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!

The Deadest of Pans

On this week’s episode of Someone Else’s Movie, I get to have a really fun conversation with comedian and actor Chris Locke.

I’ve been chasing Chris for a while, since I’ve been enjoying his work in  literally every TV series produced in Toronto  (including Run the Burbs, which returns for its third season tonight on CBC and CBC Gem), and a number of movies besides.

One of them is Jeremy Larter’s very charming PEI private eye comedy Who’s Yer Father?, now available on digital after a fall theatrical run, and it gave us the opportunity to schedule a SEMcast about a film very dear to Chris’ heart: The Wrong Guy, the 1997 comedy where Dave Foley played the worst fugitive in the world. Barely acknowledged at the time, it’s become a sort of cult object among comics and other professionally funny people, so it was a pleasure to talk it over with someone who counts himself a super-fan … even if it wasn’t the film we’d expected to discuss when we sat down.

I should also point out that this was recorded just before the new season of Fargo, and neither of us knew Dave Foley was going to be awesome in that. So there.

It’s a fun one! Subscribe at the usual locations — Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotify — or download the episode directly from the web and listen to it as you rifle through a hospital room looking for ways to disguise your identity.

And then get caught up on your Shiny Things reading! It won’t take long this week because there wasn’t much to write about — but I did take a look at Shout! Studios’ new Blu-ray of Walter Hill’s Depression-era Yojimbo remake Last Man Standing, and shared my optimism for the year that’s coming. Because I’m an idiot. Subscribe, why don’t you?

Happy Neo Year

Hey, look! It’s 2024 and we’re all still alive! Those of us reading this, anyway, and that’s … us? I don’t know how to structure an optimistic post, if I can be honest; it’s harder and harder to sound positive about The Future when everything is on fire all the time.

But I recorded this week’s episode of Someone Else’s Movie back in October, when things were a little bit brighter, and maybe some of the fun I had with my guest Orson Oblowitz will rub off on you now.

Orson is the director of the new movie Showdown At the Grand, a charming retro thing starring Terrence Howard as a fully committed movie nerd whose refusal to sell his beloved theater to developers puts him in a great deal of danger … and only Dolph Lundgren can save him. Newly available on disc and on digital, it’s like a big warm hug of nostalgia, and also it has ninjas.

There are no ninjas in Orson’s podcast pick, Akira, but there might be some hiding in the elaborate design of Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1988 anime sensation, a cult movie for the nuclear age that continues to amaze and thrill [checks watch] 36 years after it exploded onto the cultural landscape.

We didn’t have a lot of time, but we talked pretty quickly. Subscribe at the usual locations — Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotify — or download the episode directly from the web and listen as you race your tricked-out motorcycle through the ruins of a devastated city.

And then catch up on your reading! I wrote three editions of Shiny Things last week, making lists of the best movies and discs of 2023 and taking a trip to Toronto’s very own Vinegar Syndrome brick-and-mortar store, which was downright therapeutic. You can read that one on the site for free, but why not subscribe? That’s also therapeutic, I bet.

 

 

A Time to Be Nice

Nothing much is going on this week. Maybe you’ll buy something, maybe you’ll treat yourself to a classic film in 70mm, maybe you’ll sit around the house waiting for a negative COVID test. I don’t know your lives.

But I do know that I hate to leave you all without entertainment, and that’s why this week’s episode of Someone Else’s Movie is all about Road House, the 1989 Patrick Swazye punch-em-up which actor-filmmaker Evan Rissi loves beyond all reason.

So when I heard Evan’s first feature Going In was making its digital debut this month, this felt like the perfect opportunity to have him on and celebrate Swayze’s charisma, Kelly Lynch’s straight-woman charm and Ben Gazzara’s up-for-anything indie spirit. And Sam Elliott’s pubes, of course.

Subscribe at the usual locations — Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotify — or download the episode directly from the web to enjoy while carefully applying your styling products of choice as part of your morning routine.

And then go catch up on your Shiny Things, because I offered some suggestions for Boxing Day bargain-hunters as well as pondering why it’s so difficult to bring Stephen King’s books to the screen without losing their essential spirit. (It would have been a very different essay if that new 4K edition of The Dead Zone had shown up in time, mind you.) You can subscribe right here!

That’s pretty much it for this week, though. Like I said, there’s just not a lot to do. I hope you’re enjoying a similarly calm few days, and if you’re in Toronto I really hope you get to see Lawrence of Arabia in 70mm at the Lightbox, as God intended.

See you next year!

The Old Neighborhood

Call it holiday counterprogramming: Despite previous Christmas episodes, this week’s brand-new Someone Else’s Movie has not a Santa in sight.

That’s because my guests are Rosa Labordé and Anna Hardwick, the co-creators and co-stars of the new Crave series Nesting, and for their episode they wanted to talk about a movie that speaks to them and their show: Joan Micklin Silver’s 1988 romantic dramedy Crossing Delancey, starring Amy Irving as a young Jewish woman trying to break free of her suffocating Orthodox community by contemplating an affair with European author Jeroen Krabbé, only to find herself drawn to Peter Riegert’s humble pickle man.

It’s a lot more textured and considered than that description sounds, because it’s a Joan Micklin Silver picture, and it’s held up remarkably well; if you haven’t seen it, you should definitely check it out before listening to the episode. (And you should also watch Nesting when it drops on Friday, because it’s silly and fun and Allana Harkin directed it!)

Subscribe at the usual locations — Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotify — or download the episode directly from the web and listen to it while you wait in line at the pickle store. It’ll be worth it.

And then catch up on your Shiny Things reading! Last week I celebrated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem and Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, and later today I’m rolling out a look at the new 4K restorations of The Warriors and Clue for those on the paid tier. Are you a subscriber? No? Well, you can fix that!

Speaking of subscription series, a few tickets are still available for tonight’s Secret Movie Club screening, which is a good one and you should come if you can.

Timeless

I’ve got a lot going on today (and tonight), so I made a point of getting this post up on time because I didn’t want anyone to miss out on this week’s episode of Someone Else’s Movie.

That’s because my guest is Kelly Fremon Craig, writer and director of The Edge of Seventeen and now Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, and she chose Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, the films where Ethan Hawke’s Jesse and Julie Delpy’s Celine meet and fall in love in Europe – first in 1996, and then again in 2005. (We also discuss the third one in the series, and even wind up pitching a fourth one, because how can you not.)

And yes, I know Maureen Judge tackled the entire trilogy on the podcast back in 2016  — and that was a really good episode, you should give it a listen — but there was a nice poetry to revisiting these particular films given how much time has passed, and how different the world is now.

So join us, won’t you? Subscribe at the usual locations — Apple PodcastsGoogle PlaySpotify — or download the episode directly from the web and listen to it while you stand around Vienna waiting for that special person to turn up.

And then go catch up on your Shiny Things reading, because I wrote about the latest physical releases of the streaming series WandaVision, The Mandalorian and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, and the new 4K restorations of The Color Purple, Point Break and Titanic, because Spielberg, Bigelow and Cameron will not be ignored. If you’re not a subscriber maybe get on that? The free two-week trial is still going, and I have heard 2000-word newsletters about physical media make great Christmas presents. Just saying,

My other other gig.