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Captain Canada's Movie Rodeo
May 2018

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As I look forward to Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro working together for the upcoming Netflix release The Irishman (I guess I would prefer it would up somewhere else, but Netflix did sink an awful lot of money into this release), it’s easy to think about the great collaborations about film. That’s one theme that I can just never get tired of writing or reading about.

Almost as much as actual collaborations between filmmakers and actors/writers/etc, I like imagining the ones that never happened. That includes partnerships that I would have liked to have seen continue. Thinking of Scorsese again, I wish he and Daniel Day-Lewis had worked together at least one or two more times. It would have been nice to watch Kurosawa and Mifune grow old together through the former’s films. One more really good movie with Peter Falk and Alan Arkin would have been nice.

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro on the set of  The Irishman . 

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro on the set of The Irishman

As for the ones that never happened, and most likely, never will, I can get a little silly. I wish Charles Laughton had made more than one film, and I really wish Vincent Price had starred in it. Mid-period Samuel Fuller and George Clooney roundabout now would have been interesting. I always wonder what Ida Lupino could have done with bigger budgets and name actors eager to work with someone as creative as she was at her peak. Jane Campion is thankfully still among the living, but the odds aren’t great that she’s going to work with Gregory Peck or Lelia Goldoni (who is actually still alive, too, but seemingly retired) anytime soon.

It goes on like that. This is also something I never get tired of talking about, so feel free to weigh in with your own favorite dream collaborations. Pretty sure you guys can come up with some better examples than the ones I have listed above.


Avengers: Infinity War (2018): A-

Image © Marvel 

Image © Marvel 

It’s almost pointless to even review Infinity War at this point. At least, it is for me. Through mounting, undesired cynicism in virtually every other facet of my life, I’ve remained pretty emotionally invested in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A lot of us have. Beyond the fact that this series has changed the landscape of blockbuster cinema, perhaps for good, we’re talking about a decade’s worth of movies that are largely good-to-great. These movies have made a plethora of superheroes known to more than just people who know comic books. I could go on, and I’m honestly tempted to. 

I have no idea if I’m going to stick around beyond Infinity War Part Two next year (probably), but I do know one thing: This was a very satisfying first part of the conclusion to one of the best film narratives ever created. We also have a fourth Avengers in 2019, which is the end of contracts for a number of M.C.U. veterans. Nonetheless, Infinity War sets an impressive benchmark for epics. Later, we can pick apart the imperfections. For now, let’s just say that this film is going to satisfy almost everyone who has been waiting for it. 

Being Two Isn’t Easy (1962): B+

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Over a career of some 70 years, Kon Ichikawa made some of the most gently weird films to be found anywhere in post-War Japanese cinema. Being Two isn’t Easy draws from his habit of telling stories from the perspective of those who rarely get a serious look from storytellers, while also coming from his background and fondness for animation. “Cartoonish” isn’t quite the perfect word to describe this story of childhood, told from the perspective of a toddler, but there is a singular energy to this film that draws you to not only the child’s circumstances and frustrations, but those of his parents, as well. Try to imagine a less-aggressive variation of Look Who’s Talking, something which treats the characters and story with kindness in its amusement over just how ridiculous all of us really are.

Andre the Giant (2018): B+ 

Image © HBO 

Image © HBO 

If you already know a lot about Andre, I’m not sure you’re going to discover any new information here. This recent HBO documentary, however, offers more than enough new/rare footage of one of the greatest professional wrestlers to ever help establish an entire industry. I don’t think you’re going to care about the lack of revelations in this latest telling of one of the greatest, and most tragic, stories in the history of wrestling. New interviews with Hulk Hogan (who gets as close to not being a dick as he’s ever going to get at this stage of his career), Rob Reiner, Robin Wright, Vince McMahon (who surprisingly provides one of the film’s most emotional moments) provide additional depth to a man who still seems to be at least partially defined by his legends. The documentary explores these legends with great grace, crafting the best cinematic summation of Andre’s life to date.

Andre the Giant also continues the appealing trend of wrestling documentaries that give the narratives, cultures, and performers of this industry the respect and dignity it deserves. 

The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling (2018): A-

Image © HBO 

Image © HBO 

May as well bang out as many new HBO documentaries as possible this month. Apparently. 

Say what you want about Judd Apatow’s comedy and/or writing choices, particularly as a director. Even if you actively hate his work, the man himself, or just everything his “brand” of comedy (which I think sometimes obscures the fact that Apatow as a writer and director has done a significant amount of growing up over the years) stands for, I would encourage you strongly to watch this two-part documentary. Apatow’s enthusiasm for his long-time comedy hero and mentor Garry Shandling is winning on its own terms. The whole thing gets even better, however, when Apatow also brings his natural filmmaking gifts for pacing, and exploring detail without getting tedious.

The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling is a tribute, mixed with footage that Apatow and Shandling collaborated on, in the last few years, before his unexpected passing a couple of years ago. Through numerous interviews with colleagues, friends, family, and everyone else who made up the long, genuinely underappreciated career and life that Shandling amassed, despite becoming fairly reclusive by the early 2000s. His influence on comedy is rarely discussed in serious terms. Anyone who wants to appreciate an architect of modern humor, especially one who is still pretty fucking funny, will want to make time testament to laughter as a profound measure against the hopelessness of the world.

Pure Luck (1991): D- 

Image © Universal Pictures 

Image © Universal Pictures 

There is something along the lines of fascinating, when it comes to this justifiably forgotten remake of the 1981 French film La Chèvre Danny Glover remains an underrated leading man for me, but there’s not a whole lot for him to do this with this desperate, depressingly inept obscurity. Martin Short is Martin Short. There is no middle ground with his comedy, particularly in terms of how you feel about it. Very little about his style has ever been something you would describe as subtle. Still, that has worked out well for him in the past. It just doesn’t work here, and it hurts this movie’s suffocating momentum that Short and Glover have zero chemistry to one another.

You may stick with this to the end. If nothing else, it’ll be easy to up the idiot stakes of what this movie is going to do next. Unfortunately, even that runs out of promise and self-respect, and that happens long before the move ever actually ends. It’s a shame I have to say this, because I remember seeing this movie on cable A LOT, when I was growing up in British Columbia, Canada, but I was hoping for a self-sustaining train wreck. If not that, then at least something that would justify sitting alone in my basement on a Saturday night, watching movies that I’m sure the principal cast would like to forget ever existed. Bleak cinematic rabbit holes such as Pure Luck makes me wonder if I made the right call, when I decided to make zero effort towards making and keeping friends. I wonder sometimes. 

Gabriel Ricard writes, edits, and occasionally acts. His books Love and Quarters and Bondage Night are available through Moran Press, in addition to A Ludicrous Split (Alien Buddha Press) and Clouds of Hungry Dogs (Kleft Jaw Press). He is also a writer, performer, and producer with Belligerent Prom Queen Productions. He lives on a horrible place called Long Island.