A&E » Film

Love bites



Pay attention kids, because the truth is love is a double-edged blade. Sure, it's good for procreation and writing poems, but love will always have that dark side, the side that's a real mutherf@<ker.

Look at this picture. The sharp-looking cat on the left is legendary jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan. On the right, his lovely wife Helen, who nursed Lee out of the literal gutter when he was strung out on heroin and his career lay in shambles. Helen, who would invite as many people for dinner as her house would hold, then cook them a turkey on a Wednesday night. In the New York jazz scene of the 1960s, Helen and Lee were standards — hip, in love, friends to all.

Eventually, Helen killed Lee though. Shot him in the chest at a gig in an East Village club during one the biggest snowstorms of the winter — crime of passion. Ain't love grand?

Kasper Collin's documentary I Called Him Morgan offers a deeper look into the saga of Lee and Helen via solid historical imagery, talking-head interviews with musicians and friends, and a 60-minute cassette-taped interview Helen did just a month before her death in 1966. This one is a visual masterpiece that hits and flows and locks into the groove. It's also a tragic tale of love and loss, with enough ambiguity to keep you thinking and make you want to flip the whole film back over and watch it again. (There's also a kickass soundtrack of jazz you actually want to listen to.) Find this one on Netflix — it's the Stream of the Week.

At the grand ol' Village 8, the big flick this week is Disney's A Wrinkle in Time about a young girl, her friend, and three witches who embark on an intergalactic time-travelling journey learning about the dark side of life, the danger of conformity, and how you can only save the universe if you love and believe in yourself.

There were no pre-screeners for this one (nice move Disney — it builds legit hype) but it's directed by the masterful Ava DuVernay (Selma, 13th) and she does not screw around. Working with her biggest-ever budget of $100 million-plus (and huge expectations), it's highly likely that DuVerney's A Wrinkle in Time will dominate the box office this week. Which means that a film made by a black woman is poised to take over the top box office spot from another black-made film with an almost all-black cast written with no fewer than three integral roles for women characters that made a billion dollars worldwide over the past three weeks.

All this in an industry that, as recently as last year, reiterated that the reason they didn't make as many films for, by and about women and minorities is because "people don't come to see them."

Also opening this week, Red Sparrow is an unrealistic spy flick starring Jennifer Lawrence as a hot chick who breaks noses, weaponizes her sexuality and saves the day. That used to be enough — a movie made by dudes for dudes about stuff dudes think is awesome. And it is awesome, but audiences these days are asking for more.

With the success of Wonder Woman, people are starting to realize that movies about women who kick ass that are made by women, tend to kick more ass, or at least kick it in a fresher-feeling way, (you could even say more authentic.) Which is great, but I'll still see you at Red Sparrow anyhow; Jennifer Lawrence is this generation's Angelina.

And finally, The Strangers: Prey At Night is only looking to authentically scare the prunes out of you with another home-invasion horror flick that steps torture porn up into the emotional level. Similar to the first The Strangers, this one seems to be about a group of strangers in really creepy masks terrorizing some poor hapless saps. There were no pre-screeners, but the trailer ripped off some pretty good flicks (include the Coen Bros pavement/axe-dragging shot from Blood Simple) so I bet this is OK (so long as you don't mind torture porn).

March is a big month for movies. Tomb Raider and Isle of Dogs are both coming down the pipe, and one of the best movies of the year also opens this week, albeit only in Vancouver. Check out Thoroughbreds if you get a chance. It's about two teenage girls plotting to kill the one girl's dad. What's not to love?