Just us, the cameras, and those wonderful people out there in the dark...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Canadian Film Review: 2 Frogs in the West (2010)

* 1/2

Director: Dany Papineau
Starring: Mirianne Brule, Dany Papineau

If nothing else, Dany Papineau's 2 Frogs in the West demonstrates that it's possible for a film to be bad, while still showcasing the positive potential of its writer/director. I realize that that probably sounds strange, but hear me out: the deficiencies of 2 Frogs are so glaringly obvious that I think it will take little for Papineau to mature out of them as an artist, and the strengths of the film are such that they demonstrate that Papineau has a solid enough base as a filmmaker to make the necessary improvements. Does that make 2 Frogs worth seeing? Probably not, but should Papineau continue to write and direct, it'll make for an interesting starting point when tracing the trajectory of his work.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Review: Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

* * * *

Director: Wes Anderson
Starring: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Bill Murray

"Quirk" doesn't always play well. Done inelegantly, it can come across as "cloying" rather than "charming." Wes Anderson is a master of quirky movies, a writer and director who always manages to find that delicate balance that keeps his projects from careening out of control and becoming annoyingly twee. Anderson is able to create stories and characters that are overtly artificial but that also feel "real" within the context of their own rules because Anderson creates living, breathing worlds in which to house those stories and characters. His latest, Moonrise Kingdom, is no exception and is definitely a contender for his best so far.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday's Top 5... Movies About the End of the World

* Note: for the purposes of this list I'm listing only movies where the earth literally ceases to exist rather than movies that are about the end of mankind

#5: The Rapture

A little seen but very powerful movie about a devout born-again Christian whose intense belief in the coming Rapture leads to her losing her faith in God - and just in time to discover that the Rapture is really happening. Serious about religion without being preachy, and featuring a terrific performance from Mimi Rogers, The Rapture is a film worth seeking out.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Review: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012)

* * *

Director: John Madden
Starring: Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel

It's hardly news that the film industry undervalues its older performers and, indeed, older audiences, but it's difficult to understand why when you see a movie like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a thoroughly adult film in the non-NC17 meaning of the term. You'd be hard pressed to find a better cast than the one on display here and, though the story makes no attempts at reinventing the wheel, it's the sort of easy, low stakes drama that's perfect for this time of year.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Review: Rock of Ages (2012)

* * *

Director: Adam Shankman
Starring: Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Tom Cruise

Like Mama Mia before it, Rock of Ages is a big, cheesy spectacle that aims to do little more than entertain. The plot is so simple that to call it "by the numbers" would be giving it to much credit and, besides, the plot takes a distant third in terms of importance, ranking well behind the music and the look. Considered objectively, Rock of Ages really isn't a very good film - but it is fun. To be honest, the scene where Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand duet "Can't Fight This Feeling" alone makes it worth the price of admission.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Canadian Film Review: Cosmopolis (2012)

* *

Director: David Cronenberg
Starring: Robert Pattinson

David Cronenberg is probably best known for, for lack of a better word, "weird" movies, movies that challenge because they subvert expectations in terms of narrative form and because of the directness with which many of them deal with themes of sexuality and sexual taboo. Although his work has remained challenging and his preoccupation with sex as a theme has remained, in the last decade his output (A History of Violence, Eastern Promises and A Dangerous Method) has been slightly more in line with the mainstream and far less weird. Cosmopolis marks a return to the weird, albeit not an entirely successful one. It has a lot of ideas, certainly, and isn't without its saving graces, but it never really gets itself off the ground.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Review: Prometheus (2012)

* * * 1/2

Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron

Prometheus was probably one of the most anticipated movies of the summer, perhaps only behind The Dark Knight Rises, Brave, and The Amazing Spider-Man, but judging from post-opening weekend responses, it may prove to have the greatest difference between expectation and actual reaction. It may not be on par with Alien (which, it might be noted, also opened to fairly mixed reviews before settling into its place as a classic of the genre), but considered on its own terms, it's a pretty good movie.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Canadian Film Review: Goon (2012)

* * *

Director: Michael Dowse
Starring: Seann William Scott

To call Goon a kinder, gentler version of Slap Shot seems odd, given that it centers on a character whose only purpose is to inflict pain on other hockey players, and yet there's really no better way to put it. Despite his rough work, the film's protagonist is actually a pretty sweet guy - even, surprisingly, when he's pummelling the hell out of someone, as he often is. How much you enjoy Goon may depend on how much you like hockey, but personally I think it hits the sweet spot between lightweight comedy and dumb comedy.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Review: Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)

* *

Director: Rupert Sanders
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron

Now that Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman have both been released, the question of whether or not the world needed a live-action Snow White can finally be answered with a resounding... maybe. Given that the latter film has grossed in one weekend almost as much as the former in its entire theatrical run, it's at least safe to say that the preference is for a darker, action-oriented take on the story over a broadly comic take. I haven't seen Mirror Mirror so I can't really compare the 2012 takes on the story, but I can say this: if given the choice, go with Disney's animated version.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Friday's Top 5... Upcoming Live Action Fairy Tales

#5 & 4: Peter Pan

There are (at least) two films in the works that reimagine the Peter Pan story. One will star Channing Tatum as Peter and feature Peter and Captain Hook as estranged brothers, which will either be a refreshing take on the old story, or a complete disaster.

The other film reinterprets the story as a detective thriller in which Hook is the good guy and Peter Pan is the serial killer he's trying to hunt down. Seriously, I'm not making that up.