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Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)

Magic in the Dark: What’s playing at Ottawa’s independent cinemas—August 13 to 31, 2022

By Barbara Popel on August 13, 2022





The ByTowne and the Mayfair have a bunch of dandy new films and a slew of film classics. I was particularly struck by how many superb actors we’ll have a chance to see!

Let’s start with recently released films:

The Good Boss is a satire of corporate life starring the talented Javier Bardem. (Who knew he had a talent for comedy?) He plays the owner of a factory that is up for a business excellence award. But his fiction of it being a perfect business is crumbling due to a fired worker, a depressed supervisor, and a lovesick ambitious intern. See it at the ByTowne.

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris would be just a your-wildest-dreams-can-come-true fantasy were it not for one of the best actresses working today—Lesley Manville. Manville plays a 1950s cleaning lady in London who is enchanted by an exquisite Christian Dior evening dress owned by a client. With some hard-come-by cash in her pocket, she heads to Paris to visit Dior’s salon and purchase one for herself. Oh, and the excellent Isabelle Huppert plays a brittle Dior executive. A crowd-pleaser—95% Certified Fresh on the Rotten Tomatoes site.

There’s lots of superb acting talent in these classics from the vault:

This month, the Mayfair is holding an Alfred Hitchcock versus Brian De Palma Film Fest—four De Palma films up against the Hitchcock films that inspired them. The third pair of films is one of my favourite Hitchcocks, North by Northwest, and De Palma’s Dressed to Kill. I love the former because it stars Cary Grant, the most handsome, charming, witty gentleman to grace the silver screen in many a year. It’s also got that iconic chase scene in a cornfield. The fourth pair is Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief, again starring Cary Grant, and De Palma’s Blow Out. An odd pairing considering the first is set on the Riviera among the ultra-rich, with Grant playing a famous jewel thief, and the second in Philadelphia, with a movie sound effects specialist (John Travolta) witnessing a political assassination.

The ByTowne is treating us to a European vacation—without the horrors of international air travel—with the charming romance Roman Holiday. It stars another wonderful leading man, Gregory Peck, and the luminous Audrey Hepburn in her film debut. Another top score on Rotten Tomatoes: 97%.

The following three films (all at the ByTowne) were so groundbreaking that I’ve grouped them. Each is a Metacritic must-see and a Rotten Tomatoes “Certified Fresh.”

First, there’s Luis Bunuel’s satiric masterpiece, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. It’s a surreal fantasy that takes six upper-middle-class folks into what Pauline Kael called “a cosmic vaudeville show” of dreams within dreams. The cast includes European cinema icons Fernando Rey and Delphine Seyrig. A must-see for every cineaste.

Then there’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch. One of the anonymous users on Metacritic wrote, “One of the most tenderly made films ever. [It is] part love story, part comedy, part tragedy and 100 percent Rock and Roll Musical. Mitchell plays the lead role of Hedwig with bravura, soul, and reckless abandonment of what anyone thinks.”

And last, but certainly not least, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. This will be an interactive screening! Yup, there will be a sing-along, audience-led shout-outs, and a gallop-along. To quote the ByTowne: “The first 200 people will get a pair of coconut halves to clip-clop along with the Knights of Camelot as they travel about a damp, muddy medieval landscape!” No one could do humour like the Pythons, and this may be their best feature film. This will be so much fun—get your coconuts!

These last few films aren’t packed with famous actors and they aren’t groundbreaking, but they’ll definitely have an audience:

Akira — 4K Restoration! is the R-rated 1988 Japanese sci-fi film that introduced anime to the West.

Girl Picture is a Finnish film that explores the lives of three teenagers: their intense friendships, their first loves/lusts, and their stumbling explorations. The trailer looks intriguing, and it got a rare 100% from the critics on Rotten Tomatoes “Tomatometer”. At the ByTowne.

Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song is a loving portrait of Cohen and his most widely-covered song. If you love his works, this documentary is for you. It’s at both cinemas.

And finally, there’s a cute treat at the ByTowne: CatVideoFest 2022. Meow!!!

Dates, times and tickets for the ByTowne are at Dates, times and tickets for the Mayfair are at