Tag Archives: Michael Ironside

After the Break: Dr. Joyce Brothers and a Demon!

Late Night with the Devil

by George Wolf

Who remembers The Amazing Randi?

He was that magician, author and “professional skeptic” who would come on the Johnny Carson show to debunk anyone claiming to have supernatural, paranormal or occult powers.

Memories of Randi aren’t required to feel the pull of Late Night with the Devil, but if you grew up around 1970s TV, you’re likely to have an even deeper appreciation for this high-concept homage from filmmakers Cameron and Colin Cairnes.

The Australian brothers who gave us the terrific low budget horror 100 Bloody Acres have essentially crafted their found footage genre entry, all centered around broadcast and BTS footage from the last episode of Night Owls with Jack Delroy, a nighttime talk show trying to compete with Carson.

The film’s prologue—featuring foreboding narration from Michael Ironside—tells us that by the late 70s, Delroy (a terrific David Dastmalchian) had been worried about the future of the show, which led to a fateful gamble.

Cue the footage!

Delroy’s “Randi” is Carmichael Haig (Ian Bliss, perfectly smug), who condescendingly debunks the show’s first guest, clairvoyant Christou (Fayssal Bazzi). Haig is then ready to do the same to Dr. June Ross-Mitchell’s (Laura Gordon) claim that her young patient Lilly (Ingrid Torelli) is possessed by a demon.

But Lilly’s got a surprise for sweeps week.

Cameron and Colin share the writing/directing duties, and they set an effective time stamp early on through solid production design and patient editing. The mood is one of appropriately cheesy humor amid some uneasy dread.

After all, we know what these wide-lapeled jokesters don’t: something nasty is about to go down.

The Cairnes boys take their time getting there, letting Dastmalchian reel us into Delroy’s easy charm and increasingly questionable backstory. Dastmalchian—a longtime supporting MVP blessed with a memorable face—is finally getting his chance to carry a film, and he does not disappoint.

Kudos also go out the effects department, rolling out a (mostly) practical finale that serves as a perfect capper to the film’s finely tuned aesthetic. Computer wizardry has no place in this world, and the Cairneses keep it refreshingly real.

Ultimately, what Late Night with the Devil has in mind is more like an R-rated Twilight Zone, with a twisty moral backed up by blood. Expect devilish fireworks and frisky throwback fun, even if you’re not scared out of your bellbottoms.

CrackBerry to WhackBerry


by George Wolf

So, a voice on the line says, “You have a collect call from ‘What the f%& is happening’!”

That’s not really the caller’s name.

He’s actually Jim Balsillie (a terrific Glenn Howerton), co-CEO of BlackBerry Limited, and he’s having yet another temper tantrum. The pairing of Balsillie’s bare-knuckled business sense with the tech genius of other CEO Mike Lazaridis (Jay Baruchel, perfectly awkward) made the company an early leader in the cell phone game, but things have started to unravel. Fast.

It’s a wild and often unhinged rise and fall, told with gleeful abandon by BlackBerry director and and co-writer Matt Johnson, who also co-stars as Doug Fregin, Lazaridis’s original business partner.

While operating a Canadian tech supply company called Research in Motion in 1996, Lazaridis and Fregin hatched the idea of utilizing North America’s unused bandwidth for a cellphone with built-in capability for email and messaging.

Balsillie, a Harvard-educated d-bag with self promotion tunnel vision, knew what the geeks had, and gave them his business street smarts in exchange for a big piece of the pie.

Johnson (Operation Avalanche) draws the battle lines early, framing the unfocused nerds with jittery, The Office-style camerawork amid chaotic workplaces while the calculating, take-no-prisoners suits live within crisp lines, confident movement and unforgiving architecture.

The colliding of worlds is engaging enough, but the delightfully sharp humor and first-rate ensemble (also including Michael Ironside) turn these based on true events into a rollicking, can’t-look-away slice of history.

There’s so much here that resonates – friendship, ambition, cutthroat capitalism and just feeling like an outcast. And at the root is the push and pull of commerce (Balsillie: “Are you familiar with the saying, ‘perfect is the enemy of good?”) vs. science (Lazaridis: “Well, ‘good enough’ is the enemy of humanity.”)

BlackBerry is a fast, funny and often thrilling ride, one that ends up worthy of both time spent and time capsule.

Saturday Mornings Come to Life

Turbo Kid

by Hope Madden

For the 10-year-old boy inside us all, Turbo Kid opens cinematically and on VOD today. It takes us to the post-apocalyptic future of 1997, many years after the catastrophe that destroyed most of humanity, leaving a scrappy few to scavenge for water and survival.

The film is expanded from a short originally rejected by the ABCs of Death franchise (in favor of T is for Toilet – eesh). The short is worth a Google, but the full length film is a celebration of early Eighties storytelling and juvenile imagination.

It’s a mash-up of the Power Rangers and Hobo with a Shotgun. That is, it’s a perfectly crafted time capsule: a low budget, live action Saturday morning kids show – except for the blood spray, entrails and f-bombs.

The Kid (Munro Chambers) wheels around the wasteland on his sweet bike, picking up bits of retro treasure to trade for water, ever watchful for the henchmen of evil overlord Zeus (Michael Ironside). His one real solace comes from the Turbo Man comics he gets in trade for his scavenged booty.

When his only friend, Apple (Laurence Leboeuf) – an energetic, teal-wearing girl – is in danger, he becomes Turbo Kid. Together he, Apple, and a mysterious Australian arm wrestler take on Zeus to free fellow survivors from his oppressive, bloody leadership.

Writing/directing team Francois Simard, Anouk Whissell, and Yoann-Karl Whissell have crafted a delightfully absurd action comedy. Its 1982-ish panache is joyously spot-on, and the combination of innocence and gore perfectly captures the pre-teen cartoon watcher’s imagination.

And Michael Ironside! The feral Canadian makes a glorious Zeus, flanked by scoundrels and outcasts suited for a Mad Max film. (The early ones, before the budget and talent came in.)

Turbo Kid is not trying to be Mad Max, though. It’s trying to be the imagined Mad Max (or Indiana Jones or Star Wars or Goonines) game you and your stupid friends played in the neighborhood on your bikes, and it succeeds miraculously because Turbo Kid never winks or grimaces at its inspiration. This is a celebration, not a campy mockfest.

Yes, it has trouble keeping its energy for the entire 89 minute running time, but for those of us who took our Saturday morning shows out to the neighborhood streets every weekend, it’s a memory blast.