Canadian fans of The National have two reasons to rejoice.
The Brooklyn-based indie rockers will release their sixth album, Trouble Will Find Me, on May 21 following that up with three dates in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.
As an added bonus in Toronto – where the group led by Matt Berninger will play a free NXNE show at Yonge-Dundas Square on June 14 – there is a return engagement of the excellent band documentary, Mistaken For Strangers, directed by Berninger’s younger brother and the movie’s breakout star Tom, earlier in the day at the Bloor Cinema as part of NXNE’s film festival.
Both hilariously funny and deeply poignant due in no small part to the personality of the party-hearty, metal-loving Tom, it premiered earlier in May at Hot Docs in T.O.
“I have told him, ‘Lightning has kind of struck with this movie with you,’’ Berninger, 42, told QMI Agency while in Toronto. “Like after the (Hot Docs) screening, I was signing a lot of autographs but Tom was probably signing more.”
The film came about after Berninger offered Tom a job as assistant road manager during The National’s 2011 tour for 2010’s well-received album, High Violet, and he brought a camera along.
“I don’t think anybody expected there to be a big serious movie,” said Berninger. “They thought it was maybe going to be goofy stuff for the website. …. But then ugly things kind of happened… and it turned into cinematic gold.”
In the end, Mistaken for Strangers is a lot more about the Berninger family dynamic with Tom portrayed as the directionless younger sibling with plenty of untapped creativity until now.
“I’m really, really happy with it and I’m so happy for my brother, and my wife (and co-producer), they did an amazing job,” said Berninger. “It’s a mixture of pride and relief. Relief because it’s not going to ruin our band, it didn’t ruin my marriage.
“(Tom) was always the baby,” continued Berninger. “I have an older sister. My mom puts it more delicately but he was a little bit of a lazy-ass slacker kid. I love him so much and he’s one of the nicest, sweetest, hilarious, wonderful men but he’s a little bit his own worst enemy. He takes like easy, which is great. He’s a little bit of The Big Lebowski, in some ways. .. If there’s any message in the movie it’s that he just figures out that it’s about the work. You have to carve success out of stone with your bare hands.”
Turns out Tom, 33, has been living with Matt and his family for the last three years while he’s been working on Mistaken For Strangers, which still hasn’t gotten distribution in Canada and probably won’t until later this year as they attempt to self-release it.
“I think he’s brilliant in front of the camera,” said Berninger. “Because he’s guileless and his guard is down and I think he knows he’s good and I think he’s fearless in front of the camera and I think there aren’t enough people like that. … Tom has kind of a gift. And he frustrates people but people do like him and I think he could be a brilliant actor…. It’s like a star is born with him.”
The National’s 2013 Canadian tour dates
June 13, Lachine Canal, Montreal
June 14, Yonge-Dundas square, Toronto, free show, North By Northeast (NXNE).
Sept. 22, PNE Amphitheatre, Vancouver