Old Friends, Long Gone

THE WAY, WAY BACKThis week’s heavy hitters opened on Wednesday to take advantage of the U.S. holiday crowds, but counterprogramming being what it is, there’s plenty of stuff landing on Toronto screens today — some good, some great. Also the new Almodovar. Would you like to know more?

Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me: Drew DiNicola and Olivia Mori give one of the great post-Beatles bands their due by telling their whole sad story in this comprehensive documentary.

Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay: The enigmatic Jay remains enigmatic — and maybe gets even more so — while expounding at length on everything else in his world for Molly Bernstein and Alan Edelstein’s camera.

The Frankenstein Theory: Three days after its DVD debut, Andrew Weiner’s found-footage effort about an Arctic quest to determine whether Frankenstein’s monster actually existed gets a run at the Big Picture Cinema. It starts well, and Kris Lemche is nicely intense as a driven creature-hunter, but the movie ends up as just another Blair Witch knockoff before too long.

I’m So Excited!: Wow, Susan feels about Pedro Almodovar’s new film roughly the same way I felt about Talk to Her and Bad Education and Broken Embraces. Maybe she’s catching up.

Museum Hours: Jem Cohen’s lovely meditation on art and humanity plays like a cross between Before Sunrise and Russian Ark … well, except that it’s nothing like either of them. Just go see it. Sink into it. It’s lovely.

20 Feet from Stardom: What’s this? Another music documentary? And this one’s about backup singers? Boy, I’d like to see that. And Rad certainly seems to think I should, too!

The Way, Way Back: Jim Rash and Nat Faxon, who co-wrote The Descendants but found themselves nudged aside by the Alexander Payne machine, break loose and make a fine directorial debut with this excellent coming-of-age drama, which works on at least two different levels in almost every scene. Also, Sam Rockwell busts out some Bonnie Tyler. That’s damn fine filmmaking.

Alternately, if you just want  to lie in a cooling tub all weekend, I’d certainly understand.

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