What to Watch (and What to Skip) in Theatres This Weekend

April is the cruelest movie month, pure Darwinian box-office carnage as a dozen new films tumbling into the commercial dumping bin between the Oscars and summer blockbusters.

We’ll guide you through some of the gems, starting with a couple of documentaries.  Far: The Story of a Journey Around the World  (Rating: A) is a chronicle of a German couple in their thirties who hitchhike around the planet, have a baby on route and discover that most of the earth is a kind and generous place. 

Our other top pick is Amazing Grace (Rating: A), a soul-shaking Aretha Franklin gospel concert (Hallelujah, Cinners!) set in a Los Angeles church in 1972, recovered from unfinished footage by the late Sidney Pollack (Tootsie).

Aretha Franklin in the must-see Amazing Grace

Aretha Franklin in the must-see Amazing Grace

For a more serene spiritual experience, check out the Easter film, Mary Magdalene (B minus) with Rooney Mara as the girl who got religion, with co-stars Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Peter, in a film reviewer Kim Hughes says is well-acted and beautifully shot. A more contemporary conversion story in The Best of Enemies (C) with Sam Rockwell as a Klu Klux Klan member who, through the friendship of a civil rights worker (Taraji P. Henson) is cured of his racism.

If you must stray from the righteous path, you could hardly go further than Hellboy (C), which reviewer Jim Slotek, says is generous in its use of F-bombs and entrails. Our Bonnie Laufer talks to actor, David Harbour (Stranger Things), about the hell of acting under red make-up and stubby horns. 

Or, while you’re plumbing the dark side, check out the disturbing, if unrevealing, The Brink (B minus), following former Trump strategist Steve Bannon’s attempt to whip up European populism.

For this pre-Easter week, we have three family-friendly movies, Mia and the White Lion (B Plus), which doubles as an inspirational drama and family filmmaking experiment, featuring director Gilles de Maistre's real children and a pet lion, shot over several years.Missing Link (B) is a great-looking stop-action film from Portland’s Laika studio, in a story about a 19th-century gentleman adventurer (Hugh Jackman) who takes an articulate Sasquatch (Zach Galifianakis) to meet its Yeti cousinsLittle (B minus) is a body-switch comedy, starring Regina Hall, Issa Rae and Blackish kid star Marsai Martin (who pitched the idea at age 10), about a mean tech CEO who is magically sent back to middle-school so she can remember what bullying felt like.

Also in our Cin binm we have Stockholm (B minus), a dramedy, starring Ethan Hawke as the bank robber and Noomi Rapace as his hostage, based on the real-life event that gave us the phrase Stockholm Syndrome

The kung fu is strong in Master Z: Ip Man Legacy (B), thanks to the direction of master fight choreographer Woo-Ping Yuen (Kill Bill). 

Finally, we have the shot off-the-stage film of Stratford’s production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest (B minus) starring Martha Henry as the magician, Prospero, who, from across the centuries, sends us this useful viewing advice: “No tongue. All eyes. Be silent!”

Have a great weekend.

Original-Cin Q&A: Stranger Things' David Harbour is the new Hellboy in town

There’s a new Hellboy in town and actor David Harbour (the man under all of that makeup) seems to be enjoying his personal hell. 

Harbour stars in the Hellboy reboot, directed by Neil Marshall and co-starring Milla Jovovich, Daniel Dae Kim and Ian McShane

The comic book character first came to life in 2004 with Ron Perlman  in the lead role, directed by Guillermo del Toro.

David Harbour is one handsome Hellboy

David Harbour is one handsome Hellboy

Now David Harbour gives us a new take on the red-demon in a grittier and darker film. 

Based on the graphic novels by Mike Mignola, Hellboy, caught between the worlds of the supernatural and human, battles an ancient sorceress bent on revenge.

Our Bonnie Laufer chatted with David Harbour about almost losing it in the makeup chair, loving that R-rating, and of course, his excitement over the upcoming Season 3 debut of  his hit Netflix series, Stranger Things.  

Original-Cin:  David, just watching you in this film, it seems like you had way too much a bloody fun! 

David Harbour: (laughs)  “Yeah, yeah, yeah!!  It looks that way when it’s all put together. But there are moments at 4 a.m.  in the make-up trailer about 40 days in when your head is spinning. And all you’re thinking about is the stunts you have to do, and it just feels like a lot of hard work.”

OC:  Was there ever a day, maybe like 30 days in, when you said, ‘I just can’t do this anymore? I’m not getting in this chair again, I’m done!’ 

DH:  “That’s almost exactly the day when it happened, you hit it right on the head! We had 65 applications so around day 30, we were shooting five day weeks. So it was about a month in, and one morning I showed up to set and I remember having a bit of a nervous breakdown. I got to the makeup trailer at 4 in the morning, shaking. And I sat down and I was like, ‘That’s it guys. I’m done. I just can’t do this anymore.’“

OC: So how did you get back into the mindset and continue on? 

DH:  “Joel Harlow, who did the makeup - he designed it and also applied it with a team of four other people. So, he completely understood because he has worked with a ton of other people who have had to go through extensive makeup applications for other projects. 

“He knows that there is going to be a time where you hit a breaking point, and so he sat me down and said some really nice things and talked me through it like a trauma coach. We just took deep breaths and  I was able to overcome that hump.  

“After that I was able to push through and to be honest, I really started to really get into it.  After that mini meltdown, I started to enjoy his face. I started to get excited by it as opposed to my own face.”

OC: Really? 

DH:  “Yeah, he’s got a good face.  Don’t you think so?”

OC: He’s got a good face, but you have a good face too! 

DH:  “Thank you very much, but I've looked at it for a long time.  What is they say?  Familiarity breeds contempt? After a while I’m like, ‘Oh David.’ And then you see Hellboy and you go, ‘Hey handsome, what’s up? Nice to see you.’” 

OC:  This film is dark and very true to the comic, and it’s R rated so that must have been so freeing for you to really play this guy without any inhibitions. 

DH:  “Oh yeah, I love the fact that we really do earn our R-rating. It is bloody and gory and horrific and we swear a lot! The apocalypse is no joke in this movie, it really is pretty brutal.”

OC: You can’t really brighten up the apocalypse.

DH, “Well you can, but we chose not too! (laughs) That was fun. We cursed, and there’s something about the horror nature of this that I feel is such an interesting addition to the genre. Superhero movies are so popular  and there is such a pantheon of superhero gods. So to have one that is really darkly horror based was just so much fun. We got to have a lot of fun with the monsters that you see in the film.”

OC: Plus, what a fun cast. It had to have been hard trying to resist Milla Jovovich! 

DH:    “She’s pretty stunning! I love the fact that she is the villain in the film. Hellboy has an attraction to her. At one point he even stands up for her  and defends her and I think that’s kind of a unique thing too. And Milla was so great because she was absolutely open to jumping in and creating this special thing with Hellboy. So I was  thrilled about that.” 

OC: I can’t leave without mentioning Stranger Things. When the trailer recently dropped for Season 3, the internet went insane!  How much fun are you still having with that cast, working with those kids and watching them grow up has to be pretty cool! 

DH: “It’s cool but it’s also complicated.  Do you have children?”

OC:  I do! 

DH: “Well, I don’t. But I have six on the show! (Laughs) 

“When they started, they were little 11-and-12 year old kids who looked up at me and  were sort of scared and dewy eyed. 

“And now they’re, like, leaving the nest, resisting and rebelling.

“So I go through all the same emotions  around that and the great thing about (writers/directors) Matt and Ross Duffer is that they are putting all of that into the show.

“So Hopper struggles with Eleven growing up. Her becoming a teenager and starting to discover herself is the worst horror  for him in the world. So I get to explore a lot of that. 

“But  in general, it’s the greatest team in the world and it’s such a special show. And the love that you feel watching the show   is not just a result of everyone being good actors but also just a bunch of good human beings. It’s a very special thing to be a part of, and every day is a really fun adventure.”