After making big waves at this years edition of the Toronto International Film Festival, both in terms of audience appreciation, as well as upstart distribution Neon paying $5 Million dollars for the rights, the Margot Robbie starring biopic I, Tonya gets a snappy, stylish and snarling little teaser to when the palette. Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl, Fright Night) directs and Allison Janney (shown only briefly here) also stars in the flip side of the story of Tonya Harding, the exceptionally talented figure skater that defied the image of the sport by being a whole-lot ‘trailer trash’ in terms of her presentation. If you were around in the 1990s, she became a household name in North America and the woman everyone loved to hate during the 1994 Olympics after details (and a guilty plea) came to light about her violent assault on fellow American skater Nancy Kerrigan.
Director: Rob Minkoff (Flypaper, The Forbidden Kingdo, The Haunted Mansion, Stuart Little, The Lion King)
Writer: Craig Wright, Jay Ward
Producers: Denise Nolan Cascino, Alex Schwartz
Starring: Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Ariel Winter, Allison Janney, Stephen Tobolowsky, Joshua Rush, Stephen Colbert, Leslie Mann, Stanley Tucci, Lake Bell, Mel Brooks
MPAA Rating: PG
Running time: 92 min.
I should make it clear right out of the gate that I never watched Rocky and Bullwinkle. I’m familiar with the characters in a superficial pop culture sort of way but as far as the intricacies of that universe and the characters that inhabit it are concerned, it may as well be new material. So in the back of my mind, I knew that Mr. Peabody was a character that stemmed from Rocky and Bullwinkle but beyond that, he’s completely new to me and though it didn’t affect my enjoyment of Mr. Peabody and Sherman, it may have some influence on others who are familiar with the character’s origins.
Mr. Peabody is a genius dog who, upon discovering a baby boy in an alley, fought to adopt him as his son. After all, boys can adopt dogs so why not vice versa? Sadly, not everyone is on board with this idea and on his first day of school, Sherman gets into a little trouble with Penny, a smart girl who doesn’t like her intellect being one-upped by the new kid. It ends in a fight and a social worker threatening to remove Sherman from Mr. Peabody’s care. Peabody devises a plan to woo Penny’s parents, a plan that is going smoothly until Sherman and Penny take a ride in the Way Back Machine and kind of mess up the universe.
On the surface, Mr. Peabody and Sherman is a time travel comedy adventure which borrows heavily from both Back to the Future and, most notably Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Peabody invented the Way Back Machine as a learning tool for Sherman, taking him back to meet important individuals and witness historical events. Obviously, when the kids get a hold of it, things get far more complicated than that what it the messing up of historical moments and all but hovering just under the surface is also a great story of friendship, overcoming our differences and most importantly, the bond of family and the struggles of being a good parent.
Director: Maggie Kiley (Some Boys Don’t Leave, Down the Shore)
Writers: Maggie Kiley, Matthew Mullen
Producers: Paul Finkel, Kyle Heller, Jason Potash, Gina Resnick
MPAA Rating: NR
Running time: 90 min.
First love is hard. You meet that special person that you connect with in a meaningful way only to wake up one morning in your apartment with strangers moving in. At least that’s what happens to Chris Lowell in Maggie Kiley’s Brightest Star.
Simply known as “The Boy,” Lowell is a recent college grad looking for the thing that makes him passionate. We learn he’s a great salesman and marketer but it’s not what he wants to do; that job is simply a half hearted attempt to impress Charlotte (Rose McIver), the girl of his dreams who has dumped him. Mind you, if I was Charlotte I might have done the same thing. Here I am going to work every day and trying to find my own way in life while my apparently lazy boyfriend works odd jobs and tries to find his passion. Truth is that Lowell’s character is a dreamer. The kind of guy that everyone says they want to be with but when reality sinks in, we come to realize that he might never find his way. That’s not a bad thing but it can be hard, especially when the people you’re with aren’t on the same trajectory.
Charlotte dumping him is the best thing that happens to Boy. He explores the corporate world, meets a new girl and then screws it all up by getting back with Charlotte. Boy doesn’t know what he wants and that’s clear from the moment he takes the new job and we realize that he’s only doing it because he thinks it will better his chances with the girl of his dreams when instead, he just wastes time and screws up two relationships.
There are films that sit on the shelf before being rescued, and then there are films that are simply dumped to DVD after a certain point. But rare is the story of Margaret, a film that never even made it to the shelf because the director couldn’t find the film in the editing room. Want to know why a film starring Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo and Anna Paquin was delayed for more than five years before being released? Director Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count on Me) spent a ridiculously lengthy stint in the edit bay (who does he think he is, Terrence Malick?) before the financiers and production companies started filing law suits. This of course, only delayed the film even longer.
One has only to look at the trailer to know that this film is going to be a train wreck along the lines of Nothing Is Private (Kurt’s Review).
A 17-year-old New York City high-school student feels certain that she inadvertently played a role in a traffic accident that has claimed a woman’s life. In her attempts to set things right she meets with opposition at every step. Torn apart with frustration, she begins emotionally brutalizing her family, her friends, her teachers, and most of all, herself. She has been confronted quite unexpectedly with a basic truth: that her youthful ideals are on a collision course against the realities and compromises of the adult world.
The shockingly over-blown trailer is tucked under the seat.
Anticipated for many months now, James Cameron’s Avatar is finally upon us and all we can muster up is a lot of bitching. Maybe not fair to a guy we have grown up with and loved over the years or to a movie that is not based on a video game, remake or previous existing property, perhaps. The criticism is as valid as the heap of praise for the last monster-sized blockbuster of 2009. We switch gears from negative to positive rather abruptly with our top ten picks of best female performances in 2009 and even reminisce on some Mike Judge and other DVD releases this week. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below and by all means post your own top ten. We’d love to see it.
Thanks for listening!
Click the Audio Icon below to listen in:
Todd Solondz goes back to the Happiness well with his latest feature. Life During Wartime is a direct sequel to the controversial 1998 film featuring a family of three sisters, the various men connected to them (a misogynist freeloader and thief, a pedophile and a loathsome crank-calling pervert), their kids, and their parents. But the director has recast every single role (echoes of his lead actress switching in his last film, Palindromes) and pushed the films setting to Florida during current times. He has also scaled back the ‘extreme’ tone of the film. There are no white body fluids, or lengthy attempts to seduce young boys against their will. This is the Solondz film you can show your grandmother. That does not mean his deadpan and droll sense of humour is not in full effect however. The sisters continue to seek some kind of satisfaction or at least solace (while always pretending to be happy), the tone of this film is more one of forgiveness.
You think you know Sam Mendes. The director makes a film every three years, usually something dramatic about relationships and then Away We Go comes along and breaks the cycle.
Apparently shot immediately after Revolutionary Road (our review), this new film stars Maya Rudolph (who I remember from A Prairie Home Companion) and John Krasinski (of the American “The Office” fame) as a couple who are expecting their first baby and travel around the US in search of the perfect place to start their family. The list of supporting actors is impressive, featuring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Allison Janney, Catherine O’Hara and Jeff Daniels.
The trailer suggests that this is still an exploration of relationships and their dynamics though it appears to be taking itself a little less seriously than we’ve come to expect from Mendes. Though it certainly looks nice, I’m concerned that it also looks a bit too “quirky”. Perhaps it’s the music or the inter-titles which bring back images of other indie hits but I can’t help but get excited at the prospect of a Mendes comedy especially one that is low key. And seriously, Allison Janney kills this trailer.
I have a feeling there’s at least one person in the audience who is looking forward to seeing John Krasinski in a movie that doesn’t suck right out of the gate.
Away We Go is scheduled for release on June 5th.
Trailer is tucked under the seat!