Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Wanted to see this last year at Hot Docs, but it was madness trying to get a ticket. If you don't know, this is about rich people having to deal with the fact that they're probably not going to be rich anymore. A timeshare company gets screwed over when the american banking system collapses and suddenly the plans for his $100M home fall apart. Poor man. And yet his wife continues to live as though they're making fistfulls of cash. They have to lay off half of their serving staff. When she goes to rent a car she asks what the name of her driver will be. It's very entertaining in that regard, but sad as shit when you realize how disconnected this people and their family is. They don't really even seem to like each other. The mother claims she had seven kids because it was fun to have kids, but if she ever thought she'd have to raise them without nannies she probably would have stopped at two.
This is a tough documentary because it's not really about the economy in any meaningful way so much as it is watching the train wreck of this white trash family, who just happened to get rich, and now they're not quite as rich. It's hard to really connect and care about them at all.
I liked it enough and glad I checked it out, but it's hard to give it a solid recommendation. Casual documentary lovers will probably enjoy, but those looking for something hard hitting and emotion - keep looking.
Monday, April 22, 2013
I will preface this by saying that this is my second time seeing this film and that I'm a friend of the film's director. So take that for what you will.
I like this film a lot. Coming-of-age stories done well will always be in demand. Coupled with this you've got the relationship between a teacher and their student, and what's so refreshing in Sara's film is that it never feels like she's passing judgement on either character. Is what they're doing right or wrong - well that's up for you to decide. This is a film that truly 'gets' teenagers and feels more authentic in that regard than most things you'll find in a multiplex. If you have a chance it's playing at the Carleton cinema right now - see it while it's still there! The film is beautiful to look at and so well crafted. Sara St. Onge has made a little gem of a film and I can't wait to see what she does next.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
It's funny, when I was younger I was really obsessed with films about the inside of the industry, especially dark comedies like this that shed it's light upon the underbelly - there was some joy in the mystery of this world - but now I can't imagine myself writing something that's so inside baseball. I have no complaints about those that do - but it just makes the whole business seem so ridiculously petty - and maybe that's the point. There's a lot of truth in the insanity that's shown in here, and the actors who play themselves do a pretty great job of leaving their egos at the door.
DeNiro plays a producer who is having the week from hell, dealing with a director who wants to keep his uber-bleak ending for a film about to go to Cannes, and Bruce Willis refusing to shave his beard for an upcoming film. This sound terribly first world problem-esque - and they are, but I don't think the film is ignorant of that, in fact I think it takes great joy in playing up those of us who just take this shit a little too seriously.
The cast is great and seems to enjoy lampooning us a tinge. It's not essential viewing by any means, but it's entertaining enough.
Friday, April 19, 2013
I was so happy to see that this was on netflix, especially since revisiting the directors first feature (Little Miss Sunshine) just the other day. First off, I love magic-realism, and when you pair it with a love story then you've got me hook-line-and-sinker. This is the story of a child prodigy, who wrote an amazing book in his teens and has been coasting for the last decade. He has a dream about a fantasy girl, writes about her in great detail and then wakes one more to discover that he's manifested her. She's exactly as he described her... and... when things in their relationship move past the honeymoon phase and start to get real - he can change her into whatever he wants her to be.
I won't give away a tidbit more because it's truly the kind of story you just want to experience all for yourself. I was impressed to learn that the title character of Ruby, played by Zoie Kazan, was also the film's writer. It's a beautiful, smart, tender ride. It's for everyone whose ever been frustrated in a relationship and wished they could just push a magic button and fix the problems without having to dig deep into them - however life is messier than that - as our hero soon will learn.
This is a little gem of a film, and like I mentioned, it's on netflix, so no excuse. Dano and Kazan are pretty magical together. Chris Messina has a great part as the brother - and Antonio Bandaras and Annette Benning steal the show as Dano and Messina's mother and (step-father?). If you loved films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Stranger Than Fiction, than this is right up your alley.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
It's Mamet so it's intentionally provocative. What I found really compelling was the idea of having a court room drama take place inside of the law office prior to a trial. And because it's a hotbed subject and what's really on trial is our feelings on race, it ends up being that each of our characters takes a turn being the victim, the accused, the prosecutor, defendant, and judge. I don't want to give away any details - I went into the play blind and I'm really glad that I did. It's on in Toronto until May 5 and features a dynamite cast including Jason Priestley. I can't say that I'm an expert on Mamet, but if this doesn't rank amongst his best, then I need to get myself out to the theatre far more often.
Friday, April 12, 2013
Michael Arndt wrote a perfect script with wonderful stories and arcs for each character. It's got a fantastic visual to it and I love how simple and real the production design is as well. Films like this are like comfort food and an absolute pleasure to revisit. If you've never seen this film you need to correct that wrong ASAP. It's the kind of film where, if someone tells me that they don't like it I just can't imagine how we could possibly be friends...
Tuesday, April 09, 2013
This film was a lovely little surprise. I'm a fan of Lynn Shelton, so I was happy to see that this was on Netflix. I'm a fan of Mark Duplass as well as Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt. It's a pretty simple premise - two best friends of the opposite sex are mourning the loss of his brother/her ex, and when he ends up sleeping with her sister they have to deal with their true feelings for one another. There's a lot more than that going on, but that's the gist. It's a simple little love story, but with some fantastic acting and really wonderfully honest moments. I love that Shelton has created this career where she goes and works on series as a director and then comes back and does these wonderfully intimate little pieces. Well done, her!
See this film - it's a beautiful little character piece and well worth your time!
Monday, April 08, 2013
So here we have a prequel of sorts - I'm pretty big on what Gregory Maguire did with the Oz story, so I'm going into this accepting something that's more align to Baum's canon. It's the story of how the Wizard got to Oz. First off, I was entertained the whole way through - I figured out where some stuff was going to go pretty quickly, but I also enjoyed the ride. That being said, it felt a little like they were trying to be just a tinge too clever. First, the world looks glorious, but I don't need a dozen spanning shots of CGI - I get it - Oz is magical. Also it just felt like a few too many winks to the audience in terms of how many connections they made to the 1939 film, etc… it didn't feel like a film that could stand on it's own and become it's own classic. It felt like it was trying to pay homage a little too much and came off as a bit of a a fan-film because of it. I'd be interested to see if they continue with this as a series of films, but if I'm completely honest - I'm still looking forward to a film adaptation of Wicked. If you like Oz stuff, it's a must see - especially in the theatres - there's some scary stuff for kids, so be wary of that.
If you want the kind of experience that really rips a movie into pieces and shows you behind the curtain, this is exactly the kind of thing you'll love. Although it made me want to revisit the film on it's own - which I'll try to do sooner rather than later.