What’s new to theatres, VOD and streaming: November 19-21, 2021

Including Ghostbusters: Afterlife, One Of Ours, Jagged and Drunken Birds


Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Courtesy Sony Pictures

Ghostbusters: Afterlife

(Jason Reitman)

Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a mess, and I liked it anyway. Director/co-writer Reitman’s follow-up to his father Ivan’s blockbuster 80s comedies picks up in the present day, with single mom Callie (Carrie Coon) moving herself and her two kids (Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace) to her late father’s dirt farm in small-town Oklahoma – which is, somehow, a hotbed of paranormal activity. The younger Reitman has spoken of the Ghostbusters movies as a family legacy, and “legacy” and “family” are the two biggest themes in this picture, which isn’t just faithful to the original movie but utterly dependent on it. That’s not always a good quality; Reitman and co-writer Gil Kenan are so determined to deliver what they think the hardcore fans want that they miss out on multiple opportunities to give the film its own identity. But when Afterlife does try something different – a Goonies riff with Wolfhard and some local teens exploring an old mine; the sweetly awkward chemistry Paul Rudd’s summer-school teacher develops with both Coon and Grace’s characters; the way the ending turns something that could have been ghoulish into a genuinely moving bit of closure for both the characters and the audience – it kinda justifies the whole endeavour. Read a longer review here. 124 min. Now playing in theatres. NNN (Norman Wilner)

One Of Ours

(Yasmine Mathurin)

One Of Ours is an intimate and potent documentary about a family and community embroiled in the politics and tensions surrounding Black and Indigenous identity; it leaves you with a lot to unpack. Mathurin’s debut feature follows Haitian-born Josiah Wilson, who was adopted as a baby into an Indigenous family living in Calgary. Wilson is part of the Heiltsuk First Nation, alongside his father and siblings. But his sense of belonging was shattered in 2016 when the organizers behind the All Native Basketball Tournament invoked a blood quantum rule to disqualify the young man from shooting hoops with his peers. One Of Ours is arriving at a time when the Indigenous film community is engaged in conversations around defining identity and “pretendians.” Wilson’s story shows us what a complicated minefield that conversation can be. In this case, the rash exclusionary decision ends up being a traumatic blow to community and allyship. Mathurin gently wades into the aftermath of a messy conflict with no easy answers, taking a moving, personal approach that considers the role experience, connection and affection plays when forming identity, and the role community can play on the path to healing. Airing on CBC’s documentary channel beginning November 21. NNNNN (Radheyan Simonpillai)

Drunken Birds

(Ivan Grbovic)

A decade after his powerful drama Romeo Onze, Quebec filmmaker Grbovic returns with this visually enthralling – if dramatically thin – study of lost souls on a collision course on a lettuce farm outside Montreal. One is Willy (Roma’s Jorge Antonio Guerrero), a Mexican cartel functionary working as a migrant labourer while he searches for the woman he loves; another is Julie (Hélène Florent), the alienated wife of Richard (Claude Legault), who employs Willy and dozens of other workers. And then there’s their daughter Léa (Marine Johnson), who’s sneaking into the city for parties with some very unsavoury people. Grbovic and cinematographer Sara Mishara (who wrote the screenplay together) stage some stunning images of farm work, and some equally impressive snapshots of Montreal nightlife, and Guerrero, Florent and Johnson all deliver complex, heartfelt performances of people searching for answers just outside their grasp. But Grbovic and Mishara fumble the final movement with a manufactured conflict that doesn’t make a lick of sense given what we know about the characters – and, more importantly, what we know they know about each other. It breaks the movie’s spell at a crucial moment, and whether it comes back together depends on your own capacity for forgiveness. 104 min. Subtitled. Now playing at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. NNN (NW)

Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning Of Empathy

(Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers)

The Body Remembers When The World Broke Open filmmaker Tailfeathers’s doc is both an intimate and expansive portrait of an Indigenous community grappling with the opioid epidemic. Set primarily on the Kainai First Nation in Alberta, Kímmapiiyipitssini (a Blackfoot word that means giving kindness to each other) profiles several people who candidly discuss their struggles, while frontline doctors, including the director’s mother Esther Tailfeathers, attempt to effect a paradigm shift in thinking around addiction treatment – from 12-step abstinence programs to harm reduction. 

Shot over five years and narrated by the director, the movie is a methodical, vérité portrait of nitty-gritty work. In addition to visiting people’s homes and listening to personal stories, Tailfeathers shows the kind of tireless grassroots work – in clinics, in boardrooms, on street corners, at community events – required to convince people this new epidemic needs a new approach. She also captures hostile push-back in scenes showing users of a (now shuttered) safe-injection site in Lethbridge being surveilled and harassed by the local community. Not only are doctors working to change the hearts and minds of wary people grappling with deep traumas, but they’re up against structural forces, racism, the weight of historical injustice and government apathy. What emerges is a compelling look at work that exists in a space between patient resolve and intense urgency. 125 min. Opens Saturday (November 20) at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema. NNNN (Kevin Ritchie)

Alanis Morissette
Courtesy of TIFF

Jagged

(Alison Klayman)

Alanis Morissette has distanced herself from this documentary and it’s not hard to see why – Jagged takes a strong point of view on its subject, as well as the music industry and media’s treatment of the Ottawa-born rocker. Morissette became ubiquitous practically overnight with the 1995 single You Oughta Know, an embittered and cathartic riposte to an ex-lover that made the music mainstream realize that flawed and complicated women could be commercially viable. Jagged resembles a standard rock doc with its mix of archival footage and present-day talking heads, but it delivers a lot more by taking a more nuanced view of 90s audiences and gender, allowing contradictions to sit in the spirit of Morissette’s music. Klayman cuts a shallow path through the star’s formative years to set up her focus, but what ultimately makes the film so watchable is Morissette herself, a thoughtful and highly entertaining interviewee whose recollections are as sharply metaphorical as her songwriting. It can feel rushed at times but Jagged is able to show how the microcosm of Morissette’s world both reflected and defied aspects of the prevailing culture – and how all of that fraught complexity is not only present in her songs, but it’s partially what makes her music so appealing to so many. Read a longer review here. 97 min. Now streaming on Crave. NNNN (KR)

Available on VOD

Ankle Biters

Zion Forrest Lee, Marianthi Evans, Lily Gail Reed; directed by Bennet De Brabandere

Apple TV, Google Play

Don’t Say Its Name

Madison Walsh, Sera-Lys McArthur, Julian Black Antelope; directed by Rueben Martell

Apple TV

Introducing Jodea 

Chloe Traicos, Jeff Coppage, Ryan Pratton; directed by JD Cohen

Apple TV, Google Play

Last Night In Soho

Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith; directed by Edgar Wright

Read NOW’s review

Apple TV, Cineplex, Google Play

The Many Saints Of Newark

Alessandro Nivola, Jon Bernthal, Leslie Odom Jr.; directed by Alan Taylor

Read NOW’s review here

Apple TV, Cineplex, Google Play

The Pebble And The Boy

Patrick McNamee, Sacha Parkinson, Patsy Kensit; directed by Chris Green

Apple TV, Google Play

Rocky IV: Rocky Vs. Drago

Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Dolph Lundgren; directed by Sylvester Stallone

Apple TV, Google Play

She Paradise

Onessa Nestor, Kimberly Crichton, Michael Cherrie; directed by Maya Cozier

Apple TV

13 Minutes

Paz Vega, Amy Smart, Trace Adkins; directed by Lindsay Gossling

Apple TV, Google Play

Titane

Agathe Rousselle, VIncent Lindon, Garance Marillier; directed by Julia Ducournau

Read NOW’s review here

Apple TV, Cineplex, Google Play, digital TIFF Bell Lightbox

Streaming guides

Everything coming to streaming platforms this month:

Netflix

Amazon Prime Video Canada

Crave

CBC Gem

Disney+

Film festivals

Blood In The Snow

The in-person component of the homegrown horror festival is happening this weekend at The Royal, splattering the screen with Canadian shorts and features – among them Adam Reider’s Woodland Grey (Monday, 8 pm), an austere thriller about a recluse, an injured hiker and a very dark secret, and Dan Slater’s The Family (Tuesday, 8 pm), starring Nigel Bennett as a domineering patriarch determined to keep his household safe from an unspecified apocalypse. Isolation’s kind of a theme this year, huh.

Through Tuesday (November 23) at The Royal (604 College). Tickets and schedule at bloodinthesnow.ca

Ekran: Toronto Polish Film Festival

The 12th edition of the Toronto Polish Film Festival returns with four days of in-person screenings at the Revue Cinema, among them Agnieszka Holland’s Mr. Jones (Saturday, 1 pm), a historical drama starring James Norton, Vanessa Kirby and Peter Sarsgaard, and Bartosz Kruhlik’s Supernova (Sunday, 4 pm), which focuses on a handful of people connected by a tragedy, and Eliza Kubarska’s documentary The Wall Of Shadows (Monday, 9:30 pm), which follows a Sherpa family that risks their lives taking wealthy tourists up Kumbhakarna Mountain in order to fund their son’s dream of going to medical school. If you missed that one at Hot Docs 2020, here’s your chance to see it on a big screen.

Through Monday (November 22) at the Revue Cinema (400 Roncesvalles). Full schedule and tickets available at ekran.ca

Shorts That Are Not Pants

The annual celebration of bite-sized cinema is staying virtual for 2021, but that means it’s possible to watch the entire program of 70 films from 33 countries over the course of 11 days rather than cramming it into a weekend of in-person screenings. Shorts (and filmmaker Q&As) are available in curated $10 blocks, or you can buy an all-access pass for $35.

Through November 28 at shortsnotpants.com

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