Three audience members get ambushed by Alexis Honce with a purse intervention; Five steps to glowing skin; Actress Malin Akerman on season two of “Billions”; Malin cooks sweet potato burgers with Chef Rodney Bowers; Must-see films before the Oscars.
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Paterson, the new movie from director Jim Jarmusch is a week in the life of Paterson, the man and the place.
Adam Driver plays Paterson, a poetry writing New Jersey bus driver from Paterson, New Jersey. He lives with Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), a dreamer who wants to open a cupcake shop and make them rich and their dog Marvin.
Paterson is a wonderfully leisurely movie. There are small conflicts sprinkled throughout, a bus breaks down and lovers quarrel, but Paterson isn’t about that. It’s about gentle, loving performances from Driver and Farahani and the beauty of overheard conversations and the day-to-day of regular life.
After the success of Star Wars and everything else you’ve been in recently, you must get offered every script out there. Why choose this one?
Jim [Jarmusch]. It’s a director’s medium so if I get lucky enough to work with great directors, that’s the only thing as far as a game plan I have. I have gotten to do that with really great people and it feels good. I’m lucky in that I get to choose things now, but choose things from what I’m offered. The scale doesn’t matter.
So it doesn’t matter whether you’re shooting for twenty days or you’re gone for six months? Is it just the love of acting?
Yes. It’s a very strange job. It seems you get to do your job twenty percent of the time and then you talk about it forever. For me the doing of it is the best. The things surrounding it don’t matter. Trailers, money, they don’t matter if you get to work with really great people. Then hopefully what you’re making is bigger than any one person and it feels relevant, as much as you can attach meaning to your job. The love of collaborating with people who are on the same page and want to make the best version of it is really exciting.
I think you can attach meaning. Movies like this are worth talking about…
I don’t like to say what meaning I attach to my work. Half of the experience of watching a play or something in a movie theatre is that everyone is coming from somewhere else. No one lives inside the movie theatre. They’re bring all their baggage and if they’re coming there not ready to be affected then they probably won’t be affected. But whatever meaning they pick out of the movie, that means something to them or doesn’t mean anything to them, is completely subjective.
A movie like Paterson is a beautiful slice of life but it is probably going to speak to the audience that will be very different from say, Suicide Squad, but Paterson isn’t going to make $165 million in its opening weekend.
But for me that makes it valid and interesting.
Really great movies have a longer shelf life. You come back to them later and find new things in them. So many times, and this is so obvious, you watch a movie and you’re not ready for it and you come back to it later because you’re a different person and suddenly it speaks to you in a different way. When they are well crafted they have that shelf life whereas a lot of things are made for one weekend.
The title “Hidden Figures” has a double meaning, On one hand it refers to the mathematical calculations that went in to making John Glenn the first American man into space in 1962. On the other hand it describes Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, three African-American NASA mathematicians who did many of those calculations. “They let women do things at NASA,” says Johnson, “and it’s not because we wear skirts, it’s because we wear glasses.”
Taraji P. Henson is Katherine Johnson, a math prodigy who can, “look beyond the numbers.” At the beginning of 1961 she, and her two car pool pals, mathematician Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and aerospace engineer Jackson (Janelle Monáe), were working in the segregated West Area Computers division of Langley Research Center.
With just weeks before the launch each are singled out. Johnson’s genius with analytic geometry lands her a spot with the Space Task Group to calculate launches and landings. Vaughn takes over the programming of the new IMB computer and Jackson works with on the Mercury capsule prototype.
Each face hurdles do to their race. When Johnson first walks into her new, shared workspace, one of the men hands her an overflowing garbage can. “This wasn’t emptied last night.” Personnel supervisor Mrs. Mitchell (Kirsten Dunst) thinks Vaughan is too aggressive in her requests for a supervisor’s position and Jackson, despite her degree, is told she can only become a NASA qualified engineer if she attends classes at a local, segregated high school. “Every time we have a chance to get ahead,” Jackson says, “ they move the finish line.”
The film focuses on Johnson but by the time the end credits roll all three have risen above the societal challenges placed on them to make invaluable contributions to the NASA space program.
“Hidden Figures” is a feel good, crowd pleaser of a movie. Based on true events, it portrays an upbeat version of the past. It’s set in the same time frame as “Loving,” Jeff Nichols’ recent look at the legalization of interracial marriage, but values broad moments over Nichols’ more nuanced approach. A blend of history and uplift it is occasionally a bit too on the money—“We are living the impossible,” says Jackson’s boss Karl Zielinski (Olek Krupa)—but engages with its subject and characters in an entertaining and heartfelt way.
Henson is the movie’s center and soul. Even when she slips into slapstick while doing extended runs to the “Coloured Bathroom” in a building located blocks away from her office. Those scenes are played for comedy but make an important point about the treatment of African American people in a less enlightened time.
Monáe is a feisty presence and Spencer brings a hard-earned dignity to Vaughan. In the supporting category Kevin Costner does nice, effortless work as Al Harrison, head of the Space Task Group.
“Hidden Figures” details a little known but vitally important part of American history. It’s a good-hearted look at a time of great change both in the macro—American cultural shifts in the space race and in terms of race—and in the micro universe of how African American women made their mark at NASA.
Few sports teams have fans as enthusiastic as those who enjoy, nay, worship Glasgow’s Celtic Football Club. “Celtic Soul,” a new documentary from director Michael McNamara, showcases two soccer supporters as they travel two continents and three countries to make it to see a match in paradise a.k.a. Celtic Park.
“Goon” star Jay Baruchel and sports broadcaster Eoin O’Callaghan began the journey as twitter friends. After two years of chatting 140 characters at a time the pair became friends when O’Callaghan came to Montreal to visit the actor. That turned into the first leg of a journey that would take them from Quebec’s Bell Centre, home ice of the Canadiens, to Dublin’s Croke Park, one of Europe’s largest sports stadiums where they try hurling, a forerunner to hockey.
They will go on to travel across country to Cairnryan, Scotland making their way to Glasgow, home town of the Celtic FC, but first they stop off at Westport, County Mayo to trace Baruchel’s Irish roots.
“Celtic Soul” is, in its soul, a buddy movie. Like all good sports movies it isn’t really about the sport, it’s about a more universal truth. It’s about the where the sport came from, what it means to its fans and why it is part of the fabric of people’s lives. Baruchel and O’Callaghan are welcoming hosts whose infectious enthusiasm gives the documentary the giddy feel of a really good home travel movie. Natural and unaffected, they invite the viewer in, whether they’re a footy fan or not.
This weekend professor of religious iconology and symbology Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) returns to theatres in Inferno, the third movie in the Da Vinci Code franchise.
In 2006 the fictional Harvard prof made his big screen debut, uncovering the complicated personal life of Jesus Christ in The Da Vinci Code. Three years later he used his knowledge of symbology to unravel the mystery of a secret brotherhood called the Illuminati and thwart a terrorist act against the Vatican.
In between those two movies I received dozens of outraged emails, long tracts regarding Dan Brown’s books, the up-coming movie, The Illuminati and the veracity of the stories.
In response to the anxious folks who contacted me, concerned the film, which had not been released yet, would be a dangerous piece of anti-Catholic propaganda, I wrote a forward to my Angels and Demons review, pointing letter writers toward the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano. They described Angels and Demons as “harmless entertainment which hardly affects the genius and mystery of Christianity.” Their review noted it is filled with historical inaccuracies but went on to suggest that one could make a game of pointing out all of the film’s historical mistakes.
In other words, don’t take it seriously and you’ll have a good time. Despite the Vatican newspaper’s warm embrace, the film still ignited a firestorm of criticism from people upset about the story’s alleged anti-Catholic sentiments, “malicious myths” and churches being associated with scenes of murder.
Inferno sidesteps religious controversy with a tale of a deadly virus that threatens all of humanity, but cinema and religion have often made for uncomfortable pairings.
In 1999 the Catholic League denounced Dogma’s tale of two fallen angels (Ben Affleck and Matt Damon) trying to get back into heaven as “blasphemy.” More recently uproar erupted over Darren Aronofsky’s unorthodox take on the story of Noah. Jerry Johnson, president of the National Religious Broadcasters, loudly objected to the film’s “insertion of the extremist environmental agenda.”
Perhaps the most controversial religious film ever was The Devils, based on Aldous Huxley’s nonfiction book The Devils of Loudun. Years before Ken Russell made the movie, a filmmaker approached Huxley wanting to turn the story of a radical 17th century French Catholic priest accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake, into a film. Huxley said, ‘Don’t do it. Don’t make a movie out of this.’ He thought there was no way the story could be presented in an entertaining way without short-circuiting people’s minds. Turns out maybe he was right.
Forty-five years after its release Russell’s film is little seen but much talked about. Banned, censored and still unavailable in its complete form on Blu-Ray, the movie’s graphic church orgy offended many—and was cut to pieces and removed by censors—but it’s more than shock and titillation. It’s a film that makes a serious statement about the struggle between church and state but does so in an entertaining and provocative way.
Lots of movies contain violence or sex or religion, but Russell mixed all three together in one toxic cocktail. If released today The Devils may not inspire riots in the streets, as it did in 1971, but if presented in its complete form the following indignation would make the Angels and Demons protests seem tame.
Head over to the Marvel Canada Facebook page Friday October 28 at 2:45pm ET! Richard will be hosting Rachel McAdams LIVE.
Jason Zinoman says one of the pleasures of getting scared at the movies is “that it focuses the mind.” The author of Shock Value, a book about horror films, uses the example of a baby being born.
“Try to imagine the shock of one world running into another,” he writes. “Nothing is familiar and the slightest detail registers as shockingly new. Think of the futility of trying to process what is going on. No wonder they scream.
“Overwhelming terror,” Zinoman continues, “may be the closest we ever get to the feeling of being born.”
Whether it’s as deep seeded as that or not, there is no denying terror is a primal feeling. It’s part of our DNA but, counter intuitively, it isn’t horrible when experienced at the movies.
Sam Zimmerman, the co-curator of the new horror streaming service Shudder, says watching scary movies is, “a beautiful way of confronting our anxieties and fears and laughing at those anxieties and fears. It’s a way of touching the void without actually stepping foot in it.”
Zimmerman, along with long time Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness programmer Colin Geddes, have populated Shudder with a comprehensive collection of horror films from around the globe, everything from classic horror like The Hills Have Eyes and newer shockers such as Sadako vs. Kayako.
“We are a curated streaming service and we’re trying to find the perfect medium between the streaming service and the best aspects of what we got out of video store days.”
In short, Zimmerman says, there are four main criteria when programming the service: Is it really cool? Do we think our members will love it? Is it contextually or historically interesting? Or is it just awesome?
“We want you to really trust us,” he says.
“Whether the movies are under the radar or mainstream, we want you to feel like we’re looking out for what’s going on the service as opposed to just filling the service with an old thing just because it is horror.”
Available in the U.S. since last year, Shudder makes its Canadian debut on Oct. 20, just in time for Halloween.
“I think horror fans are optimists,” Zimmerman says. “I think we find the good in things even when the movie doesn’t come together as a whole, we’re really excited to point out what stuck with us within it. Horror can be made up of such striking imagery. Even when we watch movies as kids and perhaps now re-watch them and think, ‘It wasn’t that great a movie to begin with,’ we still remember those images that grabbed us. You can’t deny the power of that. I think we are inherently excited about what’s good about a movie.
“I also think horror fans are really film fans. Horror, at least for me, was a real gateway into experimental cinema and really surreal, strange work because of the nightmare logic of them.
“But I think it’s an avenue into all other sorts of arts and media.”
At the end of the day horror fans will check out Shudder not for a lesson in horror history but for the variety of chills and thrills. But why do people like to be terrified while watching movies? Alfred Hitchcock summed up the appeal of the scary movie in one brief sentence: “People like to be scared when they feel safe.”
In “The Accountant” Ben Affleck plays a pocket-protector-wearing forensic bookkeeper who “risks his life cooking the books for some of the scariest people on the planet; drug cartels, arms brokers, money launderers, assassins.” An autistic math genius with a violent side, he survives his dangerous world through dual facilities for math and mayhem.
Affleck is Christian Wolff. By day he’s a small town strip mall CPA, but when the sun goes down his darker side emerges. Working for the worst of the worst he erases money trails and helps bad guys and gals launder money.
Although Christian has trouble relating to people there are several folks who would dearly like to meet him. First is the soon-to-be retired Treasury agent Director Raymond King (J.K. Simmons)—“I was old ten years ago,” he says.”—who assigns financial analyst (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) to the case. “He’s like, a CPA accountant?” she asks. “Not quite,” replies agent Ray King (J. K. Simmons) in what might be the understatement of the year.
Just as worrisome, but infinitely deadlier is Braxton (Jon Bernthal), a hitman hired by a robotics company to eliminate Christian and researcher Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick) after they exposed the company’s fraud.
Luckily Christian (or whichever alias he’s using today) is part James Bond, part John Nash. A deadly mix of tactician and mathematician, he balances the books by offing some bad guys. “How does he do that?” asks Braxton. “Hit them over the head with an adding machine?”
There are twists and turns aplenty in “The Accountant” but at its heart the movie is a character study. Affleck, never a particularly animated actor, excels in a role that requires him to stay an arm’s length from people—unless he’s engaged in up-close-and-personal face-to-face combat. He is the film’s core, the center from which everything else revolves.
Sadly everyone else is underused, including Kendrick, Simmons, Lithgow and Tambor. It’s a stellar and seasoned supporting cast but by the end credits it’s clear they exist simply to give Wolff a reason to go on his mission. Addai-Robinson, best known from TV work on shows like “Arrow” and “Chicago Med,” benefits from some extended screen time, although her big scene involves some third act exposition that goes on for much longer than necessary.
“The Accountant” doesn’t add anything to the conversation about autism or how people on the spectrum really lead their lives, but despite longwinded explanations, flashbacks and story swerves, it’s a tautly told story that satisfies as a thriller.