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.