Archive for the ‘General Ramblings’ Category

  • Trailer: The Drop

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    It’s tough to watch the trailer for The Drop and not feel pangs of sadness knowing that it’ll be the last time we see James Gandolfini in a new film. Beyond the sadness, their is definitely excitement though, because the movie looks great.

    Written by Dennis Lehane as an original screenplay (rather than an adaptation of his novels like Gone Baby Gone, Mystic River, and Shutter Island), the film follows the story of a loner bartender name Bob (played by Tom Hardy) and his cousin Marv (Gandolfini) as they get mixed up in a gangster’s money laundering and “the center of a robbery gone awry and entwined in an investigation that digs deep into the neighborhood’s past.”

    The Drop opens up in North America on September 19, 2014.

  • Blind Spots: The Goonies

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    bs-The-Goonies

    When I posted on Facebook and Twitter that I was currently watching The Goonies for the first time, the incredulity was palpable. I’m not particularly well-versed in the ’80s films that my generation considers essential, but for some reason, this one has been coming up more and more often lately, so I bit the bullet even though I didn’t expect to get a lot out of it. For some reason ’80s movies often rub me the wrong way, or at least I have trouble buying into their particular brand of goofiness. The fact that several friends who didn’t watch the film until they were adults reported not really caring for it didn’t help.

    Well, I don’t know if it was those low expectations, or my overall positive frame of mind this year, or if I just have a huge soft spot for adventure films, but I pretty much loved this. The set-up of the kids’ families about to be kicked out of their homes had me a little confused at first (who’s moving? why? how will money help?), but once I realized that it’s basically a McGuffin, I was fine. The rest of the plot, following a group of kids following an old treasure map to try to find pirate treasure is right up my alley, and the backstory was just enough to give the story stakes – if they don’t find the treasure, they lose their homes; it’s more than just fun and games, though of course it is that as well. It’s like Indiana Jones meets Home Alone, what with the bumbling criminals always one step behind the kids.

    » Read the rest of the entry..

  • DVD Review: “Querelle”

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    Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
    Writers: Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Burkhard Driest
    Producers: Michael McLernon, Dieter Schidor, Sam Waynberg
    Starring: Brad Davis, Franco Nero, Jeanne Moreau, Laurent Malet, Hanno Poschi
    MPAA Rating: R
    Running time: 108 min.

     

    (2/5)

     

    Those who are new to the prolific works of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, may fare better than to start with the German’s final film: Querelle based on the novel Querelle de Brest by Jean Genet. First released just after the AIDS virus was clinically observed in the eighties, Querelle, is a film about homosexuality that may have come across as bold at the time of its creation. However looking back at the film with fresher modern eyes has Querelle, looking a little jaded.

    Davis plays Querelle, a sailor and thief whose swagger is only matched by his lack of morals. Arriving at a stop off in Brest, Querelle’s mere appearance causes issues with the locals of a Traven he frequents. Soon murder, robbery and sexual politics begin to invade the lives of those who surround themselves with the enigmatic young man.

    Respect must be due to Fassbinder’s forthright approach to the film. Shot in 20 days, Querelle is an audacious piece which is drenched in expressionistic color, golden hues and grand set design. We know what we’re in for from the very beginning with Franco Nero, playing a lovelorn Captain, gazing down at glistening, sculpted bodies of his work force. The cast carry off their bravado, throwing caution to the wind if any of the heterosexual actors felt nervous about the material (Nero apparently had reservations), it doesn’t show.

    While being radical in theme for the time, Querelle,has been somewhat ravaged by age. Since the film’s conception, the world has changed somewhat. While we still see aggressive rallying against homosexuality (e.g Russia), the transgressions as a whole feel quite tame. Save for one particular sequence, Querelle does little to shock and its allegorical pursuits no longer hold weight. Meanwhile the films liberal uses of sexual terms do little to distract from the philosophical ennui. All posturing aside, we never really get under the skin of Querelle , although some may gesture that’s the point.

    Despite unfortunately reminding me of a mixture of The Blue Oyster Bar and the Saturday Night Fever, flashback in Airplane!, Querelle is still a particular sight to behold. The use of deep teal blues and searing oranges are a leap apart from the typical combinations (of the same colours) we see now and the melodramatic displays still have a certain amount of conviction. However while the film may stand out as Fassbinders final entry to the world of cinema, newer audiences may have to set their sights elsewhere to excite their sense of provocation.

    Extras:      (2/5)
    An introduction to Querelle, and a brief retrospective of the film’s creation give insight to Fassbinder’s frantic production and help highlight and illustrate the themes.

  • Can the allegations against Woody Allen continue to be dismissed?

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    [W]hen I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house. He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me. … For as long as I could remember, my father had been doing things to me that I didn’t like. I didn’t like how often he would take me away from my mom, siblings and friends to be alone with him. I didn’t like it when he would stick his thumb in my mouth. I didn’t like it when I had to get in bed with him under the sheets when he was in his underwear. I didn’t like it when he would place his head in my naked lap and breathe in and breathe out. I would hide under beds or lock myself in the bathroom to avoid these encounters, but he always found me. These things happened so often, so routinely, so skillfully hidden from a mother that would have protected me had she known, that I thought it was normal.

    Dylan Farrow, in a recent open letter in the New York Times

    This past August, Andrew asked to question: Is Woody Allen irrelevant? Perhaps with the recent op-ed from Dylan Farrow, the question has changed.

    Unfortunately, it’s not a new question. It’s just in the spotlight once again.

    If you say these allegations don’t matter, if you dismiss Miss Farrow’s claims, if you say “oh, but that was so long ago,” or “his personal actions don’t affect my opinion of his film,” then I think you’re missing the point.

    I don’t think that Allen should be tried in the court of public opinion. The public is notoriously uninterested in facts or, frankly, actual justice. Still, even if it makes you feel icky, even if it’s easier to just not talk about it, the discussion isn’t over. Far from it.

    With this recent open letter, can we still accept the “ambiguity?”

  • Trailer: A Long Way Down

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    alongwaydown

    Author Nick Hornby is no stranger to Hollywood. High Fidelity, About a Boy, and Fever Pitch have all been adapted to the big screen over the years – the first of which is a classic, as far as I’m concerned. Hornby has even had an original screenplay produced, which turned out to be 2009′s critical darling An Education.

    His latest novel to be adapted is titled A Long Way Down. The film follows the interweaving stories of four strangers who coincidentally meet atop a London building on New Year’s Eve all with the same plan: to jump.

    While I found the book only mildly interesting, I’m particularly interested in this project as I’ve been eager to track Aaron Paul’s career now that his days of assisting Walter White are behind him. The trailer is so-so, but the movie does have a solid cast to support Paul, including Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Rosamund Pike, Imogen Poots, and Sam Neill.

    A Long Way Down is directed by French filmmaker Pascal Chaumeil. It will be screen at the Berlin International Film Festival in Februrary and roll out into theaters shortly after.

    Are you a fan of Hornby’s work? Does this latest adaptation excite you? Chime in!

  • Canadian film is dying. Is there hope for the future?

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    thebrood

    The rumblings have been growing for a decade but over the last few years they have become deafening screams: the movie industry is in flux. Some say it’s in trouble but when studios are raking in billions of dollars annually, it’s hard to say that the business is in any sort of “trouble” but what’s true in the US isn’t necessarily true in Canada. Canada’s film industry really is in trouble and it needs help.

    The common complaint was always that Canadians simply didn’t care to see Canadian movies because the movies weren’t good. Problem is, this hasn’t been the case in decades. Canadian movies aren’t simply, to quote the title of Katherine Monk’s book “Weird Sex & Snowshoes.” The influx of international production has created a workforce of leading industry talent and the rise in technology has had a similar effect in Canada as it has in other parts of the world: more movies are being made, more risks are being taken by filmmakers and as a direct result, we’re catching wind of better Canadian cinema. The problem is that our cinematic landscape is still terrible. What else can you call it when only 2% of the entire Canadian box office is attributed to Canadian film?

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  • SAG Awards for 2013

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    Screen Actors Guild handed out some awards to a few of its own over the weekend. Pretty standard stuff actually. Watch for the Oscars to go pretty much the same way in the acting department. Winners are in bold red. Also, Television nominees and winners are under the seats if you’d like a look at the boob tube crew.

    Cast in a Motion Picture
    12 Years a Slave
    American Hustle
    August: Osage County
    Dallas Buyers Club
    Lee Daniels’ The Butler

    Actor
    Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
    Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
    Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips)
    Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
    Forest Whitaker (Lee Daniels’ The Butler)

    Actress
    Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
    Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
    Judi Dench (Philomena)
    Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)
    Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks)

    Supporting Actor
    Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
    Daniel Bruhl (Rush)
    Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
    James Gandolfini (Enough Said)
    Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

    Supporting Actress
    Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
    Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
    Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
    June Squibb (Nebraska)
    Oprah Winfrey (Lee Daniels’ The Butler)

    Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble
    All is Lost
    Fast & Furious 6
    Lone Survivor
    Rush
    The Wolverine

    » Read the rest of the entry..

  • The Devil Inside, Hell all Around

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    One of the worst things that can happen in your life is losing the power to control it and to make it in your own way. You may think that you live your life as you plan it, but what if someone else has plans about you? What if that someone is a huge and malefic force?

    Devil’s Due is the name of the new horror movie, that shows us how a family loses control over a body, a mind and a life. Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, this movie tells the story of Samantha and Zach McCall. This lovely couple just got married, they are both crazy in love with each other and life seems to be perfect for them.

    After their honeymoon, they find out that Samantha is pregnant, so Zach starts to video record the history of their lives. That is what we get to see, homemade videos that form a horror film. Sadly, it is not that simple. The new wife is not just having a baby; there is something really terrifying about the pregnancy. Samantha soon may be having the devil himself and not a baby. All this makes her act crazy and it changes the whole life of her new formed family.

    It is all super creepy because it involves the devil inside of a woman who knows only one thing, that she is pregnant. Having that kind of power inside of you and thinking that it is your own blood, your own child, you start loving and caring instantly. It is an amazing theme for a horror movie, it is scary and at the same time, entertaining.

    This January, Twentieth Century Fox brings out the Devil’s Due, starring Allison Miller, Zach Gliford and Sam Anderson. Do not lose the chance to experience the fear in front of the worst force that has the strength to control a human’s life and to make it hell. It is a film about a woman that has the devil inside and hell around her.

    » Read the rest of the entry..

  • Book Review: The Who’s Who of Doctor Who

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    whoswhodoctorwho

    I‘m always in search of a good coffee table book. History, politics, nature, pop culture, food, beer – you name it, I’ve got a coffee table book for it. The perfect coffee table book is one that can be picked up at any time by any guest to any page and that guest will be entertained… at least for those few minutes while they’re bored when you’ve excused yourself to take a leak.

    My copy of The Who’s Who of Doctor Who fulfills those requirements – and with the added benefit of letting me introduce the long-running show to friends who may only be vaguely familiar (“yeah, I see people tweet about it all the time”). The book, put together by Cameron K. McEwan (editor of the website Blogtor Who), has the added benefit of doing a great job of visualizing the entire Dr. Who mythology, from the first doctor all the way to Peter Capaldi, the Twelfth Doctor.

    In the day and age of Wikipedia summaries, one might find a book of summaries redundant, but I assure you, for a Dr. Who fan, this is of the highest quality. In fact, I began my Dr. Who watching with Nine (Christopher Eccleston), so my understanding of the classic show from one through eight was hazy, at best. This books 240 pages helped clarify a lot of the history of the character, his allies, and his enemies over the course of the shows 30 years in a clear, entertaining, and beautifully visual manner. Best of all, I get to show it off to friends.

    You can purchase the book over at Amazon for $20.86.

    Now, for the Dr. Who discussion: Who is your favorite Doctor? Who is your favorite villain from the show? Are you ready for the newest Doctor played by Capaldi? Is the world ready for a female Doctor in his next incarnation? Chime in!

  • DGA Nominees

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    And then there were five. The Director’s Guild of America has posted their five nominees for outstanding achievement in directing.


    Alfonso Cuarón | Gravity

    Paul Greengrass | Captain Phillips

    Steve McQueen | 12 Years a Slave

    David O. Russell | American Hustle

    Martin Scorsese | The Wolf of Wall Street

    The first three names are all first-time nominees. Russell was here before in 2010 for The Fighter. Meanwhile, this is Marty’s 11th nomination. Shocker.

    So do you give a shit? Who should win? Who should’ve been nominated rather than Russell? Thoughts?

  • Adam Sandler Finally Doing It Correctly

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    With my recent viewing of Grown-Ups 2, it sparked the same old conversation in which we try and fathom why Sandler keeps trying to ruin his career/life with these God awful comedies. He’s so great whenever he does drama (Punch Drunk Love, Reign Over Me) and even when he comes close to dramas with a little bit of feel-good comedy (Spanglish, 50 First Dates).

    Well thankfully, it looks like Sandler is teaming up with batting 1.000 director Thomas McCarthy in The Cobbler.

    Sandler plays a lonely, modern day cobbler in New York City who feels like his life is going nowhere until he discovers a family heirloom that literally gives him the ability to “walk in another man’s shoes” and see the world differently.

    Now this plot synopsis (and the above still) comes dangerously close to sounding like the goofery that was Click. But being that this is Thomas McCarthy at the helm, I have pretty high expectations for good things here. And then of course there’s the rest of the cast: Dustin Hoffman, Steve Buscemi, Ellen Barkin, Melonie Diaz, Method Man, and Dan Stevens.

    No release information yet, but assuming photography is underway, perhaps we’ll see a premier at Sundance?

  • DVD Review: Frances Ha

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    Director: Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale, Greenberg, Kicking and Screaming)
    Screenplay: Noah Baumbach, Gerta Gerwig
    Starring: Gerta Gerwig, Grace Gummer, Adam Driver
    2013

    This review is for the UK release (today!). Other versions of the film may be available to own in your area. Our original TIFF review is here

    (4/5)

    As a so called film fan; I don’t think I should say this, but Frances Ha is my first Noah Baumbach movie. I’ve wanted to dig into his filmography in the past but I simply haven’t found time to investigate yet another director who’s assesses the prickly lives of privileged middle class America. You must believe me on this, as for some reason or another, I find myself very attracted to this sub genre.

    I found myself thinking about how crafty Frances Ha actually is in its execution. Like the works of Whit Stillman, Sophia Coppola, Lena Dunham and of course the mumblecore movement, Frances Ha is a film that delves into the habits of people that we honestly believe have little to worry about. An awkward and self involved twenty-something struggling to sustain a bohemian lifestyle within New York City. Frances comes from a decent family, is college educated and living in what is considered one of the greatest cities. Living in a state of arrested development with her best friend Sophie, Frances is quite happy with this idle way of life until of course, Sophie finds love.

    Unlike Whit Stillman’s condescending Damsel’s in Distress (also starring Gerwig), Frances draws us in because she thinks she knows it all. She pretends to those who listen and when she’s found out (quickly) she still holds enough charm to want you to just give her a hug. She balances precariously between irritatingly annoying and that best friend who never grew up but was always fun to be around. To some she may grate for the 90 minutes, but I loved Frances happy go lucky charm. It’s hard not to feel jealous of her care free spirit, although you want to shake her for not “growing up”.

    This said, why should she grow up? Baumbach’s film wryly highlights the economic strain that is now beginning to press the moderately middle class as much as the poor. Frances may be scatty, but what we realize from her interactions with the people around her, even working hard in her creative outlet wouldn’t help things. Frances Ha is more of a character study than a political indictment, but knowing that Frances is coming of age defiantly in front of the sour faces of people that have very little to worry about, has a certain charm about it.

    A playful homage to the French New Wave, Woody Allen’s Manhattan and the current America lo fi independents, Frances Ha’s look and feel (along with its casting) make sure it’s not as slick as Joe Swanberg’s sweet but knowing Drinking Buddies but holds a warmth and earnestly about its characters that many female lead movies sorely lack. Romance is hinted at but isn’t the be all and end all of Frances life. She’s just as gawky as the boys and while men come in and out of the frame of the story, they do not define the tale.

    From a narrative standpoint, I fear those who need a more solid structure may be driven mad by Baumbach’s wandering plot. However Frances Ha is rich in other ways, such Sam Levy’s gorgeous black and white cinematography, which feels like the only way you could present a life like Miss Halladay. Meanwhile Gerwig performance improves upon her Hannah takes the Stairs persona, giving us a much more rounded character from those we’ve seen from her before.

    Frances not easy to like but has a persistence in her character that bites at the ankles like a terrier. This is a film fuelled on its distinctive sense of humour, its deceptively optimistic tone and a lead performance which has energy in spades. Frances Ha may be monochrome in conception, but like the lead character, it’s full of colour.

    Extras: (1/5)

    A Frances Ha disc filled with witty asides about the writing process and involving extras about the films creation would have been the extra sweet icing on a very digestible cake. Unfortunately, what we have here is a barebones disc with only a nicely cut trailer to keep you warm during the cold January nights. Something like Frances Ha could have even benefited from even some fluff pieces to tuck into. With a film that’s being likened so much to the likes of “Girls” and the mumblecore movement, it would have been interesting to have heard a commentary which refutes or compliments such talk.

    Those living across the pond will be sticking out their proverbial tongues as Criterion has happily released a Blu-Ray/DVD Duel Format Edition; complete with a mew master of the films picture and sound, a booklet featuring an essay by playwright Annie Baker and conversations about the film with the likes of Peter Bogdanovich and Sarah Polly. No doubt fans of the film may nudge and wink at their family aboard (or call on Uncle Amazon) to get their mitts on the fuller edition. That said, the transfer given on this single disc gives us a decent transfer of an extremely pretty film. A man of such poor common blood as myself; will happy take what’ve given to him and for a film that made me smile as much as Frances Ha , I can easily like it and lump it.

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