Archive | June, 2013

World War Z Ravages My Nerves and Earns My Affections

26 Jun

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Hello again my friends. I am here to tell you about World War Z. Specifically, I am here to say I genuinely think you should see it.

World War Z stars Brad Pitt as Jerry Lane, a U.N investigator called in by the U.S. government to find out why the world’s going to shit in the zombie apocalypse. Lane’s family eventually makes it to a government safe haven but if Lane refuses to go to work and find the cause of this global melt down, they’ll have to leave.

 I loved this movie because it focuses on the WHY of the zombie apocalypse instead of the repercussions of it, which can be seen on great shows like The Walking Dead. The Walking Dead is in the perfect venue for that story because there’s a lot to cover when you’re focusing on a character study. I really felt sad when World War Z was over; it really feels like there’s some great potential for a sequel or possibly even a franchise here.

Pitt is incredible in this role and still looks great for his age. I did not see this movie in 3D but I imagine it would be even more suspenseful because the fast zombies really get in your face. I don’t know about you, but I don’t care for zombies in my face. The suspense really carries the movie; I was gripping Ken’s arm multiple times throughout the film for fear of zombies in my face but also out of concern for Jerry’s character. You really root for this guy, even if he’s not great at turning his cell phone off.

I have heard a lot of complaining that the book the film is based on was not adapted well to the screen, but whatever cuts and reshoots they had to do happened to be for the best because what we’ve ended up with is a sleek, suspenseful, innovative look at zombies on a modern and global scale.  The fast zombies really turned the zombie idea on its head and make for a fast paced, action packed story. I also liked how I couldn’t really guess how a particular scenario was going to turn out, whether someone was going to turn and take the whole group down, or whether someone is trust worthy or not.

Definitely check this one out. 

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Man of Steel Falls A Little Short

21 Jun

ImageI was really looking forward to Man of Steel, and in a lot of ways it was good. Henry Cavill is the perfect Superman; he’s obviously incredibly handsome but he has this kindness in his face as well that is the epitome of Superman. Superman is this do-gooder who is supposed to guide the human race and Cavill definitely brings that calm authority to life. However, this movie failed to be emotionally engaging on a resonating level. Although there was some nice moments, it felt a bit…wooden. The relationship between Superman and his adopted parents was warm and believable, but the romance between Superman and Lois felt a bit…forced. Not that this is Amy Adam’s fault, but she’s not displaying much range here as go-getter journalist Lois Lane. We’ve seen this pushy character from her in The Fighter. Michael Shannon does an excellent job as the villain General Zod, but he’s always amazing. That’s why he’s Oscar nominated, dur. (See him in Revolutionary Road, he’s phenomenal.) 

I don’t mind non-linear storytelling either but it wasn’t used particularly effectively here, and this movie is way too long at 2 and a half hours. Honestly, it’s hard to imagine this as a franchise as successful as the Iron Man movies. Because Superman doesn’t really have any character flaws he doesn’t make for a particularly compelling leading man. 

Another problem I had with this movie is the fight scenes were very drawn out and there were whole blocks of time where it’s just people punching each other and wailing on each other and so on. It didn’t have that same charm that the incredible New York battle in Avengers did. Overall I was a little disappointed, but the performances from Cavill and the lovely photography is engaging enough to check out, if you are so inclined. 

This Is the End Brings the Laughs with Raunch and Crass

14 Jun

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This Is the End stars Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, James Franco, Jay Beruchel, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride as themselves in a post-rapture nightmare. Jay flies into L.A. to hang with his pal Rogen, looking for some quality friend bonding time. Rogen wants to go to his pal Franco’s for a big house warming party, Jay reluctantly agrees and finds himself in the most dire of circumstances.

This film is very funny, but in a very lowbrow way. There isn’t much clever word play or well-structured jokes relying on wit or nuance, just dicks and cum and vomit. While I do appreciate bathroom humour, it does begin to feel a little worn after a while, but if you can’t laugh at dudes jerking off, what can you laugh at eh?

Throughout this film we can see the celebs playing dramatized versions of themselves; Jay as the moody outcast, Rogen as the fun loving doof and so on. Can’t really have been much of a challenge for the Oscar nominated Jonah Hill, but that’s really what this movie is about. Not thinking, having fun, laughs, gross out gags and buddies bonding. The movie does feature more celebrities than I think I’ve ever seen in one movie together, and the novelty of that is also fun. Sometimes they’re only on screen for a few seconds before they’re disposed of. There are two especially funny scenes that stand out to me, one with Michael Cera (who is hilarious and if you haven’t seen Youth in Revolt , do so) and one with a celebrity who you really don’t expect to see. Hopefully that whets your appetite for this raunchy comedy. I definitely laughed out loud more than once and I hope you will too. Happy weekend! 

Throwback Thursday: Meet Joe Black

13 Jun

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Today’s we’re going to meander down memory lane like a senile old person. Which lane, you ask? Well it’s not really a lane, it’s a metaphor. I mean, it’s a movie. The lane is a movie, not a metaphor. Wait, the lane is a movie, and THAT’S a metaphor. English, motherfuckers.

So I’d like to go back to 1998 for a second and talk a little about one of my favorite movies, Meet Joe Black. This film stars Anthony Hopkins, Brad Pitt and Claire Forlani and tells the tale of Death, who decides to take a vacation from ushering souls to the next place and wants to experience the high life of an accomplished man. Death takes a body and steps into the life of the man he’s chosen, media mogul Bill Parrish. Parrish’s daughter has recently met the man in the body which death decided to use and this sets the story off. 

My love for this movie compels me to talk about it forever, but for your sake I will try to filter and limit myself. The premise of this movie is just so-so but the incredible performances make it a film that stays with you. The way Pitt plays Death is genius and is explained in a clever scene with Hopkins as they stroll on the city sidewalk. Pitt constantly seems distracted but wouldn’t you be if you were doing a thousand things simultaneously? There is a scene where Pitt uses a Jamaican accent to great effect and I am totally transfixed whenever I hear it. I also can’t say enough about Hopkins’ performance. He is so sure of himself, so passionate but he’s also in a vulnerable position which endears the audience to him. The monologues that Hopkins delivers, about life and love, are so powerful and apt that I often reflect on them in a spare moment. 

I especially cherish the relationship between Hopkins and Forlani, or dad Bill and daughter Susan. The way he dotes on her, and adores her, it reminds me of my dad. I am my father’s first child and only daughter, and the way he looks at me, with pride and a kind of secret wink that reassures me I am loved unconditionally; it’s really defined my personality. I love seeing Hopkins and Forlani interact on-screen in this close relationship; it fills me with warmth. Too bad Forlani’s career crashed and burned after this movie. Making out with Brad Pitt must have blown up all her brain cells. It’s the only logical conclusion.

The music and set pieces in this film are incredible, and incredibly timeless in my opinion. For a movie that’s 15 years old I still want the way Bill Parrish’s home is decorated for his birthday party to be the way my wedding is decorated. The music everyone dances to could still be played today. Everything about this movie suggests romance and mystery and a sense of wonder and refinement.

A final word about the story, everyone’s part in this movie is really great, not just Forlani, Pitt and Hopkins. Jake Weber, Marcia Gay Harden and Jeffrey Tambor all do an excellent job as suspicious colleague, sensitive daughter and kind hearted husband respectively.

There are quite a few clever and funny scenes in the movie, but occasionally we aren’t sure if something is supposed to be funny or not, such as the scene where Pitt’s young man dies being hit by a car, or when Quince comments that he loves little girls. I sense this is just poor directing from Martin Brest, who also directed Gigli and has never made a movie since. I get the notion that this cast did all the legwork here, or maybe humour just isn’t Brest’s strong suit.

Even though this movie has an unbelievably long run time of three hours, if you let yourself love this movie the pay off is big. Beautiful set pieces, soaring music scores, wonderful performances filled with truth and wit make this one of my faves.

Happy Father’s Day to my dad, who never gives up on his kids, who loves unconditionally, who is inclusive, funny and warm and who is always sure of himself.

I’m aiming to see Man of Steel this weekend so hopefully I’ll have a review for that out next week, as well I caught This Is The End this past Tuesday and I will have a review tomorrow for that film. It’s definitely fun, and funny, but in the most low brow way you can imagine. More later, you greedy, naughty penguins. 

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Halfway Through 2013, How We Doin’ So Far?

10 Jun

Honestly guys, it seems like it’s been a slow year for good movies thus far. As we venture deeper into summer I know we can expect some more glimpses of greatness, but the first three months of 2013 were filled with astonishingly bad garbage. January was pretty much a complete loss except for Jack Reacher, but that technically came out in December so it doesn’t qualify in the 2013 pool.  I don’t claim to be an expert on the technical aspects of filmmaking so this list simply contains what I’ve determined to be the most entertaining movies so far this year.

Anyways, here’s my top five. 

 

1. Iron Man 3

2. Star Trek Into Darkness

3. Warm Bodies

4. Great Gatsby

5.  Gangster Squad

Special Mention: I still LOVED Beautiful Creatures but I realize this isn’t for everyone.

Side Note: I feel bad not listing Zero Dark Thirty here because it’s one of the few serious films of 2013 that garnered critical attention but it was a wee bit dull for my taste. I still recommend you check it out for yourself though. 

Well, now that we’ve got the bad news out of the way it should be clear sailing for the rest of the year. We’ve got some great movies due couple by the end of the summer and going into fall. Some of my most anticipated for this summer? 

1. Super Man: Man of Steel

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I’m confident with Nolan as a producer but director Zack Synder has a rather iffy resume. I was a big fan of Watchmen and liked 300 but Sucker Punch was so goddamn awful that I still want to vomit everywhere when I think about it. I’m nervously excited for this one. Not vomity nervous. 

2. World War Z

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I love Brad Pitt and I’m very fond of the zombie genre so this is a “YAY” just on those two factors. Yes Brad Pitt is a factor. He’s a force of nature. No more talking. No words. Shhhh. His…eyes. 

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3. The Lone Ranger

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I’m very excited for the Lone Ranger even though it’s disappointingly family orientated. Same writers and director as Pirates of the Caribbean and  of course it stars Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer. There’s something about Armie Hammer…I think he’s put some kind of spell on me. That name. So powerful. Image

4. Wolverine 

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Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. It’s an oldie but a goodie, amIright? As far as the trailer, I’m not sure about the futuristic look of this movie but I’m definitely open to it. It’s so important that the X-Men franchise keeps looking for new ways to stay fresh so I’m cautiously optimistic for this one.

5. Kick Ass 2 

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I was a BIG fan of the first one because I like superheroes and gratuitous violence. And swearing. And a badass female lead. I’m very interested in Jim Carrey’s role in this film and though I might not rush out to opening weekend it has piqued my interest.

I know. They’re almost all super hero movies. Don’t blame me though, I don’t finance these things.

To quickly round out the year I’m greatly looking forward to Catching Fire (The Hunger Games sequel) and Thor: The Dark World. Since November is my birthday month I always like to have something awesome to look forward to in theatres and this year I’m especially happy two great films are arriving the month before Christmas. However, it is hard to fill the hole left in my heart by the Twilight franchise. DON’T LAUGH. Seriously guys, I practically grew up with those movies and they hold significance for me. STOP LAUGHING.

Just to end things off I have begun to consider including some of the DVDs I watch on here as well. There are some great finds on both Canadian and American Netflix. I don’t want to overload you with information though so this idea is still in the germination stages. Also considering a throwbackthursday where I just write about older movies that make me feel the tinglies in my squishy bits. (Thanks to Lib for the support on that one.) 

Great Gatsby Enthralls with Lavish Beauty

5 Jun

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The first half of Baz Luhrman’s latest film, The Great Gatsby, can rightly be described as decadent, opulent and extravagant. You may know Baz from such films as Romeo and Juliet (Leonardo DiCaprio’s version) and the lovely Moulin Rouge. He has a certain unique flair to his designs but even Moulin Rouge doesn’t really compare to Gatsby in the intricacy of design in sets, set pieces and costumes. This movie can be viewed in 3D but I choose, as I do whenever I have the choice, to forgo that expensive and head ache inducing path. Seriously, have I touched on this? 3D is the worst.

I actually never read The Great Gatsby in high school and was especially excited to see it because I didn’t know the ins and outs of the story of this classic “Great American Novel”. I figured it had better be good, being an American classic and all. The story is tragic, which I didn’t know, but nothing makes the heart stir like a little tragedy. Gatsby is told from the POV of writer Nick Carraway, a recent grad from Yale who moves to New York and is drawn into his cousin Daisy’s whirling social life. Daisy has married Tom Buchanan, one of the richest men in the country, and their lives are luxurious; all that wealth hiding some damning secrets. Nick lives next door to Gatsby, a mysterious man who extends the hand of friendship to him, setting off events that will hopefully fascinate the viewer for two and a half hours.

The Great Gatsby really starts with a bang and certainly pulled me in quickly with the overwhelming splendor and beauty, not only of the environment in the film but of the actors as well. Carrey Mulligan manages to be stunning in her simple loveliness. There is one especially enchanting scene when we first meet Daisy, played by Mulligan. Daisy lies on a chaise lounge, obscured by floating sheer drapery panels. They are whipping about the room, tossed around by the breeze in the most mesmerizing fashion. It’s these small moments in a film that take one’s breath away and invite you to escape to 1920’s New York. Enough cannot be said about the parties thrown at Gatsbys’ and their level of excitement and finery. However, even though this film looks great, the heart of a film is still its story and characters. I don’t want to elaborate too much on the plot because I felt going into this movie blind was a great asset and hopefully you will too. I can say that though the performances are good, many of the characters are quite intolerable, but you’ll have to draw your own conclusions about that. There are quite a few lines of dialogue that you can tell are exactly Fitzgerald’s words without even having read the book. Their eloquence and saturation in absolute truth of observation of the human condition are timeless. Ultimately, every good story, in my humble opinion of course, has at its heart a boy who loves a girl and hopefully vice versa.

The Great Gatsby is incredibly long at 2 hours and 23 minutes, and sadly it’s unnecessarily long because there are a few drawn out scenes that really kill the pacing. One other small critique is that perhaps Baz should not have hired well known celebs to play supporting characters because it becomes quite distracting at times and there is enough to keep your eyes on the screen in this kaleidoscope of colour. DiCaprio is good as Gatsby; there are a few scenes with Gatsby nervous around his love interest that are absolutely adorable and giggle worthy. 

Overall I would recommend seeing this if you have a fondness for period pieces, or a good love story. The movie is incredibly romantic in its visual splendor but also at it’s core. I don’t just mean romantic in its conventional definition (you know, hearts and flowers and giddy feelings of excitement around that one person) but also in that “take me away somewhere unfamiliar” way. Do you know what I mean? I hope so. If you don’t, email me and I’ll explain love to you. 

 

Just kidding. Don’t do that.