Thursday, July 31, 2008

1091 - Heat

This film has come up in conversation a lot lately, and since it was cheap at HMV I couldn't resist picking it up. I saw it when it first came out on video many moons ago, and I didn't remember a lot from it. Not surprising. A lot of people praise this film. I wish I knew why. Are the actors great? Yeah. But the story is just so slow and... doesn't.... quite... get... to.... the.... point. I get that they are the same but opposite. It just feels like it's trying to be more Shakespearean than it is. Honestly, a show like 'The Wire' does what I think this film wishes it did. I don't mean to speak ill of Mr. Mann, and this is by no means a bad film, it just doesn't blow my away the way it should have given how highly people regard it.
Kinda let down to be honest. Oh well, ho hum. There it is.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

1090 - Knocked Up

I've been wanting to watch this film again for awhile now, but my Dad had it. When I'm writing something new I pick some reference films and this is one for something I'm in the midst of at the moment. This film isn't perfect, but it's still a lot of fun. My only big problem with this film is that I don't buy it when she tells him that she loves him. Maybe I'm not supposed to, and maybe that's the point, but it's never quite clear. I buy at the end that she's turned to him and that mostly works. I think I just wanted a slight bit more chemistry between them.
I love Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann in this film. I think that there's more truth in their relationship than in the rest of the film (not that there isn't some great bits when it comes to the pregnancy), but what I love about the B story in this film is that it's what Alison and Ben could turn into. Leslie Mann's sad scene is really fantastic. I like her.
I'm big on the Apatow camp and I look forward to many more things from them. I need to revisit '40 Year Old Virgin' at some point.

1089 - This Girl's Life

This film started off really great with a porn star unlike any you've ever seen. Which, depending who you ask, made the film unrealistic from the get-go. I liked her, liked her voice, her point-of-view. The film has this odd shift near the middle and turns into an almost completely different film, which is unfortunate because the first part was actually quite good. James Woods is good as a man with Parkinson's, but the character feels like it's just there to make the lead character seem more sympathetic, however Juliette Marquis is fantastic and doesn't need it. She gives off an air of thoughtfulness and beauty all in the same look. She'll be big one day. I know it. Another actor I hadn't really noticed before was Tomas Arana, and he was really great as her porn producer with a heart of gold. This started off as a good film and turned into a bit of a cliché, which was too bad. Could have been a lot worse, but it could have been better if it kept the tone of the first half throughout.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

1088 - Step-Brothers

My Dad was in town and so we gave him free reign on seeing whatever film he wanted to. So here we were. He loves these kinds of films, and I get it. I get that this will make a shit load of money and it doesn't matter that there aren't any really decent story points or motivations for changes or scenes, and it's not that kind of film. It's exactly what you expect from seeing the trailer, and I'm sure that they weren't aiming for anything higher. It's just a shame that a cast as talented as this isn't producing something a little more satisfying. Especially since Apatow's name is on this somewhere, you just expect a little more heart.
Oh well. I laughed out loud enough, so there's that. If you've seen the trailer you've seen the film.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

1087 - 28 Weeks Later

I was surprised by how emotionally intense this film was from the get-go. The scene between the husband and wife, and the choice he has to make is just... it sent shivers down me. I have absolutely no idea what I would do in the same situation. I suppose no one does until you're faced with it.
Other than that the film was OK. There were some great set pieces, including a fantastic sequence with a helicopter mowing down a group of the infected.
If you liked the first film you'll probably enjoy it. If this kind of film isn't your thing than you've already made up your mind ;-)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

1086 - Forgetting Sarah Marshall

I was not expecting to laugh that much, nor that loud. Hands down the most unexpected film experience in a long time. I really really liked it. The cast was fantastic. All those people you see in the picture above are stellar. Forget the fact that those two woman are both beautiful, but they're going to steal your hearts. They're sexy and funny all at the same time. I couldn't get over the chemistry between all involved, you really do believe that these people have relationships, and are kindred spirits in some examples.
There's so many great moments and scenes in this film that I would just go on and on, and you might as well just see the film. Man oh man. I can't believe I'm gushing this much. Good movie. Very excited that these are the people in charge of the next Muppet film.

Monday, July 21, 2008

1085 - In Bruges

I was recommended this when it first came out but never got around to seeing it in the cinema. The cast is small but mighty and the script has a lovely energy at moments, and is suprisingly slow at others. Despite it's somewhat uneven pacing the film works quite well. Without ruining any key moments there's a wonderful exchange between Farrell and Fiennes in regards to how one plans to escape from the other. Harkens back to Abbott and Costello in a way.
Big fan of these little crime films and this one's interesting. Like I said the small cast is great, and used well. The story is interesting and the characters all compelling despite their various levels of evil.
Check it out when you get the chance!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

1084 - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

I've been told for quite some time to watch this film, so finally here I am. I'll be honest in that at around the ten minute mark I started to worry. I was enjoying it, sure, but at the same time I wasn't sure how this visual style was going to work over a two hour period. Little did I know that I was in the hands of a wonderful storyteller.
I love that we don't get to leave his point-of-view until he's decided to commit to life. It's a wonderful choice, and by the time we finally leave him, we're familiar with him.
His snarky inner-monologue is quite enjoyable. I question whether some of the same dialogue, in English, wouldn't just sound pretentious, and if it's saved by the foreign language.
Max von Sydow made me tear up here, he's always wonderful and is no exception here. All of the women in this film are interesting and great actors, but the stand out for me is Marie-Josée Croze. She's got that rare kind of beauty that just looks effortless. She can say so much with so little. She should be used more.
I need to see more of Julian Schnabel's work to see if this is a fluke or the work of a great filmmaker. I'm hoping for the latter.

1083 - The Dark Knight

The hype machine for this film was absolutely incredible. Over the whole thing is the air of melancholy with Heath's death, but it almost works for it, which I'm sure the Warner Bros brass are happy with. And just as a warning THERE WILL BE SPOILERS IN THIS POST. READ AHEAD AT YOUR OWN FREEWILL!!!
I like Nolan's world for Batman. I think it's great and real and gritty, and I do worry that you can only take it so far before you run out of villains that you can realistically bring into this world. Was Heath great? He sure was. But no better than Aaron Eckhardt, who I'm sure won't get the praise that Ledger does, and understandably so. The most ironic part is that the character that survives won't be available for the sequel unless they recast, in which case, all the best luck to the fanboy hates to whatever unlucky soles steps into those big feet. There's this beautiful moment at the end of this film where Joker pontificates on why neither he or Batman can or will kill the other. He blames Batman's moral code for the reason he can't kill the Joker, and the Joker simply just tells him that he's too much fun, and that "We'll probably do this for forever." A sad sad moment that pulls you back to reality.
There was a great improvement in this film on dialogue and some wonderfully surprising story beats. Love that they killed the damsel in distress, but honestly, I never had a problem with the Katie Holmes casting, and I'll admit that the moment would have been that much more emotional if it was a character I'd seen over two films. The re-casting kills it a bit, and no fault to Maggie - I love her dearly, perhaps she's just a better actress than they needed.
Was it fun? Yeah! Did it give me everything I wanted. Sure! Perhaps more. It was a long film, feeling probably longer than it did. Can't complain that there wasn't enough Joker, just a bit sad that his counter-part can't make it around for the next installment.
Great ending, can't wait to see where they take it.

1082 - Batman Begins

Watched this to gear up for the newest installment "The Dark Knight". Emily (the wife) hasn't seen it so I tried to make her watch it, but she fell asleep. It's not surprising. The film is a tad slow considering that it's a superhero film. But then again part of it's charm is the epic treatment that it's been given. The only problem with that is that the epic scope doesn't match a lot of the cheesy dialogue that comes and goes with the picture, never quite fitting. Great origin story, I remember being really blown away after the first viewing -- this one, not so much. Still liked it, and still made me jazzed for the next one.

1081 - Sunshine

Finally watched this after having been given it almost two months ago. I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to. It's a beautiful looking film and it's got a really great story hook. I think that it tries a little too hard to give itself a physical villain and that that aspect of the film could have been handled much better. Great ups and downs as far as emotional storytelling goes. I can only imagine how beautiful it looks in HD.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

1080 - The Wire: season one

I'm surprised that it took me as long as it did to get into this show, especially since I'm an HBO-whore. I remember when it started up, and something about it just didn't interest me. The amazingly positive word of mouth completely turned it around. I love how this show works, how the characters all make you feel something whether you love or hate them, there is no character that you're really indifferent about.
The case is a puzzle and we get to see both sides playing it out, how to stay one step ahead, how to figure out the next move. The writing is top notch. It's also got enough of a sense of humor to itself that it never gets too heavy without some relief, save a few key moments in the final episodes. I won't give away anything just in case. But if you like cop shows and ESPECIALLY if you like The Wire, check it out.
Can't wait to sit down and watch season two, I just hope that Omar and Bubbles stick around.

1079 - Degrassi Junior High: season one

I think I saw this show when I was younger, I remember the faces for sure, but that's about it. Emily's big into it, so I'm watching it with her. Gotta be honest, it's growing on me. Now to be fair, these are all real kids, not actors (not at the beginning) and so a certain amount of forgiveness must be given for certain performances. That aside, along with some really cheesy scenarios, which you have to expect in a melo-drama, it's a pretty unique show, especially when you consider that no one else was really talking about a lot of these issues in teenager's programming.
I love the ensemble feel and how you drift in and out of these kids lives, and how even though we learn more about some of them, the other kids are still oblivious to just how much is going on with them. I need to break from the show, but I'm looking forward to the second season.

Monday, July 14, 2008

1078 - Dial M for Murder (in 3D!!!)

'The Fox' in the beaches is having a 3D festival and when I saw this in the line-up I couldn't resist. Of all the Hitchcock movies this is probably the last one I would expect to be turned into a 3D film (maybe last right after Rope). It's not that it's not a good movie, it's really enjoyable. It's just not all that exciting in terms of actions, etc... It's essentially a chamber piece shot by a visually gifted director. It's refreshing, and I imagine challenging to shoot the same room for almost an entire film. I need to read up more on Hitch's process as he never ceases to impress me in a lot of ways.
It'd be interesting to see a stage play version of this with good actors just to see the difference with Hitch's visuals. Grace Kelly is beautiful as usual, the rest of the cast is quite enjoyable as well. If you haven't seen this - DO IT! Don't kill yourself to see the 3D version unless you're a big geek.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

1077 - Venus

This is a film that I had really only casually wanted to see, but I had it on my zip list anyway. I had to say that I enjoyed it quite a bit. It didn't blow me away, mind you, but it had a really great energy and attitude to it. Jodie Whittaker as the object of O'Toole's infatuation is a breath of fresh air. She goes from looking painfully normal to surprisingly beautiful in mere moments, all of which I'm sure is not by accident. Her scenes with O'Toole are the best bits of the film, and although she's there quite a bit, I still think that there should have been more about their relationship, the emotional connection that is.
Worth giving it a look, sweet and sour at the same time. I reckon it would be a good rainy afternoon film.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

1076 - Sleeping Dogs Lie

I'm not really sure what I was expecting when I decided to watch a film about a woman telling her fiancé that once, a long time ago, she blew a dog.
So what did I get? I got a really good, insightful film that delves into human behavior and relationships. And it was made by the Bobcat! Who knew he had it in him! Essentially this film is about truth in relationships. What is too much or not enough? Should you tell your partner everything, or is it better to have some little things that are just for us? The theme is well explored in this film that never ever tries to be a gross-out comedy. The characters are real and the actors stellar. Melinda Page Hamilton is the find of the decade and does wonders with her part that in other films would be a quirky story told - here she's three dimensional and complicated, smart, beautiful, and completely empathetic. I dare you to watch this film and not fall in love with her.
It's not a perfect film. Aesthetically it's slightly better than a student film, however the performances and the story and ideas themselves is what sets this film apart. I'm 100% recommending this. If you like movies about people and the stupid things we do, please, watch it.

Monday, July 07, 2008


the following was viewed between Nov 13th, 2004 and Jan 8th, 2005

201. Mr. Death
202. Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer
203. Aileen: Life & Death of a Serial Killer
204. Sideways
205. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
206. Ham & Cheese
207. The Office: Christmas Special
208. National Treasure
209. Who's That Knocking at My Door?
210. Kinsey
211. Shadow of a Doubt
212. Rear Window
213. Mean Streets
214. Dr. Strangelove (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb)
215. The Big Red One
216. Battlefield
217. The Letter
218. Hot Rod
219. Monopoly Deathmatch
220. Closer
221. Shadows
222. Cries & Whispers
223. Ocean's Twelve
224. Finding Neverland
225. Radio Days
226. The Bank Dick
227. Once Upon a Time in Mexico
228. Manhattan
229. Annie Hall
230. Elf
231. Full Tilt Boogie
232. The Naked Kiss
233. The Maltese Falcon
234. The Barbarian Invasions
235. The Phantom of the Opera
236. Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore
237. Fanny & Alexander
238. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
239. A Very Long Engagement
240. In Good Company
241. Carnivale: season one
242. Persona
243: Sex in the City: full series review
244. The Rules of the Game
245. Napolean Dynamite
245. Crimes & Misdemeanors
247. Dial 'M' for Murder
248. Primer
249. Napolean Dynamite
250. Pitch

This period of time was when I'd just moved to Toronto and wasn't really working besides writing, so you can see how I was able to watch that many films in the span of two months or so.  It slows down considerably ;-)
While looking over this list I was surprised when I got to The Phantom of the Opera.  I'm not kidding when I say that I was actually surprised in that I forgot that film even existed.  Sorry Joel, it just wasn't that memorable.
It's interesting to see that I was also working my way through some classics.  Awfully proud of myself for doing that.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

1075 - The Office: season one (U.S.)

OK. I'll be honest. I avoided this show. To be fair I watched the pilot episode and since it was mostly a rip-off of the British one, which I loved so much, I decided to tune out. Big mistake.
Sure the characters are just Americanized versions, but I think they're a little bit more, there's a slightly different skew to each of them and it works really really well. The stories are unique to North America dealing with health care, etc... Although a short season by U.S. standards it was beautiful. Some ridiculously funny bits. I imagine this show would be tough to cut with a lot of great material to choose from.
What I'm interested in seeing the most is how well the show can sustain itself over the course of sixty-plus episodes, and how they deal with the Tim/Pam dynamic. I'm officially a fan.

Friday, July 04, 2008

1074 - WALL*E

At some point in the middle of the day today I got really excited about watching this film. I like Pixar. I'm not a diehard fan, I don't think, but I do enjoy their stuff as it always seems to be quality. The animation is pretty stellar in terms of being lifelike, but that begs the question, is being realistic what makes it good? There's some amazing animation that looks nothing like real life. Should we be amazed that they can make dust look real, or is it actually a step back in creative terms... something to consider.
What's the most enjoyable about this film is how it borrows from the old days of Buster Keaton and Jacques Tati, having the film play out mostly silently is a bold choice, but it pays off and we love the characters just as much, and it's a wonderful test in how well Pixar can tell a story through visuals. It's also quite the comment on mankind, or at least where they think we're headed. Sad thing is, I don't think they're far off.
I'm not sure the reasoning behind incorporating live-action humans into it. Seems an odd choice, like it was making a comment that went over my head. Loved the continuous Apple references though.
Definitely worth seeing and on the big screen.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

1073 - Monkey Warfare

I first heard of this film when I was lucky enough to be out for drinks with Don McKellar after a script reading event. I think it was just about to come out and he was pimping it a bit, which just goes to show you the kind of guy he is. The film is the baby of Don's longtime editor and so it's really awesome to see him helping the guy out in his first foray into feature directing.
That aside, how was the film? It's kind of hard to talk about it without mentioning the budget and how much they did with so little. For a practically no-budget film it's incredibly open and they've been able to give the film at least the look of having production value, so good on them. The cast is all wonderful with McKellar and Tracy Wright being solid as per usual, but for me this was a discovery film for Nadia Litz. She has a few odd moments, which were more a stylistic director choice, of which she can't be faulted, but despite being easy to look at she's got this quality that makes you just want to spend time with her on the screen. Hopefully as she continues to grow she retains her Canadian roots. I'd love to work with her some day.
So overall I think the film had a good story, although I'll admit I was a little let down by the reveal at the end. I was expecting a bit more, not much, but a little at least. It's out on DVD now and easily worth the rental. I picked it up used and I'm really looking forward to listening to the commentary.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

1072 - Hancock

This was easily one of the films that I was looking forward to the most. What a great premise, maybe the best original premise that I've seen so far this year, which is why it's even sadder, when in the second half of this film it kind of gets away from itself and loses it's way.
I'm not going to mention too much since I saw it in an advanced screening and don't want to ruin anything.
The actors are fine, really good actually, just not enough though to save this film from itself in the final act. The film takes a bit wide turn about halfway through, and it's a lovely twist, but it just forces the film to get more and more complicated, especially at a point in the film where we should be getting excited and it's moving further along. In addition to this Berg (the director) doesn't seem to be able to find the right tone for the film and sadly drifts back and forth between them, making it even more confusing.
I did I like it? Yeah, I guess. Would I recommend it? If you were already excited to see it, please, by all means, go. If you're on the fence then wait for DVD.

1071 - Charlotte's Web

Watched this over the long weekend on request from the wife. I'd seen it earlier during it's theatrical run and enjoyed it enough then. The second viewing can sometimes be called the "bullshit viewing", where anything that just-kinda works in the first viewing, doesn't at all in the second.
I realize that it's a screen version of a beloved book and with that they feel like they need to include certain things, etc... Personally I don't think they took enough/any liberties. I think any of the "acting" from the live actors is pathetic and kind of laughable. The voice talents to well enough despite it all.