Each month, (Cult)ure movie nerd April Yorke chats with Mayfair co-owner and geek-in-chief Josh Stafford about what’s playing at Ottawa’s home of stuff you won’t see anywhere else. For August, we wildly speculate about the plots of movies we’ve never seen, create all manner of hypenates, and start an Alison Pill fan club. All this, and a startling confession.
JS: I have no idea what you could be talking about.
(C): You are about to be surprised, then! By Derby, Baby!
JS: Oh yeahhhhh, the awesome new roller derby documentary.
(C): Just a one-time only screening brought to you by the Rideau Valley Roller Girls. With beer and door prizes and derby ladies in attendance. NBD.
JS: I love the Rideau Valley Roller Girls!
JS: Wait, do I have to pretend to be neutral for some kind a journalistic or tax break reasons?
(C): Come clean, Josh. It’s good for the soul.
JS: Roller derby is the greatest thing since candy, comic books, and Joss Whedon movies.
(C): Pretty much, yeah.
JS: We screened the Derby, Baby! trailer in front of Indie Game. It looks great.
(C): How could it not? It’s a two-years-in-the-making doc about the global phenomenon that is women kicking ass.
JS: I like that it was one of them self-financed-thanks-to-the-internet kinda movies, as was Indie Game, I believe.
(C): Fun facts with Josh Stafford!
JS: While the studios are wasting their time with Michael Bay and Brett Ratner, filmmakers are making great movies without them right under their noses!
(C): Sneaky! Except . . . I don’t mean to blow holes in your theory or anything . . . but there are some filmmakers making great movies for the studios, too. Perhaps in the form of Joss Whedon.
JS: Yes, we’re showing his latest movie. It didn’t get a lot of publicity or find much of an audience or praise over in the multiplexes, so I hope our patrons give it a chance.
(C): You’re really asking them to go out on a limb. I mean, a man that turns into a giant green hulk? Boring!
JS: I can’t keep up the ruse! I love The Avengers!
(C): A shocking turn of a events!
JS: Joss Whedon did everything that aforementioned Mr. Bay wishes and thinks he is doing with his trainwrecks — big and loud and adventurous, but with characters and plot and acting.
(C): Next you’ll be saying you can actually follow the action on screen!
JS: You can! I hope the powers that be learn a lesson and go, “Ohhhhh, we can make money AND make quality films!?”
(C): Could it be? Of course, you would have thought they learned that lesson 5x over from Christopher Nolan.
JS: Except The Avengers had an actual ending.
(C): Harsh words!
JS: Sorry, Mr. Nolan, your piles of money will comfort you against my harsh geek criticisms.
(C): What if they break his poor heart? Think about what you’re doing!
JS: Why didn’t he tell Christian Bale to stop talking like cookie monster!?! Why!?!
(C): You do realize that’s digitally enhanced, don’t you?
JS: Then push the button to make that sound stop!
(C): Fine. We can hold up Ridley Scott for the quality/money axiom.
JS: Ridley’s like 80 years old and shaming those young punk directors. I loved Prometheus. I think the movie had a bit of a damned if you do and damned if you don’t angle to it, though.
(C): In terms of people’s expectations?
JS: Yeah. If it was just a straight Alien prequel with Noomi Rapace fighting space bugs, then nerds would yell that it’s a copycat. If it’s totally different, then people would yell, “Where’s the space bugs and the robot exoskeleton lifting machine!?!” I thought it was completely stand alone and yet had a bunch a nods to the franchise. If you never have seen an Alien film, that’s fine; if you’re a super-fan like me, there’s all kinds of “ohhhhhhh” moments.
(C): Plus Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace’s abs.
JS: Fassbender! The hardest working man in show-bizness!
(C): He’s making hay while the sun in shining, that one.
JS: If Hollywood is going to force everyone to make only sequels and prequels and reboots and adaptations, I’m glad some of them can at least still be good.
(C): You could also groove on the Airport movies.
JS: We have not one but five disaster movies from the 70s, including a movie I never heard of before!
(C): Which? Which?
JS: The Swarm. Michael Caine vs. bees! That’s the amazing thing about movies — even the utmost movie nerd has holes in his knowledge library. He’s my favourite actor, and I’ve never seen him fight bees!
(C): Your life is about to change! Alright, now, I think you’re a Cronenberg fan.
JS: Yes. And you know I love Twilight.
(C): Sparkly boyband vampires are your favourite thing, yes.
JS: Slap those two things together . . . Bam! Cosmopolis.
(C): You must be pumped!
JS: Do you think this will actually gain Mr. Pattinson some street cred?
(C): It’s got to be better for him than playing Dalì.
JS: That’s a thing?!
(C): Little Ashes.
JS: I clearly gotta get caught up on my Pattinson films. I haven’t seen sparkly vampires OR sparkly Dalì.
(C): Next you are going to tell me that you haven’t seen him — spoiler — die in the World Trade Centre.
JS: Nope. Wait a minute! In Water for Elephants he played Jacob!? Whoah.
(C): Yes, it’s about werewolves and were-elephants. Who are really thirsty.
JS: Green light!
(C): Anyway, can you really rustle up any excitement for Cosmopolis?
JS: I give anything Cronenberg does a shot. I appreciate his diversity — always weird but different levels of weird. Though this movie has a distinct lack of Viggo.
(C): Yeah, but you get other cool peeps.
JS: Some Jay Baruchel.
(C): Some Paul Giamatti.
JS: I just like that one of our greatest talents is a Cronenberg kinda guy instead of like a Ron Howard or something. Any outsider who thinks Canadians are all dull and plain . . . we just have to point to a Cronenberg movie. “We’re crazy!”
(C): Are there people who don’t think Canadian movies are just so weird? I think that’s their predominant quality.
JS: We make poutine and weird and/or violent and/or sex-filled movies. And for more Canadian weirdness, we have Beyond the Black Rainbow.
(C): I’m kind of confused about that one. How can you imprison someone who’s telekinetic?
JS: We will find out. The trailer looks like it’s a lost sci-fi film from the 70s. I think it’s one of those movies you can enjoy and yet not understand.
(C): I should hope so since I don’t understand the trailer.
JS: The director’s name is Panos Cosmatos. I don’t even understand that.
(C): I guess we’re in for a surprise, then.
JS: I think the new Woody Allen movie will be a bit less confusing?
(C): You’d be surprised there, too.
JS: Well, he’s still not back home in NYC, but he is acting again.
(C): Plus at least one plot may or may not have a character that may or may not be real.
JS: Hmm. That seems like not so far fetched for a Woody Allen-verse movie.
(C): You’ll have to wait and see.
JS: And it’s got some Ellen Page Canadian content.
(C): And Alison Pill!
JS: I did not know that! She’s on my arm!
(C): And in your theatre. Win-win.
JS: It keeps up the cinematic diversity and means I don’t push to just play Scott Pilgrim every night.
(C): She is in other movies, you know.
JS: Yeah, like To Rome With Love!
(C): And Goon and Milk.
JS: Seen it. Seen it. Both at the Mayfair.
(C): See? You are becoming a regular Alison Pill connoisseur.
JS: And Midnight in Paris. Two Woody movies in a row. She’s a regular Scarlett Johansson.
(C): I think she would have made The Avengers even better, too.
JS: She can play The Wasp in part 2.
(C): Quick, email Joss!
JS: I have him on speed dial! Oh wait . . . only my imagination has that. She could have maybe even made The Room better.
(C): Is this an anniversary month for Mayfair and the ol’ Room?
JS: Three years. We have played The Room 36 times, and people keep coming. I’d yell, “What’s wrong with you people?!”, but that sounds counter-productive to the being-nice-to-the-patrons business model. I think we’re the only theatre on the planet that has this stretch going. That is un-researched, but let’s put that rumour out there. Someone go put that on Wikipedia.
(C): Please do! Unsubstantiated rumours are the best!
JS: Like that time me and Peter O’Toole were back to back in a drunken barroom brawl.
(C): Everyone knows if anyone’s got your back, it’s gonna be ol’ Pete.
JS: Peter O’Toole has never won an Oscar = awards are meaningless.
(C): But he has been nominated 8 times, so he’s got that to keep him warm in retirement. That, and Lawrence of Arabia.
JS: Eminem has more Oscars than Peter O’Toole!
(C): “Lose Yourself” is a really good song!
JS: We have Lawrence of Arabia on the big screen for its 50th anniversary, crossing over with our ongoing projector drive.
(C): And it has a Prometheus tie-in!
JS: He fights an alien!? I don’t remember that. The best is the poster that says, “Introducing Peter O’Toole.”
(C): Man, you really are in for surprises this month. Oh, wait, Peter O’Toole got one of those honourary Oscars.
JS: Honourary is okay, I guess. Didn’t Cannibal Ferox also get one of those?
(C): Surprisingly enough, no. Another sign of awards meaninglessness!
JS: Fools, the lot of those award giver-outers!
(C): How can they not go in for a tagline like “Make ’em die slowly”?
JS: It’s the self-proclaimed most controversial movie ever made. Have you seen how many movies are made? That’s quite the accomplishment.
(C): Did they actually eat people on set?
JS: No, but authorities thought they did. They had to prove that it wasn’t a snuff film by showing that the actress was still alive. There is definitely some animal massacre. “No animals were harmed” could not be tagged on to the end credits of this one. It was a brutal cannibalistic kinda times, those late 70s/early 80s.
(C): Those where the glory days. Disasters left and right.
JS: At the Mayfair you can see a horror movie banned in 31 countries or on another night catch a film that’s safe to bring Grandma to.
(C): Just try not to get those two confused unless your granny misses the glory days, too.
JS: Yes, bring her to something more along the lines of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel or The Intouchables.
(C): What?! Those sound dirty!
JS: Most British and French things do, but I think they are safe. Maggie Smith would not lead us wrong.
(C): That girl? She’s into the craziest shit. It would make your hair stand on end.
JS: Hmm, she did do all those hedonistic witch and wizard movies.
(C): Exactly! Who knows what we can expect when she mixes it up with the likes of Bill Nighy!
JS: He’s in that wizard-y thing, too!
(C): We’re none of us safe from their debauchery. I mean, retirees in a hotel in India? What will it be next!
JS: Since filmmakers seem to like to continually remind us that we are not safe from the end of the world, the end of the world is next!
(C): Guaranteed! Either that or OAPs letting go and enjoying themselves in their autumn years. One or the other.
JS: I think that movie is free of an earth dooming asteroid, though. We showed that movie and Melancholiaand Take Shelter . . . Man, we’re downers. At least Seeking a Friend for the End of the World seems a little more “ha ha” apocalypse.
(C): But how’s that going to work? Everyone gets their happy forever ending? The world descending into lawlessness and anarchy seems scary to me.
JS: It’s seems like a Melancholia-lite or at least a movie without Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck punching the asteroid into submission.
(C): You don’t know that. Steve Carrell could totally punch an asteroid. He has it in him.
JS: Cue the Aerosmith rock ballad!
(C): If Steven Tyler’s wailing doesn’t make you feel the power of love, what will? Besides Huey Lewis?
JS: I will never turn down a Huey Lewis theme song. I think if he would have done the Master of the Universetheme song it would have been a regular Back to the Future. That was the most anticipated / biggest letdown of a movie ever, but it has a great midnight-movie-bad-80s-so-bad-it’s-awesome vibe now and forever.
(C): Frank Langella as Skeletor?! Frank Langella?!
JS: Yes, indeedy. And a young dancing-in-Bruce-Springsteen-videos era Courtney Cox. The 80s were a wondrous times of bizarre live action movies indeed.Master of the Universe is from the writer of The Dark Crystal and The Muppet Show! It must be great. Ah 1987, when Dolph Lundgren was a bankable action star.
(C): Shhh, you love The Expendables.
JS: There weren’t enough people expended in that movie.
(C): Too true. Maybe the sequel does a better job.
JS: If it wanted my respect, it should have been more like The Wild Bunch.
(C): EVERYTHING should be more like The Wild Bunch.
JS: I don’t want to play any spoilers into the conversation, but, if you’re doing a tough guy action movie, not everyone is allowed to get out alive.
(C): I don’t think you have to feel bad about spoilers for a movie that’s over 40 years old. That’s like feeling bad about Dickens spoilers.
JS: True. But that’s what I think Expendables lacked. Needed a bit more of a Wild Bunch bloodbath blaze-of-glory angle if they wanted to be thought of in the same corner of the movie world as Wild Bunch orMagnificent Seven. Hell, Serenity had more casualties.
(C): But that’s Whedon’s way.
JS: So this month people can come see Avengers, which is by Whedon, so someone is probably not getting out of there alive. Then watch Wild Bunch, pay tribute to Ernest Borgnine, and see how real tough guy movies are made.
(C): Now all the readers will be left wondering who shall die. One? Some? None? ALL?! How’s that for a tentpole?
JS: Marvel was pretty pissed that they didn’t pay attention to the final cut and notice that Joss killed all those franchise characters like that. Oops, spoiler!
(C): You ruined it for everyone!
JS: Oops! Sorry, Joss.
(C): He’s definitely not going to let you put him on speed dial now.
JS: But seriously. If you haven’t seen The Avengers, see it on the big screen while you can! It’s my favourite movie of 2012 besides for that other movie that Joss guy worked on!
(C): Or at least until his Much Ado About Nothing gets distributed!
JS: I’ll speed dial him and ask him if we can premiere it.