Sunday, January 30, 2011

1512 - Flakes

Felt like watching a random film while doing laundry tonight, so I left it up to the fates of Netflix recommendation's, decided that I'd watch the first film I ran into that was in and around the hour and a half mark  voila - Flakes!
It's an intentionally quirky comedy where in the central question comes when a girlfriend asks her boyfriend, "Are you a musician that happens to work at a cereal bar, or a are you the manager of a cereal bar that happens to do a little music on the side?"  It's a film about goals and responsibilities, lead off by Aaron Stanford in the lead of said musician, and the always delightful Zooey Deschanel as said girlfriend - and rounding out the cast is one of my favorites, Christopher Lloyd.  In terms of light entertainment it's an entertaining enough little flick.  It's fun, and I think that's all it's really aiming for - and thus it succeeds.  Much like a bowl of your favorite cereal it'll satisfy you while you partake, but you'll find yourself hungry again for something substantial within a few hours.

1511 - Love and Other Drugs

I wanted to see this film for several reasons.  Mostly because this is the kind of film that I just suck up.  I'm a big fan of films about relationships, and ultimately people who struggle with them.  Sure I love a good blow-up as much as anyone, and I love films of all genres in general, but nothing gets me more excited than a film about people struggling with love.  I realize how un-guyly that makes me.  I could care less.  Another of the reasons has a lot to do with the cast.  Jake is great, always liked him - but Anne Hathaway is someone who I think is a megastar in terms of her ability to get into the skin of a character and just 'be'.  She is phenomenal.  It would be so easy to go over-the-top with a role like this, but she finds these amazing moments of restraint while at the same time having a lot of fun with it when it's appropriate.
So, what's the film about you might be asking...  Without giving away too much it's essentially a love story about two people looking for anything but a love story.  Jake is a pharmaceutical rep and Anne is a woman who has a very serious illness - the kind that is not going to get better as time goes on.  And so it takes a hard look and asks difficult questions.  Would you want to spend the rest of your life with someone that you have to take care of?  Or can you accept the fact that you're going to have to be taken care of by someone else?  It's the kind of questions that make the problems in most love stories look extremely trivial by comparison.  This film doesn't attack, but raises a lot of questions about medication in our society and how the system works.  It doesn't cast judgment so much as it presents a point of view.
Needless to say, I really liked this film and I'll be revisiting it at some point.  Emily felt it to be a bit too long, but I didn't notice.  Ebert's review said that it had script/tone issues in that it felt like a screwball comedy that got a bit too serious and lost it's way.  Again, I never had a problem with it.  It made me laugh, it made me care, and it even got me a little emotional at the end.  I blame you, Anne Hathaway, you magnificent bastard, you.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

1510 - Easy A

Let's get the crappy part of the review out of the way right away.  I had a hard time buying into the beginning of this film.  In this day in age does anyone in high school really make a big deal of a girl sleeping with someone?  Sure, once they start giving it away to everyone perhaps, but after just one guy the news spreads like wildfire?  Especially a girl who is apparently "off the radar"?  When I was in high school no one cared and we were in a small town, and that's all you did was gossip.  So with that, and the Hippie and the Christian girl who had the skankiest make-up of everyone, that's my gripes with this film.  Outside of that, there was a lot to like about this film...
I've been a big fan of Ms. Emma Stone since I first was graced with her screen presence.  She's cute as hell, but funny and smart as a whip.  And she's given great stuff to work with.  Some amazing scenes and dialogue going on here - no idea how much was scripted Vs. improv, but it felt real and spontaneous and fun.  Stone is on her way to being a superstar, and for good reason.  Here's hoping she makes good choices.
Stanley Tucchi and Particia Clarkson are goddamn brilliant as the parents in this film.  It's a testament to great casting, acting, and writing.  These roles could have been the standard cliche, but what the screenplay of this film does is give all of the smaller roles something to really do.  There are no wasted roles here.
So while I had initial problems buying into the concept of the entire film, I was over taken by how much fun it is.  The filmmakers are quite obviously in love with the teen comedies of the eighties, and perhaps this is their tribute to them, and if so, it's a decent one.  This is by no means one of those you-absolutely-must-see films, but if you want to be entertained by a pretty damn good teen comedy, then this should be right up your alley.
Easy A  Easy A [Blu-ray]

Portnoy's Complaint

And the reading continues!  I might have mentioned it before but my resolution this year is to get through an embarrassingly large stack of books that have piled up over the (literally) years - of which this book is a prime example.  An old college friend of mine bought me this book (I can't even remember when) insisting that it would be right up my alley.  Boy was he right.
It's amazing to me how this feels so relevant now (and maybe always).  On one hand this is a disturbingly accurate portrayal into the depravities of (most) men's minds.  I can only imagine how it was received when it first hit the book stands in the '60s.  I can't speak for the Jewish experience (obviously) but I don't think it took away from the book at all.  It didn't make me feel less embarrassingly connected to the main character at all.  It's hard for me to get to the gist of what this book was about - but I'll try...
Taking place over one (or several) sessions with his therapist, Alexander Portnoy gets extremely personal about his feelings on relationships and sexuality.  The entire thing plays out not unlike a Lenny Bruce monologue.  It's vicious, unapologetically sexual, and just flat out good.  If I have a criticism of the book it's that the women characters play out a little bit like male fantasy to some extent - however I can forgive that under the guise that this is a book that's completely from the male characters point of view, and that he's probably exaggerating quite a bit.
This is not a book for the prudish.  I've tried to track down the film they made of it, but it appears to be a lost 'cause.  Alas.  And now I wonder who has the rights....
So if you're looking for a book that's both a guilty pleasure as well as a charming and thoughtful look into the male mind, this is for you.  Please don't think me a pervert for loving this as I do...
Portnoy's Complaint   Philip Roth: Novels 1967-1972: When She Was Good / Portnoy's Complaint / Our Gang / The Breast (Library of America)

Friday, January 28, 2011

1509 - Public Enemies

I went through a wave, as I'm sure most young men do, where I was really into films about criminals - they were cool, right?  Guns, clever dialogue, etc...  I still enjoy them but they aren't the type that I automatically drift towards unless they have another element to them.  The idea of watching Johnny Depp play Dillenger was pretty appetizing.
I have to say that I found this film to be... bizarre.  First the look.  I'm by no means against digital photography, hell that's what I've used mostly and will probably use exclusively, but here it just doesn't fit.  At times it feels like a student film or a made for T.V. movie.  It just doesn't look right a whole lot of the time.  Sometimes it's just the image and it's clarity, but a lot of time it's just a really bizarre shot selection.  Not the kind of thing you'd expect from a filmmaker like Michael Mann.
This film didn't really do anything towards making me care about the character of Dillenger.  It was more or less just presenting the facts, kind of cold and emotionless. 
Unless you're super interested in Dillenger (and I recommend his wikipedia page over this film) then I'm not sure I can really recommend this film.  Sorry, Michael Mann.  Not your best work.  It has some moments here and there but they are few and far between and just nothing overly exciting or interesting happens. 
Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34   Public Enemies (Single-Disc Edition)  Public Enemies (Special Edition) [Blu-ray]

Thursday, January 27, 2011

1508 - 127 Hours

I'm a little behind on this one, but glad that I saw it.  There's a certain amount of balls that it takes to tell the story of a man who is strapped in a canyon and never leave him while he's there.  Stay with him, and leave only when his imagination or memory takes you there.  No cutaways to friends or family wondering where he might be.  It's a bold and inspired choice, 'causing the filmmakers to be extra creative, and they rose to the challenge.
For all intents and purposes this should have been nothing more than an inspiring made-for-tv flick.  But with Boyle at the helm it's anything but.  Aron's time spent between his rock and hard place is more than just a physical obstacle, it's a chance for him to reach deep down.  The beauty of films like this is that it really puts you in their shoes.  What would you do to try and get out?  How would you try to say goodbye when you realized how slim your chances are?
Amidst the tension there are some wonder comedic moments - the stand-out of course being when he interviews himself, mocking his own characteristics which lead to him being so isolated.  That amongst the fantasies and hallucinations keep this film fresh.  I think that most people going into this know how it ends, but if you don't - maybe stop reading here...
The ending is pretty damn intense.  I found myself gritting the entire time.  Flinching, feeling empathetic pain to some degree.  I believe that Franco is going through what he is.  And speaking of Franco - so happy to see him getting some recognition.  He fascinates me to know end as a creative person.  I think he's great and I look forward to everything he's a part of.
This is an extremely entertaining film, but you might need a thick stomach to get through it.  Proceed with caution, but by all means, proceed!
127 Hours  127 Hours [Blu-ray]  127 Hours: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

1507 - Blue Valentine

 This was one of those films that I'd heard nothing about and then all of a sudden everyone started raving about it.  It's a film that's hard to describe.  I suppose the easiest would be to say that it's a tad nihilistic in the sense that, from my perspective, it's a film that's about how we always hurt those we love the most.  Or maybe it's just about the transient nature of love.  How we can only love people for as long as we can love them, and then that love runs out, or fades, or whatever.  People change.  The film takes place in two timelines, in one we watch them fall in love, in the other we watch them fall out - or to be more specific - we see their final 24hrs as a couple.  In truth, I think I would have liked to see a little bit more of the downfall of the marriage.  We get enough glimpses that it's more than enough, but - I don't know - perhaps they left me wanting more, and maybe that's just a good thing.
Gosling and Williams are amazing here.  And I don't say that lightly.  When they're falling in love they make you feel warm, tingly, full of hope, but when they're being horrible to each other you feel dirty, anxious.  This is no small feat in being able to make us love and kind-of-hate them and have that go back and forth at such a regular pace. 
It you're up for a film about a brutally realistic relationship than this is probably your cup of tea - but keep in mind that it's no date movie.  In fact a film like this would probably start a really interesting conversation from people in a relationship. 
Simple, elegant writing, brilliant performances, and a nice raw feel to it.  This is easily one of the best films of the year.
Blue Valentine  Blue Valentine [Blu-ray]

Monday, January 24, 2011

1506 - Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father

Again I must applaud the beauty that is Netflix.  I was searching for information on something else and randomly came across this film, so I checked to see if it was on Netflix, and then voila I found myself watching it mere moments later.  
Let me start off this "review" by stating that I'm a pretty hard-skinned guy.  I'm by no means a macho guy, or a man's man, but it takes a lot to get me outwardly effected.  Maybe it's that this story involves a baby and now I'm a Dad, I don't know - but this film kicked the shit out of me emotionally.  I sat weeping on my couch through a good portion of this (mostly nearing the end), it was a good cathartic cry, the kind that just leaves you emotionally drained.
Before I go any further I'll give you the cole's notes on the film, but I don't want to ruin anything - I think a film like this is important to let unfold itself.  You can always google the info to find out what happened, but I urge you - if you're curious - just watch the film - you can always look it up after.  But essentially it's about a man who is murdered and the son he would never meet.  The man's friend is a filmmaker and decides to make a documentary for the baby about his father, so that when he grows up he can get an idea of who his father was.  That's the jumping off point, anyway.  What it's about by the end is something so much more.
It's not fair to critique this film the way that you would others.  It's not the kind that you can rip apart and judge, the same way that you wouldn't a love letter written between people.  It's private, and personal.  The worst I will say about it is that it's often over-edited for emotional effect, but that's not what gets to you deep down, I don't think.  I think this material would be powerful regardless of the treatment.  But the treatment certainly does ratchet it up.
In terms of recommending this, it's a hard one for me.  Part of me wants to tell everyone I know about this, but like a love letter, I realize that this is sensitive material.  For example I know how much it affected me, I can't imagine what a film like this might do to my wife.  But I'll tell her about it over breakfast and let her decide.
I'm not sure how easy this film is to find outside of ordering it or on netflix, but if you like documentaries and want something that will test out your emotions then this is a good one.  If you do check it out please do come back and write something in the comments.  I'd be curious to know how this affected others.
Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father

Stroll: Psychogeographic Walking Tours of Toronto

I've been trying to be good about getting through my never-ending-stack of books, and this is something that I picked up last spring, so I wanted to make sure that I finally got through it.  As someone who is an outsider to Toronto (though I've lived here now for the better part of a decade) I'm always amazed by just how large this city is and how many pockets there are, communities, areas that I'm sure I'll never even know about.  And as a filmmaker who wants to make films about the places he lives in, I try my best to get to know the city better.  Well, there is no better starting point than a book like this.
Shawn Micallef has put together a book that is an amazing portrait of a city.  It's very specific to his point of view, and I think that's for the best.  I know that when I got to sections of the book which featured areas that I know quite well I sometimes found myself saying, "Well, why didn't he mention this, or that, or this...." but then the book would be ten times the length and none the better for it.
You could see it as a travel guide, but it's so much more than that.  Shawn's editorial comments are the most welcome part of the book outside of the historical and present facts.  I have to say that I'm not a big architecture geek and so I skimmed here and there when the book got heavy into that stuff, but anyone that is would find this book absolutely fascinating.
I think that anyone who lives in this city, likes to spend time in it, and wants a starting off point to a stronger relationship with it owes it to themselves to pick this book up.  It's the kind of book that you can read from front to back like I did, or just jump to the walking tour that interests you most.  Check it out and support a local writer at the same time!
Stroll: Psychogeographic Walking Tours of Toronto

1505 - Four Christmases

This is one of those films that's got just such a great concept, and one that's completely relevant to today's society.  Pretty much anyone in a serious relationship knows what it's like to juggle family during the holidays, going from one family to the next - and this film takes that idea to the extreme when you've got a couple who both come from divorced homes.  A couple who is avoided real serious commitment because of it.
I like Vince Vaughn and I generally like Reese Witherspoon, although something about her was... off in this film.  I can't quite pin down what.  There was some funny stuff going on here, but nothing that really took me over the top with laughter.  I really liked how they showed moments where they really didn't know each other all that well, but considering that that was the biggest issue in their relationship I'm not sure that they dealt with it all that well.  Sure they had their moment where they got it all out with each other, but I still felt like, in the end, they were the same superficial couple.
There's enough here for the regular rom-com fan to enjoy, but I don't think it's going to become any kind of holiday classic.  See it if you're interested.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

1504 - Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

 This is a film that I'd heard about sometime back, and what made me even more intrigued about it was that it was adapted/directed by John Krasinski.  Those who know me know that I'm drawn to films about relationships.  This film is more about how relationships affect people, and more often than not, it's about how it effects them in a pretty harsh way. 
It should be noted that this film doesn't attempt to follow a traditional narrative.  It's a lot of talking head, although Krasinki finds ways to keep the visuals fresh and interesting so that you don't just get lost in the monologues - which given the cast, I'm not sure you would anyway.  Seriously, the cast of actors that has been assembled for this film is just really something special.  Most of them aren't even close to being household names, but they're solid nonetheless and ones that you'll recognize even if you can't quite put your finger on it where they're from.
What impresses me most about this film is that Krasinki decided to make it at all.  I'm sure it would have been very easy for him to tackle a light rom-com for his first outing as a writer/director, but instead he's showing what he's made of.  It's not an easy film to digest - in fact I'm sure that the book is probably an easier (and maybe even more effective) way of telling this story (I think I'll pick the book up actually, so you can get my thoughts on that somewhere down the line - sadly it will have to go on a rather large stack of other books that I've been neglecting).
So this film is absolutely not for everyone, however if you want to watch a whole whack of really talented actors talk about some really interesting things centered around relationships and how men function (and don't) within them, then this might just be your cup of tea.  Really interested to see where Krasinski goes next as a storyteller...
Brief Interviews With Hideous MenBrief Interviews with Hideous Men [Blu-ray]Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

Saturday, January 22, 2011

1503 - Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

I must have added this film to my ziplist (yes, I still have my zip account… probably not for long though… netflix rules!) back when it was theatres and before it got it's ass handed to it by pretty much everyone who saw it, and I guess I never got around to taking it off the list.  So it arrived.  And despite it's ridiculous length of two and a half hours, I decided to give it a whirl.  Is Shia charming?  Sure.  Is Megan Fox shot in wonderful gratuity?  Absolutely.  Are both of them here by contractual obligation?  I can only assume.
My biggest complaint with the original was that I barely could follow the action and understand who was fighting who.  And that's probably the only thing that's been improved in this version.  They hold the action in a lot wider of a scope.
I'm not really a typical guy that's into cars, so even that angle doesn't turn me on.  There is absolutely nothing going on here that's interesting in terms of characters or relationships.  On the other hand, no one blows shit up like Michael Bay.  And no one uses more spray-tans on actors.  Seriously, why the hell is Michael Bay obsessed with ridiculous spray-tans.  Seriously almost everyone looks like an Oompa-Loompa, especially the girls.  And the one who *SPOILER ALERT* turns out to be a Decepticon looks like a burn victim.  I love how their idea of humous is using American ignorance, the best example being Sam's parents in Paris trying their food and saying it tastes like "Canadian Goose Poop".  Seriously, their attempt at "jokes" here is enough to make a five year old groan.
The final battle is underwhelming and the melodrama surrounding Shia's near-death is eye-roll enducing.  The fact that his whole arc is based around not being able to tell Megan Fox that he loves her is utterly ridiculous and lame. (although I do love the irony that, given the emphasis on this, she's absent from the next film, replaced by a new love interest)
This is the kind of film where if you want to see it, you're going to see it.  But it's just… kinda pointless.  But I'm sure HASBRO sold some more action figures thanks to it... so there's that.Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Single-Disc Edition)Transformers Battle Ops BumblebeeTransformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Two-Disc Special Edition) [Blu-ray]

Thursday, January 20, 2011

1502 - Curb Your Enthusiasm: season seven

I am ridiculously behind on this show in terms of this season.  I can't even think of why I wasn't watching it while it was airing, that being said (inside joke for the fans)...
A lot of people thought this was the last season, but as it's been reported the show is coming back for another round.  This season could easily have been the last.  The Seinfeld reunion is a nice bookend to the entire idea of the series, and the final scene of the season finale was a perfect note for the series to go out on.  So hopefully whenever Larry David does decide to finish the show he'll come up with something even better.
I think if I had a complaint about this season it's just that I wanted more of the Seinfeld cast integrated throughout - but that's just me being selfish.  I love the relationship between Larry and Jerry, and conversely the passive-aggression between Larry and Jason Alexander - really funny and smart.  The Michael Richards call-back to his infamous racial slurs was a nice touch.  This season was full of typical Larry stories and plots, and I loved the way that a lot of the classic Curb storylines were sprinkled throughout the Seinfeld Reunion script, giving us a glimpse into the idea that all of the stuff we saw the gang go through on the original series just may have somewhat happened to the real Larry. 
I always liked Seinfeld, but I think I like Curb more.  It's a great show, it's probably not for everyone, but anyone who has a thrust towards the dark side of comedy would probably enjoy it.  Looking forward to seeing what Larry comes up with for the next season!
Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Seventh Season

Three 2 Five Questions: Christine Horne

I have a notebook in my office where I keep a list of names of actors that impress me, ones that I'll hopefully be lucky enough to work with at some point.  When I came home from seeing The Stone Angel the first thing I did was add Christine Horne's name to that list.  Then, sometime later, when we were casting The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard, I was delighted to see her name on our audition list.  If you live in Toronto and you're a theatre goer you probably recognize her from various theatrical productions - just this past summer she was Juliet in this year's Dream in High Park production of Romeo & Juliet, and last year she won a Dora Award for Turn of the Screw.
Without further delay I present the interview I did with her.  Keep in mind, as per usual, the audio isn't spectacular and the location was fairly under lit.
Mid way through the interview Christine mentions something that I should share a link to.  Click here for that.

The lovely people over at The Mind Reels found the commercial of Christine! Here it is below...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

1501 - Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay

I was half tempted to revisit the original before jumping into this one.  I was really surprised by the first film and how solid it was in terms of funny and character.  This film, I think, relies a little bit more on crude rather than clever (correct me if I'm wrong - it's been years since I saw the original).  
What I liked in particular about this film was the length at which they took the theme of ridiculous racism.  Really nice thematic stuff going on amidst all the jokes.  Roger Bart has a great little part - of course there is a brilliant Neil Patrick Harris cameo.
If you liked the original then you've probably already seen this - if you write this series off as pure slacker flick then you're probably doing it a disservice.  At least check out the original, it's loads of fun - and if it doesn't crack you up, snuggle up with this.  It's by no means a brilliant film, but it's enjoyable.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Fool For Love

I need to start by saying that I'm not a regular theatre goer by any means.  I like theatre and I do have background in theatre... kind of... it was always my own stuff though, so maybe that doesn't count.  Anyway, I say this just to let you know that I am by no means any kind of qualified critic when it comes to theatrical productions.  That being said...
I knew nothing of this play walking into it - and that's really nice these days when it's hard to be surprised by something, especially a story.  Without giving anything away, it's a story of star-crossed lovers, set in a motel room, right at the moment where they need to make a hard decision.  I went to see this because my new friend Ms. Katie Boland was starring in it, and because the darling Ms. Christine Horne was willing to go with me.  This is an Ezra Atlantic Co-op production, which is a group whose mandate is to make theatre more accessible and attractive to the youth.  Staging the play in an art gallery where you're literally in the same space as the actors is a nice touch.  The set has everything it needs, and I really liked the simplicity of it.  It worked well.  All of the technical aspects of the show were really quite nicely done, in particular the sound design.  It really added this nice little layer of naturalistic score to the entire piece.  The other nice thing about a venue like this is because it's so close to the street and not insulated properly that (with the right play) it really adds to the soundscape.  There was a lovely moment in the play's second half where I was literally transported.  I was sitting in a motel room.  I forgot I was watching a play, which was a really lovely and unexpected thing to have happened.  
This play if full of really lovely performances.  Boland and Blais have a pretty kick-ass chemistry as the two would-be lovers.  You really aren't quite sure what they're going to do next, and in a play like this - that's a lovely thing.  David Christo was a lovely surprise as Martin, and his hayseed slackness was a nice breath of fresh air at a point where the intensity was rising and we needed the emotional break.  Rounding out the cast is a very enjoyable Barry Flatman.
And then there's the star of any good play, the script.  I'm not very familiar with Sam Shepard's work.  I think with any drama there's a real danger of the work easily slipping into melodrama, and I think that this production avoided that as much as possible.  The play moved with a great pace, and the story unfolded in a natural way.  It had a really lovely balance to the whole thing.  There are a number of really delightful moments both in dialogue and sometimes the lack there-of.  It's a very nice piece of writing.  
The show is a limited engagement at the Meta Gallery and I believe that it's only on until this weekend, and it may or may not already be sold out.  Email to reserve seats.  
If you like independent theatre and have a free evening this week get on it!

Monday, January 17, 2011

The First 1500

So you've probably noticed my numbering scheme in front of reviews for films and television shows.  When I was in my last year of film school I decided to start a film journal wherein I would write my thoughts on what I was watching as a way to make me think more about the things I was ingesting.  If you look back to the first entrees of this blog I started to scan them in, but then gave up the effort.  Then in the early 1000's I decided to start keeping up with the journal AND writing here on the blog.  And now, nearly 500 entrees of double-dipping later I'm finding that it's just too much damn work, that and I'm half-assing it in my journal.  So while it won't affect this blog, I've decided to give up the journal.  I'm going to keep it up in another way - more working out my own thoughts and issues with being a filmmaker and getting films made, working in the industry - stuff too personal to ever post here. 
So hopefully you've enjoyed my first 1500 entrees (or at least the near 500 that are posted here) and will enjoy the rest just as much.  I'm trying to think up other things I can add here besides just the reviews and the interviews.  I'll do my best to keep you loyal readers entertained - if you have any suggestions feel free to fire them away!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

1500 - Swingers

I wanted to re-watch something special for my 1500th entry.  I'll speak more to how I got to 1500 in a separate entry, but it wasn't hard to choose Swingers for this honor.
I really got into films sometime in the mid-nineties when I was a teenager.  I guess that's not true, as a kid I always watched a tonne of films - but it was always pretty mainstream stuff - essentially whatever I could find out the local, tiny video store.  We'd rent two or three films for a Saturday night and the next morning I'd watch some of them again.  What can I say, I was hooked from the start.  However in my teen years that when I started to seek out films that were more than the mainstream, the indie movement with films like this, Tarantino, Kevin Smith, etc... and then that brought me further into it with people that were real hardcore indie filmmakers, foreign filmmakers, etc... but Swingers is one of those original films that I watched so much that I wore out my original VHS tape of it.  I wish I was kidding about that.  
For those who haven't seen it it's reason enough just to see Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau looking fresh faced and ready to take on the world.  It's pretty amazing how many carries flourished out of this film - and rightly so.  If you haven't seen it, it's about a guy who is trying to make it as a comedienne in L.A. while at the same time trying to get over having broken up with his girlfriend back in New York to try and make it out west.  
Vince Vaughn is the unofficial leader of this hipster group and is entertaining and charismatic as hell.  Favreau has such heart in this film.  You want to hug him, be his pal, run around the speakeasies of L.A. with him.  He's that kind of guy.  
Doug Liman did wonders with the visuals of this film given all that they were up against.  If you're young and interested in making your own film then this is a good one to study - in particular the commentary tracks are really quite enlightening into their process.  Two of this film's producers actually teamed up and made a budgeting book using this film a lot for it's template.
This is one of my all time favorite films and it never lets me down, even on repeat viewings.  I can't imagine anyone I wouldn't recommend this film too.  It's pretty damn awesome stuff.

1499 - The Social Network

I saw this in the theaters but couldn't resist picking up the Blu-ray - it's loaded to the tits with some pretty fantastic features including one of the best making-ofs that there are (my favorite is still 'That Moment' on the Magnolia DVD).  
This film is a powerhouse.  First off, it's not many films that can boast such an unlikable protagonist, and still be this enchanting.  I think it's always impressive when someone can come up with the "big idea" and Facebook was that and more.  It was probably the most impressive invention in terms of the internet following the internet itself.  And like it says in the film, Facebook is like fashion and fashion doesn't end - it just continues to evolve.
This is an interesting film for Fincher, it's a little less stylized than most of his films but there's no denying his presence here.  Who else would employ Trent Reznor to create one of the most amazing scores in recent memory - easily my favorite of the year.
This film is rich in classic themes and I can't imagine that it'll be forgotten by time.  Regardless of how accurate it is in the details I'm sure that the broad strokes are there.  It stands up well on multiple views and I really can't wait to check out the commentaries on the disc.  If you loved this film then please treat yourself to the Blu-Ray, great features.  And if you haven't seen this film, do yourself a favor and get on it.  It's easily one of the best of 2010.
The Social Network (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]

1498 - Nights and Weekends

So I think it's pretty official that I have a crush on Greta Gerwig.  She's absolutely adorable in the right moments, and then in others she's absolutely frustrating.  She's a real woman in every sense of the world.  This film is about a long distance relationship in two parts.  The first part whilst it is going on, the second a year after the break up.  I don't think you appreciate just how fine the acting in this film is until the second half of the film.  In the first half it's what you'd expect, these people are excited to see each other - gitty even.  And they have expectations for their weekend together, and when it's not perfect they get upset and annoyed the way that a real couple would.  And then, a year later, when they reunite it's extremely and wonderfully awkward, and lord does it feel real.  If you've ever reunited with someone you had an intense relationship then you know exactly what I'm talking about.
Both Gerwig and Swanberg are fantastic, but Gerwig is fearless here.  She doesn't care if she's unlikable, or if she's silly, or whatever.  Every moment that she's on screen is honest and wonderful.  This film was a delightful surprise and I highly recommend it to any one who likes smart, honest films about relationships and people.
Nights and Weekends

Saturday, January 15, 2011

1497 - Year One

When this film first got announced I thought that the concept had enormous potential.  The idea of putting someone with a modern consciousness in the period of biblical times was just pure comic gold.  And then seeing the cast that they'd assembled got me extra excited.  Then it came out and people shit all over it, so I kinda forgot about it.  
So I decided to check it out anyway, and honestly, there's some funny stuff going on in here.  But I think that my biggest issue with it, and probably the reason that it didn't go over so well, is that it really lacks a driving force.  It just feels like it goes from one bit to another, stringed together by a loose narrative.  So if you don't care about something as silly as a "plot" then this will probably be just fine for you. 
On the upside, really enjoyed discovering June Diane Raphael here.  She's funny, sexy, and just over all wonderful.