Saturday, September 20, 2014

2057 - The To Do List

I remember when the trailer first came out for this and I was super interested in it then - largely because I’m knee deep in sex comedies of my own.  I thought that this was a really sweet, funny, and heart warming coming-of-age story.  It checks off all the required boxes that come along with a sex comedy - Aubrey Plaza continues to wow me in a character that could so easily be a stereotype but she finds the nuances and the layers without ever abandoning her characters initial concept.  We’ve seen the story a dozen times of the dude trying to lose his virginity so it’s nice to see the female perspective - especially since anytime a girl is shown being sexually adventurous she’s often labelled as a slut, here Plaza is courageous and curious - a go getter.  The 90’s setting was inspired and the jokes weren’t farcical and well placed.  

If you like smart sex comedies with heart this one is absolutely worthy of your time and attention and it’s on Netflix.  Give it a whirl.

Friday, September 19, 2014

2056 - Total Recall (original)

That's better!  Despite it's datedness, this film still stands up - the sci-fi isn't as corny as you'd expect it to be because it's got such a distinct style.  There's something mildly trashy about it with three-breasted hookers and hooker dwarves with machine guns and a young mutant Dean Norris.  But the thing that makes this miles ahead better is that the story is simple - the poor people are being screwed over by the rich - smothered by the lack of air that the rich are keeping, and can easily provide for them.  In this film it makes sense why Quaid was kept alive - I'm not entirely sure that it was in the remake.  The reason this also works is because we see physical evidence of what Arnold is fighting for - to let people breath and live - we keep cutting back to them to get a sense of the importance of his mission.  It means something for us and therefore we root for him... this film is fun and entertaining.  Both versions are on Netflix if you want to do a comparison - though I strongly suggest just spending time with this one - the remake is mostly's meh - though I quite liked how they better integrated Kate Beckinsale's character - a small victory in that non-film....

2055 - Total Recall (remake)

Meh.  Why the hell remake this film?  (then again, why the hell did I watch it?  and what was I expecting?).  The original was one of my favorite films from childhood - I remember rewatching it over and over.  This just feels so disposable.  Though now I'm going to rewatch the original.... maybe it doesn't hold up as well as I remembered.  This one however just feels kind of empty and pointless.  Meh.

2054 - Boyhood

There was so much hype behind this film that it was impossible to go into it with a fresh set of eyes.  When I first heard about the film and the construction of how it was made over 12 years I was a bit annoyed as I’d had a similar idea for a project - though because I knew it was Linklater doing it it made me excited.  It’s hard to separate the story from the style.  On one hand you’ve got an incredible cinematic achievement - on the other you’ve got something that’s pretty simple, a story that isn’t all that spectacular.  And while it’s full of nuance and some really lovely moments, on the whole I think I have to ask - was his really worth 12 years of someone’s life?  I realize that it happened in and amongst other projects and other things, but I don’t know.  I know I’m being a bit cynical because this film was so universally loved, but I just felt like this story could have been more universal in some ways and more affecting.  It did stick with me a bit.  I’d love to see what special features the DVD has.  I’m not dismissing it - I liked it - though I did find it dragged on in parts.  I’d wholly recommend it to anyone who likes simple character based stories.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

2053 - The One I Love

The trailer for this intrigued the hell out of me.  Combined with the fact that I adore Elisabeth Moss and really dig the Duplass brother’s stuff it had me at hello.  
Part of the fun of the film is the mystery element, and I don’t want to say too much.  It’s about a husband and wife who are at their wit’s end of what to do with each other, and then at the advice of their therapist they go to a retreat-esque cabin where all goes really well… too well… and they start to question that. 
The best part of the film is how the “element” (as I’ll call it in a non-spoilery way) does a really beautiful job of dissecting relationship issues in a fun, fresh, and really really smart way.  I LOVED that about the film.  The worst part is how the “element” closer to the end tries to explain itself in a realistic way, and almost destroys what came before by doing so.  I HATED that about the film.  So this is a tough one for me.  I think it’s worth seeing for sure, but by the end I didn’t love it as much as I did at about the half-way mark.  The performances are fantastic and the ideas are interesting - so based on that alone I can recommend it.  It’s definitely a conversation piece.  I’d say give it a go if you’re a fan of the cast and like messed up loved stories and think pieces.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

2052 - Seeking a Friends for the End of the World

There's something really fun and freeing about the end of the world.  The reason The Walking Dead is so popular has less to do with zombies and more to do with the 'what if' scenarios that go through one's mind.  Here we have a story told in a world where the tone feels just a bit off. The film feels like it wants to be a satire, but it doesn't fully commit.  And while I actually quite adore Kiera Knightly normally, I found that she and Steve Carell were in two different films here, and I liked the one that he was in a bit better.  Ultimately it feels like she was mis-cast somehow - I just didn't feel their connection and it wasn't for a lack of trying on their part.  It just felt... forced.  And I think since the film hinges on it, it kind of ruins the ending for me.  I didn't hate it by any means, but it's also not the kind of film I'll go out of my way to recommend either.  For my money, if you want to see a solid end of the world flick that has a similar (but stronger) vibe, check out a Canadian classic "Last Night" by Don McKellar.  You won't be disappointed!

Monday, August 25, 2014

2051 - True Blood: season seven

And thus, it ends.  Thank the sweet lord.  I felt like I was cursed by this show to be mildly interested in it, yet never really satisfied.  It had a really strong start, and I’m not entirely sure just where it went off the rails.  There started a pattern where there was a bunch of random stories that came together mid season - and that was always largely impressive.  I have to say that I felt that this season was both a somewhat decent swan-song, but at the same time becoming a bit too much of a soap opera and less of the fun exciting show that we started off with.  This final season was very devoid of any real conflict or stakes, except for the very end (pun very much intended). 

If someone were asking if they should start watching this series, I’m not entirely sure what I’d say.  I suppose I’d say it’s worth giving it a kick, especially for the earlier seasons.  Like so many series it just went on for the sake of going on, having lost it’s umph and way.  I never hated this show, but if I’m honest it was always a guilty pleasure at best.

2050 - Wreck It Ralph

I loved the premise of this when I first saw the trailer, but I have to say that I totally under-estimated this film.  I realize that John Lasseter has his hands in it, so it should be no surprise, really.  The story here is super fun, super tight, and ridiculously smart.  The story turns are very sophisticated and keep me curious where everything was going.  I enjoyed this as much as my son, and maybe even a little bit more.  This one is an easily recommended, especially if you’ve got a kid who enjoys his video games.

Friday, August 22, 2014

2049 - The F Word (aka What If)

If you're in the USA or UK then you might know this by the unfortunate title "What If" but here in Canada it's got the awesome title of "The F Word".  I love this movie so hard.  I'm a romantic-comedy nerd, so I give a lot of them a pass just because I like the genre, but when I find one that's done so amazingly well it makes me want to scream from the rooftops - and this one does.  It's a wicked funny script, a charming as hell cast, and a really mature direction that's also playful.  I think this was my favourite film at TIFF last year, and it's up there with my favourite of the year in general.  It's being added to the ranks of When Harry Met Sally and it deserves to be.  Elan Mastai and Michael Dowse have crafted a beautiful, funny, sweet, and heartfelt romance that isn't shy at all about being set mostly in Toronto.
This film came out wide in Canada this weekend and I think it's still in the USA - please please please go check it out - it deserves a huge audience.  If you see this film and don't laugh a fair bit it's likely because you're dead inside.  I love it and can't wait to own it!

2048 - Thank You For Sharing

Man - it looks like I haven't watched anything this month, but I've actually been watching a bunch of stuff, but just in bits and pieces as I prep for my next film, so it's weird to write about stuff in that context.  Although I feel like I've missed a few here.  Apologies!
I wanted to see this 'cause I like the premise and the cast a lot.  Josh Gad is a superstar in my mind.  I love Mark Ruffalo but he looks creepy unshaven.  I'm sorry to say, but that really weirded me out, that and his character's nonstop smile kind of grated at me in a way that was confusing because he's easily one of my favourite actors.  I just had a hard time really getting into and caring about his character and story - same with Tim Robbins.  Josh Gad stole the film for me, it could have easily been just about him and it would have worked well.  So I like this, but didn't quite love it.  Give it a whirl on netflix if you're curious - it's about sex addicts!

Sunday, August 03, 2014

2047 - Guardians of the Galaxy

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is getting to the point, for me, where it’s akin to the work done in the heyday of Pixar.  And given that Disney owns both them and now Star Wars, anyone who owns stocks in the Mouse are certainly going to be happy in the upcoming years.
Like most people I didn’t know ANYTHING about Guardians of the Galaxy going into this.  And I came out wondering if this was my favourite of the Marvel side-franchises.  It is so goddamn good.  It’s the most fun I’ve had in a Marvel film, including Avengers.  It starts off with a huge gut-punch - which hit me especially hard because of personal reasons - and then it involved into something that was sweet and funny and grand.  Chris Pine is an all-star, and Bradley Cooper makes Rocket more than just a wise-talking side-kick.  
My only complaint, and this is more a big-world question than anything else.  The villain’s lair/world(?) just feels so small and empty.  He wants to destroy things, a planet, but I never really got a strong sense of why - outside of the fact that it was evil and he’s evil.  If I have a complaint with this film it’s that the villain was a pretty weak cardboard cut-out - zero personality besides ‘bad’.  So that was the weak part of the film for me - that said the rest of the ensemble is so delightfully entertaining that it doesn’t hurt the overall movie like it should.  

Keep up the good work, Marvel.  The way you weave all your properties together is such a clever way of insuring viewership - but it’s also rewarding for the audience.  Keep up the quality and I’ll keep showing up.