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Archive for April, 2010

Robin’s Big Date

This had the potential to be much, much funnier, but it’s still amusing. Sam Rockwell pretty much makes everything that he’s in about a thousand times better, and Justin Long… well Justin Long is just Justin Long. (For God’s sakes the man has the adjective “Just” in his name! What can you really expect from him… or any other Justin’s for that matter… Timberlake, Bieber (who, because I know so little about him, until I spell checked his name, I was going to spell Bemer) my point is I defy you to name me one impressive person with the first name of Justin. It just doesn’t happen. Being named Justin and being talentless is like being named Kennedy and having to deal with assassinations. You’re born with the stigma, and at some point you know you’re going to have to deal with it.

But I digress, (and have no idea how I got off on this tangent in the first place) the video is still chuckle worthy, if only for the terrifyingly bad costumes and Callie Thorne who is amazingly hot.

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These are just entertaining to watch. It’s funny listening to Tim Gunn talk about super-hero costumes and judging them not only on their colour schemes, but on their practicality! Because I think that we can all agree that if there’s one thing Mr. Gunn knows, it’s the benefits of embroidered Kevlar. (That tacky yellow colouring around the bat-symbol is sooo thirty-three years ago.) It’s especially fun to watch and listen for the somewhat subtle hint that George Reeves in a Superman costume was Tim Gunn’s first man-crush. All joking aside, the man has some clever things to say, and it’s funny to see how mainstream “comic-book geek” is becoming thanks to the Hollywood franchises that they have spawned.

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How to Train Your Dragon

Directed by Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders

Well this was a pleasant surprise. Even with all the good things that I had heard about this film, (and Craig Ferguson in it!!!!) I still approached watching it with moderate to severe trepidation. Almost every time that I’ve been told a children’s’ movie is phenomenal, I have always been severely let down (I’m looking at you, “Finding Nemo”, “Ratatouille”, and “Wall-E”). But “How to Train Your Dragon” is a very entertaining and hear-felt movie that can even warm the heart-cockles of an admitted cynical cinefile like myself.

It certainly helps that Craig Ferguson is in this movie (did I already mention that?!?!) I can’t lie. But really, he brings nothing special to the table other than the smile I get whenever I hear his voice. (I also smile whenever I see a pretty lady, I promise girls!) But the animation is also top-notch. Visually the film is a treat to behold. The dragons and characters are also (for the most part) well designed and (in the case of the dragons) disarmingly adorable. (I really need to start butching up these reviews and stop with man-love, and cutesy words if I ever want to get a date… did I also mention that while I’m writing this, I’m watching the NBA Playoffs? That’s manly right?)

The voice acting is also well done. Gerard Butler in particular surprised me with his ability to shine through a computer(aly) generated character. But everyone from Jay Baruchel to America Ferrera to Craig Ferguson(!!!) are all entertaining. It’s certainly a movie worth seeing, regardless of age (and I can surely attest that the grandmother and grandson who were in line in front of me at the box office, buying tickets to see “Kick Ass”, would have had a much more entertaining and less awkward time with this film… did I mention that the boy was probably only 10 years old at most??). All in all I’d have to say this was the most entertained I’ve been at a cineplex since seeing “Shutter Island” earlier this year.

Trailer:

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Directed by Werner Herzog

I think that the real question everyone has to ask themselves after seeing this movie is this “Do fish dream?” Okay, that’s only half a joke, but this next statement isn’t… despite how repulsive it’s going to sound to most people.

Nicolas Cage was born to act. There, I said it. Now please flame me. Despite the multitude of horrible roles the man has done (more so over the past five or six years than earlier on in his career) the one thing that no one can ever take away from him is that in every one of his performances he gives 110%. And yes, while most of the time, we wish he would scale that number back to a more reasonable and far more palatable 65%, at least his intentions are always the best. But for every five “Ghost Rider” roles Cage seems to attract for himself, he gets one “Bad Lieutenant”, and this is without a doubt his most interesting, challenging, and entertaining film since “Adaptation”. (Which is one of the best films ever made, period.)  It brings round the reason why Nicolas Cage was born to act (though a blood relation to Francis Ford Coppola was, no doubt, another reason) because there are a few key roles, Cage was simply just born to play. H.I. in “Raising Arizona”, Sailor in “Wild at Heart”, Castor Troy in “Face/Off”, Charlie Kaufmann in “Adaptation”, Roy Waller in “Matchstick Men”, and yes, even Stanley Goodspeed in “The Rock”, there’s no doubt that most of these movies would have been decent even without Cage, but they certainly wouldn’t have been as great as they are (and they are all great). So you can see how it’s hard for me to jump on this “let’s everybody hate Nicolas Cage” bandwagon that appears to be so popular as of late, because the man has given me too many awesome movies and performances over the years for me to really dislike him. Yes, sometimes I’d wish he’d tone it down a tad, but that’s what Nicolas Cage does, he doesn’t just go all the way, he acts all the way.

Okay, enough on Cage, how about the actual movie?

Werner Herzog is one weird mo fo. I haven’t seen enough of his films to really form an opinion of the man one way or another, but the ones I have seen have left me with this impression, and “Bad Lieutenant” certainly does nothing but further this belief of mine. From the pacing to the dialogue to the action, this movie gives off the impression of being about as high as its main protagonist. Thankfully, it’s also as interesting. As strange as the movie gets (i.e. break-dancing souls) it always hooks you and makes you want to continue watching. And while occasionally it might lose you as it jumps all around the place, it always manages to find you again.

To say anything more about the movie would ruin the experience of simply watching it. It’s definitely a movie best seen with little to no expectations, if it is allowed to just wash over you. I suggest you do so. And those performances that Nicolas Cage gives ever five years or so that validates him as a great actor? It’s in here and it’s something to behold.

Trailer:

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Knife in the Water

Directed by Roman Polanski

My current obsession to some day have seen every film of Roman Polanski has brought me to this, his first film. “Knife in the Water” is a disarmingly simple film that starts off slow and maintains its methodical nature throughout. And while it’s clearly the work of a budding artist, it nonetheless remains restrained by the growing pains of the individual behind the camera, clearly learning for the first time how a movie is made.

“Knife in the Water” is interestingly the only film Polanski ever made in his native country of Poland. After this, Polanski would move to France where his next effort (the phenomenal “Repulsion”) would clearly be influenced by the New Wave movement going on in that country. And of course after that, it wouldn’t be long until he made his way to America and gave us the seminal “Rosemary’s Baby”. (After which, a certain admiration for younger women would send him fleeing back to Europe for good.) I bring all of this up because I think it raises an interesting question regarding Polanski’s sense of his own identity, which I believe rubs off onto this, his first film.

“Knife in the Water” is about three people trying to find themselves, a married couple and a young hitchhiker. The married couple have grown complacent with their roles in the world and the young man sees no sense of relying on anyone other than himself. Once the married couple pick this man up, thus begins a two-hour methodical dissection of the role strangers play in each others lives.

With this in mind, the film succeeds in creating an accurately portrayed window into human relations, where it falters is in providing entertainment. Quite simply put, the film is just too slow. Polanski has never (NEVER) created a film that’s moved quickly, but almost all of his other films escalate upon reaching a certain point. “Knife in the Water” never does. Sure, there is a scene where the escalation is supposed to happen, but it’s not delivered properly or early enough. The film is just too sly for its own good.

Regardless it’s still worth a watch for some of the interesting framing techniques and shots that Polanski conjures up. Like I wrote earlier, it’s a film that clearly has the mark of an artist on it, it’s just simply not enough to create a truly memorable film. But as a student of film it’s a very interesting viewing experience, charting the growth of one of the most important filmmakers of the last generation.

And since there appears to be no trailer for this film available to watch, here is the opening credit sequence. It’s weird and slow. In other words, vintage Polanski.

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I think that deserves a post unto itself. David Fincher is a genius. Morgan Freeman is awesome. Brad Pitt is about as fantastic as you can hope for. And let’s not forget that Kevin Spacey is one of the best serial killers of all time. Right now, Brad Pitt’s about to open the box. Best ending ever.

Trailer:

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The Informant

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

I know that I’ve already sort of written about this movie, (I put it at the number 8 spot on my top 10 films of 2009) but I just watched it again recently and felt like I needed to say more. Quite simply put, this movie is just too goddamn good. For the life of me, I can’t understand how it didn’t get nominated for best picture, and certainly I don’t understand how Damon did not get nominated for Best Actor, because this is a performance for the ages. He completely becomes this character of Mark Whitacre. And not only that, he makes you feel for him. He makes you laugh at him. And finally, he makes you pity him. No movie has ever made me laugh so hard, and then with one simple scene, make me regret all the laughing that I did before and feel actual remorse for the things that I find funny. Because make no mistake, Mark Whitacre is not a stable man. He is not a well man. But some of the stuff that comes out of his mind are absolutely hilarious. Whether he’s discussing what would make an awesome T.V. show, the camouflage of Polar Bears, or the feel of wool on his skin, every thought is absolutely insane and funny as all hell.

A little has to be said about Soderbergh as well. I was recently discussing the merits of his filmmaking style with a friend and I came to this decision (and yes, for any other filmmakers out there, I know how bold what I’m about to say will sound) Steven Soderbergh is the closest thing we have to Stanley Kubrick. They are both masters of artistic subtlety and seem to approach filmmaking in general with the same ideals. (I’m more or less excluding Soderbergh’s work on the “Ocean’s Trilogy” from this comparison, but even there he shows signs of restraint that most other filmmakers would never dare do.) If you need proof, check out Soderbergh’s “Solaris” it’s a work of beautiful god damn art.

Trailer:

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