A TIFF16 round-up (for BuffaloSpree.com)

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I wrote this round-up of my time at TIFF16 for BuffaloSpree.com. Note that my suspicions about La La Land taking the People’s Choice Award were indeed correct.

For me, the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival is over. But TIFF16 actually runs through Sunday, the day we’ll discover which film has won the Grolsch People’s Choice Award. (My money is on La La Land.)

There is plenty more to come from me on the festival, including a feature in the November Spree. But in the meantime, here’s a brief ranking of the 26 TIFF entries I saw during or before the festival. You’re going to hear a lot more about Jackie, Manchester by the Sea, Nocturnal Animals, Moonlight, American Honey, Toni Erdmann, Elle, and Arrival in the months to come. Without further ado, my TIFF16 ranking:

  1. Jackie
  2. Manchester by the Sea
  3. Nocturnal Animals
  4. Moonlight
  5. American Honey
  6. Personal Shopper
  7. Toni Erdmann
  8. Una
  9. Elle
  10. Arrival
  11. Lady Macbeth
  12. Werewolf
  13. The Birth of a Nation
  14. We Are Never Alone
  15. Clair Obscur
  16. City of Tiny Lights
  17. Dog Eat Dog
  18. Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey
  19. A Monster Calls
  20. Trespass Against Us
  21. Marija
  22. Past Life
  23. Little Wing
  24. Le Ciel Flamand
  25. Pyromaniac
  26. In the Blood

One film to call attention to is Lady Macbeth. Part of TIFF’s Platform series, the film is a shockingly dark period piece about a young woman in a passionless marriage. What follows involves sex, murder, and some stunning set pieces, all centered on a killer performance from star Florence Pugh. Happily, the film was bought by distributor Roadside Attractions during the festival and will be released in 2017.

A quieter film than many of the festival biggies, Lady Macbeth is the perfect festival find. Keep it on your radar.

Notes from the queue: My TIFF16 diary

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A significant part of the Toronto International Film Festival experience is waiting in line for screenings to begin. This year, I spent much of that time writing reviews or putting together some brief Facebook posts about my time at the festival. Here are four days of notes, all written the morning after.

Day 1: September 8, 2016

Day one of #TIFF16 is in the books, and it was a solid start. We did not arrive in time to catch any of the early morning biggies (MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, LOVING, PATERSON, DANIEL BLAKE), but we did manage to eat pizza at 10 a.m. (win) before I caught Olivier Assayas’s confounding, brilliant PERSONAL SHOPPER. It’s no shock this slow-burn ghost story has proven to be divisive, but it worked wonderfully for me, and it’s another peak for Kristen Stewart. (A woman behind me just described the film as “an incoherent mess.”)
Next was the Cannes hit TONI ERDMANN, a long, long, long but truly lovable comedy about a father and daughter. Madden Ade’s film meanders quite a bit, but it has moments as uproarious and moving as any in recent memory.
Following TONI was Paul Schrader’s unpleasant but admittedly entertaining DOG EAT DOG. It’s a Cleveland-set crime romp starring Nicolas Cage and Willem DaFoe, and it’s exactly what you’d expect. Norway’s PYROMANIAC could’ve used some of Schrader’s lurid passion — it’s a repetitive and dull account of a serial arsonist.
Now on to day two, starting with Tom Ford’s NOCTURNAL ANIMALS … One thing is certain: Everyone on screen will be better dressed than me.

 

Day 2: September 9, 2016

Brief rundown of #TIFF16 day two — brief because I’m now exhausted: Tom Ford’s NOCTURNAL ANIMALS is my favorite of the fest so far, a razor-sharp, (predictably) stylish, uniquely funny film that feels like De Palma plus Hitchcock divided by, well, Tom Ford. The performances are uniformly excellent, with Amy Adams and Michael Shannon at the top of the list.
My Amy Adams marathon continued with ARRIVAL, a strong, cerebral sci-fi drama with surprising emotional impact. There’s always one film at TIFF that makes me really miss my kids, and this year, it’s ARRIVAL.
The somber kids’ film A MONSTER CALLS was ambitious but way too familiar, and left me cold. Paul Verhoeven’s ELLE, on the other hand, was a wildly entertaining, utterly provocative gem. Isabelle Huppert gives the most memorably complex performance I’ve seen this year.
The day ended with so-so crime thriller/family drama hybrid TRESPASS AGAINST US, a film I’ll be reviewing soon for The Film Stage.
I’m now seated for a British entry called LADY MACBETH, and the day will also include THE BIRTH OF A NATION, VOYAGE OF TIME, and at least one more TBD … On with it!

 

Day 3: September 10, 2016

It’s my fourth and final day at #TIFF16, and it follows an interesting Saturday, to say the least.
I started with LADY MACBETH, a very dark period piece not based on Shakespeare, but featuring a heroine who would make Lady M. proud. It’s unsettling and fascinating to watch where this film goes.
I followed with Nate Parker’s controversial THE BIRTH OF A NATION, a film with moments of great power but occasionally clumsy execution. I’d call it good but not great, and that’s without even considering the moral issues Parker’s past.
Terrence Malick’s VOYAGE OF TIME: LIFE’S JOURNEY is more of the same — more breathy voiceover (this time from Cate Blanchett), more stunning imagery, more Malick in every way. It’s not a satisfying experience, although perhaps the shorter IMAX version will be.
TIFF added a late-night press screening of the acclaimed MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, so I skipped Park Chan-wook’s THE HANDMAIDEN to attend. (I already skipped the latest from Wim Wenders due to fatigue, hunger, and disinterest.) Kenneth Lonergan’s MANCHESTER was worth the schedule change — it’s an emotionally devastating winner in every way. There’s lots of weeping, and yes, it made me weepy. Casey Affleck highlights a uniformly strong cast.
Today includes Rooney Mara in UNA (watch for my review for The Film Stage), buzzed coming-of-age drama MOONLIGHT, Cannes’ favorite AMERICAN HONEY, and, finally, Natalie Portman in JACKIE. With any luck, I’ll also catch some football while writing today …

 

Day 4: September 11, 2016

My final day at #TIFF16 saw fun times in the order-less line pictured here, but it was worth it: JACKIE, starring Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy, was the finest film I saw at the festival. And that’s saying something, because I saw several masterpieces. In addition to JACKIE, I loved three other films yesterday: Rooney Mara-starrer UNA, stunning coming-of-age drama MOONLIGHT, and the wondrously electric AMERICAN HONEY.
More to come on these and others, but right now it’s time to mow the lawn. (That’s a sure sign I’m home from the fest.)

#TIFF16 starts tomorrow … and I’ll be there

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My friend Jared Mobarak and I head north tomorrow morning, so make sure to keep up with the fun on Twitter. I’ll also be posting at BuffaloSpree.com, writing a feature for the November Spree, reviewing a couple TIFF selections for The Film Stage (if all goes according to plan, Una and Trespass Against Us), and one for The Playlist (Werewolf).

It’s all on … in less than 24 hours.

A TIFF16 ‘how-to’ and ten under-the-radar picks

Things to Come, courtesy of TIFF

Things to Come, courtesy of TIFF

It’s now a little more than one week until the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival, and two previews by yours truly were published this week. The first, for Buffalo.com, is a “how-to” guide for Buffalonians interested in attending, while the second, for BuffaloSpree.com, looks at 10 under-the-radar selections.

Lots more on the horizon, starting next Thursday, September 8 …

From Buffalo.com: Dipson Amherst screens ‘Thursday Night Terrors’

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I wrote about a cool new horror film series for Buffalo.com.

Peter Vullo loves horror movies. And that fandom has led the Buffalo native to create a new film series, “Thursday Night Terrors,” that horror junkies should find unmissable. All of the films in the monthly series, which opens with Peter Jackson’s zombie gem “Dead Alive” on Aug. 25, start at 7:30 p.m. in the Dipson Amherst Theatre (3500 Main St.). Admission is $7 (box office, dipsontheatres.com).

Here’s the full schedule:

  • Aug. 25: “Dead Alive” (Peter Jackson, 1992);
  • Sept. 29: “Demons” (Lamberto Bava, 1985);
  • Oct. 27: “Fright Night” (Tom Holland, 1985);
  • Nov. 17: “Phantasm II” (Don Coscarelli, 1988);
  • Dec. 15: “The Thing” (John Carpenter, 1982).

“‘Dead Alive’ is the perfect introduction,” Vullo said of the five-film series. “It’s gory, gross, ridiculous and just plain fun to watch. It’s a completely unhinged splatterfest. The lawnmower scene in particular is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.”

That infamous sequence is emblematic of what makes the “Thursday Night Terrors” selections so memorable. Vullo said he chose the five features because they all include the types of unforgettable moments – such as the spider-legged head from “The Thing” – that make the horror film experience so thrilling.

An assistant manager at the Dipson Amherst, Vullo hopes those attending the screenings “will feel like watching your favorite movies with friends. Some of my fondest memories are getting together with my friends and watching some ridiculous movie as a group. It’s a shared experience.”

Spree’s August ‘Coming Attractions’: Pixar, Sharon Stone (!), and Goodfellas

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Check out my August Buffalo Spree column.

August is generally a strange month in moviehouses, and 2016 is no exception: a mix of some biggies (DC’s Suicide Squad), some question marks (a remake of Ben-Hur that no one asked for), and some WTFs (the adults-only animated flickSausage Party).

Perhaps Western New York’s summer film series are the safest bet. The latest are listed here, along with a few other goodies.

Squeaky Wheel’s Thirteenth Animation Fest

Squeaky’s animation festival is a perennial summer favorite, a family friendly even that features a wildly diverse range of artists and mediums. Info was still to come as Spree went to press, so make sure to check squeaky.org. However, there is one big change this year, as the fest will be held in a number of different locations on various nights. It all kicks off on August 6. (First screening scheduled for Aug. 6; squeaky.org)

Tuesday Night Flix at Canalside

The Catholic Health-sponsored free outdoor film series goes all-in on family fare this month: Marvel’s The Avengers on August 2; the Robin Williams favorite Jumanji on August 9; some Pixar fun with Monsters, Inc. on August 16; Steven Spielberg’s unfairly maligned Hook on August 23; and Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial on August 30. Young Audiences Western New York (YAWNY) has crafts planned pre-movie on August 2, 16, and 30. Note that there is just one more Canalside screening post-August, with Mean Girls—a.k.a., Lindsay Lohan’s finest hour—on September 6.  (8:30 p.m. on August 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30 on Pierce Lawn at Canalside;canalsidebuffalo.com)

Amherst Youth and Recreation Department 2016 Summer Movie Series

There are some recurring films in this summer’s kid-friendly outdoor film series, and that’s just fine. (As any parent knows, repeat viewing is nearly as common as tooth-brushing.) Following a screening of recent smash Zootopia at Bedford Park on August 5, the series moves back to its home base, the Clearfield Community Center, for screenings of Norm of the North (August 12), The Good Dinosaur (August 19), and The Avengers(August 26). (8:30 p.m. on Aug. 5 at Bedford Park, Amherst; 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 12, 19, and 26 at Clearfield Community Center, 730 Hopkins Rd., Williamsville; amherstyouthandrec.org)

Bacchus Summer Film Series

One of the most eagerly awaited summer series each year takes place on the back patio at downtown restaurant Bacchus. And really, you have to love a series that starts (in June) with Purple Rain and ends (in September) with Steel Magnolias. That’s range! August’s lineup includes—take a deep breath—Ghostbusters(August 3), Bridget Jones’ Diary (August 4), Goodfellas (August 10), The Wedding Singer (August 11), Frozen(August 14), Back to the Future (August 17), Beaches (August 18), Star Wars: The Force Awakens (August 24), Charlie’s Angels (August 25), Enter the Dragon (August 26), and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (August 31). Just make sure not to mix up your days and bring the kiddos to Goodfellas rather than Frozen. Oops! (Dusk at 56 W. Chippewa St.; bacchusbuffalo.com.)

Movies in the Meadow

The Parkside Community Association’s annual series is held every Friday in August. This year’s lineup is Zootopia on August 5; the early Tom Hanks gem The Money Pit on August 12; the Mogwai shenanigans of Gremlins on August 19; and lastly, the Burt Reynolds-Goldie Hawn comedy Best Friends on August 26. The latter famously includes scenes shot in Buffalo. (The series ends the following week with Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy on September 2.)  (9 p.m. on Aug. 5, 12, 19, and 26 at Parkside Lodge in Delaware Park;parksidebuffalo.org)

Free Outdoor Family Movie Night and Kids Pajama Party at Green Acres Ice Cream

The Depew ice cream shop known as Green Acres offers some of the usual suspects this month—Inside Out on August 2, Kung-Fu Panda 3 on August 16, Norm of the North on August 23. But the highlight in my household is Hotel Transylvania 2 on August 16, since my daughter is obsessed with the Jell-O-like Blobby. Ice cream plus Blobby equals good times. (Movies start at dusk at 4357 Broadway, Depew;greenacresicecream.com)

Grand Island Movies in the Park

Perhaps you’re sick of hearing about Ghostbusters following the much-hyped July release of a new entry with a new cast. If not, then you’ll be excited to know the original film starring Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd screens at 11 p.m. on August 27 as part of the Grand Island Movies in the Park series. Ice Age: Meltdown starts off the night, at 9 p.m. (Town Commons, 2255 Baseline Rd., Grand Island; coreymcgowan.com)

TCM Big Screen Classics

Turner Classic Movies brings John Belushi back to the screen with a special presentation of National Lampoon’s Animal House on August 14 and 17. It starts with a specially produced intro from TCM host Ben Mankiewicz, but the real draw is the film itself, an iconic classic that feels as funny today as it did upon release. Missing out on this one earns you a 0.0. Meanwhile, a very different bit of beloved cinema, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I, returns on August 28 and 31 in honor of its sixtieth anniversary. (Animal House: 2 and 7 p.m. on Aug. 14 and 17; The King and I: 2 and 7 p.m. on Aug. 28 and 31; both at the Regal Elmwood Center, 2001 Elmwood Ave., and Regal Transit Center, 6707 Transit Rd., Williamsville; fathomevents.com)

Aurora Theatre Summer Family Film Series

The gorgeous and historic Aurora Theatre once again offers a summer of free family films. July featured the likes of Shrek and Paddington, while this month kids can watch The Lorax on August 3 and 6, and Night at the Museum on August 10 and 13.

11 a.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays through August 13 at the Aurora Theatre, 673 Main St., East Aurora;theauroratheatre.com)

UB Undergraduate Student Association Summer Film Series

The University at Buffalo’s popular summer series started in June and has seen a nice selection of recent cinema, including Oscar winner The Revenant and the chilling sequel 10 Cloverfield Lane. The August lineup includes the acclaimed buddy comedy The Nice Guys (Aug. 1, 3 and 5); Captain America: Civil War (Aug. 8, 10, 12, and 28); X-Men: Apocalypse (Aug. 15, 17 and 19); Alice Through the Looking Glass (Aug. 22);Independence Day: Resurgence (Aug. 24 and 26); and Central Intelligence (Aug. 28). Locations for the free screenings are the Special Events Field adjacent to the Student Union and Greiner Hall on the North Campus, and the Hayes Hall lawn on the South Campus; check sa.buffalo.edu for specific locations for each date. (8:45 p.m.; check sa.buffalo.edu for locations, which vary between UB’s South and North campuses)

Buffalo Film Seminars

The latest season of Bruce Jackson and Diane Christian’s long-running film series starts with Ernst Lubitsch’s comedy Trouble in Paradise on August 30, and the rest of the fall semester features treats from the likes of Fellini, Welles, Ashby, De Palma, and Tarkovsky. (7 p.m. on August 30 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main. St.; csac.buffalo.edu/bfs.html)

Transit Drive-In Retro Movie Tuesday

The Transit Drive-In’s retro lineup is the only one in WNY to feature Basic Instinct, so it’s earned my respect. August features Little Shop of Horrors and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (August 2); Better Off Dead and One Crazy Summer (August 9); The Princess Bride and A Knight’s Tale (August 16); and the aforementioned Basic Instinct and Fatal Attraction (August 30). The films for August 23 are TBA. Check transitdrivein.com for start times. (6655 S. Transit Rd., Lockport; transitdrivein.com)

Cultivate Cinema Circle

CCC’s summer season ends with King Hu’s newly restored wuxia favorite A Touch of Zen on August 4 andGasland director Josh Fox’s documentary In How to Let Go of the World and Love All The Things Climate Can’t Change on August 24. (Zen: 7 p.m. on August 4 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre, 3500 Main St.; Climate: 8 p.m. on August 24 at Burning Books, 420 Connecticut St.; cultivatecinemacircle.com)

Flix Free Family Film Series

The popular free summer series at Flix is back again, and August features Rio 2 (August 6), Hotel Transylvania 2 (August 13), Curious George (August 20), and Minions (August 27). (10 a.m. Saturdays through August 27 at Flix Stadium 10, 4901 Transit Rd., Lancaster; dipsontheatres.com)

Robin Williams Films at the Riviera

The Riviera Theatre often has novel concepts for its film series, and this summer is especially interesting: a remembrance of the late Robin Williams. While his filmography is certainly checkered, there are numerous gems. July’s screenings included Hook and Dead Poets Society, while this month’s diverse list features Aladdin (11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on August 11); Good Morning Vietnam (7 p.m. on August 11); Jumanji (11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on August 18); and Good Will Hunting (7 p.m. on August 18). (67 Webster St., N.Tonawanda;rivieratheatre.org)

 

Also screening this month …

The Roycroft Film Society is in the mood for Mel, with Mel Brooks’s inspired 1976 comedy Silent Movie set to screen on August 13. It’s a unique choice from the filmmaker’s 1970s filmography, as it’s certainly less well known than the filmmaker’s Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein(8:30 p.m. on Aug. 13 at Parkdale Elementary School, 141 Girard Ave., East Aurora; roycroftcampuscorp.com)

Free Family Movie Nights at Artpark features two of Pixar’s finest: Inside Out on August 15 and The Incredibles on August 22. (7:30 p.m. on August 15 and 22 at Artpark, 450 South 4th St., Lewiston; artpark.net)

Speaking of Pixar, this month’s free outdoor movie at Chestnut Ridge Park is Cars(8:15-10:30 p.m. on Aug. 19 at Chestnut Ridge Park, Orchard Park; chestnutridgeconservancy.org)

The Buffalo & Erie County Public Library’s Thursday Film Series has a “summer camp” theme this month. The titles are TBA. (5-7:30 p.m. on Aug. 4, 11, 18, and 25 at the Central Library, 1 Lafayette Sq.; buffalolib.org)

Here’s why you should be watching ‘Stranger Things’ on Netflix

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I was thrilled to write about the hit Netflix series “Stranger Things” for the Buffalo News “You Should Be Watching” column.

“Stranger Things” saved summer. Seriously. Big-screen blockbusters are sputtering, “Game of Thrones” is done for the year, and real life is real scary. Thank goodness, then, for the fictional scares of Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” an enthralling story of four friends, one monster, a mother on a quest to save her son, and a little girl named Eleven with special powers.

Title: “Stranger Things”

Year it began: 2016

Where it can be seen: Netflix

Who’s in it: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton and Matthew Modine

Typical episode length: 55 minutes or less

Number of episodes to date: 8

Brief plot description: A young boy disappears in a small Indiana town in 1983, and his three best friends, mother, older brother and the local police chief are determined to find him. But the appearance of a mysterious girl with extraordinary abilities means the quest will be more complex than anyone could have imagined.

Why it’s worth watching: From its title font – in the style of Stephen King paperbacks like “Needful Things” – to its Spielberg-esque focus on the friendship of “Dungeons and Dragons”-obsessed adolescent boys, there has rarely been a show as upfront about its influences as “Stranger Things.” But the series is more than just a 1980s pastiche thanks to its believable characters and the actors who inhabit those roles. Writer-directors Matt and Ross Duffer have assembled a cast of stellar veterans – a never-better Winona Ryder, Matthew Modine in bad-guy mode – and likable kids and teenagers. (The standout is young Millie Bobby Brown, whose performance as the powerful, wounded Eleven is heartbreaking.) The story of missing 12-year-old Will Byers culminates in a satisfying but nicely open-ended conclusion in Episode Eight. The ending, of course, has already led to prognosticating on the second season. Yes, the show is already overanalyzed … and it just premiered on July 15. But that, too, is part of the fun. Not since “Twin Peaks” and “The X-Files” has there been a sci-fi (ish) series that truly warrants this level of theorizing and analysis. (If there’s an “Eleven” … Is there a “One,” “Two,” etc.? Can Matthew Modine’s hair get any whiter?) “Stranger Things” is an addictive joy, and I dare you to stop after one episode.

Yes, it’s almost time for TIFF16: Analyzing the first batch of announcements

La La Land; courtesy of TIFF

La La Land; courtesy of TIFF

TIFF16 is almost upon us … so I wrote about the festival’s first announcements for BuffaloSpree.com. The piece went live on July 27, hence the title, “42 days till TIFF16
Analyzing the first batch of Toronto Film Fest announcements.”

And we’re off … The fall festival season has begun. OK, it’s still July. But once the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) holds its introductory press conference, announcements begin to leak for fests in Venice and New York, and Telluride rumors begin, it’s clear the attention of cinephiles has moved on from summer cinema to autumn Oscar hopefuls.

TIFF15 was a fine festival, with highlights like eventual award winners Spotlight and Room, delights like Brooklyn and The Martian, and high-profile disappointments like Black Mass. At this point it’s too early to judge the TIFF16 lineup, especially since the eventual lineup will number around 300 (!).

Admittedly, the announcement of The Magnificent Seven as this year’s opening film is likely to disappoint all but the star-crazy folks who line up along King Street for a glimpse of celebrities. Antoine Fuqua’s remake of the 1960 western is an iffy proposition — the director’s last film was the justifiably forgotten The Equalizer— but it does star Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt. The festival’s opening films are notoriously a mixed bag, but it’s especially hard to summon much enthusiasm for Seven.

Still, the list of forty-nine Special Presentations and nineteen Gala Presentations includes numerous highlights. Consider just a few of the films announced for this year’s festival, running from September 8 to 18:

  • La La Land: Director Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash was one of 2014’s finest films. His hugely anticipated follow-up starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, La La Land, could not look more enticing. A musical set in modern Los Angeles, the film boasts one of the most striking trailers in ages.
  • Nocturnal Animals: Designer Tom Ford made a startling debut as a director with 2009’s A Single Man, and his second feature is ridiculously star-packed: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Michael Sheen. Intrigued? If not, try the plot summary: “[T]he story of a woman who is forced to confront the demons of her past, as she is drawn into the world of a thriller novel written by her ex-husband.” Yes, you’re in, and so am I.
  • American Pastoral: Ewan McGregor is close to the last person I would’ve pictured as Philip Roth’s “Swede” Levov. But to McGregor’s credit, he found a way to bring the 1960s-set Pulitzer Prize-winning novel to life with himself as director and star. Considering how long it’s taken to see Pastoral hit the big screen, I’m willing to accept Obi-Wan as “Swede.”
  • A United Kingdom: Belle, Amma Asante’s 2013 hit, was a moving period drama. For her next effort, A United Kingdom, she has lined up two great actors — Selma’s David Oyelowo and Gone Girl’s Rosamund Pike. It’s the “true story of Seretse Khama, King of Bechuanaland (modern Botswana), and Ruth Williams, the London office worker he married in 1947 in the face of fierce opposition from their families and the British and South African governments.” Sounds like another fascinating historical film.

In addition to those four, there are recent Cannes’ favorites like Toni Erdman and Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson, buzzed-about Sundance smashes Manchester by the Sea and Birth of a Nation, and some real question marks. (Woody Harrelson as LBJ? Directed by Rob Reiner? Hmm.)

The Canadian lineup will be announced at a press conference next week, and plenty more announcements will arrive during the next month-plus. Fingers crossed for Kristen Stewart-starrer Personal Shopper, Oasis documentary Supersonic, and Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or winner I, Daniel Blake.

Is it September 8 yet?

Pondering ‘Ghostbusters’: A film as fun — and as essential — as anything else in 2016

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“Ghostbusters” is as deliriously pleasurable as any film I’ve seen in 2016. And I say that with no hesitation. It is, in fact, as good as the flawed but ever-watchable originals, and in some ways even superior.

Yes, the world-building can be a bit much, the villain is lame and poorly conceived, the cameos are fun but almost overwhelming, the adherence to the original film, especially, is a bit too snug. (Thrown out of the college/PO’ing the mayor/etc.)

But it’s FUN. And FUNNY. And so much smarter than its trailers, and its prerelease buzz, might have you believe.

The greatness of Kate McKinnon has been well-documented (and very well, by the likes of Wired and Vulture), but let me join the chorus: her Holtzmann is one of the most utterly delightful creations in recent cinema. You can’t take your eyes off her, and that’s due to McKinnon’s charisma. I have not been a “Saturday Night Live” watcher for some time now, so this was my first KM experience. My goodness. (I’ve been scouring YouTube for the clip of her lip-syncing DeBarge, but no such luck.)

All four leads are quite good, especially Leslie Jones, and it would be hard not to relish Chris Hemsworth’s performance as the wonderfully idiotic Kevin. Interestingly, it is the interplay of the four leads that I’ll most remember. The same is true of 1984’s “Ghostbusters,” a film that works so well mainly because of the charms of its cast and the novelty of its concept. The effects and the story were adequate, at best; the same is true of “Ghostbusters” 2016. And that’s fine. (Several reviews criticized the effects-laden finale. Um, it’s “Ghostbusters.” That’s pretty much how things are going to end.)

It pains me that many will remember the 2016 “Ghostbusters” mainly for the absurd, inane culture-war horseshit that’s swirled around the film for months. I feel sorry for the haters, those whose misogyny or backwards sense of nostalgia keeps them from seeing and appreciating something so joyful. It’s their loss.

Driving home after the film, I realized what makes “Ghostbusters,” for me, such a profound success: It’s something that 5 or 10 or 15 years from now I can imagine watching with both my daughter and my son, and finding as enjoyable as I do now. But more than that, I can see my daughter loving the fact that onscreen are four women who are presented as something beyond The Girlfriend/The Wife/The Secretary. They are the heroes, and they are science nerds, and they are hilarious. It’s probably clichéd to say that I’m more cognizant of such things after having a daughter. But it’s true. Today, I see more clearly than I may have before exactly why these representations are downright essential. And above all other reasons, that’s why “Ghostbusters” is a landmark summer blockbuster. Regardless of how much money it earns or what the final critic consensus may be, this is important. This means something.

Other random thoughts:

  • Loved the “Bababooey” shout near the end, surely wedged in by Stern Show super-fan Paul Feig.
  • The blink-and-you-miss-it tribute to Harold Ramis felt more resonant than any of the cameos, actually.
  • I truly hope the film’s box office is strong enough to earn a sequel. Similar to the upcoming follow-up to “The Force Awakens,” the set-up is complete. Now Feig and company can go in whatever direction they’d like.
  • Kate McKinnon. Kate McKinnon. Kate McKinnon.