don’t hate it.)

So when writer-director Michael Lukk Litwack — whose delightfully odd lo-fi sci-fi rom-com Molli and Max in the Future is now playing in theaters across the U.S. and soon to be available on VOD across North America — said he wanted to tackle it, I had to triple-check my back catalogue to make sure no one had done it before. I was sure we had. But nope! It was all his, and honestly? I’m glad it worked out this way.

Want to listen? Of course you do! Find the show at the usual locations — Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotify — or download the episode directly from the web and listen to it on the helicopter ride to Isla Nublar. It’s a fun one.

And then go catch up on Shiny Things! This week I wrote about Warner’s new 4K edition of Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion and the excellent new Criterion Blu-ray set of Eric Rohmer’s Tales of the Four Seasons. You can subscribe right here if you haven’t already, and if you haven’t already I don’t know how else to entice you. I work really hard on this thing! Jeez!

Then and Now

On this week’s episode of Someone Else’s Movie, I get to talk to a guest I’ve been chasing for a while … and the conversation is everything I hoped it would be.

For like a decade and a half now, Michaela Watkins has been an acerbic, vulnerable, magnetic presence  in shows like Casual and The Unicorn and The Dropout, in movies like Enough Said and You Hurt My Feelings and Sword of Trust and Werewolves Within, even on two seasons of Saturday Night Live — and at last, someone’s built a feature film around her.

Two someones, actually! Dane Clark and Linsey Stewart, who cast Watkins as the eponymous empty-nester in Suze, a modest but charming project that’s playing in theaters across Canada right now.

And because Watkins is a sharp, interesting person, she wanted to revisit Martha Coolidge’s Valley Girl, the 1983 teen romance that helped shape what ’80s movies were going to be — but arrived early enough that it still has its own weird energy. It’s hard to explain in a paragraph, but we hash it out over the course of the episode, while also talking about the ways in which the film influenced Watkins’ own personal development, and what it means to have come of age in a decade that wasn’t quite as progressive as teen girls needed it to be.

You can find the show at the usual locations — Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotify — or download the episode directly from the web and play it on the car stereo while you neck with that hot new bad boy. It’s a good one, I promise.

And then you get to catch up on your Shiny Things, now that I’m getting back to a regular publication schedule. Last week I tackled Sony’s latest Columbia Classics 4K set and spun up new editions of Darkman, FootlooseTenacious D in The Pick of Destiny and the Gate movies, and of course there’s almost two years of back issues waiting to be discovered. Subscribe right here if you haven’t already … and if you haven’t, why haven’t you? It hurts my feelings.

Spinning Out

In this week’s episode of Someone Else’s Movie, it’s my pleasure to welcome writer-director Meredith Hama-Brown, whose knockout first feature Seagrass is kicking off its North American theatrical run this Friday after a prizewinning tour on the festival circuit … which, ahem, started at TIFF in September.

In Toronto we’ve got it at the Lightbox, and Meredith and cinematographer Norm Li will be joining me for an intro and Q&A at the 2:30 pm show on Sunday the 25th. (You can grab a ticket for that right here, by the way.)

I’ve gotten to know Meredith a little bit over the last year, and I was especially excited to learn she wanted to talk about The Red Shoes, the 1948 masterwork from Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger about art, life, death, commitment, fear, rage and passion – which are all the same thing at one point or another, no? It’s a glorious movie, and Meredith came to it very recently, so she offers a great perspective on the movie as an immediate, immersive experience that’s also an acclaimed cultural artifact. Plus, I get to tell her about Peeping Tom.

You can find the show at the usual locations — Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotify — or download the episode directly from the web and listen to it while you practice, practice, practice.

And then go read the only edition of Shiny Things I managed to write last week, which dives into the discs of Priscilla and The Marvels and finds two very different movies. One of them is kind of great, though. And remember, subscribing is still the best way to make sure each new missive reaches your inbox once I get back to my previous publishing schedule.

Oh, and if you’re reading this on Tuesday this month’s Secret Movie Club is happening tonight … and we’ll be showing something really quite remarkable. A few tickets are still available; take a flyer and join us!

In Passing

There’s a line from Robert Altman’s A Prairie Home Companion that I come back to a lot lately: “The death of an old man is not a tragedy, Forgive him his shortcomings, and thank him for all his love and care.”

My father-in-law died late Saturday night, his body finally giving out years after his mind had left us. (Kate put it more eloquently, of course.) It’s not a tragedy, except that it is, and there are so many other things about the manner of his departure that leave the family without closure or peace. Dementia is a motherfucker; tell your people what matters while you’re able.

Anyway, this week’s episode of Someone Else’s Movie is a little bouncier, with actor turned filmmaker Keir O’Donnell — whose new movie Marmalade is on digital and on demand now, and still in a few US theaters — dropping in to tell us how much he loves Tony Scott’s jam-packed pulp-fiction riff True Romance — and how it was his first exposure to Quentin Tarantino’s writing. It’s fun! And obviously we recorded it a while back.

You can find the show at the usual locations — Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotify — or download the episode directly from the web and play it while sipping milkshakes after a Sonny Chiba marathon with your best gal. Whatever gives you comfort, honestly.

Oh, and of course this week’s Shiny Things would be able Criterion’s exceptional Chantal Akerman collection, which packages a decade of brilliant cinema onto three Blu-ray discs and makes the case for Akerman as perhaps the finest artist of alienation the world will ever see. Timing is everything, non? You can read it for free if you don’t feel like subscribing. But really, why not subscribe at this point? Jeez.

 

 

Common Cause

If you were at last month’s edition of TIFF’s Secret Movie Club, you might have noticed I wasn’t there to host it. I was elsewhere in the building, hosting a 30th anniversary screening of Atom Egoyan’s Exotica, and the two events were scheduled right against one another, so Robyn Citizen  generously stepped in to handle the screening and Q&A.

I really wanted to be there, though, because the film was Sometimes I Think About Dying, the latest from director Rachel Lambert, and it’s an intelligent, heartfelt study of alienation and community. Which is why it made so much sense when Rachel said she wanted to do John Schlesinger’s Midnight Cowboy for her episode of Someone Else’s Movie.

And here it is! Please enjoy this look back, 55 years later, at a wild-card Oscar-winner about two very different people who wind up building a mutual support structure in a harsh, uncaring world, as well as a snapshot of late-60s New York that balances grimy reality with unexpected compassion and tenderness. I think you’ll enjoy it. I also think you’ll enjoy Sometimes I Think About Dying, which opens across Canada on Friday.

You can find the show at the usual locations — Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotify — or download the episode directly from the web and listen to it on the bus ride down to Florida.

After that, why not check out the latest edition of Shiny Things? I only published one edition last week, looking at Via Vision’s eccentric and ambitious Directed By Sidney Lumet, Vol. 1, but it’s a good read. Subscription required, but there’s always a free trial for the curious. C’mon, give it a shot.

Movie Love

This week’s episode of Someone Else’s Movie came together in a bit of a rush, and my guest — the Mexican writer-director Lila Avilés, whose new movie Totem starts its Canadian run this Friday — didn’t get the chance to decide on her choice of film.

Instead, she offered a guide through her entire life as a self-taught cinephile, discussing the way a love of film shaped both her personality and her artistic aesthetic, from Disney to Cassavetes. As I say in the intro, it’s an unconventional episode of the show … but Lila is an unconventional filmmaker, and we had a great time talking.

(I blew out my voice over the weekend trying to have conversations at two very loud Canada’s Top Ten events, so I really don’t sound like myself in the intro and outro, but I promise that’s really me.  Watch Sunday night’s Q&A for BlackBerry and you’ll notice I was distinctly raspy; fortunately, Matt Johnson was onstage with me, so everybody was paying attention to him instead.)

Anyway, check it out! Subscribe at the usual locations — Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotify — or download the episode directly from the web and listen to it while you sit under a table wondering why all the grown-ups are acting so weird.

And then go read the latest editions of Shiny Things; last week, I looked at the new Blu-ray editions of Craig Gillespie’s Dumb Money and Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers, and celebrated Shout! Studios’ restoration and rediscovery of Bruce Robinson’s long-neglected 1992 thriller Jennifer Eight.

Honestly, I’ve spent three decades insisting that movie deserved better than it got, and at long last Shout’s Blu-ray proves me right. Vindication feels good. Subscribe right here, before you miss another giveaway!

Real Time

This week on Someone Else’s Movie, I’m joined by Montreal filmmaker Charles-Olivier Michaud,  whose adaptation of Kim Thuy’s award-winning novel Ru premiered at TIFF last fall, and is now set to open across Canada on Friday.  (It’s very good, by the way. You should see it!)

Charles wanted to talk about Victoria, the 2015 thriller that stars Laia Costa as a young Spanish woman who meets a nice guy at a Berlin disco and tags along with him and his friends to a second location — and almost immediately finds herself pinballing through a series of very fraught situations, all of it played out by director Sebastian Schipper in a single unbroken take. It’s nothing at all like Ru, and that’s the fun of it.

Want to listen? Of course you do! Subscribe at the usual locations — Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotify — or download the episode directly from the web and listen to it as you wait nervously in your car for the guys to come back from the bank. Just, you know, be cool about it.

Also: It’s Canada’s Top Ten this week! From Thursday through Sunday, the Lightbox will be screening a mini-festival of features and shorts representing the finest cinema the nation produced last year; I’ll be doing about half the intros and Q&As, so check out the schedule and come down to whatever strikes your fancy!

And technically it all kicks off tonight with this month’s free See the North screening of Atom Egoyan’s Exotica, with Atom joining us for a 30th anniversary Q&A. It’s his best movie, and I believe we’re screening the recent 4K restoration, so if you’ve been meaning to catch up to it, this is the best way I can think to do that. And I  did mention it’s free, right?

After that, you can catch up on your Shiny Things reading; last week I did back-to-back newsletters on the 4K restorations of David Cronenberg’s The Dead Zone and eXistenZ, with a new Blu-ray release of Thinner thrown in for good measure. Are you a subscriber yet? Go get subscribed already! Don’t make me curse you!

Lost and Found

Today’s episode of Someone Else’s Movie is about lost movies, in more ways than one.

See, I was able to book my guest, the writer and director Nancy Savoca, because her 1993 drama Household Saints was recently rediscovered and restored by Milestone Films, and its Toronto premiere at the Revue this weekend gave us the perfect hook. And Nancy chose to discuss another lost film, Euzhan Palcy’s Sugar Cane Alley, which she loves dearly and has been watching on an increasingly fragile VHS tape for decades.

But while we were talking, Nancy also mentioned that in addition to Household Saints, her first two features True Love and Dogfight were also being prepped for re-release in new restorations this spring … and that Criterion would be handling the Dogfight special edition. So I had to clip all of that, and not mention anything about it in the intro and outro, because Criterion’s announcement wouldn’t be happening until noon today, twelve hours after the episode dropped. But now it’s real, and I am over the moon for Nancy and her team.

It’s all for the best, I suppose, Dogfight is a goddamn masterpiece, and a proper celebration is well overdue — and maybe now Nancy  will have the juice to lean on Criterion to do something with Sugar Cane Alley, and that’s a win for all of us.

So join us in the celebration, why don’t you? Subscribe at the usual locations — Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotify — or download the episode directly from the web and listen to it in secret while you sit through your French lessons.

And then, of course, it’ll be time to catch up on the latest editions of Shiny Things! Last week’s missives covered two double-bills, as it turned out: I watched Joel and Ethan Coen’s Intolerable Cruelty and The Ladykillers back-to-back, and then immersed myself in Arrow Video’s new 4K restorations of John Milius’ very serious Conan the Barbarian and Richard Fleischer’s not at all serious sequel, Conan the Destroyer.

What is best in life? Subscribing to my newsletter, of course! So do it! Do it now! It’s right heah!