2019 will be defined for me by two things--one is interesting, the other is not. The "not" is that my friend Sam killed himself. He used a gun. Sam and I disagreed about guns. He had been in various levels of law enforcement, retired to be a 9-1-1 operator, found himself traumatized after his service, and moved across the country to be closer to his young daughter and ex-wife. To be a dad, you know. Sam owned a lot of guns, but in the last couple of years, he began to ask me about statistics and troubling trends. Mass shooting events devastated him--as they devastated all of us, before we got used to them--and the doctrine and culture in which he was raised started to show its limitations as a strategy for species survival.
by Walter Chaw I'm statistically past the midway point, alive for more years than I will be alive for again, and I've spent most of my time denying, being embarrassed by, often hating, who I am. I was born in Colorado in 1973, raised in downtown Golden in a Norman Rockwell postcard of an existence. I walked to school, walked to the little silversmith store my dad owned when it was over, earned pennies at the barbershop on the corner where the mayor, Frank, operated the first chair. I got my money shining shoes and catching flies in the little plastic bags my dad used to put little gems in for his customers.
For those who don't follow me on Twitter, some health issues have been keeping me away from my obligations to the site, editorial and otherwise. Updates will (continue to) be sporadic until further notice. In the meantime, check out our festival reviews of current releases, including Parasite, Pain and Glory, Joker, and Judy, and keep refreshing because new content will appear whenever it is humanly possible.
by Walter Chaw There's a scoop in the mountain face on the way back from Telluride, like a bite has been taken from the rock. Below is a clear, blue lake fed by snowmelt, so the water is bitterly cold. I found it by accident. I stop there every year to break up my drive. This year I sat on the beach for a while, stood up a few bleached wood branches into something like a cairn, took my shoes off, dug my toes into the sand, and soaked them for a minute in the water as shoals of fry darted around. I sucked air in through my teeth. I nodded off to the sound of the water lapping and the wind in the grass by the road, and I thought of this passage from The Sound and the Fury:
And I will look down and see my murmuring bones and the deep water like wind, like a roof of wind, and after a long time they cannot distinguish even bones upon the lonely and inviolate sand.
Since FILM FREAK CENTRAL is technically a Canadian website, based in southern Ontario, I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you about the 27th annual Port Hope Vintage Film Festival. Running from September 27-29, it's a rare opportunity to see classic films--such as Top Hat, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, and La Belle et La Bête (the theme for 2019 is, you guessed it, Famous Cinematic Duos)--on the big screen, at Port Hope's gorgeous Capitol Theatre (pictured above). Proceeds go to the Marie Dressler Foundation, which is raising money this year to provide bursaries for local high-school students. There's even going to be a silent auction where you can bid on movie memorabilia and other ephemera--including some DVDs that may or may not have been donated by yours truly. Further details here!-Ed.
by Walter Chaw About 16 months ago, my mom received an 18-month diagnosis--meaning she has maybe two months to live. We'll see. When I broke it to my parents that I was dropping out of the engineering track at college to pursue a degree in English, there was a lot of silence and then my mom said: "Don't write about us." I don't think I honoured her request for even a second. This is the first time I've written about her directly, but I don't believe it's possible to not write your shit. I mean, if you're doing it right. I think if you read my stuff, for whatever reason, with the right eye and the right experience, it wouldn't be difficult to nail what my issues are. They're florid and manifold: beware when hunting monsters and all that.
Overture, curtains, lights, This is it, the night of nights No more rehearsing and nursing a part We know every part by heart Overture, curtains, lights This is it, you'll hit the heights And oh what heights we'll hit On with the show this is it
Tonight what heights we'll hit On with the show this is it
Just in time for the first photographic evidence of a black hole, Claire Denis's High Life opens in Canada this week alongside Max Minghella's directorial debut, Teen Spirit. We--that is, Angelo Muredda and yours truly, respectively--covered them at last year's TIFF. Also hitting an unspecified number of screens this weekend in advance of its VOD debut is David Robert Mitchell's Under the Silver Lake, which made Walter Chaw's Top 50 of 2018 back when we thought a leaked rip was as official a release as we were going to get.
by Bill Chambers Recently cited as one of the "100 Podcasts Worth Listening to" at VULTURE, Australian Blake Howard's "One Heat Minute" has seen Howard and a panoply of guests doing the lord's work of dissecting Michael Mann's Heat one minute at a time since August, 2017. It was my honour to join him for minute #139, in which the police check Chris Shiherlis's fake ID after his wife Charlene signals him that the coast isn't clear--although Blake isn't a stickler and our conversation turned out to be far more wide-ranging than that. Just a heads-up if you want to hear me ramble on about Michael Mann, a pet topic of mine. (Or if you ever wanted to hear someone compare Heat to Love Actually.) Our own Walter Chaw will also be appearing on an upcoming episode, and I can't wait to listen; stay tuned.
2018 was a traumatic year for me that should turn out to be a good year in hindsight. I read something by a career counsellor who told clients thinking about a change to stop thinking and quit their job. He said you can't know what you can do until you stop doing what you're doing. I've spent the past six months doing things I would never have had the time or headspace for had I not walked off a ledge. It's not good for the heart but it's good for the soul. I've finished a couple of large writing projects and positioned myself to be available for a handful of genuinely interesting opportunities. I'm evolving. It's a daily thing. It's a work of a lifetime. This year, I have watched my friends achieve extraordinary things with their art and it's filled me with joy, not to mention inspiration. I don't know what they see in me in return, but I hope to justify their faith in 2019. I wouldn't have been able to be rash without the strength of my family and the support of my friends. A couple--you guys know who you are--somehow knew when to reach out and did with the right encouragement in what felt like the nick of time.
Opening this week are a few films we covered at festivals earlier in the year. Walter Chaw reviewed Jason Reitman's The Front Runner at Telluride, while I wrote about Boy Erased, Transit, and Bodied--all three of which were released in Toronto today--during TIFF (TIFF '17, in the case of Bodied). And be sure to check out our reviews of some other recent releases that may have escaped your attention, including The Old Man & the Gun, Monrovia, Indiana, and the great Burning.-Ed.
by Walter Chaw Summer seems to be lasting longer, the weather in general is more severe. If the '80s were about apocalyptic fears around the proliferation of atomic weapons and an unstable President, the '10s are about those same fears multiplied by the corporatized destruction of the planet and, in a stealthy sort of way, the rise of the genuinely ignorant as the arbiters of culture and government. When George W. was President, I was interested in the defense that he seemed like the drunk uncle you'd have at a backyard BBQ. He didn't read much, trumpeted his "C" average in school, made up words, started a war because someone was mean to his daddy. Idiots found him relatable and non-threatening; "Conservative Party" developed a more literal definition. I liked to suggest the President be someone who read more than you, did things you couldn't do, was actually smart and not Fredo-smaht!. The only thing this thirtysomething percent of Americans who still think Trump is great--either cynically and opportunistically, or because they're really just stupider than fuck--were ever right about is that their elected leader is the ultimate "trigger" for people who are their betters. Like psychopathic juvies tormenting their unit nurse, they think it's worth it to distress them. It feels good and new, and as the fires grow higher, so, too, does their ardour for their golden calf.