Tuesday, April 29, 2014

1998 - Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil

This was my selection for Canadian Film Day!  I wanted to watch something I hadn't seen before and I'm really glad I went with this one.  It would have been so easy for this premise to be terrible.  It's the story of two friends who get assumed to be redneck killers, and in the same confusion believe that the teens that think are being victimized are going after them (make sense?).
It's a really great (and bloody) comedy of errors and Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine are pure magic together.  Seriously - turn this into a Harold & Kumar-esque franchise and I am in for revisiting this world in a heart beat.  It's a bit over the top, but that's the point - this isn't the kind of film that's taking itself too seriously.  This is a really solid entry into the horror-comedy genre mix - and it's on netflix, so get on that!

1997 - Adaptation

I was in film school when this came out, and at the height of my screenwriting neediness - so the meta-ness of this film was always it’s strong point for me.  I’m curious how it’s viewed outside of industry circles.  This might be the first time that I really took to heart the additional layer of us being in constant adaptation - our inner change.  It’s beautiful.  This film is packed with amazing actors in roles large and small and Nicholas Cage gives one of his career best performances.  This was part of an amazing run from Charlie Kaufman that has come to a, kind of, depressing halt.  I shouldn’t say that he hasn’t lived up to his promise - because if he never made another film he’d still be responsible for some of the most interesting and innovative films of my lifetime - but I guess I was just hoping for more by now… 

If you’ve never seen this film and you’re a film nerd in any way, it’s a must see.  

Monday, April 28, 2014

1996 - The Vow

Michael Sucsy, the director, has a great eye for Canadian talent - I didn't catch Toronto locations, but I did catch some amazing Toronto talent in supporting roles, including Joey Klein, Tatiana Maslany, Dillon Casey, and Wendy Crewson to name a few.
I was pleasantly surprised by this film.  It tells the story of a woman, madly in love with her husband, who loses her memory of him and the struggles they face with that fall-out.  It essentially asks the question, "If you met the love of your life at a different point in time, would you still chose them?"  I like that this film didn't go for easy answers and that it didn't wrap up everything in a pretty bow.  It feels honest and authentic.  I was worried that it went too far in one direction, but it managed to pull back at the end - which is really just a testament to good storytelling.  Tatum and McAdams are paired well here, and they're sweet together when they need to be, and their awkwardness work well rooted.  It's a charming little love story and should even appease the cynical amongst you.   And it's no netflix, so give it a shot!

1995 - Punch-Drunk Love

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen this film.  I don’t know if you’d consider it underrated, but it’s definitely not referenced enough.  This film is so beautifully stylized - it’s use of music and colour is really wonderful.  What looks mostly like available light gives it a real authenticity as well.  On top of that you’ve got two really sweet performances by Adam Sandler and Emily Watson.  They feel like such delicate flowers in this world that’s full of chaos and friction.  If you’ve never seen it and you like slightly off-beat love stories, this is easily one of the best.  I love this film.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

1994 - Honey I Shrunk the Kids

It was movie night and this is what my son picked after I pitched the premise to him.  Given that this film is almost 25 years old (I know, I know...) the tech isn't as dated as you'd think - they did a lot of stuff in camera, so it's really just the monster stuff where theres some pretty shitty green-screen animation comps.
Let's be honest - this film is pure entertainment - it's all about turning a backyard into a playground with water slides and creatures.  If this film came out today it would demand a theme park at Disney World.  It's pretty cheesy, but it's a lot of fun - and it was great to watch my son's jaw drop various times through-out watching.  I think it over whelmed him because he said that he loved it and he hated it - which usually just means that it scared him a bit.  So there's that - it still holds up for the next generation - AND it's on Netflix - so enjoy!

1993 - Back to the Future Part III

As mentioned I did in fact revisit this.  This film far more capture the spirit of the original - the second one almost has too much going on that it’s constantly having to deal with the exposition of the situation where this one and the first are simpler, they can allow us to just really enjoy the situation.  The western genre is a welcome addition here, and there’s a lot of nice callbacks.  The one thing they did well was really have the 2nd film set-up this grande finale.  Having Buford being a gun toting madman is a nice evolution of the Biff character from the original as well.  Part of me hopes that they never mess further with this franchise, but part of me wonders what else could be done with it especially if it’s expanded into something like a series.  I could be interested in that.  Needless to say, if you’ve never seen this trilogy you really owe it to yourself.  I can’t wait to introduce it to my kids.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

1992 - Back to the Future Part II

When I was a kid I loved this film - I remember even having the novelization.  There's a lot of me that does still love it - I love how it mixes the events of the first film into it's narrative and gives us a Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead kind of view of that.  That was super clever.  That said, the writing in this installment feels like it's someone else at the helm in a weird way.  Adding in stuff like Marty having an issue being called a chicken feels forced, especially given there was nothing of the like in the original which takes place a day prior to this film - Marty's issue there was his lack of confidence that he got from his father - so this is a bizarre bait and switch.  The film just has a much cheesier feel, and not always in a good way.  Don't get me wrong, I still like it a lot - it's near and dear to my heart - but it doesn't have the charm of the original.
And of course, as always happens when I re-watch the first film I'm going to go through all three of these bad boys now...

1991 - Back to the Future

What can I saw about this film that hasn't already been said?  Like Groundhog Day it's just a great example of high concept done super well.  I can't wait to show this film to my kids when they're older - I assume it'll hold up - and it'll be funny to see how dated it is with them.  I'd write a lot more about this film, but I'm just doing this as a short break from stuffing packages.  If you've never see this, and you're a film lover at all, you should be ashamed!

1990 - Groundhog Day

Man oh man do I love this film.  I’m stuffing packages of films and watching movies in the background, so I’m treating myself to a marathon of all my favourite films.  I like films that have a hint of magic to them and this is one of the best that there is.  It’s a great concept - a man having to live the same day over and over again until he gets it right - the comedic beats, the darkness, there’s not much out of place here and I dare say it’s a masterwork for Harold Ramis who we recently lost.  Bill Murray is in top form and Andy McDowell is so beautiful and delightful here.  If you’ve never seen this film please do me a favour and get around to it - you won’t regret it. 

1989 - The Departed

I'm on this kick of re-watching epic/long films right now that I'm working from home. I love this film - it has such an amazing energy to it - I think it's my favorite Scorsese film, and that might just be because this is one of the rare times that he actually tells a story with a clear beginning, middle, and end.  If you don't know anything about this film - it's got a pretty fantastic plot - DiCaprio plays an undercover cop whose infiltrated the mob, and Damon is part of a crime family and has infiltrated the high-level of the police.  It's such a juicy story, and it's done SO well here.  The performances are top notch and a lot of fun.  Filmmakers studying awesome set-ups should check out the opening of this film - it's text book perfection.  Who knows if I'll ever make a crime film, but if I do this one will be a huge reference for me.  If you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor and make up for that.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

1988 - Hedwig & the Angry Inch

I'm putting together some stuff for a musical-esque project so this was a great back-ground watch.  I love the shit out of this film.  I was lucky enough to discover it first as a play, so I've been with this for a long time.  It's the story of a botched sex change and the rock music that came out of it - sounds bizarre, right?  It's so fucking awesome.  It's about soul mates and identity, it's about the muse, and the art.  It's visually arresting, and the music is so goddamn dynamic, and John Cameron Mitchell just knocks it all out of the park and creates one of the most amazing auteur films of all time.  It's a shame that he hasn't followed it up a whole lot - although his other film Rabbit Hole hit me really hard and is worth checking out as well!
If you like indie rock, and rock operas and you haven't seen this - do yourself a damn favor - it's excellent.

1987 - The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson is without a doubt one of our more specific visual filmmakers.  I still haven't seen his previous film, Moonrise Kingdom, but other than that I believe I've seen everything - and while a lot I find to be a hit or miss, he's always distinct and clear about his visuals.  To the point where I think you could fairly easily copy cat his style and one might be hard pressed to say if it was an homage or satire to the work.
I enjoyed this for the most part, although it did feel to be dragging on a bit by the end.  I must admit that I feel like there was a bit of bait and switch - I thought I'd signed up for a fun little character comedy where it was really more of a caper film - not that I mind much, but I was expecting something a bit different, I suppose.
That said, it was still enjoyable, and though I don't see why I'd ever need to revisit it, I would definitely place it into the side of Anderson's films that I actually liked.  Still in theatres!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

1986 - Inception

It would appear that I'm on a Christopher Nolan kick at the current moment.  This is another film that plays with a lot of slight of hand - which is something that Nolan does in a lot of his films.  The imagination inside of this film is super exciting - dreamscapes are a fun playground to be within, and this one is done on a epic proportion.  It's got a super strong cast that are having fun playing within this playground.  Few films have set pieces on this scale, but the best part is that they aren't just mindless action, but they all contribute to a really complex and unique narrative.  This is easily one of the more heady thrillers ever made and just another in a line of proof that Christopher Nolan is one of our most exciting filmmakers - whether he's dealing with an original concept of his own or adapting someone elses - he knows how to keep an audience excited.  If you haven't seen this, dig in!

1985 - The Prestige

My son has become quite interested in magic, and we were watching some David Blaine stuff on the weekend and it made me desperate to re-watch this.  I love the idea of magicians - part con-arts, part showman - it's a very exciting and thrilling thing.  This film features a fantastic cast set amongst this tragic story of greed and pride.  I love the way that Nolan weaves the story in and around - he's playing a beautiful magic trick on you of his own.
If you like films that make you think and keep you guessing, this is easily one of the best.  Top notch entertainment with a lot more going on beneath the surface.  A must see :)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

1984 - Django Unchained

Despite it’s terrible subject matter this film is still just a shitload of fun.  I’m not a big fan of violence, but when it’s done in the cartoon style that Tarantino does it, I dig it enough.  This is my first re-watch of it and I have to say that I still might stand by my previous statement that this might be my favourite Tarantino film, or at least the one I find most complete and captivating.  At least the most since Pulp Fiction.  I find he has fewer indulgences here that he can’t rely on pop culture and it works for the best.  It’s a beautiful looking, acted, and written film.  Performances out the whazoo and a lot of stuff that’s just a shit load of fun.

1983 - Olympus Has Fallen

Wanted to watch something mindless in the back ground as I got some work done, and this fit the bill quite nicely.  It wasn’t exactly commanding my full attention - but there seemed to be a whole lot of flash and not a whole lot of substance in terms of the who, what, why, etc… Although is that really what this kind of film is about?  The action sequences move along nicely - but it’s all just set pieces for the sake of it - lots of big explosions with little meaning - so all well and good if you’re into that sort of thing.  Bring me a character story amidst an action film.  This was good old fashioned cowboys and indians.  Didn’t love, nor hate it.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

1982 - Peter's Friends

This is one of those gems that I never got around to seeing, and finally dusted off the DVD I'd purchased of it years ago to plop in.  I'm gearing up for a bit of a similar type ensemble, so I'm surrounding myself with these types of films right now to see what parts inspire.
Hugh Laurie looks so amazingly different here.  Emma Thompson reminds me of Kate Hewlett a bit here in a really delightful way.  I was worried a bit that Kenneth Branagh was going to be the same character type all the way through but was happy to see him mature with age.
This is a really charming film with a wonderful cast and an impressive musical soundtrack.  I'm sure it was a low budget flick since it largely took place all in one location, but it never felt that way.
If you haven't seen it, this is a beautiful film about friendship and one that shouldn't be over looked.  I'm glad I have a copy and I'm sure I'll revisit it sooner rather than later.

Monday, April 14, 2014

1981 - The Change-Up

Having had developed a body-swap film for some time it’s a genre I always enjoy - and when you throw a cast like this at it eventually I’ll get around to it!  This time we’ve got Ryan Reynolds a slacker swapping with family man Jason Bateman.  I’ll be honest - I had a hard time buying into Reynolds’ character actually coveting his buddies life - although he does say he was just trying to be nice.  That said, I’ll give a little leeway for the set-up, especially since the rest of the film is so enjoyable.  It’s your pretty typical broad comedy fair, but done pretty well - funny bits, and some nice little performances, especially by Leslie Mann who, despite her CGI nudity, turns in a really sweet performance here.  

You know what kind of film you’re walking into with this one and it absolutely delivers.

1980 - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Fuck I love this film.  I always say that Annie Hall is my favourite film but this one might just be a close second.  It’s such a beautiful way to do a love story.  It’s sad, smart, heart-breaking.  I love the scenes that drift between memory and commentary on memory - it’s such a meta device and used so effortlessly and brilliantly.  It’s, in my mind, one of the best screenplays of the last decade or so - but the directed of Gondrey is so perfect and matches so well.  Jim Carrey is phenomenal here and Kate Winslet is magical - the two of them together is such a beautiful thing - the casting of them is inspired, as is everyone else.  If you’ve never seen this film stop everything.  Get on it.  In my opinion it’s required viewing - especially for anyone who loves films about relationships. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

1979 - The Way Way Back

I’d heard lovely things about this film so I was really happy to see it come to netflix.  It’s got an insanely awesome cast and tells the somewhat typical coming of age story of a boy forced to go away for the summer and how he came back a bit more of a man.  Carell plays his mom’s asshole boyfriend.  Toni Collette is the mom in question, and you only need to watch the last scene and shot of the film to know what a force of nature she is as an actor.  She does so much with so little, it’s beautiful.  Sam Rockwell is and will always been a favourite of mine, he’s not doing anything he hasn’t done a million times before here, but he does it well and with charm.  It’s nice to see Amanda Peet, Alison Janney, and Maya Rudolph rounding out the cast, but they’re a tad bit under used here.  If you dig coming of age stories this is a sweet one, and easy to find on Netflix.

1978 - Call the Midwife: season one

My wife is a sucker for babies, and we’re a fan of midwives, so it was a no brainer that we’d check this out.  It’s a bit too cute for my general liking, I don’t dislike it.  It’s sweet and tells some interesting stories.  I don’t think I’d continue to watch if it weren’t for the enjoyment of my wife, but I definitely think there’s an audience for this series - it’s the kind of thing that I think is best viewed on a rainy afternoon - it’s got that comfort food feel to it.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

1977 - Captain America: The Winter Soldier

It's quite something to take a character that's uninteresting on paper as Captain America, and have him be one of the better film franchise's in the Marvel universe.  I was surprised how much I liked this first one, and I have to say this newest entry blew my mind a little.  First, it's just a solid film - it's funny, it's smart, and it's got some kick-ass action sequences going on inside of here.  But secondly, and this is a MASSIVE SPOILER.  I couldn't help but watch the whole time thinking "Man, are they just destroying the world of their new TV series with where they're going with this story???".

What I love about the Marvel universe is how each film builds upon the last.  It's smart from a branding position because you feel like you can't miss anything (though I have to admit I'm not big on the series - I'll check in now that I see how they cross-over.).  The series working how it does is almost like a huge budget TV series in a way - where you've for Scarlet Johanson playing support in several different films, building upon previous outings.  I love it.  I for one am super excited to see where this team takes us next.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

The Walking Dead (Vol 20): All Out War (part one)

In my recent nerdy googling I realize that I had missed the most recent TBP of the comic coming out (though not by much).  As per usual - SPOILERs ahead…

So this has been brewing for some time, and like Rick mentions early in the story - they’re heading into war and there will be casualties.  Although no one really major dies here (I guess my definition of major includes people that have been around for half the series or more at this point) we still feel the devastation to come.  I love Rick’s plan for taking down Negan, I love that we see Negan scrambling a bit.  Because of the twists and turns that this book takes in general you don’t feel overly confident that everything will turn out for her heroes in the end - that’s the beauty of this story - devastation happens.  Part of me would like to think that the Negan storyline won’t be this short-lived.  I’ve said this before but what I love about Negan is that he’s practical.  He’s crazy, sure, but he understands that people need to work together - his only problem is insisting that he’s the head rooster, and the things that he does to other people.  His counter-attach using Holly was brilliant and smart.  I’m excited to see how the rest of this story arc plays out.  It’s going to be a bloody end…