Saturday, September 20, 2014

2057 - The To Do List

I remember when the trailer first came out for this and I was super interested in it then - largely because I’m knee deep in sex comedies of my own.  I thought that this was a really sweet, funny, and heart warming coming-of-age story.  It checks off all the required boxes that come along with a sex comedy - Aubrey Plaza continues to wow me in a character that could so easily be a stereotype but she finds the nuances and the layers without ever abandoning her characters initial concept.  We’ve seen the story a dozen times of the dude trying to lose his virginity so it’s nice to see the female perspective - especially since anytime a girl is shown being sexually adventurous she’s often labelled as a slut, here Plaza is courageous and curious - a go getter.  The 90’s setting was inspired and the jokes weren’t farcical and well placed.  

If you like smart sex comedies with heart this one is absolutely worthy of your time and attention and it’s on Netflix.  Give it a whirl.

Friday, September 19, 2014

2056 - Total Recall (original)

That's better!  Despite it's datedness, this film still stands up - the sci-fi isn't as corny as you'd expect it to be because it's got such a distinct style.  There's something mildly trashy about it with three-breasted hookers and hooker dwarves with machine guns and a young mutant Dean Norris.  But the thing that makes this miles ahead better is that the story is simple - the poor people are being screwed over by the rich - smothered by the lack of air that the rich are keeping, and can easily provide for them.  In this film it makes sense why Quaid was kept alive - I'm not entirely sure that it was in the remake.  The reason this also works is because we see physical evidence of what Arnold is fighting for - to let people breath and live - we keep cutting back to them to get a sense of the importance of his mission.  It means something for us and therefore we root for him... this film is fun and entertaining.  Both versions are on Netflix if you want to do a comparison - though I strongly suggest just spending time with this one - the remake is mostly's meh - though I quite liked how they better integrated Kate Beckinsale's character - a small victory in that non-film....

2055 - Total Recall (remake)

Meh.  Why the hell remake this film?  (then again, why the hell did I watch it?  and what was I expecting?).  The original was one of my favorite films from childhood - I remember rewatching it over and over.  This just feels so disposable.  Though now I'm going to rewatch the original.... maybe it doesn't hold up as well as I remembered.  This one however just feels kind of empty and pointless.  Meh.

2054 - Boyhood

There was so much hype behind this film that it was impossible to go into it with a fresh set of eyes.  When I first heard about the film and the construction of how it was made over 12 years I was a bit annoyed as I’d had a similar idea for a project - though because I knew it was Linklater doing it it made me excited.  It’s hard to separate the story from the style.  On one hand you’ve got an incredible cinematic achievement - on the other you’ve got something that’s pretty simple, a story that isn’t all that spectacular.  And while it’s full of nuance and some really lovely moments, on the whole I think I have to ask - was his really worth 12 years of someone’s life?  I realize that it happened in and amongst other projects and other things, but I don’t know.  I know I’m being a bit cynical because this film was so universally loved, but I just felt like this story could have been more universal in some ways and more affecting.  It did stick with me a bit.  I’d love to see what special features the DVD has.  I’m not dismissing it - I liked it - though I did find it dragged on in parts.  I’d wholly recommend it to anyone who likes simple character based stories.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

2053 - The One I Love

The trailer for this intrigued the hell out of me.  Combined with the fact that I adore Elisabeth Moss and really dig the Duplass brother’s stuff it had me at hello.  
Part of the fun of the film is the mystery element, and I don’t want to say too much.  It’s about a husband and wife who are at their wit’s end of what to do with each other, and then at the advice of their therapist they go to a retreat-esque cabin where all goes really well… too well… and they start to question that. 
The best part of the film is how the “element” (as I’ll call it in a non-spoilery way) does a really beautiful job of dissecting relationship issues in a fun, fresh, and really really smart way.  I LOVED that about the film.  The worst part is how the “element” closer to the end tries to explain itself in a realistic way, and almost destroys what came before by doing so.  I HATED that about the film.  So this is a tough one for me.  I think it’s worth seeing for sure, but by the end I didn’t love it as much as I did at about the half-way mark.  The performances are fantastic and the ideas are interesting - so based on that alone I can recommend it.  It’s definitely a conversation piece.  I’d say give it a go if you’re a fan of the cast and like messed up loved stories and think pieces.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

2052 - Seeking a Friends for the End of the World

There's something really fun and freeing about the end of the world.  The reason The Walking Dead is so popular has less to do with zombies and more to do with the 'what if' scenarios that go through one's mind.  Here we have a story told in a world where the tone feels just a bit off. The film feels like it wants to be a satire, but it doesn't fully commit.  And while I actually quite adore Kiera Knightly normally, I found that she and Steve Carell were in two different films here, and I liked the one that he was in a bit better.  Ultimately it feels like she was mis-cast somehow - I just didn't feel their connection and it wasn't for a lack of trying on their part.  It just felt... forced.  And I think since the film hinges on it, it kind of ruins the ending for me.  I didn't hate it by any means, but it's also not the kind of film I'll go out of my way to recommend either.  For my money, if you want to see a solid end of the world flick that has a similar (but stronger) vibe, check out a Canadian classic "Last Night" by Don McKellar.  You won't be disappointed!

Monday, August 25, 2014

2051 - True Blood: season seven

And thus, it ends.  Thank the sweet lord.  I felt like I was cursed by this show to be mildly interested in it, yet never really satisfied.  It had a really strong start, and I’m not entirely sure just where it went off the rails.  There started a pattern where there was a bunch of random stories that came together mid season - and that was always largely impressive.  I have to say that I felt that this season was both a somewhat decent swan-song, but at the same time becoming a bit too much of a soap opera and less of the fun exciting show that we started off with.  This final season was very devoid of any real conflict or stakes, except for the very end (pun very much intended). 

If someone were asking if they should start watching this series, I’m not entirely sure what I’d say.  I suppose I’d say it’s worth giving it a kick, especially for the earlier seasons.  Like so many series it just went on for the sake of going on, having lost it’s umph and way.  I never hated this show, but if I’m honest it was always a guilty pleasure at best.

2050 - Wreck It Ralph

I loved the premise of this when I first saw the trailer, but I have to say that I totally under-estimated this film.  I realize that John Lasseter has his hands in it, so it should be no surprise, really.  The story here is super fun, super tight, and ridiculously smart.  The story turns are very sophisticated and keep me curious where everything was going.  I enjoyed this as much as my son, and maybe even a little bit more.  This one is an easily recommended, especially if you’ve got a kid who enjoys his video games.

Friday, August 22, 2014

2049 - The F Word (aka What If)

If you're in the USA or UK then you might know this by the unfortunate title "What If" but here in Canada it's got the awesome title of "The F Word".  I love this movie so hard.  I'm a romantic-comedy nerd, so I give a lot of them a pass just because I like the genre, but when I find one that's done so amazingly well it makes me want to scream from the rooftops - and this one does.  It's a wicked funny script, a charming as hell cast, and a really mature direction that's also playful.  I think this was my favourite film at TIFF last year, and it's up there with my favourite of the year in general.  It's being added to the ranks of When Harry Met Sally and it deserves to be.  Elan Mastai and Michael Dowse have crafted a beautiful, funny, sweet, and heartfelt romance that isn't shy at all about being set mostly in Toronto.
This film came out wide in Canada this weekend and I think it's still in the USA - please please please go check it out - it deserves a huge audience.  If you see this film and don't laugh a fair bit it's likely because you're dead inside.  I love it and can't wait to own it!

2048 - Thank You For Sharing

Man - it looks like I haven't watched anything this month, but I've actually been watching a bunch of stuff, but just in bits and pieces as I prep for my next film, so it's weird to write about stuff in that context.  Although I feel like I've missed a few here.  Apologies!
I wanted to see this 'cause I like the premise and the cast a lot.  Josh Gad is a superstar in my mind.  I love Mark Ruffalo but he looks creepy unshaven.  I'm sorry to say, but that really weirded me out, that and his character's nonstop smile kind of grated at me in a way that was confusing because he's easily one of my favourite actors.  I just had a hard time really getting into and caring about his character and story - same with Tim Robbins.  Josh Gad stole the film for me, it could have easily been just about him and it would have worked well.  So I like this, but didn't quite love it.  Give it a whirl on netflix if you're curious - it's about sex addicts!

Sunday, August 03, 2014

2047 - Guardians of the Galaxy

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is getting to the point, for me, where it’s akin to the work done in the heyday of Pixar.  And given that Disney owns both them and now Star Wars, anyone who owns stocks in the Mouse are certainly going to be happy in the upcoming years.
Like most people I didn’t know ANYTHING about Guardians of the Galaxy going into this.  And I came out wondering if this was my favourite of the Marvel side-franchises.  It is so goddamn good.  It’s the most fun I’ve had in a Marvel film, including Avengers.  It starts off with a huge gut-punch - which hit me especially hard because of personal reasons - and then it involved into something that was sweet and funny and grand.  Chris Pine is an all-star, and Bradley Cooper makes Rocket more than just a wise-talking side-kick.  
My only complaint, and this is more a big-world question than anything else.  The villain’s lair/world(?) just feels so small and empty.  He wants to destroy things, a planet, but I never really got a strong sense of why - outside of the fact that it was evil and he’s evil.  If I have a complaint with this film it’s that the villain was a pretty weak cardboard cut-out - zero personality besides ‘bad’.  So that was the weak part of the film for me - that said the rest of the ensemble is so delightfully entertaining that it doesn’t hurt the overall movie like it should.  

Keep up the good work, Marvel.  The way you weave all your properties together is such a clever way of insuring viewership - but it’s also rewarding for the audience.  Keep up the quality and I’ll keep showing up.  

Saturday, July 26, 2014

2046 - Begin Again

It’s hard to watch this film and not feel like you’re floating.  It’s the kind of film that makes you remember emotions and feelings that you thought were numbed by every good thing that became before it.  It means one thing - it’s the kind of film that makes you feel new feels, and that’s something spectacular in and of itself.  I loved this film.  Kiera Knightly has never been better and she is magic alongside of Mark Ruffalo.  It’s a love letter to the art of creation so it has a special place inside of me.  The music itself is really fantastic and with a purchase itself (which I’m doing as I type this).  There are so many clever and beautiful sequences here that I’d love to go into great detail about, but I’d really rather just convince you to check it out yourself.  This is easily one of my favourite films of the year so far.  It’s a beautiful, entertaining, and powerful little flick.  I liked Carney’s “Once”, I love “Begin Again” - looking forward to a nice third instalment of this ‘making-an-album’ trilogy!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

2045 - Bad Grandpa & Bad Grandpa.5

Working on a hidden camera show I thought it would be fun to check this out.  I like this better than the typical Jackass fair because of the storyline that’s present - it’s actually a decent little storyline in and amongst fucking with a lot of strangers - which I can absolutely get behind.  I won’t ruin a damn bit because that’s half the fun.  Netflix offers the .5 version, which is essentially a combination of making-of and also bonus scenes - if you like behind the scenes stuff this one is pretty entertaining, especially the inner workings where they show how the hides, etc… work.  This isn’t for everyone, but the people who like this sort of thing are going to like it a lot.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

2044 - Oldboy

It’s always dangerous territory to remake a much celebrated film - especially one that has such a twist ending as Oldboy - and then to do nothing new with the twist… it’s a bizarre choice given that the only real audience for this film is fans of Spike Lee and people who have seen the original - and that is likely the same audience, I imagine.  So I guess my first question is - what the hell was the point of this?  Stylistically this film doesn’t even touch the original - there’s nothing super special or unique happening here outside of Lee’s own version of the “hammer fight” sequence.  It might have looked a bit flasher, but the original still takes the cake by a long shot, as does the entire film.  Who knows, maybe if I’d seen this without the original I’d have a different opinion - but it’s just a bit too much of a rehash.  Shame.

2043 - Men in Black III

Part of the problem with this series now is that the freshness of the concept is long gone.  Pulling back the curtain and showing how further integrated aliens are into our world isn’t fresh anymore.  Gags like Andy Warhol work mostly because of the casting rather than the gag itself.  The casting is interesting - there’s a spot on Josh Brolin doing a young Tommie Lee Jones, but despite how much I LOVE Emma Thompson, is Alice Eve REALLY the best representation of her at a young age.  For his credit I didn’t even recognize Jermaine Clement as Boris the Animal.  

I think if you can over look the logic issues with the time travelling it’s a fun film, and way way way better than the second instalment.  That said, had it not for being on Netflix, I doubt I would have ever put any effort into checking it out.  Enjoyable enough!

Friday, July 18, 2014


Scott Pilgrim remains one of my favorite series of all time, and so the other day when I realized that Bryan Lee O'Malley's first Pilgrim follow-up was finally out I ordered it right the hell away.  It's the story of a cook looking to fix some mistakes from her past and gets the chance do to some magic mushrooms (not to be confused with the drug).
I loved the style of this - visually it builds upon what we've seen of him before but there's an additional artistry present that shows his growth.  There's a really awesome narration technique that's playful and fun.  It's a beautiful and sweet story told with a wink, always aware that it's there to entertain.  If you like O'Malley's work from the past this will not disappoint.

2042 - Nurse Jackie: season six

We're six seasons in, so if you're reading this without having seen anything yet - go back and read my previous posts, 'cause there are SPOILERS AHEAD...

FINALLY, Jackie has gotten her ass kicked by all the shit she's put people through.  As much as it was fun watching Jackie be a total shit this season and just be a proper addict and fuck everyone else over - it was frustrating because usually she pulls a horseshoe out of her ass at the last minute.  It looks like heading into the seventh, and I hope final, season that they're working on an exit strategy.  Having watched Showtime continually renew both Dexter and Californication until they were creatively sucked dry I hope that they know what they're doing this time around and resolve this story in a way that pays tribute to it's golden days.  The show has meandered and stalled a bit, but where this season ends I feel in pretty good shape.

Monday, July 14, 2014

2041 - Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Andy Serkis - you are easily one of the most underrated actors of your generation.  I re-watched bits and pieces of the first instalment of this re-boot to head into this and I have to say that this is shaping up to be one of my favourite franchises.  I think these two films blow the water out of the original series.  Not just because of the effects, although to be fair it’s the technology that allows for the emotional layer that makes it truly special.  
What’s really lovely about this second chapter is that we care about both sides of the camp. It’s not humans or apes - both parties are good and bad.  It’s real and honest in that sense.  We’re conflicted and have no idea how it’s going to go.  
I don’t want to say much more, because it’s best just to experience this all for yourself.  This is the best blockbuster I’ve seen this summer, and I can’t wait to see it again.  If you have absolutely any interest in this film do yourself a favour and see it on the big screen.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

2040 - Wish I Was Here

I was a Kickstarter backer on this project.  I was a fan of Garden State, and as a crowd-funder myself I wanted to follow the campaign.  One of my perks was to get an advanced screening of the film, so that’s how you’re hearing from me early.
I have to be honest.  I didn’t love it.  Some other reviews have said “it was good enough to make you wish that it was better” and I think that’s fair.  Another review that said it’s “Phony, shallow, and completely disconnected from reality. To make matters worse, it thinks it’s sincere, deep, and realistic.” and while that’s pretty harsh - I can’t disagree.  There’s so many lines in this that feel like it’s really clever, but no one would ever talk like that let alone consistently always have the perfect thing to say at the exact perfect moment.  At times it feels like we’re watching a marathon of clever ideas that Zach Braff had and how he wedged them all together.  And wedging isn’t far off - there’s so many things going on here that look like they’re there for the sake of the visuals than anything else.  
I read somewhere that Braff spent years trying to get this film made within the system and couldn’t get it done - which seeing the end product, it doesn’t surprise me.  The last thing I wanted to do was crap on this film, but I can’t honestly endorse it. I like what he’s trying to accomplish - it’s a film about the difficulty of being a parent, so there’s things here that I dig, but as a whole - it’s messy.  And it’s hard to care about a hero who puts himself ahead of his family and tries to use his dream as a defense.  A lot of us find a way to do both.  
The highlights are Mandy Patinkin and the soundtrack - which is worth buying for sure - though it feels clumsy with how it’s used in the film, especially compared to how well the music was used in Garden State.

So if you were obsessed with Garden State than you’re going to see this anyway.  If you don’t dig Zach Braff to begin with, this likely won’t help.  Please do check it out for yourself though - I’d be happy to be in the minority when it comes to disliking something.

Friday, July 11, 2014

2039 - American Reunion

For some reason I found myself checking this out on Netflix.  It’s an interesting thing.  I don’t know if this was a bad film or a pretty okay one.  It’s tough when it’s a reunion sequel to a much loved film from your childhood.  I thought that this one did a really great job of playing up the original, and I think also the fact that I’ve grown up along with these guys doesn’t help at all either.  As a stand-alone piece I don’t think it would be all that satisfying or entertaining - but as a welcoming home party it’s worth the effort for sure.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

2038 - The Green Hornet

I remember when this came out and I think it was crapped on to a fair degree.  I started watching this in the background but found myself pretty drawn in my how much fun it was.  Seth Rogen isn’t doing anything out of the blue for him, but through this kind of character it’s a unique spin on it.  I love Kato - I knew nothing going into this about the Green Hornet, so I don’t know how awesome he was in previous incarnations, but him here is a lot of fun.

Christoph Waltz is ridiculously funny here, he plays a properly menacing villain who has a funny gimmick going on that sustains the film really well.  Cameron Diaz feels like the odd-man out here, and I’m not sure why - it’s the only piece that feels a bit off for me.  The action and set pieces are pretty great, and there’s a solid story at work here amidst the chaos.  I liked it, in fact, I’d show up for a sequel, though that seems unlikely given Seth Rogen’s feelings about how it all went down.  

Friday, July 04, 2014

2037 - Californication: season seven

You were the show whose pilot knocked me off my chair - I was so in awe with what I’d seen, so jealous of the power of the writing.  As you went along I had a troubled relationship with you - I had a hard time taking you seriously during your goofier moments but you always pulled me back when you got around to being poignant.
The problem with sustaining a series with a troubled hero like Hank Moody is that you can only go so far in his growth without abandoning what was exciting about him in the first place.  So it’s hard to sustain this long-standing story of the love of his life when he’s constantly with other women.  After a few seasons of that you kind of start to feel like those two aren’t really destined to be together.  I believe it was season five that ended with his crazy girlfriend trying to kill him.  That was an inspired story choice, and really gave us material to go somewhere real and honest and dark with the character, but it largely got squandered and Hank set off on another kooky adventure in show business.  This season worked as a swan song.  I liked the idea of him connected with a long-long son, and having the dual relationship between his two baby mamas - though I have a hard time buying he wouldn’t have given it a shot with Heather Graham - not just because she’s gorgeous, but because they have a clean slate like he and Karen never could.  Alas.  
Evan Handler has always been a joy, and there’s a special place in my heart for Pamela Adlon.

If you’ve never seen this series I’m not entirely sure I can advocate for it’s entire run.  I definitely think it’s first three or four seasons are worth your time - after that it’s a little hit or miss.  David Duchovney is always delightful though, so there’s that as well.  I’ll miss the characters a little and seeing where they go, but I can’t say I need anymore.  Let’s see what Tom Kampinos has up his sleeve next.

Monday, June 30, 2014

2036 - Orange is the New Black: season two

Now that’s how you progress a story!  This season took what the first season began and beautifully brought it to the next level, furthering to nuance the characters - not forcing us to love or like them all, and even show sides of them that change how we see and feel about them otherwise.  It’s bold and beautiful storytelling and I loved it.  Even bringing in a “big bad” so to speak didn’t feel too formulaic, which it ran the risk of doing.  I don’t want to get into any specific details because it’s such a beauty to discover yourself, but I will say that this show doesn’t disappoint and it leaves us in a beautiful spot for where we come back in season three.  That said, we can move on from Jason Biggs storyline now, thanks.  Nothing against Biggs, I just don’t see how that story helps us moving forward.

2035 - The Grand Seduction

I tried to see this while it was on the festival circuit last year but it was always up against something I couldn’t miss - but it worked out nicely since I was able to go see it with my wife.  This is the kind of film where if you hated it, I might just accuse you of being dead inside.  It’s pretty damn charming.  It’s simple and sweet and entertaining.  Often films that take a gentler approach to innocent comedy pander a lot to their audience where this one felt pretty smart in it’s comedy.  I found myself laughing out loud regularly.  And Gordon Pinsent gives one of his most entertaining performances (in a career full of them) - also lovely to see Peter Keleghan as well.  Brendan Gleason was simply perfect as the small town man that steps up to rally the troops together and save the town.  If you’re from a small town, or just like good hearted films, please do yourself a favour and check this out - especially if you’re looking for something to do on Canada Day!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

2034 - Edge of Tomorrow

From the guy who made Swingers… Sorry, I can’t help but say that in my head whenever I see a Doug Liman film.  I have to say that I don’t really have a strong love or hate for Tom Cruise.  With few exceptions (Magnolia, etc…) I find that Tom Cruise is pretty much Tom Cruise in most things - not a bad thing, but nothing to get super excited about.  This is one of his most fun roles to date - a serious action movie that doesn’t take itself super seriously.  It’s Groundhog Day as an action sci-fi film.  I love that we get a combination of seeing him stumble through the ‘repeat’, but then also seeing sequences where he’s clearly done this several times, and watching Emily Blunt be the ‘fresh eyes’ each time is ALWAYS enjoyable.  She’s a powerhouse and a fantastic edition to the action lady group.  You can have your Angelina Jolie’s (for the record, I like Jolie) - but give me Emily Blunt any day and I’m a happy man.  I also quite enjoyed Bill Paxton here, and I’m often so-so about him.  

If you’re up for a smart and fun action flick, this one doesn’t disappoint at all.  Well worth seeing, especially in the theatre.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

2033 - Orphan Black: season two

It's impossible to talk about Orphan Black without talking about Tatiana's performance.  Without exception she is not only the star of the show - she is the show.  She slips so effortlessly into the various characters that despite your efforts you often forget that it's all the same person.  Tat obviously has an amazing career ahead of her, but it's hard to think she'll ever have a playground to play in like she does on this series - exhausting as it must be.
This season continued the greatness of the first season and helped to build deeper into the mythos of this world and it's rules.  It was nice for me to see some actor friends show up in supporting roles, and even greater to see characters like Helena really get a chance to shine here.  I love the additional layers that the show started to uncover this season and it went a long way towards convincing me just how much more story there is to tell with this series.  If it's not the best series in Canada at the moment, it's easily the most interesting - and definitely putting ourselves on the map in terms of original content creation.

Monday, June 23, 2014

2032 - 22 Jump Street

This could very well be one of the most self-referential and meta films of all time with how aware it is of the conventions of this type of film, but also with it being a sequel.  It borderlines between being very funny and sharp to being a bit too-much at times, when really we want to get a little more invested into the story and characters.  If I have a complaint about this film it’s that it spends more time trying to be clever than it does just being a fun flick - which is not to say it’s not a fun flick.  Lots of laugh out loud moments.  Jonah and Channing are charismatic as hell and a really awesome team together.  The film ends with a suggestion of this franchise going on forever and I think I could be lured back to a third adventure for sure.  I didn’t realize that it was the same filmmakers that did Lego Movie (which I rewatched AGAIN with my son this afternoon).  It’s got a similar energy and tone, which is interesting.  

Bottom line - if you liked the first one, this one will not disappoint at all.  

Thursday, June 19, 2014

2031 - Fargo: season one

I write season one assuming that there will be a second season based on the quality of this and what I’ve been able to find online.  This series could have been so bad, instead it’s at least as good as the film it was inspired by - and who knows…. it could be better in some regards…. Noah Hawley has nailed the tone set by the Coens, yet he also makes it uniquely his own.  This features one of the best ensemble casts of any series ever.  From somewhat newcomer Allison Tolman to season veterans Billy Bob Thorton, Oliver Platt, Colin Hanks, Bob Odenkirk, Adam Goldberg, to some awesome Canadian stand-outs Shawn Doyle, Joshua Close, Carlos Diaz, and Rachel Blanchard… but the stand-out for me is Martin Freeman.  It’s absolutely a career highlight - the transformation he goes through is nothing short of stunning.  
The entire season stands on it’s own and is quite serialized - each episode begging you to watch the next.  I found very few faults with the series in general outside of… (SPOILER ALERT) if both Lester and Malvo died, how did were the events depicted exactly as they occurred as is stated in the opening credits?…  (END SPOILER).

So if you haven’t dug into this and you’re a fan of the Coens work, this is a must watch.  I’d say it’s almost like a marriage between Fargo and No Country For Old Men.  I loved it, and I can’t wait for season two.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

2030 - The Fault in our Stars

"I fell in love the way you fall asleep, slowly then all at once.".  This is the kind of film that was 100% kick your ass if you aren't completely dead inside.  It's the story of a young woman who should have died when she was 13, but by a miracle is still here, although sick, and what happens when she falls in love with a boy who isn't exactly the pique of health himself.  Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort are an absolute breath of fresh air.  They're charming and honest and real.  The film doesn't pull punches and it's not the after school special that would have been so easy to make.  The only false step it takes is in a moment that goes embarrassingly too far and it super cheesy.  You'll know what I mean when people start to clap...
You know from the get-go that this is the kind of film that's likely going to break your heart, but it doesn't make it any less worth the journey.  There's a lot that I could write about this film, but I think I'd prefer you to discover it yourself.  It's beautifully written, directed and performed.  And what makes this film all the more special is that it's done so well at the box office - proving that you don't need to be a superhero to rule the summer.  You just need a great story, beautifully told.  Please see this film while it's in theatres.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

2029: Wanderlust

I wanted to see this when it first came out and never got around to it.  It tells the story of a couple who gets beaten up by life a bit and tries to make a go of it on a commune - hilarity ensues.  I like that the film doesn't just take a crap on hippies and make super obvious jokes despite the fact that it's a big comedy - can you make fun of this stuff - sure - but these are people too, and their way of life is a worthy way to live if that's your thing.  Aniston and Rudd do their usual thing and are super enjoyable as always.  Lauren Ambrose steals the film in a birthing scene near the end for me.  This isn't a film that blew me away, but it's enjoyable enough if you like the cast and want something light and fun for your viewing pleasure.

2028 - Louie: season four

This show continues to kick my ass.  Seriously, I might as well just start this with praise.  This is easily my favourite half-hour series of all time.  It blows me away with how wonderfully funny, honestly awkward and incredibly poignant it is.  This is one of the most unique shows there is, and it’s incredibly brave.  There was a big break between seasons, and given how fantastic this season was, I’m absolutely fine with it.  This season seemed to be about Louie’s relationship with women - with his ex’s, his daughters, and women he dates.  And it culminated in (SPOILER ALERT) he and Pamela Adlon starting to date and fall for one another.  I was so happy that it didn’t turn sour and that we’ll hopefully continue to see more of this relationship into the next season of the series.  This could have worked well as as series finale, but I need and want so much more!  I could go into great detail about all that I loved about this, my favourite season of my favourite half-hour series, but please just check it out for yourself.  If you trust my taste in stuff, trust this - Louie is worth your time.  My only complaint is that season 3 is not available yet on DVD/BluRay (please, oh please make it available - and season four).  Please watch this show.  It will make my heart happy.

Monday, June 16, 2014

2027 - Chef

Swingers remains one of my favourite films.  It came to me when I was a teenager and really fixated on wanting to become a filmmaker, and the story behind how it made, everything about it, was kind of intoxicating.  If you’ve never seen that film it’s absolutely worth hunting for.  The reason I bring up Swingers is because it feels like Chef is the first personal film that Favreau has made since - his career became fixated on blockbusters, so it’s nice to see him return to his roots.  Chef almost feels like Fav’s commentary on the current studio system and the film itself being his own personal food truck.  One can’t help but wonder of the food critic isn’t standing in for a group of film reviewers.
There’s something magical about this film - visually it’s a treat, especially the food porn.  At it’s heart it’s the story of a man finding his way back to his roots and becoming a real father to his son.  Story-wise the film is pretty light - but what it lacks that way it makes up in character and charisma.  It’s the kind of film where heavy-weights like Robert Downey Jr., Scarlet Johanson, and Dustin Hoffman show up to act the hell out of a scene and then let the film take over.  
Only issue was that the backstory of the marriage falling apart with Sofia Vergara seemed random - they never seemed to have any issue with each other and it almost felt forced to give him some kind of hurdle to get over… Her character was a bit too one-note and supportive - it would have been a good way to flesh out his character a bit more.  

All in all it’s a really fun and lovely little film, a nice palette-cleanser from the typical summer-studio-fare.  If you like character based films with a heart - and you’re a bit of a foodie, this one’s right up your alley.

Friday, June 06, 2014

2026 - Breaking Bad: No Half Measures

I treated myself to the BluRay box set of the complete series because it’s loaded to the tits with features and also because I think it’s one of the few perfect television series that exists and I look forward to revisiting and studying it further - especially with all of the features that are on it.  It’s television school in a box and I think anyone wanting to work in the medium owes it to themselves to pick this up.
So this is supposed to be about the documentary that came with the set.  It follows the production of the final eight episodes, and it’s largely a love fest as they go through it, but there’s a lot of insight into how it works and if you’re a fan of the show then there’s no better way to dive back in and enjoy the final pieces being put together.

I look forward to slowly going through the series all over again and all of the special features that this set contains - there’s, I believe, over 55 hours of bonus which is almost as much as the series itself.  What a great ride I’ve got ahead of me… 


I really enjoyed this little coming of age story about a young man growing up right in the midst of the most humiliating experience of his life.  I really like Pascal's drawing style, and it's been interesting reading his books almost in reverse and seeing how he's progressed.  It's about a young teen in Quebec who just became a YouTube in sensation (not in a good way) and how he deals with that and a crush and life in general.  It's sweet and honest and well worth your time if you like coming of age stories in this medium.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

2025 - Marie Antionette

I have to admit that I watched this in the background while getting some work done - and it was a first time watch - so I feel a little guilty about that, but I think it made me enjoy the film more.  A lot I've read and heard about this film is that it's beautiful to look at, but not a ton happens.  I found myself liking it a lot more than I expected to.  I don't love Kirsten Dunst - I don't have anything against her, but she doesn't overly excite me - so given that, I was really impressed here and surprised by how I liked her - it was like catching a glimpse of what I loved so much with her from Interview With a Vampire (still my favorite performance of hers).  I like how Sofia has modernized this in it's style with the music and the dialogue being more casual, it works nicely and is refreshing for that reason alone.  Glad to have finally caught it.  Now I'm only behind by 2 Sofia Coppola films :)

Monday, June 02, 2014

This One Summer

This is a really sweet coming of age story about a girl away for the summer stuck between a best friend whose younger and immature, and a teenage crush with an older bad-boy, and also stuck between her parents' own personal drama.  The artwork is gorgeous and once you've blasted through the story it demands another look through just so you can soak it all up.  If you're a lover of indie comics that are heartfelt and honest, this one is a must read.

2024 - Tower Heist

I don't have a heck of a lot to say about this film - it boasts a hell of a cast, sadly they've very under-used in a film that promises a lot of fun and it just kind of.... bland.  As far as heist films go this is pretty underwhelming - even the heist itself is kind of boring - and the scale we'd expect to see on a television show these days, hardly worthy of a big blockbuster action comedy.  I don't mean to crap on this film, I didn't hate it by any means - I was just hoping for something a little more entertaining.  Alas.

2023 - Mad Men - Season Seven: part one

Somehow I thought we had one more episode for this half-season.  I love how this season started up and worked - it was so refreshing to see Don working for something as opposed to just coasting and bossing people around - it did a lot for regaining sympathy for him with his head between his heels.  I loved the way his relationship with Peggy has changed in all the years we’ve known them - it’s pretty amazing and staggering.  If you’d told the Don of season 1 that he’d one day be answering to the girl who gets his coffee he’d have laughed you out of his office.  

I have to say that with the exception of Sally, I could do without ever seeing the adventures of Betty and family for the rest of the series.  No offence to those cast members involved, it just feels like such a wasted amount of time especially given that we’ve got so precious few episodes left.  It really feels like everyone is getting a chance to shine - Roger visiting his daughter on a commune, co-workers going, literally, insane.  The company coming into it’s own, and Joan finally getting the financial wealth she’s only ever dreamed of.  It was actually sad to see Don and Megan’s relationship disintegrate and I wonder what they’ve got planned for him in the final eight when it comes to romance.  I doubt they’d have him and Peggy hit the sheets, but stranger things have happened… Looking forward to the final episodes when it returns.

Friday, May 30, 2014

2022 - Smashed

A cinematographer I know showed me part of this film as a visual reference for something and I'd wanted to see it ever since and was happy to see it on Netflix.  It tells the story of an alcoholic couple and what happens when one of them tries to get better and the other just couldn't give a shit.  Mary Elizabeth Winstead gives a charmed performance and manages to keep her character human and likeable amidst all of the shit she puts herself through battling her addition.  Paul is fantastic as the passive aggressive husband who, in theory, wants his wife to get better, but really doesn't want her to realize that she can get more out of this life.  It's a really lovely and heartbreaking story.  Check it out if you can!

2021 - Spinning Plates

This was the film that beat out Sex After Kids for the audience award the year we played in Santa Barbara, so I was eager to check it out to see what the hype was about.  It's a charming documentary about the love food and the way it creates a community around itself, or at the very least a family.  From a restaurant with a two month waiting list, to another that can barely keep the doors open, it paints an interesting behind the scenes look.  I have to be honest in that it didn't blow me away or anything, it was entertaining, but as far as documentaries do it's pretty light weight.  If you're a foodie it's worth checking out how that it's on Netflix!

2020 - This Is The End

I don't know why I ended up throwing this in while I was trying to get some writing done.  Did I?  Of course not.  This is an entertaining tour-de-force and about as meta as it gets.  If you're unaware of this film it's a film about celebrities (playing themselves) during the apocalypse.  It's raunchy, funny, and surprisingly heartfelt.  Rogen and Goldberg handle a pretty effects heavy film pretty well for their first time out and the comedy feels tight when it could have just been one big inside joke.  If you like dark comedies and any of the people in this cast - this is pretty much a must see.

2019 - Hannibal: season two

I'm all caught up!  Which sucks, 'cause my reward is having to wait and watch s-l-o-w-l-y upon the shows return.  I have to say, I liked the first season better than this one.  To explain why I'll have to get into some SPOILERS... so beware of the below...

I guess my concern is with the idea of having Will Graham ride the line - from a long-game perspective I suppose I get it - we want to know if he'll head over to the dark side or not and we want to draw that out as long as possible.  I guess, for me, I'm excited to see this play into the established stories of Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs and, I suppose, Hannibal itself (although feel free to re-imagine that one all you want!).  The introduction of Michael Pitt and Katherine Isabel as the Vergers was pretty damn delightful, and I hope that storyline comes back down the line as it's meant to.

This season ended on a pretty great cliffhanger that allows the show to reboot when it returns next year, which I think is what will help keep it interesting and alive.  It's a new chapter and so changes need to happen.  I'll be there for sure.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

2018 - Hannibal: season one

Dear Producers of Dexter, this is how you make a show about serial killers.  Okay, that’s a bit unfair given that clearly they’re different tones.  So I’m late to the game on this show, part of the beauty of that is I’ve been able to binge watch it and really just enjoy immersing myself in this first season.  It’s so damn impressive to see a network doing this kind of material and really going full tork with it.  It’s a visual feast and the gruesomeness is pretty high for a show that airs on a main network.  Kudos to everyone involved for having the balls to do this.
The 2nd part of this that makes me really gitty watching is seeing some Toronto actors that I know in supporting and guest starring parts (it’s shot in Toronto).  I like that this is a re-invention of the Hannibal Lector story to some extent, and we aren’t just seeing someone trying to do an Anthony Hopkins impression.  It’s a wise move and it works so well.  I’m excited that I can dive into the second season right away.  I really hope this show can keep up the quality.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens we it moves into the years of the story in which movies already exist for them… 

If you haven’t seen this yet and you like horror, suspense, or really just strong television than this one deserves your attention.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Petty Theft

I really quite enjoyed this book.  It debuted at TCAF this year (Toronto Comic Arts Festival), so I snagged a copy from Pascal himself.  It's a cute story about a comic artist who spots a beautiful woman stealing a copy of his book and shoplifts it.  Fun set-up.  It's a bit of a love-letter to the love of books.  I dug it.

2016 - X-Men: Days of Future Past

What I think is really unique about the X-Men series is how they've opened up the world, and technically done a reboot, but all the while still being able to use it with what they've done before.  This film is the ultimate bridging of everything we've seen in X-Men up to this point and it starts to put other pieces together.  Having Striker be part of the mix was great fun, as was seeing pretty much everyone from this world together in one film.  The story was strong - it was a little heavy on over-the-top action towards the end - but it also featured one of the best sequences of the entire series with Quicksilver set to Jim Croce's Time in a Bottle.  I won't ruin it for you - it's fantastic.  The film is full of fun references, including one to JFK being a mutant himself - which got a laugh (in a bad way) from the packed audience I was in.
What I most love about this instalment is that it used a classic X-Men story to find a clever way of fixing the sins made by X3 and anything else they want to tidy up.  They're now able to move forward pretty much however they want - which is really quite refreshing.  Could be the best film of the series, actually.  I dug it a lot.

Friday, May 23, 2014


I was given this to see if I thought it could be turned into something in the vein of television or film, and I have to say that it really grew on me by the end.  It's quite charming and doesn't treat the teenage characters like stereotypes, and it's actually a pretty honest and modern look at teenagers that's quite refreshing.  It revolves around the production of a highschool musical and all the inherent drama on and off stage.  If you've got a teenager that's into the arts, I highly recommend it for them, and probably even you.


This was one of the books I picked up at TCAF on the recommendation of others - I also grabbed Pascal's newest book Petty Theft and will be reading that sometime shortly.  This is self autobiographical about Pascal getting the nerve up to attend his highschool reunion.
I've passed the 10 year mark for high-school (holy shit...) and so far as I know there was no reunion - I almost feel like the age of facebook has made the whole thing moot anyway - if you want to know what people are up to it's not all that difficult these days. And if you fall out of touch with people given how easy it is to stay in touch, chances are you were never really that close to begin with.
There's a nice little character arc here, although I must admit that the character becomes quite grating towards the end - but I think that's largely intentional.  This is my first entry into the world of Pascal Girard, so I look forward to more of his work - it's quite funny in a delightfully awkward way.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

2015 - Like Crazy

I'd been highly recommended this film so I thought I'd give it a whirl once I noticed that it was on Netflix.  It's the story of two young lovers desperate to be together, but torn apart by a Visa violation that keeps her from being about to move to be with him in L.A. and he can't be with her because... well, the plot is a bit weak in that area, but I'll let it go for the pure pleasure of watching Felicity Jones smile when they come together.  She and Anton Yelchin have created a really lovely, flawed, and honest look at long distance relationships.  Made on a low budget with a lot of improvisation, the film feels natural and lovely.  I love the way the filmmaker spans time with the jump cuts that can be months or more at a time, simple framing around those moments and a perfect use of score.
I don't want to give much away about this one - the plot is pretty simple, but the beauty is in the actors chemistry and how we connect to them.  It's a beautiful piece!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

2014 - Louie: season one (commentary)

I love this show with all I've got.  I broke down and bought the sets because I just can't imagine not having them (where's season 3 though?  Come on people!).  I'd heard a lot of great things about the commentary tracks for the episode, so I decided to burn through the entire thing - and he does a lot for this season - it's a bit of a blur, I'm not entirely sure he did every episode, but there's A LOT - and he goes into really great detail about how he works comedy, actors, and right down to tech stuff like his use of lenses, etc... if you're a film nerd or just a big fan of Louis CK in general then this is a must listen to! :)

Monday, May 19, 2014

2013 - Godzilla

I have to admit that I'm not super familiar with the history of Godzilla in cinema outside of the pop culture stuff that most people know.  I have to say that I found this to be pretty darn entertaining.  What I think was really amazing about the direction of this film was how well the POV of various people was used super effectively during our set piece to ground us in something and show us what this really means to be people outside of it rather than just being destruction for the sake of it.  Having Godzilla pitted against other monsters and being more of a heroic role was a much more solid choice than having him be our villain.  As you can imagine this film has it's fair share of hokiness, as some of Cranton's over the top pleading can attest - but on the whole it's entertaining, and while teasing a fair share of them, doesn't fall into the cliche these films often live in.  I loved the subtle way Godzilla was shown, especially through fighting - keeping us in other characters POV was really important for those sequences as well. Over-all - really well done and entertaining!