Tag Archives: Tom Hardy

Venom

I did not want to expect too much of Venom, not after the debacle that was Spider-Man 3.  Thankfully, Tom Hardy is not Topher Grace, and because of him, Venom is not Spider-Man 3.  But Hardy can only do so much, so Venom is also no Spider-Man: Homecoming.  It falls somewhere in the middle, which is far more than I could have expected given Sony’s dismal Spider-Man output since 2004’s Spider-Man 2 (worth noting: the only credit I give Sony for Homecoming’s goodness is that they wisely let Marvel drive that bus).venom-4-700x350

Hardy plays Eddie Brock, a disgraced reporter who gets infected with an alien parasite (a “symbiote”) while investigating Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) and his evil Life Foundation.  As Brock learns how to use his new powers while linked to the symbiote, he has to work with his ex-fiancée (Michelle Williams) to save the human race from both the symbiote and Drake’s evil plan for world domination.

This film depicts the origin of Venom in a very peculiar way.  That is, Venom’s creation does not involve Peter Parker or Spider-Man in any way, which is completely opposite to the cVenom_0omic book roots of the character as a human and alien united by their hate of Spidey.

Do  I really care?  Only in that I missed the Spider-Man logo on Venom’s comic-book costume.  Otherwise, movie Venom, and especially movie Eddie Brock is far more interesting than his comic book counterpart (at least in his original form as I’m not going to get into discussing the other comic book versions of Venom, such as space-faring Flash Thompson who ended up a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy).  It’s a credit to Hardy and movie Venom’s clear inner conflict that this Venom can stand on his own as San Francisco’s vigilante protector rather than being a one-note Spider-Man wanna-be. He’s an interesting character trapped in a fairly generic comic-book movie.  Venom is a fun adventure because of the interplay between Hardy and the symbiote, and that elevates this film above Sony’s other recent Spider-Man efforts.

The problem Sony faces (again) is that they’ve planned a whole shared universe around a film before it came out (as they did with Amazing Spider-Man 2), and just like with ASM2, Venom isn’t a strong enough movie to support its own cinematic universe.  The silver lining this time is that since Tom Holland’s Spider-Man wasn’t involved in Venom, there’s no need to reboot his Spidey if Sony modifies their reported plans for a five-film series that (spoiler alert for a disappointing mid-credit scene) will include Woody Harrelson as Venom-offshoot Carnage.  All of which might be just as okay as Venom but shouldn’t I be more excited than just “okay” coming out of movie number one?

By the way, (another spoiler) even though the Carnage cameo is disappointing, it’s still worth sticking around to the very end as there’s a teaser for the upcoming animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and it looks fantastic.  Between that and 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home, Spider-Man fans are still doing quite well, even if Venom isn’t the franchise-starter Sony was hoping for.

Advertisements

Dunkirk

We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

-Winston Churchill, June 1940

Has anyone ever been better than Winston Churchill at giving motivational speeches?  He had a way of rising to the occasion and here, the stakes had never been higher.   This speech was given immediately after the British and their Allies had been run out of France by the invading Germans.  Victory over the Nazis was not on the horizokinopoisk.run and must have seemed impossible at the time.  That’s more or less what Churchill said, after all: he is not describing a plan to win.  He is describing a last-ditch effort to survive when the Nazis try to conquer Britain after they finish in France, and a cry for help to the New World to save the day in that bleak scenario (Canada was, of course, already part of the Allied forces at the time, but the U.S. would not be until Pearl Harbor).

The devastating outcome of the Battle of Dunkirk gave good reason for Churchill’s pessimism.  It is a fascinating historical event because it was a loss that could well have broken the Allies, but instead, it galvanized them, particularly in the way that the British survived: hundreds of civilian vessels sailed from Britain to France to help rescue over 300,000 Allied soldiers from the Nazis.

Time and time again, Christopher Nolan has proven himself to be as adept a director as Churchill was a speaker.  Tonally, Nolan’s Dunkirk captures what must have been the prevailing mood on the ground, at sea, and in the air as the Battle of Dunkirk was fought.  Nolan makes an inspired structural choice by intertwining three different stories over three different time periods, and as only Nolan can do, effectively explains a complex structure using only three small titlecards at the very beginning.  Dunkirk is reminiscent of The Prestige in that way – in both, Nolan always provides enough cues so the viewer knows exactly where a particular scene fits into the overall timeline and story, even as he tells the story in a complex, non-linear fashion.

With Dunkirk, Nolan has outdone himself.   Given how consistently great he has been throughout his career, it is incredible to think that he has gotten better, but that is clearly the case.  Dunkirk is absolutely masterful filmmaking from start to finish.  Above all else, Nolan’s film captures the essence of Dunkirk and gives us a true sense of the anguish of war, the desire to survive, and the fear of the unknown that soldiers must deal with constantly.  In particular, I am reminded of the scenes featuring Tom Hardy’s RAF pilot, all of which inserted me into the battle and truly made me feel how claustrophobic a Spitfire’s cramped cockpit would be, and how difficult it would be to spot, identify, and track an enemy fighter, let alone shoot it down.

For the viewer, this is a vital, visceral, and draining experience.  Dunkirk is a 106 minute movie that feels like it’s four hours long (which Nolan would take as a high praise, I think, if he ever read this review).  From start to finish, it is tense, it is devastating, it is awful and it is brilliant.  Dunkirk is filmmaking at its finest and a fitting tribute to one of the defining events of the 20th century.

 

 

Oscar Nominations 2016

Matt and I are super excited to present this year’s list of Oscar Nominees. I’m still recovering from back surgery but between a special little seat cushion and some good drugs, I think we’re down for some good discussion. Please join in the comments!

73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals

I thought Brie Larson looked beautiful in gold at The Golden Globes – kind of like an Oscar statuette. I know she’s down for a nomination today. Who else are we feeling good about?

Best Picture:

Best Directing:

  • Adam McKay, The Big Short
  • George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Alejandro G. Inarritu, The Revenant
  • Lenny Abrahamson, Room
  • Tom McCarthy, Spotlight

Best Actress in a Lead Role:

  • Cate Blanchett, Carol
  • Brie Larson, Room
  • Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
  • Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
  • Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Best Actor in a Lead Role:

Actor in a Supporting Role:

  • Christian Bale, The Big Short
  • Sylvester Stallone, Creed
  • Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
  • Tom Hardy, The Revenant
  • Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
  • Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
  • Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
  • Rooney Mara, Carol
  • Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Best Animated Feature Film

Cinematography:

  • Carol (Edward Lachman)
  • The Hateful Eight (Robert Richardson)
  • Mad Max: Fury Road (John Seale)
  • The Revenant (Emmanuel Lubezki)
  • Sicario (Roger Deakins)

Costume Design:

  • Carol
  • The Danish Girl
  • Cinderella
  • The Revenant
  • Mad Max: Fury Road

Documentary Feature

  • Amy
  • Cartel Land
  • What Happened, Miss Simone?
  • Winter On Fire: Ukraine: Fight For Freedom
  • The Look of Silence

Film Editing:

Foreign Language Film:

  • A War
  • Son of Saul
  • Embrace of the Serpent
  • Theeb
  • Mustang

Makeup & Hair Styling:

  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out A Window and Disappeared
  • The Revenant

Music, Original Song

Original Score:

  • Bridge of Spies (Thomas Newman)
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens (John Williams)
  • Carol (Carter Burwell)
  • The Hateful Eight (Ennio Morricone)
  • Sicario (Johann Johannson)

Production Design:

  • Bridge of Spies
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Danish Girl
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant

Sound Editing:

  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Sicario
  • Star Wars: The Forst Awakens
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant

Sound Mixing:

  • Bridge of Spies
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant

Visual Effects:

  • Ex Machina
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant

Writing, Adapted Screenplay

  • Brooklyn, Nick Hornby
  • Carol, Phyllis Nagy
  • Room, Emma Donoghue
  • The Big Short, Charles Randolph & Adam McKay
  • The Martian, Drew Goddard

Writing, Original Screenplay

  • Bridge of Spies, Matt Charman & Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
  • Ex Machina, Alex Garland
  • Inside Out, Pete Doctor & Meg LeFauve & Josh Cooley
  • Spotlight, Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy
  • Straight Outta Compton, Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff, S. Leigh Savidge, and Alan Wenkus

Best Documentary Short Subject

  • Body Team 12
  • Chau, Beyond the Lines
  • Claude Lanzmann: Spctres of Shoah
  • A Girl in the River Last Day of Freedom

Best Live Action Short

  • Ave Maria
  • Day One
  • Everything Will Be Okay
  • Shok Stutterer

Best Animated Short

  • Bear Story
  • Prologue
  • Sanjay’s Super Team
  • We Can’t Live Without Cosmos
  • World of Tomorrow

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Revenant

Jay: Zohmyfucking god have I ever been waiting a long time to see this movie.

Sean: It’s been a very long wait.  This has been one I’ve been looking forward to all year, and the wait has increased my expectations, which were already sky-high!

Jay: The premise of this movie is pretty simple: a bunch of frontiersmen are out in the frigid north, hunting pelts. Native Americans attack. Everyone flees behind Hugh Glass (Leo), The Guy Who Knows The Land. 2FA41A5E00000578-0-image-a-1_1451264937734Except Glass gets half-eaten by a bear. So then the men have a difficult choice to make: carry a stretcher over torturous, snowy terrain but retain their navigator (when he’s conscious), or put him out of his misery, lighten their load, but risk getting lost or wandering straight into enemy territory. Glass’s son is understandably on #TeamGlass but John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) is more #TeamFuckHim. But don’t underestimate DiCaprio: he’ll get his revenge, even if has to crawl on broken legs and light his own neck on fire to do it.

Sean: I was on my own team: #TeamHolyShitThisIsAwesome!  And I was all in.

Jay: This movie is balls-to-the-wall intense. It’s so relentlessly brutal, for more than two and a half hours, that it wasn’t until the 3 hour mark that I began to ask myself if it was good.

Sean: The momentum of The Revenant is absolutely unstoppable.  It sweeps you up in its frenzy so that you don’t even get to think “big picture” until it’s over.  It’s like a bear attack that way!

Jay: Well I can tell you right now: it’s beautiful. Stupid gorgeous. The vistas that they found in both Alberta and British Columbia are worth the crappy, harsh conditions the crew endured for the shoot. And these sweeping, stunning backdrops are a genius juxtaposition to the utter bleakness that is going on for the characters. It’s like heaven and hell on the screen at the same time.

Sean: I was struck by the beauty of the vistas as well and felt the same way as you did about them.  They provide such a wonderful contrast between the bleakness facing Leo in his journey from worse, to even worse, to absolute hell.  There was a quiet and peace about the wilderness that restores us, paces us, and upon reflection, ties into Leo’s story more than I realized at first glance.  Is this peace and calm perhaps coming from Leo’s soulmate?  At any rate, there’s something spiritual about the connection between the land and our protagonist, and I am still trying to unpack all that we saw.  It all felt so god damned meaningful and important.

Jay: Whoa. Did you just italicize meaningful and important? This from the guy who dumped on Star Wars but praised Will Farrell’s new movie Daddy’s Home? Anyway. Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki decided to shoot this movie entirely in natural light, which sometimes results in a picture dripping in golden sunshine, other times awash in the stark reflection of sun on snow, sometimes just a very small flame casting shadows on Leo’s busted face. It was a bold decision that meant very short shooting days (the sun takes forever to rise and sets so damn early during our Canadian winters) and an extended shooting schedule that forced Tom Hardy to lose out on Suicide Squad, and it caused Inarritu to forfeit film and shoot on digital since the former just couldn’t handle dim lighting. But it was worth it. Lubezki has won back to back Oscars for his work (Gravity, Birdman): can he threepeat? Can he not? This movie’s just soaked in glorious authenticity that made it difficult for me to breathe for 156 long minutes. It’s striking to me how different those three movies are from each other – Gravity, Birdman, The Revenant – and what flexibility and mastery Lubezki must have to have painted each world so beautifully and precisely.

Sean: The differences between this and Birdman were on my mind as well.  This is not the movie I expected and it’s a completely different feel than either Gravity or Birdman.  It’s night and day.  The imagery in all three is incredible and what is most amazing to me is that these are not at all similar – they are each their own masterpiece.  Inarritu gives us something new, again, and I wasn’t expecting that he could possibly be capable of that.  I may not have connected with Birdman as much as you did, but it was such a unique piece of filmmaking that I did not think Inarritu would be able to come back with something that feels this fresh and unique.

Jay: Well I do remember us fighting about Birdman last year (I guess Star Wars is this year’s Birdman) but at any rate I’m glad we both fell in love with this one. It’s so awkward when we don’t.

Inarritu’s direction is amazing. From the very first attack scene (that makes the first 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan feel like a pillow fight), the camera swirls around the way a panicked eye would, taking in surroundings choppily, and a little too quickly. It ratchets up the anxiety in us: where is the danger? Where’s in coming from? Where is safety? Where is the enemy? How do we get out? The wide lenses make this shit immersive, so like it or not, you’re getting dragged into the fray (and thank you, Inarritu, for not making me wear 3D glasses to get this effect). But the camera can also be quite intimate: sometimes just Leo’s anguished face, the hand-held camera so close it gets condensation from his breath. But it’s this intimacy which also makes the movie’s craziest scene, the bear attack, its most interesting, and its most ballsy. Our mind knows we should never be this close to a bear, and definitely not a bear as angry as this one. We see Leo’s blood on her teeth and how many inches of claw get sunk into his flesh. Both of them are sweating. The three of us are sweating! It’s the most brutal thing, unrelenting thing I’ve seen in a long time and I couldn’t look away (warning: the audio alone is nightmare-inducing).

Sean: When we are dragged into this world, we see and feel the terror that the characters are dealing with.  The Revenant is such a visceral experience from beginning to end.  The camera work sucks the viewer in so much I was short of breath at times.  The bear attack in particular is just spectacular in its intimacy.  You are right there with Leo, you are shouting at him to stay down.  Literally, Jay, you were shouting!  And how could you not when it feels so real?

Jay: Yes, I was shouting. Sorry, Ottawa. But seriously, Leo should learn to take my advice. Remember that, Sean: I was right. But let’s talk about what really matters: will Cinderella finally find her glass slipper? Leo’s been invited to the ball 5 times, but has never taken home a statue come Oscar night. Will this finally be his year? Leo’s as ferocious as the bear, and maybe more so, in this role. He’s committed, and you can see it in his darting bloodshot eyes and his flaking, chapped lips. I can’t shut out Tom Hardy, because he’s stellar also; reunited again since appearing in Inception, Leo begged and convinced Hardy to take the role and though they may be friends and respect each other as colleagues in real life, in this movie there is a fascinating hatred between them that reminded me of Leo and Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York. Hardy looks dodgy and cornered every bit of the way. But this is undeniably Leo’s film – it’s his bloody trail we’re following. Since he takes a bear to the throat early on in the film, a good portion of the film is nearly dialogue-free, just grunts and bellows and silent agony. It’s unlike anything you’ve seen before from him (and I’m not even talking about the bear rape rumour). If he gets the Oscar, it won’t be a “sorry we missed you last time” make-up award, it’ll be legit. He’s earning it on every frame.

Sean: Leo has to get the Oscar.  HAS TO.  He’s masterful.  He doesn’t even need words here.  Tom Hardy better be nominated for supporting actor as well.  Give him something!  He’s had an incredible year and he’s another guy who is so versatile, so absorbed in this role that I would not have recognized him unless I was looking for him.  He’s a force of nature in this movie.  Both of them are and the anticipation of their final showdown builds to a point where it can’t possibly live up to what you are expecting, and then it does!

Jay: Did I love this movie? Yes I did. Did I nearly die from a heart attack watching it? Yes I did. Is it perfect? No it is not.

Sean: The Revenant isn’t perfect but it’s so forceful and committed, I didn’t care.  I still don’t.  It exceeded my expectations, I loved every minute and I’m still trying to digest it all.  It’s such a tough movie to take but I think that’s what I liked best about it.

Jay: You interrupted me, dear. I wasn’t finished. I think the problem that I had with the movie is that it was straight revenge saga. And I get that this is the wild, wild west where punishment is doled out swiftly, savagely, without the law or due process. But Glass was a husband and a father and something of maverick. Was there really nothing to him but revenge lust? Actually, Inarritu’s attempt at spirituality, if I may call it that, with the ghostly visitations and whatnot, was my least favourite part. The movie is so grounded and real that those apparitions felt jarring and unnecessary.

But that’s in retrospect. And you’ll need retrospect up the wazoo in order to come to terms with the movie. While watching, you’re just holding on for dear life, and all that desperate grasping for survival on-screen makes your life seem all the more dear when it’s over.

“Pew, made it!” I said as the credits rolled.

“Who did?” Sean asked.

“I did!” I said. Yes, I did.

TIFF 2015: One Last Push

The last weekend of TIFF held a lot of first-rate movies for us.

kateThe Dressmaker: Kate Winslet is ravishing and saucy is this film about a little girl who’s sent away from small-town Australia when she kills another child, and returns years later a sophisticated, fashionable woman able to transform the townspeople with her Singer and some satin, but not erase their memories. Her past is a shadow never escaped. It reminded me in some ways of Hot Fuzz – the facade of a close-knit town spoiled by the spectre of evil. The title may sound prim and proper, but the movie’s just a little bit naughtier, and helluva lot quirkier. Even Sean enjoyed it liammore than he thought he would; the movie’s sheer audacity earning quite a few laughs. It’s dark, and with theme shifts from elder care to bedding a younger lover, this movie doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. Not that that stopped me from thoroughly enjoying it. Winslet and Judy Davis as her demented mother give really strong, badass performances.

 
 

The Danish Girl: Both timely and timeless, this one’s a stunner in many ways. Eddie Redmayne’s performance is a show-stopper. Alicia Vikander proves she’s not just a flash in the pan. And my god it’s gorgeous to watch. So lush. A real artist’s palette. As you know, this movie is about one of world’s first sexual reassignment surgeries; painter Einar Wegener always knew he was different, but when he dons panty hose to sit 40th Toronto International Film Festivaland pose for his wife (also a painter), Miss Lili Elbe emerges and can’t be denied. This movie is restrained and delicate – and maybe a little too tepid, considering its thematic content. But it definitely worked for me on a more personal level. What is it like when the man you love tells you he’s really a woman? And what happens when you still love this woman, but she wants to leave her past behind? It’s anguishing watching them try to redefine their lives, and their selves. Redmayne will of course get another Best Actor nod (but will he win and join Spencer Tracy and Tom Hanks in back-to-back Oscars?) but I won’t be surprised if Vikander is recognized too. The Danish Girl ends up being as much her story as Lili’s. It’s not bold, it’s not daring, and it’s not a masterpiece. But it is a triumph.

 
 

Anomalisa: Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson make a surprisingly exceptional pairing. Together they direct tjjlhe most invigorating piece of film I’ve seen in a long time. The script is amazing. It’s funny and smart from start to finish. The stop-motion animation is also first-rate and very distinguished. There’s nothing like it out there. How can something so banal be so funny? It’s the perfect examination of human connection, and this will stand up there with Kaufman’s best. Weird? Of course it’s weird, that best kind of brain-tickling, truthful weird. But the genius is in the pairing – for every nuance offered by Kaufman, Johnson answers with a brilliant piece of animation: the earbuds, the car air fresheCharlie-Kaufman-anomlisaner, the lobby flower arrangement, the miniature hotel room hair dryer. I always adore stop-motion animation because this physical recreation of an entire world always seems to show so much care and precision from the animators. Anomalisa is a marvel to look at and think over, and if you love Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Being John Malkovich, then this one’s unmissable.

 
 

Legend: The legend worth noting here is Tom Hardy himself – twice. He plays real-life gangster twins, Reggie and Ronnie Kray. And he manages to make these men who look so much alike feel like complete individuals. And the camera tricks that make Tom Hardy able to punch himself in the face are super cool. YTom Hardyou can’t take your eyes off him, no matter who he’s playing. The movie, though, wasn’t my favourite. It’s exceedingly gory and gleefully bloodthirsty in some parts, and then suddenly you’ve got supercheesy 1960s pop Going To the Chapel blaring like this is some throwback romcom. There’s an annoying narration, I think to cover up some of the holes in the story, but at any rate, it doesn’t work. This movie feels as schizophrenic as poor Ronnie is claimed to be, and while it’s still worth checking out for Hardy alone, it’s best to lower your expectations a bit.

 
 

Lolo: I love Julie Delpy. I love how she writes such witty, talky women. It’s like hanging out with your girlfriends: snappy, snarky, sharp. This movie is about a 45 year old Parisienne, Violette (Delpy) and how she falls in love with “country bumpkin” (Dany Boon). This might have been a smart and sexy meloloditation on middle-aged coupledom but instead it falls apart when Violette’s millennial son Lolo is introduced. You’ll want to punch this kid in the face, especially as he lounges around in his hipster underpants one too many times. He’s jealous of mommy’s new lover, and resorts to all kinds of low-brow, stale antics to drive them apart. Delpy is better than this. If she had made a movie with just the new lover and her best friend, my god, that would have been a power house. She didn’t need this juvenile intervention, and it’s not her strength as a writer nor as a director. I still enjoyed her bawdy sense of humour and breezy manner, but it wasn’t quite the film I’d hoped it would be.

TIFF: The Agony and the Ecstacy

Matt wrote last week about the choices he made for his viewing pleasure (and hopefully your reading one) at the Toronto International Film Festival, slated to open with a bang (or rather, a star-studded screening of Demolition) on September 10.

I  held mine back because the truth is, the TIFF selection process was not a fun one for me. TIFF  has weird rules where it takes your money and then weeks later gives you a “randomly” selected window of just 60 minutes for making your choices – I’m seeing maybe 20 movies out of over 430, by my count, so that’s an awful lot of frantic sifting, choosing, replacing, and scheduling to do in just 60 minutes. It goes without saying that I was “randomly” selected to choose more than 24 hours later than Matt, which meant that a lot of my first, second, and third choices were “off-sale”. Off-sale doesn’t mean sold out, it means that they’re holding some tickets back for when they go on sale to the general public. And nothing against the general public, but I paid my oodles of money, I’m travelling in from out of town, and I don’t think it’s very nice or very fair to force me (since I’ve prepaid for tickets) to see movies that aren’t selling as well, when someone who pays a nominal $25 on the day of will have better luck than me.

I’ll stop my belly-aching now. We’re still pretty lucky to be going at all and I know that. So, without further whining about first world problems, my TIFF picks:

Demolition: I’m actually going to see this one with both Matt and Sean, so it’s a rarity, and I’m not only looking forward to seeing what director Jean-Marc Vallée can squeeze out of Jake Gyllenhaal, I also can’t wait to discuss it with my favourite movie-going friends.

The Lobster: This one is quirky as hell and right up my alley, and I never thought I’d be saying that about a Colin Farrell movie. Newly heartbroken, he checks into a hotel where he’s under the gun to find a mate within a super tight time period – or risk being turned into an animal and put out to pasture? It sounds more like a child’s drawing than a movie, but there you have it.

Eye in the Sky: We ‘re doing the red-carpet treatment of this one on Friday night, and Dame Helen Mirren is confirmed to attend. She’s looking less glamorous in the still from this movie, playing a Colonel who’s spent a long time tracking down a radicalized citizen who must be stopped. But when drone operator Aaron Paul reports that a small child has wandered into the kill zone, the team has to decide whether the casualty of this little girl is acceptable collateral damage. Yowza!

The Martian: You may know that I have been frothing about this movie for months now. I luuuurved the book and passed it along to all of my literate friends but then waved a flag of skepticism when I heard that a) it’s directed by Ridley Scott b) it’s a reteaming of Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain, lately seen together in Interstellar. But I hope hope HOPE that they “science the hell” out of this thing and blow my fucking socks off.

The Danish Girl: Eddie Redmayne is almost certainly in the running for a second Oscar for his portrayal of Lili Elbe, the 1920s Danish artist who was one of the first known recipients of sexual reassignment surgery. The trailer alone looks so lush that I’m drooping to see it – which is fortunate, because TIFF stuck me with TWO pairs of tickets to this. Woops! Anyone know someone who’s looking for a pair?

Freeheld: We’re seeing this one on flashy premiere night as well and will see both Julianne Moore and Ellen Page walk the red carpet. They star as a real-life couple from New Jersey who just want Moore’s pension to go to Page when Moore passes away. It was a huge case for LGBT rights and I’m betting that both of these ladies really bring it.

The Dressmaker: Funny story. I read this book recently, in anticipation of this movie. And I really, really liked it. Only: it’s about a young dressmaker who survives the sinking of the Titanic thanks to her wealthy employer. Knowing that Kate Winslet was set to star, I was shocked that she’d choose to go back to Titanic in this way. I mean, if anyone can put it off, it’s Winslet, but still. The more I read, the more I thought maybe she’s not playing the dressmaker, maybe she’s playing the plucky journalist. I still couldn’t believe the press wasn’t making a bigger deal out of this, but it wasn’t until I finished the book that I realized that I’d read the wrong Dressmaker. Same title, different author. Oopsie daisy again. But I’m confident this one’s good too, and it’s Kate Winslet, so we’re almost guaranteed to see boob.

Into the Forest: Here’s a movie that looks so familiar to me in the trailer that I believe I have read the book. I do not know for sure that it’s based on a book and I’m not looking it up. This way even I’ll be surprised (or, REALLY surprised!). Evan Rachel Wood and Ellen Page star as sisters who live in a remote cabin in the woods. The world is on the verge of the apocalypse and their location keeps them safe, but also leaves them vulnerable…

Anomalisa: This is the Charlie Kaufman-directed stop-motion animated ode to a motivational speaker and his bleak existence. I have no idea what to expect from it and that’s why I’m so crazy excited. It could go a lot of ways but no matter what, I do believe I’ll be seeing something special.

About Ray: Have you ever attended a red carpet event in the middle of the afternoon? Me neither! TIFF is so jam-packed with gliterry premieres that it starts packing them in at odd times just to get through them all. I’m tickled we got tickets to this (hard won, believe me) and I’m anxious to see if it’s as good as it looks, and if this and The Danish Girl will cancel each other out (though this one is also about a gender transition, it’s set in modern day, with Elle Fanning as the young woman who wants to be a young man, Naomi Watts as her mother, and Susan Sarandon as her mother.

Miss You Already: This might be a little too chick-flicky to be regular festival fare, but it’s Toni Collette so say what you want, but my ass will be in that seat at the ungodly hour of 8:45 in the goddamned morning. Toni and Drew Barrymore play lifelong friends whose friendship hits a bit of a roadbump when one discovers she’s pregnant just as the other gets a cancer diagnosis. Note to Sean: bring tissues, or an extra-absorbent shirt.

Maggie’s Plan: Starring the delightful Greta Gerwig, Maggie’s plan to have a baby on her own is derailed when she falls in love with a married man (Ethan Hawke) and destroys his relationship with his brilliant wife (Julianne Moore). I like Gerwig a whole lot but to be honest, I’m really wondering how this dynamic is going to work – and I’m super intrigued to find out how Bill Hader fits into the mix. Julianne Moore is going to be one busy lady at this festival!

The Family Fang: Directed by and starring Jason Bateman, he plays a brother to Nicole Kidman, both returning to the family home in search of their super-famous parents who seem to have disappeared. Jason Bateman is a little hit or miss for me but I committed on the off chance that the man playing his father – legendary Christopher MotherFucking Walken – might be in attendance. He’s not slated as far as I can tell, but I’d kick myself right in the sitter if he was and I wasn’t.

Legend: Tom Hardy plays real-life English gangsters. Yes, plural: the Kray twins. This dual role is getting a lot of buzz and since I seem to be mesmerized by Hardy in nearly everything he does, I’m super excited to check this one out.

 

Biggest TIFF regret: Missing Room. We’ll be back and forth between Ottawa and Toronto, but this particular movie only plays twice during the whole festival, and neither screening is on a day I’m there. I loved this book and am anxious to see the movie treatment. Good or bad, I want to pass judgement. I want to feast my little eyes. I am heartbroken to miss this one.

Two questions:

  1. We still have some tickets to alocate. Any suggestions?
  2. If you were in The Lobster hotel and failed to find a mate – what animal would you be turned into. Me? An otter. Definitely an otter.

We’ll be posting updates as we go, and be sure to check out our Twitter @assholemovies for photos of the red carpet premieres!

 

Bronson

03_bronson_blu-rayTom Hardy portrays England’s most notorious prisoner in a film that, through theatrical fictionalization, becomes an indictment of celebrity culture and a tribute to the cult of personality.

A young man named Michael Peterson robs a post office and ends up serving three decades in solitary confinement. How does this come to pass? Well it turns out that in prison, Peterson adopts a survival mechanism we in the business call “being a truly awful person.” He relishes his bad reputation and works at it, actively.

He fights prisoners and guards equally, Hardy often seen “lubing up” with war paint, aka, butter. A real problem prisoner, he’s sent to serve out his sentence, now doubled, in segregation. Upon his release, he takes up bare-knuckled boxing and a pseudonym more suitable to his ultra-violent alter-ego: Charles Bronson is born (again). A mere 69 days later, he’s back in prison and worse than ever, instigating some pretty crazy hostage situations if the movie can be believed.

The film does an interesting thing where it has these asides where Hardy appears to be in a one-man Broadway show, painted into the various characters we’re introduced to, proud as a 06_bronson_blu-raypeacock to show off his many crimes, his escalating violence (in reality, he is still imprisoned to this day). The surreal soliloquies are little bites peppered among a buffet of horrid reality. It reminded me of a freak show, though I suppose that’s the message colouring the medium (or was it the strongman’s physique, or the ringmaster’s mustache?) I wasn’t always sure what to make of it and felt it was probably a bit overstylized, but if nothing else it is trying to be genre-defying, and it is.

The film makes no excuses for inexcusable behaviour, which is fortunate, but still manages to leave some upset in its wake – that old art vs exploitation theme snakes its way into this movie, and it’s hard to shake. But it is firm in one respect: whatever the spectacle, Tom Hardy is undoubtedly the star.

 

 

___

On a related note, the real prisoner Charles Bronson was transferred to Parkhurst in 1976 after trying to poison the guy in the cell next to him. At his new facility, he met the Kray twins, who would become his lifelong friends – “the best two guys I ever met” (not actual good guys, of course, they were England’s mafia). Tom Hardy is about to portray both Kray twins in the movie Legend, set to screen next month at TIFF.