Your weekend preview: What to see (and what to skip) in the theatres

This week’s big buzz film is Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood  (Rating: A) the director’s ninth film and his most cinema-nostalgic yet. A buddy picture starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt against the background of the Manson killings and the beginnings of the New Hollywood, the film  is replete with imaginary and real movie and TV clips, music and fashion of the period, as well as its stars (Connie Stevens, Steve McQueen, Bruce Lee) with Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate

Reviewer Liam Lacey calls the film is a fanciful cultural gift basket and Tarantino’s warmest film since Jackie Brown

Margot Robbie plays Sharon Tate in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood.

Margot Robbie plays Sharon Tate in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood.

Canadian director Laurie Lynd’s Killing Patient Zero (A) is a documentary look back at the panic surrounding the AIDS epidemic and the myth of “Patient Zero”, widely and wrongfully identified by the media as Air Canada steward, Gaétan Dugas. Reviewer Jim Slotek says Patient Zero reminds “how we react as a society to the unknown, especially when fueled by the fire of ignorance and moral judgment.”

Forty five years after The Apprenticeship  of Duddy Kravitz, Richard Dreyfuss is back in another Canadian film as a guy with outsized dreams. The film, Astronaut (B minus) follows optimistic senior, Angus (Dreyfuss), who is hoping to win a lottery to become a passenger on a space flight. The seasoned Can-Con cast includes Graham Greene, Colm Feore, Colin Mochrie, Art Hindle and Mimi Kuzyk. Jim Slotek says it’s a slow, sweet movie is which space plot is a mrere framework on which hang the arcs of the characters.

 In this week’s podcast: we compare notes on Tarantino, argue about the hideous trailer for Cats (Karen Gordon disagrees!), preview the Toronto International Film Festival and give you the inside scoop on the festival’s opening night documentary, Once Were Brothers; Robbie Robertson and the Band.

Have a great weekend.




Your Weekend Film Round-up: What to See (And Skip) In The Theatres

.By Original-Cin staff

There’s snow on the ground, Christmas music in the air and the movie awards season race is on, baby, with several high-profile films throwing their hats into the Oscar ring this weekend. 

We’ll start with Widows, a heist thriller starring four women (Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Arrivo), whose criminal husbands died leaving them carrying a debt which can only be resolved by another job. Reviewer Karen Gordon says, that director Steve McQueen, after three “searingly effective” dramas (Hunger, Shame, 12 Years a Slave), dips into popcorn thriller territory, featuring an excellent cast and undercurrents of race, politics and grief - an enjoyable, if not always entirely credible, film.  

Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Original-Cin: B-plus)  from Joel and Ethan Coen (fourteen Oscar nominations and four wins) is an anthology of six Western tales (it goes directly to Netflix as a limited series). Liam Lacey says Scruggs is a dark and silly Western pastiche, mixing windy dialogue, and meditations on horse opera violence and pulp fiction fatalism. 

 While you may not associate the name Peter Farrelly (Dumb and Dumber) with “awards contender” his film, Green Book (Original-Cin: B-plus)  already won the Oscar-predicting Toronto International Film Festival’s People’s Choice Award this year. Mahershala Ali stars as a classically-trained African-American musician and Viggo Mortensen plays the Italian-American bouncer he hires as a driver on a tour of the Jim Crow Deep South of 1962, in what Jim Slotek describes as a heart-warming drama, with Mortensen and Ali working off each other beautifully. 

Jason Reitman’s The Front Runner (Original-Cin: C) stars Hugh Jackman as eighties’ politician, Gary Hart, who was brought down by a sex scandal in a moment that redefined relations between politicians and the press.  Liam Lacey says this is a decent middle-brow backroom political drama, undermined by the dubious premise that scrutiny of politicians’ private misconduct is a bad thing. 

You might also expect an Oscar nod for Rosamund Pike’s fully-committed performance in A Private War (Original-Cin: B) in which she stars as the late celebrated Sunday Times’ war correspondent, Marie Colvin, who struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder in the midst of covering war zones. Liam Lacey says it’s an intense, if over-schematic, portrait of flawed heroism. 

Otherwise, Jim Slotek reports that the Harry Potter-spinoff series, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald (Original-Cin: C) has too much geneaology and not enough beasts.  Jim also reviewed and the Canadian psychological thriller, Touched (B-plus),  featuring a terrific performance from Hugh Thompson, who Jim also interviews.  

Finally, Bonnie Laufer Laufer interviews Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne about their new “heartwarming, realistic, at times pretty funny” dramedy, Instant Family, about a couple dealing with the rigors and joys of foster care. 

Have a great weekend!