June 11-17 at various theatres.
Some people start a band with the dream of headlining ath ACC. Others just want to get rich, get famous, and shag anything that moves. But a select few know what the ultimate achievement would be: Starring as badass dudes who fight an army of Ralph Macchio clones in your own mini-movie.
Okay, so maybe that last one is a fairly rarefied ambition, but you’ve got to give it up for Danko Jones for seeing it through. An impressively slick 24-minute short that pits the Toronto power trio against villains played not only by the former Karate Kid but Elijah Wood and Selma Blair, The Ballad of Danko Jones makes its world premiere at NXNE’s companion festival of music-centric movies—it plays June 13, 3 p.m., at the NFB Cinema.
Moviegoers not quite ready for Jones’ dramatic debut can opt instead for a new documentary on the band by the Diamond Brothers, the same directorial team behind the short. Charting the trio’s rise from the ’90s indie scene to its success in Europe, Bring on the Mountain (screening June 12 at 6 p.m. at NFB) is as punchy and no-nonsense as the Kid’s countless odes to the fairer sex.
Less compelling is another new doc about a Toronto band: Ages and Stages: The Story of the Meligrove Band (screening June 13 at 4:30 p.m. at NFB) is an amiable but badly overlong look at the Mississauga-bred quartet whose saga of early promise and career misfortune is too modest to merit the scrutiny.
There’s rather more drama in My Father and the Man in Black (screening June 15 at 7 p.m. at Toronto Underground Cinema and June 17 at 2:30 p.m. at NFB), an account of the relationship between Johnny Cash and Saul Holiff, the lawyer from London, Ontario who served as the singer’s manager through his most turbulent years. Drawing from a stash of correspondence and audio diaries by his late father, director Jonathan Holiff provides an intimate view on the duo’s history together, but the first-time filmmaker’s jarring use of dramatic re-enactments and his attempt to reflect on his own troubles with Saul muddle up an otherwise intriguing find for Cash scholars.
Other highlights in the fest’s slate of docs include Jobriath A.D. (June 16 at 5 p.m. at NFB), an exhilarating and heartbreaking film about the ’70s glam-scene contender who gained infamy as “the true fairy of rock,” and Sa Javla Metal (June 15 at 3 p.m. at the Underground), a history of Swedish hard rock thorough enough to cover both the recording of Europe’s “The Final Countdown” and Bathory’s invention of black metal.
The NXNE fest also finds room for the local premiere of Ecstasy, Toronto director Rob Heydon’s adaptation of a story in Irvine Welsh’s 1996 collection of the same name. (The author will be in attendance at the screening on June 14 at 7 p.m. at the Royal.) The town of Sudbury’s unconvincing performance as Glasgow is one of several problems that prevent this latest trawl through Welsh’s familiar milieu of drugs and thugs from matching the wit and energy of Trainspotting. But at least the flashy club scenes may inspire you to find some illicit real-world fun elsewhere in the chaos of NXNE.