Friday, December 28, 2012

1793 - Dexter: season seven

It takes a lot to come back from something that was the shit-show of season six of this series, but I'd argue that Dexter has done it.  I've read complaints that this was a half-solid season and a half slippery slope.  I can't imagine you're reading this without already having seen the show, but let it be know that there are SPOILERS BELOW...

The only decent thing about season six was, literally, the final few seconds where Debra walked in on Dexter - changing the fate of the show forever.  This season was all about Debra coming to grips with who Dexter is, and also more-or-less becoming his sidekick in a weird way.  All that fueled with a bizarre love-triangle with the fantastic Hannah and you've got a pretty solid season - top that with a half-season villain of Isaac Sirko and it's even stronger.  A lot of people complained that Isaac was taken out too early - I'd argue that it would have been hard to keep him up and build towards this season's climax.  I was actually hoping that Hannah would be the one to take out La Guerta and thereby protecting Dexter and making Debra owe her one - possibly the one way to get her off her back and make it so that Dexter and she could be together - although turning Debra into a killer is a pretty smart move forward for the show.  Will she spin out of control?  Should be interesting, especially since Hannah is still in play.  Could the two of them still have a happy ending?  I'm interested to see where the final season will take us since things have (somewhat) been brought back to a status quo.  I have to say that I want a final season that sees Dexter, somewhat, on the run - how else can this end on a happy note without him faking his own death? 

We shall see in the fall of 2013...

1792 - Les Miserables

 Years ago I saw Les Mis on a school trip to London, England.  I even want to say that Colm Wilkinson was playing the lead still, but I can't recall for certain.  We got last minute seats and so I we were in the sixth balcony of this huge theatre, and even through shared binoculars the actors seemed like ants on the stage.  Needless to say outside of some great music I didn't really enjoy the experience as it was less than ideal.  So that was a great place to enter into seeing the film - my expectations weren't really anything.
This is a really great story - it's epic in scope and yet small and personal.  The performances are fantastic and arguably flawless in some areas.  Tom Hooper made a solid choice to film the ballads in mostly unbroken medium shots and it's inspired and beautiful - really allowing a true performance - and none is more perfect and heart-breaking than Anne Hathaway's.  I'm not an oscar-whore, nor do I take much stock in them, but if she doesn't get some recognition for her supporting role then it's a damn shame, I say.  Jackman is pretty great but I have to say that role isn't all that exciting to me - the stand-out male role goes to Russel Crowe as the complicated and conflicted officer of the law.  What happens to him is heart-breaking in a very bizarre way.  I want to say a lot more, but I won't and will leave that for you to discover. 
If you like musicals of epic scope you'll dig this.  I did find it a touch long in some spots - and some of the sing-songy dialogue I could have done without - give me a proper song and music or just speak dialogue, I say! 
But all in all, a hell of a show well done!  See it on the big screen with the big sound if you're going to see it at all.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

1791 - Django Unchained

Nothing says Christmas Day like slavery!  Although to be honest, ironically I never felt watching this like it was a 'slave' film so much as that was the looming backdrop for a unique revenge story.  I go back and forth on Tarantino, but this just might be my favorite of his films.  It's easily the most entertaining, and I think has the strongest through line of anything that he's done.  The cast is fantastic - I don't put a lot of stock into it but expect nominations all around here.  Tarantino's skills as a filmmaker are on fire here - it's sweet, it's suspenseful, it's hilarious, it's a true roller coaster and a hell of good time at the movies.  At nearly three hours it never feels it whatsoever and just chugs along, the story swerving here and there but always with it's eye on the prize.
If you've even been a Tarantino fan this is the one to see.  Please put out a kick-ass bluray and I'll be there in a heart beat. 
I could write a lot more about it, but it's really worth discovering all it's little gems on your own!  As it is, I highly recommend it. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

1790 - Elf

This is the last of the absolutely essential Christmas films I watch each year (or try to) - there's always a few more that I try to get around to, but this is one of the must-sees.  It's amazing to think it's a decade old at this point, and I absolutely forgot that Zooey Deschanel was a blonde in this film.  I adored her when I first saw this and still do today - it's nice to see things work out for people like this who really deserve it - the film is chock full of great characters but she's an absolute delight through and through.
This film is more gags per minute than most films, but it never feels like it's forcing it or trying too hard.  One liners, visual gags, it's a unique magical thing. 
This film has been out for about a decade so if you haven't seen it then you really really owe it to yourself - it's on Netflix currently so many sure you get around to it over the holiday season - whether you're new to this film or it's an old favorite - I always discover new gems in this one.  Hopefully you do too!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

1789 - Scrooged

I'm pretty predictable when it comes to my holiday viewing of cinema.  It's Muppets, this, and Elf which are always my staples.  In fact I raced around a few Christmases ago to find this on DVD.  We had a friend over tonight who'd never seen it and so it was my duty to make sure she had and I think she was enchanted by it as well.  It's amazing that this film is close to 25 years old - it easily still stands up today - the comedy is sharp - the heart intact.  I'd argue that the ending gets a taaaaad preachy at the very very end, but I can live with that.  I grew up with the TV version which was edited for time and content so it's still a tad odd for me to watch this as was originally intended - but I love it all the more.
If you've never seen this update on A Christmas Carol you're missing out especially if you're a comedy lover and enjoy Bill Murray.  The cast is loaded with strong performances.  I can't say that this is a film for the entire family - but teenagers could easily enjoy.

Seriously though - if you've never seen this before get on it before the holidays are over.  You'll thank me.

1788 - 50/50 (commentary)

You can find a full review or two here already of this film as it's not my first viewing, but I decided to check out the commentary whilst I was doing some other things.  It's not the most informative - but it's a good time had by what appears to be good friends hanging out - including the writer whom the film's story is based on.  The commentary provides some decent stories and laughs but I wouldn't call it essential listening.  If you haven't see the film yet please do though - it's fantastic and one of my favorite of last year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

1787 - Homeland: season two

There are shows that you look forward to watching each week and then there are shows that you just absolutely can't wait to get to the next one.  Homeland is in the latter category.  Here's the thing - this show is immensely popular so if you're not watching it yet then you really just need to - it's got a great premise, solid cast, and fantastic storytelling.  So for all intents and purposes expect the rest of this blog posting to be SPOILER HEAVY - turn back now and catch up with this show.  You've been warned.

So I was pissed when they didn't kill Brody at the end of the first season - I thought it was a cop-out and didn't know how they would extend that character.  The brilliance of what they did was the first season you spent rooting to kill Brody, and they managed to flip it where here you're rooting for him to make it out alive. Very very strong reversal for us emotionally as an audience member.  For Claire Danes character this season has been a redemptive one, and she's as good as she ever was.  And so if they coped out with how they ended the first season they emptied the kitchen sink here.  This season was doing things in the second episode that I thought would take the entire season to get out - but they just plowed through a lot of great material with what seemed to be reckless abandon.  A risk that paid off in spades.
This season moved along like a freight train and made the world much bigger - I think some people preferred the smaller scale of the first season and, really, I like both and I think they can work together as well.  I love where this was left and how I can already see the seeds of the third season.  Clean slate for everyone in a really wonderfully heartbreaking way.  Hopefully the future seasons can sustain this quality, or they get out while they're still in fighting form.  I loved this and can't wait to return to it next fall.

Monday, December 17, 2012

1786 - Dazed & Confused

Good goddamn I forgot just how perfect this film in.  I was in the mood for a solid ensemble film with a great soundtrack and there are few that are on the level of this one.  It's interesting though, when you see great ensemble films often the music takes a large role as well. 
If this film isn't part of your lexicon it's a damn shame - it's one of the best coming of age stories and all the better because of it's wife variety of tales.  It's the last day of school for a bunch of kids in a small Texas town.  Some about to become seniors, the others about to become freshmen - but all of them are on the cusp of change large and small.  It also features a pretty impressive cast of up-and-comers and even the delightful Richard Linklater couldn't have predicted how big many of them would become.
If you're looking to pick this up you'll probably want to spring for the Criterion Collection edition (I have the usual) as I'm sure it's worth the extra $$$.
This is easily one of the best films of the ninties and of it's genre, one of the best in general.  If you were every a teenager in high school I just can't imagine how this wouldn't resonate with you somehow.

1785 - Get Him to the Greek

I'm actually not sure if I've seen this film since it was in theatres, but I remember (like Sarah Marshall) being surprised just how hilarious I found it to be, and what a fun film.  It's a great addition to the buddy comedy and while not quite a rival for Planes, Trains, & Automobiles it's definitely a close relative.  The soundtrack to this film (almost entirely - if not absolutely entirely original songs by the main character) is something quite spectacular and elevates the film from being merely good to pretty nifty-great (that's now a term - use it!).  Brand and Hill are a great pairing and their energy feeds off each other in really delightful ways and shifts nicely when they're with Bryne and Moss as their respective love interests.
If you've never seen this and are a fan of any of the cast or just the buddy comedy in general this is a must see - and the songs are an awesome bonus - I listen to the soundtrack fairly regularly.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

1784 - Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging

Watched this on a whim from netflix.  I'm studying teen comedies at the moment and thought I'd check out this one.  It's a pretty basic story of a teen girl trying to navigate the awkwardness of being a teenager, find a boyfriend as well as social and self acceptance.
Is it a predictablity-fest?  Sure, to some extent - although to be fair that's exactly the kind of film that this is...  Despite being a bit on the cheesy side from time to time it's surprisingly frank and I think really cuts to the core of people in that age range currently.  This could be a fun film to throw at a teenage daughter who's coming into their own.  Also, very fun soundtrack.  Cinephiles aren't going to dig this, but it's not for them.  Those who would like it, I can only assume would like it a lot.

1783 - This Means War

I have no idea what made me decide to watch this outside of liking all of it's stars.  I was doing some work and wanted to throw something on in the background and wanted something that wouldn't be too demanding (what a horrible criteria for picking a film to view...) it's premise is a fun one - combine a rom-com with espionage.  However the problem is is that it means in the middle without bringing any of the real fun from either genre.  Outside of the opening and the ending the spy stuff is pretty lame (and I kind of have a hard time buying that someone at the CIA wouldn't crack down on them for their abusing company resources.  In fact, that should have been a late act twist - where all their power as agents is taken away and they have to win the girl - and defeat the bad guy without their main weapon they've had all the time, but I digress.
Reese looks lovely here and she and the others have light moments to shine and they do quite well - it's just not a terribly entertaining film and it never draws me in.  I was interested in who she'd pick in the end, but I couldn't really care less who she ended up with as I didn't really get a sense of love from any of the parties...
So I don't recommend or condemn this one - go with your guy - it's on netflix.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

How NOT to be Popular

I read this book as a sort-of-assignment ( which I need to give myself more of - I miss reading ).  It tells the story of a young girl whose parents are second generation hippies that pick up and move every few months, and now that the girl is a senior in high-school she's sick of it.  Sick of leaving friends behind and hurting - so she decides that this time, in this town, she's going to do everything she can to make sure she doesn't get attached to anyone or anything.

One could argue that it's a tad formulaic but I don't know if that's a bad thing at all for this sort of story.  What this story requires, and has in spades, in a unique voice and point of view.  At it's heart it really tackles the core issues that haunt teenagers no matter what era they are in.  As someone whose getting closer to being the parent of teenage people rather than a teenager himself (holy shit that's scary) I think this book is relatable across the board. 

It's light and fun - if you dug films like Mean Girls or Easy A then this is probably right up your alley.

1782 - Muppet's Christmas Carol

This is one of my favourite Christmas films and while it made me feel super old to realize that it's the 20th anniversary of this film it was my delight in being able to share this with my little guy for the first time.  He's a fan of the muppets and his only concern was whether Sweetums would be in the film or not (he has a love/hate relationship with Sweetums).  Ultimately he dug the hell out of it despite the 3rd Ghost terrifying him.  The film ended and he declared "I loved it! And we're NEVER GOING TO WATCH IT AGAIN. EVER!"  We'll see next year...
For me, it's a pure and constant pleasure.  The music, the jokes, it's all working and Michael Caine fits in perfectly with the madness and yet gives it a poignant touch.  Outside of Bill Murray he could very well be my favourite Scrooge, and it terms of the classic approach, I think he safely is.
If you've never seen this version of this classic then you really owe it to yourself to - they put it out on Bluray this year for the anniversary and at $20 it's a pretty good price, although I'm sure you can find it on DVD even cheaper.  If you watch this and don't love it, you have no soul...

Saturday, December 08, 2012

1781 - Law Abiding Citizen

It's rare that you can spend 80% of a film more-or-less being entertained by it, only to have it's ending come and you become completely resentful of the damn thing.  I found the premise titillating and I was hooked enough to want to know how it would end.  I won't go into spoilers in case people still want to see it - but this is essentially about a man whose wife and daughter are murdered and the person responsible gets off on a light sentence by making a bargain, and about how the widowed husband decides to make the law learn a lesson.
Considering it's a message film I found the message to be buried a bit, and completely abandoned by the films final act.  I bought into the face that Gerard could make all of this work, but I don't buy into the ending - at all.  Feels like an awfully large cheat.   Again, no spoilers and judge for yourself.

If you're a fan of the premise (as I was) check it out, and hopefully you aren't as disappointed by it's ending as I was.

1780 - Molly Maxwell

I'm going to keep this short and sweet mostly because this film hasn't been released and I want you to discover all it's lovely little moments on your own.  I got lucky to be invited to this at the last minute, and I honestly had no idea what to expect and was delighted and thrilled by it.  It's a coming of age story of a young woman who forms a potentially, inappropriate relationship with someone else.  Sara St. Ongo, the film's writer/director absolutely gets this age group, and also the experience of young long, the awkwardness and excitement and she makes you feel it yourself while watching. 
I'm not sure when or how the distribution for this film is going to work but please keep your eyes peeled for it in the near future - it's a little gem.

Monday, December 03, 2012

1779: The Walking Dead: season 3 (part 1)

I think it's safe to say that this first half of season three has been as sigh of relief to anyone who was on the wavering fence of this series.  Much like the comic that inspired it, this show has finally shown it's tremendous balls and made no bones about it - it will kill the shit out of anyone and everyone as it sees fit.  In the comic version I believe that Rick and/or Carl will always be safe.  In the television series… I just don't know.  The comic clearly has Grimes as their main protagonist, but the series feels more like an ensemble than anything.  I love the feeling that anything can and will happen.  I loved watching this first-half-finale because I was actually really tense, worried about these characters that I, apparently, have grown quite attached to! 

So that's it for the spoiler-free half of this review - in short if you like good television and love zombies, I'm amazed you're not already watching this.


This thing has been a roller-coaster ride.  I love the energy, I loved Rick's descent into madness.  I loved how they killed off T-Dog just to give away the suspense of killing Lori.  Lori is a character I never really cared about, but her death made me cry like a little girl - mostly because of the way that Carl and Rick reacted - and the absolutely horrible thing that Carl had to do to help with her passing.  That poor little bad-ass. 
I love that this series no longer feels like it's wasting time.  Originally I thought we'd be at the prison for two seasons, but I wouldn't be surprised if the prison was the back-drop for season 3 alone.  I can't imagine the Governor's retribution being dragged out much further than the second half of the season - but we shall see.  If this is true then next season I want the entire thing to be on-the-road.  No home to call their own - completely fucked.  Thats a terrible thing to want, but there it is. 
The Governor was a really great slow burn - and I love that we've gotten to see the transformation a bit - the fight with Michonne (spelling, sorry) at the end of the season was pretty goddamn great.  And how about putting Merle and Darryl against each other?  (part of me thinks it's all part of the plan, though, to get Merle to infiltrate the group - have Darryl vouch for him that he was kicked out of Woodbury - it's pretty smart, if you ask me - and what wonderful drama we can get out of Merle reuniting with the group that left him stuck up on the roof). 
We've got two months off until the show comes back, and that's a hell of a shame.  Luckily the new book comes out in a few days :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

1778 - The Town

I haven't seen this film since it was at TIFF, and this time I watched the director's cut.  It's been a while since I saw it so it's hard to know the exact differences (I didn't select the nifty option on the bluray which tells you) but I think it seemed to flesh out the characters a lot more, especially the relationship between Rebecca Hall and Ben Affleck. 
I stated in an early posting about Argo that Ben Affleck directs Ben Affleck better than anybody, and it's true as hell here.  What's great about this film is that it's not just a cool heist flick, it's about an area - it's about people.  Sure they've thrown in the plot convulsions to keep the story going, but at it's heart there's a strong character piece inside of it.  It's intriguing in those moments, and thrilling when it gets into the action. 
I watched the Hollywood Reporter's director's roundtable today with Affleck and he doesn't seem the most confident of director's - which is fine by me, if humility is what allows you to be this good at your behind the scenes craft then keep it up.
If you like dramatic thrillers and haven't seen this, you're really doing yourself a disservice.  Check it out ASAP.  I love it. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

1777 - Inglouious Basterds

I haven't watched this film since it was in theatres and for some reason felt compelled to throw it on in the background as I was doing some mindless work.  I've been a pretty harsh critic of QT in my recent years and I'm trying to think of why.  I think it's because while he makes films that are entertaining as all hell and he's got style coming out the whazu (apologies - I have no idea how to spell whazu - you get the drift) I feel like he's lacking largely in substance.  I'd argue that his first two outings had some - there was some moral at the bottom of it all.  But his recent films just feel like he's having fun with the medium of film while telling variations on the revenge story - not to being overly critical, but the revenge story is one of the easiest to tell - an audience will always root for someone trying to right a wrong.  And there's nothing wrong with that - hell I'm developing one of my own.  But it seems to be a like a tad bit of a crutch for QT.  This film is full of some really wonderful and clever moments.  It's also full of a fair deal of pretension and lingering on moment and shots just because he damn well feels like it.  Anything with Christoph Waltz is pretty much amazing, because that's a man that demands attention and Brad Pitt is a shit-tonne of fun here as well. 
If you haven't seen this yet, clearly you're not a fan of Quentin Tarantino, so not sure what else there is to say about it.  I suppose, at the bottom of it, I'm more curious what the non-die hards think.  I find it entertaining, but largely forgetful.  No offence QT.  I'll still watch every new thing you ever make - but I don't disagree with the comments you've made that state you've only got about 10 films in you - shame is that half of them are the same story.

Monday, November 26, 2012

1776 - The Incredibles

This was our weekend 'Movie Night' flick for my three year old.  I was worried at first because it's a pretty high-level concept, but it just further proves how well Pixar delivers for kids and adults alike.
I remember seeing this initially in theatres and really loving the set-up - the fake documentary and newsreel stuff was really great.  They set up the world spectacularly.  And Ephraim got a kick out of all the physical stuff.  I think it's a film he'll continue to revisit and appreciate in new ways as it goes along.
It's always surprised me that they haven't followed up with a sequel, but I assume it's because Brad Bird hasn't made it his focus in any way and should he ever get the right idea he'll be on it right away.  But for now we've got this gem to re-watch.
I'll say this - if no other reason - become a parent so you have an excuse to revisit some awesome "kids" movies :)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

1775 - Across the Universe

When this first came out I remember a review that said watching this film and how it treated the Beatles songs was akin to watching a neighbour molest his children.  That's a bit harsh - the musical re-imaginings are actually quite good and the strongest part of this film.  I saw this film in the theatres and despite not really liking it all that much, I really liked the soundtrack.  Now, years later, my young son is really into the Beatles and so I needed something to watch/listen to in the background so this fit the bill quite nicely.
Julie Taymor  is a visual phenom - no denying that - but holy shit can she not string a story together into this clusterfuck of a film.  It's actually kind of lazy and insulting.  Characters like Prudence exists, mostly just so that other characters can sing Dear Prudence.  The leads are strong given what they've got to work with.  It's a melodramatic puff piece.  Here's the thing - it's worth checking out for the music interpretations alone - but watch it more like you would a porno - assume that it's really just all about the music/sex and that everything is merely filler to get you from one place to the next.  That's really what it is.
I vowed I'd never watch this again, but here I am - so perhaps it's not all that terrible.  And if it is your neighbour molesting your kids, well, at least they're singing some pretty great songs while they're doing it.

Friday, November 16, 2012

1774 - The Groomsmen

For some reason I completely forgot that I owned this film and here I've been looking for it on VOD all around.  This is one of the last films that Edward Burns made before he decided to go the extremely low-budget route in his filmmaking.  This film absolutely has more polish than his current work (although his newest film looks pretty slick).  Burns tells these extremely watchable character pieces.  I'd argue that this film starts to feel long - and given that it's barely over ninety minutes that's a bit of an issue.  It's the story of a man about to head into a shotgun wedding and where he and the men in his life are currently at.  There's a lot to like about this film - Matthew Lillard is a stand-out for sure.  I found it a touch uneven and also that a good deal of the conflicts in the film came up at random as opposed to organically.  That said it's full of a lot of heart and honesty and really "gets" men and our fucked up issues.  It was lovely to see Brittney Murphy again - goddamn she was lovely.  Still missed!
So while this film is by no means essential viewing, if you're going through Burns filmography it's not one you want to skip over either.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

1773 - The Girlfriend Experience

I have to be honest - I assumed that this film was going to be a tad pretentious and that it was going to feel a tad like a chore to get through - it wasn't in the slightest.  Despite having a very non-linear style to it where the story juxtaposed five different days in the life of our hero and her live-in boyfriend, it was absolutely accessible and you find yourself very drawn into the world of these two characers.
Is Sasha Gray a fantastic actress?  Probably not.  Is she amazing here?  She sure goddamn is.  There's tinge of vacancy going on, and whether it's calculated or not it works.  You're seduced into this world by Soderbergh and Gray all at once.  I don't know how widely this got released but if you're into dramatic relationship films that are slightly unconventional than this is probably going to be straight up your alley.  I found it pretty damn charming and lovely. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

1772 - The Jungle Book

I haven't watched this in a really long time.  As a child I was involved in Cub Scouts and this is where all of the names of the leaders is ripped off from (well, technically I suppose they're ripped off from the book).  Tonight was a movie night with my little guy and my wife recommended this one for him (I wanted Wizard of Oz, but he's informed me that he's not old enough to not be scared of the scary witch - fair enough).
He loved the hell out of this film.  Baloo made him howl with his physical antics, and he really got caught up with the story and how it played out.  The animation style and limitations are so dated, but it's lovely to see that that doesn't matter story-wise to someone so with such fresh eyes.  I'm going to do my best to keep him in a mixture of classic and modern films - he's got enough of an attention span so long as something's good.
Every movie geek father dreams of having a movie geek child - and so far - so good!

Friday, November 09, 2012

1771 - The Sitter

I assumed from the trailer for this that it was essentially a knock off of Adventures in Babysitting, which was one of my favourite flicks as a kid - and it more-or-less is but not in the worst possible way.  It's a solid premise, but it's made it's own here.  It's cruder, has drug use, etc… and it comes off as just a big fun flick and I'm okay with that.  Jonah Hill could do this part in his sleep - and that's not to say he's phoning it in - he brings it to the role, but it's the kind of thing that's by no means a stretch for him.  Sam Rockwell was a lovely surprise and also very wonderful here as our villain (although the best friend running gag felt a tad over-done for my liking). 
If you grew up with 80's flicks like I did this will probably make you feel right at home.  I decided to give it a shot on Netflix 'cause I wanted to just chill, catch up on e-mails and watch something not too demanding - and it fit the bill perfectly.  This film knows exactly what it is - light entertainment - and there's nothing wrong with that.

Monday, October 29, 2012

1770 - Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

I still have mixed feelings about this film.  I wanted something to play in the background as I did some planning and prepping for a project at my desk.  I think I'd started this commentary before and never finished it.  It's not another overly remarkable.  You don't get a super large insight into anything, really.  One of the more interesting things is how they talk about the development of the script and how it happened slowly because they started early while Bryan was still writing the books.    Everything else is just them hanging out and having a good time - and chatting about Toronto, which is always lovely as well. 
I'd have to rematch it again on it's own but I think my fundamental issue with the film sticks - and it's in comparison to the books.  The books take place over a decent amount of time - several months at least wherein the film takes place over the course of maybe a week or two.  It makes the shift about a story about how relationships are difficult to being about getting over the hang-ups of a new relationship.  Not a terrible subject matter, but not quite as interesting to me as the former.
All in all I still recommend the books over the film, and the books in general .  It's a fantastic series. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

1769 - Argo

I don't care what anyone says - nobody directs Ben Affleck better than Ben Affleck.  Hell, few direct as well as him period.  In three films Affleck has announced himself as a real talent behind the camera, and I hope he's not through yet.  I've always liked him well enough as an actor, but never been drawn to a film just because he's in it - but as a director - I'm there on opening night.
I didn't know about this story at all, and I went to see it with an American friend whom had heard about the 444 held in captivity, but not abbot the 6 that got away, and the story of what happened to them - even though it had been declassified over a decade ago.
It's the story of an American embassy overthrown and how six people who got away and were being searched for, got away.  Canada got all the credit for the mission originally, but in the film come off as little more than inn-keepers - I think that there's something in the middle that's most likely truer of the actual events and both sides involvements.  In addition, in the thrilling climax, I'm sure that the majority of it was invented for the sake of pure entertainment - and entertaining it is!!! 
Here's the bottom line - don't go to see the film as if it's history lesson - so to see it because it's a very entertaining thriller with some fantastic performances from Ben, Bryan Cranston, Alan Alda, John Goodman, and many others.  It's entertaining as hell, and despite some creative allowances gives you a pretty good glance into how fucked up some stuff has to be.  The bizarre issues between nations in this world of ours.  Highly recommend it. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

1768 - Psycho

I saw the Hitchcock trailer the other day and ever since it made me want to revisit this.  I wish I knew someone who saw this film when it was originally released, before it became such a pop culture phenomenon and all of it's sweet surprises were spoilt.  As it stands it's hard to be overly impressed by it given we're fifty years later in the history of cinema and it's techniques are over-used by today's standards and we're so used to twist endings.  I imagine at it's time it was something spectacular.  Even the shower scene now seems tame - although, again, it must have set the standard to beat for all horror films that have come since.  What's most impressive for the time though, must have been the way it shifts it's narrative from characters - to me that's the true brilliance of this film. 
I've never delved into the sequels to the series, never felt the need, and I'm curious if anyone out there thinks it's worth the effort.
If you've never seen this and you're a lover of film you almost have to just out of obligation, but I just can't imagine you'll get out of it what it's original audience must have. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cinderella, Vol 2 - Fables Are Forever

I read this last week and haven't had time to jot down my thoughts.  What I like a lot about this is what I miss about the Fables series in general.  It's got a real sense of fun and mixing with characters - the characters in Fables currently just don't feel like they're all that connected to the original material all that much anymore, and I miss it a touch.  But here we've got a James Bond-esque story with Cinderella as our super-spy, and it's so much fun.  This story juxtaposes the past and present showing her going toe-to-toe with one of her greatest foes and I won't ruin who that is for you here. 
The story plays with a bit of a twist near the end, which is tremendous fun, but I question if the logic of it stands up at all.  If you're into Fables you'll want to check out this series, it reminds you what you loved about the world in the first place.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

1767 - Jeff, Who Lives at Home

I'm a big fan of the Duplass Brothers and their success - I think it's well deserved.  I think that, like Jeff in this film, they were in the right place at the right time and ready for it.  They tell simple stories but ones that are just rife with wonderfully comedic, but painfully honest moments - and this is no exception.  The story is, literally, about a stoner son who is sent out to buy wood glue for his mother and the events that transpire around it.  Jeff is obsessed with the idea of fate and things happening for a reason and this day will test that in really great ways.
Filled with talents that I adore - Jason Segal, Ed Helms, Susan Sarandon, and Judy Greer (who can do no wrong in my book) - each character gets a solid moment to shine here. 
Is some of it heavy handed?  Perhaps - actually - yeah, sure.  But it never steps into melodrama, it doesn't need to.  It just got added to Netflix recently so there's no time but the present to check out this really solid little flick!

Friday, October 05, 2012

Fables #17: Inherit the Wind

It probably speaks to how long it took me to getting around to picking this up as to where my enthusiasm with this series is.  This was easily one of my favourite comic series for quite a while, and if I'm honest, I stick around because I've invested so much time in it already.  So there's that.  This volume didn't help that so much in that it was a big hallway towards what's hopefully to come - and I get that books have to do that - but when there's such a huge wait between instalments, I just need a little more to hang my hat on to keep me going.  The storyline with the cubs was fine enough, but the only real thing that got me excited in the entire issue was Rose Red's Christmas story and what appears to be Boy Blue telling her to get her shit in gear and figure out a way to revive him from the dead.  Sweet lord I've been looking forward to that for… geez… five or six volumes now…
So if you're a huge Fables nerd, you'll want to get this just because - but do NOT start here - it'll just confuse you. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

1766 - Looper

I can't remember the last time I saw a film on opening weekend.  It's been a while.  I'm still behind and haven't seen Rian Johnson's last film "Brother's Bloom".
So, first and foremost, as always I enjoyed the hell out of Joseph-Gordon Levitt - he's on such an amazing streak right now.  They make-up job they do on him to make him more like Bruce Willis is pretty impressive for the most part.  The film is pretty fun - for those unaware it's about a future where time travel was invented and then made illegal, and crime syndicates use it as a way to get rid of people by having a "looper" on the other end kill them and dispose of the body.  Sound complicated?  It is.  In fact, it's complications like this that, ultimately, keep the film from really working for me.  I enjoyed it a lot.  Emily Blunt was enjoyable as well, and the kid in it was goddamn phenomenal - what a discover he was!  There's so many fun and inventive sequences and it's entertaining and worth checking out.  If I ever get around to watching it again I'll get into all the nit-picky stuff that really nagged at me, but I'll let it go and not ruin anything for you fine folks.
If you're curious, at all, as to the nature of my nit-picky, it has, mostly, to do with just the complete brushing aside of even trying to explain why and how the time travel works - it just feels a tad lazy - like an amazing concept was had and to avoid having to make it logical they just decided to avoid explanation.  Bitch, moan, just enjoy the film already, right?
It's being billed as a thinking man's action film, and I'll give it that, just don't think on it too hard or it might start falling apart on you.

Friday, September 28, 2012

1765 - Louie: season three

If you've read my reviews of the past seasons of this series, this will come to no surprise to you.  Louie C.K. is my favourite comedian, and Louie is, hands down, my favourite comedy series currently on the air.  In terms of enjoyment this series is on a par with the films of Woody Allen for me.  The humour is often subtle, but it packs an honest punch and it makes you force a mirror onto yourself and your own life, but without ever being ridiculously heavy handed.
This season told much more of a straight story than the previous.  It would appear that Louis decided to tell a more fluid story of love and loss, aspiration, and reality.  SPOILERS AHEAD.  From meeting the girl of his dreams to watching her slip away in a terrible fashion, from being groomed for one of the top spots in his profession, to suffering in a moat of depression, this season was about Louie having to get out of his lonely funk and do something about himself.  And he's succeeded admirably. 
There is absolutely no other series like this on television and it's the kind of thing that would be just impossible to replicate.  It's unique because it allows one of the greatest entertainers of our generation to just go out there and tell the story he wants to tell.  Here's hoping they let him tell lots more.

1764 - Young Adult

Holy shit it's been a long time since I've watched an actual film.  Spending my evenings on Sex After Kids has kept me more-or-less away from cinema, but since I had a break tonight I thought I'd treat myself to a film I've been meaning to see for quite some time. 
I'm a big fan of a lot of the people involved in this film, and I'd yet to see a Jason Reitman film I hadn't liked.  Let's cut the shit - we all know that Charlize Theron is a pretty damn attractive woman, but she's also one that's not scared to look or be ugly in a film, and so for a guy like me, that makes her all the more attractive.  She plays a pretty despicable person here and it works because she does it in such a fascinating way that you just can't wait to see what she'll do next.  At first I wondered, what does she really see in the Patrick Wilson character, but then it started to make more sense to me - he's not the point - he's kind of a loser himself - her issue is her bullshit ties to the past and I can identify with that.  Patton Oswalt was pretty damn great here as well and I can understand why a lot of people think he was robbed from some award nominations.
For those who see the Diablo Cody/Reitman reunion please know that this film and Juno are pretty far removed from one another - this one is a little more difficult to swallow - it's not about selfish people becoming better people - it's more about selfish people realizing that they need to be less shitty and move the hell on.  It's not the kind of film I think I'll ever need to own or revisit, but I'm glad I finally caught it all the same!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

1763 - The L.A. Complex: season two

This is a tricky one to right up because I've got some friends that are involved in this series and, if I'm honest, I'd love to work on this show if it comes back for a third season (please, oh please come back for a third season).  After the first season I liked this show a lot - there were some story lines that I wasn't crazy about and characters that I wasn't big on - but this second season came back swinging and realized that it was okay to not like all of the characters, so long as they were made interesting.  What's strongest about this series is that it has absolutely no problem with upsetting the status quo and putting it's characters through hell.  You actually believe that a character might leave and never come back, because that happens, because that's true to life.  This world inside of this show is messy, and despite being a bit of a soap opera, it's also quite real.  Characters are given hard choices, and even when they win they have to do so by losing something else.  Martin Gero and his writing staff understand how much loss plays into victory, and there's always sacrifice, especially when it comes to something so personal as following your dreams. 
If you're in Canada you can watch this series for free off of Much Music's website - otherwise I'm sure there's re-runs and on-demand type stuff.  It's easily my favourite Canadian series, and I'm proud of the work they've done on it.  As Jewel Staite in the (hopefully not series) finale, "We made something".  They certainly did.  And also the season wrapped up quite well, I could personally go for another round.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

1762 - Weeds: season eight

It has been a long-ass ride to the end of this series.  Regardless of quality it's one of the more unique series in it's willingness to completely re-invent itself and it did so in some pretty amusing ways.  I was ridiculously impressed when the series actually sent Nancy off to prison and forced her to pay for her crimes.  This season was all about coming full circle, getting back to the suburbs and the heart of the story, and it did so in kind of a clunky way.  What comes now will be SPOILER RIDDEN, so proceed with caution…

As previously mentioned, this series has never had an issue re-inventing itself, jumping ahead in time, etc… so it wasn't a huge shock that the finale would jump ahead…. eight years?  Is that right?  And looking at the other jumps in time, and the seasons themselves it seems as if the entire series takes place over… what 13-15 years?  That's kind of amazing, really.  It almost felt like they re-watched the first season of the series to see what they should revisit here…. Scotson.  Check!  Shane's fascination with Pittsburg - check!  Silas and Megan - check!  Andy and the Rabbi chick - check!  Doug and his gay son - check!  Jumping ahead so far for the finale also meant forcing a lot of focus on a new actor as Stevie, the character who was probably given the least amount of focus for the rest of the series.  Am I happy that they all found peace at the end?  Sure - and I like that it left Nancy feeling pretty fucked up, and that Andy never gave in.  Their relationship was always the highlight for me.  Both Mary-Louise Parker and Justin Kirk are absolutely phenomenal, and their chemistry has been a huge plus to the show, and probably the chief reason that I always returned to it.  Their scene on the spot where her first husband died was a thing of beauty and pain and was easily one of the shows finest moments. 

So farewell to this show - I can't say I'll miss it terribly as I watched it more to see how it would end up - it ceased being the must-watch show that it started out as.  Kind of like an ex-girlfriend whom you have an amicable break-up with.  You still like them but you don't love them anymore, and don't think much about them when they're away. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

1761 - Breaking Bad: season five

I'm a tad behind on writing about this one as well - although only a week so cut me some slack :)  Needless to say, this is season five (or the first half anyway - I'm still considering the next season as season six given that it's a year break) and so this is going to be ridiculously SPOILER HEAVY.  Get out now if you're not caught up of the series.  And if you're just starting, enjoy the ride!  You're in good hands.
So it's been a hell of a ride watching Walter White go from good guy to buy, from Mr. Chips to Scarface.  And it's seemed awfully effortless.  Bryan Cranston is peerless in just how fucking good he is in this type of role.  After the hell he went through last year it was delightful to watch Walt come into his own while still cleaning up the mess that his pride had gotten him into.  And what amazed me the most was how as soon as Skyler finally broke through to him… Heisenberg went away.  Walt saw that he's well-over-achieved his dream.  And beautifully, that's when the other shoe drops.  Although he doesn't know it yet.  If I have one complaint it's that we didn't get to see Hank freak out more at the ultimate discovery.  Although how goddamn exciting is it to know that Hank is in 'the know' going into the final eight episodes?  So many ways this could go down, and we know that we're in good hands with Vince Gilligan and crew.  Shame we have to wait a year, but it's worth it if the final chapter is anywhere near the quality of this series thus far.  Easily one of the best television series of all time.

1760 - Community: season two

So I'm ridiculously behind on this series (season three just added to Netflix - huzzah!).  This is a series that I admire the hell out of, even if I don't absolutely love it.  It's hilarious and has a cast that I find phenomenally enjoyable.  The guys I want to hang with, the women I want to date.  But not because they're beautiful (which they are) but because they just seem like a helluva lot of fun to hang around.  This series is unlike any other in it's ability to constantly test it's format.  You could argue that really all they do is play with genre within their own universe, but I'd argue that that's easier said than done.  They do this, sure, but they don't abandon their characters or arc to do so.  Is it about a community college?  Not really.  It's about, like all great sit-coms, a dysfunctional non-traditional, family. 
I don't imagine that this series is for everyone, but if you're a comedy fan and a bit of a nerd, you could do a hell of a lot worse.  It'll be interesting to rapidly consume the next season and then see what happens when they come back sans-Dan Harmon...

Friday, August 31, 2012

1759 - True Blood: season five

This could very well be a record low for me in terms of this blog.  As most of you regular readers know I've spent this summer making my second feature film Sex After Kids, and so with that my evenings and weekends essentially disappeared - and now that I'm in post-production it's not much better.  I expect that later this fall I'll be catching up on my viewing in a major way so stay tuned for that!
In the mean time, True Blood!  True Blood is a messy show, and it's not just because of all the sexy gore.  It's pretty famous for starting seasons with a bunch of seemingly random and pointless storylines, and then finding a (usually pretty neat) way of getting them all together by the end.  But sometimes they just have terrible storylines like Terry and his war-ghost thing.  If this show was a hamburger, that would have been the bread crumbs you put in when you just don't have enough of the good stuff to make it a proper meal. 
I'm going to get into some SPOILERS, so avoid the rest of this if you're not caught up on this season.  This season was more-or-less about the looking war between humans and... everyone else, I suppose.  They showed it in a nice small way with a hate-monger group, and that was a good indication about how there were probably groups of people like this all around.  We got re-introduced to a newly vamped Rev. Steve Newland (awesome), as well as big-bad Russel (who went out in about as anti-climatic a way as possible).  The surprising highlight of this season for me was Tara as a vampire.  I never thought Tara would become one of the most interesting characters on this show, but they did a phenomenal turn-around with her.  And the decision to have the slow-play between her and Pam was just pure wonderful.  Can't wait to see more of them.  Eric is probably my real favorite character - he's the most complex - not a villain, not a hero, but he's got a good heart beneath it all.  He gives a shit when it counts, but he's not afraid to get his hands dirty.
Another one of the stronger character moves was slowing turning Bill from this pansy vampire that we first met into... well, I can only assume that he's going to be almost pure villain when we return next season.  It would have been a complete shock to have killed him all together - but the choice they've made here, if done properly, is pretty damn delightful.
I don't love this show, but it's absolutely a guilty pleasure of mine.  If you want to see a wonderfully campy soap opera about vampires, werewolves, and other creatures in the deep south - it doesn't get much more fun than this.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

1758 - Knocked Up (commentary

This film is a huge leap forward for Apatow as a filmmaker.  Not only is it visually miles ahead from his first film, but the storytelling feels tighter (even in this extended version) and the emotions more toned.  You get a real sense that he's in command of his craft here.  The commentary was was entertaining enough with Apatow, Rogen, and Bill Hader along.  They start off promising that it's going to be like a film school in a box, but it's not really.  Still enjoyable enough for fans though!  Made me want to re-watch it with the commentary off!
One more night of unpacking in the shop... one more Apatow film :)

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

1757 - The 40 Year Old Virgin (commentary)

I've been getting my studio space set up for editing my new film Sex After Kids, so I threw this on in the background with the commentary which includes a ridiculously large amount of people.  It's interesting listening to commentaries with actors because you very quickly get a sense of who are interesting and fun people, and who are very desperately trying to be as interesting and fun as the people whom it comes naturally to.  It's goddamn awkward to listen to sometimes.  As I'm going to be working around the studio for the next few days in the evening there's a good chance I'll check out the commentaries on the other Apatow films as well.
Part of the issue with watching an Apatow film on DVD is that you never get the theatrical cut, you get his bloated version - which isn't a bad thing - but it's tricky to make a comedy really work after it's pushing two hours.  It's interesting to hear them on the commentary talking about how most of the crew had no idea how they were going to possibly string this thing into a film in the end.  A large part of what Judd does is he slaps down two cameras and just has the actors throw a bunch of stuff out and see what happens.  I can see how this could work quite well, but it's also a reason that the visual style of the film is pretty damn ugly.  It looks like a badly shot three-camera-sitcom in some scenes - which I'm not sure if I noticed before. 
The commentary doesn't offer a whole lot of insight into their productions, but it is entertaining if you like this group of people.  If you don't, then steer clear. 

Saturday, August 04, 2012

1756 - To Rome With Love

Full disclosure - I'm a Woody Allen nut.  I didn't get to see this just as it came out as we were moving that weekend, so I was happy to catch it now.  Woody has a wonderful ability to attract some of my favorite actors into his projects - and here he even scored two of my favorite Canadian actresses with Alison Pill and Ellen Page!
This is ensemble-Woody, and to be honest, it just wasn't my cup of tea.  There was, as always, some wonderfully inspired comedic moments and lines, but all in all I just found it floudering a tad.  It was a bit uneven and all over the place - four stories intercut - some taking place over weeks, others in a single day.  Not that I can't get over that, but it just felt odd.  And the thing felt a little heavy with exposition.  I don't want to bag on Woody here since I love the bulk of his work (that might be even saying it lightly), but I have a hard time recommending this one.  It's essentially about a slew of self-centered people who get to see what life is like on the other side (mostly by cheating on their spouses) and then get to return to their regular life consequence free when it doesn't work out.  Catch it on Netflix if you're really curious.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Greetings all!  I've finally redone my website - which I was hating on quite a bit for the longest time and it just became that thing that I didn't want to deal with...
So check it out - I've uploaded stills from all my films - more from Sex After Kids will be coming soon.  There's some videos on there, including a short I did years ago called Hoff's New Direction.  But most importantly I'll be starting a NEW BLOG!  I'm not abandoning this one, but I'll be using the one on my main website to talk more about my creative process, projects, and myself in the industry, where I'll keep using this blog to talk about the stuff I'm watching, reading, etc... My goal will be to update it once a week or so.  People were complaining that all my film news was getting lost in the other posts here so I thought I'd make it cleaner for all of you!  So check back often - I've got something else I'm cooking up that I hope to start releasing in the fall...

1755 - The Dark Knight

I'm in the midst of putting together the final pieces of my geek-office and so I thought I'd throw this on in the background while I worked.  This is not a background kind of film.  It's the kind of film that just absolutely consumes you and draws you in, in no small part to the man in the photo above.  There isn't much here that I can say about Heath's performance in this film that hasn't been said already.  It's truly magnificent and it's the large reason why this film is the strongest of the Nolan-Batman trilogy. 
The plotting of the story in this one is quite masterful.  The theme of chaos and order, what's fair and what just happens because the world can be a shitty place.  It doesn't feel like the stuff of comic books so much as it feels like the stuff of real life.
I can't wait till one day down the line when I can sit down and marathon this entire trilogy.  Probably won't be until my kid(s) are old enough to watch. 
If you haven't seen it, it's your loss.  Not only is it one of the best comic book films of all time - it's just a great goddamn movie as well.

Monday, July 23, 2012

1754 - The Dark Knight Rises

I'm on this a few days late (was shooting this weekend!).  I think I expected that the world, in general, was bound to be disappointed by this film in some way.  The love for The Dark Knight was so wonderfully grand that to surmount it would be near impossible.  And so, honestly, it's almost unfair to even try and compare the two.  But then you get guys like Harry Knowles rip it to shreds because he doesn't believe that the film got what Batman was all about.  Well godforbid that someone decides to shake things up in a decades old character…
I have to say that it's a feat in and of itself to make a nearly-three-hour film feel like it moved along at a non-stop pace.  I never found myself bored or lacking enjoyment.  I was glued and enjoying it the entire time.  Bale has never really been the reason for me to enjoy this series - nothing against him by any means, he's just not one of those actors that really does anything for me one way or another (although I quite like him in The Prestige).  Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt all shine like the top of the Christler building here and give us characters and story to care about.  Given how complicated the plot is I was impressed that each of the characters had a pretty decent arc.  One thing that was quite interesting was hot little 'Batman' there actually was.  I'm not going to get into specifics at all here because the film has just come out and I want you to enjoy it yourselves.  I will say that it's a very satisfying conclusion to a pretty damn fine trilogy.  Nolan has done what may in time be considered his masterwork, and if it is, there's no shame in it whatsoever.  I look forward to a time where I can sit back and marathon the entire series.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

1753 - The Big C: season three

When the second season ended on a cliff-hanger that assumed we might not be seeing Oliver Platt returning, I was pretty impressed by the bold move.  I was instantly unimpressed when they whisked it away right from the get-go in this season.
I'm going to rant for a moment about what I think is an essential issue when it comes to the Showtime series of shows.  It's a company that fosters really bold and original ideas - but doesn't know what the hell to do with them to the point where it just feels like it drags stories on to no end and for no good reason.  It has a laundry list of shows like this one, Californication, Dexter, United States of Tara, Nurse Jackie, wherein these fucked up main characters do whatever is most convenient at that moment to ensure that the series continues on a few seasons more, rather than offering an honest progression.  Some of those shows above do it worse than others - but sadly none of them really feel like the series are going towards anything, or have an over-all game plan.
In a world where almost everyone has been touched by the illness of cancer, I have no idea why I'm supposed to like the character of Cathy who is a bi-polar bitch.  Gotta give Linney props for making her human and likeable in small doses, but you can't fix what's a problem at the core.  We have no reason to care for her, and less for her family as they go on.  The supporting cast has become cartoon characters with quirks.  Andrea (now Ibabu) has absolutely no reason to be on the show outside of being the quirky outsider.  Son Adam is now, for whatever reason, religious.  Paul is a self-help guru, and brother Sean, the character whom had the most morals and dimensions, is not a running gag. 
Will I come back for a fourth season?  I'm sure I'll check out an episode or two, but I just don't know - in a world full of shows I've yet to see, I'm not sure this one is worth my time anymore.  It's a shame since there's a lot of great talent involved.  Alas.

Monday, July 16, 2012

1752 - Brave

I took my three year old son to see this - as his first film in the theatre it was absolutely magic to watch him experience this.  Big theatre, big sound.  He kept looking to me with this wonderful astonished gaze.  As long as I live I'll never forget that smile and amazement.  And now I'm sad knowing that it'll pass as this kind of thing becomes more 'normal' for him.
So I didn't know much of the story going into this, outside of it being a bit of a girl-power story.  But what this film really is, at it's core, is the story about a daughter and a mother, and how they have to learn to accept and embrace one another.  It's quite lovely in that, and the ending brought a bit of a tear to my eye.  I have to say that I found the mother's transformation a tad quick, wherein suddenly she was won over by what her daughter wanted - but I let it go.  It had all the staples of a solid pixar film - lots of laughs - lots of heart - smart and entertaining.  More than happy for it to be my little guy's first theatrical experience.

1751 - I Love Your Work

This damn movie has been sitting on my desk from for (literally) months.  So I finally popped it in.  I liked it, but I didn't love anything about it.  I found it a little difficult to buy Giovanni Ribissi as this hulk of a leading man, if I'm to be completely honest.  It's essentially a film about a famous actor having to figure out how to deal with their fame.  It's a bit insider-baseball, and it's just a really hard story to relate to on any level - unless, I suppose, you're an actor.  I don't really have a strong opinion on this one either way, which I think it sadly the worst thing you can feel about a film - ambivalent. 

1750 - Hear No Evil, See No Evil

I can't tell you how many times I watched this film as a kid - and I recently saw this on a friend's netflix cue and so it brought back so many memories.  For those who haven't seen it, it's a classic comedy about a man, Gene Wilder, who is deaf and befriends a blind man, Richard Pryor, and the hijinks when they get mixed up in a murder.  This was my introduction to Pryor and he did so well with it that for a long time I actually thought him to be blind.  Ahh the magic of cinema when you're a kid.  It's a fun high-concept film that really does well by it's concept.  Kevin Spacey plays a moustache twirling villain here.  If you've never seen it it's worth giving it a click - a solid rainy afternoon comedy flick :)

Tough Shit - Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith was one of those icons I had whilst I was in high school and trying to figure out how to become a filmmaker.  I had won a playwriting competition and the woman interviewing me for a local paper told me I should check out this "Kevin Smith dude - he made his film putting  money on his credit cards", and so my next trip into the city I bought every he'd done up to that point that was on VHS (that's right - VHS, bitches!) and at that point it was Clerks, Mallrats, and Chasing Amy.  And it was really interesting seeing the differences between the three - and being a high school student I used to revisit films quite a bit, I think I saw those three films a shit load of times - and forced them on others.  Chasing Amy was also the first film that I double-dipped and bought on DVD as well. 
I'm aware of Smith's shortcoming as is he, but was very curious what'd he have to say in a motivational book such as this.  The first chapter begins with a nice little bit to help ground us all and remind us that we all started out as a load of sperm.  We all are winners already, just by being alive.  The entire book is filled with stories from Smith, some old, some new, but written from his own POV and filtered through the idea that he's trying to help the reader learn about life through his experiences, good and bad. 
I can sum up what the book is about pretty quickly - Smith's main advice is that you have to figure out what it is in life that makes you happy, and just find a way to make it your life.  Life's too short to not be doing something you don't love.  I don't disagree at all, and I've always lived my life this way - so there you are - I just saved you many hours of reading - unless you want all the Smith stories, then by all means pick it up.  There's some pretty great ones there, especially when he talks about the state of the film industry these days. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

1749 - Goon

I've been wanting to see this film for a long time but just kept missing all the opportunities - but thanks to the beauty of Netflix here it is!  First off, I'm a big fan of a lot of people in this film - Baruchel, Schreiber, Pill, and the director Michael Dowse, so I was primed to enjoy this film.  Despite being a Canadian I'm not really into hockey or sports in general, although growing up in the house of a guy who loved the Leafs I picked up enough to be able to appreciate the game - and my family was close with Marty McSorely so I know a thing or two about hockey goons (no offense, Marty!). 
This is a big fun film and told a great hockey story in the way that I think Score: The Musical wishes it had.  Nothing personal against that other recent Canadian hockey flick, but it was a tad hokey for my personal sensibilities, and Goon gived more with my personal tastes. 
Sean William Scott is pretty damn great here as a lovable loser who just wants to do best by those that he cares about.  He's dumb as a puck, but he'll stick by you till the end.  It's impossible to not love this character.  I like that the film never becomes a typical sports film and really just focused on the aspect of Goonery as it's main focus.  There was some geniune winces that came out of me whilst watching.
If you're Canadian and a lover of all things hockey, this ones a no brainer - check it out and spread the word damnit.  It's the kind of film our country needs to make more of in term of it's wide appeal and pure enjoyment.  Good on ya, Baruchel.  Good on ya!