By Anne Brodie Two major releases this week, as different as chalk and cheese, Bill & Ted Face the Music, and Christopher Nolan’s long-awaited Tenet. And yet so very similar. Both depend upon the plastic nature of time and space, as our protagonists time travel to find, hide, and fix things. What a spectacular co-incidence! Denzel’s boy and potential award season fixture John David Washington is The Protagonist in the epic sci-fi intelligence thriller Tenet. And he has to save the world, just as Bill and Ted must. The protagonist and his partner, Robert Pattinson in a supporting role, traverse seven countries and innumerable time frames under the effects of the inversion of energy. A bullet fired shoots back into the gun, an horrific car crash undoes itself and they come face to face with themselves in different universes in an upside-down world where the laws of physics don’t apply. This complicates the Protagonist’s efforts to stop a depraved Russian arms dealer from ending the world out of FOMO and saving the wife he tortures (Elizabeth Debicki). Nolan used 70mm film and IMAX to create an arresting look that seems to take up all the brain’s space and thundering noise – like the sustained rumbling bass notes of that irritating car that keeps driving by your house. The first two chapters are marvels but as sometimes happens in overambitious projects, the third act collapses. It is too dense and incomprehensible. But wow, the lead performances are perfection. And there’s Michael Caine! Only in theatres.
Dean Parisot nails Bill & Ted Face the Music as Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter return triumphantly to save the world. Instead of inversion, they’ll use the greatest song ever, which they have yet to write. The now middle-aged dads time travel, but across more impressive spans – thousands of years before and after. The meet their Wyld Stallyns “uses” again, prison “uses”, “nursing home uses”– and so on, as they seek performers and creative inspiration to make the song a reality. They’re still the loveable air guitar playing juveniles, yes, way! but they’ve expanded their music with throat singing, trumpet, and piano. The lads meet, among others Jesus, Jimi Hendrix, Babe Ruth, Cleopatra, Buddha, Harriet Tubman, Josephine Baker, Death, Gandhi, Kubla Khan, Amelia Earhart, Mozart, George Washington, and Dave Grohl. Co-stars Holland Taylor and Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine as their look-alike daughters. P.S. there’s trouble using a dial phone and great social media closing credits. In theatres and On Demand.
Dev Patel leads a strong cast in The Personal History of David Copperfield including Tilda Swinton, Hugh Laurie, Ben Whishaw, Peter Capaldi, and Darren Boyd. Its a radically re-imagined version of the classic Dickens’ novel with a richly diverse cast and populace; inter-race marriage is the norm. No one questions it. Divisiveness in society is class. As you know David is born into the upper-middle class and grows up happy and comfortable; his mother marries a sadist who kicks him out. He’s sent to the housekeeper’s, a poor but optimistic family living in an upside own boat on the Yarmouth seaside. He is in servitude to a London bottle factory where Uriah Heep messes with him and he meets the poor, dishonest Micawber who owes everyone (“a most unreasonable Muffin Man”). It’s not just David’s economic highs and lows. Everyone is unstable which makes for plenty of drama and comedy. The historic backdrop features the building of the Houses of Parliament. There’s much to enjoy in this big-hearted and far-reaching tale we thought we knew. In theatres.
Fatima looks at events in a rural town in Portugal known as the site where the Virgin Mary and angels appeared. In 1917, a 10-year-old shepherdess Lucia (Stephanie Gil) minds her flock with her two younger cousins when she sees an apparition of a “lady dressed in white” shining brightly claiming to be the Angel of God, the angel of peace. She tells Lucia not to be afraid; she knows her brother Manuel is at war and tells her to pray for him all the time. The children report to their parents who react badly, foreshadowing the future. Then Mother Mary presents herself to Lucia, and appears in her dreams, teaching her about God and Jesus. Word spreads and the family farm is overwhelmed by the sick and needy who beg Lucia to ask Mary for healing. Lucia is shamed by her parents, the mayor of their town, church officials, and the townsfolk – they accuse her of lying and demand that she takes her story back and admit it’s a lie. In 1989, an author (Harvey Keitel) interviews Lucia, now a Sister of Jesus, about what happened, and they have a profound exchange. He asks, “Why you?” To which she replies she doesn’t have answers for everything, only her testimony. Interesting but strangely paced and far too long. In Theatres.
You Cannot Kill David Arquette – Holy Smokes, this is one strange trip. He hasn’t been able to get an acting gig for a decade because he went to the dark side – the wacky snake oil salesman world of wrestling. Untrained and the underdog, he won the World Heavyweight Championship in 2000, and became the most hated man in the sport, they say he didn’t earn the title, it was his fame that clinched the win. The stunts he gets up to, considering his heart attack, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression are dangerous. He goes in the ring with professionals and gets the tar knocked out of him, including severe head injuries – on top of everything else, and a life-threatening slice in the jugular. Why does he do it? The doc attempts to answer the questions. Hint: self-respect. He’s loved wrestling since he was a boy and entered a match to promote his film Ready to Rumble. He won the world championship, considered the worst moment in wrestling history. Hs second wife, the spitting image of Courtney Coz is educated, professional, and obviously patient. Wrestling killed his acting career, but don’t worry, he makes mucho moolah as a producer. The film will infuriate you, make you cry and feel things you did not expect to. On VOD.
Netflix’ YA film All Together Now starring Moana’s Auli’i Cravalho is a bittersweet and realistic portrait of a homeless teenager with musical aspirations. She doesn’t have an easy life because homelife is secret. Her mother is an alcoholic and in an abusive relationship and they live on a school bus. Amber attends high school, organises the drama club, volunteers at a local nursing home and works in a donut shop, and tries to remain optimistic.
A dream comes true; she’s invited to audition for the prestigious Carnegie Mellon music school but has no way of getting there. Her beloved senior dog Bobby Big Boy needs expensive surgery, her mother has disappeared, and she feels her world-shattering. A wonderfully witty Carol Burnett plays her cranky nursing home friend who listens. Based on Matthew Quick’s novel Sorta Like a Rock Star, Amber’s journey has just begun. The film is effective and emotional, and powerful. Get your tissues and settle in, it is a rewarding journey that doesn’t spare the heart. Co-stars Rhenzy Feliz, Judy Reyes, and Justina Machado. Here are my interviews with the cast:
Ninian Doff’s fabulously funny and subversive Get Duked! on Amazon Prime Video tells the bawdy tale of four inner-city Scottish kids on a Royally inspired outing. They’ve won places on the Duke of Edinburgh’s (“He’s not even real”. “Yeah, he’s the Queen’s husband”. “He’s like Santa Claus.”) annual traditional four-day wilderness trek through the Scottish Highlands. Word is thousands of people have gone missing in the remote, GPS-less lands. Warning signs are posted. The boys are underwhelmed until a tweedy gent (Eddie Izzard) fires a rifle at then, shouting that he’s culling society of the likes of them. Samuel Bottomley, Viraj Juneja, Rian Gordon, and Lewis Gribben play the hopelessly unprepared lads, whose ignorance is often bliss but manage to come up with innovative ways of staying alive vs nature and lunatics. They don’t have food, but they have drugs –rabbit doo doo – that does the trick. Hip-hop artist DJ Beetroot, who’s ashamed of his real name William De Beauvoir, entertains scary-looking locals and he’s a hit. Cue explosives, anarchy, pedo-psychos, zombies, hallucinations, and killing frost and the war of the Gen Zs and locals vs upper-class twit Brit patriarchy. Police don’t care, they’re after the Bread Thief. So funny, engaging, fresh, and unexpected, a gentle jolt to the system! On VOD.
Take a look at Run the Jewels: Out of Sight (feat. 2 Chainz) from RTJ4. Directed by Ninian Doff, starring the cast (and characters) from Get Duked!
My Prince Edward the directorial debut from Hong Kong’s Norris Wong is a real treat. Fong, a strong-minded woman (Stephy Tang) has been living with her boyfriend Edward (Pak Hon Chu) in the city’s Prince Edward neighborhood for ten years. He hasn’t proposed, his mother controls him nitpicks Fong. Ironically, Fong works in a bridal wear store and Edward is the photographer. She’s wary of ecstatic brides-to-be and doesn’t believe in marriage. He knows it, but Edward stages an elaborate and clumsy public proposal. She doesn’t answer but she is now expected to go through with it. But she is already married; it happened ten years ago, a sham wedding to get a Chinese Mainlander into Honk Kong. If she’s found out, her reputation will be ruined. And one day he shows up to get a divorce, and now all her secrets are revealed. This whimsical, comic and profoundly human story has the elements of a fable and love story, as a woman discovers who she really needs. It’s never referred to but Fong’s a film fan, with posters of Jim Jarmusch, Hitchcock, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind on the walls of their tiny apartment. Playing at Toronto’s Kingsway Theatre.
Acorn TV and CBC partnered on the pulse-pounding psychological thriller series The Sounds, set in New Zealand’s remote Marlborough Sound on Acorn Sept 3rd. A Canadian woman (Rachelle Lefebvre) travels there to meet her businessman husband (Tom Cabbott) to begin a new life as he opens a state-of-the-art salmon farm. He faces local pushback by indigenous people but charges on, and she happens to see him doing something underhanded. And then, shortly after her arrival, he disappears. Grieving wives, cheating husbands, epic embezzlement, and historic crime all collide to weave a complicated web stretching through the Sounds’ hidden valleys and deep waters. And then the clues hit the fan. Is he who he says he is, is the town hiding something? And is she in danger or is she a killer? The Sounds will also premiere on CBC TV and CBC Gem streaming service on October 5.
The fact-based film Centigrade opening in drive-ins, select theaters and VOD August 28th is hard to watch. An American author and her husband played by Genesis Rodriguez and Vincent Piazza, are in Norway for her book tour. They foolishly embark on a road trip into the mountains, not having done their homework. A blizzard covers their car in feet of snow and ice, their phones are dying and get this, she’s eight months pregnant. At first, it’s ok, they’ll call for help and eat the granola bars and drink their two bottles of water. The blame game begins as the weight of the situation becomes clear. No one can see them under the snow. The next few hours are deeply disturbing. This isn’t a horror film; it is based on real experiences of two lost souls trapped inside a freezing car with no help on the way, so it may as well be. Directed by Brendan Walsh who clearly doesn’t suffer from claustrophobia.
The doc #UNFIT: The Psychology of Donald Trump September 1 on all digital and streaming cable VOD platforms, produced by an association of concerned psychiatrists called The Duty to Warn Coalition is chilling to the core. U.S. mental health professionals and nonpartisan political strategists go on the record to determine if Donald Trump is fit to be President of the United States. They haven’t met him but have years of documents, news footage, journalism, and film access to make a reasonable judgment. Can he be trusted to hold an MC14, nuclear weapons, and turn the keys, fly a bomber, and drop a nuclear weapon? Their decision? He is a malignant narcissist, the most severe personality disorder featuring 1) narcissism, 2) paranoia, 3) anti-social personality disorder, and 4) sadism, his Tweets, racism, classism, callousness and need to diminish others. They cite the law based on The Tarasoff Rule that it is the duty of mental health professionals to protect society and confidentiality goes out the window if there is reason to believe a president poses a threat to society. The doc also looks at the psychological makeup of his ardent followers and features a shocking, rare interview with George Conway, Kellyanne Conway’s anti-Trump husband.