Saturday, February 23, 2013

1812 - House of Cards: season one

It too me two goes to get into this.  When I first watched the pilot I left a little 'meh'.  I also put it on in the background and didn't give it the attention that it requires.  So I went back and revisited the pilot and then got hooked into the whole damn thing.
If you haven't seen it yet the whole season is up on Netflix and it's the exact kind of show that you want to binge watch.  It's about a Congressman who is passed up for a promotion to Secretary of State and, feeling slighted, decides to shake things up and go after what he really wants - which I won't reveal here because it makes for a large part of this season's mystery.
Kevin Spacey is more interesting to me here than he has been in, oh I can't quite recall how long.  He's a character straight out of Shakespeare and I can only imagine that he has a shit ton of fun doing it.  Kate Mara, also  provides a solid supporting role and I'm pretty excited about where her character left off at the end of this season.
The show is a lot prettier than most and makes Washington look like the place be.  The most frustrating thing about this show, now that I'm hooked, is the year it'll take to come out properly . I haven't said too much above, but this isn't that kind of show - it's a show that takes it's time and enjoys the set-up 'cause once the train leaves the station, it's going full force.  If you start off watching and feel you're not into it, do me a favor and go until at least episode three before you call it quit.  I personally can't wait to see the house of cards that's been built in this show to come crash down.  Well done, Spacey and Dana Brunetti and Netflix - I look forward to more of their original program :)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

1811 - Finding Nemo

I haven't watched this in forever and got to re-visit it with my son.  I remember really liking it, but I was really happy to see how well it holds up and delights the next generation.  It's a film that's got a wonderful heart with a tragic beginning.  It's got wonderful character and comedy moments and fantastic set pieces.  The fact that an animated film with a parent as the lead character is as powerful as this one with children is no small feat.  Last week they formally announced that this film was getting a sequel - now as much as I love this - I'm just not sure that it's the kind of thing that warrants it - it's a stand alone masterpiece, and it feels a tinge like Pixar is running out of steam on original ideas.  I'm hoping that's not the case.
If you haven't seen this one, you're doing yourself a disservice whether you've got kids or not, it's worth while through and through!

1810 - Annie Hall

So I've seen this film (probably) more than any other.  I've written about it here a lot.  Last night I got to do one of my favorite things, which is introduce a great movie to someone who has never seen it - and in this case it was a friend who is a young filmmaker.  I still remember the first time I saw this, having been loaned it by a friend with no lead-up at all.  It blew my mind and everything I wrote in the weeks after was a blatant rip-off.  What Allen does in this film is create a magic trick - he blends a lot of different techniques and uses them to express ideas too complicated to summarize through straight narrative.  And the only bad thing about Annie Hall is when you realize that there's nothing else like it, and there's no way to experience it again for the first time.  I'm not going to say any more, probably because I'll just be repeating myself from a previous post, but I'll say this - if you've never seen this movie please get-thee-to-a-DVD (or however you can).  To not like this film is, to me, akin to someone saying that they don't like music.

After watching the film my friend asked me to recommend a top-ten essential Woody Allen.  Which is no small feat to make considering the man has made a film a year for four decades, and at least half of his body of work is amazing.  I tried to narrow it down to ten and I couldn't - and no one can make me,  so instead I've boiled it down to what I think you'd be absolutely remiss to miss.  She'd already seen Midnight in Paris and Vicky Cristina Barcelona so that, along with Annie Hall, will be absent from this list.  I decided to make the list on what best represents Allen, but also gives a sense of his breadth as a filmmaker as well.  Here is it.  If I made this list tomorrow as opposed to today there's a good chance it would be different because, to me, Woody Allen is like sex or pizza - even when it's bad it's still better than most things.  If you're reading this and you're offended that I've omitted a title I promise you that tomorrow I'll be equally offended!

Top Essential Woody Allen Viewing (without Annie Hall, Midnight in Paris, or Vicky Cristina Barcelona (which my friend had already seen) and in no particular order):

  • Take The Money and Run 
  • Bananas
  • Manhattan
  • Stardust Memories
  • Zelig
  • The Purple Rose of Cairo
  • Hannah & Her Sisters
  • Crimes & Misdemeanours
  • Husbands & Wives
  • Bullets Over Broadway
  • Mighty Aphrodite
  • Everyone Says I Love You
  • Deconstructing Harry
  • Sweet & Lowdown
  • Match Point

So there's that - disagree with the list?  Comment below!

Friday, February 15, 2013

1809 - Postcards From the Edge

I'd forgotten that I'd seen this film years ago when a friend brought it up the other day.  I suppose it don't make all that much of an impression, but it's a really lovely film.  Meryl Streep is fantastic in it, and it's really a who's who of Hollywood talent at the time, with even people like Richard Dreyfus, Oliver Platt, and Annette Benning doing these great little one scene bits.  And Gene Hackman comes in for two scenes and makes a goddamn meal out of them.  Between Fisher's screenplay and Nichols direction this must have been a dream come true for the cast.  I just looked back on my previous review of this film where I gave it a 'meh' - my opinion has certainly changed.  Sadly this film isn't on Netflix, but you can get it digitally otherwise.  It's one of those classic stories that you really need to check out.  I'm kind of curious to read the book now, actually.  Glad I revisited it, even though I thought I was watching it for the first time :)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

1808 - I Could Never Be You Woman

It's always quite amazing when Hollywood casts someone like Michelle Pfeiffer to play a television show runner, and especially make us believe that she's out of her league in dating a younger man.  Let's cut the shit - Pfeiffer will be a smoking hot number at any age.  But whatever, I'll take it - I'll buy into your premise because I love Amy Heckerling and I adore the shit out of Paul Rudd.  If I'd picked this up randomly the Tracy Uhlman mother-nature rant that opens the film might have completely turned me off, but I stuck with it.
This film works because the cast pops.  Pfeiffer and Rudd are a solid pairing - and Saoirse Ronan is a goddamn scene stealer if ever there was one.  She's fantastic in every scene she's in, but the music parody bits are truly sensational.  Looking forward to seeking out more of her stuff. 
If I'm not giving it a glowing review is because it feels like they wanted this thing to be a big satire and take the piss out of society, but in truth only kind of went about it in a half-ass way.  Don't get me wrong, there's a lot to like about this flick, but it's not Heckerling's best.  I liked it, I just didn't love it.  But please judge for yourself - netflix it up!

1807 - Sherlock Holmes

I missed this in the theatres and got the Bluray on sale a while back and for whatever reason just never got around to watching this.  It's so much fun.  Guy Ritchie did a pretty great job of turning Holmes into an intelligent action adventure star, and Downey infuses the role with gusto.  His interplay with both Jude Law and Rachel McAdams is really enjoyable to watch.  I'm not a big Holmes nerd so I can't tell you how much they strayed from the originals, re-invented, etc... but what was going on here was a shitload of fun - and I found myself believing that Blackwood might actually be a sorcerer as well.  I have to say though that all of Holmes "deductions" came a bit after the fact and a fair amount was left from us - but I'll take it to get caught up in it like this.
Looking forward to the follow-up!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

1806 - Boyz in the Hood

So I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I've never seen this film before.  I remember the box in the video store when I was a kid, and I was always too young to rent it, and the main reason I watched it now is because I'm going to a talk tonight with John Singleton at TIFF.  It's amazing to think that Singleton was twenty-four years old when he made this film.  It's a goddamn amazing achievement.  The performances he got out of everyone is nothing short of amazing.  You feel like you're a part of this world and you fear for these poor bastards 'cause you know that no matter how bad it gets, it's never going to be great for them.  As bizarre at this sounds it feels like Stand By Me for black kids, especially the beginning and ending - the use of music, etc... This is a truly great film and if you missed it like I did - it's on netflix now.  It's solid through and through.

Monday, February 04, 2013

1805 - Jesse + Celeste Forever

When I saw the trailer for this it was the kind that makes me instantly jealous - why didn't I think of that idea - why does it look so good - why is this trailer so compelling?!  I imagine this is a constant problem for fellow filmmakers - supporting and feeling crushing jealousy all at the same time.
So this film is about two best friends who were, until recently, married.  But they are still best friends - and some of their friends are starting to think it's a bit weird (ahem, unhealthy) for them to spend this time with each other as the divorce looms over them.
Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg have chemistry in spades here, and you have no problem wondering why they're hanging out - why wouldn't they be?  They're both awesome!  But what I really love about this is that Rashida (also the co-writer) has no issues with her character doing shitty things sometimes and coming off a bit nutso when appropriate.
I wouldn't lump this in with the rom-coms, it's more of a dramedy, and I say that in a positive way.  It's also kind of an anti-date movie, which probably didn't help it's release either.  Ideally, if you're in a group of friends who are single as shit - this might be the remedy for what ails you.  But even if you are a couple I doubt you'll not enjoy how it unfolds.

1804 - Gunless

I like Paul Gross.  I like that he's trying to make genre films in Canada, and by and large, they're entertaining.  And the same can be said for William Phillips the director who also made Foolproof.  I like a good western, and one that roasts Canada a little bit is okay in my books - and it doesn't hurt that my buddy Jay Brazeau has a great part in it.  It's about an outlaw who wanders into a town with no guns and goes from there.  It's fun, slightly predictable, but then again you're not exactly looking for a film like this to reinvent the genre. 
I got it from but it might be on netflix as well.  Give it a shot if you want to have a nice light fun little flick.