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.