Thursday, May 31, 2012
I always point to Annie Hall as the film that non-Woody-believers should check out if they don't think they'd like him - but I think this one deserves a mention just as much. Please, oh please, if you've never seen it - treat yourself. You won't regret it - and if you do… we probably can't be friends. Sorry.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
I picked this up a very long time ago and decided to give it a go since the newest instalment in the Nolan Batman series is upon us. For those who don't know, this one has us visiting Batman ten years after he has retired. He's 55 and his body isn't quite what it used to, and Gotham, and the world, are worse than ever. It's enough to make an old man question what difference he's made, if any, to his world. And just as Batman steps out of the woodwork and back into the spotlight, so do his enemies of old including Two-Face, The Joker, and even Superman when they realize that the world isn't big enough for the two heroes with different perspectives on what the world needs.
Written by comic heavy-weight Frank Miller this is a really great Batman story. It really gets to the core of the character and redefines him in a smart and clever way, using his age as a way of really being sharp about what it means to be Bruce Wayne, to know what he knows, and how to deal with that. The thing is full of some really great stuff. I assume that most fans of the Bat have probably already delved into this (almost 20 year old) mini-series. I'll aim to pick up the sequel, The Dark Night Strikes Back at some point when I'm out comic-shopping. It's a nice little read, especially when gearing up for The Dark Night Rises.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Yesterday I was on my way to grab some lunch when I was approaching a corner where there was a young person and a clip board. If you live or work in a city you know the type. One of dozens of charities who solicit youths to stand on the street during peak hours in an attempt to elicit your donations. I should start by saying that I'm not against this. Organizations need to get their face out there, engage with the people. In fact, my wife and I give to several organizations on a regular basis because:
A) We support what they are working towards
B) The tax receipts come in pretty handy around February of each year
So I often walk right by with a friendly smile, letting them know I've already given. Sometimes it's true, that I have given to their organizations, some times it's not. But I have given, and I can't afford to save the world.
So yesterday I was approaching a corner near Spadina & Adelaide where I had no choice but to engage the binder holder. (as a side note, they really need to have some kind of term - maybe they do… I suppose that binder holder will do for now…) I've debated over whether or not I would list the name of the organization, and I think I have to. WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals), for those who don't know I've been a vegetarian for nearing five years (technically I'm a pescatarian since I still eat fish). If you're ever bored enough to know why I'll be more than happy to tell you, but I won't waste your time here. At any rate my wife and I are quite aligned with a lot of what the WSPA stands for. So when this young man stopped me I was more than happy to listen and engage. We had a nice long conversation about the troubles currently being faced in different parts of the world, and when the time came around for the inevitable, I simply told him that I go over all my major donations with my wife so that we're on the same page. That I'd love to take any literature that he had and I'd pledge online. And that's when the tides turned. That wasn't good enough. He explained that a lot of people say they'll do that, but then they don't. Which, I think, is their right to do so. I get pretty annoyed when it comes to high-pressure sales people - my instant reaction is almost always to say no just on principle. But the problem when you're representing a charity is that you're selling me something that I don't actually need. It's not like if I walk away I'm going to miss out on something that's going to improve my day to day life - I hope I'm not coming off terribly by saying this - but if you're going to put pressure on people, there has to be a reason. There has to be a consequence to me saying 'no' for me. Otherwise, there's no pressure, and you're just being rude.
So me explaining that the finances in my home were equal weren't enough for this young man. And the fact that I didn't have my credit card didn't stop him either. He was willing to call my bank and set up an automatic withdrawal. At this point I was feeling pretty uncomfortable by this young man who just wouldn't believe that I would actually look into the matter on my own time. I eventually just had to put my foot down and say that under no circumstance would I be giving him money on the street. So he arranged to have someone call me that evening and gave me a little slip of paper as a reminder. Then, as I continued to go about getting my lunch (twenty minutes later), I came upon another group from the same organization, and approaching them I showed them my slip and one of the girls replied in a ridiculously snarly fashion, "Oh, well congrats on getting a phone call." It was a really shitty thing to do to someone who was seriously considering making a donation.
I got back to work, looked up the organization, and found that I agreed with much of what they had to say and what they do. I'd pitch it at home and we'd figure it out. We're in the process of moving and so we don't want to just throw money around right now, we generally wait until the fall and make all our donations at once, but I was almost feeling like I wanted to get the better of these two people and make the donation just out of spite. I can be that kind of person.
And then the phone call came. We've got two small children and so bedtime is either heaven or hell, last night it was closer to hell. And so in the middle of it the call came in, and I explained to the person that I was putting my kid to sleep and could I please call them back. They insisted that it would only take a moment, and I explained that I didn't have it. I'd call THEM back. And then another snarly response, "Yeah, I'm sure you will sir." And that was enough. And here's the shitty thing about it, because of all their negativity about me contributing they became a self-fulfilling prophecy. I'm not going to give to their cause because the people that represent them made me feel shitty. And when you're asking people to give you the money that they work hard to earn, you shouldn't make them feel shitty - you should make them feel good about it. It's the least you can do. So if someone from WSPA reads this, I apologize, but my money will be going to another charity. I'm still going to give, just not to you. The world is full of problems and it's impossible to rank which is more in need than another - but I've got to feel good about the organizations that I give my money to, and I can't say I feel that great about yours.
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Now to the film. It's inspiring in what I've said above, but I couldn't help but feel that it was padded a bit to get it to feature length. It was very episodic and tangential. It felt like the main thrust of it could have been summed up in a fraction of it's length, but we hung around longer for some nice shots of sushi. I'm not trying to bag on the film at all, I liked it a lot, but it was just missing that certain something that made me love it. I guess maybe I was just hoping for a bit more from his sons, or the people who work for him - but I imagine they don't get into stuff based out of respect for Jiro - not that that's a bad thing at all. And perhaps I'd heard to much about it going in that my expectations were built up. Could be a case of that. One thing I know for sure is that I'm going to have sushi for lunch tomorrow. And the other thing I know is that it's not going to be anywhere near as good as Jiro's.
Friday, May 25, 2012
I'm a massive admirer of Jay Baruchel, and Alice Eve more than proves that she's not just some hot-young-thing. Their chemistry isn't perfect, but it's charming and it works really nicely - more often than not they have some lovely moments together. There's a fight near the end of the film that I have a hard time buying how it starts - but once it's into it the issues that come up are honest and real and so I can dismiss the not-so-natural set-up.
Its a pretty formulaic rom-com for the most part, but it's very funny and charming and so that doesn't bother me in the least. A film like this is about the journey, and it's an enjoyable one. Give it a go if you're so inclined.
But I'm glad I finally got around to this one! Like says on the cover, this is by the same man, Christopher Buckley, that brought us the lovely Thank You For Smoking, and this new book even gives us a nice little nod to Nick Naylor in passing. It's actually a shame that they just didn't make him the mentor character in this book...
This book tells the story of a young woman who is fed up about the idea that her generation is going to have to cover the Social Security of the Baby Boomer generation before her and decides to do something about it. It's dark, it's funny, and dare I say relevant. This is a book full of ideas and characters and moves along at a lovely pace, my only complaint is in it's ending. Or lack there of, I should say. The story doesn't build to any grand conclusion it more-or-less just... stops. It's truly bizarre, especially given how well things were ramping up. This isn't to say that storylines don't get wrapped up to some degree it's just... really unsatisfying. Almost made me want to change my grading on this to merely "liked", but I have to say that with the exception of the very final pages, the rest of the book was a pure delight. There is a film in the works and I look forward to it. If you like poli-comedy or just good solid fun this one comes highly recommended (for the most part).
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
I can't imagine making a film, let alone a first feature, under the microscope that this series requires. I really enjoy behind the scenes stuff and this show does it so well. It just doesn't feel set-up at all - like we're just watching a wonderful train wreck. It's the power of editing, but this season highlights a lot of the film's personalities good and bad and it feels... honest?
I don't think Pete Jones is a talented writer or director. I partly feel like he was picked because he'd make good television fodder (and he did!). I think their selection process was corrected by the second time around, and it's a shame that this only went 3 seasons (why, oh why, have they never released a DVD of it... :( ).
If you like the magic behind moving making, this is a great show to watch - and it's extra entertaining considering all the fuck-ups and how much of a little bitch Pete Jones can be. I'd like to think that a lot of the things I do, it's because I saw Pete Jones doing it wrong first here. So thanks Pete! I appreciate the help wherever I can get it!
Sunday, May 20, 2012
If you haven't seen this film it's a crying shame. It's really a lovely coming of age story that's filled with humour and heart. Four friends go in search of the body of a kid their age, rumoured dead by the train tracks a town or so over, and they decide that they want to be the ones to "find the body", but by the end of the trip they find something much more. Sounds cheesy, sure - but it's a delightful fantastic film. Rob Reiner directs the shit out of it and these actors. It's a great great film. And it's on netflix now, so you have absolutely no reason to not watch, or at least, revisit it.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
This is a show that has legs, and I can see it sticking around. For those who haven't checked it out and like your comedy a bit snarky, this one might be for you.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Here is a show that I finding myself loving aspects of and feeling 'meh' about a great deal otherwise. The musical numbers are, for the most part, pretty damn outstanding. And I'll argue with anyone who claims that this isn't one of the best show series currently on television. The biggest problem with this show is that... well... I don't really LOVE any of the characters. I like Derek. I like Cartright. I like Tom and Julie. I find Angelica Houston's character to be... well... played by Angelica Houston (nothing against her - I just have never been a fan). And then there's the character of Ellis who I know I'm supposed to hate - but he actually makes me angry, mostly because I just have a hard time buying that they'd let the little shit stick around. And then there's the character of Dev, who I've never liked. And don't get me started on Debra Messing's son character...
If you like musicals and Broadway there's a good chance you'll like this show as it's a window into that world. The biggest problem I forsee is that I just don't see how this show continues past a second season. What keeps it motivated and interesting? Hopefully they've got something up their sleeves. I like this show quite a bit, but I don't love it. Let's see if a second season can change that...
Being right in the thick of making my second independent feature film there's a certain pride I take in watching this show and seeing them bitch about how they've only got $1M dollars to make their movie. Boo-fucking-hoo. They probably spend more on lunch their first day then we're spending on our entire thing. Not that I'd turn away from a chance to make a film with a (proper) budget, but there's also a lot of waste on film and television sets. People tend to want and need things just because they've always had them as opposed to really, actually, needing them.
This season was different from the first in that they had separate competitions for directors and writers. I still wonder how much of their casting is about picking the contestants that'll be the most entertaining on screen. I'm sure they'd like to make a decent film out of the whole thing, but I imagine that the TV show does more revenue and is, therefore, more important.
If you're a film nerd and interested in behind the scenes of making a film, there's few things as indepth as these. Check 'em out if you can find them!
Monday, May 14, 2012
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Apparently the feature film version that's coming out has very little to do with the actual book (no surprise since the book has no real protagonist outside of, I guess, the interviewer).
It's a book that's pretty good when you think about how much thought into the world Max Brooks has put into it, different countries, groups of people, etc... ideology. It's a dark and somewhat uplifting book. If you're a zombie-nerd you've probably already read it - but if you're new to the zombie world, give it a shot along with his Zombie Survival Guide.
New Girl was my favorite pilot of the year - it jumped out and announced what it was and I liked it from the get-go. A lot of people have said that it's the show that got strongest and better as it went, but I always always a fan - however I agree that the show continued to get better the more it embraced the amazing ensemble cast that it had. Zooey is lovely on her own, but throw the rest of this ensemble into the mix and you're kicking with gas. The jokes are fast, furious, and smart. I was impressed by how much ground they covered this season and never seemed to be lacking for material. It makes me excited for future seasons. It would be easy to label this show as being quirky, and perhaps it is, but the way it uses it's quirks are a helluva lot of fun. It's a show that will poke the hell out of it's characters, but it's also a show that's willing to show how much they care for and need one another. I'm a big fan of serial television, but New Girl could easily be my favorite episodic that's lightly serialized.
If you avoided this show please give it a shot. Jump in mid-season and you'll be just fine.
Sunday, May 06, 2012
If I have a complaint it's that I felt like waaaay too much time was spent on that ship in the sky. I swear we spent well over half the film in that location and it made the film feel a bit small because of it. I don't envy the Marvel team as they go back to the stand-alone films to lead up to an Avengers sequel. Once you've put the bar so high, how do you do a stand-alone justice? And how do you explain why these guys (or some of them) aren't just always helping the others out?
Of all the solo films coming up, the one I'm hoping for most is a Hulk film starring Ruffalo. I'd line up for that one.
Friday, May 04, 2012
But what I loved most is how she uses the puppet's in the film to constantly play devil's advocate with her. On the verge of telling her former mentor/lover that she's going to give up she discovers that he's passed away and inherits all of his puppets as well. And how she uses those to get at the heart of what she's feeling is really quite lovely. It's fun and surprisingly light (in a good way) while at the same time really being the kind of film where the filmmaker lets it all out and exposes themselves in a way that is so amazingly endearing.
It's too late to see it at HotDocs now, but you can still see it on the BBC if you live in that part of the world and I can only hope that it ends up on Netflix as well.
If you love puppetry, or if you're an artist who ever considered packing it all in, there are few films that are as lovely as this to help get you through the rough patch.
Wednesday, May 02, 2012
I've liked pretty much everything of Toback's that I've seen. I can't say that this really gives insight into his creative process, although there's part of that there. It's more a film about his character and how he interacts with others. Sometimes wonderfully and sometimes harshly. It feels more found-footage than carefully planned - although given that the filmmakers are running wild trying to make it work it's no surprise that this is the same kind of feel. I suppose that I was a little let down in that I didn't feel like I walked away learning something as a filmmaker that I could use and apply to my own work. No little tidbits, tricks, or techniques. Shame really since I'm sure this guy is a locker full of tricks. Alas. And the film never really played upon the stress and the quickness with which he'd have to make it. A tad lifeless if I'm being completely honest. It's got some great interview subjects as you can see in the labels below. I'd say if you're interested in the guy at all, it's totally worth checking out. Anyone not already converted can probably let this one guy...
I'm getting pretty excited about the Avengers this Friday. All of these films leading up to it have been pretty well done, so it'll be nice to see what happens when they throw them all together. Trying to keep the expectations low.