Death, Wished

With the Oscars dominating entertainment culture this weekend, the studio offerings are a little on the junky side, but there’s some good stuff slipping in on the indie front — including two films I’ve screened at Reel Talk! That’s neat, right?

Boost: Darren Curtis’ Montreal teens-in-trouble thriller — which played here last month at the Toronto Black Film Festival — gets a theatrical release ahead of the Screenies next weekend. It’s solid. Check it out.

Death Wish: Bruce Willis is too thoughtful an actor for the role of Paul Kersey, decent family man turned bloodthirsty vigilante, and Eli Roth clearly wasn’t interested in exploring the prickly undercurrents of Joe Carnahan’s screenplay. But as unnecessary remakes go, this one has a strange pull.

Never Steady, Never Still: Another Canadian film opening in advance of the Screenies, Kathleen Hepburn’s drama stars Shirley Henderson and Theodore Pellerin as a mother and son facing personal crises. Rad was a big booster at TIFF, and remains on board.

Nostalgia: Mark Pellington’s meditation on grief and absence takes a while to reveal its true shape, which might have thrown a few people when I screened it at the Lightbox this past Sunday. But I think it’s chasing something really special, and if you can go with its episodic flow the rewards are substantial.

The Party: Sally Potter’s acidic comedy about an election-day celebration that goes spectacularly wrong is played to perfection by Kristin Scott Thomas, Timothy Spall, Patricia Clarkson, Cherry Jones, Cillian Murphy, Emily Mortimer and Bruno Ganz. I will say nothing further. (This was the other Reel Talk pick; we screened it in December.)

Red Sparrow: Jennifer Lawrence and Francis Lawrence are back with this lushly appointed thriller about a young woman recruited into the Russian spy services. It is very expensive, and very dull.

The Wasting: Lauren McQueen plays an English teenager whose anorexia may or may not have a supernatural component in Carolyn Saunders’ leaden psychological thriller, which is far too clumsy to pull off the balancing act to which it aspires.

Oh, and I also wrote about the new Hulu/Amazon Prime series The Looming Tower, which is quite good but not nearly as complex as its source material.

Also also, I have a couple of Oscar-season radio hits scheduled for very early this morning down at the CBC. How early? Stupid early; I’m due on Ontario Today at 7:20 am, and then I’ll be on Metro Morning at around 8:10 am. Tune in if you’re up, and if you’re not, don’t worry — I’ll post them when they’re available online.

Seriously. Stupid early.

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