By Anne Brodie
Jules will make your heart swell with joy. Ben Kingsley in an outstanding performance as Milton, a small-town, Pennsylvanian, whose quiet life suddenly upends itself in a deus ex machina kind of way. Sure, Milton’s elderly and slow and sometimes forgets things, but he manages to live alone just fine. His daughter latches onto the idea that he needs to be in a home and pushes him into a disastrous meeting with a doctor. No one believes him when he says an alien spaceship landed in his yard “crushing my azaleas” and the alien inside now lives with him. But he’s right. Those azaleas are destroyed. And a tiny naked alien with “sympathetic” eyes is now his silent TV-watching, apple-loving companion and houseguest. Two local busybodies Sandy (Harriet Sansom Harris )and Joyce (Jane Curtin) whom he sees each week at the Town Hall meeting, where he states the same things every time, hear his claim, and jump into his life. They get up to speed and befriend the little being and know to keep their mouths shut. The Feds are in the area searching for a crashed satellite. This delightfully zany, heartfelt, witty, and hilarious experience is down to Gavin Steckler’s wicked imaginative and persuasive writing, director by Marc Turtletaub’s deft touch, and sensationally quiet and zany performances by three committed actors and a little hero alien, Dragon Slayer Jules (Jade Quon). Outstanding and seriously uplifting. In theatres.
Maite Alberdi shows the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s in her documentary The Eternal Memory. Augusto Góngora, an influential left-wing Chilean journalist, news anchor, and author who worked to topple dictator Augusto Pinochet had a powerful voice in Chile. He produced dozens of films and television shows and set the national conversation during the country’s crisis years. Góngora contributed to Chile: La Memoria Prohibida (Chile: The Forbidden Memory) on the Pinochet government’s abysmal record on human rights. We meet him at 71, having lost his memory and struggling. His second wife, actress Paulina Urrutia cares for him alone in the house they built. Alberdi’s painful, touching film follows them through his final downturn every sad step of the way. Brief periods of memory are few, replaced by utter confusion, and mood swings, as his exhausted wife and sole caregiver, lovebombs him into calm. She keeps him safe, and tries to “reconstruct his memory”. It’s hard to overstate their bond, her dedication, and his painful, rapid decline. Her loving patience shines through with flashes of who he was and the toll of dementia. Brilliant, truthful, intimate, and thorough, this exquisite doc will linger. TIFF Bell Lightbox and select theatres.
Nordic Noir fans rejoice- the Scandinavian streaming service Viaplay is packed with that moody, forest/nature-centric genre of frowning people locked in complex murder mysteries. The six-parter Fenris, available now, concerns strange goings-on in an arboreal forest village in Norway. We open on Daniel, a young lad deep in the forest at night, apparently tracking a wolf. As disturbing as that is, we’re seeing it unfold via hidden surveillance cameras. He disappears. Villagers are concerned that wolves are moving closer to town, killing livestock and pets, and believe they made off with Daniel, evidence eaten. Biologist Emma Salomonsen (Ida Elise Broch) arrives in her hometown to track the wolf pack, and tag them; and she tries to squelch rumours that the wolves killed Daniel for fear the wolves, her obsession, will be eradicated. Her father Marius (Magnus Krepper) her researcher, surveilles, tags, and reports on the wolves but he’s a drunk and harbouring something. They don’t join Daniel’s search party, and the boy’s bloody jacket shows up in Marius’ home and he too disappears. While the grieving mother (Julia Schacht) is immobilised, everyone in the village seems to know or pretends to know something, Daniel’s girlfriend, the local diner crowd, the interfering journalist pressing for a headline-grabbing “wolves take boy” story, and wolf friends and foes. Wow. Hella gripping and a quality production.
Casey Anthony: Where The Truth Lies now on Paramount+ will likely infuriate viewers. Eleven years after her acquittal on charges of murdering her two-year-old daughter Caylee she’s given her first interview and it’s a corker. You’ll remember Anthony didn’t report her daughter missing for 31 days until her mother forced her to call police; the tiny body was found in a bag in the woods. Speculation by her mother is that she killed her daughter so she could return to the party scene; pictures of her taken over that month show a party girl, laughing, whooping it up, sporting the tattoo Bella Vita – Life is Good. Hardly the actions of a mourning mother. The trial in South Florida became global news; Anthony was despised. She was acquitted despite a seeming mountain of evidence against her – her baked-in capacity for lies, naming a non-existent babysitter as Caylee’s killer, and her admission that she is a lifelong liar. She claims she followed the hard example of her father’s lies and his long-term abuse. Police noted the smell of a corpse in Anthony’s car, friends confirm her lies but she makes a few slips. Today she works for the firm that represented her; her boss says she’s never caught her in a lie and she claims she is now honest to a fault. This is one of the most vexing, feckless, self-pitying, cunning narcissists I’ve seen in a life of viewing documentaries. I don’t know what the purpose is in giving Anthony a platform except for the fact that it will do well. You’ll need a shower after watching. Several showers.
Please tune in to Stand Up To Cancer in its eighth annual television fundraiser on Saturday Night. The one-hour telecast has a new look and you’ll learn how the movement has engendered real change in life-saving cancer research. Streams on 55 platforms including America’s ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and at home, CBC, Citytv, CTV, Global TV, American Heroes Channel, AMC+, Aspire TV, AXS, Destination America, Discovery Family, Discovery Life, ESPN News, Estrella TV, Fight Network, FS2, Galavisión, Game+, HBO, HBO Latino, HD Net, IFC, Jewish Life Television, LATV, MGM+, Ovation, Pluto TV, Scripps News, Spectrum News, Starz, Tubi and UP TV. Also, is on TVOD on Disney+, Hulu, Max, Peacock, Showtime, and more. U.S. President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will appear with Elizabeth Banks, Jessica Biel, Don Cheadle, Katie Couric, Danai Gurira, Tony Hale, Ken Jeong, Queen Latifah, Maria Menounos, Julianne Moore, Tig Notaro, Jimmy Smits, Eric Stonestreet, and Justin Timberlake. The telecast will feature a special montage of comedic skits from past shows including Jack Black, Ben Falcone, Zach Galifianakis, Brad Garrett, Bill Hader, Jon Hamm, Kevin Hart, Ed Helms, Jay Leno, Melissa McCarthy, and Matthew McConaughey and past musical performances from the likes of Brittany Howard, Simone Ledward Boseman and The Who. Canada has Yannick Bisson, Johnny Garbutt, and Danielle Michaudand Sandie Rinaldo who share their personal connections to cancer. Please donate.